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CBO: GOP Bill Leaves 22 Million More Uninsured by 2026; Supreme Court Lets Parts of Trump Travel Ban Take Effect; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 26, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Millions uninsured. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has just released its cost estimate of the Senate GOP healthcare bill, projecting that, within a decade, 22 million more people will be uninsured than under Obamacare.
[17:00:24] "Mean bill." President Trump admits he called the GOP healthcare plan mean and says he wants a bill with more heart as he works the phones to bring more GOP senators on board. Will Republicans listen to the president's request?
Partial victory. President Trump calls the U.S. Supreme Court decision to let parts of his travel ban take effect a clear victory for national security. But it's only temporary and far from a final decision, as the court decides to hear full arguments in October.
And demanding an apology. President Trump admits Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election but insists the only collusion or obstruction came from President Obama, and he's now demanding an apology.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news: the numbers are just out from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, estimating that, in less than a decade, the Senate Republican healthcare bill would leave 22 million more Americans without healthcare insurance than under Obamacare. Within just a year, 15 million more people would be without health insurance compared to Obamacare.
Five Republican senators oppose the bill right now, and others are on the fence. Senate Republican leaders are insisting on a vote this week. The White House says President Trump has made several calls to senators to hear their concerns about the bill.
We're standing by to hear from President Trump shortly as he meets with the Indian prime minister. He's already proclaimed a clear victory for national security after the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that parts of his travel ban can go into effect. The court today upheld the ban on citizens of six Muslim -- mostly Muslim-majority countries who lack any bone fide ties to the United States, such as relatives, schools or employers. They will hear full arguments of the case coming up in the fall.
And President Trump now admits that Russia meddled in the U.S. election, but in a tweet barrage, he says the real story is that President Obama did nothing about it. President Trump continues to deny that he or his officials committed any collusion or obstruction but accuses the Obama administration of doing just that, and he's now demanding an apology.
I'll talk to Senator Ben Cardin. He's the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're also standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the breaking news: the nonpartisan CBO estimate that within a decade, the Senate Republican healthcare bill would leave 22 million more Americans without health insurance than Obamacare. As the Senate GOP leadership pushes for a vote later this week, let's go to our congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly. He's up on Capitol Hill.
Phil, update our viewers. What are you learning?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you hit the top-line number: 22 million would be -- 22 million fewer Americans would have insurance over the course of ten years, and that's an important number for a couple of reasons. No question about it. That is absolutely an attack line.
But it's something that two senators -- Senator Dean Heller of Nevada and Senator Susan Collins of Maine -- said would be very important to their calculation as to whether they're going to support the bill.
Now, digging a little bit deeper here, this bill includes a $772 billion cut in Medicaid from current spending laws over the course of a decade. We knew those cuts were in place, that spending reduction would be there. But this puts an actual number to it.
And another number that's actually really important here in the broader scheme of things. Over the course of a ten-year period, Bill, this -- Wolf, this bill would reduce spending, reduce deficits by 321 billion. Now, this is important for procedural reasons, when you talk about the Senate, Wolf. According to Senate rules, they need to reduce the deficit by $133 billion over this bill for it to be able to move forward. So that essentially means that they have nearly $100 billion to work with.
Why that's important is if you look, Wolf, at moderate senators, senators that are on the fence right now, who are very wary of some of these Medicaid cuts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now has money to kind of add into the bill, whether it's for opioid funding, whether it's for Medicaid expansion, to maybe help bring along their votes.
The other key issue here to look at, when you talk to conservatives, what they care about most is premiums. If you look into the CBO report, in the initial years, premiums would go up. But over the course of ten years, premiums would start to go down. In 2020, an average individual plan, premiums would drop by 30 percent. By 2026, they'd drop by 20 percent.
So that's good news for conservatives who want to know that, as they cut back on the Obamacare regulations, it would have an immediate effect.
But there's a reason why those premiums are dropping, and it's by design, what conservatives want. But as you take away the types of things that Obamacare mandates, the coverage becomes skimpier. And the CBO makes very clear, the coverage would start to drawn down. The types of coverage you could get in order to have premiums start to drop would not be as expansive. That's why what happened.
[17:05:18] But again, those are numbers that Republicans are already seizing on. Kind of a mixed bag here. But certainly, that top-line number, 22 million, that's something Republicans care about. That's something certainly something Democrats are focused on. That's something you're going to hear a lot of in the days ahead, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, the CBO said the House version would result in 23 million more Americans without health insurance that currently have it under -- would have it under Obamacare.
What happens, Phil, to the Obamacare individual mandate, that says everyone must have insurance?
MATTINGLY: So it's repealed in this bill, essentially. And I think this is a really important point here. Because as the CBO scores, the mandate is extraordinarily important for that top-line coverage number. It's the idea that people obviously have to buy insurance; they're forced to buy insurance.
