Return to Transcripts main page


Ex-Trump Campaign Advisor Slams Senate Intel Panel; Senate Republicans War of House Health Care Bill. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:07] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Russia records request. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants documents from three former Trump advisers and is prepared to use subpoenas to get them. One ex-Trump campaign aide has told panel members that if they want details of his Russia contacts, they'll have to ask Barack Obama, claiming the former president spied on him.

Starting from scratch. A day after President Trump and House Republicans celebrated a narrow health care victory, the House bill is basically dead on arrival in the Senate, where Republicans say they'll write their own bill, and they'll take their time doing it.

Assassination plot. With tensions already high, North Korea accuses the U.S. of working with South Korea on a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un with a, quote, "biochemical substance." What's behind the extraordinary statement?

And ushered out? The first woman to serve as White House chief usher is no longer in her post, and the White House won't say why. Was it because she was close to the former first family?

Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: CNN has learned that a former Trump campaign adviser has sent a scathing letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee saying that if lawmakers want details about his communications with Russia, he'll need to ask former President Obama. Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy aid, is being scrutinized by federal investigators who believe he was once cultivated by a Russian spy as a potential asset.

Page strongly denies that, claiming that he was the target of surveillance by Obama and that the American government acted to influence the 2016 election. Page says evidence of that would be strong enough to, quote, "induce severe vomiting."

Sources say the Senate panel is prepared to issue subpoenas if it doesn't get records it requested from Page, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort as well as Trump associate Roger Stone.

And a day after its victory celebration, the White House says it expects some changes will be made to the health care bill passed narrowly by House Republicans, but expect the main pillars to stay the same. Some Republican senators aren't so sure, and they'll make it clear that they'll write their own bill, perhaps from scratch, and they'll take their time doing so.

And unlike their House colleagues, GOP senators say they'll wait for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to estimate how much this bill will cost and how many people may lose coverage.

I'll be talking to a member of the House Intelligence Committee. We have Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell here with us. And our correspondents, specialists and guests are standing by with the full coverage of the day's top stories.

We begin with our breaking news: a sharp rebuke to the Senate Intelligence Committee by a former Trump campaign adviser who claims he was the target of surveillance by President Obama.

CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here.

Jim, what are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a sharp rebuke. You might even say a colorful rebuke. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which we should note is led -- it's chaired by a Republican, Republican Senator Richard Burr, wrote a letter to a number of potential witnesses, asking for records of their conversations, their meetings with Russians during the campaign.

Carter Page, who was identified by President Trump as a national security/foreign policy adviser during the campaign, refused. Let's have a look at how he refused in that letter. He wrote to the committee, saying the following: "I suspect the physical reaction of the Clinton/Obama regime perpetrators will be more along the lines of severe vomiting when all the facts are eventually exposed regarding the steps taken by the U.S. government to influence the 2016 election."

Carter Page did not supply and has not in interviews supplied, Brianna, any evidence as to what he bases this charge of U.S. government influence in the 2016 election. Of course, he's flipping it around there. The investigations are of Russian influence in the election. I should not that as you'll remember, President Trump himself has also accused President Obama of surveilling him during the campaign.

KEILAR: And Carter Page isn't the only one that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants information from.

SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. We know a few names. Roger Stone is one. Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort, of course, was the chairman for a time of the -- of the Trump campaign, did a lot of business in Russia. Roger Stone, we know a bit of a firebrand in conservative media. He is alleged to have had communications with WikiLeaks, for instance, during the campaign, possibly advanced, or at least allegedly advanced notices of some of these WikiLeaks releases, targeting the Democratic Party during the campaign. These are also people who are believed to have met with Russians during the campaign.

So again, they've asked them for records of their communications and their meetings. We don't have a response from them yet.

KEILAR: All right. Jim Sciutto, great story. Thank you so much for that report.

A day after the president and House Republicans celebrated their narrow health care victory in the White House Rose Garden, the bloom is already off of the rose, because Senate Republicans are making it clear the bill will not survive intact; they will go their own way on health care.

[17:05: I want to turn now to CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly.

