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Trump Honors Responders to Baseball Practice Shooting; 90 Percent Of GOP Focusing on Skinny Repeal in The Senate; Joint Chiefs Surprised by Trump Transgender Ban. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 27, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Come on. Med Star's director of trauma surgery and Dr. Robert Golden, the director of orthopedic trauma. Doctor? Congratulations. They were a lot more worried that night at the hospital, weren't they? Great job. You have the gratitude of the entire nation. Thank you for caring for the victims and for your dear friend, Steve, and he is our dear friend. Steve is a fighter. We've known that for a long time.

This week, he was discharged from the hospital and is now beginning weeks of intensive rehabilitation at an inpatient facility. He will recover. We are praying for him. We are pulling for him. And we are sending his family our support and our love. Steve's great wife, who I've gotten to know, Jennifer is here with us today. And we applaud the strength and courage that she has shown throughout this incredible ordeal. Thank you, Jennifer.

Thank you, Jennifer. Other Americans responded to this tragedy in ways that remind us how much stronger we are when we're united. When the congressional baseball game was played just one day later, nearly 25,000 people turned out. By far, a record. They raised more than $1.5 million for charity, also by far a record. The citizens of Steve's home parish organized a blood drive in his name and vice president pence donated his blood at the congressional blood drive. Thank you, Mike.

Just recently, house Republicans and Democrats introduced a bill to provide support to Capitol police officers who are injured on duty. People have been looking at this for a long time, but Jennifer, you can tell Steve that he pulled it off, OK? That's better than being a whip. I hope it gets to my desk soon. I will sign it immediately. The assault on June 14 reminded us that evil exists in this world, but it also reminded us that heroes walk in our midst. That love triumphs over tragedy, and that our resolve is stronger than ever. We praise America's law enforcement, and I have been praising them for a long time.

They are unbelievable people. For being tough, for doing the tough jobs, the dangerous jobs, and sometimes thankless jobs with tremendous integrity, devotion, and courage. So, I just want to thank law enforcement generally. Thank you.

I can only tell you from the campaign that people love you. They respect you, and they admire you. So, I know you go through a lot. But they have great admiration, so just remember that, please. Today, I'm deeply honored to present our nation's highest award for a public safety officer, the medal of valor, to Special Agent Crystal Griner, Special Agent David Bailey, and Alexandria Police Department Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen. The medal of valor is reserved for those who go above and beyond the call of duty as each of these men and women did that on that fateful day, and they did it with great courage and they did it with instinct.

[15:35:00] When our human instincts tell us to run, there's danger, our police and first responders run straight at it, standing in the breach, protecting the innocent and keeping our loved ones safe. Now I would like the military aide to read the citation as these great American heroes step forward to receive the medal of valor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Special Agent Crystal Griner. Medal of valor presented to Special Agent Crystal Griner, U.S. Capitol Police, District of Columbia for bravery and composure while engaged in an active shooter incident. Despite being shot, Special Agent Griner placed herself in mortal danger to save the lives of members of congress, attending family members, and congressional staff during a charity softball practice at Eugene Simpson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Special Agent David Bailey. Medal of valor presented to Special Agent David Bailey, U.S. Capitol Police, District of Columbia, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter. Special Agent Bailey was shot during the exchange of gunfire but continued to advance the shooter without benefit of cover until the active shooter was subdued, saving the lives of members of congress, attending family members, and congressional staff.

[15:40:00] Officer Nicole Battaglia. Medal of valor presented to officer Nicole Battaglia, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia. For demonstrating extraordinary courage in saving the lives of two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of congress, their families, and congressional staff. Officer Battaglia engaged the assailant, exchanging gunfire at close range, and ultimately neutralizing him.

Officer Alexander Jensen. Medal of valor presented to officer Alex Jensen, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for swift and valiant action in responding to an active shooter. Officer Jensen put himself in medal of valor presented to officer Alex Jensen, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for swift and valiant action in responding to an active shooter. Officer Jensen put himself in harm's way during the active shooter incident, moving without cover and drawing fire from the assailant until the assailant was subdued and the safety of the members of congress, their families, and congressional staff was ensured.

