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Kremlin Reacts to U.S.; Obamacare Repeal Fails; New Democratic Leadership; Man Allegedly Kills Wife on Cruise; Wild Week for White House. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 28, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:29] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, Russia retaliates, just ordering U.S. diplomats, some of them, to leave Moscow and demanding the U.S. vacate two properties. All of this is in direct response to a new Russian sanctions bill that is sitting on the president's desk waiting for him to sign it.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Will he sign it, though, because this is overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last night, but it does ultimately take away power from the president.

So what happens next? Let's go to Michelle Kosinski. She joins us from the State Department with more.

Good morning.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Right, yes, there are really no good options here for the president. If he signs it, as you said, this takes away power from him. It's essentially Congress saying, we don't trust you. We want some say in Russia sanctions. And if he didn't sign it, first of all, it looks like it's another gift to Russia and the veto would likely be overridden given those numbers.

So Russia has responded. For months it's been threatening to do something in kind to the U.S. after the U.S. kicked out dozen of its diplomats at the end of the Obama administration, seized its two properties that it used, these enormous estates in Maryland and New York.

But the State Department as recently as a week ago was saying, well, don't listen to what Russia's saying. Let's see what Russia is doing. They almost sounded like they were dismissing that Russia was going to do something any time soon. And then, of course, this morning, they did.

So the U.S. will now have to limit the number of diplomatic staff that are in Russia to the same number that Russia is allowed, just over 400. Russia's also restricting the use of two different properties. And there was a U.S. response that we just got too.

But let's read first what the Russian foreign ministry said this morning talking about the sanctions bill that just passed. This measure it further proof of the United States' extremely hostile foreign policy hiding behind its sense of superiority. The United States arrogantly ignores the stances and interests of other countries. The bill is an obvious indication that relations with Russia are being dragged down by political infighting in the United States.

Pretty typical Russian response there. And then the U.S. embassy in Moscow responded by saying, we've received the Russian government notification. Ambassador Tefft expressed his strong disappointment and protest. We've passed the notification back to Washington for review.

So, at this point, we're still waiting for more from the State Department. What will their response be to this retaliation that was swift, even before the president could sign this bill? Or, I guess we should say, or not.

BERMAN: That's right. All right, Michelle Kosinski at the State Department, thanks so much.

Let's get reaction now from Capitol Hill. Joining us, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, part of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.


BERMAN: Your reaction -- your reaction to this move by Russia today, you know, kicking out U.S. diplomats, shutting some facilities.

CICILLINE: Well, I think it shouldn't be unexpected. Look, Russia is not our friend. We passed the sanctions bill, not only because of their interference in our presidential election, but their aggressive behavior in Crimea, their actions in Syria.

So, Russians are acting contrary to American national security interests in places around the world. We have a responsibility to send a strong message that we will not tolerate that. And it's not a surprise that they responded this way.

But we need to send a very strong message so we can protect the integrity of our elections and so that we can reduce the kind of aggression that they're engaged in around the world.

HARLOW: And if the president decides not to sign the sanctions bill, the response?

CICILLINE: I think there's -- it would be very hard for the president to do that. This is a sanction bill which imposes sanctions on North Korea, Iran, for their ballistic missile system, and Russians. Very important sanctions. Overwhelmingly passed by the House and the Senate in a very bipartisan way. They are both -- in the House, at least, it's veto proof. I think it is, of course, as well in the Senate. So I don't think the president -- the president can do math, we hope, and he would know that it would be overridden. Very important these sanctions go into place.

BERMAN: So, congressman, obviously health care in the Senate went down last night overnight. The efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. I'm not sure whether you were staying awake watching what was happening. But whether or not you were watching or whether you heard it when you woke up, what was your reaction when you saw John McCain give that thumbs down?

[09:35:00] CICILLINE: I was, of course, very pleased. I mean their Senate bill would have resulted in 16 million people losing their health insurance, premiums going up on an average of 20 percent, making it more difficult and more expensive for people with preexisting conditions to get health care.

So that was an important bill to defeat. I think it was a direct response to the voices of the American people that have been demanding that we protect and improve the Affordable Care Act. So this was the kind of third or fourth try by the Republicans in the Senate.

What I hope now will happen is that Republicans will work with Democrats. The there are ways we can fix the things that we need to fix in the Affordable Care Act, make it work even better for the American people. If they will finally give up this idea of repealing it and throwing tens of millions of people off health insurance, I think there are things we can do together to fix the concerns that we all have and make it work even better it does (ph).

HARLOW: I think there's no question that everyone has concerns, but we and you don't feel them as acutely because we don't rely on these necessarily individual exchanges that are suffering under Obamacare. Our Christine Romans just laid out all of the states, over 20, where only -- some counties only have one option, what is no competition. What is incumbent on Democrats, like yourself, to do right now to fix it for people?

CICILLINE: Well, we have had a number of proposals that we've offered. In fact, a group of Democrats had a press conference just last week laying out a number of ideas. Our caucus is filled with folks who have pieces of legislation or have been talking about ways that we can improve the Affordable Care Act, to create more competition in those marketplaces, to drive down premiums, drive down out-of-pocket expenses, reduce the costs of prescription drugs.

