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Trump Awards Trophy; Trump on the Budget Deal; Pushback on Tweet; House Scrambles for Votes; Pre-Existing Condition Debate. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 2, 2017 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They forgot in their notes. They forgot to tell you that. With enough money to make a down payment on the border wall. I think they'll go back and check their papers. This includes swiftly replacing ineffective and failing fencing and walls with an unbreakable barrier. So we're putting up a lot of new walls in certain areas. We're putting up a tremendous amount of money to fix the existing structures that we have, some of which we can keep into the future. They're in good shape, but we have to bring them back to the highest level. We'll be doing that with this payment. And make no mistake, we are beginning to build the wall and we will keep out the gang members, criminals, drug and human traffickers that threaten our citizens and that threaten our security.

Any member of Congress who opposes our plans on border security, and I know these folks didn't, is only empowering these deadly and dangerous threats. And we will not put up with it and the public won't put up with it. This bill also includes important health care resources for our great coal miners who have not been treated well, but now they're being treated very well, and continues to make funding available so inner city children here, right in the nation's capital, can go to the school of their choice. Choice is so important.

After years of partisan bickering and gridlock, this bill is a clear win for the American people. We brought lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle to deliver a budget that funds the rebuilding of the United States military, makes historic investments in border security, and provides health care for our minors and school choice for our disadvantaged children. Very importantly, there is no long- term bailout for the insurance companies that the Democrats desperately wanted to subsidize, donors, the badly failing Obamacare.

Do you know what a donor is, fellows? You'll learn when you get a little older. You'll learn about donors. I used to be a donor. I used to get everything I wanted.

This is what winning looks like. Something that you folks really know a lot about. What a record. The Falcons had ten wins and only three losses, a tremendous achievement. And they played tough, tough teams. And they played some teams that were slightly larger, right, coach?


TRUMP: Huh? Slightly -- the coach is saying, boy, they're big, but you beat them, right?


TRUMP: You beat them. He knows how to win.

I just spoke to Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, right, and he gave you a little pep talk.


TRUMP: And he's a big fan too. And -- but we know one thing, as good as this coach is, even he says he's not replacing Belichick. Is that right? But someplace else? You're going to stay where you are. You better stay right where you are, coach, right? Don't (INAUDIBLE). You better never leave us. He better never leave.

And the Falcons, not only that, but finished very strong. You ended the season with six straight victories, including a win in the Arizona Bowl, which is a big deal. Who did you beat?


TRUMP: South Alabama. A good team, too.

But we all know the games that you're most proud of. I shouldn't say this, you know, because I love these teams too. Should I say it?


TRUMP: I thought they were great Americans, guys. All right, the games, they were most (ph). They beat Navy. Good team. Do I have to give the score?


TRUMP: Beat Navy 28-14. And you beat West Point 31-12. Does anybody feel guilty that you made me do that? No.

It's a great privilege for me for the first time to present you the Commander In Chief's Trophy. My first time. Established in 1972, the Commander In Chief's Trophy has been claimed by the Air Force Academy. This is pretty hard to understand. You did go under the radar, coach. I mean it's really an amazing thing. A record, listen to this, 20 times. You have the record. More than any other of the service academies. Pretty amazing. As the United States Air Force celebrates its 70th birthday this year, this trophy will serve as a point of pride for the academy's cadets, graduates and all of the members, past and present, of the United States Air Force that we love.

[12:05:34] I love the Air Force. I love those planes. I love buying those planes at a reduced price. I have been really negotiating. I have cut billion s-I have to tell you this, and they can check, right, Martha, I have cut billions and billions of dollars off plane contracts sitting here. Do they give me credit? No, but that's OK. So we can either do one of two things, we can buy more planes or we can cut the budget. What do you want to do? She says buy more planes. I think you're right. Nowadays, I think you're right.

As proud as we are of your achievements on the field, we are even more proud of you and all of those who attend our service academies in general for your distinguished service on behalf of our great nation. Whenever an Air Force crew flies, you'll always find a powerful symbol of American strength and American prestige. From the A-10 Warthog, stand up, Martha, this is what she flies. She said, please, please, Mr. President, order more. You think that's just a great plane, right? It does some pretty big damage, I know that. OK. And we're working on that, OK? She loves that plane. To the F-16 Viper, not as good? Not as good. To the B-2 Spirit, a little different, but, still, no. Pretty good though. Our proud aircraft and airmen fill our friends and you wouldn't believe it with the level of confidence and they really truly strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. And I'll tell you, we have so many of those planes coming in. We have planes coming in from all different corners and all different sizes and speeds and with different capabilities. You're going to be very proud of what we're doing with the Air Force. And wherever -- thank you. Thank you.