Now Senate Republicans today actually added a provision to the bill that they hope will help on that. It's called a continuous coverage provision. And essentially what it says is if you drop off insurance, if you lose insurance within 63 days, you have to re-up, get new insurance; or you'd be locked out of the marketplace for six months. That's a long period of time.
And the idea being that it would incentivize individuals to get insurance as quickly as possible and to maintain coverage, thus kind of broadening out the risk pool, trying to draw in healthier, younger individuals; trying to almost account for the coverage numbers.
But I think this is a really important point. The CBO scored the Republican bill with that continuous coverage provision already in there, according to GOP aides, and still hit that 22 million mark. I think there's a couple things you need to pay attention to. Obviously, when the mandate goes away, the CBO's going to score that number going up.
We also have the Medicaid expansion phasing out over several of -- years. That's millions of people there. Republicans say the tax credit, the structure of their tax credit, which is more robust than the House version, should pick up a lot of the Medicaid expansion population that would fall off over the course of those years. At least according to the CBO, it doesn't look like that's going to happen, according to their calculations, at least in the near term, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, 22 million. A lot of Americans indeed.
All right, Phil. Thanks very much.
Let's get the big picture on the healthcare bill from our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. She's also up on Capitol Hill right now.
So Dana, what impact will these numbers have on a bill that already has shaky support?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the bottom line is it is still going to be very tough for the moderate Republicans to support this bill in current form.
Just for example, Susan Collins, Republican senator of Maine, she has said publicly that she just can't see supporting any Obamacare repeal that ends up with this many, you know, tens of millions, of people losing their health insurance. Because a lot of those people are in her home state of Maine.
You also have somebody like Dean Heller of Nevada, also on the more moderate side, up for reelection in a very, very tough race in 2018 next year, who said publicly at the end of last week that he can't support something where you have so many people who will be basically off the roles, and it would be difficult for them to afford health insurance.
The plus side of this CBO report is something that Phil alluded to, Wolf, which is that there is a very -- pretty healthy number of cost savings, of deficit reduction: $321 billion. So that is good for the deficit, but it also, according to John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, just talking to our colleague Ted Barrett in the hallway, that gives them a little bit of more breathing room if they want to try to kind of, you know, do less deficit reduction and use some of that money for more of the Medicaid spending.
So that is something that maybe they can work with.
But on the more conservative side, it still is that needle that has to be threaded by the Republican leadership, Wolf. The Republican conservatives are still upset about the fact there are too many Obamacare regulations that are still a part of the legislation that they're going to move forward. They still believe, people who I've been talking to, appear that there is negotiating to be done. The Ted Cruzes of the world, the Mike Lees of the world insist that leadership is negotiating in good faith.
So at this point even, and especially with this new CBO score, it is still a jump ball whether or not, if in fact, the Senate Republican leadership does go forward and put this on the Senate floor this week, whether or not at the end of the day, at the end of the week, they can come up with something that passes.
BLITZER: We know Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, Dana, he wants a vote Thursday, right? Is that still likely to happen?
BASH: That is still the plan. Again, John Cornyn has said -- who is the whip, who is in charge of the vote counting, said publicly that he doesn't think that the people who are asking for this to be held over until after the July Fourth recess, he doesn't think that that's a good idea.
[17:10:06] And by the way, the people that are calling to slow down here are the moderates and the conservatives, kind of both sides of the Republican spectrum in the United States Senate.
But, you know, there are also a lot of negatives to that. They understand that going home for July Fourth recess leaves this bill hanging out there. And history shows that the longer legislation like this, that is already so, so tough for members to go through and take, the longer it hangs out there, the even harder it is for them to take the vote.
So we'll see. Tomorrow there is a Senate Republican lunch, their weekly lunch. They're going to meet behind closed doors. What happens in that lunch is going to be very instructive as to whether or not the vote is even going to take place this week.
BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.
Dana Bash is up on the Hill for us.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. He's the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Wolf, it's good to be with you.
BLITZER: We've got a lot of other issues to get to, but what's your initial reaction to this report, the score, as it's called, of the Senate Republican healthcare bill from the Congressional Budget Office?
CARDIN: Well, first, 21 million people losing their coverage. That's unacceptable. You're going to be increasing dramatically the number of people who are uninsured that use the system and don't have the ability to pay for it.
And secondly, there are going to be a lot of people caught with inadequate coverage. That's how they get premiums to be reduced, by offering not as much benefits. There are going to be people that have desperate needs that won't have insurance coverage that will cover those needs. So you're creating a system where a lot of people are going to be hurt.
BLITZER: As you know, many of the Republican critics are pointing out that much of the coverage lost wasn't even included in this CBO report, the score, because some of the Medicaid expansion phaseout occurs outside this ten-year window, and they're alleging the Senate Republicans are simply trying to disguise what they believe would be the full effects of this bill.
What's your reaction to that?
CARDIN: Well that's exactly right. The Medicaid cuts in the Senate bill are more severe than in the House bill. And there are a lot of people who will lose their coverage, but it's not within the so-called scoring window, so it's not reflected in the 22 million.