Officer Kevin Jobe. Medal of valor presented to officer Kevin Jobe, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for placing himself in grave danger to protect two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of congress, their families, and congressional staff. Officer Jobe engaged an active shooter, neutralizing a volatile gunman, and preventing further injuries to innocent bystanders in the park.

TRUMP: Very brave people, great people. Congratulations to all of you. We are forever in your debt. Thank you. God bless you. God bless our truly amazing law enforcement, and god bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats until the president has departed the east wing.

[15:45:00] BALDWIN (voice-over): Those are the heroes. Remember the story, the bloodshed one month ago today on a baseball diamond early, early in the morning in Alexandria, Virginia. And just keep in mind, before we move off of this picture, those special agents with the capitol hill police on the right of your screen in particular, they were there that day because of Steve Scalise, the congressman, the whip. He was there. Had he not been there, they would not have been there, and with the gunman, having spoken to multiple members of congress who played in that game when we were covering this from capitol hill, it would have been so much worse. Those were our heroes.

(on camera): Let's move on. We have more on our breaking news this afternoon. After being attacked by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he is staying on for as long as the president wants him.

Plus, the White House will not say whether the president has full confidence in his own chief of staff. Stay with me. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: The moment is here after seven years of campaign promises, the Republicans have a chance to repeal and replace Obamacare. Kind of. This is after a repeal-only proposal failed this week. Senators are focusing on what's being called a skinny repeal and a major opponent of the senate's efforts so far says this whole skinny repeal is 90 percent of what she wants moving forward. Last hour kicked off with the first vote and then later on much of -- to those following along very closely, the vote-a-rama gets underway where Democrats will attempt to propose as many attempts as possible. This could last until the wee hours of the morning. So, Ryan Nobles gets to cover all this for us from Capitol Hill. Do they think they can cross the finish line?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, the sense we're getting is that Republican senators are increasingly optimistic that they're going to get to that 50-vote standard that they need in order to get a skinny repeal over the finish line. The big concern that many of them have here today, Brooke, is that they don't want the skinny repeal to become law. In fact, there's a big bunch of Republicans who are scared about the potential of it becoming law. They just want to use this as a vehicle to get to a conference committee where they get back together with members from the house of representatives and then come up with some sort of a consensus plan to move forward on a broader repeal and replace plan.

But the concern many of them have is once they pass this bill, it goes back over to the house, and it will be the responsibility of the speaker of the house to go to the conference. They could theoretically just pass the bill on the house side without ever coming back, now Mitch McConnell told senators in a meeting that he has had assurances that they will come back to the conference. I know it sounds a little bit of inside baseball here, Brooke, but the these are kind of the little problems that are cropping up at every stage of this process. And this is why senators want to make sure they get all the assurances they can possibly get before they cast a ballot in the affirmative.

BALDWIN: If you're a Republican and looking at the glass half-full scenario. This is the magic 50 number and goes to the house, and now house members are being told, hang on a second, don't take that August vacation just yet.

NOBLES: Yes, that's right, members of the house of representatives have been told by their leadership to plan to be around this weekend. So that they can vote on that measure that would then send the bill to a conference committee. That has to be agreed to by all members of the house of representatives. That shows you how high the stakes are right now. And it also shows you about the degree of optimism that senate Republicans and house Republicans have that they're going to get something passed here in the next couple of days.

It'll be a process. This isn't something that's going to happen with the snap of someone's fingers. As you mention, they're going to vote on the repeal, but also through this barrage of amendments that are going to be put up by both Republicans and Democrats, most of them show votes, just designed to get people on the record, and that's why we could be here until the early morning hours today.

BALDWIN: Yes, I was about to say, get comfortable before you sleep, my friend. Ryan Nobles there covering all things health care. Thank you so much. Also developing this afternoon, quite a bit of confusion around the president's sudden ban on transgender service members in the military. We are now hearing that the Joint Chief's chairman wasn't even aware. And now the White House is scrambling amid the backlash. Coming up, we'll talk to A transgender veteran who says she's ready to take the president to court.


BALDWIN: New fall out today from President Trump's tweets that transgender service members will be banned from the military. Defense sources are telling CNN and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including the chairman himself had no idea this was coming. They were totally blind sided. And moments ago, this comment from the army chief of staff.


