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Shooting Rampage at New York City Hospital; TV Hosts Say White House Threatened Them with Tabloid Story; Trump Suggests Repeal Obamacare Now, Replace Later; Interview with Rep. Ted Yoho. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Hospital shooting. Horror inside a New York City hospital as a gunman goes on a rampage, wounding multiple people. At least two people, including the gunman, are dead, and there's new information about the victims and the suspect coming in right now.

[17:00:28] White House threat. Two TV hosts are accusing the Trump team of threatening them with a tabloid hit piece if they didn't apologize to the president for negative coverage of him.

Just repeal. As Republicans struggle to make a deal on an Obamacare replacement plan, President Trump now calling for a new strategy to repeal now and replace later. Is the GOP giving up on a new health care plan?

And patience is over. President Trump declares the U.S. is fed up with the North Korean regime, but with Kim Jong-un racing to develop a nuclear weapon that can hit the United States, what will the Trump administration do to stop it?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A shooting rampage at a major New York City hospital. Police say a gunman who injured multiple people at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital has killed himself and that the body of a woman was found nearby. Sources tell CNN the shooter was a doctor and former hospital employee.

We're also following new developments of President Trump's very public feud with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. They now claim that the White House threatened them with a tabloid hit piece unless they changed their coverage of the president.

The president's stunning tweets attacking the pair has overshadowed Republican attempts to get a health care bill through the Senate. Mr. Trump threw a new wrench into that process with a tweet suggesting Congress repeal Obamacare now without a replacement, which he said could come later. And the president is voicing his frustration with North Korea. He met

with South Korea's president today at the White House and afterwards said -- and I'm quoting him -- "Patience is over with the Kim Jong-un regime, which is aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapon capable of striking the United States."

We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Ted Yoho of the Foreign Affairs Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.

First let's get straight to the breaking news, the shooting rampage at a major New York City hospital. CNN's Polo Sandoval is on the scene for us in the Bronx, working the story.

Polo, you're learning new information. Update our viewers.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, part of that new information, Wolf, coming from several law enforcement sources now speaking to CNN confirming that the suspected gunman involved in this case here was, in fact, a doctor at this medical facility, now been identified as Dr. Henry Bello. Again, this is information that's just coming in right now as we await a new briefing by investigators in only a few moments.

Here's what we can tell you. It was about 3 p.m. Eastern Time when authorities with the New York Police Department scrambled to this -- to this hospital just north of the city to reports of an active shooter. They eventually did find who they believe was the gunman who had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and a female, a woman who was also shot and killed nearby.

We do understand that there are about five other people who have been confirmed injured, three of them currently listed in serious condition, but we don't know a whole lot more about that, don't know if they were specifically targeted or possibly even caught in some crossfire.

But what I can tell you is that a truly impressive police presence here in the Bronx right now as heavily armed personnel did arrive here earlier, but of course, that all clear possibly issued a few moments ago here as several of the hospital staff tried to find answers, and so do we.

What's interesting here, Wolf, as we, again, wait to hear from investigators in a few moments, we witnessed several hospital staff scrambling around the area, trying to get some information. Even from our vantage point here behind the police tape, you could see some of those individuals in white lab coats looking through the window, trying to find out what is happening.

But again, what we can confirm is the suspected gunman involved in this hospital shooting earlier this afternoon now identified to CNN as Dr. Henry Bello, a former doctor at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. As soon as we find out more here, Wolf, on what is still a very active, still very fluid situation, we'll bring it to you right here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Polo, thanks very much. We'll monitor that briefing together with you while you remain on the scene for us.

There is another major news we're following this hour, including allegations of a threat by White House officials against two TV hosts now embroiled in a bitter public feud with President Trump.

[17:05:01] Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is joining us from the White House. Joe, the president is on his way to his New Jersey golf course right now, but there's a lot of controversy hovering over him.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Wolf. And it was felt here at the White House, too.

There was a big meeting here today of two presidents, both new to the job, and the topic could have been all about the global challenges in the Korean Peninsula. But instead, for the second straight day, the president's mean tweets kept getting in the way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): The president's Oval Office meeting with the South Korean president aimed at focusing on escalating tensions with North Korea and trade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any regrets on your tweets, Mr. President, regarding Mika Brzezinski?

