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INSIDE POLITICS

Senate GOP Releases 142-page Health Care Bill; Pelosi to Trump: Senate Bill "Mean and Heartless"; Senate Dems Hold News Conference on GOP Bill; Intel Chiefs: President Wanted Public Denials of Collusion; Trump: "I Did Not Make Any Recordings of Comey Talks". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: -- from West Virginia, one of the big Medicaid expansion states to help poor people, to help the elderly people. Dean Heller of Nevada, relative newcomer in the Senate just put out a statement, "At first glance, I have serious concerns about the bill's impact on the Nevadans who depend on Medicaid."

This is one of the big pieces. ObamaCare allowed governors to expand the Medicaid program to do new things to help the elderly and the poor. And the Republican bill, the Senate bill does it a bit more slowly, the changes, but then it cuts the funding more dramatically.

If you have those senators right there, if you can only lose two and you've got four or five on this side and two or three on this side, then that's hard.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And just take Dean Heller as a prime example of somebody who is in a real pickle, because he is not only from a state that took the money, he is from a state that is doing relatively well on ObamaCare. People, comparatively, like the law and like the process there. He also is up for re-election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BASH: And one of the very few Republicans who were vulnerable on the ballot in 2018 in the senate. So, all of those combined is going to make it very hard for him to support anything that his constituents will feel is him taking away the health care that they have. It is as personal and as important to constituents as anything that people in Washington do, and that's why this matters.

On the other side, Ted Cruz, he was one of the 13 men in the room where it happened. And he is not even on board yet. He wants to see the language. He was actually, you know, working on giving up some of the conservative principles in the spirit of compromise. We'll see if he does it in the end.

MICHAEL SHEAR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And I do wonder too whether the rapid speed is going to affect some of these folks. And some of these folks like Dean Heller are going to say, well, let's just slow down here for a minute.

BASH: Yes. Yes.

SHEAR: You know, we don't need to do this. You know, it's -- you know, the bill is out and it's going to be voted on in a week. I mean, they do have -- you know, coming back later this year before the august recess, the election isn't this year, it's next year.

BASH: Yes.

KING: But -- and McConnell's argument about that is, number one, Republicans have been promising this for seven years now. Let's get at that. Number two, with the health care cloud over the Capital, they can't get to tax reform, they can't get interest rates, they can't get the other things. But that's a great point in the sense that it's not just -- it's not just the people who -- every caucuses, people who routinely hold out, cause trouble, want to be, you know, the reason at the end.

But Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has said, "I got to sell this to the people back home." Now, he's not up next year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.

KING: But just making the idea that, you know, he could be -- and sort of blue states swings back and forth.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, this is where the interest of the leader and interest of the rank and file are really butting heads because, yes, it is better if the rank and files were maintaining their seats, maintaining their approval ratings at home, do take it back to their constituents. Because as Dana was saying, it's very personal issue.

But if McConnell lets that happen over the fourth of July break, can you imagine going to these? I mean, they all go and hang out with constituents at parades and on the fourth of July. If there's just constant chance from constituents being like this bill doesn't mean you can't vote for it, you can't do it. That's going to take away at least those votes if not potentially more.

KING: And to that point, you saw the Democratic sign there and that Mitch McConnell saw what happened in the house state where scheduled the bill, they had to pull it. People got mad at the president for meddling and the president got involved. In the end, it helped them get the bill through final passage. The president celebrated in the Rose Garden, then he privately went to meetings and said, that ability, just celebrated in the Rose Garden was me.

Mitch McConnell wants to have a vote as soon as possible because the Democrats, here's Nancy Pelosi again, we're about to hear from senators. Democrats say, you know, if you go home and you have town halls, we're going to make this case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: The president called the house bill "mean" after celebrating its passage. He then changed to saying, its mean. He said that he hopes the senate bill will have heart. So sad, Mr. President, heartless, mean and heartless.

And this is the same thing. It's the same thing all over again. We'll do exactly what the house bill did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: There's been a lot of criticism of the process. But Mitch McConnell knew he was going to take that criticism, but his view was if you put it-- if you have committee hearings on this, the lobbyists get involved, the Democrats get involved, people try to shoot it down.

Now, he's trying to do this essentially in a week period, you know, have a few amendments, cut the deal in each to kind of get the 50 and get it passed so you don't have a recess, so at least go home for a couple of weeks and hear that.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. But I mean, that's -- I mean if you're a senator going back home and talking to constituents, hearing from constituents, and you imagine that --

KING: They used to call it democracy.

HENDERSON: Yes, Yes, Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. And it's where you present it. I mean, this idea that your response to them is we have to do it quickly so we avoid criticism. I mean that -- I mean, later on, I mean it's just not a good -- it's sort of a political argument. It's not an argument for why this is a good bill or why this is --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: It's a Washington argument.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's a Washington argument.

