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Soon: Pelosi Speaks amid GA Defeat, Dem Uprising; Intel Chiefs to Investigators: Trump suggested they Refute Collusions with Russians; Now: Senate Republicans Reviewing Draft Bill. Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired June 22, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now Republican senators are behind closed doors finally getting to see what is in their own health care bill and maybe, more importantly, whether they can rally behind it for a vote next week.
[10:00:04] And as for the Democrats, minutes from now, we are going to hear from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. This is the first time she will really make public remarks after members of her own party and own caucus -- some have said she should step aside as party leader, that following loss in a pair of special elections this week. This could be very interesting. How will she respond? A lot going on, on Capitol Hill, we are going begin with health care.
CNN's Phil Mattingly following that. Phil, they are behind closed- doors. What did we learn?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and I think the interesting element here, John, is what they are actually learning. Obviously, there's been a lot of frustration voiced by a lot of rank and file senators. They didn't know the direction that this bill was heading. We are now getting a sense of that from people who have seen the draft of the bill that's now being presented behind closed-doors. And in many ways, John, interestingly enough, a very closely resembles what we saw out of the House, that there are key tweaks there that are crucial, at least according to Senate leadership, to try and to get more of their members in line, to try and get those 50 that they need.
I want to run through it real quick. I think it's very important to note what the House bill did to the Medicaid program on the whole is dramatic reform, changing it to Per Capita Grant, changing the federal funding structure. The Senate bill, as it's currently drafted would go much further, actually dramatically cutting how federal funding is spent, tacking it on to kind of how to gauge, how to measure of the spending grows over the course of the years.
It also changes from the House bill to Medicaid expansion. How quickly it whines down. That is an important point for several senators who come from Medicaid expansion states. It will be a more gradual process than the House process but it will still come down.
Now, there's also a shift in how people will be able to finance some of their subsidies. That there tax credits for health care, the House bill was more tacked on to age, this will be more tacked on to income as well. When it's compared to the Affordable Care Act subsidies, that was set at a level of maximum level, a 400 percent from the federal poverty level, this will be dropped down to 350 percent.
So, there are a lot of changes in here that we are seeing. I think it's worth noting, John, this isn't the final bill. There will be opportunities to amend the bill. And we're told right now that Senators that have concerns behind closed-doors, it's very likely that at some point, if those concerns are multiplied by several senators, they may actually be addressed.
But I think the big question here is, as this is presented, when senators start to come out, how they feel, what signals they give, obviously there's another important kind of aspect here, the CBO score should come early next week. That will help a lot of senators try to make up their minds.
But again, all that matters to Senate leaders right now, how do you get to 50 votes. This policy is extremely important, not just on the political level but also for every day individuals. Can they get their members there on both of those fronts? We'll see. They still want to vote as soon as next Thursday. John?
BERMAN: We are watching for those first reactions, their faces when they emerge from that room. So crucial, Phil. I know you will be there watching. We will bring it to you live when it happens.
In the meantime, CNN has exclusive new details on the Russia investigation. According to multiple sources, two of the nation's top intelligence chiefs told investigators that President Trump suggested that they say publicly that there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia.
CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, part of the crack team breaking this story. Dana, what have you learned?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what we gathered from our sources is really a first glimpse at what two top intelligence chiefs said behind closed-doors both to special prosecutor, Robert Mueller's team and to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in separate meetings last week. Multiple sources tell me, our colleagues Evan Perez and Manu Raju that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers said that President Trump suggested that they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians.
In these closed meetings with special prosecutors, at least the team there and the Senate Intelligence Committee, both intelligence chiefs describe these interactions with the president about the Russian investigation as odd and uncomfortable. But, they said they don't believe the president gave them orders to intervene in the investigation.
Now, you may remember, rather, their public testimony early this month, both Coats and Rogers said that they never felt pressured but it really got contentious because they wouldn't offer specifics about their interactions with the president until they went into classified settings, which we were reporting for the first time about -- here this morning. Now, we should say the fact that the president had these conversations at all was first reported by "The Washington Post" last month.
