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STATE OF THE UNION

President Trump Attacks Cable News Anchorwoman; States Fight Back Against Trump Voter Information Requests; Interview With Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Trump Backs Off Repealing And Replacing Obamacare Together; State Leaders Refuse To Give Trump Voter Data. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 2, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:10]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Health care hit. The Senate could not get a plan passed before the Fourth of July.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like.

TAPPER: So now the president's proposing repealing Obamacare now and replacing it later. And he's working on a new strategy with one of his frequent critics.

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: We need repeal. We need replace. Trying to do them together hasn't seemed to work.

TAPPER: Senator Ben Sasse and Bernie Sanders will both be here live, as health care legislation hangs in the balance.

And data denied. President Trump's voter fraud commission swings into action.

TRUMP: We also need to keep the ballot box safe from illegal voting.

TAPPER: Demanding personal voter information, but states are crying foul and refusing to comply. So, the president asks, what are they hiding?

Plus: blood feud, President Trump releasing a new Twitter tirade against cable news.

TRUMP: We are fighting the fake news. It's fake, phony, fake.

TAPPER: Top Republicans say it's a distraction. The White House says the president has no regrets.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He fights fire with fire.

TAPPER: As his war against the media reaches a fever pitch.

And the best political minds will be here with insights on what happens next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is celebrating the nation's independence, each in his or her own way.

President Trump, for instance, last night honored veterans at the Kennedy Center.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have shed your blood. You have poured your love. And you have bared your soul in defense of our country, our people and our great American flag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Amen to that.

But, even as the president at event titled "Celebrate Freedom" heralded those American heroes who have risked it all and in some cases sacrificed it all to protect the freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, he also took their moment and used it to attack the fourth estate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The fake media is trying to silence us.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But we will not let them...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: ... 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.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Despite a flurry of tweets yesterday, mostly about cable news, President Trump has been silent so far on Twitter on the Senate's health care bill, which Republican leaders had been hoping to pass before the July 4 recess.

But my guest this morning has an approach on health care that President Trump seems to like.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, thanks so much for joining us, Senator.

SASSE: Thanks for having me, Jake. Thanks for coming to Nebraska.

TAPPER: So, let's do the forensic accounting of what happened on Friday.

At 6:19 a.m., you went on "FOX & Friends" and you touted the idea of first repealing Obamacare, then replacing it at a later date.

At 6:37 a.m. President Trump embraced the idea on Twitter, writing -- quote -- "If Republican senators unable to pass what they're working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date."

Tell us about any behind-the-scenes conversations that brought President Trump around to this, what is a new position for him.

SASSE: Well, I'm not sure that the ticktock part is all that interesting, but I have been definitely working with the White House and the president's senior team over the couple days leading up to that.

But I think the most important thing to say is, Republicans ran on repeal and on replace. The president ran on repeal and replace. We have been working on that for about four months. And if Leader McConnell can get us on the -- across the finish line in a combined repeal and replace, I would like to see that happen.

Now, it needs to be a good replace. But if we can do a combined repeal and replace over the next week, that's great.

(CROSSTALK)

SASSE: If we can't, though, then there's no reason to walk away.

We should do a repeal with a delay. Let's be clear, I don't want anyone 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. It's important to travel. It's important to listen to your constituents, but I think we should get straight to work at 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 they're paired or separated.

TAPPER: So, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to reject your idea on Saturday. He said he will stick with the path of doing it all at once.

Have you spoken with Senator McConnell or have you gotten any sense of how much support there might be among Republican senators for this plan of repeal first, replace at a later date?

SASSE: You know, I'm a rookie. I'm one of only five people in the U.S. Senate who has never been a politician before. I think I'm 91st in seniority, which means I'm mistaken for a page all the time walking through the halls of Congress. [09:05:07]

So, I try to keep most of my conversations with leadership in private and I try to be constructive. And, obviously, Leader McConnell is the leader on this -- on this bill. And if within the next week, he can get us the combined repeal and replace, again, a good replace, but if he can do that, I would like to support that.

If he can't, though, I think every Republican senator, except one -- Susan Collins of Maine is the only Republican senator who hasn't repeatedly explained that they're for repeal and for replace and voted for repeal.

