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WH: "Convinced We've Got the Votes" on Health Care; Congress Strikes Spending Deal to Avoid Shutdown; Trump Calls Out Congressmen to Support Bill. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired May 1, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Breaking this morning, the President of the United States just asked, why was there the Civil War? We'll have much more on that in a moment.
HARLOW: Also, new this morning, we're getting our first look at the president's reaction when he was pressed on his claims about being wiretapped by President Obama. Watch as President Trump abruptly ends this interview with CBS News' John Dickerson after Dickerson asks him about his past tweets surrounding just that, when he called President Obama sick and bad. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: I just wanted to find out, though. You're- you're the President of the United States. You said he was "sick and bad" because he had tapped you-- I'm just--
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can take-- any way. You can take it any way you want.
DICKERSON: But I'm asking you. Because you don't want it to be--
TRUMP: You don't--
DICKERSON: --fake news. I want to hear it from--
TRUMP: You don't have to--
DICKERSON: --President Trump.
TRUMP: --ask me. You don't have to ask me.
DICKERSON: Why not?
TRUMP: Because I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions.
DICKERSON: But I want to know your opinions. You're the President of the United States.
TRUMP: OK, it's enough. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. Let's begin with CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns at the White House. Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy. Well, it certainly seems that the president is, while he didn't say it explicitly, sticking by his guns on that allegation of President Obama wiretapping him, fascinating because that's been one of the underlying threads through the first 100 days of this administration. Meanwhile, turning the corner just a bit, there's also another comment by the president that is really creating a buzz and that is his assertion in an interview with CBS that pre-existing conditions coverage stays in this latest health care plan that is being discussed on Capitol Hill. Let's listen to what the president had to say and then come back and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill, and I mandated it. I said it has to be.
DICKERSON: In one of the fixes that was discussed, pre-existing was optional for the states.
TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes and they're changing it and changing --
DICKERSON: OK, so it will be permanent?
TRUMP: Of course.
DICKERSON: OK. What was the development, sir? The crucial question is it's not going to be left up to the states. Everybody gets pre- existing, no matter where they live.
TRUMP: No, but the states are also going to have a lot to do with it because we ultimately want to get it back down to that. -- The state is going to be in a much better position to take care because it's smaller.
DICKERSON: So, I'm not hearing you, Mr. President, say there is a guarantee for pre-existing conditions.
TRUMP: We actually have a clause that guarantees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So, this language on Capitol Hill to try to be a bit more precise basically allows states to opt out of standard premiums covering pre-existing conditions. So, what that means is, if you're sick, if you got cancer and you had a lapse in coverage and you try to come back into the marketplace, insurance companies in certain states that have opted out might not allow you to have affordable health care coverage, something that you can, in fact, afford. So, the question remains there as to whether that is a guarantee for pre-existing condition coverage. John and Poppy, back to you.
HARLOW: It's not a guarantee. That's a fact, if you can't pay for it. Joe Johns at the White House, thank you.
Also, developing this morning, a rare moment of bipartisanship overnight, Democrats and Republicans struck an agreement on a critical spending deal to avoid a government shutdown, for now.
BERMAN: For now. It still needs to be approved by the House and Senate and includes billions of dollars in defense spending. What it doesn't include is money for the president's border wall. Let's bring in CNN congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill. Democrats really claiming victory here, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are, John, because there are -- frankly, are a lot of concession that President Trump made on a lot of his key priorities that he wanted included in this bill. But it is significant and very notable, because it is the first bipartisan measure approved under the Trump administration up here on Capitol Hill. And of course, most importantly, it keeps the government funded through September, avoiding a government shutdown.
Lawmakers up here reached an agreement late Sunday night. I want to show you what's in this bill. Again, it calls for an increase in defense spending by over $15 billion, $1.5 billion for border security. Those were both items that the president wanted included in this. It increases spending for clean energy and science and $2 billion to boost NIH, both of those items, something that Democrats have wanted included. And it gives over $407 million for wildlife -- wildfire relief for states out west.