Now, one of multiple Democratic and Republican sources we talked to for this story told us that both Rogers and Coats reported to members of the Intelligence Committee that Trump wanted them to say publicly what then FBI director James Comey had told the president privately, that he was not under investigation for collusion. But neither thought that the president was asking them to do something they didn't want to do and importantly, they didn't act on the president's suggestion. Now ultimately, it's going to be up to Robert Mueller and his team to decide whether these revelations are relevant to their investigation.
[10:05:01] Also John, CNN reached out to the White House, to the DNI, to the NSA and Mueller's office, all declined to comment for the story.
BERMAN: All right. And obviously, both Dan Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers, they failed to comment on any of this before the Senate as they were testifying.
BERMAN: Why, Dana?
BASH: Well, one of the sources that I spoke to said that Coats and Rogers asked for guidance from the White House on whether the president would claim executive privilege, which would have meant in that hearing or any hearing at all before Congress. They couldn't talk about their conversations with the president. They didn't get an answer from the White House before their testimony.
So, they weren't sure what to say and it ended up, really awkward and contentious in the public hearing. But we are told in private, at least at classified briefings that - describing to there were much more forthcoming about the conversations that they had with the president.
BERMAN: As for the contemporaneous accounts, we know the FBI director, the fired FBI director James Comey likes to take notes. Are there notes in either of the cases of Dan Coats or Mike Rogers?
BASH: Rogers' interaction with the president is documented, yes. A memo was written by his deputy at the NSA at the time, Richard Ledgett. And one Congressional source who I spoke with, who has seen that memo, said it's not like the Comey memos. It's one page and it doesn't have the details of the conversation like Comey's did. And the memo does make clear, according to what I'm told, that Rogers thought this conversation he had with the president was out of the ordinary. And as for Coats, we're told that he didn't appear to document the conversation he had with the president.
BERMAN: All right, Dana Bash, fantastic reporting. Fascinating to see how this develops over the next few hours. Thank you so much.
I want to bring in Mary Katharine Ham, a CNN political commentator, senior writer for "The Federalist," Angela Rye, CNN political commentator, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus and David Drucker, CNN political analyst, senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner."
So we have the health care meeting going on right now, that's door number A. Door number B, new developments on the Russia investigation, but I'm going to door number C, Angela Rye, which is, the Democrats and the growing calls for members within the House Democratic Caucus maybe for Nancy Pelosi to step aside. She will speak in just a few minutes. We'll bring that to you live. In the meantime, let me play you some of the sound of what some people have been saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATHLEEN RICE (D), NEW YORK: We need a winning strategy. And I think the first step to getting to a winning strategy is a change in leadership.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's clear that I think across the board in the Democratic Party, we need new leadership.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You think Nancy Pelosi is more toxic than Donald Trump?
REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: You know what? The honest answer is, in some areas of the country, yes, she is. That's the honest answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: These are Democrats, Angela Rye. Look, you worked for the Congressional Black Caucus. You worked in the House of Representatives. What is your view of this?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: So, it's complex. It's not an easy answer and there's no easy fix. Here is the reality, when you go through a brutal election like we just experienced in 2016 and then you turn around and you're seeing a special election after special election, our candidates not winning. You see $50 million basically in the hole on this Georgia election and nothing to show for it, apparently.
But here is the reality. Democrats did make up a lot of ground in a special election that we never should have won. Can we place all of that blame at the feet of Nancy Pelosi? Absolutely not.
But here is another reality. There is time for change, not just -- with the House Democrats, with the Senate Democrats. Yes, there's Chuck Schumer but there's an issue that we have on messaging and there's an issue that we have about talking to people about -- issues that they deem most important. We can talk about Russia and talk about health care. We can talk about health care and talk about the economy. We can talk about the economy and talk about education. It is time for the Democrats to realize that consultant after consultant, they continue to hire when they have lost. They are problematic. That's not just House Democratic leadership issue. That's a collective Democratic Party issue. We have no leadership at the DNC and this remains an issue.
