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Trump Taunts Media: I'm President, They're Not; President Gears Up for G20 Summit, Putin Meeting; CNN's Response to President's Tweet; Interview with New York Rep. Lee Zeldin; Trump on Heath Care Bill: Repeal Now, Replace Later; GOP Senator: I'm "Agnostic" With Repeal, Replace Together; President, Putin To Meet Face-To-Face This Week; New Jersey Lawmakers Work To End Government Shutdown. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 2, 2017 - 14:00   ET



FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining Me, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

President trump faces another critical week of his presidency with the Republican health care bill that will potentially change the lives of millions of Americans and a critical stare down with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, at the G20 this week.

So far, the president is spending the holiday weekend escalating his ugly war on the media. At an event honoring veterans last night in Washington, D.C., he veered off course from honoring those who gave America its independence to taunting and slapping the media again.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us. But we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I'm president and they're not.


WHITFIELD: The president followed that in D.C. with a tweet this morning of a --


WHITFIELD: -- doctored video from his WWE day showing a trump smackdown of CNN. You see Trump and then you see, of course, the CNN logo. This just now three days before the president heads to Europe ahead of the G20 summit.


WHITFIELD: Following Trump's tweeting of that video, CNN released a response saying --

TEXT: "It is a sad Day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the president had never done so. Instead of preparing for his first overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he has instead involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his."

WHITFIELD: And just in case you did miss it, here is what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Thursday when asked about the president's recent attacks on Twitter.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence of anything quite the contrary.


WHITFIELD: CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins joining me now. You are traveling with the President. The president now back in New Jersey at his golf course this holiday weekend. So Kaitlan, what has been the administration's response to the response of his video tweet?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, they're largely hasn't been one despite multiple request for comment, the White House communications team did not get back to CNN this Morning on whether they stand by their statement that the president has never encouraged violence in any way, shape or form.

However, the president is choosing to tweet about this while he is here instead of tweeting about his upcoming foreign trip, his health care bill, for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and whether he will confront him over Russian hacking in the election.

The only administration official who has commented on the President's tweet this morning is Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert. He was shown the president's tweet as he appeared on ABC this morning. Watch his reaction here.


TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: Yes, certainly not though. I think that no one would perceive that as a threat, I hope they don't. But I do think that he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to and that he does that regularly, so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you don't think that's a threat to anyone? You don't think that's sending a message, do that to the media, do that to CNN?

BOSSERT: No, I certainly don't. I don't think so. And I think that, importantly here, he's a genuine President expressing himself genuinely. And to be honest, I think that's why he was elected. He's the most genuine person and the people that see politics and then see him, find him to be someone that they can understand or relate to.


COLLINS: We are seeing a president who has increasingly consumed by the way the media covers him and is increasing his attacks on the media starting with a personal insult to a television host on Twitter Thursday. The president has tweeted about the media non-stop. And he even railed against them as he addressed veterans at a Fourth of July rally in Washington last night.

Despite no response from the White House on his tweet so far, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have been quick to respond to the president's tweet. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wasted no time this morning tweeting --

TEXT: Violence and violent imagery to bully the press must be rejected. This July Fourth celebrates freedom of the press, guardians of our democracy.

COLLINS: Though the White House has largely chosen not to respond to this tweet, Sean Spice did say that we should consider the president's tweets as official statements from him. [14:05:00] Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right. Kaitlyn Collins, thank you so much in New jersey. So, the president's attacks on the media over this past week already had it taken an ugly turn with vicious personal attacks on two television hosts. Tune (ph) now, this new --


WHITFIELD: -- WrestleMania moment. Earlier today, one of Trump's cabinet members, Secretary Tom Price, was pressed on the president's use of social media.

CHUCK TODD, JOURNALIST: I'm just asking you as a Father. If your son tweeted about a woman like that, what would you say to him?

TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Chuck, you know, this is really remarkable. You got incredible challenges across this nation, incredible challenges around the World. The challenge that I've been given is to address the health care issues. And your program, a program with the incredible history of "Meet the Press" and that's what you want to talk about?

TODD: I don't.

PRICE: Let me suggest to you that the American people want to talk about the challenges --

TODD: I'm asking you why the President of the United --

PRICE: Let me suggest to you that the American people want --

TODD: Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, you're blaming me for what the president of the United States has spent his entire week focused on?

