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Paul Ryan Press Briefing; WAPO: FBI Duped by dubious Russia Intel Document. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired May 25, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:00] REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in this country, and human trafficking, human trafficking is one of the world's fastest growing crimes. While worrying comes naturally for parents, it is staggering to consider the different forms that child exploitation can take. It could be a coach or someone close to you, or it could be a total stranger on social media acting alone as part of a global operation. Together, Republicans and Democrats are taking action to protect the most vulnerable and punish those who abuse them. With these initiatives, we will go after child sex offenders, and we will make sure that survivors have the highest protection under the law.

Second, ahead of Memorial Day, we are tackling bipartisan challenges, and we're taking bipartisan action to help our veterans and their families. It is especially good news that we are making progress on fixing the longstanding problems with the V.A. claims backlog. So many of us in Congress have been working on this for so many years, dealing with our own constituents and their problems. Veterans have got bills to pay. They have families to support. The last thing they should have to deal with is endless bureaucracy. Unfortunately, that's what's gone on with the V.A. with this claims backlog. So, if you've been involved in Congress working on these case workers, it is just heart-wrenching to see a veteran who needs health care get stuck in this claims backlog. The initiative that the House passed this week with bipartisan, unanimous support, will expedite the process so that veterans can get timely decisions and have real peace of mind and we can get rid of this claims backlog.

Lastly, I want to talk about a very important health care report. It's a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. It's the ASPI data point report. The Department of Health and Human Services has released an analysis that says that since Obamacare went into effect, average premiums have more than doubled nationwide. Since Obamacare went into effect, average health care premiums have doubled nationwide. Remember, remember when President Obama promised that his health care plan would lower the typical family's premiums by up to $2,500? Under Obamacare, average premiums have gone up by nearly $3,000. This law did not drop premiums by $2,500, as promised. Average premiums have gone up by over $3,000, by nearly $3,000. Just yesterday, a new shoe drops every week on Obamacare, it seems. Just yesterday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it will pull out of 32 counties in Kansas and in Missouri. This will affect 67,000 people. Citing all of the losses it had taken over 2016, the company said, and I quote, "This is unsustainable." This is exactly why we are on a rescue mission. Between premiums surging up and choices going away, Obamacare is on an unsustainable path. Look, the blue cross blue shield plans, they're the non-profits. They're typically the last plan standing in a market, and when they're pulling out of states like Kansas and Missouri, we have a serious problem on our hands. This law is in the middle of a collapse. We need to bring down the cost of coverage, and we need to revitalize the market so that people have real choices and real access to affordable health care. That's what our plan will do.

So, we're happy to get you a copy of this report if you need it, or if you want, you can just go to and see for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Given what happened last night, should Greg Gianforte withdraw from the Montana House race?

RYAN: Well, first, let me just say, physical altercations are -- there's never a call for physical altercations. There is no time where a physical altercation should occur with the press or just between human beings. So, that is wrong and it should not have happened. Should the gentleman apologize? Yeah, I think he should apologize. I know he has his own version, and I'm sure he's going to have more to say, but there's no call for this, no matter what, under any circumstance. The people of the state of Montana are going to decide today who they will send to Congress.

[11:35:28] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If he wins, will you --

RYAN: If he wins, he has been chosen by the people of Montana who their congressman is going to be. I'm going to let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative. That's not our choice. That's the people of Montana who choose that.