Tell us about what is ahead, Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Senate has its own prerogative. And they're certainly going to take it. That's what we're hearing both from senators and top Republican aides, making very clear that, despite the celebration you saw yesterday, despite the very difficult, arduous and at times tenuous work on the House bill, things are going to change.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has really brought the Republican Party together.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): President Trump and congressional Republicans, despite this very public celebration and this declaration--

TRUMP: We're going to get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident.

MATTINGLY: Are quickly coming to grips with reality. The Senate is going to do its own thing.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: The Senate will write its own bill. I mean, that's the way it works, right?

MATTINGLY: Senate Republicans will need at least 50 of their 52 GOP senators to sign onto a final bill for it to pass the chamber. So far, many are cold to the very proposal their House colleagues labored for weeks to squeeze through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed.

MATTINGLY: Already making clear in statements that from the structure of the tax credit to the sunset of the Medicaid expansion, Obamacare's regulatory infrastructure, even the bill's de-funding of Planned Parenthood, each major piece will need to be rewritten.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: There will be no artificial deadlines. We'll carefully consider the legislation passed by the House. We will work together carefully to write our own bill. We will make sure we know what our bill costs when we vote on it.

MATTINGLY: Top senators from across the party's ideological spectrum now committed to working groups, an effort, GOP aides say, to reach crucial consensus before publicly moving forward on the bill. The 13- member Senate GOP working group doesn't, however, include any of the five Republican women.

But the push and pull inside the party is reminiscent of the fractures that nearly killed the bill in the House.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think insurance could be made less expensive through market forces and through competition. But I think the federal government being involved, purchasing it, actually sets a floor for the price, and it may well keep the price of health insurance out of the reach of many people.

MATTINGLY: Disagreements remain sharp on the balance between what the proper role is for government in the system.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC'S "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!" No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life.

MATTINGLY: With one GOP senator even citing what has become a Democratic rallying cry.

KIMMEL: Let's stop with the nonsense.

MATTINGLY: From late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, as his metric for care.

CASSIDY: I ask, "Does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test?" Would a child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life? I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test.

So simple answer: I want to make sure -- and the Cassidy-Collins Bill accomplishes this -- that if a child is born and has tetralogy of fallot -- I think that's what this child had -- that they would receive all the services, even if they go over a certain amount. Simple answer: I want to make sure folks get the care they need.


MATTINGLY: And Brianna, one top Senate GOP aide I was e-mailing with today, I asked him how he felt about things going into this process. He said, "Eyes wide open but determined." Translation: they know what's coming. It's going to be a slog; it's going to be a complicated process, but don't underestimate both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's ability to get something done and the determination that this conference, that has campaigned on this for seven years now, is ready to close the deal, at least on their portion of repealing and replacing Obamacare.

KEILAR: All right. Phil Mattingly on the Hill for us, thank you. And I want to get back now to our breaking news. Joining me now to discuss it is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He is a member of both the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

So I want to begin, Congressman, with your reaction to this report from Jim Sciutto that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page has fired off a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee after their request for details about his communications? What do you make of this letter and where this goes from here?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Brianna.

And this is behavior that is consistent with the past of what we've seen from Carter Page. And I also think -- you can often learn how an individual acts after they're being investigated can tell you whether you're investigating the right person.

And so why do we care about Carter Page? Well, Donald Trump named him as a senior foreign policy adviser. We know from reports that the FBI was investigating him years ago for working with the Russians, and despite being told that they were trying to recruit him, during the 2016 election he goes over to Moscow with permission of the campaign one month after it's revealed that Russia is interfering in our elections.

So we want to hear from Carter Page, but you can never get a straight answer out of this guy.

KEILAR: Do you believe that this is something more than just coziness or inadvertent contact? Do you believe that there's fire here?

SWALWELL: Yes, I do, and I have seen the evidence on the unclassified and classified side. And I think the best thing we can do on our committee is to follow that evidence, review all relevant documents, and hear from all relevant witnesses. And let's see if Carter Page really is serious about coming in and answering the tough questions.

[17:10:15] KEILAR: What makes you say that, that you -- and I know some of it's classified; I know some of it's sensitive. But what makes you sure that there is collusion?