JOHNS: Overshadowed by Trump's two-day feud with MSNBC's morning hosts, the president this morning tweeting, "Watched low-rated @MorningJoe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a 'National Enquirer' article. I said no. Bad show."

That after the duo alleged the opposite, that it was the White House that offered for the president to use his influence to quash a story about the couple in exchange for a mea culpa.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: They said if you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story.

JOHNS: A White House official confirms Scarborough did speak with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, but denied there was ever any offer of a quid pro quo.

The president also throwing a Twitter curveball into the closed Senate negotiations over health care reform by backing a conservative plan to simply repeal Obamacare, saying, "If Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date."

That tweet countering the president's own promises shortly after he was elected.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to do it simultaneously; it will be just fine. We're not going to have, like, a two-day period, and we're not going to have a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you changed your approach on health care, Mr. President?

JOHNS: And irritating Republicans on the Hill by appearing to give into demands from conservatives while negotiations are ongoing. But the White House says this.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The primary focus is repeal and replace through the current Senate legislation that is being discussed.

JOHNS: President Trump also preparing for his second foreign trip with a potentially historic meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany next week.

TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.

JOHNS: Mr. Trump's ongoing refusal to criticize Russia openly, leading already nervous European allies wondering how he'll handle the ongoing disagreements over Syria and Ukraine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: While the two leaders have a lot of substance, they could in theory talk about, the way it looks is also going to be important, too. Senior administration officials have been paying a lot of attention to the optics of a Trump-Putin meeting, especially in light of the investigation into Russian interference in the last election -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Johns reporting for us at the White House. Thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida is joining us. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: You bet you, Wolf. Great to be here.

BLITZER: Let me first get your reaction to that series of tweets coming from the president, attacking Mika Brzezinski for her intelligence, her appearance. Many of your fellow Republicans have called on the president to simply cut it out, to reconsider his use of Twitter. Do you agree?

YOHO: Well, you know, there's still a First Amendment. How he communicates is up to him. It's not what I would do -- excuse me here, my piece fell out. It's not what I would do. What I would -- you know, I think he would be better served of he followed his own advice and used a pen and paper, and I'm going to leave it at that.

BLITZER: Well, when he tweeted yesterday, that really caused a huge uproar, a you know. "She was bleeding badly from a facelift." You know, he really went after her personal appearance. Is that appropriate for a president of the United States?

YOHO: Wolf, like I said, it's not something I would do. You know, we've got so many different major things going on in the world, whether it's North Korea, whether it's China, whether it's the negotiations of South Korea, you know, that he announced today on a new trade deal that he'd like to renegotiate. So I think we should really focus on that, and you guys in the press could help.

You know, of course, there's plenty of fodder out there, but if we focused on these things -- the health care, tax reform, things like that that the American people really care about, you know, the other stuff needs to stay on a reality show, as far as I'm concerned.

BLITZER: Well, I just want to point out, the White House has said officially that those tweets are official White House statements coming from the president of the United States. We didn't write those tweets.

YOHO: You didn't.

[17:10:04] BLITZER: The president of the United States himself wrote those tweets, and the White House has officially said, publicly said, those are official statements from the president.

YOHO: I agree with you.

BLITZER: The president says that, and those are official statements. We can't ignore it, right?

YOHO: You can't ignore it, and they are going to be history from here on out. So you're going to -- there's going to be a legacy remembered by future generations on these kinds of things. And how do you want to be remembered?

BLITZER: Yes. It's one thing for a candidate, one thing for a private person to tweet like that. It's another thing if you're the commander in chief, you're the president of the United States.

But let's move on to some other important issues. President Trump scheduled, as you know, to meet with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, later next week during the G-20 summit in Germany. As you know, the president has been reluctant to acknowledge Russia's role in the 2016 election interference. Do you believe the president is prepared to confront Putin on this issue when they meet next week?

YOHO: I think there'll be talk about interfering in anybody's election. And again, as you and I have talked, we've got to mind our own House in that. But I think what you're going to see more focus on is Syria, the Baltic states, Crimea and then helping with North Korea.

BLITZER: Because the president, as you know, did not bring up election meddling when he met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. You see photos of them in the Oval Office. That subject was not brought up by the president.