Fred? Or Jake. Jake, sorry. Jake, then Chad.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- a choice whether -- (INAUDIBLE) --whether you accept him or not. Is this the kind of behavior --


RYAN: The choice will be made by the people of Montana. I do not think this is acceptable behavior, but the choice will be made by the people of Montana.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, you have Senate the health care report to the Senate, waiting for the CBO report. You got it. Why do we hear so many rank-and-file Republicans basically beating the living tar out of the CBO? You were the Budget Committee's chair. And I understand the issues --

(CROSSTALK) RYAN: By the way, I've seen both parties beat the living tar out of CBO for years. I've been doing budgeting around here for a long time. I think what it is, is the $23 million claim is -- there's a lot more to it than what that sounds like. What I'm encouraged by is the fact that CBO said, yes, we hit our budget target and then is some, so the bill is clearly in compliance with reconciliation instructions, number one. Number two, what I'm encouraged is, what the CBO says is we're going to be able to drop premiums. We're going to give states like Wisconsin flexibility to get premiums down. Look at what just happened in Missouri and look at what just happened in Kansas. We see a law that's collapsing. We see a new study that just came out yesterday from HHS saying premiums have doubled in America because of Obamacare. People can't afford this. And so, what CBO just told us is the reforms that we put in this bill will help lower premiums. And so, I'm very encouraged by that.

But I think what members are frustrated with is what's behind the CBO analysis about who gets insured and who doesn't get insured -- if you leave it up to a person's choice, then they'll make a choice. If the government's going to stop forcing people to buy something that they don't want to buy, then they won't buy it, and that's basically what CBO is saying, and I think the lack of clarity on that point is what has members frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- why people embrace, though, the budget that --


RYAN: I think I just answered your question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's important your side really embrace that, but then when it came to 23 million, it's no, no, those yahoos down --


RYAN: I just explained it. Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The CBO report, it did find that premiums on average would come down, but it also found that in the markets including the waivers, they believe that there might not be any premium access, any access for the --


RYAN: So, obviously, I disagree with that. Let me explain what this means just so people -- so --


RYAN: If a state takes a waiver, then a state, in order to get that waiver, has to have a risk system in place. We have experience with this where I come from. We had a risk pool. Maine had great experiences. They had risk-sharing. So, a state has to have a risk system in place, and that risk system is specifically designed to make sure that people with a catastrophic illness, somebody who has a pre- existing condition, also gets access to affordable health care. And what we have learned through experience is if we target resources at the state level and at the federal level to help make sure that we subsidize catastrophic illnesses, what you end up doing is you lower the premiums for everybody else. We think that's so much smarter.

What Obamacare tried to do is force younger, healthier people to pay way more for their health insurance than they otherwise would have paid, and that would cross-subsidize everybody else. Guess what? It didn't happen. It didn't work. They're not buying the health insurance. And as a result, the health insurers are collapsing. Blue Cross/Blue Shield's pulling out of Missouri and Kansas, Aetna's pulling out nationwide. Iowa has no plans left. There's nothing left in Iowa because Obamacare collapsed, and it is collapsing.

And so, what we're saying is, let's just be smart about this. What do we want? What do we all want? We want everybody who doesn't get health care from either Medicare or Medicaid or from their job -- that's about 11 percent of Americans -- we want them, too, to get access to affordable health care. And we think the smart way to do this is don't force young families to overpay for their health insurance, because we're finding out they're not. They won't just buy it. Let's let people buy insurance that's priced competitively, give people more choice, have more competition. Let states be innovative, like my own state was before Obamacare. And then let's direct support directly to the people with catastrophic illnesses. Let's subsidize those who have severe illnesses or they get affordable, comprehensive coverage. They don't go bankrupt if they get sick. And by doing that, we free up the marketplace for everybody else so that they can get even lower premiums. That's what the waiver's all about, giving states the flexibility to do this. And that's why I'm comforted by the CBO report, which shows, yeah, we'll lower premiums.

We've got two problems to solve here. We've got to get premiums down and we have to make sure people with pre-existing conditions can get affordable coverage.


[11:40:52] Mr. Speaker -- (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

RYAN: I just explained. I just answered the question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, the treasury secretary called for a clean debt ceiling increase by August. The House Freedom Caucus rejected the idea of a clean debt ceiling increase but also wants something done by August, paired with policy shifts, to address the deficit. Where do you stand on this issue?