PRICE: No. Listen to me, with all due respect. The American people are concerned about a health care system that is not providing choices, where premiums are going up, where their insurance companies vacating markets all across the land and that's what they want us to concentrate on, that's what they want us to fix and that's what I and the President are working on.

TODD: Why isn't the president as devoted to this as you are?

PRICE: Oh, I think that he is, absolutely. The fact of the matter is that he can do more than one thing at a time.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about this now. Joining me right now, CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter.

So, Brian, what we're also seeing from the Health and Human Services' Secretary that he's implying there should be a separation between what the president is tweeting about or choosing to talk about versus the policy that the Health and Human Services' Secretary, you know, was on "Meet the Press" another morning shows to talk about, that's very difficult to do.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It is. The president's message is about the media. We would rather not be the lead story. I would rather not be on the first segment of your first hour today. But this is the president's only message, according to his Twitter and Facebook feeds. His only message to the American people today as we are all thinking about the Fourth of July, the long holiday weekend.

He had that event, spoke of that event for veterans last night, used that opportunity to attack the media in ways that we frequently hear from authoritarian leaders instead of democratic leaders so he does that last night and then choose to post this video on Twitter this morning, it's the only thing he's posted.

So, I think it's a signal from the president. This is what he is interested in. This is what he cares about. His tweets are a window into his mind because he doesn't give interviews, doesn't hold press conferences and he doesn't give them any speeches in public except for that one last night.

So, the tweets are important because they're a window into his mind. And apparently, what's on his mind is wanting to punch CNN.

WHITFIELD: Right. What the president says matters. It becomes a level of importance, that is, for reporting, whether it's something, whether it's something bad. There are some in the president's corner who say, wait a minute, we're all taking this way too seriously. Ben Ferguson was on your show earlier and he says, you know, there's comedy in this.

STELTER: Right. "The Daily Beast" is quoting a couple of Trump aides anonymously saying, this is a joke. You all aren't getting the joke. This is not a big deal. Don't overreact. So, you've got that on one side. On the other side, you have

journalism advocacy groups coming to CNN's defense saying he is suggesting violence, he is promoting violence through this video.

A viewer's opinion may lay somewhere in the middle, I'm just wondering why the president is spending his time posting things like this or caring that much about media coverage in the first place.

To me, it's a sign of weakness, Fred. You can make the case that it's a sign of strength, that the president is standing up to bullies in the media that he's being really tough. We've seen some of those comments on social media today.

The flip side view was that he's acting very weak. He's mot promoting policy objectives. He's not trying to lobby to get this health care bill through congress. Instead, he's beating up on the media. Today, it's CNN, who knows who it will be tomorrow. Because that's what makes his fans feel good about him and appreciate him, enjoy it.

He is sort of creating a show, creating drama. But to me, it looks more like an act of weakness than an act of strength.

WHITFIELD: And here it is, Independence Day weekend and this is an attack on the freedom of the press. The president and his advocates who were saying any kind of coverage that is critical of him, his policy, et cetera, means we are the enemy as opposed to what Journalism is, about revealing the truth, its accuracy. And he's saying that if it's critical then that's fake news.

STELTER: Yes. He's trying to tear down outlets that challenge him while he's trying to build up outlets that promote him and he has those, whether its Breitbart or pro-Trump shows on Fox News.

But we see a lot of reporting from CNN and ABC, NBC, CBS and "New York Times", lots of [14:10:00] outlets, they're doing great reporting both positive and skeptical about this administration, trying to find out what's going on. And that's where we've seen him continuing to target.

As we think about, I think, this holiday weekend, you think about past presidents practically every -- I think we can say confidently, every president has had gripes about the media, right?, going back to the days of pamphlets and print newspapers in the 1700s.

What we have not had is a president who post a doctored video, apparently, grabbed from a reddit forum, showing him as a fighter trying to beat up a CNN logo. This is new and really weird.

President Bush, a Republican, didn't do this. President Reagan a Republican didn't do this. It's not Democratic or Republican, this is outside the norms of any presidential behavior.

WHITFIELD: So this president might think this is controlling the message and that this is in his favor, if that's his motivation behind this. But how does it position, this president, particularly he's about to embark on a trip to Europe, other world leaders are watching this, they will be watching and evaluating his behavior. He is to be meeting with Vladimir Putin one-on-one while in Germany.