Let me repeat the question. Should he raise this issue and issue a warning to the Russian president, that if he continues to interfere in U.S. Democracy, the U.S. Elections, you will pay a heavy price to that?

YOHO: I think it's OK to put a warning out there, but let the investigations go forward. I think you'll see a lot of this.

And all of the allegations of the Trump White House colluding with Russia, you know, there's no basis for that. I mean, that's -- it's going down a rabbit hole that's -- there/s no rabbit in there.

So again, I would prefer to focus on those things that are serious: our debt, the things going on in North Korea.

It's safer to focus on things like North Korea, and that's really what we need to focus on as the United States of America.

BLITZER: But as you know -- as you know, the president, President Trump, he severely criticized president Obama for not doing enough after he learned last summer that Russia was directly interfering in the U.S. presidential election. That was President Trump who criticized president Obama.

YOHO: Sure.

BLITZER: So now the president, President Trump, has an opportunity, when he meets with Putin next week, to do what he said President Obama didn't do. You think he should?

YOHO: No, I think we should let the investigation, because the way I'm hearing it, there was -- President Obama knew about this back in August and chose not to bring up anything.

And so I want the investigation to find that, to really go to why -- if a commander in chief knew this was happening and did not respond, I think that's cause for concern for all Americans, to allow a foreign country to hack into our election process.

BLITZER: But you know -- Congressman, you know that in early October of last year, the director of national intelligence, the secretary of homeland security -- this is October 7, 201 00, issued a statement, a lengthy statement saying this, quote: "The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromise -- compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations."

The statement added, "We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities."

Do you accept that U.S. intelligence community conclusion?

YOHO: Wolf, I haven't read the briefing. I've read that in the paper. I want to wait to see the complete briefing. BLITZER: Well, this is the complete statement. This is what the U.S.

intelligence community put out. They put out a subsequent statement going into even more specific detail. So there's no doubt that this is what the U.S. intelligence community believes.

And so what I hear you raising questions -- you're raising similar questions of the president, because he doesn't seem to believe this either.

YOHO: No, I read -- I read a report early on, and it was a very vague report that had accusations in there. And it just says, "We think they did this." There wasn't conclusive, like, "We're a 100 percent sure they did this."

And so, again, I want to see what's transpired from when I read that report before to the new information.

And again, you know, like you brought up, had Russia hacked into our servers, keep in mind, Hillary Clinton kept an unsecured server in her private presence with no security. And it could -- you know, there's no telling where this will go.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise. The U.S. intelligence community did conclude with a high, very high degree of confidence that it was Russia. They also concluded it was Putin personally who authorized it, although in the October 7th statement, they said only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities; subsequently confirmed it was Putin himself.

[17:15:12] That's why I was asking all those questions, whether the president raise this directly with Putin and sort of issue a severe warning to him, "Stop it, don't do it again."

By the way, we showed some live pictures of the president in New Jersey. The president arriving in Morristown, New Jersey. He'll be spending the weekend in his country club up there, as well. You see the president and the first lady arriving in New Jersey for the weekend.

All right, Congressman, there's a lot more we need to discuss. I want to take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.

YOHO: Thank you, Wolf. I'd like to come back to that, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:09] BLITZER: We're back with Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of the Foreign Affairs Committee. We want to talk to him about the latest twists in the struggle by Senate Republicans to pass a health care bill.

Congressman, I want you to stand by for a moment. We're getting some new information--

YOHO: Sure. BLITZER: -- from CNN's Ryan Nobles. He's up on Capitol Hill.

Ryan, President Trump is now touting, perhaps, an alternative plan, repealing Obamacare now without necessarily replacing it right away? What are you hearing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. And this is an about-face for the president. He actually rejected this idea shortly after being elected and then again after he was inaugurated in January.

But this is what he said in a tweet this morning. He said, quote, "If Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date."

And it seems as though this tweet by the president this morning was calculated, and he was working in concert with Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, because Sasse showed up on FOX News Channel right around that time that this tweet went out and said the following.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: If we don't get this resolved by the Monday of next week, July 10, if there isn't a combined repeal and replace plan, I'm writing a letter to the president this morning, urging him to call on us to separate them. If we can't do them together, let's do as much repeal as we can, and then let's have the president ask us to cancel our August state work period and stay here and then work on replace separate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: And there's no doubt that this complicates the situation for those Republicans who have been fiercely negotiating some sort of a deal to both repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously.

