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Report: New Questions About Trump and Putin's Undisclosed Chat; GOP Senators Meeting Tonight Over Health Care Strategy; Intel Shows North Korea Near Another Missile Test. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired July 19, 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] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump tweeted that nothing sinister happened during that second meeting. So, let's talk about this with former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Andrew Wood. Mr. Ambassador, nice to see you.
SIR ANDREW WOOD, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Good afternoon.
BALDWIN: I want to just hone in on the secrecy part of this. Why do you think we, the public, didn't hear about this?
WOOD: Well, in form, it had all the appearance of an unplanned meeting. That is, I would suppose and hope that President Trump would take his own interpreter along if it had been set up in advance. Whether he chose to initiate it in the first place to make a kind of gesture of encouraging a relationship with President Putin, I simply don't know. What I do know is that you can't sit for nearly an hour and have a discussion, even allowing for translation, which is just pleasantries of one sort or another. So, because it wasn't reported to anybody, and no account yet has been given as to what was said, the united nations can run riot, and that's always unwise to put yourself in that sort of position.
BALDWIN: I think that's precisely it. It's the imagination. We don't know what was discussed because of the lack of another American presence an American interpreter. I was talking to a former counterterrorism, you know, former CIA officer, Phil Mudd last hour, and he's essentially saying, let's give the president a pass. This is a good thing for two presidents to engage in conversation. But how will we know the content of the conversation?
WOOD: Well, you probably never will. The only person on the U.S. side was obviously the president himself. He will, I suppose, give an account of what was actually said to, for example, the secretary of state. He certainly should. On the other hand, when there was a much wider meeting, both sides gave rather differing accounts of what was agreed and what happened then. So, the room for misunderstanding is huge. The other fact of the matter is that this was witnessed and taken as a signal by all the other representatives of the G20 at the dinner. I would also hope that there would be an authoritative account from the White House to the closest allies of the United States as to exactly what went on.
Otherwise, they will all be speculating. It's almost impossible to conceive that they didn't talk about, let's say, joint action against terrorism, i.e. Syria, or that there was no mention whatsoever about Ukraine, and Secretary of State Tillerson was going to Kiev, and gave some very, to my mind, appropriate reassurances to the Ukrainians. If there was anything different said or implied or understood at the conversation at dinner, that would be a serious matter. It just leads to confusion.
BALDWIN: Right. And leading to a lot of questions indeed, Sir Andrew Wood, thank you so much, sir, for your time on that.
I do want to pivot back to health care. We've been showing these live pictures of protesters on capitol hill. MJ, who are these people, what is it they want?
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Brooke, what you're seeing behind me, and, you know, we've been led a little bit down the hallway so we're not so close to the protesters, this is outside the office of Senator Pat Toomey. More than probably about a dozen protesters sitting down outside the office to chant and basically to oppose the efforts by Republican senators to revive this repeal bill. They are telling stories about how the ACA, the affordable care act, has helped them get health coverage and already we have seen a number of protests. You'll see, in a little bit, a couple of folks being led away in handcuffs by police officers.
[15:35:00] There's obviously a lot of security and police presence right now. They're trying to make sure that nothing gets too out of hand, but the point, Brooke, here is that -- senate Republicans are returning from the White House after president Trump really pressed them to continue working on this bill, that they shouldn't even leave town until they have a repeal and replace bill. Well, some of these senators are coming back to their offices to these protesters telling them that getting rid of the affordable care act simply is not an option for them. Obviously, a lot of heat and a lot of emotions, frankly, from some of these people who say that they would not have been able to get health coverage were it not for Medicaid, were it not for the affordable care act.
BALDWIN: That's an important issue. It affects millions and millions of people in this country. MJ, keep your eye on what's going on there on Capitol Hill. This is in the way of this luncheon with Republican senators and the president, and we have now learned that these Republican senators will be holding a meeting this evening, talking about precisely this, health care.