If the president believes this helps him, in what way might be the view that this undermines him?

STELTER: Right. If this makes his base more passionate and more proud and excited by him, that we know is 35 to 40 percent of the country that says they're supporting him in perforating polls.

I think of that 35 to 40 percent, it's really a smaller core that enjoys these kinds of feuds that he is in. But that means the majority of the country, of course, is not right now approving at this president.

I don't know how this kind of anti-CNN video were last night's rhetoric at the veterans' event impossibly help him woo those folks. I wonder how does a video like this help an American service member overseas who's fighting in one of the wars we're engaged in.

How does this help a person who's worry about losing their health care or would like a better version than what they have under ObamaCare? We know the answer which is these tweets do not help with that. The president could be using his megaphone to rally support for repeal and replace. He could be replying to individual Americans helping them with their problems but he's not doing that.

WHITFIELD: Sean Spicer has even said the president will continue to tweet. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said he will continue to tweet. This is his stream of consciousness, this is a display of transparency.

But then there's the issue of responsibility from a number of your guests including Carl Bernstein this morning who said, once you become president -- you're campaigning, that's one thing. But once you become president, perhaps this is not the greatest tool of communication.

STELTER: Right. He's the campaigner in chief and we've seen that continue even after inauguration day. I thought it was so telling last night at the veterans' event, he said, I'm president and you're not. He directed that to the media. I'm president and you're not.

WHITFIELD: It's almost a need to continually to remind people.

STELTER: Indeed. And with regards to the earlier tweet storm, his argument with Joe and Mika, his offensive tweets about the "Morning Joe" co-host, that was kind of all predicated on this that those hosts frequently question his mental health and his mental stability. They make these kinds of vague comments about his emotional well-being and they're worried about his behavior.

Well, the tweets from the president against the media have only escalated and elevated those questions. Joe and Mika came back on Friday and said the president is not well. So, the anti-media tweets only cause hosts like that to be asking those questions more and more. And we've seen that from some Democrat lawmakers today.

Adam Schiff for example say, where is this behavior going to take us? He's only implying it. He's not saying anything outright. But I think it's notable that when the president engages in feuds, people end up just asking more questions about, what's wrong? Is something wrong in his mind that he feels like he has to respond when criticized on television?

WHITFIELD: Nancy Pelosi was among those who responded via Twitter saying violence and violent imagery as a means of bullying the press, it's just not right.

STELTER: And when those Republican leaders speak out, we will share it. But so far, we've not heard from GOP leaders.

WHITFIELD: All right. Brian Stelter, thanks so much, appreciate it.

STELTER: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in now Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York. So, Congressman, you've seen the president's tweets, you've seen the video this morning. What's your response?

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: Well, for one, I'd love to be here today talking about important issues facing our country regarding health care and tax reform and foreign policy and taking care of our veterans.

The president does have a great -- we all do, have a great tool through social media, to be able to communicate with the American public. It needs to be used effectively. The president could be talking about the 41 bills that he has signed into law or what's ahead with regard to tax reform and health care or his upcoming trip abroad.

WHITFIELD: So, are you saying you're disappointed? Are you then saying you're disappointed that he's not using Twitter to convey that message, instead using Twitter to convey a message about how he wants to beat up the press or even CNN?

ZELDIN: Well, for one, he has been using Twitter to communicate [14:15:00] that but he also uses Twitter to say some other things that -- you know, when I think of my 10-year-old daughters --

WHITFIELD: But today, right now, the tweet that was sent by the President of the United States and the imagery by way of this video, was that of being in a ring or outside of the WWE ring and beating up on CNN, your response to that. I mean, what's your message to the president who just might be listening right now about his behavior, about his use of Twitter, what's your message?

ZELDIN: Well, two things. One is, and I was just trying to answer that, you know, when I was my daughter's age, when I was 10 years old, we looked up to the President of the United States. We're trying to understand the difference of right from wrong. We're trying to set our own moral compass to be future leaders.

So, you know, being presidential is being that role model. And I don't believe that some of what he is doing on Twitter is setting the right example for my kids. I also want to add -- WHITFIELD: So what's your message to your daughter then this morning? What do you say to your daughters about trying to explain what we're all trying to view and understand today?

