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White House Press Briefing; Trump Admits No Taps; Paul Opposes GOP Bill; Four Senators Oppose Bill. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


QUESTION: You won't tell us where he stands on climate science.

So I'm wondering why did the president choose to accept certain facts, but dispute and reject others?

SANDERS: I'm not aware that he accepts certain facts. I think we accept all the facts.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... popular vote totals, climate science. You still haven't told us where he stands on...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Look, the president won the election. I don't know why we have to continue debating this. The Democrats lost because they didn't have a message. They had a poor candidate. We had a message. And the president won. I'm not really sure what fact we're disputing here. There's only one winner and he was it.

Jeff?

QUESTION: Yeah, going back to (inaudible) started. Is the president concerned that surveillance is being conducted against him at the White House?

SANDERS: I don't know specifically if there's a direct concern. I do know that he's concerned with the number of leaks that do come out of our intelligence community. I think all America should be concerned with that.

QUESTION: But he did make clear in that clear that he didn't have any recordings, but he raised the prospect that somebody else might have them.

SANDERS: OK. Again, I think that it's very clear what he meant there. But as far as surveillance...

(CROSSTALK) SANDERS: I wouldn't know, Jeff.

Mike? QUESTION: Two questions, first on health care if I can. Since the president won't be weighing in specifically on any of the details of the Senate bill, can you help explain what his role will be exactly during at least the Senate phase of the process? Will he be whipping for votes to pass the Senate bill even if he doesn't necessarily agree with everything that's in it, just to try to advance the process along?

SANDERS: We'll keep you updated as his involvement takes place. Again, right now I know that he's got a large number of members of his administration that are involved in the process and continuing those conversations.

QUESTION: And I have another question, if I can -- the president's meeting today with the International Olympic Committee. Can you talk a little bit about what that meeting is for? And will he use it as a chance to lobby for Los Angeles's bid for the Olympics?

SANDERS: I know he's certainly supportive of the committee, and we plan to have a readout after the meeting. I don't want to get ahead of that before it takes place.

QUESTION: (inaudible) or the (inaudible)?

SANDERS: I mean, obviously the committee itself. And again, we'll have a readout for you after the meeting takes place. I won't get ahead of that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sarah, yeah, listen, I want to, if I could (inaudible), I want to go back to what Jeff was asking you a moment ago. I know you said his tweet is clear. But it talks about recently reported electronic surveillance intercepts unmasking. Is that activity that is being carried out by the CIA, the FBI or other U.S. law enforcement agencies? Is that what his reference is to?

SANDERS: I think those are questions you'd have to ask those law enforcement agencies, whether or not they're engaging in those activities.

QUESTION: The president tweeted this. The president is the one who's actually put this information out.

SANDERS: I -- I think it's -- there's public record that talks about surveillance, that talks about unmasking. We know those practices take place. I think if you're asking about specific instances, you'd have to refer to those agencies.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on China? The president tweeted obviously the other day that the Chinese had -- had failed to change the situation with respect to North Korea. I just wonder, in light of that, given how he had put China at the center of his North Korea strategy, what the next steps are. How does the U.S. bring pressure to bear on North Korea, if the Chinese are not willing to help? SANDERS: Look, I think the president's been extremely clear on this process. Of course, he hopes to work with China and continue to work with them to put pressure on North Korea. But if that doesn't work, then the president's been clear that he will do whatever it takes to protect America.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Any details on what that would be?

SANDERS: The president's never going to, you know, outline his strategy in a public way, but I think he's been clear that he would certainly do what it takes to protect American citizens.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Sarah. Two questions.

First, on health care. The Senate wants to vote in less than a week, or in about a week. Can you say whether the president supports the bill as it is right now? Because we don't know how many changes can be made in the course of a week.

SANDERS: Again, I think he wants to bring the stakeholders to the table; have those conversations. And we'll get back to you as we go through that process. But I think right now, we're in a negotiation process.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Does the president think that the process on health care is moving too fast? (inaudible) wants to take time and talk to people? I mean, they're talking about having a vote next week. I mean, there's going to be like...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I mean, we've been talking about reforming health care for a number of years. I don't think it's moving too fast when it's been nearly eight years.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (inaudible) health care (inaudible) what it is now (inaudible) president's desk. Will the president support a bill that funds Planned Parenthood?

SANDERS: I'm not sure. I'd have to get back to you on that question.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (inaudible) wouldn't support a bill (inaudible)? SANDERS: He has. I would have to get back to you on a specific totality of the bill.