There's no lack of ideas. We just have to have someone who's a willing partner on the other side of the table to work with us. So far the Republicans and the president have been committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act and have rejected any effort to work with us to actually make these improvements. If now, finally, after last night's vote, they're willing to do that, they're going to find willing partners.

BERMAN: I will say -- what Republicans will say is that -- is that Democratic leadership has sent a message for Democrats not to do anything, to sit and wait for the Republican effort to fail. So I will say, there is a view on both sides.

CICILLINE: No, no, that's --

BERMAN: I know you disagree. Look, they say --

CICILLINE: No, I -- look, we --

BERMAN: They say -- this is what Republicans say. They say, where were you? We've been looking for your help.

CICILLINE: No, our leadership has made -- but it's just, that's not accurate. That's not accurate. They have said from the beginning, they've had 40 votes while our -- in the last Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. They've said, our effort is to repeal. That has always been their mantra.


CICILLINE: They've said that publically. We've said, as long as you would abandon the notion of appeal, you will have willing partners to improve this bill (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: All right, so --

BERMAN: I understand, so you gave them the condition. All I'm saying is they're saying they feel like they had to go this alone. Hopefully now everyone can get together and work on something. But, you're right, they did not have hearings. They didn't have hearings. They didn't have hearings. (INAUDIBLE) --

CICILLINE: They didn't have hearings and they rejected 150 amendments when they brought forth their bill. They rejected 150 Democratic amendments in that process.

BERMAN: Let me --

CICILLINE: So they had no interest in working with Democrats and they should because this is something that has to be done in a bipartisan way.

BERMAN: Agree. Love to see it happen, if it does happen.

Let me just get your take on the Democratic Party for one second right now because your colleague from the north, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, says he wants to see a Democratic leadership change by 2018. He was asked if he wanted this leadership on a bumper sticker for the 2018 election. He said, no. What do you think of that?

CICILLINE: Well, I think what we did -- Cheri Bustos, Hakeem Jeffries and I were elected by our caucus to develop the long-term Democratic agenda. We launched a better deal, higher wages, better jobs for a better future. A really bold, economic agenda that will increase people's incomes, reduce the costs in their lives and prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century, and we're going to be sharing that with our constituents all across the county over the August recess.

HARLOW: All right, but just to put a button on it, congressman, to John's question -- CICILLINE: Yes.

HARLOW: Do you agree with your fellow Democrat, Representative Seth Molten, who said, yes, no, I don't want this leadership going into 2018. We can't win with it. Is he right or wrong? Yes or no?

CICILLINE: Look, you know, we -- we were -- we were elected, Cheri Hakeem and I, as part of the leadership to do this work. Our Democratic leader and our whip were elected several months ago. This is really about Democrats having a very bold and strong economic agenda that will raise incomes for folks, that will prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century, create 10 million good paying full time -- look, I think that's what matters to people. Is the people who execute it is actually not as significant. What matter is, are we promoting an agenda that improves the lives of the American people. I think that's what people are focused on.

HARLOW: Right.

CICILLINE: They want to know, what are we going to do to make your life better.

HARLOW: So your message to Chuck Schumer, the leadership doesn't matter on this one. We're going to do what we're going to do.

CICILLINE: Not it doesn't matter. I mean it's just --

HARLOW: I just asked you twice and you didn't answer. So you can answer the question or I've got to read between the lines.

CICILLINE: It's not that it doesn't matter. What does matter though is the substance of the work that we are doing and the fight we're going to have on behalf of the American people. I think we elected our Democratic leader, we elected our whip, we elected our team.

HARLOW: We've got to leave it there.

CICILLINE: To serve us two years and I expect --

HARLOW: We've got to leave it there. I'm driving the control room nuts on timing.

Congressman thank you. We appreciate it.

CICILLINE: Sorry. My pleasure.

BERMAN: Good sport. Appreciate you coming on.

HARLOW: Good sport.

BERMAN: Come on again.

HARLOW: The president taking hits this week from the Senate, military leaders, even the head of the Boy scouts. Where does he go next?

[09:40:05] BERMAN: And then just a crazy story, driven to kill over laughter. A man accused of killing his wife on an Alaskan cruise, telling a witness he did it because she wouldn't stop laughing at him.


BERMAN: All right, this morning a man is accused of killing his wife on an Alaskan cruise. And he allegedly told a witness he did it because she would not stop laughing at him.

All right, CNN's Jean Casarez has more details.

Jean, what on earth is going on here?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know a little bit because we have the probable cause affidavit. It was Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares and they actually went on an Alaskan cruise from Utah. The couple left last Sunday from Seattle. And on Tuesday night, a little after 9:00, authorities on the cruise ship were summoned to their cabin. And what they found was Kristy, according to the probable cause affidavit, deceased on the floor with blood all over her head, a severe head wound and the husband, Kenneth, with blood all over his hands and on his clothes.