Since you brought it up, you use the presidency as an example, as a lesson to your daughters, what's the message that you convey to your daughters today when you try to extrapolate and understand the tweet that went out by the President of the United States today?

ZELDIN: We all need to up our game. I mean, first off, I don't have my daughters on Twitter or watching these videos or anything else, my daughters aren't on social media and I wish that I could send them to -- you know, that I could have them on social media but they're still just 10 years old.

But I want to add that it's not just the president of the United States, that there's a whole lot of responsibility to go around. There are great people in the media who, they earn awards for journalism. They earn Pulitzer Prizes for investigative journalism, doing great work.

There is also inside the media, it's selling to stir emotion and to get people fired up and not so much tell folks exactly what the journalistic investigatory news is of the day. And then you have Hollywood and all of those examples of where --

WHITFIELD: But why can't we just stick to the moment and the issue right now? Why is it you want to take this into another direction?

Let's talk about this latest example from the president of the United States today, the message that it sends ahead of him heading to Germany to meet with other world leaders at the G20, ahead of a week that could be potentially critical for health care but this is what the president chooses to talk about via Twitter.

Can you stick to just that message and that point and what message you have, as a sitting member of congress, to the president of the United States?

ZELDIN: Well, again, I'm trying to answer the question because there is a -- this isn't just about the president of the United States.

But about the president of the United States, I do believe that he has an effective tool through social media to be able to communicate with the American public, talk about what you're working on, the challenges that are ahead, the victories that we've had.

WHITFIELD: So what was the message today? What was the message today, then?

ZELDIN: I'm not here to defend the tweet that was there this morning. So that's why I'm giving the answer that there's a way for the president to be able to raise his game.

It's not a changing of direction that we all need to do more to be able to raise our game because while we're here talking about it, you have people in Hollywood making jokes about assassinating the president of the United States, punching him in the face, cutting his head off. You do have people in the media who they aren't pursuing that --

WHITFIELD: And you're trying very hard not to deal with the topic at hand right now by bringing up these other examples that have already been discussed --

ZELDIN: No, that's relevance.

WHITFIELD: -- ad nauseam. But, right now, I mean you've got Republican Senator Ben Sasse this morning, was on with Jake Tapper, who had this response to the tweet from the president today about that image that you're seeing in that third box on the screen. So, let's listen to what Ben Sasse had to say.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that and trying to weaponize distrust.

The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment and you don't get to separate the freedoms that are in there.


WHITFIELD: Are you in an agreement that the president is weaponizing distrust by way of the kind and the tone of tweets that we've seen just most recently today?

ZELDIN: I mean, what Ben Sasse just said in that segment is very important point. This is the Fourth of July weekend and we have people who are overseas risking their life in defense of our country, many who have risked life and limb in the past to protect all of our rights, including our First Amendment right.

[14:20:00] So, you know, from that standpoint, I think we need to protect freedom of the press. There is a responsibility on the part of everyone, including the president of the United States, who aren't part of the press, to be able to protect that right and all other rights.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe the president is an advocate of the protection of the freedom of press?

ZELDIN: I mean, I don't really know what to make of that particular question especially after this particular morning.

WHITFIELD: Well, that took a long time to answer that. Why would you not say what your opinion is about whether you believe this president is advocating the freedom of press? The latest example, the video that was revealed via Twitter today.

ZELDIN: Yes. I don't know how this morning's tweet can be used to back up an advocacy of freedom of the press, so I'm unable to -- if you're asking me to use that tweet as it being an example, I'm unable to do that.

You know, you could argue it's actually the opposite of freedom of the press but we're really zeroing in on his tweet because it was this morning. We're really focusing in on this president but it's a really important point that so much of us, so much of the American people other than the president -- president included, we all can up our game. Because there's a lot of responsibility to go around as far as violence.

I mean, with just two weeks ago, we almost lost over two dozen members of congress on the field in Alexandria, Virginia. I mean, that type of sickness. There are people who were -- they were holding up signs that said, 'impeach him now' while the president's hand was on the bible. They were calling for his impeachment already. We all need to do more to come together as a country.

And that doesn't let the president off the hook. It probably holds him to the highest possible standards because he is the president. But we all have our own responsibilities as well to do our part. And I need to do my part.