SWALWELL: Well, it's the evidence that I've reviewed on the classified side. But also, Brianna, you don't have to be a lawyer, and you don't have to have access to classified information to see the behavior of people like Carter Page, also Roger Stone who told the world months before John Podesta's e-mails were released that John Podesta was about to spend his time in the barrel. That's information we now know he received while he was communicating with Guccifer2.0, who received the hacked Democratic Party e-mails.

Also, Brianna, there's what we call consciousness of guilt behavior, and this is individuals who denied having meetings with the Russians and then, when confronted, finally had to fess up or step aside, like General Michael Flynn, who had talked to the Russian ambassador and lied to the vice president about it. And then, of course, our attorney general twice asked by the Senate if he's ever met the Russian ambassador or anyone with the Russian government. He said no. And then, when it was later learned that he had, he said that he had just been forgetful.

These do not appear to be coincidences. They appear to be a convergence.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about FBI Director Jim Comey, because he testified during a closed hearing this week, and I wonder how you're feeling about the progress that the FBI is making after you heard his testimony.

SWALWELL: I'm comfortable that they're making progress and that our committee now is back on track and that we're making progress. I just wanted to make sure that the FBI had all the resources they need to trace down and track down any evidence that's out there, and I'm comfortable that right now where they are, that they have what they need.

KEILAR: So it sounds like you are feeling, obviously, much better about with the situation with the House Intelligence Committee. Of course, the chairman, Devin Nunes, stepped down. How are you feeling about the leadership of Congressman Conaway?

SWALWELL: I have a lot of confidence in Congressman Conaway, and I expressed to him that, you know, we want to follow the evidence wherever it takes us and also make sure that we reclaim our independence, credibility and ability to show progress. And, you know, he's a CPA, so he knows how to work on a deadline. And, you know, I hope that we can get to the American people as much information about what happened, whether any U.S. persons were responsible.

And Brianna, I think what Americans really expect from us is an assurance that we're never going to find ourselves in a mess like this again. So we have to put reforms in place to prevent that.

KEILAR: And real quick, the Senate, it sounds like the Senate Intel Committee is open to issuing subpoenas when we're talking about Carter Page's records. Is the House committee prepared to?

SWALWELL: It's always better if witnesses come in voluntarily. But if they do not, I know that both sides are committed to getting to the bottom of what happened. So yes. We will -- we will get to the truth as, you know, as fast and as forceful as we need to.

KEILAR: All right. Congressman Swalwell, stay with me. We actually have a lot more to talk about this repeal and replace bill passed in the House of representatives. We'll talk about that in just a moment.


[17:22:4] KEILAR: We have breaking news. The Senate Intelligence Committee is prepared to use subpoenas to get records from three former Trump advisers. One ex-Trump campaign aide says that the panel wants details of his

Russia contacts, they will have to ask Barack Obama, claiming the former president spied on him.

We are back now with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's a member of the Intel and Judiciary Committees. And Congressman, I want to talk to you about this health care vote, actually, the repeal and replace that the Republicans passed just in the House at this point.

I think -- you know, we know what Democrats don't like about this. We know with the lowered protections for pre-existing conditions and less subsidies these are big areas of disagreement of course. I wonder as a Democrat what are the areas that you think should be fixed, because we do hear over and over from Democrats that there are problems with Obamacare. So what would you like to see fixed?

SWALWELL: You know, there are areas in the country, Brianna, where there's only one provider. And so I think making sure that there's, you know, more competition in those markets and, you know, putting back into place the risk corridors that allowed that. That's one fix.

Doing what we can to bring down the cost of prescription drugs is something else I think, in a bipartisan way we can work together. And also, the public option that was included in the House bill, but the Senate took that out when the Affordable Care Act debate was taking place.

But you know, this is a fight for people to be free from sickness and free from poverty. And it's not over, and we're not counting on Senate Republicans to fix this. We're counting on the American people to be heard.

KEILAR: Why aren't Democrats pushing that? I mean, you have some pretty cohesive ideas there I know that you share with other people in your party. Why are they not putting that out there as their argument?