Listen to what one senior GOP aide told our Phil Mattingly. He said, quote, "We did this dance six months ago. We've litigated repeal, delay, replace thoroughly. The president spoke against it. This all might be more helpful if we weren't in the late stages of negotiations."

And Wolf, there aren't a whole lot of senators rushing behind this plan right now. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who's been a no from almost the beginning on this health care plan, is behind it. But now we're even hearing some House members. Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus, who was originally opposed to the idea of separating the two, he also endorsing this plan.

So Wolf, when you're in a situation where you have two sides of the Republican Party trying to come together, this is a situation that could potentially drive them further apart.

BLITZER: Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

I want to bring back Congressman Ted Yoho, get his reaction. Congressman, would you vote for a clean Obamacare repeal bill without attaching including in it a replacement?

YOHO: I would go up to Washington -- back up to Washington right now if I had that opportunity. That's what we tried to do from the get- go. I mean, that's the thing that really needs to do. Get rid of the Affordable Care Act 100 percent and bury it, and then start over with bipartisan measures that we can come together as a Congress, not as Republicans and Democrats, and do what's right for the American people. That's the best thing to do.

BLITZER: But you understand, I'm sure there are some of the Obamacare benefits that would simply go away if you repealed the whole thing. For example--

YOHO: No.

BLITZER: -- preexisting conditions; allowing children up to 26 to stay on their parents' health care plan. There are certain elements of Obamacare that you like that would disappear if you simply repealed it and you didn't have a replacement.

YOHO: No, absolutely not, because you know, Mo Brooks put out a bill that I signed onto that would repeal it, be active -- it would become effective January off 2018. We could move that date. There's no hard date for everything to go away. Maintain what we have now and get the replacements in there.

The biggest thing is open up the insurance market. Prior to Obamacare, we had 85 percent of Americans getting insurance outside of that; 15 percent didn't. Fixes for the 15 percent is what we need to do. But if you repeal it, it doesn't necessarily mean it goes away.

BLITZER: Congressman, let me direct -- that's not what you and the House of Representatives passed; and that's not what's before the senators right now.

YOHO: I agree. But you remember, we're the ones, the members of the Freedom Caucus, stood strong until they paused that bill and we got as much as we can. At some point you're either stuck with 100 percent of the Affordable Care Act, or you can get 80 yards down the field. And we took that, hoping that the Senate would do something. If they don't get rid of that, rest assured that both sides of the aisle want preexisting conditions.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, children could stay on their parents' health insurance policy until the age of 26, provided they were going to school or -- you know, those things were already there.

So there are some things that we can agree on, but if we start with 100 percent repeal, it's off the table, and then we don't have to worry about subsidies and arguing how much or how much you're going to put in there or, you know, what kind of a superfund you're going to have for opioids. Let's fix health care so that the American people have quality care at an affordable price and then incentivize people to do the things you want.

BLITZER: All right. YOHO: You know, the health savings accounts that were in the Senate plan where you could increase the amount of that and then take that money to buy your own health insurance, not the government.

BLITZER: But as you know, Congressman, the president promised repeatedly throughout the campaign that his plan would cover everyone; there would be no cuts to Medicaid at all. How is your House plan anything other than a betrayal of his promise?

YOHO: Well, Wolf, everybody in America had access to health care. You know, whether it was through a community health care clinic or if it was showing up at the E.R. Those things need to be reformed. The emergency room is the most expensive way to get health care, but there were things in place where people had health care already or access to health care.

We can -- we can reform this. And again, I want to take you back prior to the Affordable Care Act. Eighty-five percent of Americans had health insurance either on their own or through their employer. Let's go back to that model and fix it for the 15 percent.

In the meantime, put more pressure, like Steve King's bill that just came out, Patient Protection Act, where it's going after tort reform, and then put pressure on the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals to have drug prices in line where they need to be and not astronomical.

BLITZER: Congressman Ted Yoho, thanks for joining us.

YOHO: Thanks, have a great day.

BLITZER: You, too.

YOHO: Happy Fourth.