And wherever our space and cyber airmen operate world class systems for modern warfare, the full might of America will be on display for all to see. With the new budget increases we have achieved in our spending bill, we'll be able to purchase the greatest planes ever built, including the F- 35 -- that is some plane -- and the next generation of military aircraft. We will maintain and expand our superiority in the air and our ability to protect and project America's vital security interests.

Just across the river, not far from the White House, standing a soaring tribute to the men and women of the United States Air Force. The three arching spires of the Air Force Memorial represent the core values of this noble branch of our armed forces. Integrity first. Service before self. Excellence in all you do.

For 70 years the United States Air Force has embodied those principles. I know each of you will uphold these standards with devotion and dignity throughout your military career. And I know that each of you will continue to make your country proud. They're great people. I met everybody in the Oval Office. They actually said this is the first time you've been invited into the Oval Office. And actually the New England Patriots said that last week, that they were not invited in. But we invite them into the Oval Office. I think we should invite them into the Oval Office, right? Don't you think?

But we're very, very proud of you, coach. Together the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, are the greatest force for peace and justice the world has ever known. And, believe me, getting stronger and stronger and stronger by the day. One of the reasons that I was elected, one of the reasons that I'm standing here is called people want their military to be strong, not weak, but strong, really strong.

You keep us safe. You keep us strong. And you keep us free. Thank you all for your service and congratulations again to the winners of the Commander In Chief's Trophy, the great Air Force Falcons. Thank you. Congratulations. [12:10:16] With that, I'd like to invite Coach Troy Calhoun, a great coach, loved by his players, by the way. I said, do you love him or do you dislike him? And, by the way, some coaches are pretty well disliked but they're good coaches too. But I like this combination much better. A great coach, Troy Calhoun. And, congratulations, coach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Appreciate it.

TROY CALHOUN, COACH, AIR FORCE FALCONS: Mr. President, we're overwhelmed with the graciousness of you and your staff. This certainly has been an unbelievable trip for our young men and young women that have been able to come along. And we are so proud and only three weeks under your command they will become commissioned and second lieutenants in our United States Air Force. And what they will bring is courage, integrity, boldness, and unquestionably they're champions, but more than anything else, they're absolute winners.

So, ladies and gentlemen, the young men and young women of the United States Air Force Academy.

Hey, at this time we have a couple of mementos we'd like to leave for the president. I will say this, our commander in chief, you look at our roster, we never have anybody that's ever worn jersey number one here in the last nine years. I think we've got a new tenant holder who -- to that spot. So, sir, I'm going to invite up Weston Steelhammer and Jacobi Owens, two of our captains, to present a little gift to you.


TRUMP: That's so great. Thank you.

Martha, come on up here. How about our members of Congress, come on up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Tiger Shark helmet to commemorate from World War II, the Flying Tigers, and now (INAUDIBLE).




TRUMP: Oh, let's go. Come on. Get up here. Come on. You hold that. You hold it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you've got to see the side.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: And you are watching President Trump as he right there gives -- presents the U.S. Air Force Academy Commander In Chief Trophy presentation for the fact that they are the football winners in the Armed Forces. That as part of a Rose Garden address that was kind of a stream of consciousness from President Trump. A lot to talk about. Joining me now with all of their thoughts and

much, much more, my CNN colleague Jeff Zeleny, Margaret Talev of "Bloomberg Politics," Carol Lee of "The Wall Street Journal," and CNN's Phil Mattingly. And you can probably all tell, I have a bout of laryngitis. Luckily I have very smart, very talented and very eloquent people to go with this.

So let's start with our White House reporters.

Jeff, what did you make of that, particularly the idea that he said that this is what winning looks like as he went through all of the lists of the reasons why their budget deal really was a win for Republicans?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think he's doing it for a reason because Republicans are really being hammered at least here in Washington this week on this spending bill we've been talking so much about. First and foremost, he didn't get funding for his border wall. It was an acknowledgement that they didn't want to shut down the government for that. So he was trying to sort of one-up the Democrats, if you will, by using what no one else in this town, country or world have, the bully pulpit in the Rose Garden of the White House. It's all real estate and location there. So he was trying to seize the narrative saying, look, we won here. We got the -- the largest increase in border security, but not paying for that wall specifically here.

So, a lot of optics here. He said a lot during the campaign. You're going to be so tired of winning. That hasn't happened yet. So he's at least trying to talk about winning as other things are not coming along his way. We'll talk more about health care later this hour. That's one of the things surely in his mind. He wants to win, so he's going to talk about winning until he does.

