Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Report: Trump Says Let Obamacare Fail; 3 GOP Senators Vote No on Repeal Killing It; North Korea Lacks Capacity to Hit U.S. Accurately; Interview with Rep. Leonard Lance. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier. And I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I mean not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. The president with a pretty surprising remark about the American health care system. After the Republicans failed to agree on a replacement for Obamacare. But at least one Republican congressman saw the failure coming months ago. He is one of the 20 Republican lawmakers who rejected the house's attempt to repeal Obamacare in May. He warned his colleagues not to support the law, arguing it had no chance to pass the senate. He is congressman Lance, a Republican from New Jersey. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us today.

REP. LEONARD LANCE, (R). NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: So first, we just played the sound of the president. I would just love your reaction to the president's statement there, saying we're not going to own it, Republicans won't own it, we'll let Obamacare fail and then Democrats come to us.

LANCE: I can understand the president's frustration, and the president wants to improve the system so that hardworking Americans can afford the purchase of health care coverage, and too many Americans, that's not the case now, and so I can understand the president's frustration. Moving forward, I hope that the Democrats will come to the table and I think we can work in a bipartisan capacity and I am committed to doing that, and the president's press secretary today indicated that the White House would be willing to work with Democrats. But Brooke, I think Democrats have to come to the table now.

BALDWIN: But congressman, she also put the blame squarely on Democrats, when it's been your party for seven years who's been saying, repeal and replace, repeal and replace, and now this sound bite from the president will be used by Democrats in 2018, because he hasn't fulfilled his promise. LANCE: I think we have to work on this issue before the election in

2018, and I am confident that there are Republicans who want to do that here on Capitol Hill, and I hope and expect Democrats as well, and I want to be part of the solution, because certainly the American people deserve that.

BALDWIN: That's great. On the solutions, and you may be correct in that this will be a bipartisan thing, but even before it became that way, you know, then the thought became, well, how about just repeal only and then replace it later. But as you well know, as you're keeping tally, as am I, that's effectively dead already. It's only been a couple of hours. Why, congressman, why is your party not on the same page?

LANCE: I think that health care is a very difficult issue, and that's why we have to work together, and I recognize the senate is not moving forward on what you suggest, and that suggests to me that we have to work together, and I am willing and able to do that, as are many colleagues here on Capitol Hill, because the exchanges are not in particularly strong shape, as you know. One-third of the counties in this country have only one insurer, and that's not a good way to proceed. We have to proceed together, Brooke, here on Capitol Hill in a bipartisan capacity.

BALDWIN: But saying you're working together and actually working together are two different things. I mean, how much faith do you have in your leadership, both in speaker Ryan and in leader McConnell, as leaders of the Republican party?

LANCE: I have confidence in our leadership here in the house. I don't know senator McConnell well, but certainly I think that it is important for the American people to get this right, and that will require bipartisan cooperation. Something, incidentally, that did not occur in 2009 and 2010. That was a bill that was passed exclusively by the Democratic party. I think now, in order to repair the situation, we have to work together, and I am confident, Brooke, that we can do that.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Who do you, congressman Lance, who do you blame? Because one White House official is telling us that they are owning some of the blame for not being able to really sell this bill. Where do you place the blame?

LANCE: I'm not someone who places blame. I try move to the future to make sure that we can work together constructively.

BALDWIN: But don't you have to understand what happened in the past and how it screwed up in order to fix it for the future?

LANCE: Certainly, and I think both in 2009 and 2010 where the Democrats worked exclusively, based upon one party, and what has occurred this year, based upon the other party, I think the lesson to be drawn is that we have to work in a bipartisan capacity, and I am confident we can do that. There are several ideas on the table to make sure that we move forward in a capacity that improves the system. It needs improvement, and I hope our Democratic colleagues will come to the table, and I am committed to working to that end.

BALDWIN: What about just on a respect level? You know, a top Republican official, congressman, told CNN, you know, the fact that senators Moran and Lee came out last night, you know, against this, all the while the president was sitting there eating dinner with Republican senators was, to quote this Republican, beyond rude, and just shows what our guys think of Trump. This is this quote. Can you imagine them doing this to another president? Would you agree? Was that rude?

LANCE: I don't choose to comment on what occurs in the United States senate. Let me say that I always try to be respectful. I'm respectful of the office of the presidency of the United States. And of this president, and I want to move forward working with the White House and with colleagues here on Capitol Hill in both the house and the senate, because I think the American people deserve that.

BALDWIN: Do you think -- I hear you loud and clear, that you respect the highest office in the land, but do you think part of this problem, congressman, is that other Republicans, you know, in that building where you're joining me, do not fear or respect the man sitting in the oval office?