SWALWELL: We haven't been invited to the table, and I think, you know, if -- for all the arguments that Republicans made during the Affordable Care Act that, you know, it was something they weren't involved in and it was something that was rushed through and didn't have a score as far as how much it was going to cost, that is exactly what they just did with this bill.

They did not welcome any -- welcome or allow any Democratic amendments. They didn't tell the American people what it was going to cost, and I think it's not going to get through, because it's not something that was collaborative or addressed the needs and concerns of the American people.

KEILAR: Check out this scene yesterday after this vote took place. Democratic members, they were waving good-bye at Republicans, singing, "Hey, hey, hey, good-bye." This is the moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Hey, hey, hey, good-bye. Na, na, na, na. Na, na, na, na. Hey, hey, hey, good-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Hey, hey, hey, good-bye. Na, na, na, na. Na, na, na, na. Hey, hey, hey, good-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Hey, hey, hey, good-bye. Na, na, na, na. Na, na, na, na. Hey, hey, hey, good-bye.


KEILAR: I guess I should ask you, Congressman, if you took part in that.

SWALWELL: No one wants to hear me sing, Brianna. But what I was looking at was a text message that a mother in my district had sent me, which said that she had two children with pre-existing conditions, and she was very afraid about what this bill would bring.

There are a lot of emotions on the floor. But I was sick but not nearly as sick as the 24 million people who are going to lose coverage, and I think that's a shame. And I heard a lot of people shouting "Shame," as well, and I know 750,000 of my constituents probably--

KEILAR: So you weren't -- you're saying you weren't singing, though. Is that what you said?

SWALWELL: No, I -- no, I wasn't.

KEILAR: You weren't singing. But you heard that. Is it appropriate?

SWALWELL: I think that I have a lot of constituents who would have liked to have waved and sung good-bye to the Republicans that just took away health care to 24 million Americans or raised the costs or took away the protections for pre-existing conditions.

But you know, the voices that are going to be heard now are not those on the floor singing. It's going to be our constituents who are going to, you know, hold accountable the members of Congress who voted to do that yesterday.

KEILAR: This isn't, though, what the House passed, we don't expect a lot of that to be what would be in a final bill, assuming there is one. The Senate has made it really clear they are unhappy with this; they want to start from scratch. What could they do that -- changes, big changes that would make you, perhaps, support them?

SWALWELL: You know, one baseline President Obama and the House and Senate Democrats should always get credit for is protecting people with pre-existing conditions, not putting that uncertainty across the country.

I also believe that making sure that young people can stay on their parents' coverage up until the point that they're 26. Under this bill, if your coverage lapses as a young person, you could be charged up to 30 percent more for a lapse in coverage. And right now millennials across America are finding it very hard to have long-term jobs. They're changing jobs often, and they would pay an age penalty for changing jobs, just as seniors would also pay an age penalty for a lapse in coverage between 50 and Medicare eligibility age.

KEILAR: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you so much. We do appreciate your time today.

And coming up, another bizarre claim from North Korea. It says it's uncovered a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un with what it calls a biochemical substance.

Also ahead a mystery at the Trump White House. A woman who made history now out of her job.


[17:27:23] KEILAR: We're following new developments in the fight over repealing and replacing Obamacare. The newly-passed health care bill that President Trump and House Republicans were celebrating yesterday afternoon now seems to be dead on arrival in the Senate.

Republican senators tell CNN they most likely will start from scratch to write their own version of health care reform.

Let's bring in our political specialists, along with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

OK, Sanjay, I want to start with you. And tell us what doctors are saying. What are hospitals saying? What do they think about this new bill?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I mean, it's tough to characterize all doctors or all hospitals. But I think, you know, you have some statements from many of the major medical organizations and the American Medical Association. And frankly, the verdict is not very good. The biggest concern, as you might imagine, is that a lot of people -- the concern is a lot of people won't have health care insurance if this goes through.

You've seen the numbers, Brianna. Everyone has. Some twenty-four million is the projection that might lose their health care insurance, particularly for indigent care hospitals, hospitals that take care of a lot of patients on Medicaid. They're very concerned about that. These are -- these are people who did not have any insurance, you know, several years ago. Many of them obtained insurance through the Affordable Care Act, through Medicaid expansion. And now the concern is that that may go away again.