BLITZER: And a nice Fourth of July for you, as well.

Coming up, we're going to have much more on the very public feud involving President Trump and a pair of TV hosts. Could the president be abusing his power?

And later, President Trump's stern new warning to North Korea. Will it have any impact at all on Kim Jong-un?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:16] BLITZER: We're following the latest developments in the very bitter feud involving President Trump and T.V. host Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. They say President Trump and his White House staff used the possibility of a hit piece in the National Enquirer to threaten them and change their news coverage. Let's get some insight from our correspondents and specialist. And Susan Hennessey, your our legal analyst. What are, if any, legal ramifications of what Scarborough and Brzezinski are alleging?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: So, some people have claimed that maybe there's an extortion claim here. An apology isn't really a thing of value so it seems unlikely that that's going to be applicable. And what this is, is a government official retaliating against a media outlet for exercising their First Amendment Right. Certainly, there is abusive power issues there. You know, finally, if he says things that are outright false with the (INAUDIBLE) sort of mental state even about a public figure like these media figures in question, he might have slander or libel Playboy issues.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, you're at the White House. I know officials there, they're pushing back. What are your sources telling you?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, I talked to a source earlier this afternoon who said Joe Scarborough did call Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, about this National Enquirer story, and that Jared Kushner at that point, according to the source, told Scarborough to call the President. This source says there was no offer of a quid pro quo, in other words, if you soften your coverage of us, we'll do something about this National Enquirer story.

But Wolf, it just goes to show you how there is a perception out there that perhaps you could go to the White House and talk to the President about doing something about a National Enquirer story. I just can't imagine, you know, in any universe where that is normal. We've obviously never seen a President who is capable of doing something like that before, and as you saw earlier today, the President tweeted that Scarborough called him and that the President said he told Scarborough he would not change the story or call the National Enquirer to which Joe Scarborough said that was a lie. So, it's just another example of how we're not really in normal times when it comes to the current occupant of the Oval Office.

BLITZER: Yes. And Jackie, he tweeted the tweet that Jim was referring to, "Watched low-rated @MorningJoe for the first time in a long time. Fake news. He called me to stop the National Enquirer article. I said, no. Bad show." He could have let this go but by tweeting once again today, he keeps this going. Why?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN COMMENTATOR AND WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: This is further evidence that the person in the White House is the same person who was elected and the same person he was before he ran for office. And anyone who thinks that he's changed -- I mean, there were people yesterday when this tweet came out that thought this was an old tweet, that thought someone had just like re- tweeted it and it, you know, caught fire again. No, this was yesterday. Because he's no different. And there are moments where he will give a speech, he's talking about policy, but at his core, he is this person that can't let things go, that is fairly thin-skinned and that takes offense by something, you know, T.V. hosts say on the television, and won't let it go.

BLITZER: Yes. I want to show you this poll, David. This was a Fox News Poll taken before this latest round of tweets. Do tweets help or hurt President Trump accomplish his agenda? Hurt 71 percent, help 17 percent. We know this is a President who does look at polls. DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I just want to know what those 17 percent are thinking. All right. Can you name one example where President Trump's tweeting has actually pushed forward some agenda that he wanted, something he said, told the American people he was going to do that bring back jobs, any of those things, I can't think of a single instance where something that he was pushing that's actually been helped by one of his tweets? It's usually a distraction, and at best, you could say for him is maybe this is a strategic distraction, in some cases when other news is bad for him.

[17:35:04] BLITZER: You know, Jim, the White House defended the President's recent attacks on the news media. I want you to listen to the White House Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway. She was on ABC News this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: It doesn't help the American people to have a President covered in this light. I'm sorry, it's neither productive or patriotic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: She says it's neither productive nor patriotic. What's not patriotic for the news media to do its job?

ACOSTA: I know, Wolf, this is just another example of the White House going after the news media. You know, for Kellyanne Conway to say the reporters are being unpatriotic because they're asking questions, I just think that's a really regrettable statement. I bet it's a statement that she would like to have back if she had another chance.

Wolf, I mean, just to do the weekend review and I don't want to take up too much of our time, but we had off-camera briefings. We had the President tweeting and going after Mika Brzezinski. We had the White House Deputy Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, suggesting to Americans that they watch these videos online where people are going after CNN employees and trying to get them to say something off the cuff that would be damaging to this company, and I guess damaging to journalists overall.