BLITZER: The Senate majority whip, you just heard John Cornyn says he wants a vote this week by Thursday before the July Fourth recess. You've got your ear there. You're up in the Senate. What do you think? Is that possible?
CARDIN: Well, I hope it doesn't happen. This is one-sixth of the economy. We need to know what we're doing. We need to have -- we should have a public hearing. We should allow the public an opportunity. My lines have lit up on people calling, saying don't let this happen.
They want the public to -- we think the public should have an opportunity to be heard, to try to get this done, when even the final version of the bill is unknown at this point. They're talking about Mitch McConnell negotiating some additional changes in order to get a couple votes. That's not how the legislative process should operate. We should have a much more transparent process.
We should be moving in the opposite direction. There are things we can do to make it easier for people to have health insurance. That's what we need to have, not to make it more difficult.
BLITZER: Is there anything realistic -- realistic that the Democrats can do? Do Democrats have any remaining, for example, procedural hurdles to slow down the progress on this bill?
CARDIN: Make no mistake about it: the majority leader is using a process that could be done through a simple majority and could limit the opportunities of Democrats to have their voices heard.
We're going to do everything we can to make sure that our voices are heard. We're going to be offering amendments. We're going to be doing everything we can. We hope that we have at least three Republicans who are joining us, and we hope that there will not be a vote this week, that we'll have more time.
BLITZER: President Trump tweeted on healthcare this morning. Let me read it to you: "Republican senators are working very hard to get there with no help from the Democrats. Not easy. Perhaps just let Obamacare crash and burn."
Republicans say they need to pass their bill because Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, is simply collapsing right now. Many Democrats disagree with that premise. They worry that the president will deliberately sabotage Obamacare if he doesn't get his way later this week. Do you share that concern?
CARDIN: Well, there's no question that the president has made the healthcare system in this country more vulnerable. We have rate increases right now pending in Maryland, where the insurance companies are saying that at least half of those cost increases that they're asking for, as a result of President Trump not funding the -- or threatening not to fund the cost sharing and not enforcing the mandate. So you're getting a higher risk pool than would otherwise be there.
There's no question that President Trump has made it more difficult for the Affordable Care Act to work, but we don't -- look, Democrats, we want to work with Republicans; we want to get things done. We want to work together; it's how the Senate works best. But you can't get on a train moving in the wrong direction. There are better ways to make it easier for people to afford health insurance and get more insurance companies interested in the market. That's what we should be working on, not one that will deny 22-million-plus health insurance in this country.
[17:15:13] BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Senator. The president, President Trump, getting ready to speak in the Rose Garden. He's got the visiting prime minister of India, Prime Minister Modi, who is with them. We're going to have coverage of that.
Stand by for that. We're also -- want to speak to you about the Supreme Court decision on the travel ban.
BLITZER: Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're standing by with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. Senator, there's another story we're following right now. I want you to stay with us. President Trump is -- gets a win, at least for now, as the U.S. Supreme Court lets parts of his travel ban go into effect.
[17:20:06] I want to go to our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider. She's outside the Supreme Court for us.
So Jessica, update our viewers on what happened.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the surprise in all this was the split, the fact that the Supreme Court let parts of this travel ban stand while, at the same time, saying that foreign nationals with some connection to this country, they can come in. That was somewhat unexpected, and that's exactly what has led to both sides in this case claiming at least a partial victory.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In the unsigned opinion, the court sided with the government in part, temporarily barring entry from foreign nationals who are unable to make a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's clear from the decision that most of the justices think that the lower court decisions went a bit too far, and that at least parts of the travel ban should be allowed to go into effect.
SCHNEIDER: But for those with family, business or educational ties to the U.S., the executive order will remain on hold as long, as those seeking a visa can prove a close familial relationship or a connection to a business or educational entity that is formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, they may be considered for entry. People like students who have been accepted to universities or a worker with an offer at an American company.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The court seems to have threaded a needle, actually, quite elegantly, where they have dealt with the people who have the biggest hardships, the saddest stories. The people who have close relatives.
SCHNEIDER: Three conservative members on the court dissented, in part, saying the decision didn't go far enough and should have allowed the full travel ban to go into effect, just as Clarence Thomas argued the piecemeal approach may be unworkable, writing, "Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding, on peril of contempt, whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country." JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT: I, Neil Gorsuch...
SCHNEIDER: Justice Neil Gorsuch joined in that dissent, as he starts to show his leanings as the newest member of the court. Gorsuch has already joined several times with Justice Thomas, the court's most conservative member, and agreed the full travel ban should go into effect.
VLADECK: That is a pretty strong vote, and it's a pretty strong show of support for the president by, really, his most important nominee to date.
SCHNEIDER: But this decision is only temporary. The court has not yet determined whether or not the ban is constitutional or whether it violates immigration law. The full court said today it will hear those critical arguments in the fall. Lawyers for those who challenged the ban are focused on the bigger fight ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll be counting on the Supreme Court to affirm what the American people have made so clear, that there's no place in this country for any policy that attempts to discriminate or divide us based on how we pray, what we look like or where we come from.