Remember, in December of 2015, every Republican senator, except, again, Susan Collins, everybody voted for a repeal plan. The only thing then was that President Obama vetoed it.

Now President Trump would sign it. Again, I want to add a delay from its -- to its implementation date, so that if we did full repeal, there would be time. But we should get to work on replace.

Right now, we're trying to get 50 of 52, plus the vice president, to agree on a really complicated combined repeal and replace plan. I would like to say, let's do the repeal. Then let's try to get 60 out of 100 senators.

Let's bring everybody into the room. Let's do this full-time 18 hours a day, six days a week. Let's cancel the August state work period, and let's do it in full public view and have hearings and get to work on something that works better than Obamacare. We pledged that, and the American people deserve that.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about what this might mean for the American people.

CBO, in a January analysis, said that repealing Obamacare without replacing it at the same time would result in 32 million more uninsured by 2026.

Now, obviously, millions would be choosing not to have insurance. But also millions of them would lose Medicaid or would no longer able to afford private insurance because of the stipends Obamacare asks -- now -- offers.

Your strategy is that there will be a plan for them, that the repeal will be delayed. But isn't that kind of gambling with other people's health? You're relying on counting on the Senate to get its act together. What if it doesn't, and then all these people have nothing?

SASSE: Yes.

So, first of all, you're exactly right. We're talking about something different than what they're talking about, because I'm not talking about repeal only. Republicans need to stop pretending that everything well in American health care before 2009-'10, when Obamacare was passed. And Democrats, frankly, need to stop pretending that Obamacare is

working. When you're back here in rural Nebraska, I talked to farmer after farmer after farmer over the last week who are now paying $20,000 and $30,000 a year in health expenditures, because Obamacare's promise of reduced premiums $2,500 per family wasn't true.

It raised them on average nationally in the individual insurance market more than $3,200. That's a $5,7000 delta over what President Obama promised. CBO is filled with lots of well-meaning people. And they're good at certain kinds of analysis.

But analyzing macro, long-term, highly complex dynamic social diagrams, they have almost never been right. Remember when they scored, the equivalent of CBO in the mid-1960s, scored what Medicare would cost in its first next decade, they were off by 1100 percent.

It cost 11 times as much in the first decade as they projected. Regularly, government scorekeepers underestimate they costs and they overestimate coverage. We need to do better than Obamacare.

And the Republican plan that I'm proposing -- and, again, I'm still willing to support a combine repeal and replace, if our leader can get a good replace plan across the finish line in the next week when we come back from this work period.

But if not, we should unbundle them. Republicans gave their word they were going to repeal. We should do it. We should delay its implementation date. And all 100 senators should get before the American people on camera 18 hours a day for all of August. And we should do better than Obamacare. We can. We promised it. And the people deserve it.

TAPPER: So, fully repealing Obamacare would amount to a tax cut of $700 billion, approximately, about half of which would go to the top 1 percent, people who make more than $875,000 per year. That's because they pay those taxes, about 50 percent of them, as of now.

Now, one of your Republican colleagues Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, he's worried about both the policy and the politics of this.

Let me read you what he said -- quote -- "I want to make sure that we're not in a situation where we're cutting taxes for the wealthy, and at the same time basically, for lower-income citizens, passing a larger burden onto them."

Is that a concern that you share as well?

SASSE: It is.

I would -- it's a long -- it's a long argument to try to do in sound bite form on TV. But I would say that we need a do a much better job as Republicans of explaining that we do wholeheartedly embrace a social welfare safety net for the poorest and sickest among us.

I think that Obamacare should be fully repealed. So, when you do that, you would be getting rid of those taxes. But then we should be having the conversation about what replace looks like.

[09:10:01]

And if Leader McConnell proposes a strategy right now where we try to get health reform right, and you separate the tax cut portion of that to some future conversation about tax cuts, I would be willing to wholeheartedly embrace that, because I think the most important thing for us right now is to get a health care reform plan in place for middle-class Americans and for those who are poorest and sickest among us.

Again, I'm one of the only people in the Congress who's never been a politician before doing this. And I said over and over and over again when I lived on a campaign bus with my little kids in 2013 and '14 I believe in a growing economy.