Coming up, what U.S. satellites reveal about North Korea's plans to launch another missile test. Also, what U.S. intelligence is learning about North Korea's plans to launch a missile from a submarine. We will take you to the Pentagon next.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: New revelations today that North Korea is making preparations for yet another ICBM, this intercontinental ballistic missile test or intermediate range missile test in the very near future. Let's go straight to Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent. Tell me what is the new intel that the U.S. intel revealing.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. What we are learning from U.S. sources, administration officials is they are noticing new intelligence they're gathering from satellites showing that North Korea is likely getting ready for another ballistic missile test. Not clear at this point if it will be a second intercontinental range ballistic missile, another missile that could hit potentially the U.S., or something that could hit in the pacific or more regional missile, but it doesn't really matter much at this point. North Korea continuing to make rapid progress on its missile program, according to U.S. officials. This latest intelligence comes from imagery, from radar satellites, radar intelligence that they are beginning to test the systems that they might have to use in an upcoming launch.
So, all of this getting a lot of attention because North Korea is getting very capable, officials say, at being deceptive, getting ready for a missile launch but hiding its activity until the very last minute, making it very tough for the U.S. to predict what exactly is happening and if there is a second ICBM intercontinental range test in two weeks. The last one was July fourth. Actually, the first time they ever did it. If there's another one two weeks later, this is going to be something that will be extremely unsettling to U.S. national security.
BALDWIN: Deceptive indeed. Barbara Starr, thank you.
Coming up, more on our breaking news here. President Trump refusing to give up on health care, telling Republican senators in this closed- door luncheon today that inaction is not an option.
Also, ahead, some people have called it the parole hearing of the century. O.J. Simpson is ready to make his case for parole. We'll preview what to expect ahead of his big day tomorrow.
[00:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We've been showing you these different pictures of protesters in and around the halls of Capitol Hill. This is actually the office of the senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and clearly the protesters are now inside of his office along with a lot of people taking a lot of pictures here in the wake of this meeting with Republican senators and the president. The president saying they're close, despite the math on this whole idea of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Let's go to Kaitlan Collins. The fact that the president sat around with dozens of these Republican senators and says he has that pen, he's ready to sign this bill into law, what's his plan on selling this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Legislative Affairs Director Mark Short just briefed reporters, minutes ago at the White House, and he said that the president is open to selling the bill. He said that when senators were at the White House for that lunch today, that they expressed some frustration that the president hasn't gone out and done enough publicly to sell this bill, though he did call senators multiple times, even when he was overseas about the bill, he didn't do a lot publicly. You know Donald Trump loves his rallies but he never held any rallies or any solo speeches that were dedicate solely to health care so they said they felt he could have done more and mark short that's an option for Donald Trump going forward. Some critics might wonder if it's too little too late now, we've already had several senators come out and say they're not going to support this health care bill.
BALDWIN: I know this has to be coming up in this White House briefing which is underway as we speak, again, you know, happening off camera. This is the third week in a row that we haven't been able to actually listen in and take this live on camera. What's the issue? What's the issue here?
COLLINS: That's absolutely right and that's a great question. We have not had an on-camera press briefing since June 29. The White House has said they've justified these off-camera briefings by saying they want the president's voice to carry the day, but they often have briefings when there are no public events scheduled, like last week. Donald Trump didn't speak anywhere publicly. That never was on-camera for listeners to hear, but they're justifying these by not having them on-camera, and they're also not letting the audio go live today either. They're saving it until the end and once it's done, then networks can air the audio with a picture of Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Sean Spicer on-camera. But other than that, we haven't seen them on- camera. And we're not sure when we'll see them on-camera again.
[15:50:00] BALDWIN: Thank you.
COLLINS: You're welcome.