Now, importantly not included in this deal, it leaves Planned Parenthood untouched. So, it continues to fund Planned Parenthood and gives absolutely no money for the border wall along the U.S./Mexico border. And of course, you know this is something that was a big campaign promise of candidate Trump's and President Trump continued to push for it. He wanted this initially included in this spending bill, something he had to back off of. So, that leaves that fight lingering, John and Poppy, for another day. We expect both the House and Senate to approve this measure this week.
[10:05:08] HARLOW: All right, a deal has been made, Sunlen Serfaty on the Hill. Thank you so much.
President Trump referencing Andrew Jackson and seemingly suggesting that, well, he just says flat out, "Why was there a Civil War?" You're just going to have to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, "There's no reason for this." People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don't ask that question. But why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: I'm not sure it's totally true that people don't ask why was there a Civil War. It may be one of the major questions asked in all of American history. Joining us now to discuss this is Salena Zito, who did that interview. She's on the phone with us. Also, Doug Heye, CNN political commentator, former communications director for the RNC, Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times."
Salena Zito, you were on the phone with us and you asked that question that got that rather remarkable answer. People don't ask the question, why was there a Civil War. What did the president mean there? Do you have any idea?
SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone): Well, I mean, I can only guess, as I think everybody understands in the way he talks is he bounces all over in a conversation. So, the conversation began before the tape started rolling, while we were talking about Andrew Jackson and his impact -- in American history. And then, the interview started and then he, you know, referenced back to him. And he was talking about -- before the tape was rolling, he was talking about sort of, you know, he wished the Civil War hadn't happened, don't we all, you know. It was a very trying time. And then, we went back to this because he was looking at the portrait of Jackson that's over his left-hand shoulder when he's sitting at the desk.
HARLOW: OK, Doug Heye, let me bring you in here. Aside from the timeline issue of Andrew Jackson in all of this and aside from the very what seems to be a bit of a bizarre statement, "Why was there the Civil War?" What's your takeaway from Salena's interpretation?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR RNC: You know, growing up in the south where I still have friends who are trying to win the war, still talk about it, it doesn't make sense. And I can tell you, as somebody, as a press secretary, where my job was to do cleanup on aisle five when politicians would say dumb or crazy things, this one makes no sense. There doesn't seem to be any reason behind it.
Obviously, we can talk about history and Andrew Jackson and so forth and I understand Salena's point extremely well, but I don't understand why the president continues to go down either this rabbit hole or other rabbit holes that he goes down to. Focus on jobs. Americans are going to resonate with that issue so well. Going down these strange rabbit holes just doesn't make any sense.
BERMAN: You know, as a point of history, when Andrew Jackson was president and he died 16 years before the Civil War -
HARLOW: -- I was going to say, the timeline here - BERMAN: He dealt with the nullification crisis with South Carolina. South Carolina threatened to supersede federal law, there was the idea of secession then and he tamped it down, but it wasn't about slavery. And Andrew Jackson was of course a slaveholder. Maria Cardona, is there much more to say about this? Do you want to get in before we move on?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I mean, I just have one piece of advice for Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, crack a book. I mean, seriously. There's no other piece of advice that anybody can give him. He is the President of the United States and when he says ridiculous statements like this, it betrays his complete and total ignorance when it comes to history.
But worse than that, John and Poppy, I think it really signifies how uninterested and I think the disdain that he has for people who really are not just historians, but experts in public policy and in politics and in everything that you need to know to actually learn to govern and be able to run a country. He needs to go back to the drawing board. Yes, I think it's too late, which is why, you know, the majority of Americans did not support him. We knew that he had this disdain for knowledge and lack of curiosity that makes him completely inept for this job.
HARLOW: All right. Let's talk about the now and what is going to affect millions of Americans' lives and livelihoods.