You need to do -- we all need to do our part to come together more as a country because we're going in the wrong direction when we're spending our time debating and focusing on everything other than what the future of health care should look like, how do we get the economy moving, how do we secure our country?

That is what we need to be talking about with a more unified country, especially with it being a July Fourth weekend.

WHITFIELD: So especially because it's Independence Day weekend, then how concerned are you, disappointed are you, that this is the message of the president of the United States would send?

ZELDIN: I would say that there's a better message to be sending right now through a very effective tool. I understand why he is focused on getting others to be able to up their game. But use your effective tool as best as possible to get your legislative agenda across.

You are the president of the United States. You're the leader of the free world. And I want you to be able to set the highest possible example for my 10-year-old daughters and their generation. I want them to say, when I get older I want to be the president of United States. And you know what, embrace the fact that you are held to a higher standard, embrace the fact that you're the president of the United States. It is a privilege, make the most of it.

But I would say this isn't just about the president. This is really about many of us being able to do more to set that example. For my daughters to -- if they wanted to be journalists when they get older, to emulate the CNN anchor who earns an Emmy Award by being embedded with special forces, whether you agree with the Iraq War or not. He earned those Emmy Awards and that's journalism. So, we all can do more. WHITFIELD: And all of that is encompassed in CNN. We have a number of award-winning reporters. Our reporting as a whole is award- winning. And then you saw the president beat down the image that you just said should be celebrated. So, is there a contradiction here?

ZELDIN: Yes. I have respect -- I'm on your show, I'm on your network. And I don't want to give all the different examples of exceptions because that's not my purpose of being here.

But there are specific examples that your network is dealing with right now, where you're trying to ensure, hopefully, that the highest possible standard of journalism and reporting -- but I don't want to sit here and start cherry-picking certain things that have come out with regards to CNN, which I certainly could do but I don't know if you want me to.

I do want to highlight though, that you guys -- I mean, you do have at the same time, you know, you do have journalists who earn the awards for doing a great job and holding journalism to the highest standard.

I would say, and I'm not picking on any one particular network at all, I would just say that that is not universal. And unfortunately, Web sites, people would make money based on hits and clicks and ratings. And unfortunately, what's selling right now is stirring emotion. And I wish what we're selling right now was talking about how we [14:25:00] come together as a nation.

I hope that would sell to -- if you want to become president of the United States, I hope that would sell, you know, if you're a producer on a major network.

WHITFIELD: All right. So, Congressman Zeldin, on that point of the agenda and you said you really would hope this president and the country would come together to really push forward an agenda.

Does the behavior of the tweets from the president undermine or cripple trying to get that agenda done or accomplished on Capitol Hill? Does it make it more difficult for you to back the president's proposals or ideas when distractions like this happen?

ZELDIN: Well, I mean, the agenda continues to press forward despite all of this. So, while something might be frustrating or you could say, I would do something differently, and sometimes very passionately can say that you would do something differently, at the same time, there have been -- this president signed more pieces of legislation in his first 100 days than the last many administrations, several administrations. He got a Supreme Court justice on to the court that health care --

WHITFIELD: Well, there have been a lot of executive orders, but there are not a lot of congressional law wins.

ZLEDIN: No. Actually, 41 bills have been signed by this president. He signed more bills passed by congress than the last several administrations. So, there have been executive orders but also legislation and the supreme court appointment and the legislative process working its will, where maybe by end of this year, you have health care reform passed, you might have tax reform done.

And moving into 2018, maybe we could get infrastructure package, maybe we could see more --

WHITFIELD: Well, health care in a working progress.

ZELDIN: Well, it's no doubt. I mean, the legislative process working its will, especially, that there was an example that was just given where we didn't see these tactics used by President Bush or President Reagan.

Right now, there's so much of this legislative process is public for everyone to see. And I'm glad that there's a senate draft that was released publicly so that we can debate it, so that we can weigh in on what's good and what's not. And it's going to have be tweaked. And that's a good thing if you're improving the bill.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Lee Zeldin, appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being with me.

ZELDIN: Thank you. Take care.

WHITFIELD: All right. Back to health care. repeal now, replace later --


WHITFIELD: -- that is the message that the president has sent on the GOP's health care bill. Next, the latest on that battle to roll back ObamaCare while millions of Americans' coverage hangs in the balance.