(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (inaudible) the bill allows the use of health care tax credits to buy coverage for abortion. Would he support that?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of, but again, I think it would have to be in the context of the larger legislation. I can't speak to a hypothetical (inaudible) one piece of the bill.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: I wanted to ask some more about the China question (inaudible). Can you tell us more? When you said the president will what it takes with regards to North Korea, so that would mean a military option. Can you tell us more...

SANDERS: I think he's been -- said all along that we're not taking any options off the table, but we're not going to broadcast what those might be.

Hunter?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.

The intelligence community has been pretty unified (inaudible) that the Russian interference in the election was a very real and serious issue. Yet the president just called it a, quote/unquote, "Dem hoax."

Does he believe that members of the intelligence community are colluding with the Democrats or did collude with the Democrats? And what would he do about that?

SANDERS: I believe the -- the reference in the hoax is about the fact that they're trying to delegitimize his win in the election process and less about the hack itself.

I think he's said several times now that he believes that Russia was part of it, but he -- also some of those same members have said that they don't think it influenced the election.

And I think that's what a lot of this process is about. It's about trying to make excuses for why Democrats lost. And the president, I think, has been pretty clear on where he stands with that.

Zeke?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

(inaudible) questions about the president's tweet earlier to the various intelligence agencies. Is the president accusing elements of the U.S. government of wiretapping the Oval Office?

SANDERS: That's not what I said. I said if he was asking about specific instances, he would have to ask them.

QUESTION: So specifically, does the president believe that he's being surveilled in the Oval Office?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of.

John Gizzi?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Why is he tweeting about it?

SANDERS: Because he was asked if he had tapes and he's answering that question. So.

John?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.

A question and a follow-up.

In his speech last night, the president said that several of the major news corporations are not telling the truth to the American people. Are you willing to name any of those corporations? And also are you keeping a list and following corporations that may not be telling the truth?

SANDERS: I think there are quite a few instances where there have been false reports out there. And I would be happy, when I'm not standing up here, to help provide a list to you, John.

QUESTION: All right.

And the other thing is, are you keeping this list ongoing?

SANDERS: I -- I don't have, like, a folder on my computer for it. But I certainly think we've got some knowledge of very specific instances that have taken place.

John (ph)?

QUESTION: Are you going to release them?

SANDERS: I'll let you know.

QUESTION: Thanks a lot, John (ph) -- Sarah. Will you give a heads up...

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: We look -- we look pretty different, but you know...

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: It's off-camera.

SANDERS: I mean, hey, John, if -- hey, John, if you're looking for instances of fake news, there's a good one for you.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm Sarah, so...

QUESTION: Were you given a heads up about the president's tweet?

SANDERS: Yes.

QUESTION: And was the general counsel given an opportunity to vet what the president tweeted out?

SANDERS: I'm not sure. I'd have to double-check on that.

QUESTION: Sarah?

SANDERS: Dave (ph)?

QUESTION: Sarah, the president talked last night about Governor Branstad going to China to become the ambassador.

Is it consistent with the president's pledge to drain the swamp that he's giving so many of these first wave of ambassadorships to political supporters and campaign donors?

SANDERS: Look, I think it's pretty traditional that you would have somebody supportive of you and your agenda to go out and be an ambassador to speak on behalf of the administration.

And Terry Branstad is somebody who has, I think, some of the best qualifications that you could have to send there. He's got a personal relationship with senior-level members of the Chinese administration, as well as a very strong understanding of trade practices given his background. And I think he's a perfect fit for that role.

Alex (ph)?

QUESTION: Is legal status for DACA beneficiaries on the table as the White House conducts its review of the program?

SANDERS: As of right now, that's still under review. And I don't have any announcements on the specifics of the program at this time.

QUESTION: Bloomberg reported that the president first raised the prospect of tapes strategically to make sure that Comey told the truth.

Is that your understanding of the president's motivation for tweeting about it? And does he feel it was effective?

SANDERS: I'm sorry. I can't (inaudible).

QUESTION: The whole thing? OK.

SANDERS: Yeah, sorry. It's hard to hear.

QUESTION: Bloomberg first reported that the president first raised the prospect of tapes strategically to make sure that Comey told the truth.

Is that your understanding of the president's motives for tweeting that? And does he feel it was effective?

SANDERS: I certainly think that the president would hope that the former director would tell the truth. But I think that it was more about, you know, raising the question of doubt in general, so.