So, we have to start looking at our vendors. We have to start talking about diversity. And maybe the other problem is, Nancy Pelosi can't be the only woman. That's another issue. There's a generational divide. There's not just a partisan divide, but there is a paradigm issue in the Democratic Party where they were talking about moderates or Uber (ph) liberals. We have to make up for all of those gaps. And we had a brutal election. That's going to take a while to fix.
BERMAN: What appearing is you know, maybe it's time to talk about it in that answer. And David Drucker, it was notable that in the days leading up to the special election in Congress, I heard from people on both sides. I mean, you heard from Republicans and you heard from Democrats saying, you know in the hours up until the polls opened there, this has become about Nancy Pelosi, like it has other elections particularly in that part of the country. Republicans beat up on Nancy Pelosi in these elections and it is effective and does seem that Democrats, some, at least, David, are you know, sick of it.
[10:10:03] DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": In this Republican district and in others, Nancy Pelosi is the single biggest motivating factor Republicans can use to turn out their base, to turn out even voters outside their base. And I think that's one of the reasons Karen Handel was successful. Nancy Pelosi was a bigger motivator on the right than voting against Donald Trump was for the people that are wary of his leadership or against him. And I think that is a factor that Democrats are coming to terms with.
And look, I think we need to understand something, Nancy Pelosi has been at the top in the House Democratic Caucus for a dozen years. There's always restlessness. It's really unusual for a leader in Congress to serve this long and to have Democrats go on camera and criticize her and say that it's time for her to go is very significant. Because usually this kind of grumbling happens from time- to-time, but it's kept under wraps.
And because what happens in Congress either right and left, is a truly member services business. So, what motivates voters off of Capitol Hill, when members are electing their leaders on the Hill, it's a totally different calculation. Who can get my bills passed? Who can help me raise money?
DRUCKER: And this shows that there's a lot of restlessness. And I think that this is the kind of thing that could build into something that could force Nancy Pelosi to take a second look and start to question whether or not she should remain as leader.
BERMAN: And Mary Katharine, I want to bring you into a different part of this discussing. We have a new member joining our panel right now and that's the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who as we have been sitting here has been making statements on Twitter about the Russia investigation.
Let me read you some of what we have. I don't know which one we have to pull up on screen here. The latest one, he's talking about the testimony of Jeh Johnson yesterday. "Why did the Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It's all a big Dem hoax."
Now, on the one hand, look, he's right. The DNC did refuse the help of DHS which Jeh Johnson testified to yesterday. They didn't want the federal government coming in and looking at their server per se they did it through a third party, a vendor. The president is right on that. And Jeh Johnson -- said he regretted that yesterday. On the other hand, continues to say it's all a hoax, Mary Katharine Ham.
And in another tweet, he talked about -- the Russia hacks. He goes, "If Russia was working so hard on the 2016 election." So you have him talking about it but still questioning whether it even happened.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND SENIOR WRITER "THE FEDERALIST": Well, this is a perfect example of how Trump trips himself up. Right now, I could be bashing Nancy Pelosi and yet, I am here talking about Trump's tweets.
Look, he gets himself in trouble with this all the time. But what he does when he does either the public tweeting or privately talking to Coats and Rogers, is one bringing light to things that he thinks aren't getting enough coverage. And I think that's the legit story, the one he brings up.
The other one, the Russia investigation is a real story as well. With Coats and Rogers, he, I think, is channeling this sort of understandable frustration that Comey and others were telling him behind closed-doors that he's not under investigation and he wants that made clear to the public, who thinks that's not clear. But he's doing it in an inappropriate way. That if not criminal, it's unethical and it's likely not criminal, but it is unethical and inappropriate. And so, you he just trips himself up.