SCHNEIDER: But for now the Department of Homeland Security has declared it a win for the administration, saying the Supreme Court's decision "restores to the executive branch crucial and long held constitutional authority to defend our national borders."
It was chaos at the nation's airports when the first travel ban took effect in January. Now the administration has 72 hours to issue directives and begin implementation of the portions of the travel ban that are allowed to proceed and clarify how travelers can go about proving that they have a bona fide to people and entities in this country.
SCHNEIDER: And one thing not in this opinion. The Supreme Court did not weigh in on the president's own words. The lower courts wrote extensively about President Trump's tweets and his statements, but of course the Supreme Court not focusing on that in this opinion. We'll see if that's something that they weigh in on or factor in when they hear the arguments this fall -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jessica. Thank you. Jessica Schneider at the Supreme Court.
We're also standing by right now to hear from President Trump any moment now, we're told, as he hosts India's prime minister over at the White House. Looking at live pictures coming in from the Rose Garden. He's already sounded off today on the U.S. Supreme Court decision and the Russia investigation.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president says he's feeling very good about that Supreme Court decision.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And we should point out the president and Prime Minister Modi of India, they should be out at any moment. They're running a few minutes behind already.
But this won't be a press conference. They're not going to be taking questions, even though this has very much the feel of a Rose Garden news conference.
And as what you were saying just a few moments ago about the president's travel ban, yes, they're certainly feeling victorious over here at the White House after the Supreme Court upheld part of that travel ban, will allow it to go partly into effect.
But the president still very much playing defense on the subject of Russia. That is the way it sounded at the White House briefing earlier today, or at least sounded when it was held off-camera.
ACOSTA: President Trump is all but declaring victory after the Supreme Court gave a temporary green light to part of the administration's travel ban on six majority Muslim countries. Even though the high court could eventually strike down the ban, the president was feeling supremely confident, saying, "It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective. As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm." [17:25:10] The White House indicated administration officials are now
studying how to set the ban in motion.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right now we're just pleased with what the Supreme Court has done, and we'll -- once we have a better idea of its full impact, we'll be able to have a better analysis of that.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump is also sensing a win on the Russia investigation, demanding an apology and accusing former President Obama of doing nothing to stop Kremlin interference in the election, tweeting, "The real story is that President Obama did nothing after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With four months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero tapes of Trump people colluding. There was no collusion and no obstruction. I should be given an apology."
The president said that lack of action from Obama amounts to collusion, a line of attack echoed by the White House.
SPICER: They were the ones who, according to this report, knew about it and didn't take any action. So the question is, were they -- if they didn't take any action, does that make them complicit? I think that there is a lot of questions that have to get answered about who did know what and when.
ACOSTA: But it was then-candidate Trump who seemed to invite the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
ACOSTA: Just a joke, the White House insisted.
SPICER: He was joking at the time. We all know that.
ACOSTA: An Obama administration official responded, saying, "The situation was taken extremely seriously, as if evident by President Obama raising this issue directly with President Putin," adding "The administration's attacks on President Obama's response to Russia cyber meddling is a transparent effort to distract from the terrible impact of their Obamacare repeal bill."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer once again insisted on answering these questions off-camera, a continuation of the administration's crackdown on news coverage of the administration.
If you are a taxpayer-funded spokesman for the United States government, can you at least give us an explanation as to why the cameras are off?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we can get this out of the way, can we address the cameras issue?
SPICER: Yes. Some days we'll have them, some days we won't. The president's going to speak today in the Rose Garden. I want the president's voice to carry the day.
You know, and I think, you know, so look, this is nothing inconsistent with what we've said since day one.
ACOSTA: And back here in the Rose Garden, Wolf, I can tell you that we're just a couple of minutes away from the president and the prime minister walking out here in the Rose Garden. And again, he's not planning to take any questions. Of course, if he does take questions, I'm sure one of them will be about the Congressional Budget Office report that just came out that found that 22 million Americans would go without health insurance, if the Senate bill becomes law.
And just to give you a sense as to what's happening here in the Rose Garden, the first lady is here, the vice president, secretary of state, secretary of treasury, defense secretary. They've all filed in. So the White House very much putting its top officials out here, Wolf, as the president and prime minister should be out here in just a few moments -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta in the Rose Garden for us. Thanks very much.
We're back with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. He's the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, I may have to interrupt you once the president and Prime Minister Modi come into the Rose Garden. But let me get your quick reaction to the Supreme Court decision today to hear arguments in the on the Trump administration's travel ban that affects six Muslim- majority countries.
In the meantime, the justices say the U.S. will allow at least some parts of that ban to go into effect. The president today called that a clear victory for national security. You're on record claiming the ban makes Americans less safe.
I want you to explain what you mean by that.