[12:15:03] MARGARET TALEV, "BLOOMBERG POLITICS": It's a really interesting recalibration, though, I'd say from 24 hours ago. I sat down yesterday with President Trump and my colleague Jen Jacobs in the Oval Office for about a half an hour and we talked about the spending deal. It was the first question. And it had just been sort of announced that they had reached a deal and we basically said, did you have to give away a lot of stuff to get it? And at the time he seemed pretty comfortable, saying, well, yes, but it's not really that big a deal. This is just for three months. It doesn't matter anyway. The real fight's in September.

From that to this and the backdrop of all those burly young men in the background --

BASH: Right.

TALEV: Is -- it's really quite different. And the other thing I note is that he's going to walk out of the Rose Garden, walk into the Oval Office, have a phone call with Vladimir Putin, and then meet later with his national security adviser. So you get the secondary benefit. He may be thinking of some show of U.S. force ahead of some of these sort of foreign talks. BASH: Yes.

CAROL LEE, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, they lost the messaging war on this.

TALEV: Totally.

LEE: And so this is clean up. But the cleanup was a bit kind of double sided because on one hand he's saying, you know, we got all this funding for the border security, the Democrats didn't tell you that, and then on the other hand he's saying that we ended gridlock and this was a bipartisan effort. But what happened was, he was getting hammered by conservatives for this deal and they've tried a number of ways to argue that it was actually not as bad as they thought. They're really focusing on the defense spending, saying they've gotten rid of this Obama era like dollar for dollar defense spending and discretionary spending increase provision, which, you know, was sort of there but not really. It wasn't like written down in stone. And then the border funding. But they don't -- they lost on this.

BASH: And between your interview and this event here in the Rose Garden, there was a tweet. Actually two tweets this morning where it was clear that the conservatives are talking about got to the president. Here's what he said.

"The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and the Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate, which are not there. We either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 percent. Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess."

OK. Now let's listen to what senior Republican Senator Orrin Hatch had to say about that. He talked to Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: The president today said that you should change the filibuster rule, change it to 51 votes to pass legislation. What do you think about that?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, no, the -- he clearly hasn't served in the legislative body because had we had a -- had we not had the filibuster rule, this country would have been gone a long time ago. It would have been gone straight to socialism.


BASH: Um, there you go, a conservative Republican telling that the president -- his idea for shutdown or, more importantly, to change the rules again in the Senate to apply no filibuster to legislation could result in socialism. You cover the place every day. What's your thought?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Orrin Hatch, always quotable (INAUDIBLE). No, he's -- look, he's the dean of the Senate. He's the longest serving current senator right there. And while he's a very conservative Republican, he's an institutionalist as well, protect the body. He is somebody who will make deals with Democrats when you have to make deals with Democrats. And I think you're going to see a lot more of that start to come out. In the wake of the nuclear option for the Supreme Court nominee, a number of senators, enough to block any major rules change on a legislative filibuster, came out and said, absolutely now, we won't consider this. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said absolutely not, we will not consider this. So while the president is throwing this out there, I can tell you, on Capitol Hill, nobody is thrilled with the idea. Everybody recognizes that if you do that, the Senate becomes the House, and that is just based on talking to senators who like to talk down to the House.

BASH: Yes, they do.

MATTINGLY: Not something that they actually want on the table.

But I do think you're seeing the frustration from the president right now. And as Carol said, they very clearly lost the messaging war on this. And their victory lap after victory lap after victory lap of Senate Democrats making very public, and House Democrats as well, making very public that they thought they won on this, as we didn't hear much from Republicans in either chamber over the course of the last 48 to 72 hours has clearly frustrated the president, has made very clear to he and his team that he's the one that needs to come out and spin this in a way that's positive to him.

And I will note, he kind of hinted something that's very important. We're going to do this again in September. That's where the real shutdown threat was.

BASH: Yes.

MATTINGLY: This wasn't where the shutdown threat was going to be, the sort-term ominous spending bill.

BASH: That's true.

MATTINGLY: That's where the real shutdown threat is and he's already ratcheted up the pressure on that ten times over.

BASH: OK. Guys, so as we speak, arms are being twisted, phone calls are being made because the White House and the House Republican leadership are desperate to make health care, Obamacare repeal and replace, happen this time. President Trump said it's time, but does he have the votes? Stay with us.


[12:23:55] BASH: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash, in today for John King.

Just a few minutes ago, in the Rose Garden, President Trump issued a call to action, saying it's time, trying to exert just a little pressure on Republican lawmakers to get behind the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. But this hour, the vice president is due on Capitol Hill to help House leaders lock in the 216 votes they did not have the first time they hoped to undo President Obama's signature law last month. They still have -- they don't have the votes, I should say, but this morning the House speaker sounded optimistic.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: So the purpose of our bill is to get more choices, to lower prices, while preserving the protections for pre-existing conditions. So that is a very important thing. We're excited about this policy. We're making very good progress with our members and our president has been instrumental in that.