And a growing economy benefits from not having Washington crowd out other things. So, there's all sorts of tax reform that I think is fundamental and critically important to a dynamic economy.

But I don't leave my family for four or five days every week to go to D.C. because I care all that much about the marginal tax rate of the top 1 percent. I care about a growing economy. But if we could do health reform first and have the tax reform conversation second, fine by me.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Sasse, stay with us.

We're going to come back to you in one second. We're going to take a quick break.

It's almost the Fourth of July, and while you might be spending this holiday weekend flipping burgers, hitting the beach or paying tribute to American heroes, President Trump has been on Twitter -- the latest salvo in his Twitter war after this quick break.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:06]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

President Trump celebrated the week leading up to the Fourth of July by relentlessly attacking journalists, ranging from personal attacks on a cable news host's physical appearance to wholesale smears of CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, "The New York Times," and "The Washington Post."

We're back with Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Senator, does this trouble you at all?

SASSE: Sure.

I mean, 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. There are five freedom in the First Amendment, religion, speech, press, assembly, and protest.

And you don't have religion without assembly. You don't have speech without press. We all need to celebrate all five of those freedoms, because that's how the e pluribus unum stuff work, right? We differ about really big and important things in this country, and then we come together around the First Amendment, which is an affirmation of the fact that people are free before government.

I mean, this is the Fourth of July weekend. The Declaration of Independence is pretty dang clear about this, that we think government is just our shared tool to secure those rights that we have by nature. And so we need to affirm those rights. We need to do that civic and catechetical stuff to teach the next generation what Americans is about.

So, we need more of that from everybody in this conversation.

TAPPER: You talked about weaponizing distrust. Could you expand on that? It sounds like you're saying this is more than just lashing out. This is a strategy by the president, so as to sow seeds of mistrust in anyone who provides any critical coverage.

SASSE: I mean, we could go full nerd on this, but the reality is, journalism is really going to change a lot more in the digital era.

And we have a risk of getting to a place where we don't have shared public facts. A republic will not work if we don't have shared facts.

I'm the third most conservative guy in the Senate by voting record, but I sit in Daniel Patrick Moynihan's desk on the floor of the U.S. Senate on purpose, because he's the author of that famous quote that you're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts.

The only way the republic can work is if we come together and we defend each other's rights to say things that we differ about, we defend each other's rights to publish journalism and pieces and things that we then want to argue about.

I agree with the president that there's a lot of crappy journalism out there. Jake, I think you agree that there's a whole bunch of click- bait out there in the world right now.

TAPPER: Sure, of course.

SASSE: And it's going to -- barriers -- barriers to entry to new journalism are going to go down, down, down.

And so it is going to be possible in the next three and five and 10 years for people to surround themselves only with echo chambers and silos of people that already believe only what they believe. It's a recipe for a new kind of tribalism. And America won't work if we do that.

So, we need to come together as a people and re-teach our kids what the First Amendment is about. And it's not helpful to call the press the enemy of the American people. There are a whole bunch of particular journalistic who should be called out for particular stories that aren't good enough.

There should be journalist ethics and integrity. Journalist agencies and media organizations should admit when they mistakes and they should issue corrections and they should fire people. And we have seen a little bit of that the last week. That's a good thing. We should be celebrating that.

TAPPER: You recently wrote a book called "The Vanishing American Adult."

I want to read an excerpt -- quote -- "We're living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids don't know what an adult is anymore or how to become one. Many don't see a reason even to try. Perhaps more problematic, the older generations have forgotten that we need to plan to teach them. It's our fault more than theirs" -- I'm quoting.

In your opinion, when did this shift in our culture start and what brought it about?

SASSE: Yes, so, "The Vanishing American Adult" is not a blame-laying book. It's two-thirds constructive project.

How do we raise our kids better in an era of perpetual adolescence? Because that's the new thing, right? Adolescence is a gift, the idea that you have a kind of greenhouse stage as you transition from the dependency of early childhood to the independence of adulthood.

That greenhouse transition phase of adolescence, where just because you hit puberty, just because you become biologically an adult, we don't now think that you have to be emotionally, morally, financially, school-leaving, household-construction-wise, you don't have to be fully independent just because you're 13 or 14.

