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Pro-Medicaid Protesters; GOP Concerns over Bill; Dems Meet Privately on Pelosi; Qatar Given List of Demands; Cosby Goes on Education Tour. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 23, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:31:35] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this morning, a key math question, are four Republican senators really going to stand in the way of the new Senate health care bill, or is this just a bit of a dance on the way to yes? These four Republicans, as of now, say they cannot support the bill as it is written and they are asking for changes? If more than two vote no, the bill will fail, but this morning the president doesn't seem to concerned.


PRESET: Well, they're also four good guys that they're four friends of mine and I think that they'll probably get there. We'll have to see. Obamacare is a disaster, and we're trying to do something in a very short period of time.


BERMAN: One note. There were some pictures that a lot of people saw yesterday outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office. Capitol Police removing demonstrators, many of whom were disabled or chronically ill. They say the cuts to Medicaid will be catastrophic for them.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and MJ Lee join me right now.

Suzanne, first, talk to me about the posturing and the numbers games on Capitol Hill?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I'll get to that. But I do want to address the protests that you just saw there. I covered them yesterday and met a lot of the people who were in McConnell's office. One of them, a gentleman in a wheelchair who said he'd been a quadriplegic since he was 16 years old from a diving accident and saw two people in similar situations die of bed sores that were untreated when they ran out of money. For them, Medicaid is a life or death issue.

A tremendous amount of backlash from this legislation. You're talking about the AARP, the American Medical Association, Democrats, of course, united behind this. But you also have on the other side conservatives. Conservative senators who say this does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare and it does not lower the cost of premiums or health care in general. Take a listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This current draft doesn't get the job done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put me down as a solid undecided.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It keeps the pre-existing condition, keeps the regulations and then subsidizes the death spiral. We are not fixing Obamacare.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I cannot support a bill that is going to result in tens of millions of people losing their health insurance.


MALVEAUX: Democratic senators say that this is nothing more than a tax break for the wealthy, a transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy. President Obama spoke out on FaceBook on his page, hitting back on this fight to dismantle his signature domestic legislation achievement, saying that "the Senate bill unveiled today is not a health care bill. Small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

So, John, what we're going to see next week is the Senate that is going to be debating this. They're going to get a CBO score. And then they hope to have a vote before July 4th.


BERMAN: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, stand by. Thanks so much.

MJ Lee is with me right now.

From a policy standpoint, what are the sticking points?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, you know, the things that we hear so often about Mitch McConnell is that he's such a skilled tactician. Well, you talk about the policy points. We are really going to see him have to negotiate to try to get at least two of those four conservatives onboard. And as Suzanne touched on a little bit, there are two things that really bothered these four senators. And in plain English, one is that they really believe that this bill does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare. So insurance regulations that really have bothered them because they see that as the government being, you know, too involved in setting up insurance companies and the different plans that they can offer. So that is going to be one big thing.

And the second thing is that they do not believe that the bill goes far enough in lowering premiums. This is something that Ted Cruz, for example, has been very outspoken about. So whatever negotiations happen behind closed doors, those are the two things that are expected to be really talked about between McConnell and these four conservative members. [09:35:16] I should also note, we heard some of the sound from someone

like Senator Collins.


LEE: Conservatives are not the only one whose have concerns. Dean Heller, Susan Collins, Rob Portman, these were three examples of senators, more moderate senators, who all put out statements yesterday saying they have serious concerns, especially when it comes to the Medicaid piece of this. So we can't assume that there are only four no's right now. There could be more who have just not said so far in public that they can't support this bill.

And one thing next week that could really help or hurt Mitch McConnell is this CBO report. We expect that to come out either Monday or Tuesday. And, remember, that when the House Republican bill came out, the CBO report was simply devastating for the House Republicans. It said that 23 million fewer people would be covered under the House Republican bill than compared to Obamacare. A headline like that, you can imagine pushing over some of the folks who are already on the fence in the Senate.

BERMAN: Sure. Listen to what Susan Collins said. She says if tens of millions of people lose their Medicaid, it isn't quite a one-for-one thing. But the House bill, they said more than 10 people would - 10 million fewer people would be receiving Medicaid after that. So if that sticks, maybe she would be a no vote also.

MJ Lee, Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much.

BERMAN: All right, the secret talks behind closed doors. A small group of Democrats brainstorming ways to get rid of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. We'll speak to someone in the room, next.