It almost feels like a hunting of journalists that's being advocated by this White House. And I think it's terribly damaging to American confidence in the first amendment, American confidence in the news media. The only thing that we can hope for, Wolf, I think, when we hear these kinds of comments, is that the American public will finally get sick and tired of this and really rally to our side. And I do think that that's going to come.

BLITZER: David, you write for The Washington Post. I'm sure you've gotten plenty of criticism. All of us have gotten a lot of criticism. You know, how should the White House react to this, because clearly they're not reacting the way you want them to or I want them to?

FAHRENTHOLD: I don't want to tell the White House what to do. They have to play their own game, they have to do their own thing. What I want out of them is to answer our questions, OK? And I think they can often help themselves but answering the questions that are asked. They have a story to tell if they have facts that are on their side, answer our questions.

My experience with them has been often that they don't answer at all or they answer with something that's sort of a spin and not a real answer. You know, if they're doing something -- and they always say, we're doing great things, you just won't cover it -- tell us.

BLITZER: Have they answered your questions about the Time Magazine cover that -- you had a great story this week about the fake Time Magazine cover that's showing up in some of the Trump country clubs and hotels?

FAHRENTHOLD: Yes, the story was a Trump staff had hung up a fake Time Magazine cover that had Trump on the cover that never existed. And so, we asked the Trump organization, they didn't respond at all. The White House, I asked, "A, is this hanging up in the White House? B, does Donald Trump know it's fake, or is somebody fooling him and he not know that this was a fake when he hung it up on the walls?" They didn't answer either question. They said -- they told me they don't comment on the decor at the Trump organization's golf club.

BLITZER: So that's considered decor?

FAHRENTHOLD: All on the eye of the beholder.

BLITZER: OK. All right. Everybody standby, there's a lot more coming up. We'll take a quick break, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:35] BLITZER: We're back with our political correspondents and our specialists. Jim Acosta, you're at the White House. The President surprised all of us with a tweet this morning on health care. Let me read it for our viewers.

"If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date." That represents a change in what the President's position has been.

ACOSTA: That's right. He said all along we're going to repeal and replace at the same time. In fact, he's even said out on the campaign trail that it's going to be easy to do it. Of course, he now knows that that's not the case anymore. But he seems to be sort of following what some Republicans up on Capitol Hill are saying, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, for example, is saying, we should have repeal come first, perhaps with a one-year dateline on it, and then after that one year is up, we try to do a replace.

The problem with that, Wolf, is that it sets up sort of a healthcare cliff, sort of like the fiscal cliff, where if they don't replace Obamacare within that one-year timeframe, I guess people's health care would get taken away all of a sudden or they would have a very difficult time perhaps not getting those subsidies anymore in terms of obtaining health care. But the White House was asked about this, and they said, listen, we're looking at a lot of options. This is one of those options. But at the moment, the President's thinking has not changed, he still wants to do repeal and replace at the same time.

BLITZER: Jackie, does this have any chance of succeeding?

KUCINICH: Mitch McConnell is a good. I don't know that he's that good, and it just -- it seems like they're having trouble passing a bill that is not -- that is nowhere near a full repeal of Obamacare. And you're not going to get any moderates to -- or people who are up for re-election to vote for this. It just -- it would be -- you would -- you wouldn't have a problem with two, you would have a problem with, you know, quite a few more that care about the re-election.

BLITZER: If they just did a repeal --

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: -- and also, let's not forget how good Congress is at meeting deadlines. Oh, wait, they're really terrible, and they like to push it up and sometimes they miss them. So there is no guarantee that this would actually happen at the end of the day.

BLITZER: David, if there were a clean repeal without a replacement bill, the CBO says 18 million Americans would be uninsured in the first year alone, 18 million who have insurance now would not have insurance. 32 million would not have insurance by 2026, they say. CBO also says premiums would rise dramatically, because people with -- young, healthier people wouldn't be forced to buy insurance. So, how much of a blunder, potentially, could this be for the Republicans?