BALDWIN: Eight and a half years. That is how long O.J. Simpson has been in prison for his part in a 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping at a hotel room in Las Vegas. But tomorrow, the 70-year-old disgraced football star will ask the Nevada parole board to set him free. Simpson, we all remember, the famous acquittal back in 1995 of the brutal murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. Ashleigh Banfield, host of HLN's "Primetime Us" is there in Carson City, Nevada. Ashleigh Banfield, you talked to Simpson's prison guard. What did he share with you?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HLN HOST: Lots of things and most of them have to do with what's going to happen back there behind me tomorrow, what kind of prisoner he's been. By the way, Brooke, you just said it. He's 70. That counts. If you are 70, that counts towards a good chance you'll get parole. He is clean living, he's been doing his education, he's been following his programs. He hasn't even had a write-up yet in nine years. Not only that, he's got a plan for when he, you know, when he's going to leave, if he gets paroled, and all those give you a score, and look, they all say around here, he's going to get out. If that kind of an inmate doesn't get out, none of them should. The prison guard said a lot of other things as well, which make his spotless record even more remarkable. The kinds of prisoners he's been hanging out with, the cell mates that he's had, have a listen to what Jeffery Felix, his guard said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: And you were dispatched to be one of the people to watch over him carefully, and yet his first cellmate, correct me if I'm wrong, was a 6'9" serial rapist who laid claim to some 100 rapes. Did they get along?
JEFFERY FELIX, FORMER GUARD AT LOVELOCK CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: Yes, they get along. His first cellie told me he raped over 100 women, and O.J. Simpson and him got along great. His cellmate would cook, clean, he would do all the housework and O.J. would just eat. They got along excellent over the years.
BANFIELD: And the subsequent cellies as you call it, cellmates for the uninitiated, those were cellmates who also cooked and cleaned for O.J., and the deal was he would buy their commissary. You call this supply?
FELIX: That's correct. When you live with O.J. Simpson, he has money coming in which most people don't. He would buy the commissary. They would cook, they would clean. I would always call them his servants. I would say, how are your servants doing, O.J.? He didn't like that, but it is what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: How about that. They all say the potential is there for him to get out. I'm sure we'll talk again tomorrow. Thank you, Ashleigh, Ashleigh Banfield in Carson City.
We want to move and go back to Washington, though, we just learned the White House off-camera press briefing with Huckabee Sanders just wrapped. Jeff Zeleny, this Republican luncheon had to come up. What were the headlines?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I think the headline specifically was they want the senate to stay engaged on this health care bill. He does not want them to only vote on a repeal bill or repeal of the health care act but they want it replaced with something as well. He told the senators to stay here in Washington until it's accomplished. Interestingly, also, though, some senators asked the president, Brooke, to become more engaged this this process. Actually, Mark Short, the legislative affairs director here in charge of dealing with the senate and the house on this, he announced the president would step up his engagement on this, would likely sell this plan that he alone can use his megaphone, if you will, to sell this plan.
He also acknowledged, and we're also learning from other sources, that there were some tense moments inside that meeting. And Mark Short, the legislative affairs director, acknowledged that and said the president would be more engaged. But also, he said that in his view, Republicans do not own this health care bill until they have a bill of their own that's signed.
[15:55:00] He said they do have a responsibility to fix health care. So, Brooke, I would say by and large a big change from 24 hours ago when the president was effectively saying, I don't own this, I'm passing the buck on this, acknowledging that they do have a responsibility on that.
And then, Brooke, several questions about health care to Sarah Huckabee Sanders about that dinner at the G20 summit in Germany between the Russian president and the U.S. president, that meeting on the sidelines which happened for almost an hour or so. Sarah Sanders pushed back aggressively, saying the media is trying to make up something that simply isn't here. But Brooke, she also said she does not know the topics that they discussed at that meeting. So that, of course, is still a question here, is what did they talk about at that dinner meeting? We simply do not know. Brooke?