RYAN: We were talking with our members on this. Every treasury secretary says this and every treasury secretary needs to say this. So, I expect nothing less from a treasury secretary. They all should say that. They all do say that. And we're going to be talking with our members and with the administration on how we resolve the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling issue will get resolved. The timing is what I think is the newsworthy thing here. Receipts aren't quite what people thought they were, and that's why Secretary Mnuchin is moving the timetable up, so we're looking at that new timetable.

Last question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, just to follow up quickly. Nice to see you. Thank you.

RYAN: Hi, nice to see you.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I don't hang out in here very often.

On the CBO, specifically, the language they use with premiums, it says "despite the additional funding", those sicker Americans would face extremely high premiums.

RYAN: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So how do you assure those American with preexisting conditions that they won't be priced out and it won't become unaffordable?

RYAN: Here's what the CBO report doesn't quite fully get or states, is that states put their own part of this as well. This is what this analysis I think forgets, which is, we are for the first time ever proposing to put billions of dollars from the federal government for risk systems in states, whether it's a risk pool, a reinsurance mechanism or risk-sharing. Now, what's important to note is states do their own part of this as well. So, in Wisconsin, for instance, we had an assessment on all the health insurance plans. We had an agreement among providers that we would -- they would have a certain fee schedule that they agreed to. I think Maine had an assessment on all their health insurance plans.

The point I'm trying to make is you don't look at the risk share or risk pool idea federal alone. Remember, the states will also do some of the lifting. The states, like in my state, we'll have an assessment on plans, if they choose to do that. They'll have an agreement with providers. And so, we will have federal resources and state resources, which taken together will improve the situation. We had a very successful risk pool in Wisconsin. Our insurance commissioner, deputy insurance commissioner, came up and testified as much. It was very successful, and it didn't have a dime of federal spending. It had no federal money whatsoever.

So, what we're saying is let's do even more of that. Let's have these states put together their own risk systems like they had successfully in the past and let's on top of that add federal financing so that it's even better. That's the point we're trying to make.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To be very clear about this, you're saying the states will be able to afford to do enough so that the CBO's projection of extremely high premiums --

(CROSSTALK) RYAN: Yeah, that's the whole purpose of a risk pool. Take a look at the Maine model. Take a look at the Wisconsin model. Look at what Utah did. Look at what all these other states did. You have to give the states the ability to customize solutions in their areas. The health insurance system provider network insurance system in Wisconsin's a whole lot different than it is in New York, let alone New Mexico, Texas, and California, or Maine. Give these states the ability to customize, support, and now for the first time ever, we're going it add federal dollars to this, because we just think it's a lot smarter to directly subsidize the care for people with catastrophic illnesses. 1 percent of the people in the individual market drive 23 percent of the cost. That's just 1 percent.

So, let's just as a society agree, at the state level and at the federal level, we're going to cover those costs, those extra costs. We're going to put resources in there. Because if we do that, we do two things, peace of mind for people with pre-existing conditions and catastrophic illnesses, innovation at the state level so that it can be done the right way so it works in that state, and you lower premiums for everybody else because the insurance does not have to cover that catastrophic illness. It can cover the basic health insurance needs, and you stabilize those insurance markets, which by the way, look at what we're looking at right now. Not only is this an unstable individual insurance market, we have a collapsing individual insurance market, and that is why this is a rescue mission.

Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it.

[11:45:09] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Speaker Ryan there wrapping up his weekly press conference covering many things, health care, a new price tag out on the House Republican bill that was passed a couple of weeks ago.

And also, this was a press conference dominated by something that we saw happen yesterday ahead of today's special election in Montana, the alleged body slamming of a reporter by the Republican candidate there in Montana, Greg Gianforte.

I want to talk about this now with Jason Miller, CNN political commentator and former senior communications director for President Trump's transition team; also with us, Brian Fallon, CNN political commentator and former press secretary for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign; and Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast."

Next time, I'm just saying your names.


I'll assume people know who you are, on the right, on the left, OK?

So, Paul Ryan gets a question right out of the gate. He says there's never a time for a physical altercation with the press or really with anyone, he says. And he also said that Greg Gianforte should apologize, but he said, Jackie, let the people of Montana decide.