[10:10:01] Lynn Sweet, on this GOP House health care plan, Gary Cohn, one of the top guys in the white wing -- white wing -- west wing comes out and says, we got the votes, I'm confident this is going to be a great week for us. But the president either doesn't understand what this bill does right now or he's being disingenuous in selling it by saying everyone with pre-existing conditions is covered. They're only covered, Lynn, if they can afford it. So, what's the president's play here?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, a few things can be true at one time. The president can be disingenuous and not know the details of the bill, but one of the big -- this pre- existing -- but members of Congress know how explosive this particular issue is. Of the many complex things in health care, which President Trump newly discovered this is a complex topic -- one thing everyone understands, no matter your ideology, your race, gender, religious beliefs, is that pre-existing conditions in your life, in the life of your loved ones is very big. And if you have coverage now that you are happy with, with the pre-existing condition, you want to make sure that you're convinced that the legislative language, not the bluster, not the talk, that somebody reassures you that the language in insurance, no matter what company you may buy it from, guarantees you coverage at least as good, at least the same price you pay now.
Right now, President Trump was unable to articulate that guarantee. That's politically explosive because people don't need a lot of years of training to know, is what I may get better than I have today on this narrow issue of pre-existing conditions. That's why this is so explosive. That's why it seems left to members of Congress to give this reassurance, which for the moment I don't think they can do, because it doesn't seem to be what the language is headed towards right now. And by the way, leaving it up to states to figure out? That is something that will be a long time coming.
BERMAN: You know, but there are Republicans that do make the case, you know, that premiums for everyone else would go down. --
HARLOW: They would.
BERMAN: And there is reason that they could and would. It's just that it's not being sold that way in voters -- and I think members aren't being as clear about the choice that's out there.
BERMAN: You know, Doug Heye, we heard from Gary Cohn saying we're convinced we have the votes. You know, should the White House be saying, we're convinced we have the votes on a Monday when on Friday they clearly didn't?
HEYE: Yes, I think it's a big challenge not just for the White House but for Congressional Republicans. And John and Poppy, as you know, I worked on Obamacare replacement very unsuccessfully for a long time in the House of Representatives. And right now, it is now or never.
We can talk about the particulars of the bill, but if they don't pass any form of Obamacare replacement this week, it will never happen and that means when Congressional Republicans go home on the next recess, they're going to have to answer their constituents, not just about Obamacare replacement, but whether or not they can get anything done at all. It's that big of a deal right now.
HARLOW: What they did get done, along with Democrats, a little bit of Kumbaya, I suppose, on a budget. I mean, they got a deal through, a six-month deal, but it's something. Do you read this, though, Maria, as a win for liberals?
I mean, look at what is not in it, OK? There is no funding for a border wall. There is no cut to funding for sanctuary cities. There is no money for deportation force. They did get $1.5 billion for border security. They did not cut Planned Parenthood spending. They increased spending for the National Institutes of Health. Did you guys win on this one?
CARDONA: Poppy, the American people won. I think middle class families won. I think the country won. Because at the end of the day, what got passed is exactly what the majority of the American people support. They support more funding for clean energy. They want to protect our wildlife and our environment. The majority of the American people don't believe that a border wall is a savvy use of precious taxpayer money. The majority of the American people and millions of Americans and women who go to Planned Parenthood as their only health care resource don't want Planned Parenthood shut down.
So, if I were a Republican, I would breathe a sigh of relief today, because they're not going to be blamed for shutting down the government, which they do most of the time the government is shut down, they are blamed for that. And they are not going to be suffering and going back to their districts with protests about why they shut down Planned Parenthood, about why there's all this waste of money for a border wall that nobody wants.
Now, the only thing they're going to have to face is why they are supporting a health care bill that is less -- or that is less popular than the one that is currently up, Obamacare and Obamacare, turns out is probably twice as popular as the President of the United States and three times more popular than Republicans in Congress.
[10:15:00] BERMAN: You know, Lynn Sweet, final observation. The president cutting off an interview with John Dickerson when John Dickerson just kept on asking him to explain what he meant when he called President Obama "bad and sick" over wiretapping?
