Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Calls on Senate to Change Rules; Health Care Bill Collapse; Calls For Russia Information Release; Russia Threatens Retaliation; Iran still Complying with Deal; Officer Involved in Fatal Shooting now Identified. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:35] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have some breaking news.

The president of the United States complaining this morning about the process and rules in the Senate. Our sources tell us he was annoyed overnight by the collapse of the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. The president just wrote in a statement, "the Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes. Even parts of full repeal need 60. Eight Dems control the Senate. Crazy."

All right, let's discuss. Joining me now is Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. He is the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, a member of the Senate Republican leadership.

Senator, I just want to get your reaction to the president calling on the Senate to change the rules, to go down to 51 votes for all legislation. Do you think that's a good idea?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, that's an argument he's made before, John. I think it's - it's something that if the president wants to have that conversation with our members, we can have that discussion. But, obviously, that has some pretty serious ramifications.

The one thing I will point out, however, is that the health care bill, because it's done through the budget reconciliation procedure here in the Senate, only requires 51 votes. We can do health care reform, insurance reform at 51 votes. We can do tax reform at 51 votes. So there isn't - all these things, the major things that the president and his team want to get done on their agenda can already be accomplished at 51.

BERMAN: Do you think he understands that?

THUNE: Well, I think he understands that, but I think he also - there are other issues that he wants to address and he believes that anything that - you know, even parts of health care reform which don't fit into the budget reconciliation process that takes 60 votes, he wants to get those done and he wants to get them done at 51.

BERMAN: Understood.

THUNE: And we get that. We're frustrated too.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, on the record here, you do not support getting rid of the legislative filibuster? You do not support going down to 51 votes for all legislation, correct?

THUNE: I don't. I - there are some reforms I think that we could make that would enable things to work better here.


THUNE: But doing away with the legislative filibuster is not one of them.

BERMAN: OK, let me move on to health care.

How big of a setback was it overnight when those two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Jerry Miran (ph), you know, announced their opposition to the current bill, how big of a setback is it in your effort to repeal and replace Obamacare?

THUNE: It requires, obviously now, a change of plan. And we've got to, you know, pivot now to another strategy. And I think that Senator McConnell has laid out a plan now to offer up a full repeal, which is something that we voted on two years ago. Every Republican senator, except for one, have voted for that. And so that will now become the base that we'll debate in the Senate.

[09:35:04] But it really does come down to, John, it's a question - it's a function of math. You either have the votes or you don't. And at this point, the proposal that's out there, which I think addresses the concerns everybody has about Obamacare, in terms of stabilizing markets and making insurance - health insurance more affordable, doing away with the individual mandate, the job killing employer mandate, all those things are in this bill. But at this point, at least, doesn't have the necessary 50 votes that would allow us to proceed.

BERMAN: You know back in February on the idea of repeal and delay, or repeal only, you said, we've got to have some at least elements in place to maintain stability in the market, some continuity. So you were suggesting back in February you needed some idea of what to replace it with rather than delay. And then you know, back in 2015, when you guys passed repeal only, the CBO did score that and said upwards of, you know, 18 million or 19 million people - fewer people would have health care in one year. Ten years out it would be 20 million plus. Does any of that concern you?

THUNE: That's right, John, I have said those things and I believe that. I think that we have to have in place at least a plan that provides a transition in order for us to get to a point where we can have a more wholesome discussion about what to replace it with. And the bill that we did vote on in 2015 did include a two-year transition. In other words, it would - you know, we would allow sort of a two-year period for us to come up with that replacement plan.

BERMAN: Right.

THUNE: So that would be essentially what we would have up on the floor and be voting on again so that we insure that there's no disruption in the marketplace and that insurers can continue to put out their estimates for the upcoming year and maintain that stability in the marketplace that we all want to see.

BERMAN: If I can, I want to ask one question on the Russian investigation because "The Wall Street Journal" wrote an editorial. We're talking about "The Wall Street Journal" here, no bastion of liberalism, I think you can agree. "The Journal" says it's sick and tired, really, of how the White House is handling it. And "The Journal" suggested in an editorial, "release everything to the public ahead of the inevitable leaks. That means every meeting with any Russian or any American with Russian business ties. Every phone call or e-mail. And every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years. This should include every relevant part of Mr. Trump's tax returns, which the president will resist but Mr. Mueller is sure to seek anyway."