And the other part of CNN's reporting about this that struck me is so classically Trump, is that Coats and Rogers asked the White House about executive privilege and whether he wanted to exert it before they went to testify. --
HAM: And he couldn't answer back to them. Again, feel free to exert it. So they can go there and give a clear answer in front of that committee and it made for very awkward news cycle for them. So, in many ways, he is just tripping himself up.
BERMAN: You know it did make for an awkward cycle. I looked at it from a different perspective though. I said by not answering, it kept them from saying out loud what we now know to be true, which is that the president asked them to say out loud that there was no collusion before the investigation is deemed. You know, who knows if they meant to do it or not, one of the mysteries of the White House.
Mary Katharine Ham, I apologize for not giving you a chance to talk about Nancy Pelosi. But I think based on your comment (CROSSTALK) we know what you might have said right there. Thanks to you all, Angela, David, Mary Katharine, appreciate it.
All right, behind closed-doors right now, the Senate Republicans, they could come out and tell us what is inside their health care bill, plus we will find out if 52 of them actually like it.
Plus, if the tapes exist, where are they? The clock is ticking for the president to set the record state on whether in fact he recorded James Comey.
And what really is turning into be a really interesting development this morning. We are waiting to hear from Nancy Pelosi. This is the first time she's really had a chance to speak publicly after the backlash against members from her own party within the Democratic Caucus in the House, saying it's time for her to step aside as party leader.
[10:19:00] BERMAN: Any minute now, the mystery surrounding the Senate health care bill will be over. Senators are behind closed-doors right now. They get to learn the details of what is inside their plan. Then, we get to hear. Now, the secrecy has been a source of frustration for Republicans, not to mention Democrats alike. Senators and members of the House who want to know what's going on, on the other side of Capitol Hill.
Here to discuss, Republican Congressman Tom Reed of New York who voted in favor of the House version of the health care bill. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. How have you felt about the behind closed-doors meetings over the last week on the Senate side? Do you wish you knew what was going on over there?
REP. TOM REED (R), WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: Well, of course. I mean, but of the part of the Senate and of the part of Mitch McConnell, he controls that body, that's his call, not ours. But at the end of the day, whatever the Senate is going to act upon, we are going to see it today. We are going to have an open and vigorous debate about it across America and in the House. I'm sure there's going to be additional acts that are necessary in order to move the ball forward.
BERMAN: Open and vigorous, a lot shorter though than it was under Obamacare. That's just empirically true. You are going to get hours to debate rather than 25 days to debate. I don't want to argue that right now because we are going to find out the details any minute.
[10:20:03] Some have started to leak out. For instance, you know the cuts to the Medicaid expansion. They are going to phase those in more slowly than the House version. Subsidies will be based on income, not age. The community rating which the House bill would allow states to waive out of that, which could remove protections for people with pre- existing conditions, that's gone which some people with pre-existing conditions think might be better.
So, my question to you, sir, do you think the Senate version, as we are learning about it right now is better than the House version?
REED: Well, obviously, we have to look at the final details. But I've always anticipated ours was a first step. What the Senate does, hopefully will be an improvement on the bill. And as we go through this process, at the end of the day, we want to do it right for the American people because the status quo is causing damage that's hurting the real people each and every day.
BERMAN: Congressman, one of the things that President Trump said is that, he hopes that the Senate bill has more heart. What parts of the House bill, as you saw it, needed more heart?
REED: Well, you know as you look at the Medicaid expansion, you look at the tax credits and being on the committee that drafted those tax credits, we understood that you know there need to be some additional work in regards that area to make sure that the resources of the credits gets to the people that need it most, so that they can access health insurance in an affordable way. And so, I think that's where the Senate was going and I applaud the Senate in taking that effort in fine tuning those provisions, in particular.
BERMAN: All right. There's a speech that is going to happen in just a few minutes for the Democrats. The Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, she is going to talk to the press for the first time since the special election in Georgia. There are some Democrats calling for her now to step aside as party leader.
You don't get a vote in that. But I'm asking your political impression of what is going on, especially now. And I want to do a dramatic reading of the statement just made by the president of the United States.