So there's concerns, I think, very much in the medical community.

I will point out, and I think it's important to point out that if you looked at how doctors evaluated the Affordable Care Act, you know, Obamacare, only about three to four percent gave that an "A" grade. So it wasn't like they were thrilled with the Affordable Care Act, but not very happy at all with the direction this is now going. KEILAR: So who wins here, who loses out?

GUPTA: Well, you know, in the most simplistic way, the winners are people who are young, healthy and wealthy, people who are not likely to really access the health care system. They don't deal with illness themselves, and they have enough money.

The people who are the biggest losers are going to be the opposite of that. People who are older, people who are poorer, people who have some sort of medical problem. These are people who are accessing that health care system. There's 117 million people in this country with chronic illness. People who are watching may be one of them. They are the ones who are most worried, because they are worried that their premiums could come up because of their illness could be -- you know, have a higher premium just because they had this pre-existing condition.

They're the ones who could stand to be the biggest losers in this.

KEILAR: I remember covering health care. I feel like I'm saying, like, "Back in my day." But I remember covering it, and it -- it seemed like the legislation would live and die by whether these stakeholders, the hospitals, the doctors, the AARP, whether they would buy into it.

And now it just seems like Republicans have completely dispensed with trying to bring them on board. Why is that, Chris?

CILLIZZA: Well, part of it is just logistics, Brianna, which is for all the talk -- and republicans are pushing this. It's not -- I don't think borne out by the fact but -- well, that it wasn't rushed through -- the democratic plan was rushed through. Not really. The Affordable Care Act took forever to sort of come together.

KEILAR: So long.

CILLIZZA: That was the main criticism of President Barack Obama. He let the senate write it and it, you know, it was a long process, but one of the benefits of that long process was you could do the long recruitment work of seeing some of these interest groups. Although, it may feel as though we've been covering the American Health Care Act for a long time, the truth of the matter is we're talking about two months, you know, March to May. So, there hasn't been even that much time for anyone to get behind anything. And remember, this was a bill that was constructed largely among a very small group of republican house members, so that's what happens when you do it on this kind of time schedule.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And let's think about what the republicans are doing here from a policy perspective. They are removing the mandate that you must have health insurance. If you're a health insurance company, that's not something --


KEILAR: You love that. That's why you want to bring people on who were sicker.

BERG: Exactly. Because this is going to be a difficult -- a difficult sale no matter what.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And you have to remember also, I think what the Obama -- the creation of Obamacare was trying to learn lessons from the failed attempts prior to it. So the failure of Hillary Clinton's proposals to get the insurance companies on board, they were the archenemy at that time, right? So the 2009-2010 construction of the law was in response to that. This time, I don't think they needed as many stakeholders on board to accomplish their political goal because it was a dismantling of it, not trying to bring something to bear on the system that had not been before.

CILLIZZA: Right. Wait, to David's point, and this is a good one. I think we often talk about we use the language repeal and replace. That's not really what's happening here. It's more reform and replace because much of the understructure the --

KEILAR: Because it sound as good, Chris.

CILLIZZA: I know it doesn't, yes. Because it didn't roll off the tongue.


CILLIZZA: But that -- but that -- to David's point, they were sort of starting from scratch in 2009. This is saying we're going to take this out, we're going to leave this in, we're going to take this stuff, we're going to leave this in, but it's not we're going to literally get rid of i. That's why some of these Freedom Caucus guys, Tom Massie, for example, voted against it because it wasn't a clear repeal.

KEILAR: It's how --

CHALIAN: It's significantly -- sorry. It's significantly the White House picked up that reform messaging today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders guys.

CILLIZZA: Was talking about reform today, less about repeal.

KEILAR: And to that point, you -- it seems like Donald Trump has not been in the same police as congressional republicans when he's talking about how he wants everyone with pre-existing conditions to be covered. Now, this moves forward into the senate. How is Donald Trump going to try to use his influence? Can he?