Thanks, guys.

[14:10:03] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's take it. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.

Here's the deal. There are no tapes. There never were any tapes. And the president apparently doesn't regret a thing. That as the White House refuses to allow the public to see its daily press briefing before what you just heard. This is the tweet that we're all talking about. Quote, "with all the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are 'tapes' or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

You remember it was just about six weeks ago President Trump is the one who floated this idea of tapes. That was May 12th. Within minutes of the president's admission today, one of the president's associates told our colleague who covers the White House, Jeff Zeleny, quote, "if he doesn't regret this, he should." Adding that the president has been "amused" at all the "obsessing" over this.

Let's begin with you, David Chalian.

First, just on the timeframe. We waited 41 days. Maybe this was to - you know, he had to come clean with Congress tomorrow, right, that was the deadline. Do you feel like, I mean, the credibility of the president really is in question?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, certainly, there was no reason given by Sarah Huckabee Sanders in that briefing as to why he waited this long right up against this congressional deadline. I will say that the last point you just made, Brooke, I think is a good place to pick up, which is a clear break between, as you noted, Jeff Zeleny's reporting, a Trump associate who spoke with President Trump this week saying he should regret this if he doesn't and Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying he doesn't regret it. So there is a divide between those around him that speak to him, associates of him, who believe he should regret this, that this was an error to do this, and clearly as the deputy press secretary said, his own thinking on this.

BALDWIN: So, he does regret it, Dana, and apparently over the obsession he's amused.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's obvious. I mean look at the way he, frankly, is trying to play with everybody. Last week saying, you know, I'm not going to tell you now, boy (ph), that there are tapes. I'll let you know another time. Basically like tune in for the next episode. And then, today, he did what he did. I mean it's obvious that he is trying to have fun with this.

The problem for the president is that it's, you know, the public part of it may be amusing to him, the obsession, but at the end of the day, if he did, as one administration source told me, send the initial tweet about tapes to force James Comey to tell the truth, the truth that he was talking about at the time was, get out there that I'm not under investigation. The events that he sparked with that tweet ended with Comey getting out a lot more than maybe the president bargained for, including allegedly that the president told James Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, which now means there's a special prosecutor that actually potentially is looking into the president.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BASH: So, you know, this is such a cycle that, as David said, there are so many people who are close to the president who were just dying that he actually started in his quest, in his desperation for the public to know that he wasn't under investigation, going as far as just saying things willy-nilly like, he better hope there aren't tapes to try to call his bluff.

CHALIAN: Brooke, just to underscore Dana's point there.

BALDWIN: Ys.

CHALIAN: You can draw a direct line -

BALDWIN: A direct line.

BASH: Exactly.

CHALIAN: If you listen to Jim Comey's testimony -

BALDWIN: Totally.

CHALIAN: From the tweet about tapes to the fact that Special Counsel Bob Mueller has been appointed and is now looking into potentially Trump (INAUDIBLE) -

BASH: Totally.

BALDWIN: This is self-inflicted.

CHALIAN: A direct line.

BALDWIN: It's self-inflicted.

Shawn Turner, you know, going from the firing to the tweet to the special counsel to now where we are today and the no-tape tape situation. As far as national security, presidential, you know, credibility, where do you stand on all of this?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I would say, first, Brooke, I think that with regard to whether or not there are tapes, I think on some level we all kind of expected that this might be the outcome. You know, I think we can all agree that if the president had tapes that would directly refute what Director Comey had said, then I don't think they would have wasted much time in getting those tapes out there. But, you know, I have to tell you that this tweet that the president

sent out today, and I try not to pay a lot of attention to the president's tweets, but this tweet today really concerns me because the president takes a direct and deliberate swipe at the men and women of the intelligence community in this tweet today. Brooke, the intelligence community collects - collects information -

BALDWIN: Guys, let's throw the tweets back on the screen as you're making your point. I want everybody to be able to see what he tweeted.

TURNER: Sure.

BALDWIN: Go for it.

TURNER: The intelligence community collects information. They conduct surveillance on foreign targets. In order to provide this president, every president, with the information that they need so that they can protect this country, that is the president's number one job. And so for the president to take this swipe at the intelligence community and suggest that while he doesn't have tapes, that maybe the intelligence community or people in government are surveilling him, is just an unnecessary thing to do for the people who are trying to make it easier for him to do his most important job, and that's protecting this country.