He said, "I certainly hope the Democrats do not force Nancy P out. That would be very bad for the Republican Party and please let Cryin' Chuck stay!" I guess, do you agree with the president that it's better for your party to have Nancy Pelosi in power?
REED: I am not going to weigh in on Democratic politics. I think they are going to make their own decision. And I know there are raising concerns but what I'm looking for people on the other side of the aisle, like we have in the Problem Solvers Caucus that I co-chair with Josh Gottheimer, Democratic leader. We are coming together as 40 members, with 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans that want to govern for the American people. And if that's the type of leadership we get out of this process, I'm all for that type of leadership -- whoever that may be.
BERMAN: Does it help you solve problems when the president of the United States, you know the nominal leader of your own party, is doing things like calling Chuck Schumer crying Chuck? Is that a way to solve problems? REED: Well, you know obviously, I'll let the president speak for himself. Our rhetoric is what we can control and what we're always going to be looking for our solving problems, we're going to look for that civic debate that we need to have across America. And we'll do our part to make sure that's the tone we set for everyone to engage in the debate in an open and honest way.
BERMAN: I respect that. And I respect the fact you do not get to vote for the Democratic leader in the House who is just notable if that was happening during our discussion right now.
Also notable this morning is CNN report about the Russia investigation, sir. That the president asked the DNI chief and the NSA chief, Mike Rogers, to make a public statement that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He asked them to make that statement despite the fact that the investigation into that isn't over. What do you make of it?
REED: Well, I think that's a legitimate question to ask of everybody in America. Where is the evidence of collusion? We haven't seen any evidence. These investigations have been ongoing for quite some time. And I think that's a legitimate question that needs to be asked of the folks. If there's no evidence, let's tell the American people there's no evidence. So we can move on to fixing the problems for the American people that impact them on a day to day basis.
BERMAN: Except that the investigation is still going on, it might be premature to say there's no evidence when they're still collecting that evidence. I completely understand your point there. Republican Congressman, Tom Reed of New York. Again, we are awaiting the details of the Senate bill. When we get them, I hope you do come back when we get the chance to talk about it.
REED: Always appreciate the invites, John.
BERMAN: All right. Any minute, we will get that more information on the Senate plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. How does it compare to the House plan, that's important. Much more important though, how does it compare to Obamacare, the system now in place? What will it mean for Americans and their health care? We'll discuss.
[10:28:30] BERMAN: All right. This has been a long meeting. One hour, that is how long Senate Republicans have been hold up behind closed- doors on Capitol Hill being briefed on what is inside their very own bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. We are learning some details of what is inside. We don't know of everything just yet, but that will change soon because they are going to post that bill online. Not to mention the fact, we are going to get reaction from the members coming out of that meeting. It will be interesting to see their faces.
We're covering all angles of this, joining me now, CNN Susan Malveaux on Capitol Hill, MJ Lee here with me in New York and Elizabeth Cohen as well.
MJ, first of all, just the nuts and bolts of what we know is in this bill?
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: I think it's important to stress that caveat that this bill could change before there's a vote next week. But so far here, the big headlines on what we expect to be in that bill on Medicaid, the expansion will be phased out but a little bit more slowly than in the House version. But there will be drastic changes to the Medicaid program overall. Deeper cuts than what we saw in the House.
Federal subsidies will be tied more to income rather than age, meaning that it really mirrors Obamacare. Conservatives are not going to be so happy about that, although the eligibility threshold is going to be lowered.
When it comes to insurance regulations, insurers cannot charge people more for people with pre-existing conditions. That is a big deal because it was such a problematic part of the House bill as you remember. But states will have more leeway to opt out of certain insurance regulations.
Planned Parenthood is going to be defunded for a year. This is going to be a big issue for someone like Senator Collins or Murkowski who have said that this is a very important issue for them.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Susan Malveaux on Capitol Hill. They are still behind closed-doors so it's hard to get reaction. Do you sense a disturbance in the force? Any way to tell how this is being received so far?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you I do get a sense of that