CARDIN: Well, first of all, by picking Muslim states, I think it's a recruitment tool for extremist groups. I think it targets Americans globally. And the statistics indicate that the people coming from these countries have not caused problems in America to the numbers that we have seen from people who live here, people who are citizens, et cetera.
So it's a phony argument about America's security.
I am happy the Supreme Court is taking the case. I hope they'll act with clarity, that we will not allow a religious test as to who can come to America.
I hope they will also speak to a lot of what President Obama -- President -- excuse me -- President Trump tried to do with his executive order. They did uphold part of the ban to continue until after they hear the case. For most people who are visiting the United States from these countries, they do have a connection, so they'll be able to come here.
I am very disappointed, though, about refugees. I know it's a temporary ban for 120 days, but there will be people hurt with that ban going back into effect.
BLITZER: Because as you say, the ban will directly affect the Syrians who are applying for refugee status, unless they have some sort of bona fide connection to the United States, the individuals in the United States or entities here in the United States.
We're looking once again at live pictures from the Rose Garden. Many members of the Trump cabinet are there, as well, senior advisors to the president.
[17:30:07] Senator, after launching airstrikes against the Bashar al- Assad regime air field earlier this year, the president said he was compelled to action after seeing that dramatic video footage of Syrian civilians suffering from the effects of a chemical attack. Should the administration carve out an exception for Syrian refugees who are still under siege?
CARDIN: Absolutely. The United States should continue to be a world leader in dealing with the refugee crisis. We're missing in action when we say that we are suspending our refugee program from these cities. So no, I think it's a mistake.
The refugees are -- go through extreme vetting, as they should. There should be extreme vetting. We do have extreme vetting. They go through vetting by the United Nations, by our agencies. We do background checks, multiple background checks. We know if they have any connections to any terrorist groups. They will not be allowed here. They are victims. They are the people that terrorist groups have gone against.
So yes, we should allow the refugees into America, those who have been vetted.
BLITZER: As we await the president, Senator, I want to get your reaction to a pair of tweets he posted earlier this morning. Let me read them to you. "The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING" -- in caps -- "NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With four months looking at Russia under a magnifying" -- well, actually, Senator, stand by. The prime minister of India, Prime Minister Modi, and the president of the United States, they're walking down the stairs into the Rose Garden. The president will make a statement. Let's listen in.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
Prime Minister Modi, thank you for being here with us today. It's a great honor to welcome the leader of the world's largest democracy to the White House. I have always had a deep admiration for your country and for its
people, and a profound appreciation for your rich culture, heritage and traditions.
This summer India will celebrate the seventieth anniversary of its independence, and on behalf of the United States, I want to congratulate the Indian people on this magnificent milestone in the life of your very, very incredible nation.
During my campaign, I pledged that, if elected, India, would have a true real friend in the White House, and that is now exactly what you have, a true friend.
A friendship between the United States and India is built on shared values, including our shared commitment to democracy. Not many people know it, but both American and the Indian constitutions begin with the same three very beautiful words: "We, the people."
The prime minister and I both understand the crucial importance of those words, which helps to form the foundation of cooperation between our two countries. Relations between countries are strongest when they're devoted to the interests of the people we serve, and after our meetings today, I will say that the relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, has never been better.
I'm proud to announce to the media, to the American people and to the Indian people that Prime Minister Modi and I are world leaders in social media. We're believers. Giving the citizens of our countries the opportunity to hear directly from their elected officials and for us to hear directly from them. I guess it's worked very well in both cases.
I am thrilled to salute you, Prime Minister Modi, and the Indian people for all that you are accomplishing together. Your accomplishments have been vast. India has the fastest-growing economy in the world. We hope we're going to be catching you very soon in terms of percentage increase, I have to tell you that. We're working on it.
In just two weeks, you will begin to implement the largest tax overhaul in your country's history. We're doing that also, by the way. Creating great new opportunities for your citizens. You have a big vision for improving infrastructure, and you are fighting government corruption, which is always a grave threat to democracy.
Together our countries can help chart an optimistic path into the future, one that unleashes the power of new technology, new infrastructure and the enthusiasm and excitement of very hard-working and very dynamic people.
[17:35:10] I look forward to working with you, Mr. Prime Minister, to create jobs in our countries; to grow our economies; and to create a trading relationship that is fair and reciprocal. It is important that barriers be removed to the export of U.S. goods into your markets and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country. I was pleased to learn about an Indian airline's recent order of 100
new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs.
We're also looking forward to exporting more American energy to India as your economy grows, including major long-term contracts to purchase American natural gas which are right now being negotiated, and we will sign them. I'm trying to get the price up a little bit.
To further our economic relationship, I'm excited to report that the prime minister has invited my daughter, Ivanka, to lead the U.S. delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall, and I believe she has accepted.
Finally, the security partnership between the United States and India is incredibly important. Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism, and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism.
Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces; and next month, they will join together with the Japanese to take part in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean.