KEILAR: If he's elected.

KUCINICH: Well, if he's elected. Then he'll be Paul Ryan's problem. But at its core, that's actually more forceful than you've seen some other Republicans come out. I mean, the Senator, Steve Daines, from Montana, basically said, wow, that sounds bad. Look over there. And then you had Steve Signers, who is the chair of the NRCC, just come out and say, wow, that seems out of character, everybody makes mistakes. So, the fact that Paul Ryan called for an apology is a step further than a lot of other politicians, but at the end of the day, this isn't OK. This isn't something that is acceptable. And more Republican leaders should come out and say such.

KEILAR: It is bizarre and extreme, to say the least.

You've heard the audio, Brian, I'm assuming, where you just see this accelerates so quickly from what seems to be a normal question that a candidate would get, and then there's just this huge physical altercation.

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And the reality, Brianna, is it's happening too late in the election cycle for us to know the true impact, even after we know the outcome of this at-large race out in Montana. So, if Quist wins, it's impossible to say it's only because of this.

KEILAR: The Democrat.

FALLON: Yes. And if Gianforte pulls it off, we'll new know if the public had a chance to fully absorb it because it happened so late. So you have to put politics aside and say certain things are unacceptable and go above politics.

Jackie is right, the speaker went farther than any other Republican last night or this morning, but that doesn't make it laudable. He fell short with failing to withdraw support. You haven't seen any of the Republican committees withdrawing their advertising. Basically, in condemning the behavior, he did the bare minimum, but the subtext was he's still our guy and if he can pull this off, we're happy to welcome him to our caucus, which is a bad message to send.

KEILAR: Democrats see opportunity in this.

Let's listen to what Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the House, said about this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: And to see this person, who wants to be the one representative into the House of Representatives from Montana, be sort of a wanna-be Trump. You know, use language like that, treat people harshly like that. That's his model. Donald Trump's his model. And we've really got to say, come on, behave. Behave. That was outrageous.


KEILAR: So, she is tying this guy to Trump and to Republicans. Is that going to be a problem when you're looking at a race that really should have gone for the Republicans? The Democrat actually has a shot, and it's because of the anti-Trump fervor that some people in Montana are seeing, or feeling, Jason Miller.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMMENTATOR: Well, you're right in saying this is completely inexcusable. And to be clear, this candidate never should have body slammed a reporter. I mean, anyone who knows Ben Jacobs knows that he's, what, probably 150 pounds and he's not an aggressive reporter that would get up in your face. But even if he had gotten in his face and shoved the recorder, you have to be ready for prime time, and I think that's what this candidate shows us, is that he's not ready for the bright lights of the big stage. Now, going to what former Speaker Pelosi had to say, as we talk about her lack of political instincts, for her to jump into this and inject herself and try to pull in the president -- I mean, if I'm that candidate in Montana, I'm sending out the fund-raising appeal already saying here comes San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi attacking me with her Democratic values. Why she would stick her nose in this and have outrageous comments, it shows her complete misunderstanding of how voters in Montana think about things.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about a "Washington Post" report.

I know you'll, Brian, have an opinion about this. Basically, what it says is in the middle of the 2016 presidential election, the FBI got what they thought was a Russian intelligence document, but then it became really unclear is this was even real or not. And now it's really questionable because the people who appeared to have been communicating in it don't really know each other, haven't contacted each other before. But in short, the document said that Loretta Lynch, then the A.G., was giving assurances to the Clinton campaign, don't worry -- we're told, Brian, by this report -- that Jim Comey, the FBI director, was spurred by this very document when he came out in July and had that unprecedented press conference, even though he said Hillary Clinton wasn't going to be charged, he said he was reckless. What's your reaction to this as a former Clinton campaign staffer?

[11:50:42] FALLON: I'd like to not react to it as a former Clinton staffer. This should not be cause to revisit the election.