[14:15:31] BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, how do you see it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Do y'all watch HBO's "Veep"? Because I feel like we're living through an episode of "Veep," talking about, you know, this bumbling president who's making it up as he goes along, who's trying to figure out a rationale for something he said 41 days ago. Now, maybe this was all deliberate and maybe it was all orchestrate and maybe it was very strategic, but it just feels to me like something a lot less than that.

Now, clearly this will be viewed in two different ways, though. In the media world, through a media lens, pro-Trump media will play this as a press overreaction. Journalists cared too much about the question of tapes. But I think for the rest of the country, it's another example of that kind of chaos inside the White House.

BALDWIN: Do we have Mark O'Mara, because I do think there is an important legal piece of all of this. Do we have Mark?

Mark, you're with me.

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let's throw the tweet back up. This is the original tweet, May 12th, before I ask you this question, this was what sort of got a lot of this started. "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press," right, that was just after he had fired James Comey, which sort of led to all of this. My question to you, sir, you know, when it comes to obstruction of justice, that endeavors to influence, was this intimidation, would this fall under that purview? O'MARA: Well, in my opinion, yes, because let's understand what the

practical definition of obstruction of justice really is. And that is if you intend to somehow impede, get in the way of, or to waylay an investigation that should otherwise be ongoing. So the idea that the president of the free world, the president of the United States comes out and says something to Comey or to the rest of us threatening that he has tapes certainly could be suggested to impact it.

It's funny, Brian sort of said "Veep." I was going to say it remind me of "Veep" meets "The Emperor's New Clothes" as far as trying to understand this -

BALDWIN: But, guys, this is real life. This is really happening.

STELTER: Great point. Thank you, Brooke.

O'MARA: But it's really trying to figure out, what do we look at and now say that he - that 45 days ago he says he has tapes when he really didn't and then he jokes about us when he comes back in to say I didn't really have tapes and now I'm amused because you've obsessed over it. But we've obsessed over the fact that our president wouldn't tell us for 45 days. And that's the real concern.

When we look at obstruction of justice, you look at the overall perspective of what somebody is doing. When you take what he did with Comey and those tapes or the suggestion of tapes, when you then look about what was said to the intel chiefs that they have now suggests that he said suggests there's no connection, I've had people arrested for not giving their telephone - their name to a law enforcement officer. That's enough obstruction of justice to get you arrested. And we have to take it within the context of what prosecutors will be looking at when they look at obstruction of justice.

BALDWIN: Let me pick up on some of that, but just to remind all of us what some of the president's recent comments on this tape controversy has been.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Well, I'll tell you about that, maybe, sometime in the very near future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us about the recordings?

TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why won't you tell us now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tomorrow? Now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there tapes, sir?

TRUMP: Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry. SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president made clear in

the Rose Garden last week that he would have an announcement shortly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any sort of timeline on when that announcement will be?

SPICER: When the president's ready to make it.

The president has said that he will make an announcement on this. I expect it this week. And so when he's ready to make that announcement, we'll let you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, David, let's just remind everyone why this whole tapes thing is so, so important, right, because we have what the president has said - this is all regarding this investigation, you know, Flynn, what Comey testified, what the president apparently told the former FBI director, and everyone was thinking, OK, if we have tapes, then that proves, all right, either the president's telling the truth or, you know, the now-fired FBI director is telling the truth. Now that we are sans (ph) tapes, David, now what?

CHALIAN: Well, as you pointed out earlier, there's a huge credibility hole blown deeper into this presidency. That's nothing new for Donald Trump. He's got a credibility gap to begin with on a lot of this. And so this - this makes that problem worse for him, no doubt. I don't think any of us really thought that there were tapes.

But it is - your conversation with Mark - and pay attention to what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when she was asked flat-out in the briefing today if indeed the original tweet that we're talking about there, about possible tapes, was a threat of some sort or an intimidation of some sort. "Not that I'm aware of. I don't think so." That - that seems to me that President Trump is still going to need to answer that question because Sarah Huckabee Sanders made it just about her awareness, didn't definitively say no.

[14:20:04] BALDWIN: That's a great point.

CHALIAN: And so I think that we are going to need to hear from President Trump at some point about if indeed this was intended as a threat.