SASSE: Let's cancel the August state, work for it and let's do it in full public view and have hearings and get to work on something that works better than Obamacare.



WHITFIELD: All right. This morning, Republican Senator Ben Sasse agreed with the president's latest stance on health care, repeal now if needed and replace later.


SENATOR BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: If we can do a combined repeal and replace over the next week, that's great. If we can't, though, then there's no reason to walk away. We should do repeal with a delay, be clear, I don't want to see anybody thrown off the coverage they have now.

I would want a delay so that we could get straight to work and then I think the president should call on the Senate to cancel our August state work period. It's important to work in your state, to travel, to listen to your constituents. But I think we should get straight to work and around-the-clock hearings on the replace plan, but I think we need to do both repeal and replace and I'm a little agnostic into whether their paired or separated.


WHITFIELD: Trump is still fighting to repeal and replace Obamacare according to a senior White House officials. He is working on the GOP's bill through the holiday weekend. This comes after eight Republican senators called for the August recess to be cancelled or postponed.

Let's discuss all of this now with my panel. Julian Zelizer is a CNN political analyst, historian and professor at Princeton University, and Tim Naftali is a CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library. All right, good to see both of you.

And it's good to be with you, actually instead of always talking via satellite. So Julian, you first, you know, this effort by at least nine GOP lawmakers, who say we should just, you know, shelf the August recess and work on this health care 24/7. Is that what it's going to take?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there is a lot of Republicans who feel that way for two reasons. This was a big defeat this last week and the president can tweet all he wants, but a lot of Republicans are going home upset they don't have anything to deliver and feel they need time.

Look, there's only a few weeks left of legislating, if you have the recess. There's also many senators who don't want to be in their districts or states right now because they're facing angry constituents and protestors. And I see them --

WHITFIELD: Bill Cassidy saw that in Louisiana.

ZELIZER: That's the other reason you want to cancel the recess of rather stay in Washington right now.

WHITFIELD: Yes, because Tim, maybe it doesn't look good, right, to a lot of constituents who were saying, you know, why are you home? Why are you off when there's still work to be done?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it doesn't look good and also wouldn't look very good at all if they were to repeal and then say, well --

WHITFIELD: We got nothing.

NAFTALI: We have nothing and you know what happens if you repeal and have a deadline, it means you are setting up -- they have to come to some agreement. It's actually quite dangerous to repeal without something to replace it with. It will be very interesting to see if constituents share the urgency that the senators have. Maybe constituents would like them to work on this in the fall. What is the rush?

WHITFIELD: Do you think it's incongruent?

NAFTALI: Absolutely. I'm convinced it's dissident to repeal without something to replace it with that means you're playing Russian roulette with the most important social program of the federal government.

ZELIZER: And the numbers would be worse. I mean, if you just repeal it, it's not as if the CBO numbers get better. You'll have more people uninsured and then you are gambling with the idea that a Congress that can't even pass a budget is somehow going to remake this by some deadline. That's going to make many people uneasy.

WHITFIELD: So what's the real logic here? I mean, we haven't heard it from the president specifically, but what would be the motivation? Why would he be an advocate, go ahead, repeal it now and later replace it? I mean, what do you say to Americans that you want to happen to them or to the system?

NAFTALI: I think the president made it clear to everybody. When he said that the House bill, which he supported was mean. He made it clear to everybody, he just wants a win. As far as he's concerned, the win is the appeal of Obamacare.

Whatever the effect on health care and the provision of health care in the country. One of the things people should keep in mind is what's happening now, Republicans are trying to figure what number is politically saleable?

How many Americans can you throw out of the health care system and survive politically? Which is a heartless way of looking at it.

WHITFIELD: OK, well, this is Senator Rand Paul on the whole issue of repeal now, replace later.


SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I want repeal to work and the way do you it is separate it into two bills and do it concurrently. Right now you've right. Senate leadership is not doing that. Senate leadership is loading the bill like a Christmas tree with billion dollar ornaments, bobbles. You name it, they are going to spend money like there is no tomorrow on the current bill and try to buy off support.


WHITFIELD: So Julian, is this kind of a microcosm of just how splintered GOP leadership is on this whole idea?

ZELIZER: Absolutely. This is the problem. It's not simply that Senator McConnell did this in secret or it's not --

WHITFIELD: But it's been his problem for seven years, right? ZELIZER: Right. It's been the problem with the bill itself and to hear Paul say that is an indication that the Republicans have not come closer together, and anything that Cruz wants or Paul wants won't satisfy Collins. You have this problem.