That's a gift. But perpetual adolescence is a danger. We should be able to distinguish between 10- and 15- and 20- and 25-year-olds. And it's increasingly difficult to do that. It's a very new thing.

A bunch of causes. One is, we live at the richest time in the richest nation in all of human history. And so our kids have largely been insulated from necessity. I think the most fundamental thing to say about teen years right now, compared to, say, 40, or 50, or 60 years ago -- and, again, this is not beating up on millennials. This is the environment in which they're growing up because of our societal-wide riches.

[09:20:01]

Even for our lower-middle-class folks, we're still the richest people in human history. They're insulated from work in ways that has never been -- that have never been before. So, most kids used to grow up going from 8 to 10 to 12 to 14 years

old, across human history and across nations, being around their parents' work. Our kids aren't.

So, right now, instead of having a distinction between production and consumption in their gut as they grow, we tend to distinguish between hours and years in school and then all the consumer activities that they have outside of school.

That won't work in a republic that's going to pass on a sort of robust sense that self-discipline, self-control, self-governance is the alternative to other discipline, other control, governmental governance.

We believe that people and their dignity and their virtue is prior to government. Families do that. Communities do that. Neighborhoods do that. Development of work ethic does that.

And then government is supposed to be a place where we maintain that framework for ordered liberty. The problem we have right now...

TAPPER: Yes.

SASSE: And I will pull up here.

But we're hollowing out local community and neighborhoods. Some of that is massive economic change. But, at the same time, we're politicizing our national conversations, so that the only community a lot of people have is what they project onto Republican and Democratic parties.

These parties are pretty bankrupt intellectually. They're not interesting enough to put your grand hopes and dreams on. We need a recovery of the local and the neighborly.

TAPPER: And I would recommend anyone out there who found what the senator said interesting to read his book. It is a provocative read.

Before you go, Senator, I want to ask you, you have built a national reputation for yourself with your book, with comments like the one you just made, and also by tweaking President Trump.

The last one has not gone over well with Jeff Kaufmann, who is the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF KAUFMANN, CHAIRMAN, IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY: We had Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska. He crosses the Missouri River and, in that sanctimonious tone, talks about what he doesn't like about Donald Trump, what he doesn't like about Donald Trump.

You know what, Senator Sasse? I really don't care what you like. We love Donald Trump.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) KAUFMANN: And if you don't love him, I would suggest you stay on your side of the Missouri River.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, Senator, you're not taking that advice. In fact, you're going to be crossing the Missouri on Friday, going to Iowa and speaking at the Judge Joseph Story Dinner.

Is there any chance that you will challenge President Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020?

SASSE: Well, first of all, let's be clear why I'm going to be in Iowa this weekend.

I don't want to admit it anywhere, let alone on national TV, but Nebraska loss to Iowa last year in a football game, and I lost a bet. So, I have to drive Uber in Iowa next weekend. So, that's the reason I'm going to be in Iowa. It's about Hawkeyes and Huskers' bloodletting on the football field and the aftermath of that.

But I don't know who that guy is in your segment, but here's what I believe.

I believe that, on the Fourth of July weekend, we ought to have every kid in America having their moms and dads and aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpas getting together and saying, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that they're endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That's what America is about. It's not about Republicans and Democrats who have important differences on policy screaming at each other that the other side wants to kill somebody. Politics are subordinate to the things that are supposed to unite Americans. And this is a weekend that we should be celebrating all that.

TAPPER: All right, happy Fourth of July to you and your family, Senator. Really appreciate your time today.

SASSE: You, too.

Blow some stuff up with your kids tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: OK.

Coming up: Mitch McConnell told his fellow Republicans, if they don't fall in line on health care, he will be forced to work with Democrats.

But is bipartisanship even possible at this point?

Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, joins me here live with his answer next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:59]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

Republicans hoped to take in their July Fourth fireworks celebrating the end of Obamacare, but that got rained out by intraparty fighting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now says, if Republicans cannot agree, he will have to work out a deal with Democrats.

So, if Republicans reach across the aisle, will Democrats respond?

Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's start with health care.

You just heard Ben Sasse, the senator from Nebraska. He's encouraging his fellow Republicans to repeal Obamacare now and then, at a later date, to come up with a replacement, if they can't come up with a repeal-replace at the same time.