BERG: Well, that's really the big question, Brianna, in my mind, because one of the big obstacles that republicans face moving forward is that public support for this reform is still not very high, it's certainly not high enough or as high as you would want if you were running for re-election in 2018 or in 2020, moving forward. So the President, he says he's a salesman. He says he's a marketing guy, so he needs to get out there and start promoting this measure and he hasn't been doing that so far. And so, I think, the question for me is does he start now, or does he continue kind of floating around from issue to issue with no real focus on this one measure?

KEILAR: House republicans did not wait for a price tag on this; they didn't wait for that result from the CBO to say how many people might lose insurance. The senate says they're going to but we're already hearing from the White House even before we get that number. They're casting doubt on whether you can even believe the accuracy of it.

BERG: Right. So, they're setting the stage to dispute whatever it says. It's probably going to say some of the same things we saw with the last CBO score which is that fewer people will be insured, premiums will rise in the short term. Maybe they will go down in the long term, but that doesn't help republicans necessarily in 2018. And there's going to be a lot that they don't like in the CBO score because they are taking away the mandate which ensures that more people will be insured, and they're take -- reducing coverage for pre- existing conditions, cutting Medicaid, a lot of things that make -- that look bad politically.

KEILAR: We're going to hit pause for just a moment because we have more ahead. You, guys, stand by for me. We're also following a surprising change at the Trump White House where the usher who does much more than show people around no longer is in her post. No one is saying why. Let's try to get to the bottom of this.


[17:39:20] KEILAR: We're back now with our correspondents and political specialists as well as our medical specialists. So, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, I want you to take a listen to something that President Trump said back in September 2015. This was to CBS' Scott Pelley about what his plan for health care was.



TRUMP: Obamacare is going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster. If you look at what's going on with premiums, where they're up 45 percent, 50 percent, 55 percent.

PELLEY: So how do you fix it?

TRUMP: There's many different ways, by the way. Everybody has got to be covered. This is an unrepublican thing for me to say because a lot of times, they say, "No, no, the lower 25 percent, they can't afford private." But --

PELLEY: Universal health care.

[17:40:00] TRUMP: I'm going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody is going to be taken care of much better than now.

PELLEY: The uninsured person --

TRUMP: Right.

PELLEY: -- is going to be taken care of, how?

TRUMP: They're going to be taken care of. How? I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And you know what, this is probably --

PELLEY: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

TRUMP: The government is going to pay for it but we're going to save so much money on other side, but for the most part, it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors, with great companies, and they can have their doctors, they can have their plans, they can have everything.


KEILAR: I mean, wow, Sanjay. And in light of this plan that house republicans voted on and that he has championed, what do you make of those promises?

GUPTA: Well, there's obviously some cognitive dissonance here from what he was saying then and what we're seeing now. You know, what I would say is, you know, philosophically, what he seems to be talking about is this reliance of how much the free market in health care, he believes, could accomplish. Increasing competition, allowing insurers to sell across state lines. He didn't mention it in that particular interview but he's talked about as being a way to lower costs. He also talked about the fact that government will pay for health care which at the same time we know that nearly $1 trillion is coming out of Medicaid as part of this particular proposed plan.

So obviously, it doesn't all add up, but at its core, I think, this is a distinction between what should the government be doing and what should the free market be doing? The free market is how our health care has been handled for a long time in this country and a lot of people were left without as a result. Health care costs were the highest in the world as a result. So, you know, that didn't work very well. It's unclear how exactly he's going to -- he wants to move forward.

KEILAR: David, I think it's fair to say that President Trump isn't steeped into details when it comes to health care policy, and I think we also saw this in what he said about Australia's universal health care system. He was meeting with the Australian Prime Minister, he said your health care is better than ours. Of course, they had universal health care, and then there was a lot of hoopla, of course, in the wake of that, and he tweeted, he said, "Of course, the Australians have better health care than we do. Everybody does. Obamacare is dead, but our health care will soon be great." What do you make of that tweet in light of what we heard at the briefing today from his spokeswoman just trying to shut this down?

CHALIAN: Yes. She had a very tough job today of trying to explain those comments away. I don't know if she knew that the President was then going to double down on them on his Twitter feed.

KEILAR: That's right.