In some ways they need to rewrite the bill, but to say that you dismantle an entire program, consequences for millions of people, without having a plan of what to do next won't strike many Americans as responsible governance. So that's a problem.

WHITFIELD: And so Tim, you know, your words just really are resonating when you talk about the president just wants a win, a win would be to repeal it. It doesn't mean it has to be replaced with something to be considered a win.

But I spoke with the former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sbeebelius yesterday and she says largely a lot of people would end up being losers. Listen.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The House bill decimates Medicaid, would cause 23 million people to lose coverage, raises prices, according to every economist. Anybody who's in the market now would pay more. Not less. They'd pay more out of pocket. They'd pay more deductibles.

So then the president called that bill mean, and turned to the Senate. The Senate bill in some ways is worse, at least, the draft that they got close to putting on the floor, 22 million people lose coverage.


WHITFIELD: So then, Tim, more on your thought. How does the -- the president try to turn so many losses potentially into his win?

NAFTALI: I don't know how he does it in his own mind, but I'll tell you, we're watching something remarkable. I'm sure Julian feels the same way. We have never seen a major federal entitlements taken away from the American people.

If you look at evolution of our social safety net, there's always -- it's always contested but it grows, and if Obamacare is repealed, and there's nothing similar to replace it, the American people will have suffered a loss, there will be a hole in the social safety net in a way that's never happened before.

I'm not sure how the president makes that a win. When the public actually sees the effect on their benefits, I don't see how he turns it into a win.

WHITFIELD: Because, Julian, the language that we often hear from the president is, you know, repeal Obamacare, but we have not heard him say as much, let's make sure that everyone has access to care. Let's make sure that, you know, Americans are not doing without. I mean, that's -- there are two different messages here. ZELIZER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: It's either get rid of something or it's advocate something, but what are we seeing from this president?

ZELIZER: That's the problem, because this number keeps coming out with how many people lose insurance. So you need a response to that, and the president is still in campaign mode. He's still picking up on this theme that many Republicans have been talking about, repeal, repeal, repeal.

But when the CBO says, what's going to happen to the millions of people? There's no answer. You need the answer. You need the vision. Even when Bill Clinton gets rid of welfare in 1996, agrees to it, they replace it with another program.

Many people don't like it, but there is something else. There's no something else with the repeal and don't replace and I don't think you can sell that politically. Even in the short term it might be satisfied. It might be a win the next two days, but that will quickly fall away.

WHITFIELD: All right. Quick.

NAFTALI: One of the things is that President Obama believed that once Americans saw the advantage of having those with pre-existing conditions having access to health care that no American would be so heartless as to see that taken away. This is the test of us right now.

WHITFIELD: All right. Tim and Julian, thanks so much. We'll see you again seen. Appreciate it. And we will be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York.

In just a few days President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin will meet for the first time since Trump won the White House. They'll meet face-to-face on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Germany. So what can we expect from the meeting between Trump and Putin?

I want to bring in Angela Stent. She is the director of the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University and author of "Limits of Partnership," a book on U.S.-Russia relations in the 21st Century.

All right, good to see you, Professor.

ANGELA STENT, AUTHOR, "THE LIMITS OF PARTNERSHIP": Great to be back on your show.

WHITFIELD: It's great that you are back. All right, and when Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited President Trump in the oval office back in May, folks took note of this picture, and everyone looked very happy and looked like old chums and everything like that. Are we going to see that same kind of imagery when Putin and Trump get together?

I think both presidents would like to see that imagery. The stakes are very high for both of them. President Trump after all has consistently praised President Putin during the campaign, since he's been in the White House, unlike many other leaders.

And President Putin, although he's been very critical of the United States, has been very careful in what he said about President Trump. So they both need to come out of this meeting feeling as if they can present themselves to their domestic population as if they've won.

That they've agreed to normalize the relationship, to put aside the Obama/Putin problems and move forward. For Putin, it's going to be very important to show to his population that the U.S. president respects him, treats him as an equal and wants to work with him.

WHITFIELD: So how do they do that simultaneously because those are two very different objectives from this men?