If Republicans go down this path, will Democrats be willing to work with them on the replacement?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, the answer is that -- I have a lot of respect for Senator Sasse, but that idea is an absurd idea.

As you pointed out, this Congressional Budget Office indicated that, if you simply repeal the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, you will throw 30 -- you will throw 32 million Americans off of health insurance, 10 percent of the population of the United States.

For seven years, the Republicans have been talking about a repeal mechanism. They haven't agreed yet.

If you throw, Jake, 32 million people off of health insurance, what doctors who have studied this issue say, that tens of thousands of people every single year will die.

What we have got to do, which is common sense, which is what the vast majority of the American people want us to do, is to say, OK, what are the problems, how do we work together to solve them?

And we know what the problems are. The Affordable Care Act -- under the Affordable Care Act, deductibles are too high, co-payments are too high. We pay the highest prices for prescription drugs of any major country on Earth. One out of five Americans can't even afford the medicine they need.

Those are some of the problems. We're very weak in terms of primary health care. Millions of Americans, even those with insurance, can't find a doctor or a dentist when they need one.

Let's put those issues on the table and figure out how we deal with them in a bipartisan manner.

TAPPER: So...

[09:30:00]

SANDERS: Now, second of all what we should recognize which is not talked about in Congress at all, is why it is that we are the only major country on earth, Jake -- I live 50 miles. I'm talking to you 50 miles away from the Canadian border.

Somehow they manage to provide health care for all of their people at a significantly lower cost per capita than we do and so does every other major country on earth. There's a lot to be talked about. Of course it can be done in a bipartisan way.

But you don't throw tens of millions of people off of health insurance in order to give five hundred billion dollars in tax breaks for the richest people in this country companies. So to insurance companies (INAUDIBLE) companies.

TAPPER: Just for the record some of those millions that would not have health insurance would be choosing not to have health insurance because they'd no longer be fined. But let me ask you about the ones that would be --

SANDERS: Wait (ph) a (ph) minute (ph), Jake -- Jake, Jake, Jake -- let me just --

TAPPER: I'm pivoting to the Medicaid --

SANDERS: -- that's true.

TAPPER: Yes. Go ahead.

SANDERS: I understand that. But that is true -- but again we are the only nation that doesn't cover all. You have today -- you're right. 21-year-olds who are feeling great they never get sick. They are healthy.

They go out. They get hit by a bus. Their life is destroyed because they got to -- have to spend a hundreds of thousands of dollars (INAUDIBLE). In my view every nation, we should join every other country, guarantee health care to all.

TAPPER: I want to get to that in one second but I just want to ask you to clarify. I heard you say this before about tens of thousands of Americans will die. Where does that come from, and can you explain how they will die if they don't have insurance?

SANDERS: Sure. The answer is it comes from "PolitiFact" which, you know, tries to verify what public officials say.

Last week -- just on a Sunday show I made that point. "PolitiFact" checked it out and what they ended up saying during the week is, Sanders was right. And they listed a dozen different studies.

People can go to my Web site, sanders.senate.gov and get that information. Dozen different studies from scientists and doctors say, what is fairly obvious. Jake, if you have cancer, if you have heart disease, if you have diabetes and you don't have any health insurance, you know what? There is a likelihood you will die.

And what they said is that if you throw one of the studies -- one of the studies -- said that if you throw 23 million people off of health insurance, which is what the House bill did up to -- no one knows exactly the number -- up to 28,000 people a year --

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: -- a year will die from that decision. So what we're talking about is a disastrous bill.

And second of all what I would say, Jake, there's something really weird that when you have the AMA, the doctors, you have the hospital associations, you have the AARP up, all of those -- all of the health care organizations who know something about health care opposed to this bill. Leader McConnell still refuses to hold hearings to hear from doctors and nurses and from hospital executives.

TAPPER: So I want to ask you first of all when you're back -- when you were on this program in March, you said you were going to introduce your Medicare for all bill which would also explain how to pay for it.

You haven't introduced it yet. Is there a time frame for that? Because I think the American people --

SANDERS: Yes.

TAPPER: -- especially people who want to hear your plans for single payer want to know exactly it can be paid for.

