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Priebus Out General Kelly In As Chief Of Staff; Firings And Resignations Under President Trump; Analyst: North Korea Missile Could Hit Major U.S. Cities; White House: Trump Will Sign Russia Sanctions Bill; Russia To Seize U.S. Properties Over Sanctions; Priebus Out, John Kelly in as Chief of Staff; Interview with Rep. Ro Khanna. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired July 29, 2017 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president wanted to go to a different direction. I support him in that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Why not respond?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm not going to because it doesn't honor the president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kelly will do a fantastic job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will not put up with some of the B.S. that's been going on in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our president is impulsive. He's deceitful. He's autocratic. He is narcissistic. General Kelly can't fix that with a better organizational chart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea launched another intercontinental ballistic missile making it the second launch this month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This new launch missile flew for about 45 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's concerning. Obviously, we've noticed lately that the North Koreans are way more advanced than we thought they were.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the White House door that revolving door keeps on moving. This time it's the chief of staff. Reince Priebus is out. Homeland Secretary John Kelly is in, but Priebus says he will still stay on Team Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, OUTGOING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I said the president has a right to change directions. The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it's a good time to hit the reset button. I think he was right to hit the reset button, and I think that it was an -- it was something that I think the White House needs. I think it's healthy and I support him in it.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Also, North Korea launched yet another missile, but according to experts, this one has the potential to hit cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and possibly even New York and Boston.

BLACKWELL: And the Russia sanctions bill is on its way to the president's desk and the White House says he will sign it. But Moscow has been quick to fire back ordering U.S. Embassy staff cuts in Russia and seizing two embassy facilities.

First though, the president's purge of D.C. swamp as he calls it, picking up speed with Reince Priebus out. He's moving further away from the Washington establishment.

Let's bring in now our White House correspondent, Athena Jones. Athena, what does this latest change mean for the White House?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. Well, this latest change could be an opportunity to right the ship. As we all know, the White House has been getting a lot of attention, most of it negative in the recent weeks and months over a perceived environment of chaos and instability within this White House.

There has been infighting going on since the beginning that has emerged in public just very much in public in the last several days with that profanity laced tirade from new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci in the phone call that he had with a "New Yorker" reporter earlier this week.

So, this could be an opportunity for General Kelly to come in and right the ship. We heard President Trump refer to the general as a star, as one of the administration's star. He said that repeatedly during his speech on Long Island yesterday.

One of the big questions though here is what will the president allow in terms of Kelly's power? Will he be empowered to be the kind of gate keeper and controller of the goings on here in the White House that Reince Priebus was never empowered to be.

We've heard this set, a bunch of them last several days. There are several people who report directly to the president. That is a relatively unusual structure for a White House. Will that change?

So, those are some of the question marks surrounding incoming general -- now, I guess, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who is expected to start on Monday. This is also another sign that the Washington establishment wing or the so-called Washington establishment wing of the White House -- its power is diminishing.

Reince Priebus becoming just the latest of several figures who came -- he was the former Republican National Committee chairman and this was a marriage that was a little uneasy from the start because President Trump and his team ran on really shaking up things in Washington. So, that was an uneasy marriage and now it has come to an end -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Athena Jones for us there at the White House. Thank you so much -- Christi.

PAUL: So, ten days after being inaugurated, President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend the president's immigration ban. Now she had also raise concerns about National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn was forced to resign a few weeks later for misleading the vice president over his dealings with the Russian ambassador. Less than a month later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked dozens of U.S. attorneys to resign.

[06:05:04] All of them agreed apart from Preet Bharara, who said Trump had told him he could keep his job after he was elected. He was then fired.

A few weeks later, Deputy Chief of Staff Katy Walsh left the White House for another job and fast forward to May, the president fired FBI Director James Comey, White Communications Director Mike Dubke stepped down.

And just this month, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub resigned, Mark Corrallo, the spokesman for the legal team defending the president on the Russia investigation, he stepped down.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer quit followed by Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short and now Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has been replaced making him the shortest serving chief of staff in White House history.

BLACKWELL: All right, joining me now, Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," Jeffrey Lord, CNN political commentator and contributing editor for the "American Spectator," and CNN politics reporter, Tom LoBianco.