CHALIAN: Which was classic Trump there, right, to just double down and see the criticism, watch your spokesperson perhaps try to explain it away but --


KEILAR: But for those of -- for those of us who didn't see -- so she says in the briefing, right? She's just saying that he's being complimentary. He's just complimenting.

CHALIAN: Just that here is a foreign leader and he was complimenting this foreign leader's health care service. It's good for Australia. It works for them.

CILLIZA: He's nice.

KEILAR: He's being nice. Yes.

CHALIAN: He's -- right, exactly. It's a pleasantry. That's how she was explaining it away. He obviously was like, no, no, no. And so, I do --

KEILAR: Well, he doesn't want to be said -- he doesn't want to be said that he was wrong or right? Isn't that part of it? He wants -- he doesn't want to be challenged on what he said.

CHALIAN: Yes, but you also have to understand. This is somebody who did at one time support the idea of universal health care. So --


KEILAR: That's true. That's very true. Right there, we ran the clip.

CHALIAN: So it's not -- it's not that distant from his actual beliefs that weren't held that long ago.

KEILAR: You -- so -- wait, so you think that he knew what Australia's health care plan system was when he said that?

CILLIZZA: I have a strong view of that. I'll wait until David --


KEILAR: David, I'm curious what you all think.

CILLIZZA: No. He does not have a strong understanding of the Australian health care system. I think he said it because he wanted to rundown Obamacare a little bit, right? He wanted to be like well, ours is bad, but it will be better, but oh, I feel yours is good because he's right in front of the person and he has a tendency when he's right in front of the person to be sort of like oh, good. That's what you saw in that tweet. Well, Australia -- anyone's better than us. Australia is better than us, anybody is better than us because our system is failing but luckily for everyone, I have fixed it.

KEILAR: What do you think?

BERG: Donald Trump doesn't really care about policy details. I think we know this. So, whether it comes -- whether it relates to Australia's health care system or the current U.S. health care system or what republicans are proposing to fix it, Donald Trump only cares about something that he can sell and that looks like a win for him politically. And so, in that interview from a few months ago where he was talking about wanting to take care of everyone and cover everyone, well, sure, that sounds great, that sounds great in a campaign setting, and that's probably why he said it, and now he's working with the Republican Party that wants something different, and so he's trying to get a win for everyone and make him look good, make the Republican Party look good. Donald Trump, I think, we have seen through his actions, through his words, he doesn't really care about policy.


KEILAR: Let's -- well, let's talk about --

CHALIAN: But he didn't promise. He didn't promise now that deductibles were going to be lower, that premiums are going to be lower. And so now that whether he's --

CILLIZZA: Whether he won the policies are not, he --


CHALIAN: And that's going to go back to haunt him.


[17:45:00] KEILAR: Let's talk about a group of people who are going to care about the details of the policy, and we are told this is a working group of republicans who are crafting legislation in the senate. We also could refer to this as our pilot full of dudes.

CILLIZZA: A lot of dudes.

KEILAR: OK. A lot of dudes here. There are -- this is -- they have female senators. They're getting a lot of criticism when it comes to female health issues. It seems that they might have wanted to include that perspective.

CILLIZZA: Let me just say that they have two obvious choices that could have been put on there. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa -- both. I don't see why not eat up 13 men. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowskiof Alaska, both of whom have voiced concerns about various aspects of the bill, a lot of it around Medicaid, freezing the Medicaid expansion in 2020. Both of whom have -- are well-versed in this issue. Susan Collins has been in the senate for quite some sometime. Lisa Murkowski has been in the senate for quite some time. I -- it -- to me, it's bad optics, but it's also bad from a policy perspective in what we're -- what we're talking about is women's health care, maternity leave. Of course, you would want to have that perspective for --

KEILAR: Quick final word to you, Rebecca.

BERG: I think we're not giving these senators, republican senators, enough credit if we're assuming that only the senators in that room will have a voice on health care. They're going to have to reach a consensus among all republicans. They have a very thin margin for error, they can't be losing republican votes on the compromise that developed, and Susan Collins has already proposed a health care reform package with Bill Cassidy, so I'm sure that will be a part of the discussion, whether she's in that room or not.