SANDERS: Sure. And the answer is we are going to introduce it literally as soon as we're through with this debate.

I don't want to confuse the two issues. Medicare for all, which is simply an expansion for Medicare. So it's not just the seniors but for everybody, will be saving middle class families substantial sums of money, and it will be guaranteeing health care to every man, woman, and child in this country.

Right now though I want to say short-term, if we're going to improve the Affordable Care Act, this is what I think we should do short-term, while we go to Medicare for all longer term, short term you need a public option in 50 states. So people are not happy with their private insurance they can get a public option.

Short-term we should lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 55 years of age. In short-term I hope we can work with Republicans to end the absurdity of us paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Longer term, we need a Medicare for all, and I will introduce that as soon as this debate is over.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about the FBI looking into Burlington College and a land deal there and financing around it from the time when your wife, Jane Sanders, was president of the college. You and your wife recently retained lawyers. I guess the fundamental question for you is, did you or anyone on your staff reach out to the bank to approve any loans related to this transaction?

SANDERS: Absolutely -- is of course absolutely not. And in fact let's be clear, five years -- five years after my wife left Burlington College and she left it in better shape than it ever been in.

Five years after, guess what happened? Right in the middle of my presidential campaign, I know this will shock the viewers, the vice- chairman of the Vermont Republican Party who happened to be Donald Trump's campaign manager raised this issue and initiated this investigation.

[09:35:07]

I should also mention to you that just the other day the person who allegedly had made this statement that I had been involved in this land deal refuted it. He said I never said that. That was in a paper in Vermont.

So, you know, I think what you're looking at is something that Republican National Committee is very excited about. My wife is perhaps the most honest person I know. She did a great job in Burlington College.

Sadly we are in a moment where parties not only attack public officials, they have to go after wives and children. You know, this is pathetic and that's the way politics is in America today.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Bernie Sanders, we're going to have to leave it there. Happy Fourth of July to you. We appreciate your time today.

SANDERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: With the Republicans losing steam on their health care plan, can the Democrats just stop it cold? Van Jones will be among those joining me on the panel next. He sits next to Jason Kander there in the green (ph) room. Hello, guys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:16]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It will be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week. But probably the same day, could be the same hour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was President Trump in January. But with the Senate Republican bill in jeopardy he has now changed his tune. He's saying now that he is open to repealing Obamacare now without replacing it immediately.

And some Republican senators are backing him. Should the rest of the party follow suit?

With me now our panel. CNN political commentator Van Jones, Congressman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, CNN political commentators Jason Kander and Scott Jennings. Thanks one and all for being here.

I appreciate it. What do you think? You're the only one here that can vote on this. What --

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: That's exactly right. And as we were discussing earlier, this is not that far from what the House had recommended last November, that we look at putting a date certain (ph) out there for we would repeal Obamacare and then work in phases to make certain that all the statutes, all the rules and regulations are off the books by a given date. And I think the expectation of the American people was one stroke of the pen was going to take care of this.

TAPPER: Well, that's putting --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: And as we all know, it's not possible.

TAPPER: Right. OK. But I'm just saying --

BLACKBURN: It's not possible.

TAPPER: But he -- you heard him say the same hour.

BLACKBURN: Simplification -- that's right, simplification of the message has gotten us into a box on this. It is a bill that has a lot of tentacles. You want to make certain that you do this properly so that we are on the path to patient centered health care that is affordable for all Americans.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You sound so reasonable. I love that.

BLACKBURN: Because I am.

JONES: You are. (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKBURN: That's right.

JONES: But the problem -- listen, I'm not going to give Republicans advice how to do something I disagree with, but I am going to observe that the way that the president is doing it, makes no sense at all. He literally reverses course on a tweet, destroys the leverage of his own people. He tells his own people out there, get this done for me, get this done for me, oh, never mind. You don't do that with major legislation. That is not the way you get major legislation -- so it's --

BLACKBURN: But the House has been very systematic and how we move --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: If the House --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: -- the president of the United States has (ph) not (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKBURN: -- the Senate a solid foundation.