And the other note on this, Brooke, this is - this is the normal course on this topic, and this shows you how uncomfortable people in the White House were with this. Every time Sean or Sarah or another official was asked about this, we asked tons of times about the tapes, they really wanted to leave this just up to the president. You're going to hear from him. He said he's going to make an announcement. They rolled it out on his Twitter feed. They didn't make this announcement from the podium. They wanted President Trump to own this the moment that he sent that original tweet that many folks were not expected inside the White House.

BALDWIN: Well, as I'm listening to you, I'm also thinking of where we were in the news cycle before everyone went, oh, let's talk about the tapes, which is, you know, we're all talking about this, you know, on the Senate side, the Republican, you know, health care bill, which would affect tens of millions of Americans. Do you think, Dana, is there - is there any connection here or is the timing just random?

BASH: It's funny you say that. It's the first thing I thought. I thought, OK, what are we trying to bury today if we're in the White House in terms of news. And I was wondering if it is potentially health care, but I think perhaps we're giving them a little bit too much credit because -

BALDWIN: That's why I was asking.

BASH: Because - but it's - I certainly thought the same thing. You know, because, yes, OK, we are talking about this right now, but I'm assuming shortly we're going to be talking about the fact that there is a very, very difficult vote coming on an incredibly important issue to every single person's constituents back home, which is their health care and their health insurance and how it's going to work. And that is, even though we're talking about this, that is certainly consuming members of Congress and probably those are the calls that they are getting in their offices right now.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

BASH: Not, can you believe this issue about the tapes. We are rightly talking about it because this is a big deal, but I - but I don't think that even if there was an attempt to bury that, that it would even be -

BALDWIN: It's not going to work.

BASH: Right.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

And I think you're telegraphing where we're going because we know there are senators who will be speaking -

CHALIAN: Once a producer, always a producer.

BALDWIN: I got you. I know where you're going. I'm right there with you.

Well, let's stay on this just for a little bit longer. Brian Stelter, here's a question, because David Chalian mention that we need to hear, you know, from the president himself. He doesn't do interviews. You know, instead, he does these rallies. He drops all sort of policy bombs without being challenged. No accountability whatsoever.

STELTER: And today's the greatest example yet. You know, look at that chiron (ph) at the bottom of the screen last hour. It said, live coverage banned of the White House briefing. They were allowing audio, but only on a time-delayed basis. And we, of course, broadcast the entire audio briefing because you should be able to hear what this White House is telling reporters and telling the public about what's going on.

But this briefing was pretty much literally held in the dark. I mean, yes, there were lights on in the briefing room, but the cameras were not allowed inside the briefing. It's the latest example of this White House being resistant to transparency.

But, good news, if you want to hear from the president, he is giving his first interview in almost six weeks. He's giving it to "Fox and Friends," which is a pro-Trump show, but we will hear from him tomorrow morning. And one question I'd like him to be asked is, are you going to start making tapes now? So you didn't record Comey. Are you going to start taping people in the Oval Office? Would it be helpful to you in the future? It would be curious to see what he says on this issue in that interview tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Shawn, here's my question to you. You know, the White House's source who's talking to Jeff Zeleny says, in addition to the president being amused and for people being obsessed over this, is that this tapes episode is what led to a special counsel, and this is part of what David and Dana were saying about the direct line from the tweet to the, you know, the Mueller memo, rather the Comey Mueller - Comey memo leak to then Bob Mueller. Do you agree?

TURNER: Yes, I do. I think that, you know, if - when the president sends out a tweet like this, he's clearly sending a message that he is trying to accomplish something here. So I think if we go back and we were to do a timeline and we look at what the president did in response to each and every step that Comey took, and it's pretty clear here that what the president was doing is - he was trying to effect some outcome. He was trying to have an impact on the narrative. And I think this tweet is no different today.

BALDWIN: All right. As we have been talking, and as some of us on this have predicted, you know, another Republican senator has come out against this new Senate health care bill. Keep in mind, when you do the math, the Republicans can only afford to lose two Republicans.

So let's listen. Here is Republican senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: On the floor, I mean if it - the choice could be this or Obamacare. Are you willing to let the country be under Obamacare and let this bill fail if that's the choice?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I don't think there's anybody in America that's more against Obamacare than myself. As a physician, I've seen the ravages of it. I've traveled to 42 states running on repeal of Obamacare. I just didn't run on Obamacare lite. I didn't run on replacing it with more government programs. I didn't run on allowing the death spiral of Obamacare to continue just to subsidize it with taxpayer money.