LANCE: I believe that we respect the president, the office he holds, and I want to work with the White House, with the president, with the Department of Health and Human Services. After all, Dr. Price was formerly a member of the house. With the vice president, whom we know well, because many of us served with the vice president here on Capitol Hill when he was a member of the house. I think we have to work together because that is in the best interest of the people of this country.

BALDWIN: Working together in a bipartisan manner, I hear that from you, congressman Leonard Lance, thank you so much, sir, for your time. Good luck.

LANCE: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you, coming up next, this last-minute shift, the president raising some eyebrows by putting a hold on this announcement to say that Iran is in fact complying with the nuclear deal. What CNN is learning and what the final moments of that decision.

And we have new developments today in the search for answers in Minneapolis where a bride-to-be was shot and killed by police. What the family and police are now saying.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: North Korea's ballistic missile program is becoming an increasing threat to the security of the United States. The vice chairman of the joint chiefs testified before the senate armed services committee this morning where he warns the missiles clearly have the capability to reach the U.S., but there's a but here. He says Kim Jong-un's regime still hasn't demonstrated the capacity to strike with any degree of accuracy. So, let me bring in Aaron David Miller, CNN global affairs analyst. Hearing that, it goes a little bit farther than we've heard any military official speak on capability of how far reaching but on accuracy, not so much. What do you make of that?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think he's trying to split the difference. I mean, Alaska, last time I looked, is part of the United States, and it seems that the North Koreans have the capacity to do that. I think it is guidance and control. It's trying to find a way to deal with re-entry, which is, I understand, extremely difficult. The reality, Brooke, is that sooner or later, they're going to end up with effective guidance and control and range, and I think that's the real problem. And it's a problem from hell for this administration.

They can't bomb. It's too risky. They won't negotiate anything other than a rollback or denuclearization and the Chinese, you can't contract this out to President Xi, so the real question is, when, in essence, do you do. If you do nothing, then the North Koreans produce more nukes, and effectively will ultimately find a way to perfect their ballistic missile capacity as well.

BALDWIN: Moving off of North Korea on to Iran, we know that the U.S. has certified the nuclear deal, saying that the Iranians are actually complying with that. We're getting word that president Trump put yesterday's announcement on hold for just a bit to apparently weigh his options.

[15:45:00] There are, Aaron, some voices within the White House that say Iran is not complying, they're not offering any concrete evidence, just saying they're not complying. What do you make of the notion that the president's flirting with not recertifying this deal just based upon that?

MILLER: I think there's serious gamesmanship going on here. If you leave the back story, the president is signaling, he apparently wanted to decertify. "The New York Times" reported that 55 minutes out of the hour of the meeting was the spent with the president questioning his advisers, in this case those advisors are M, M and T, McMaster, Mattis, and Tillerson, questioning why he shouldn't decertify. So, I think there is a good deal of signaling going on here. But in reality, Brooke, and this is where the North Korean and the Iranian connection is important, you have an open nuclear file with the North Koreans, and we don't have an answer why under these circumstances, would you want to play around with this agreement.

And let's be clear. This is a repressive, brutal, serial human rights abuser. They've just sentenced a hapless Princeton graduate student to ten years. But on the nuclear side, you don't want to create a situation where you now have two nuclear rogue states. One has nuclear weapons. The other still doesn't. So, president signaling fundamental unhappiness on the campaign trail but at least in the second certification, I think the caution is judgment of M, M and T prevailed.

BALDWIN: Even though he said on the trail with regard to Iran, he wanted to kill the deal from day one. If they're complying, they're complying. Aaron David Miller, thank you so much.

Coming up next, political payback. Is the White House working to keep a member of their own party, senator Jeff Flake, from getting reelected? We'll talk to someone who's been in touch with the Trump administration about someone challenging senator Flake for his senate seat. Next.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This week marks six months into his presidency. President Trump and the White House already looking to the 2018 midterms and not only focusing on Democrats but members of their own party as well. Members of the Trump White House have already met with multiple candidates in Arizona and hoping to give a prime challenge to sitting senator Jeff Flake. Jeff Flake has at times been quite critical of Trump. So, joining me now, one of those candidates hoping to unseat senator Flake, she is Kelly Ward, she has already launched her bid to defeat the incumbent Republican. Kelly Ward, welcome to the show, nice to see you.

KELLY WARD, MET WITH WHITE HOUSE IN BID TO UNSEAT GOP SENATOR: Hi, Brooke. It's great to be here with you.

BALDWIN: We know the White House reached out to you about challenging senator Flake. Can you just tell me, who specifically did you meet with when you were in Washington this summer?

WARD: Well, you know, as I've mentioned before, these were private meetings and I've told people I would keep them private because I'm not a leaker. I know there are a lot of leakers in Washington, D.C. but I am not one of them. So, I'll keep it private but I will tell you this, President Trump and his administration are certainly not interviewing prospective candidates to try to create a dream team for Donald Trump. The people of America, and in particular, in my case the people of Arizona, are doing just that. They know that Jeff Flake is a sanctuary senator and he's been a very poor performer for almost two decades. And they're looking for a competent, qualified, capable person to take the reins to get to Washington, D.C. and do the things that people of our great country want done.