KING: It's a Washington argument. It's not an American argument.

BASH: Yes, it's not. Yes, it's not.

KING: Yes. Yes.

BASH: I mean, how many times over the many, many years we've been covering issue after issue no matter which party is in charge, that, you know, they try to do it quickly so that they can get the votes before the members of congress get earfuls from their constituents.

[12:35:02] DEMIRJIAN: Put that directly for losing certain votes. I mean, you know, if you're Dean Heller and you have to go home to a state which is a swing state and the governors already said he doesn't like the Medicaid provision and you'll see that right after taking this vote, you're not taking one.

KING: Yes, yes. You put it in the best chess player in town. We're about to learn a lot about how good of a chess player is the majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Up next, the CNN exclusive, two intelligence chiefs tell investigators, President Trump made them uncomfortable by asking for help in the Russia election meddling investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Some important new reporting now about whether President Trump tried to improperly influence the Russia election meddling investigation.

We're going to go live to Capitol Hill, the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, walking into a press on the new senate republican health care plan. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, MINORITY LEADER: So, make your own deductions. OK. I now want to thank both of them, our ranking members on health and finance, for doing the fabulous job that they are doing.

Now, when the White House passed their health care bill, a bill that President Trump called mean, I thought it wouldn't be possible for the senate Republicans to conjure up a bill even worse than that one.

[12:40:11] Unfortunately, that is what they have done.

Meaner, can you read it? Do I have to color it in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you do.

SCHUMER: There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That stands for emergency room too, so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right.

SCHUMER: How's that? Right there, meaner. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another career as an artist.

SCHUMER: OK. The Senate version of Trump care is even meaner than the house bill. There's a lot to unpack in this bill, but its general outline is very simple and very clear. And they're getting up and saying this is a draft. But I asked Mitch McConnell on the floor, you may have seen it, is there anything that I said, which I'll say now, that is not in that draft? And he just sat down. He didn't -- He didn't answer. So, my guess is s it's all in there.

The bill takes dollars out of health care for millions of Americans and puts them right back in the pocket of the wealthy. It cuts health care for those who need it most, just to give a tax break to those who need at least.

Senate Republicans with this bill are proposing to de-fund Planned Parenthood, to drastically slash Medicaid, which helps middle class families with loved ones in a nursing home, and sends those dollars to the very richest people in America.

Senate Democrats have been pouring over the bill. Now that it's come out from behind closed doors and here are just the few of the things that this bill will do. First, it will cause health care costs for middle class and working families to go up. By cutting back on tax credits and making Americans pay even a bigger percentage of their income for their premiums, they're going to send costs soaring. Second, the bill will kick millions of Medicaid by making even deeper cuts than the house bill. If you're a middle class family with a loved one in a nursing home, the cost of that care is going to go up.

Third, it abandons people with pre-existing conditions, putting at dire risk, maternity care, mental health coverage, by allowing states even more latitude to get out of covering essential health benefits. Fourth, it de-funds Planned Parenthood, making it harder for millions of women to obtain the health care they need and deserve.

Now, why are they doing all this? To provide a giant tax break for the wealthiest Americans. Simply put, the bill will result in higher costs, less care, millions of Americans will lose their health insurance, particularly through Medicaid. It's every bit as bad as the house bill, in some ways, even worse.

The president has said that the senate bill needed heart. The way this bill cuts health care is heartless. The president said the house bill was mean. The senate bill may be meaner. The senate Republican health care bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Only, this wolf's teeth are even sharper than in the house bill.

Somewhere in America, Mr. President, there's a family who takes a trip each Friday to visit grandma or grandpa at a nursing home, who sacrificed all of their savings to pay for their health care until they had no more savings, and now, they rely on Medicaid to help pay the cost of long-term care in the nursing home.

Somewhere in America, President Trump, there's a father who's eaten up inside watching his son struggle with opioid addiction, who knows in his heart that his son would be able to go on and live a healthy and fulfilling life if he could only afford treatment to get him out from under the devastating addiction.

Somewhere in America, there's a parent whose child has cancer. A mother and father who stay up late at night worried that their insurance will not be available or run out before their family needs it most.

[12:45:02] And that America that my Republican friends envision with this health care bill, those Americans and many more beside might not get the coverage they need. We live in the wealthiest country on earth. We're proud of it, as we should be. But surely, we can do better than what the Republican health care bill promises.

Every American should be asking their Republican senators one simple question this weekend, why do the wealthy deserve a tax cut more than we deserve health care, Senator Murray?

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Senator Schumer, thank you, Senator Wyden.