[14:25:10] Look, we're $500 billion in debt right now. There is no money to keep subsidizing insurance. There is no money to expand Medicaid unless you want to raise taxes. We're actually cutting taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're (INAUDIBLE) for the wealthy.

PAUL: So you have to - you have to be honest with people and it has to be paid for. So if we're not going to pay for it and we're going to keep a lot of the stuff that was in Obamacare, I think we can do better than this. And my hope is not to defeat the bill but to make the bill better.

RAJU: Should Senator McConnell give -

(INAUDIBLE)

RYAN: No, I think - I think what will happen, and the reason we're coming out now is, that now the discussion begins. But the people that are in favor of the current bill know that there's not 50 votes for it, perhaps the discussion will begin in earnest to make the bill better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Paul, if there's no hearing, will you vote on the bill?

(INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: Yes. We're supposed to be given a draft. And this is supposedly a draft form. And at our meeting this morning, everyone said that there still ought to be changes. But I think you can only get changes if you show you have the power to, you know, not vote for the current bill. And that's kind of where we are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Paul - Senator -

RAJU: Senator, what do you think of the - senator, what do you think of the process - what do you -

(INAUDIBLE)

PAUL: You know, it seems like a short talk. You know, I've been in favor of reading the bills before we pass them. It's on my desk but I haven't gotten started yet. I will read it. But I have legislation that says you should wait one day for every 20 pages. So that would be about at least six or seven working days just for this bill. And that, I think, would be a minimum. Not only do we need to read it. Now I think we also need to negotiate over what's good, what's bad and what we can get in the bill to make it better. So, yes, I think it could take longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the process?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) is to weigh the kind of changes (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: Well, you have to get to 50 votes. And if you've only got 48, I think that means you're going to need to negotiate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Paul, if there's no hearing, will you refuse to vote on the bill?

PAUL: If there's no what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there's no hearing, will you refuse to vote on the bill?

PAUL: No hearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No hearing. Public - no public hearing, will you refuse to vote on the bill?

PAUL: Well, no, I mean, I was in favor of having committee approach to it, but that is not a do or die on whether I'll vote for the bill. I'm going to vote for the bill on the contents of the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're OK with (INAUDIBLE)?

PAUL: No. No, we're a no - I'm a no on the bill currently.

RAJU: What do you think about the way that Senator McConnell tried to cut this deal behind closed doors with the - with only the members, without no hearings and having a vote within a week? What do you think about the process?

PAUL: My preference was always for a committee hearing. But absent that, I'm very concerned about the content. To my mind, the most important thing is we promised to repeal Obamacare. The current bill looks like we're keeping large parts of Obamacare. In fact, one of the architects, Jonathan Gruber, has come out and saying, hooray, it looks like they're not really repealing Obamacare. And I think he's probably accurate. We're keeping the subsidizes, we're boosting the subsidize for stabilization or risk pools and I think it looks a lot like Obamacare, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator -

PAUL: Thanks, guys.

(INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: OK, so the number you've had on your screen, here it is, four. Just in terms of doing the math, so we know that the Senate Republicans have finally unveiled this - their version of the health care bill, right? So we saw the House pass it some weeks ago. This is what the Senate's done today. That number four is not good news for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, because he really only can afford two.

Dana Bash, you covered Congress for years and years and years. The deal is, if they're 50//50, if they lose two Republicans, then the vice president would be that tie-breaker to get them over the threshold for this thing to pass. You have Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, these four Republicans saying no for now.

BASH: Exactly. For now is the key. Someone like Rand Paul, I personally - I - it's hard to imagine him getting to yes. Maybe I'll be surprised. But it's hard to imagine, given everything that he has said up until now him ultimately getting to yes.

The others that you talked about have more of a chance. And the reason why they put this statement out so quickly is one word, and that's leverage. They understand that it's not just this bill and that's it and they get to vote on this and it's done. There will be an amendment process. They will have an opportunity to make changes. Whether it is an open - in the open, on the floor, or it will be maybe in wheeling and dealing and negotiations with the Republican leadership. That is what this is all about right now, trying to lay down a marker saying, you're not going to get the votes unless you come to us on x, y, and z, things like Medicaid expansion, going a little bit too far from their perspective, retaining the Medicaid expansion from Obamacare, and not going far enough to ease up on what they call egregious regulations from Obamacare. Things like that.

[14:30:01] Ted Cruz, for example, he's one of the four that we're talking about that released a statement together. He just released his own statement because he was actually one of the - one of the men in the room. He was one of the - the 13 senators who