GEN. MARK A MILLEY, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: The entire chain of command will, always has, will to and will tomorrow and always should treat every single soldier, sailor, airman, marine, coast guard, with dignity and respect for the service and the cloth of our nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: We add on and tell you that the Navy also said it will not immediately discharge transgender sailors and they will still receive medical treatment. The military here suddenly finding himself on the defense from a president who once said this as a candidate.


TRUMP: Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community? Donald Trump, with actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words? I will tell you who the better friend is. And some day, I believe, that will be proven out, bigly.


BALDWIN: This is a transgender Marine Corps veteran and also a staff attorney at Land of Legal, the oldest LGBT rights litigation organization. They will sue if the ban is enacted into policy. Sasha, thank you so much for being with me, and thank you for serving our great country.

SASHA BUCHERT, TRANSGENDER MARINE CORPS VETERAN: Thanks Brooke, thanks for having me on the program.

BALDWIN: So, let me just begin, this is the statement, part of the statement from the joint chief's chairman. There will be no modifications to the current policy and until the president's direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary's issued implementation guidelines in the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. What's your reaction to even how the tiptop brass at DOD are surprised and how they're handling this?

BUCHERT: We are happy they are stepping up, you know, protecting our openly transgender service members. It's so disrespectful of the president to issue this policy by tweet that would affect the lives of thousands of serving transgender people who are serving our military. We were putting the lives on the line every day to defend freedom in this country. And you know, it's also disrespectful to the department of defense and all of the people that have done this work. Appropriately in the right way and talking to stake holders and, you know, conducting an extensive study such as the Rand Corporation study that took over a year and, you know.

So, yes, we're pleased that the folks from the department of defense have stepped forward and said they want to implement this. But, you know, the president's a bully. He's like a high school bully. And you have to stand up to bullies. And Land of Legal, we're going to watch this closely. And if this does advance from, you know, mere social media and any kind of policy action. We along with our sister organization such as Outserve Us LVN and the National Center for Transgender Equality stand firm and ready to respond in all ways.

BALDWIN: To do something about it.

BUCHERT: Absolutely. BALDWIN: I want to follow-up on that in just a second, help us understand, just on a personal note, reading your incredible background, you were a scout sniper.

[16:00:00] In the Marine Corps back in the '80s, served a transwoman, did your gender -- was that an issue when you were serving with your fellow service members? And could you tell -- was it an issue with you an issue with them?

BUCHERT: Absolutely. Well, both. In my service and by the way, I'm very proud, proud Marine, and you know, it's made all the difference in my life, and, you know, learn so many important values in the time that I was there, but I will say though, I lived in fear. And looked over my shoulder, you know, because of, you know, the fact that you would be just automatically discharged if, you know, the word got out that you were an LGBT person.

And, you know, Trump is seeking to move us back to those days where people lived in fear for themselves and their families. And our brave and openly serving transgender women and men deserve more than that. You know, they're putting their lives on the line, and deserve much, much more. So yes, it was a really difficult time and we've made steady progress and, you know, if you look back in history, you know, whether it's desegregation of the military or, you know, having women serve openly, you know, these are significant milestones that we've made in our culture. Without disruption.

And I'll also add, the justification for the ban is so flimsy, it's ridiculous. It isn't a disruption. People have been serving over a year now without disruption. What's disruption is a social media campaign significantly shifting a national policy. And also add in addition to the cost question, so, the military pays ten times more in Viagra coverage than it would to cover our transgender, openly serving men and women.

BALDWIN: Yes, I've had a whole conversation about that yesterday on my show.

BUCHERT: OK, thank you.

BALDWIN: Fully aware of the nickels and dimes going in different directions. And I think also part of the point was, there were conservatives on Capitol Hill who were lobbying the White House on this specifically and they weren't asking for an all-out ban. They were surprised that this went as far as it did. 30 seconds, as a lawyer, if the president plans to follow through on the tweet, what can you do to fight it?

BUCHERT: Yes, absolutely. You know, we'll look at all options, whether it's grassroots organizing, we'll be standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the other groups targeted such as the Muslin community and women's groups. We will look at litigation, absolutely. We'll be one of the options. We'll be looking at a variety of causes of action. You know to challenge this and we'll resist and defend and protect our military service member. BALDWIN: Sasha Buchert, thank you so much for serving this country

and thank you for your voice as well today. I appreciate you, and I appreciate all of you for watching.