Today, it has really become abundantly clear why, exactly why senate Republicans have been hiding this Trump care plan from patients and --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're listening to senate Republicans -- senate Democratic leaders, excuse me, voicing their opposition to the new senate Republican health care bill, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, now, his key deputy is Patty Murray. Ron Wyden there as well, making their case that the house Republican bill was mean. Chuck Schumer using a pen to write a little sign there. There are higher tech ways to do that, senator, to say that it's even meaner.

But while we were listening, Dana, you were making a very important point, the Republicans crafted the bill in secret. It's142 pages, that most of the members had not seen any of it until 11:00 this morning.

So, they're all up in their offices reading it, trying to decide, "Am I for or against this? Am I getting with you or probably not?" Democrats rushing out to cast the politics of this. Chuck Schumer saying at the end, when you see your Republican senator home this weekend, ask him, why should the rich get a tax break so that you could take away my health care. We'll see how it ends up. But out of the box, smart political framing.

BASH: Absolutely. And you know what, it occurred to me as we were watching this, as wonderful a tactician as Mitch McConnell is, maybe not the best communicator. And you know, historically, when you have a piece of legislation that comes out, is born out of negotiations, even if it's within your own party, you have a press conference and you lay down the markers. This is what it is and this is why it's good.

SHEAR: And you're talking points --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have talking points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes.

BASH: That hasn't happened, so there was a big vacuum and Democrats are rushing to fill it.

KING: And where are the Republican interest groups?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, exactly.

KING: Now, where's -- and they don't want the president to get involved in negotiations, but where is the bully pulpit of the presidency to say something.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: He's likely watching this, right, I mean, the vacuum gets filled. And I thought Schumer was good here in terms of framing it in a way that could benefit Democrats, talking about nursing homes, something that everybody can understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

HENDERSON: Maternity care health care, mental health care, Planned Parenthood, higher costs, less care. So I mean, you're right, I mean they are taking advantage of this.

DEMIRJIAN: They are. And you have to wonder -- or I guess I wonder a little bit how much -- how committed Mitch McConnell is to seeing this all the way through and having it be successful at the end. Because he could be out there himself even though he's not -- communication is not his strength. He's been out there more on other things. We've seen that.

He could be getting his members more tight, he could have looped them in earlier, he could have done a whole bunch of things. But he's kind of just wanting to push this off his plate before the recess. I don't know if that means they'll come back to it afterwards or those just going to the next thing. But why? Why is he not kind of more all skin in the game?

KING: Right. It would be pretty interesting to see since those since the Republicans have made this their calling card for so many years. How do you head into a midterm election cycle next year when it's all about turning out your base, if the Republicans walk away, if they walk away from this, that would be -- it would be a fascinating question to make then, which is the better risk.

And you see the senate Democrats there communicating globally. My question for them in the next several days, if they really plan to have this vote next week, is can they pick? They only need two or three. You know, if they can get two or three Republicans, do we see the Democrats targeting particular Republican senators back home in their states to try to push them off?

SHEAR: And look, one of the things that the senate Republicans saw was what happened after Paul Ryan pulled the first house bill, remember. And they saw the pressure on everybody in the Republican Party when people -- when we all talked around the table. So, well, maybe they're just going to let this thing, you know, walk away from this and move on to other things.

Remember, there's that talk that we're going to --

BASH: Yes. And Ryan said at that moment --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

SHEAR: Ryan said that they were going to do that and there was a, you know, kind of explosion in the Republican Party where people said, well, we can't do that. So, they know the damage that would happen if they tried to do it here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, right, right. KING: I want to circle back to where we began before we went live to Capitol Hill because this is important, a new CNN reporting I want to get to. It's about the question of whether President Trump tried to improperly influenced that Russia election meddling investigation.

CNN has learned two of the nation's top intelligence chiefs now say the president wanted them to stay publicly, but there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election.

The two Intel chiefs, and we've been following this story, Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the National Security Agency Chief, Admiral Mike Rogers, in separate classified meetings with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators. CNN has told both men described the conversations with the president as odd and uncomfortable. But while both said they were surprised the president would raise an open investigation with them, both Coats and Rogers also say, and this is important, they did not take the president's comments as an order to interfere.

[12:50:04] You might recall both Rogers and Coats refused in recent public testimony to give details about their conversations with the president. Now Democrats say the president's conduct is at a minimum highly inappropriate, and perhaps part of an effort to obstruct justice. Key Republicans agree the president should know better about raising these things with certain people, but they say the context is critical.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: One thing I'm going to ask Mr. Coats is not only what was said, but what did he hear. How did he take it? What was the tone? What was the context?