[09:40:45] BERMAN: All right, Nancy Pelosi has a message for the disgruntled Democrat who say she should step aside as minority leader. She says, I'm not going anywhere. The leader taking her would-be challengers on directly in the wake of the party's latest special election loss, saying that she, and not her critics, will decide how long she gets to keep her post.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: When it comes to personal ambition (ph) and having fun on TV, have your fun. I love the arena. I thrive on competition. And I welcome the discussion.


BERMAN: All right, joining me now, Texas Democratic Congressman Filemon Vella of Texas, as I said, who is - now wants Nancy Pelosi out as the Democratic leader.

And, congressman, you're not mincing words. You say, "I think you'd have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top." Why?

REP. FILEMON VELA (D), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Well, I was asked what my thoughts were on the 2018 election, and what I think is that as we move forward to that election, when you consider the fact that we have suffered losses in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 and four special election losses, the fact is that we have to win swing districts, and in those swing districts we have to appeal to independent voters and Republican voters who are disenchanted with Trump's policies and Leader Pelosi deserves her dues. She's been - she's had a remarkable career. He's a historic, you know, she's an historic figure, not only in the Democratic Party of this nation, but in those districts with those voters I'm talking about, she just doesn't perform well. And I think it's just a fact.

BERMAN: You voted to re-elect her as leader back in November. That was just a few months ago. What changed since November?

VELA: Well, back then, she had competition that arose right at the last minute. By the time he came in, I'd already been committed to her. And her competition was Tim Ryan, who I've gotten to know better. That would all changed now.

BERMAN: So - OK. So, Tim Ryan, that gets me to my next point. You know, is there someone you support to be the next Democratic leader?

VELA: Well, I think, at the end of the day, what has to happen here is, Leader Pelosi needs to ask herself, do I help or do I hurt Democratic candidates in those very important districts? At the end of the day, when - once that decision is made, the caucus itself will figure out who will take the new leadership position. But if it's somebody like Tim Ryan, I would certainly support.

BERMAN: Now she says, you know, she does help. She's raised a whole heck of a lot of money, she says. She says she's a master legislator. You disagree?

VELA: Oh, there's no question she is a prolific fundraiser. She's raised millions and millions of dollars. But what has that money gotten us in the last four election cycles?

BERMAN: So money's not enough, you're saying, anymore?

VELA: Well, I think that - I'm not saying that whoever comes in is going to be able to raise as much money as she is, but the money will be raised. But the fact is, is when you take a look at those last four election cycles, all of that money has been for naught.

BERMAN: So, congressman, you were part of a closed-door meeting yesterday with people of like minds who want to see Nancy Pelosi go. What did you decide to do? What specific action did you come up with?

VELA: Well, if you can imagine, there was 12 members in that meetings for about 12 minutes because we got called for votes. So there was lots of opinions and not much got accomplished. So what we agreed to do is meet when we come back to Washington, D.C., next week. So I'd have more to say about that, I think, when we come back next week. BERMAN: So no specifics. Look, Nancy Pelosi's been leader for 2003.

And one of the reasons is, you know, she's been able to fight off any competition. Are you afraid of retribution?

VELA: No, I'm not afraid of retribution. My point is very simple, and that is, as we move forward to the 2018 elections, we want to regain the majority, especially in light of the Trump presidency. And our best shot at that is to win swing districts. And I just think that, at the end of the day, Leader Pelosi just doesn't help our candidates in those swing districts with independent voters and Republican voters whom I think, given the Trump policies, will be able to swing our way.

BERMAN: She says of you and her critics, she says, "how long I stay is not up to them." Your reaction to that?

VELA: Well, I think there's some truth to that, and that's why I think that this is a question the leader has to ask herself and has to answer that question honestly. But I think - I think that's a fair point.

[09:45:13] BERMAN: All right, Democratic Congressman Filemon Vela of Texas. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate your time, sir.

VELA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, a huge diplomatic row (ph) involving some of the U.S.'s biggest allies in the Middle East. It could be getting worse.


BERMAN: All right, reports this morning the nation of Qatar was given an ultimatum if it wants to restore ties with four Arab countries that severed relations weeks ago. The nation has ten days to comply with a list of 13 demands, one of which includes shutting down al Jazeera, which is based in Doha. The relationship between Qatar and several Arab countries got a lot worse this month following accusations, including accusations from President Donald Trump that the nation supports terrorism.

[09:50:17] CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen following these developments for us.