[09:45:05] Well, a very important witness stepped forward, according to the affidavit of probable cause and they name him as D.H. He said that he originally had gone into their cabin, saw this scene and asked the husband, what happened? And according to the affidavit, he allegedly said, she wouldn't stop laughing at me. Then D.H. told authorities that he saw Kenneth dragging his wife by the head toward the balcony of the ship. He followed. D.H. said that he pulled her back with her ankles back into the cabin. And that's when authorities on the ship went to him.

Of course, he was arrested on the spot. He was handcuffed. The FBI is the lead investigator on all of this. And when they started their investigation, he allegedly said, my life is over.

So at this point he's being held on no bail. We have reached out to the public defender. He has not gotten back to us.

But Kristy worked for the international realty company, Summit Sotheby's. They have releasing a statement saying that Kristy was a loving mother who juggled her time between her business and that devotion to her children. So there are children involved.

HARLOW: They have kids. My goodness.

BERMAN: Awful story.

HARLOW: Jean Casarez, thank you for the reporting. We appreciate it.

So to politics. And when your own party, military leaders, even the Boy Scouts are not happy with you and saying it publicly, maybe it is time for a change to your presidential approach.


[09:51:00] HARLOW: Pretty fair to say not a great week for the White House. A string of very public rebuke from his own party.

BERMAN: Let's review.

Republican senators failed to repeal Obamacare. They did not back the president's attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Pentagon is questioning the president's policy change on transgender troops. It says it will not implement them, at least not yet. Then the Boy Scouts of America apologized over the president's pretty political speech to a group of boys.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN political director David Chalian.

You know, I think we're going to title this segment, you know, what the "f" happened this week, you know, David Chalian. This was quite a week.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I think you're underselling it there saying not a great week. It was a terrible week.

I think the White House got completely exposed this week as entirely dysfunctional. I think the Trump presidency revealed itself to be in serious trouble because, as you just laid out, I think, guys, this is the first week that we saw some significant cracks among the president's own fellow partisans, his cohorts, his supporters, whether it was conservative media and Republican senators saying don't touch Jeff Sessions, not just backing him, but pushing back on the president. Some out there saying Sessions was right to recuse himself. Or, as you noted, the Boy Scouts coming out and regretting that they had the president of the United States there and that it became political.

These -- these are cracks and fissures that we haven't seen before. His own military. So it's different than the usual critics and what we've seen before.

I think this week was quite new and astonishing. We weren't -- we haven't even talked about the word Russia yet. That wasn't the dominant narrative as what was causing the White House so much trouble this week.

HARLOW: But, David, didn't we see in John McCain's thumb down last night the impact on this potentially on policy, on not being able to get things done when you put your chief of communications on CNN live for half an hour and he doesn't use that as an opportunity to make the case on this health care you desperately need. I mean was this a rebuke of not just the legislation, but the president?

CHALIAN: There's no doubt that when John McCain cast that vote he understood that this was going to be a huge failure of the presidents to get this major promise through and of his party's seven yearlong promise overall. It is a rebuke of that. I don't know that if Anthony Scaramucci came on NEW DAY and talked about health care for a half an hour that John McCain would have done anything differently yesterday, but it is -- it is a political reality that if you are going to operate --

HARLOW: But the point is, they are not selling it, David.

CHALIAN: Yes. No --

HARLOW: They're not taking this time to sell it, right?

CHALIAN: Without a doubt, Poppy. I totally agree. And it -- it is a political reality that if you are going to run the White House in chaos, do nothing to galvanize the American people behind you or your agenda, you are going to have a harder time having legislatures bend to your will. And I think President Trump saw that this week.

BERMAN: Let me read you -- we've been waiting to hear from President Trump. What will he say this morning about all this? And he did just make a statement in 140 characters. Let me read it to you. He goes, if Republicans are going pass great future legislation in the Senate, they must immediately go to a 51-vote majority, not the senseless 60.

This is something the president has talked about before. He doesn't like the fact that you need to get 60 votes for some things in the Senate, not, however, for instance, health care last night. It does not apply to the massive failure he just suffered in the Senate, David. Plus, Republican senators have told us on this show, including Senate leadership, it's a bad idea what the president's asking. And not to mention the fact, I'm not sure what the president wants is 51 votes. I think he wants to be able to get this all done with one vote, his.


BERMAN: And he's learning the hard way that that's not the case.

CHALIAN: He doesn't get one last time I checked the Constitution.

But here's the thing, John. When I watched at the beginning of this week and this is what I would tweet back to the president just to make sure he's clear on this, you saw 43 votes for a replacement plan that added Medicaid dollars, tried to get more regulations (INAUDIBLE) to appeal to both moderates and conservatives. You saw 45 votes in the Senate for repeal only. They can't get to 50 votes on this. It has nothing to do with 60.

[09:55:14] BERMAN: David Chalian, great to have you here with us. Thanks so much for your analysis, sir.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Minutes from now, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks after Republicans in the Senate fail to repeal Obamacare. What is she going to say and how is she going to react to John McCain's now historic thumbs down?

BERMAN: And what will she offer in terms of fixing health care now?

HARLOW: What will Democrats do? Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:00:06] HARLOW: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.