SWEET: I saw the visual. It's always jarring, but John did a very good and complete interview. What I liked about it is that it had many follow-ups, including pressing President Trump on this very important provision, I think, of the health care bill dealing with pre-existing conditions. And the president exercised his right to end the interview when he didn't want to do it. You know, you often don't see how interviews end or when people want to waive you off one way or another. But I think otherwise in this John Dickerson of CBS did a very fine job in that interview and he got a lot done.
BERMAN: The president walked away, walked behind his desk when John kept on asking. Fascinating --
SWEET: He got a lot, John, before that moment happened, so I do applaud him on that.
BERMAN: All right. Doug, Maria, Salena Zito still on the phone, thank you so much for bringing us that fascinating comment about the president and the Civil War. It was about slavery, if the president is curious. Thanks so much, guys.
HARLOW: All right. Coming up, who the president has now just invited to the White House. Very controversial, President Duterte of the Philippines, this is someone who's bragged about killing with his own hands. He's called former President Obama the son of a whore. Now he's coming to the White House.
BERMAN: Plus, President Trump calls him out by name, pushing him to help pass his ideas to reform and replace Obamacare. We will be joined by a key Republican member of Congress next.
[10:20:35] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY COHN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: This is going to be a great week. We're going to get health care down to the floor of the House. We're convinced we've got the votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: All right. New this morning, "We're convinced we have the votes." The White House says they got them on health care. They didn't have them on Friday, though. Interesting to see how they got from there to here. In the meantime, the president not afraid to call out a Congressman or two by name, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to give Americans the freedom to purchase the health care plans they want, not the health care forced on them by the government. And I'll be so angry at Congressman Kelly and Congressman Marino and all of our Congressmen in this room if we don't get that damn thing passed quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: One of those men who got called out, Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, -- nice to have you here. And I should just note for our viewers, you support this bill. You support the House health care bill. So, what was your take when the president threatened you? Were you like, hey, I'm on your team?
REP. MIKE KELLY (R), WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: I just think if you're a member of Congress, you're used to people calling you out and people being angry with you. I think it's just part of what we're going through right now and a lot of it is well deserved. But you know, when the president says, listen, we need to get this done, he means we need to get it done.
I don't mind being called out. I'm from the private sector. If you're not called out, it means nobody's looking at you. So, one of the things I know growing up, is you want coaches yelling at you because if they're yelling at you, they know you're there.
BERMAN: All right. Let me call out something you said in February then in this period of what you just asked for. You wrote in February, "We will make sure that no one struggling with complex medical needs or pre-existing conditions is denied access to affordable health care options."
So, the amendment being discussed right now removes requirements that states provide affordable options to folks with pre-existing conditions. It removes the guarantee that they be charged the same amount. So, does that break the promise that you made in February?
KELLY: Well, you know, what -- I can make a promise from where I am. I can't make a promise for our whole conference or for the whole piece of legislation. I can tell you what I think drives it and I can tell you that people with pre-existing, that's major concern for them. You know, I represent not just Republicans back in Pennsylvania's third district, but I represent Democrats and also people who actually have no interest in politics at all. So, I think that it's very difficult. People say, well, you said this but something else happened. I am one member of Congress and I'm trying to represent the district -
HARLOW: But Congressman, to be fair, I mean, can you really say that? If you vote for it, if you put your name on this, you are in essence then breaking your promise, are you not? I mean, you can say this is just my opinion, but then you have to make the decision as to why taxpayers pay your salary to say I'm going to vote for it or I'm not going to.
KELLY: Yes, well, that's very good on your part, but let me just tell you, this is not where you go to a buffet and pick what you want. This is a one-price fix. It's either in the bill or it's not in the bill. If I were to say there's one thing that really bothered me, so I decided to scrap it all. And I'm not going to go for it.
HARLOW: It's a big thing.
KELLY: That would be - no, listen, it's a big thing. It's a big thing and we fight for it, fight for what we can get, try to get as much as you can for the people you represent, but this is not -- listen, it's not just up to me. It's up to everybody else to get it there. Now, you know that this is going to go from the House over to the Senate and we're going to see what the Senate comes up with -
KELLY: -- before it gets down to the White House. So, I think to say, well, you said this, but you weren't able to keep your word? I kept my word that I fought for it. That's all I can do. -
BERMAN: Let's put it -
KELLY: I can guarantee who I am.