Your reaction to what "The Journal" is asking for?

THUNE: Well, first off, I think that the American people do deserve a full explanation of what happened in all these various meetings. I think the intelligence committee here in the Senate is looking into that but Mueller, special counsel, is looking into that.

I think we're going to get those answers in due time. And - but I think the more is better. I mean, to me, the administration is served by getting everything out there and being as transparent as they possibly can because this issue, in order for it to go away, I think that's the best way to just cleanse it and get it out there and let the American people decide.

And I think, frankly -

BERMAN: More transparency?

THUNE: Well, I think more transparency is good, yes, absolutely.

BERMAN: More transparent than they are now?

THUNE: Well, I mean, I think that there has - there's been a reluctance, for whatever reason, I think, by the administration in some cases to get all the information out there and I think they're well served to do that, frankly. And I - my guess is that they'll probably find and the intelligence committees and the others that have looked at this have not found any evidence of collusion to this point. And I think that the administration would be able to turn that page and move forward and focus on other things if they would get this issue behind them. And I think that that sort of transparency would enable that to happen.

BERMAN: Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a lot on the plate this morning, a lot to discuss. Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it. THUNE: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right, minutes from now, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, he will speak to reporters. What does he have to say about all this, the collapse of the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare? A lot of House Republicans went out on a limb for a vote and now what do they get for it?

Plus, a Russian retaliation. A new test for President Trump as Russia puts the pressure on the administration to turn over seized diplomatic compounds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:43:27] BERMAN: A stern warning from Russia this morning. The Kremlin says it reserves the right to retaliate over two of its diplomatic compounds in the U.S. that were seized last year. The compounds were closed as part of sanctions imposed against Russia for meddling in the U.S. president election.

CNN's Matthew Chance has the latest for us from Moscow.

Matthew, what are you learning?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there's been a statement from the Russian official that met with the U.S. undersecretary of state, Tom Shannon, yesterday in Washington to try and get this hammered out. His name's Sergey Ryabkov. He's the deputy foreign minister here. And when he left the meeting yesterday, he was asked about whether this issue of the return of the compounds had been resolved, he to reporters, almost, almost. Then he clarified his remarks to the Russian state news agency here saying, to say you're on the verge of resolving this would be an exaggeration. He went on to say, we warned the Americans that we need an unconditional return of the property, otherwise retaliatory measures would follow.

And that's a reference to the fact that both his foreign minister and the Kremlin here have said they're running out of patience with this issue. President Putin of Russia expected Donald Trump as president to reverse the decision of the Obama administration and to hand back those diplomatic properties to the Russians inside the United States. That did not happen, probably because of the political pressures that Donald Trump is under in the United States.

Nevertheless, the fact that they're now promising retaliatory measures is a sign of the disillusionment that they're feeling when it comes to the Trump administration here in Moscow. They thought he was going to be the president to turn the relationship around, but, of course, he's been utterly unable to do that and people are very frustrated in this country.

[09:45:06] John.

BERMAN: All right, Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. We will watch that very closely over the next few hours.

In the meantime, mixed messages this morning from the White House on Iran. The administration has declared that while Iran is still complying with the nuclear deal, the country is, quote, "unquestionably in default of the spirit" of the agreement. Officials are now exploring ways to strengthen what the president once dubbed the worst deal ever.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond has the latest for us.

Jeremy, you know the headline here is maybe that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Well, for the second time in his presidency, Donald Trump's administration has now certified that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to Congress late last night certifying that Iran is complying with the deal. That's something they have to do every 90 days.

But, at the same time, this administration is trying to send a signal that this doesn't mean it's going to take a softer approach to dealing and confronting Iran's aggressive behavior in the region, as this administration sees it. A group of senior administration officials yesterday telling reporters that Iran remains unquestionably in default of the spirit of the agreement and noting that the U.S.' approach under President Trump is not going to be just focusing on the nuclear deal, but also looking to confront Iranian behavior in other regions that are not covered under this agreement. This agreement, of course, covers only the nuclear aspects of Iran's activities and this president wants to also go after Iran's ballistic missile programs, its sponsorship of terrorism. One senior administration official told me yesterday that the U.S. is also considering additional sanctions against Iran that would target it's ballistic missile program. For example, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, however, is saying that Iran's compliance with the deal is really black and white.


BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond for us, thanks so much for keeping us posted on that.

A Minneapolis woman killed by a police officer after she called 911. Now the officer who shot her is offering condolences to her family. We have new developments in this story, next.


[09:51:41] BERMAN: All right, new this morning, both officers involved in the shooting death of a bride-to-be in Minneapolis have been identified. Moments ago we learned that Officer Matthew Harrity was driving the squad car when it responded to Justine Ruszczyk's 911 call. Officer Mohamed Noor has been identified, though his attorney, as the one who shot Ruszczyk. She had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. Officer Noor is now offering his condolences to her family. Both officers are now on administration leave while the investigation continues. Ruszczyk's loved ones are still hoping for more information about what happened that night, as the mayor of Minneapolis pleas for patience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BETSY HODGES, MINNEAPOLIS: I have the same questions everyone else does. Why weren't the body cameras on? How did - what happened in the shooting? And those are - those are burning questions we all want the answer to, most especially the family, most especially the family. And we're hoping that information gets released as swiftly as it possibly can be without jeopardizing the investigation.


BERMAN: All right, CNN correspondent Ryan Young joins us now live from Minneapolis.

Ryan, what's the latest?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, just a lot of questions here. I mean really neighbors have been asking why. Why did this have to happen? And, in fact, if it wasn't for this rain, there have been people constantly standing out here, just coming out to reflect.

We've actually seen a man who was running stop and pray here just about five, ten minutes ago. If you look back this direction, you can see everything that's been left. And, of course, the rain has soaked it all down. But one of the signs that stood out is, why did you shoot and kill our neighbor and our friend?

To have the conversation about exactly what happened and what we know so far, because that timeline hasn't been established as yet. But we know that 911 call came in talking about a sexual assault. And it was this alley way that's about four to five houses down from where her house was, where Justine's house was. And we believe she came outside to meet those officers. And this is where the shot happened. You can understand her family being upset. Her fiance expressing the idea that he wants to know more from the police department.


DON DAMOND, VICTIM'S FIANCE: The death of Justine is a loss to everyone who knew her. She touched so many people.

JOHN RUSZCZYK, VICTIM'S FATHER: Justine was a beacon to all of us. We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death. Thank you.


YOUNG: Yes, you heard her father talking there. But, look, the question here is about the body cameras. Maybe what was going on in terms of why the officers activated. This alley way is where that shooting took place. Of course we've had so many neighbors here try to ask questions about, look, what were the next steps? When will police release more information? Family members and everyone else surround that fiance yesterday in front of the house, you could feel his heart break as he was talking. He didn't take questions. Hopefully today we'll learn some more information. John.

BERMAN: All right, Ryan Young, thanks so much for that. Our hearts go out to the family involved there.

All right, we have a lot coming up next hour in Washington. A whole lot going on. Vice President Mike Pence set to speak any minute. This is the first time you will hear out loud from the administration since the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed overnight. Remember, the vice president was a key figure in that.

[09:54:55] We are also waiting to hear from House Speaker Paul Ryan. His House members took a vote. They went out on a limb on health care. How are they feeling now that it all ended, at least for now, in the Senate?


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. Good morning, everyone. We have breaking news.

Major developments on Capitol Hill in the wake of the collapse in the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Not on your screen. We are about to hear from the senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It was his plan that went up in flames overnight when two Republican senators defected and said they would not vote yes on the motion to proceed. What will Senator McConnell do now? We should learn new details when he speaks in just moments.

But he is not the only one getting ready to talk. We're waiting to hear from the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. Vice President Pence was the central administration figure in negotiating this effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. What will he say now that the effort collapsed?

[10:00:01] And on the right-hand side of your screen, or maybe on the left, on one side of your screen we're also waiting to hear from the House Speaker Paul Ryan. Is that him? Yes, Paul Ryan just walked into that room. What will he say about this now collapsed effort?