I need all the context. I need to hear from everyone who is part of that conversation to see if their testimonies match up, if there's corroboration, if there's contradiction. That's the way you do serious investigations. And I know we're not used to it in Congress, but we do political investigations. But this is really serious, and there's a reason I think your viewers are going to wind up trusting Bob Mueller more than they do Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Well, I think an important concession by Trey Gowdy at the end there. But I want to get back to the, if you're part of the team that did this highly sensitive, very important reporting. You have two of the nation's intelligence chiefs who say the president of the United States separately said to them, can you state publicly that there was no collusion? Can you say public things in the mid -- that would help him from a public relations standpoint at a minimum -- in the middle of a highly sensitive, counterintelligence, criminal investigation by the FBI.

Any ethics jury would tell you that's out of bounds for the president. But what is the reporting say about how they took the president's (inaudible). Did they took to context and how much pressure he put on them?

BASH: Well, both of these men, both Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, according to reporting that I've done and Evan Perez and Manu Raju reported in the classified session because they wouldn't talk about it in public, that it was odd. It was strange. It was surprising because it is not certainly the protocol with which a president usually conducts himself with people at this level on an issue so sensitive.

But they didn't feel that if they didn't do it they were going to get in trouble. And they don't end up doing it in the first place. Only one of the two of them documented the conversation realtime and that is Mike Rogers. He had his deputy at the NSA do a memo.

I'm told by a source who saw the memo it was one page. It was nothing like a Comey memo. It wasn't detailed according to the clock and, you know, and all of that. It was just a general, you know, contemporaneous documentation. Dan Coats didn't even do that.

But, you know, it has certainly been one of the many clouds hanging over this administration ever since the Washington Post reported last month the conversations happened. What exactly did the president say to them? At least -- and there are a lot of details I'm sure that we don't know. These were classified briefings that happened last week both with the special counsel's office and with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

At least at first blush, they didn't feel that it was untoward. It's going to be up to Robert Mueller to decide how inappropriate it really was.

KING: Up to Robert Mueller. And this is the question, when you talk toTrump loyalists they say, OK, maybe the president shouldn't have said that to Jim Comey about can you shut down the Flynn investigation, shouldn't have had these conversations. He's a guy who ran his own business, he's used to being in charge, he's not a lawyer, he's not a politician, he doesn't understand. Democrats say, here's guy's who's been involved in litigation his entire life, who they have a more nefarious view.

They think he knows how to dance up to the line and suggest that you do something without crossing a legal line and ordering or telling you to do something. That is the challenge for Bob Mueller as he has all the investigations as well as the congressional committees.

PINK: Maybe not fully understanding where the line is, is less of an important issue to excuse him than what his intent was. And that's what they have to establish. If he was trying to steer them off course, whether or not he knew that was, you know, exactly wrong, even though it seems obvious to everybody else that that is wrong, if that's what he was trying to do. That's going to build this case of obstruction of justice if Mueller decides to go there.

And this is the fundamental question. You know, was it a suggestion or was it an order? He said, I hope to Jim Comey. Jim Comey took that as an order. SHEAR: And let's not forget, he did fire Jim Comey.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: It's not just these two conversations. It's Bob Mueller and the congressional investigation, got to pull all the pieces together and makes some pretty serious judgment.

Thanks for joining us in the Inside Politics today. A lot of rock and roll coverage, that's why we love live television. Wolf Blitzer in the chair after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm wolf Blitzer. It's almost 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.

We have breaking news that is coming in to CNN right now. Take a look at this. A new tweet just posted by the president of the United States. I'll read it to our viewers. Here it is, "Donald J. Trump, with all of the recently reported electronics surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are, quote, tapes, close quote or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

Repeat, the president of the United States saying he does not have any recordings of his conversations with the fired FBI Director James Comey. Let's got to our White House Correspondent Sara Murray. Sara, this is the news that we were anticipating. By the end of this week, the president used Twitter to make the announcement. No tapes, no recordings of those conversations with Comey.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, if you talk to anyone who has worked with the president in the past, anyone who knows the president, even people who serve in this administration, they have been telling us for weeks essentially that they did not really believe that there were any actual tapes. So in many ways, this is not a surprise. But it does raise the question of why the president would have ever tweeted about tapes in the first place.

You know, that is really what inspired James Comey to leak the memos of his conversations with the president. Those memos, of course, then prompted the naming of special counsel. So in many ways, by tweeting this out initially, which was essentially based on nothing, the president sort of created his own worst situation, the worst outcome. This is what he had been hoping to avoid. In many ways he precipitated it.

BLITZER: Very interested. Now, I know you're getting ready for the White House press briefing over there. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House deputy press secretary is going to be briefing you and all of the reporters but unfortunately the White House says, it decided that the --