BERMAN: You fought for it, you know. It's not in the amendment right now. So, as you sit here today, you are going to vote for the bill. But are you still opposed to the language of the amendment? Do you believe that this opens the door to raise prices on people with pre- existing conditions?
KELLY: You know what, that's something that the insurers are going to have to decide. We created a business model for them that they try to comply with. I like the idea that people can pick and choose the product that they want, that they have the say over it and it's not driven from the top down. So, it's a very difficult process, as you all know.
And people can make those kinds of statements. They can beat their chest and say I'm just not going to vote for it because it's not exactly what I wanted. You know what, that's fine, but in the world that I grew up in, I didn't always get everything I wanted, but I kept working to get to where I could. So, one vote, does that define your whole career in Congress, I don't think so.
HARLOW: But do you -- just to restate John's question, because John specifically asked you, does this open the door to allow insurers to charge much more to those with pre-existing conditions? We've read this about 20 times, the amendment and every read, yes, it does. You would admit that, right? [10:25:06] KELLY: Well, of course it's a business model. You know, the greater the risk, the actuaries have to determine how great the risk is. Insurance is nothing more than a business program, as you well know. So, if your risk is greater, then the cost, the premiums are going to be there.
HARLOW: All right.
KELLY: But listen, where we are right now, we're in a difficult position with health care. Premiums have skyrocketed, deductions have skyrocketed and co-pays have skyrocketed. So to say, you know what, you guys had the opportunity, you didn't get it done. I would just say this, look, we're working through a very tough situation on a piece of health care -- legislation that was passed years ago that wasn't perfect and I think if our friends on the other side had the chance to do it all over again, they'd probably take a look at it a little bit differently -
BERMAN: I don't think there's any question about that.
KELLY: But we want to make sure that we cover - we cover folks.
BERMAN: And again, we're not trying to be cute here. We're just trying to understand -
KELLY: No, it's not a matter of being cute.
BERMAN: We're just trying to understand what the choices are that are being made here and what it means, you know, for the American people just so that they know what they're being faced with right now. And again, we're just trying to understand, in your mind, if people with pre-existing conditions, you know, could see their rates go up, why that choice is important.
KELLY: Yes and I think based on a business decision, the greater the risk, the greater the premium's going to be. But I also would say, listen, we were told before, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep it. And people sometimes say, well, but he didn't mean it that way. I've just got to tell you, we're trying as hard as we can to get to something that makes sense, to get through the House of Representatives, guys. This isn't the final piece. It goes from the House to the Senate. --
HARLOW: But Congressman -- just to get some clarity on your words. You just said the greater the risk, the greater the premium. Is that what America should get ready for?
KELLY: Listen, America should get ready to see a change in the way health care's being offered to them right now. I would just say that from my standpoint where I live and the people I represent, they would like to have more control over the product that they purchase, not a top-down decision made by a government that doesn't really understand their needs.
So, listen, there's always going to be questions about what we finally get done and how we get there. Pre-existing is very important to the people I represent back home. I understand that. I will fight for those things, but at the end of the day, at the end of the day, there is a business proposition that's going to be put out there. Insurers are no different than any other business out there. You look at the market that you serve, you look at the people that you serve and you come up with different plans. So there's not a one size fits all. And certainly for younger people and healthy people, they say why should I be taxed with all these increases? When you say, look, it's in the whole. In the whole, how are we going to get there? It is a business. It is a business proposition.
HARLOW: OK. We have to leave it there, but I would note, the president said more than once, I'm not going to touch pre-existing conditions. Representative Mike Kelly, we'll keep monitoring this. Thank you for being with us.
BERMAN: All right. He called President Obama a son of a whore and he bragged about killing people with his own hands. Now, this leader invited to the White House. We'll discuss.