CILLIZA: I think you're better -- I mean, just in general, I just think you are better off -- this is not a partisan thing. I think you are better off in the room than being consulted afterwards. That's all.

KEILAR: Chris, David, Rebecca, thank you so much, to all of you.

And coming up, North Korea's new and bizarre claim that the CIA was plotting to assassinate Kim Jong-un with a biochemical substance.


[17:51:34] KEILAR: It's been a decade now since three-year-old Madeleine McCann was vacationing with her family and vanished. CNN's Randi Kaye is taking a fresh look at the case in a new CNN special report tonight. Take a look.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Around 9:30, 9:25, Matthew Oldfield was going upstairs, and he said to Kate, "I'll take it, I'll go and check on (INAUDIBLE)" He went into the McCann's apartment. He went to the door of the children's bedroom but he did not go in.

CLARENCE MITCHELL, MCCANN FAMILY SPOKESMAN: He looked in, he saw the twins who were in cuffs through the door, but he didn't put his head around to the left where he would have seen if Madeline was there or not. And I'm sure it's something he regrets massively.

KAYE: Less than 30 minutes later, it was Kate McCann's turn.

KATE MCCANN, MADELEINE MCCANN'S MOTHER: I went back to do a check at 10:00. And I went through the patio doors at the back, I just noticed that the door to the children's bedroom was quite far open, and just as I was about to close it, it kind of slammed. It's like a gust of wind had shut it.

MITCHELL: Her heart sank then at that point because it was all wrong, everything was wrong.

MCCANN: Then I went back just to open the door again a little bit. Just as I did that, I know the (INAUDIBLE) the shutter was open, the window was open.

KAYE: And then she saw that Madeleine's bed was empty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you think in that moment?

MCCANN: Someone had taken her.


KEILAR: Randi Kaye joining me now. And Randi, it's worth pointing out the McCann's themselves have been criticized over the years, right?

KAYE: They certainly have mainly because of how they handled things that week. They were there, you know, they were at this complex in Praia da Luz, Portugal. There was child care available, and they were with their friends on vacation, several other couples. But every night, instead of putting their kids in this child care that was available, they would leave them alone in the apartment. And as you saw in that clip, the parents would each go into these listening checks and stand outside the door and sometimes peak in in on all of the kids, and they regret this decision, of course. You know, they did that every night until the night that Madeleine was taken or disappeared. But that was their choice. So they likened it to sort of sitting in a garden at home and leaving your kids up in their bedroom. But this was an apartment complex, and in Portugal, everybody brings their children with them everywhere so they took a lot of criticism for that -- for that decision.

KEILAR: Do they -- do they think she's still alive?

KAYE: They do simply because, I mean, obviously as parent, they hold out hope, but Scotland Yard says there is zero evidence that she's dead. I mean, they haven't found a body. Kate McCann just revealed this week that she still buys Christmas presents for Madeleine McCann, hoping that one day she will return and be able to give those to her. And the experts tell us that the younger a child is when they're taken, the less likely it is that they're killed after they're taken, so they still hold out hope certainly because there's no evidence telling them otherwise.

KEILAR: Wow. Randi Kaye, thank you so much for that. And you can check out Randi's special report, it's called "MISSING: MADELEINE MCCANN" that will be tonight at 10:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

[17:54:42] Coming up, with tensions already high, North Korea accuses the U.S. of working with South Korea on a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un with a "biochemical substance". What is behind the extraordinary statement?


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, prepared to subpoena the Senate Intelligence Committee asked former Trump campaign associates for details of their communication with Russians, with lawmakers saying they are prepared to seek warrants for the documents if they don't get them. Is the investigation into the Trump-Russia ties heating up? In the senate's hands, all eyes on the senate as lawmakers there take up the Republican Health Care Bill passed by the house. As President Trump applies new pressure, moderates and conservatives form a working group signaling their intention to craft their own legislation. How different will this be from the house bill?

Plot or fiction? North Korea accuses the U.S. and South Korea of planning to kill dictator Kim Jong-un in a biochemical assassination plot to be carried out by CIA terrorists planted inside the country. This is an allegation that mirrors the plot of a controversial movie. Could any of it be true?