TAPPER: You're friends -- you're close with Mitch McConnell, so Republicans are in this room trying to figure out how to get to 50 votes in the Republican caucus on the replacement. And this tweet that the president sent out Friday -- this totally new position was described by one Republican Senate aide as throwing a grenade into the middle of the room.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it may have been designed to try to pressure the process along here. I do know Senator McConnell and the leadership team are working the phones this weekend. All the data nerds and the spreadsheet jockeys are in the Capital putting numbers together and trying to spin the dials in just the right ways to get to 50 votes plus one.

And Senator McConnell went home this weekend. He got hit with another cliff. You know, Anthem in Kentucky which covers half the state say, well, we're going to stay in the market but we need a 34 percent premium increase to do it. So if he needed another reminder about why a replacement plan is necessary, he got one when he went home.

I don't think they're there yet but they still have a few days to get there and this concept to possibly cancelling the August recess to keep working on it is interesting. There is an old saying though, time kills all deals. And the more time that passes this doesn't really get any easier but you know that keeps happening are the circumstances. Premiums going up, deductibles going up, half of all counties almost the United States --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: Yes. The market -- the insurance market --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: What would you recommend the Democratic senators do? Should they step in here and offer their own alternative to help with some of the problems like the one this -- lined up described or should they just stand back and let Republicans have this problem for themselves?

JASON KANDER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's important to continue to, you know, put pressure on the Republicans. I mean, in terms of what they've done so far is they've successfully gotten this to the recess, right? Which was important because this is something that's deeply unpopular.

The American people don't want this. Whether it's the new, we'll just repeal it and fix it later or the replace it with Trump care. Nobody wants this and hardly anybody wants this.

And so what you're seeing now is as Republicans have to go home and possibly hold town halls or in many cases avoid at all cost having town halls -- they -- they're seeing that it's deeply impossible.

TAPPER: Speaking of town halls, I want you to listen to this excerpt from that town hall in Louisiana with Senator Bill Cassidy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, what people are like at their lowest is to step on their necks by kicking them off their health care at this point, that's cruel, sir.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I am doing my best to make sure that we continue coverage, care for those with pre-existing conditions, eliminate mandates and lower premiums. And that is my goal, and that is what I'm working for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:45:07]

TAPPER: Let me translate that. So the town hall participants said, you know, what people are like at their lowest is to step on their necks by kicking off their health care at this point, that's cruel, sir.

And the Senator Cassidy replied, I am doing my best to make sure that we continue coverage, care for those with pre-existing conditions, eliminate mandates and lower premiums And that is my goal, and that is what I'm working for.

Maybe you can come up with some sort of stipend for the people of Louisiana when it comes to sound equipment. But in the meantime this is what --

BLACKBURN: State issue.

TAPPER: State issue, right. We believe in (INAUDIBLE) sound (ph).

But this is what Republicans are facing back home, people who are saying -- I mean, this bill as Jason pointed out, it is not popular. The House bill was not popular. It did not pass, anyway. But it is not popular. People here -- millions and millions of people are going to lose their health insurance whether voluntarily or through Medicaid being cut. And Republicans are going to hear a lot of that over the next couple of weeks.

BLACKBURN: Right. Here's the deal. Uncertainty leads to confusion. Confusion leads to emotion.

And this is what you're seeing play out. People do not want to be left with nothing. And they want to make certain that they are going to be able to provide for themselves and their families when it comes to a health insurance product.

The health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act is imploding as Scott was saying.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: Something has to be done. Something has to be done. The status quo is not acceptable.

JONES: I agree with you. But let me --

BLACKBURN: We continue to bring forward --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Let me say a couple of things, though, first of all the Republican Party has been jumping up and down on this pogo stick for seven years. And right now scaring the bejeebers out of people because it looks like they don't know what they're doing, what they want to do, or how to do it.

Now in the meantime, there are real problems out there, and we're not doing anything about them. And it seems to me that the Trump administration actually is happy to let things they could fix go worse and so --

BLACKBURN: No, I would take it --

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: So they've said that.

JONES: They actually said it. They actually said it.

BLACKBURN: I would take issue with fact that anybody wants to see individuals put in any kind of harm via a government program. Our goal is to solve the problem, and that is what we're committed to do.

KANDER: But that's not the effect.

TAPPER: But I want to -- I want to --

BLACKBURN: It is the effect that we are --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We could do two hours on this if not more.