[17:45:06] FAHRENTHOLD: It's hard to imagine anything stupider in that context, that you could push that many people off their health insurance right away and only then begin to grapple with the problem of creating a health system that work. And all the things they're talking about now that are -- troubled them about Obamacare that the exchanges are having trouble, people are pulling out, that they're unhappy that it creates chaos, or creates uncertainty. Imagine the amount of uncertainty in so many people's lives and so many employers created by a full repeal. I just can't imagine that anybody would want to be on board with having caused that.

BLITZER: Susan, let's switch gears. I want to talk about the President's commission on election integrity. Remember, he once said that maybe 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the Presidential Election. Now, this commission is chaired by the Vice President Mike Pence. They've written to all the State Attorney Generals, Secretaries of State, asking for a lot of sensitive information publicly available, including last four digits, Social Security numbers, registrants first names, last names, initials, addresses, dates of birth, political party if recorded in your state.

A statement just released by the Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said this. He said he's never got such a letter but if he were to get a letter from the so-called commission, which he calls it, "My reply would be, they can jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from." Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our State's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral process. What's your reaction?

HENNESSEY: Well, it's typically significant that they've lost Mississippi. You know, states are often pushed back against what they view as federal overreach into election administration. That really is the purview of the states. We saw this during the 2016 election when Obama actually offered voluntarily help and support from DHS and FBI to what they saw as attempts to hack the election. States pushed back then.

The other issues that they've requested this highly-sensitive data without any request that it'd be transferred securely or saying how they intend to protect highly-sensitive data of voters. And the final issue is that the sort of the predicate of this entire commission, the claim that there's this widespread voter fraud just isn't supported by the facts.

And so, if you have Secretary of States that are familiar with sort of the basic facts with how these elections are administered in their own states, they're going to push back on that claim rather strongly.

BLITZER: If this commission on election integrity is lost, the Secretary of State of Mississippi, you know this commission has got some serious problems.

Everyone standby. Coming up, President Trump's very stern new warning to North Korea. Will it make any difference, though, to Kim Jong-un?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:52:09] BLITZER: At the White House today, President Trump issued a stern new warning to North Korea. Standing next to the leader of South Korea, the President said the United States has lost patience with Kim Jong-un's regime which is trying to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that could hit United States mainland. Let's go to our Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr. Barbara, the President, is it ruling out the possibility of military action?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: He's not, Wolf. But a military option against North Korea could be a catastrophe. The question, maybe, is Donald Trump really looking at any other ideas about what to do?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: President Trump's first White House meeting with South Korea's newly-elected President Moon came with a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP: The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. Many years and it's failed, and frankly, that patience is over.

STARR: But now what? How does the Trump administration intend to stop North Korea's rapidly accelerating effort to build a missile and a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States?

TRUMP: We are working closely with South Korea and Japan, as well as partners around the world on a range of diplomatic security and economic measures to protect our allies and our own citizens from this menace known as North Korea.

STARR: The U.S. military remains on alert, watching for any hint of a missile launch or even another underground nuclear test. Trump initially leaned on China to help stop North Korea's weapons testing.

TRUMP: The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding.

STARR: Pressuring Chinese President Xi to use his influence with Kim, but that appears to have changed. The Trump administration issued new sanctions against a Chinese bank for allegedly helping North Korea. Then hours later, announced a massive U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, which China views as a renegade province. Beijing is furious.

LU KANG, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): The U.S. arms sale to Taiwan has seriously violated international law and basic principles of international relations.

STARR: With diplomacy uncertain, U.S. military options for North Korea have recently been updated.

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The threat is much more immediate now. The President has directed us to prepare a range of options, including a military option which nobody wants to take.

STARR: But a U.S. military strike could trigger catastrophe.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I think that if U.S. chose to strike North Korea in any way, we would most likely see an immediate North Korean response. That could take different forms. It could be a counterattack on South Korea. It could be another cyber- attack. And Kim Jong-un feeling as emboldened, as he does, would likely react in a very strong way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[17:55:12] STARR: And the North Korean counterattack could put millions of South Koreans and 28,000 U.S. troops and their families in South Korea in peril. Wolf?

BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much. Coming up, the new twist in President Trump's very public feud with T.V. host Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Did the White House threaten them with a tabloid story?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, tabloid threat? The President's vicious attack on two cable T.V. hosts leads to a new bombshell.

END