Good morning to all of you and Jeffrey, let me start with you. We know that you support the president and you believe that he has not been served well. What is your expectation for what this incoming chief of staff will be able to do. Is he a panacea of some sort? What do you expect he'll be able to change?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's interesting, Victor. We've had to the best of my knowledge, three presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, four presidents actually, Richard Nixon and President Eisenhower, all of whom had generals as their chiefs of staff and all of them did fairly well in the post. So, I would expect that General Kelly will bring some order to the White House. We'll bring perhaps a touch of military order as it were and based on the experience of the others I think he'll do very well.

BLACKWELL: So, Sarah, let me come to you. Off that point we are hearing from Jeffrey that a general now coming into this position will do very well. We know the president respects generals. He says he calls them his generals and this one especially, but what evidence is that he is there, that he will accept the incoming chief of staff looking him right into the eyes and telling him no and taking that advice?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, General John Kelly is not one of these long time Trump loyalists like some of the other people who had been discussed as potential chiefs of staff before this decision was made.

He was chosen on merit and not because of a longstanding relationship to Trump or to the Republican Party. I think that's important to remember and that President truly respected what John Kelly brought to the table when he chose him for homeland security secretary.

One of the big problems for Reince Priebus was that he was never able to consolidate power in this west wing that was filled with these rivaling power factions and it's not clear that any of the rivaling factions will just immediately subordinate themselves to John Kelly.

You had Jared and Ivanka Trump. You have Gary Cohn. You have Steve Bannon. Now you have Anthony Scaramucci, a whole new competing faction within the west wing so it's not clear that John Kelly will be able to get control of all of these groups and have them report directly to him.

Remember that Anthony Scaramucci is a direct report to the president. That's going to be a problem for John Kelly because it will limit his ability to control what damage Scaramucci does moving forward.

BLACKWELL: I'm going to get to Scaramucci and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in a moment but Tom, let me come to you on the issue of Reince Priebus. Our White House reporting says he was treated like a junior staffer.

That he would call meetings and people didn't really feel compelled to attend. Was that his fault or was it the fault of the president in part for not empowering him? Did he weaken Reince Priebus?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it's fascinating because, you know, we think looking back on previous administrations of chief of staff as basically the last person before you get to the president, the gate keeper and clearly was not the case here.

You know, I think maybe part of that is adjusting our own expectations of what a title means. Remember, Anthony Scaramucci, the communications director, put out there that Priebus would be fired and a few days later he was. So, you know, these are all adjustments I think we all have to make in how we assess things. What was interesting to me is that this comes one year after Priebus and the RNC staff really helped Donald Trump finally secure the Republican nomination in Cleveland.

You know, towards the end there with all the never-Trump stuff that was going on, it was largely symbolic at that point, but it was really a sign of this effort to merge the establishment Republicans, the power of the Republican Party with Candidate Donald Trump, a consummate outsider and this marriage as Athena pointed out earlier, an easy marriage is over --

[06:10:09] BLACKWELL: And that was part of the reason for announcing Reince Priebus as chief of staff at the same time announcing Steve Bannon coming in as the chief strategist. So, my question then to you, Sarah, what is the message now to Washington that the former RNC chair is out of his White House job, the former RNC communications director, Sean Spicer, is out of his White House job. What is that message to D.C.?

WESTWOOD: Well, there was always a contingent of Trump allies and supporters, former campaign hands who were skeptical of the number of RNC alum who were brought into the White House, who've never believed that it was a good fit that they were serving the president well.

I think that you know, Sean Spicer struggled from the beginning to be the kind of aggressive voice at the podium that President Trump clearly wanted and Reince Priebus like Tom said really struggled to be the kind of conventional chief of staff that President Trump really needed.

John Kelly has run an incredibly tight ship at the Department of Homeland Security. President Trump frequently points to the progress that agency has made and so, the question is whether John Kelly will be able to get that type of control over the oval office.

Whether President Trump will empower him to have power over the staff to be able to fire people if more terminations need to be made. If he needs to reorganize the power structure and limit the contact of staff to President Trump to kind of quiet these dissenting voices, try to streamline decisions.