BALDWIN: OK. He's been elected and he's in Washington since 2000. I understand you would like the job. Can you tell me, I don't want you to leak and talk names, can you tell what was the substance of the conversation? What promises were made to you by the White House?

WARD: Oh, I would say that this wasn't a meeting about promises, it was a meeting about hope for the future. It was a meeting about securing the border, about stopping illegal immigration, about repealing Obamacare and actually putting something forth that has substance that Republicans can be proud of and Americans can rejoice over having. It was about energy independence. It was about fixing the tax code and growing the economy.

BALDWIN: But Kelly, if he was pontificating about all of the above, that could have been an easy phone call, the fact is you went to Washington this

summer, you had this conversation, so tell me what more happened, what more happened in that chat?

WARD: It was just a great conversation with people who want to have the country go in a better direction, who want to make America great again.

BALDWIN: In terms of a better direction of course we know that you supported the candidate at the time, when you think about President Trump's campaign promises, and we've been thinking about them a lot today, whether it's repealing and replacing Obamacare, building a wall, or killing the Iran nuclear deal, in the first six months, none of that has happened. There hasn't been one major legislative accomplishment. Yes, the Gorsuch nomination was a win, but how concerned are you on staying on that message if the message isn't working?

WARD: I think that, of course, having justice Gorsuch is a great accomplishment. But I will tell you that I'm disappointed in the Republicans, especially in the senate. You probably saw the Morning Consult Poll that shows that Arizona has two of the top three worst senators in the country, McCain and Flake, and we need new blood in D.C. who can put forth excellent policy so we can move forward with what president Trump talked about in the campaign and in the White House.

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: If you're disappointed in Republicans and is intra-party issues that hasn't brought about a win with regard to repeal and replace, are you disappointed in the president at all?

WARD: No, I think the president has done a great job. He's stayed on track, he's encouraging the house and senate to do what needs to be done.

BALDWIN: What is his big urgency so far other than justice Gorsuch?

WARD: I think justice Gorsuch is definitely the best, the biggest win.

BALDWIN: Other than justice Gorsuch, what was the president's big win so far?

WARD: I think justice Gorsuch is the biggest win so far, but there are a list of accomplishments you cannot believe that Donald Trump has done. I think his executive travel order is also a win because he wants to keep America safe. We've had activist judges who have tried to thwart those efforts that are not only constitutional but fully lawful that the president puts forth because they don't like the president. And that's no way to govern our country. I look forward to getting to Washington, D.C. and helping put things straight and make America great again.

BALDWIN: I guess just lastly, as I mention the, senator Flake has been in Washington for 17 years. This is a Republican senator. Why do you think that the White House is trying to unseat him so badly? He's not embroiled in any scandal, he was voted by his constituents first in the house and then the senate. What's wrong with him? WARD: I don't think the White House is trying to do anything. I

think the people of Arizona are trying to do something. We'll see some big news over the next few days showing that I am the candidate --

BALDWIN: Was it the state of Arizona who called you up to maybe challenge him or was it the White House?

WARD: It's the White House. I'm sure that people within the administration and people outside the administration, I see it every single day, would love to have people in Washington, D.C. I think they want people who are willing to work on the president's agenda to put America first and make the country great again. Senator Flake has proven again and again that he's the ultimate never Trumper. Before Trump was the nominee, since he became the nominee and once he became president, senator Flake has been against the president's agenda and it's just unacceptable to the people of Arizona. That's why we'll have a new Republican senator come 2018.

BALDWIN: Kelly Ward, we'll talk again. Good luck. Thanks so much for the time.

WARD: Thanks, Brooke.

Coming up next, the family of a bride-to-be in Minneapolis wants answers after she was shot and killed by police officers. Why this story is making front page news all around the world.

[16:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A police shooting of a bride-to-be in Minneapolis is making front page headlines in the victim's native Australia where it's being declared an American nightmare. You see there. Exactly what happened in the moments before, Justine Ruszczyk was shot and killed by Minneapolis police. It remains an absolute mystery. Here's what we know. Justine dialed 911 this was Saturday night to report a possible Sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Two officers responded.

What happened next police aren't saying and their body cameras were shut off. Ruszczyk's fiance is calling for answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON DIAMOND, VICTIM'S FIANCE: We've lost the dearest of people and we're desperate for information. Piecing together Justine's last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: An independent investigation into the shooting is expected to take two to four months to complete, and it still may be several more months before the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety reveals exactly what happened. Both officers are currently on administrative leave.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Great to be back today. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.