BALDWIN: We don't know because it was just Trump, Putin and the Russian translator. There was no other American present, which is an issue in terms of what was discussed. Let me take you back to health care, because on your point about President Trump -- I remember we covered health care from the get, and a lot of these senators were saying, Mr. President, just let us handle this, almost like a stay out of our way, we got this. Thanks for being involved on the house side but we've got this.
They obviously didn't have it, so now it looks like the president is going to be more involved. The clock is ticking. The guidance Phil Mattingly talking to senators. They're annoyed this thing will linger for five to seven days before they vote on it and we all know the math. How much does this president expect this to sell within that short time frame?
ZELENY: That is a great question and we've heard so many times, a promise or a pledge that the president would be selling this more, he would go out there and drum up support for it. We haven't seen it. It remains an open question if he will actually be selling this. Specifically, in some of these red states, he and he alone can go out and just talk about the virtues and the values of some type of a new health care plan here. He has been reluctant to sort of be in on the details here. Senator McConnell did not necessarily want the president steeped in the details or working on that.
But they did want him to travel across the country and help improve the support for it. It is in single digits in some cases, in other cases 12 percent public approval for this bill. That is something some senators believe the president can do, is help urge some Republicans to start supporting this. We'll see if that actually happens. Between now and next week, he does not have any more travel on his schedule this week that's health care focused. We'll see about next week, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Staying on health care, Jeff, we got -- cameras were able to roll for just the tip-top of this luncheon. We heard from the president, and the seating chart is fascinating, right? Because sitting to the president's right is Republican from Nevada Dean Heller who was a no on the original version of the bill on the senate side. He then became this target of this pro-Trump super PAC ad in Nevada. Let me with that set up play the sound bite. Keep in mind, you're going to watch the man to our left, Mr. President's right, is this Senator Heller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The other night I was very surprised when I heard a couple of my friends, my friends, there really were and are. They might not be for much longer. I think I have to get them back. Well. No, you didn't go out there. This is the one we were worried about. You weren't there. But you're going to be there. He wants to remain a senator, doesn't he? OK. And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they're going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: On that, let me also bring in April Ryan. She's a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and also with us at CNN. April, at that moment you sort of see this smile on Senator Heller's face, like this uncomfortable grin, I'm smiling, this is actually not really funny. What did you make of that moment?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You have to smile to keep from crying. The president, you know, the general thought is that the president basically said if you don't do what I do or say do, you're not going to be reelected. Then another reporter asked on the inside of the briefing to Mark Short who was briefing before Sarah Huckabee Sanders about it, and he said, the president doesn't give veiled threats. It all depends on who you ask. Was it a veiled threat or a promise that the American people might let him go?
BALDWIN: Let's talk about the press briefings in general. This is week 3, hasn't been televised. Do you think televised press briefings are a thing of the past, April Ryan?
RYAN: I don't know. We don't know what this administration has in mind. One thing I do know for sure is the press secretary and the press office here, they don't like having the back and forth where they don't look so good. And they don't want that on television. And I do know -- Sean came out the other day, was it Monday, and he seemed much more comfortable. And I'm wondering if it also a comfortability factor. One thing for sure, they believe there is a lot of posturing. They consider it grandstanding.
When there are a lot of questions being asked, when you're standing at that podium, you have to expect it. Yesterday, I had asked something about the NAACP. The president was invited to the NAACP convention. They didn't have an answer for it yesterday. After my tweet, I said the NAACP has not heard from him. After January, they had a decline for the NAACP convention next week. This is the first president in 20 years who has not gone to the NAACP convention, 501(c) (3) organization that has big issues that affect a part of America this president covers. People want to see and hear that, we are hearing it, but it is also about the visuals. And I don't know if it's coming back, but as member of the press corps who has been here for 20 years and hope to be here for a couple more years. I hope they come back because people need to see the body language. The truth. There is truth in the visual, there is truth in the audio. We are bringing people in the room there to understand what's going with this process. BALDWIN: April Ryan, we need transparency, we hear you loud and clear. April Ryan, thank you very much. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. "The Lead" starts now.