I also thank the Indian people for their contributions to the effort in Afghanistan and for joining us in applying new sanctions against the North Korean regime. The North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with and probably dealt with rapidly.
Working together, I truly believe our two countries can set an example for many other nations; make great strides in defeating common threats; and make great progress in unleashing amazing prosperity and growth.
Prime Minister Modi, thank you again for joining me today and for visiting our country and our wonderful White House and Oval Office. I enjoyed our very productive conversation this afternoon and look forward to its continuation tonight at dinner. The future of our partnership has never looked brighter. India and the United States will always be tied together in friendship and respect.
Prime Minister Modi, thank you very much.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
BLITZER: So there you see a nice hug from the president of the United States, the prime minister of India. Very, very strong relationship, the president touting the U.S.-India relationship, better than ever he's suggesting.
He did say the United States will destroy radical Islamic terrorism, very strong words from the president once again on that. And he also had strong -- a strong warning for the North Korean regime. He says it will be dealt with, probably dealt with rapidly. This was an opportunity, Chris Cillizza, for the president also to
discuss some of the other big stories of the day, the Supreme Court temporary decision on the travel ban, other related issues. This is the only time we're really hearing from him today. He decided he didn't want to do that, and he's not going to be taking any questions, we're told, from reporters.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Right. Which is a little odd, because typically, they would take two questions and two questions in formats like this. Not always.
Dare I say, a little bit of message discipline from the president. I mean, you know, I'm not saying it's predictive of anything in the future, but look, this was a time he wanted to hit on a few things, largely foreign policy related, and did so.
I actually think, while the travel ban really is not a total and complete victory for all time for Donald Trump, it is a victory. His tendency is to not just spike the football but then kick it into the stands, go and get it from the stands, spike it again any time he wins at something. He's never been a gracious winner, necessarily.
[17:40:18] I actually think it's probably smart, given that, to sort of stay away from it.
He struggles in any type of extemporaneous speaking situation. So if he's not reading from the teleprompter, he kind of goes off onto his own -- it's like his Twitter feed, as opposed to sort of a speech.
So I actually think, if you're a top White House aide, you're probably happy with what he just did.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And he did put out a written statement...
AXELROD: ... about the travel ban, not a tweet. And it does suggest that there is an attempt to try and reign all of that in. As you say, how long that lasts, we don't know.
BLITZER: The written statement says, "Today's unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security." Then he explains why he believes that. "I'm also particularly gratified the Supreme Court's decision was 9-0."
Jeffrey Toobin, it was -- to be precise, there were six justices who had one opinion; three justices had a different opinion, right?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, but the three justices wanted to agree with Donald Trump completely. And it was the nine others who agreed with him somewhat.
So I think it is fair for Donald Trump to take credit for a unanimous support, at least, for part of his decision. And I think the fact that three justices wanted to end any sort of stay, who wanted to ratify the executive order completely bodes pretty well for his -- for his chances when the case is argued on the merits in the fall, because he's already got three votes in hand, it looks like, the three most conservative justices: Justice Thomas, Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch. And he just needs two more on the merits.
But, you know, considering how badly things had been going for the president in the courts on this travel ban, the fact that the Supreme Court allowed a substantial part of it to proceed is unquestionably good news for him.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the CBO score, the CBO report, Congressional Budget Office report, Bianna, on the -- the Republican Senate healthcare proposal, could come up for a vote as early as this week.
The CBO score similar to what we saw in the House healthcare bill, the Republican bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives. The president, as you know, has now publicly over the weekend called the House bill mean. Do you think we'll see him turn against this Republican Senate bill, as well?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, we'll have to see. I'm not in the business of predicting what the president will say or tweet in this case.
But look, 22 million would be losing insurance over 10 years' period of time. So any Republicans who were on the fence, either those who had thought it wasn't conservative enough or those who thought it was far too conservative and not moderate enough, do have an out in the sense that they feel a lot of pressure before July Fourth to have a vote, and they have constituents to go home to. And what is more appealing to tell constitutions? "I voted for this so that we could lower the deficit," or "I didn't vote for this so that you could keep your Medicaid"?
We're saying about recipients of this, the hardest hit obviously would be those older Americans, those who are middle income Americans who are going to be hit on both sides, are going to be seeing their premiums go up big time. And they'll also going to be seeing their deductibles go up, as well.
So regardless of what the president says, I think the focus really is on Mitch McConnell and whether or not he'll be able to get that vote by, he said, Thursday is the deadline that he wants one by.
BLITZER: Yes. They'd like to do it before the July Fourth recess.
David Axelrod, you know there are a bunch of Republicans, more moderate Republicans, see these numbers: 22 million Americans over the next ten years who would have had health insurance under Obamacare, won't have it, according to the CBO score. Dean Heller, the Republican senator of Nevada, he faces a tough reelection next year, as all of us know. Now a pro-Trump political action committee is threatening to launch a major advertising barrage against him.
You remember the fight to convince skeptical Democrats of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, what, seven years ago. Is this the right way for the Republicans to go?