It's really up to the president in that regard whether John Kelly has the resources available to make the White House run a little more smoothly.

BLACKWELL: So Jeffrey, Tom just mentioned the Scaramucci interview with our colleague, Ryan Lizza, and in that, he, of course, said that Reince Priebus would be out soon, but he also said that there would be three or four more people who would be out. So, is this the end of the White House shakeup do you expect or are we just in the middle here?

LORD: I mean, my guess is probably not. When a new chief of staff comes in, he basically -- and just for the record, I was there in the Reagan White House when President Reagan fired Don Regan as chief of staff and brought in former Tennessee senator, Howard Baker as his successor.

And what happens is there are a number of positions around the chief of staff and others in the White House structure that the new staff generally thinks, you know, well, OK, I'm going to put my own folks in here or put in a different set of faces. So, I would imagine there may still be some to come.

BLACKWELL: Tom, quickly to you, in this discussion of Scaramucci who reports directly to the president, we know how the president puts a premium on his family, Jared Kushner, his senior advisor and son-in- law, Ivanka Trump, his daughter and senior advisor.

Do we know if there will be any adjustment adjustments made to their oval office privileges possibly circumventing the chief of staff position or if this will move into a traditional format where they have to go through this new chief of staff?

LOBIANCO: It's hard to tell at this point. You know, bringing Scaramucci on was important there because our reporting is that he had the backing of Jared and Ivanka. So that obviously strengthens their hand, but as, you know, Sarah pointed out, Scaramucci is a powerful figure and a blunt one as well.

Creating a whole new power center. These are all things that are in the air right now. I mean, there's a lot to watch. There's a lot of change all at once. Normally these things happen at a month at a time, and then maybe --

BLACKWELL: This all happened in a week of one another. We'll see how this free wielding communications director deals with this orderly straight-shooting general now as chief of staff.

Tom LoBianco, Sarah Westwood, and Jeffrey Lord, thank you all.

PAUL: Well, new this morning, the Iran Revolutionary Guard is reporting a new incident with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf. They say U.S. Navy aircraft carrier "USS Nimitz" fired warning flares at Iranian vessels.

Now the Iranian navy says the carrier and another American ship flew a helicopter near an oil and gas platform, and approached Iranian ships. This comes after a similar incident earlier this week. Iran and the U.S. frequently have run-ins in the Persian Gulf. CNN has reached out to the U.S. Navy for comment. We'll let you know what we hear from them.

BLACKWELL: A nuclear threat from North Korea, the country claims its missiles can now hit major U.S. cities. How the U.S. is responding.

PAUL: Also, Russia retaliates against the United States threatening to kick some Americans out of that country over new sanctions.

BLACKWELL: Also overnight, torrential rains, severe flooding, and high-water rescues hit the northeast. We have details on the severe weather threat for millions of people.



BLACKWELL: North Korea now has missiles that could hit major U.S. cities. That's the warning from missile experts after the regime's latest test launch.

PAUL: Analysts say a missile from North Korea could possibly strike anywhere from Los Angeles to Chicago and possibly beyond.

CNN international correspondent, Alexandra Field, is live for in Seoul, South Korea. Alex, the U.S. was quick to respond to this with statements

and also some military reaction we understand as well. What's happening?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Victor, Christi. Good morning. Look, the South Koreans were quick to say that the launch of this ICBM did in fact represent an advancement in range. It was just a couple of weeks ago that we saw the first launch of an ICBM from North Korea.

Experts had agreed at the time that that was a missile that could be capable of reaching Alaska. The latest news now with the latest launch being that this is a missile that could reach well farther into the U.S. mainland, by some estimates possibly as far as cities on the east coast.

So, the South Korean and U.S. military did not waste any time in responding to this. In the overnight hours here in South Korea, they conducted live fire exercises, even firing missiles into the ocean.

[06:20:05] This is a flexing of muscle, a show of force clearly intended to send a loud message to Pyongyang in response to this highly provocative action. President Trump saying that the U.S. would take all steps necessary to protect the U.S. homeland, the American Homeland.

Secretary of State Tillerson also quickly weighing in singling out Russia and China yet again calling them the principal economic enablers of a program that threatens not just regional but also global security.