BASH: Now, this morning, I was told by a senior administration official that the House GOP leadership goal is to hold the Obamacare repeal and replace vote this Thursday. The source told me that they'll know -- likely know by the end of today whether it will happen and that by their count House GOP leaders and the White House are about five votes away, but they're optimistic several Republican members on the fence can get to yes. Now, if successful in the House, it goes to the Senate, where the prognosis is even dimmer, but that's another story.

[12:25:20] Let's focus now on the substance here and now in the House. The big change in this version of replacing Obamacare is allowing states to drop the guarantee that pre-existing conditions must be covered. In some recent interviews, the president said it's not in its final form, though that comes as news to many on Capitol Hill. Bottom line, Trump says, the plan will be great.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But they can't (ph). The one mistake I made with the health care, you know, we have one plan that's been going through. It's been getting better and better and better. And somebody was saying, oh, the people that voted for Trump aren't getting good -- they're going to get the greatest. These are the greatest people. We're either going to have a great plan or I'm not signing it. And I've said from day one, the best thing I can do is let Obamacare die and then come in with a plan.


BASH: And this morning, before we go around the table here, I want to play a sound bite that was, I think, a minor earthquake with regard to the Republican position and whether or not Republicans can really get the votes on this repeal bill. It is from a congressman named Fred Upton. And the reason why this matters is because he used to be the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee that is in charge of health care policy. Listen to what he said about the current formed health care bill.


REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI), FORMER CHAIR, ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE (voice-over): The Freedom Caucus insisted on this provision. They've added it in the rules committee. And as you may know, I'm not at all comfortable -- I said this last week, you know -- I'm not at all comfortable with removing that protection. I've supported the practice of not allowing pre-existing illnesses to be discriminated against from the very get go. This amendment torpedoes that and I told the leadership I cannot support this bill with this provision in it.


BASH: Phil Mattingly, why is that a mini earthquake or if you agree with that?

MATTINGLY: Well, you think about the member. And I think when you have somebody with the stature and the experience on the subject matter, like Fred Upton, coming out and saying no, that's a problem. But it's what Fred Upton gives as his rational for saying no that's the biggest problem. He's essentially echoing what all of the either unsure or flat-out no members I've talked to have said. They believe despite what the speaker has said, despite what Tom MacArthur, who drafted this amendment has said, this fight with the House Freedom Caucus has said that this will, in fact, undercut the pre-existing provisions that come from Obamacare.

Now, the reality is a little bit more complicated. They're trying to thread a needle here by saying, giving to the conservatives that, look, states can opt out of these very essential Obamacare health care rules, but in their place they have to make sure that they have a functioning high risk pool. They have to make sure that those who had pre-existing conditions coverage at the same price they had it at beforehand would be grandfathered in.

But to each point in the favor of this process, there is a counter point, to the idea that the high risk pools wouldn't be funded well enough, that the pricing for the pre-existing conditions that would be grandfathered in, well, if you turn off your plan, all of a sudden you lose that grandfather. If you move states, you lose that grandfathering right now. And so there's just a lot of holes there. There are messaging problems as to what's actually in this bill. And it's really hindering a process that right now is right on the edge of collapsing again or perhaps getting over the top.

But they just haven't done the best job in the world of making their members comfortable with this. There's been a lot of pressure coming at them from the White House, from the outside groups. And as it stands right now, shortly before they go on yet another one-week recess, they are staring at a final day vote they hope to get on to the House floor, but right now it's very unclear if they actually will.

BASH: And, Margaret, you asked the president about it in your interview yesterday. I want to play a sound bite of that on this particular issue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I want it to be good for sick people. We are protecting pre-existing conditions and it will be every good --

bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.



BASH: Mr. Trump, he just -- Senator Rubio just said that you support the individual mandate. Could you respond?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I want to say -- I just want to say, I agree with that 100 percent except pre-existing condition I would absolutely get rid of Obamacare. We're going to have something much better. But pre-existing conditions, when I'm referring to that, and I was referring to that very strongly on the show with Anderson Cooper, I want to keep pre-existing condition. I think we need it. I think it's a modern age. And I think we have to have it.


BASH: So that was what he told you yesterday and what he told me in a debate back during the campaign in February 2016 about the pre- existing conditions. And he wasn't alone. I mean every Republican who was crying for a repeal of Obamacare said no, no, no, we're not going to touch that.

TALEV: Right.

BASH: What's your take?

[12:29:55] TALEV: And so now he's asking Republican House members to take a vote on something that may very well, if it were implemented in exactly this way, undercut those guarantees. What he seems to be saying is -- or not saying it but it's what he's implying, this isn't the bill that's going to clear the Senate anyway, so this will never land on my desk. Don't worry about it.