AXELROD: What I don't remember is a big blast of media on behalf of the ACA. That was one of the frustrations for those of us who worked in the White House, and there was really -- the Marines never came on this.
And I think that they are trying to put pressure on Dean Heller, but he is really caught between a rock and a hard place, because his state has been a great beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare -- uninsured has gone down by 43 percent. A lot of rural territory there, working poor. And his governor has -- a Republican governor, has come out against this bill. So he is the most vulnerable member of the Senate, but he's vulnerable because Donald Trump lost that state. And so he has to choose between his local politics and caucus politics.
[17:45:10] And my guess is, he's going to stick were he is.
CILLIZZA: David is right. One of the things that I think is hard for Mitch McConnell, first of all, given this timeline which is very abrupt, is, in the CBO report, the good news in the CBO report is mostly for deficit hawks. $321 billion, I think, is the amount --
BLITZER: Over the next 10 years.
CILLIZZA: -- it will reduce the deficit for the next 10 years, which is significantly more than the House bill. The problem for Mitch McConnell is most of those people are already on board with the bill, right? You don't really gain all that much in the good news. The bad news is that 22 million uninsured. So Susan Collins, Dean Heller --
CILLIZZA: -- Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia, as Bianna mentioned, it gives them a very clear out here. So you don't get the benefit of the sort of good news of the CBO report. And the bad news of the CBO report really impacts the people that you need the most to get the picture.
AXELROD: And I'm not sure the people on the right are going to be all that mollified by it either.
AXELROD: -- because they still feel it's too generous.
CILLIZZA: And I'm not sure Ted Cruz -- right, they think it doesn't go far enough even now.
AXELROD: Right. Right
GOLODRYGA: Right. And optically, Wolf, it's really hard to find the silver lining in this in the sense that you can go to a voter and say, they've had seven years, the Republican Party.
They have been bashing the Affordable Care Act for seven years. And after seven years, this is the only plan that they can come up with, the one that the President of the United States calls mean? I mean, what is he going to call this one, a little less mean?
There aren't too many great superlatives that I think people are labeling this bill with. And I think, given the fact that they are wanting to rush this through, makes it all that much more head scratching.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, the President had that warm reception in the Rose Garden when the House Republican Bill passed and he was praising it. But now he has confirmed that, yes, that House version, in his opinion, was mean.
Even though the House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he was misunderstood, he didn't really believe that. The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that was only a rumor, that he called it mean. But the President is now confirming he called it mean, and he wants the Senate version to have a lot more heart.
Here is the question. Does the Senate Version have a lot more heart?
TOOBIN: Well, it depends if you think going from 23 million uninsured to 22 million uninsured shows more heart. I mean, they seem virtually identical in terms of, you know, the effects on people's lives.
But, you know, one of the things that I think, you know, we perhaps underestimate is just how tribal American politics is now. You know, Republicans just hate government programs, even the ones that benefit them. And the idea that this result will turn Republican into Democrats, I mean, I think that misunderstands just the cultural nature of the fights that we're having now about politics.
And even if it's against the self-interest of some of the new Republicans who voted for Trump, who opposed Hillary Clinton, who opposed Democrats, I think, you know, that will not immediately turn them into Democrats. So I think the political peril to Republicans may be somewhat less than it appears right now.
AXELROD: I will say, Wolf, as someone who used to be a practitioner of the black arts of politics, you don't have to work very hard to write the ads if they pass this bill, a bill that gives almost a billion dollars in tax cuts primarily to very wealthy people and cuts 21 million people off of health care, goes right at rural America, goes right at the opioid crisis in a negative way, cutting funds for that.
This is tough because they are satisfying the base, but they are endangering some of their members with a tax that are clearly going to come.
TOOBIN: But can I ask --
CILLIZZA: Just one more --
TOOBIN: Can I ask David a question about that? I mean, if they are so endangering the base, I mean so endangering Republicans, why are they all for it?
AXELROD: Well, because, first of all, I don't think most of these Republicans worry about anything but the base. But when you look at a Dean Heller, for example, who's in a state that Trump lost, he has to worry about a broader constituency. When you look at these House members, 23 of whom are in districts that Donald Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, you know, these are big problems for them.
So, you know, you talked about the tribalism of our politics, that's part of the tribalism. Most of these members don't have heterogeneous districts, but those who do are going to be jeopardizing it. For the House in particular, that has be a real concern.
CILLIZZA: And just to add to that point, even though we're focused on the Senate, Wolf, the House is more important politically speaking.
CILLIZZA: Because the truth of the matter is most people aren't focused on it yet. This is going to be, in terms of raw numbers, one of the best Republican cycles in a very long time. Lots of Democrats up. This is the 2012 class where you had Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, when you had Joe Donnelly in Indiana win --
[17:50:05] AXELROD: When Obama was winning by a large margin (ph).
CILLIZZA: Yes, when Obama was winning, helping a lot of these people over. If this was a classroom in which you had a lot of Republican vulnerability, if Shelley Moore Capito was up, for example, if Lisa Murkowski was -- that would be more problematic.