What are you learning, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you have a list of these demands that the Saudis and some other countries in the Gulf there are making towards the Qatar, and they are some pretty hefty demands, John. Aside from shutting down al Jazeera and its affiliated networks, they also demand that Qatar shut down several other television networks as well. Also cut pretty much - most of their ties with the Iranians.

We have to keep in mind that Qatar and Iran share the biggest gas field in the world. So that's certainly something that's going to be difficult to do. They also say stop meddling in the affairs of Gulf countries. The Saudis, of course, for a very long time, have accused the Qatari's of funding groups and supporting groups that destabilize countries like Saudi Arabia. And then one which I think is really interesting, they demand paying reparation for any sort of debts or damages that were done by Qatari foreign policy.

Now, the Qataris have not yet responded to this list of demands. In fact, the list of demands hasn't really been made public yet. It's been out there. We've confirmed that it exists. And at the same time, all sides are accusing each other of leaking this list because they say it damages the negotiations. But it certainly seems like a list that will make negotiations very, very difficult because the demands are pretty crass. Among them also is stopping the development of a Turkish base. Of course we know that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are both U.S. allies. Well, Turkey is a U.S. NATO ally and now the Saudis and the other countries are telling the Qataris to throw Turkish soldiers off their soil. So this is going to be a very, very difficult one, John.

BERMAN: So the Trump administration has been sending decidedly mixed messages from the White House and the State Department. How is the U.S., at this point, likely to get involved?

PLEITGEN: It is very difficult. You know, one of the things that the State Department via Secretary of State Tillerson has said is they want demands that are set forth to be both actionable and reasonable. Now, it's unclear how they're going to define these demands that were made so far.

We haven't heard from the State Department yet. It seems as though, as you said before, that President Trump seems to be quite supportive of the Saudi side. On the other hand, we've heard from other U.S. officials saying they were mystified as to why this diplomatic crisis hasn't been solved yet. So this is going to be a very, very difficult one to solve, especially with what seems as though both sides in this really entrenched and unwilling to back down at this point. And these are all key allies. We have to keep in mind that Qatar has the largest U.S. air base in the Gulf, which is absolutely vital for fighting ISIS in these very crucial times, John.


All right, Frederik Pleitgen for us, covering this. Thanks so much.

Just days after a jury cannot reach a verdict on sexual offense charges, Bill Cosby says he is going on the road to teach young people about how to avoid being accused of sex crimes. Really?


[09:57:29] BERMAN: Now even a full week after a mistrial in his sexual offense trial and with a second criminal trial looming in the future, Bill Cosby is planning to hosting a series of town halls to teach people, especially athletes, about how to avoid sex assault allegations. This as conflicting juror stories have started to emerge about what really happened inside the jury room. CNN's Jean Casarez has more of these details.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's very interesting, the judge told jurors, you can speak to the media, but you cannot give the actual count in the jury room, the breakdown. And, of course, that's what we're getting now. But one juror spoke to our affiliate in Pittsburgh, KPIX, and talked about that he just didn't believe Andrea Constand. That he didn't understand why she waited one year to come forward. That whatever Bill Cosby did, he's already paid for. And he definitely gave her a pill. Well, he says he gave her a pill, right? But the juror also says it was tense. There were so many tears. It was a really small room and the breakdown was either 7-5 or 5-7 for and against conviction. Listen to what else he had to say.


JUROR: It was hopeless. It was - from the first time on. The statute of limitations were running out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did that really bother you?

JUROR: Yes, it does. I think they created this whole thing. A case that was settled in '05 and we had to bring it up again in '17.


CASAREZ: Now, another juror spoke to ABC News saying the break down was 11-2, 10-2 for conviction on two of the counts. Far different from what this juror has to say.

But in other news, John, Bill Cosby is announcing town halls around the country, in Philadelphia, where this all happened, to educate young people of what false accusations can do to your life in regard to sexual assault.

BERMAN: I wonder what the victims of sexual assault think of that.

All right, Jean Casarez, thanks so much for that report. Appreciate it.

CASAREZ: All right. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, the breaking news this morning, a stunning behind the scenes look into what some are calling the greatest political crime of the century. Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in hacking the U.S. election. "The Washington Post" reveals former President Obama's secret struggle, not only to punish Vladimir Putin for launching the cyberattack, but at the same time, apparently, President Obama wanted to protect the United States from any more harm.

[10:00:06] One of "The Washington Post" reporters on this story, Adam Entous, described it to me a short time ago.