As a matter of going forward, in terms of how seriously we take the issue of Russia's attempts to meddle in Democratic election, this should be troubling to everybody. So we knew previously that the Russians were putting out propaganda and misinformation on Facebook and it was very arguable about whether it actually had an impact on voter behavior, whether anybody made the decision based on a bog us story they saw on Facebook. This is now a smoking gun piece of evidence that the FBI's actual prop actions were guided by misinformation that was put out there by the Russians. That should be troubling to everybody. It's reason to take this seriously going forward.

KEILAR: It seems just nuts, Jason, because in this article they say that the chair of the DNC, according to this potentially fake document -- it seems increasingly likely it is fake -- sent an e-mail to an official with the Open Society Foundations. And there was reference to a campaign staffer, that she had gotten some private communication from the A.G. All of these people say, what, I don't even know that person. I didn't talk to that person. What are you talking about? And it's very convincing in the way that has been reported out very well. What do you say to that?

MILLER: Well, I think --


KEILAR: Should we be upset by this?

MILLER: There are a number of things going on. First, this reminds me of much of the Democratic criticism of the previous FBI director this past year when they wanted to see a change. Which, again, we've been really surprised that so many people now have flipped and gone the opposite direction.

But there's an interesting point that former Director Brennan made in his testimony on the Hill where he said that the Russians had been trying to get involved with American elections, and elections around the globe, for decades. And I think that's very problematic. I think as this continues to go forward, I think one of the things we have to do is really pay attention to what's real and what's not real. We have to be cautious of stories that are coming up that are alleging things.

KEILAR: You mean be cautious of this story?

MILLER: I would say just --


KEILAR: Are you doubtful of this story?

MILLER: I would say I haven't seen the details, but I would say the broader issue, as we talk about the leaks, that was left year when we talked about some e-mail or what's going on now. We need to get the facts before we rush out and report them.


FALLON: This is something that was asked about in an open hearing with Director Comey by, no less, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley. So this is information that's good to have out there. But I don't think we should retreat to our corners and act like every revelation like this is a reason to relitigate the election. Like I said, I think this should be troubling to all of us. Not because it calls into question the outcome of the election. Donald Trump won. Just because the idea that the Russians were able to successfully penetrate the thinking of the FBI director should be bothered by how sophisticated their methods are and how successful they were.

KEILAR: Jackie, go back to July, and not relitigating the election, just the idea of this being duped, right? Go back to July. Listening to this press conference, everyone thought this is really extraordinary that Director Comey is saying this, considering there aren't any charges, that he's getting out there, he's getting public, saying Hillary Clinton was reckless with her e-mails. He appeared to be, according to many, many sources, motivated by this document. If you look back into July with that lens, knowing that was going on, we didn't know it at the time, what do you think?

KUCINICH: It just -- it -- as Brian said, it just shows how important these investigations are and how seriously this should be taken, which is why the White House should -- I mean, the fact that there is still some hemming and hawing about how much Russia was involved when it comes to the president, this should be taken seriously. Everyone should take it seriously. Because this is about meddling in the United States election. It's not about Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Jason, your point is that we should be cautious about believing this report, not that we should be concerned about a Russian document that may have fooled the FBI director of the United States of America?

[11:55:00] MILLER: I think we should be cautious about all information that's coming forward. Again, I was with Director Comey. None of us were when this information was presented to him. But this really goes to the point that you have to investigate and find out and make sure the information is being put in front of you is accurate. Whether it's that type of situation or whether if you're reporting one of the major dailies here in town and the information supposedly is getting leaked to you, you need to find out and make sure it's accurate before you rush to make important decisions based on it.

KEILAR: Jason Miller, Brian Fallon, Jackie Kucinich, thank you to all of you.

Stick around, because we have a lot more to talk about, including, sources saying that President Trump's press secretary is fuming -- you can kind of understand this one -- after being left out of the meeting with the pope. So why was Sean Spicer, who is a devout Catholic, why was he off the list?

Stay with us.