The reason we're talking so much about Dean Heller is because he's the only Republican running for the Senate in 2018 who represents a state, as David rightly pointed out, that Donald Trump lost -- that Hillary Clinton won, rather. So there is less vulnerability in the Senate here.
BLITZER: All right.
CILLIZZA: I think that's why you'll see Mitch McConnell be more optimistic of his chances.
BLITZER: Bianna, go ahead.
CILLIZZA: Sorry, Wolf.
GOLODRYGA: Oh, I was just going to say, to quote the President, I mean, health care is hard. This is really complicated for folks to dissect, which is why I think you're seeing the Republicans try to delay any sort of implementation.
Because, Wolf, once they start seeing these health care bills, once they start saying, we can't afford to pay for our medical bills any more, they're not going to be remembering party lines. They're going to be trying to take care of their own families, which is why, I think, if you're reading between the lines here, what Republicans are trying to do with some of these amendments is delay the implementation. Get the bill signed now, have the effects go in much later.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, I want to read to you and to our viewers a tweet that the President posted this morning on the health care legislation. He tweeted this.
Republican senators are working very hard to get there with no help from the Democrats. Not easy. Perhaps just let Obamacare or OCare, as he called it, crash and burn.
BLITZER: And there are plenty of problems with ObamaCare right now, and there are some serious problems that need to be fixed.
TOOBIN: And I also think it's just interesting how, you know, the President of the United States can talk about human beings.
Crash and burn? What does that mean for people in the hospital? What does that mean for people who had to declare bankruptcy before ObamaCare came in because of their health care costs? What does that mean for people with preexisting conditions?
I mean, letting it crash and burn? You know, if you're President of the United States, you're supposedly responsible for the health care and everything else in the country.
BLITZER: Well --
TOOBIN: So the idea that the President could say, well, let it crash and burn, I mean, it's just inconceivable.
AXELROD: Well, let me just say on this crash and burn point, part of the reason that the health care exchanges have a problem right now is because the President is burning them down by withholding subsidies that the insurance companies need and patients need to make the exchanges work.
And by withholding them, he is forcing insurance companies to make a difficult decision to either stay in a market with uncertainty or get out. So he is a bit of an arsonist now claiming to be the fire squad here to save the Affordable Care Act.
BLITZER: I was going to ask you, Chris, the President promised repeatedly, during the campaign, there would be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
BLITZER: Repeatedly promised no cuts. He said he knows a lot of Republicans disagree with him on entitlement spending. He said no cuts.
BLITZER: This Republican legislation in the House and the Senate has some significant cuts to Medicaid.
CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, this is the difference between campaigning and governing 101, essentially. Health care is hard. David Axelrod lived through the political difficulties caused by the passage of the A.C. which were significant.
You don't get the things people like and also take away the things people don't like. You have to make cuts somewhere. The money has to come from somewhere. It doesn't just come out of the blue.
That's how it works. People don't grasp that. In a campaign, you can say, we're going to fix all this problem. It'll be problem -- no problem, I'll solve it, we'll have it done in two weeks.
In a real life situation, you can't do that. That's why, as Bianna pointed out, they had seven years to come up with a plan. For all the talk that the Senate plan was going to be radically different than the House plan -- oh, we're going to do our own bill -- in terms of the raw baseline numbers, they're not that different.
AXELROD: I also --
CILLIZZA: Because it's hard.
AXELROD: I think what we've learned is that the President believes that consistency is for losers and policy is for nerds, and, you know, he says what he thinks is situationally useful to him at the moment. And he said what was useful to him during the campaign.
And right now, he's trying to hold his Republicans together. I think it's important for him to knock down this signature achievement of Barack Obama. And whatever they send his way, he'll sign.
CILLIZZA: Just very quickly, Jeff made a point about tribalism. He said that Republicans are against, you know, government expansion of any sort. I actually think -- and this is true for both parties. I think the reason that Republicans most want this gone is not because they fundamentally disagree with the policy, though they do, it's because it's Barack Obama's policy.
BLITZER: All right.
CILLIZZA: They're against not necessarily policy. They're against the other party.
BLITZER: Everybody --
CILLIZZA: If Democrats are for it, they're against it.
BLITZER: Everybody stand by.
GOLODRYGA: They also know they don't have a good plan.
[17:54:59] BLITZER: Yes. Hold on, Bianna. I want everybody to stand by. We've got some breaking news coming into the SITUATION ROOM. Once again, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is estimating
that, in less than a decade, the Senate Republican health care bill would leave 22 million more Americans without health insurance than under ObamaCare.
So what does that do to the bill's chances? Supposedly, there is going to be a vote on the Senate floor by Thursday.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Knowing the score. A new nonpartisan estimate reveals the Senate GOP health care bill would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million. Tonight, we're learning more about the price tag, the impact on premiums, and the politics of trying to get the bill passed.