BLACKBURN: Yes.

TAPPER: I do -- we do have a limited amount of time. There's one other subject I want to bring up which is the voter fraud commission out-of-the White House, making requests to states to turn over all sorts of voter data. There's been rebellion not just by Democratic secretaries of states, Republican secretaries of states as well.

Here is your secretary of state. Are you not from Kentucky originally?

JENNINGS: Yes, sir.

TAPPER: OK. Here's your secretary of state. The Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES, KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: The president tweets a hundred and forty characters at a time, though, they're breaking down our democracy. And there comes a point when you say no. This is not only a request to try to justify a lot the president has put forth, but this isn't about party. This is about the personal privacy of voters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Listen, you're the former secretary of state of the great state of Missouri, what's your response to the president's request? What do you think?

KANDER: Well, this would be unprecedented. It is absolutely, you know, a matter of having a whole lot of private information that could very quickly become public. But it's also -- you've got to look at the fact that they're asking for things like political party. I mean, it becomes pretty clear that what has happened is that something that started out as the biggest lie that a sitting president has ever told, that millions of illegal voters voted in the election.

That forms or became this commission that was supposed to justify and sort of make legitimate that ridiculous lie, and that has creeped into this which is looking a lot more like voter suppression and like a power grab to go after this kind of information. I mean, just look at the fact that Secretary Kobach, who made the request in his capacity with the commission, in his capacity as secretary of state of Kansas, said he can't fully comply with the request.

BLACKBURN: Well, this is because of the state privacy law --

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: Right. They're trying to go beyond the law. BLACKBURN: -- like their state privacy law. But I think you get two different groups when it comes to people that don't want to comply. The resist Trump and then those that say we will comply only if it fits our laws, but I think we have to go back and look in 2010 with the voter fraud and the acorn situation and the guilty pleas and the convictions --

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: Do you think that the president's right?

BLACKBURN: This should have been done earlier. This should have been done earlier.

JONES: Look, Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. We could improve voting in the United States.

On my side we're very concerned about voter suppression. We're very concerned that we have a bunch of laws being passed that even courts say are targeting African-Americans. Let's talk about that.

We're also on our side very concerned about the fact that you do have the voting rights act, which needs to be looked at again. So we want to have conversation about voting, let's talk about it.

TAPPER: Very quickly, Scott.

JENNINGS: Yes. Look, there are 24 million people according to pew that are on the voter rolls in this country either fraudulently, not valid or --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: But they're not voting.

JENNINGS: There are almost 2 million people on the roll that are dead. There are people in the federal jail in Kentucky that voted illegally in the elections.

[09:50:02]

JONES: That's not true --

JENNINGS: It is true.

BLACKBURN: Yes, it is true.

JENNINGS: There are people in jail for voting illegally. But here's the point -- here's a point. Pew has a study that has the voter rolls need to be cleaned up.

The NCSL has issued guidelines to states. It strikes me that the way to handle this --

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: Neither of you or the NCSL agrees with anything that's being done to this commission. So you completely --

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Instead of a top-down commission though. I do think cooperation between state and federal governments could help clean up --

TAPPER: OK. OK.

BLACKBURN: And local -- and local election --

TAPPER: And after the break, President Trump's first fourth of July as president and in true Trump style the celebrations will not stop after the fireworks. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Happy birthday, America. President Trump has a low key July fourth planned.

[09:55:01]

Hosting military families at the White House. But there are more fireworks in his future. And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Enjoy the fireworks.

TAPPER (voice-over): President Trump will celebrate the holiday with fireworks and a salute to the old red, white and blue. But, I'm not talking about the fourth of July. I'm talking about Bastille Day, of course.

President Trump said mais oui to French President Macron's invitation to celebrate France's national holiday. Despite the president's Rose Garden reminder when he was withdrawing from the Paris accords that he prefers to the Rust Belt to the Champs-Elysees.

TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

TAPPER: Not to mention Macron's snooty replay.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: Make our planet great again.

TAPPER: Tension was thick when the two world leaders practically arm wrestled during their last televised hand shake. Perhaps this tete-a- tete will serve as a detente between the two men, rapprochement if you will.

And if not, well after this trip, they'll always have Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Thanks for watching.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.