STENT: Well, they are, but I think they have a similar objective inasmuch as they both want to show that they can make a deal, and with all the problems we have in Syria, in North Korea, in many other parts of the world, that these two presidents can work together.

So in that sense, I think their interests are similar. The problem I think for President Trump is his Russia agenda is being delayed obviously because of all the domestic Russiagate investigations and how he deals with that when he goes to Russia and I assume it's not going to be dealt with.

WHITFIELD: So then, you know, try to take us there, if you could, because we're talking about these two men meeting on the sidelines. Don't really know whether they'll be it sitting in chairs, standing, 15 minutes, 5 minutes or what, but they are face-to-face there in each other's company.

There have to be words exchanged. Will it be, president trump's objective to say, you know, let's talk about putting things aside, elections aside. If he does that, so we can tackle Syria or does he send a strong message about upcoming U.S. elections and how Russia should stay out of it?

There has to be words exchanged. Will it be President Trump's objective to say, you know, let's talk about putting things aside, elections aside. If he does that so that we can tackle Syria or does he send a strong message about upcoming U.S. elections and how Russia should stay out of it.

I mean, there have to be some kinds of words exchanged even if it is saying, we can work together, see eye to eye? What would you envision?

STENT: Well, I hate to predict what either president will do. But I think from President Trump's point of view, I would assume they'll be a handshake. I think we should all watch the body language here.

Remember, President Putin is a master of judo and, of course, President Trump, as we know, is also interested in these things. So look at the body language, look at the handshake, and I would assume they will both say polite greetings to each other.

And I would assume that President Trump will say, let's see how we can work together. Let's put the past behind us. And President Putin I think wouldn't quite say it in that way.

I also think the Russians have been preparing carefully for this and neither the Russian nor the U.S. side has given great expectation for this. Both sides are playing down expectations and say, you know, we just want to see if we can normalize relations but don't hope for too much.

WHITFIELD: And I guess in a brief kind of manner, is it your hope or is it your expectation that the president of the United States would need to say something to Vladimir Putin about upcoming elections, even given, you know, and despite the ongoing investigations involving his White House?

STENT: Well, he might say that. I would assume that would be done off-camera. I think in the on-camera part you're very unlikely to see that, but honestly, I'm not sure how he would raise that.

WHITFIELD: And again, we don't really know if there will be cameras. That kind of stuff still hasn't been worked out or at least made public. So it will all be very interesting. Angela Stent, thanks so much. Appreciate you joining us.

All right, we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Right now lawmakers in New Jersey are holding an emergency meeting in an attempt to end a government shutdown. Governor Chris Christie closed the government Friday night after lawmakers failed to pass a budget.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is at a state park in Jersey City that has been closed on this busy -- what would usually be a busy Fourth of July holiday weekend. So Polo, where do negotiations stand and how disappointed are people that they can't enjoy the state parks?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly the way I would put it, too, Fred. People are clearly disappointed. A row of cars usually getting into the park, not necessarily news. What is though, however, is that most of these folks are simply having to turn into a parking lot where state police or park police are saying that they cannot go pass some of these roadblocks and enjoy that large park because of that shutdown.

And you don't necessarily have to show up with a car. If you try to bike or walk in, you can expect some of these nail barriers to stop you in your tracks. I've spoken to several people today, Fred, as you just mentioned. They are disappointed.

They are having to go elsewhere on the Fourth of July weekend. That timing is critical here because most families especially in New Jersey head to Liberty State Park for the beautiful view of fireworks, Statue of Liberty.

Not this weekend as Governor Chris Christie and also state lawmakers continue this budget battle, which at this point has no end in sight. The last time it happened, roughly, the summer of 2006, Fred. Took well over a week for that impasse to get solved up, or resolved, at least.

So that is an issue that people here are talking about. A lot of people showing um with picnic baskets having to go right back the way they came because of this state government shutdown.

We expect to hear from the governor in the next hour or so to see what, if anything, will be done to try to bring this to a resolution -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, Thank you so much in Jersey City.

All right, still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM in the next hour, right after this.


WHITFIELD: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, a big week for President Trump. In just a few days, he'll meet with G20 leaders in Germany, among them, Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Their face-to-face will come as the Russia investigation moves forward here in the United States with several former Trump advisers set to testify later on this month.

Meanwhile, growing calls from Republicans to cancel or shorten --