He went on to say this, he said, "The United States seeks the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end to belligerent action by North Korea. As we and others have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea nor abandon our commitment to our allies and partners in the region."

Strong words, but that said, since President Donald Trump took office back in January, Kim Jong-Un has tested ballistic missiles on at least 12 occasions. This is a rapid acceleration of the program in just six years that he has been in power.

He has conducted more ballistic missile launches than his father or his grandfather combined. So, threats and sanctions don't seem to be having any impact on the leader of that regime.

While this test does certainly contribute to regional and global tensions, the response to the tests are also ratcheting up tensions. Here in South Korea, President Moon Jae-in said he would be working with the U.S. to deploy more launchers on a highly controversial missile defense system that is operated and designed by the United States.

This is a system that China and Russia have loudly objected to. China was quick to respond and again registering its discontent with that calling both the U.S. and South Korea to stop the further deployment of this system -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: All right, Alexandra Field, thank you so much for the update.

After some uncertainty, the White House says President Trump will sign the Russia sanctions bill. The proposal penalizes Russia and makes it harder for President Trump to ease those penalties without congressional approval.

BLACKWELL: Russia is already retaliating saying it will seize U.S. diplomatic properties like this one and demanding that the U.S. remove some of its diplomatic staff from the country.

CNN international correspondent, Claire Sebastian, live in Moscow for us. And Claire, this sounds like a delayed proportional response to the U.S. sanctions that were levied on Russia at the end of the Obama administration.

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, seven months later Russia it seems has finally run out of patience and they reacted yesterday even not waiting to hear what President Trump's next move would be on this bill.

But yes, you're right. This is what they're calling a mirror response to what the Obama administration did back in December. You'll remember, they seized two of Russia's diplomatic compounds in the U.S. and expelled 35 diplomats.

Now this Friday, we see Russia doing very much the same. They say they're going to block access to two diplomatic compounds that belong to the U.S. in Russia. That is (inaudible) country house and a storage facility.

That will be in effect from August 1st and they say they also want the U.S. to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia down to 455 people. That they say is the exact same number of Russian diplomatic personnel that are in the U.S. and that needs to be done by September the 1st.

But the question is why has Russia suddenly run out of patience? Suddenly the last few days seemed to be kind of a watershed in how they view the Trump administration and I think it's because of that overwhelming majority that voted for this bill in Congress and the fact that the bill ties the president's hands from lifting older sanctions. You remember, this was one of the major reasons why Russia had so much support for Trump as a candidate because of the many statements he made saying that he might be willing to lift sanctions.

Now we see a complete reversal of those hopes, but for the kremlin's part and the Foreign Ministry for that matter, they're saying that they are still willing to normalize relations with the U.S. if the U.S. should make that kind of move -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: And again, that sanctions bill headed to the president and the White House says he will sign it. Claire Sebastian, thank you so much.

All right, so, it's not the most visible role in the White House, but it could be one of the most crucial. Our next guest explains how a chief of staff can alter the course of a presidential administration.

PAUL: Also, widespread road closures throughout four states as record rainfall is falling throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Millions of people are under flood watches. Rescue crews are preparing. We'll give you the latest.



PAUL: You're up early. It's 6:28 on a Saturday morning. Good to have you as always. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good Saturday to you.

North Korea launches another missile and says the entire U.S. mainland is now within its reach. Experts say the latest missile could have gone as far as Chicago but the threat is expanding.

PAUL: Russia is turning threats into action as a sanctions bill heads to President Trump's desk. The kremlin seizing two embassy facilities and ordering U.S. diplomatic staff cuts in Russia. The White House says the president will sign this bill.

BLACKWELL: The fight within the White House continues. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is out just after just six months and General John Kelly will move from homeland security secretary to fill that post.

Now this was a rocky six-month term for outgoing Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. But in his first interview after resigning from the White House, he said he was proud of his work with the president and would always be on Team Trump.


PRIEBUS: I've been obviously talking to the president for a few days about this and ultimately, I formally resigned yesterday and you know, the president was great. [06:30:08] He wanted to include me in figuring out how and who would be a great successor and a good chief of staff. I think General Kelly is a brilliant pick and I just like I said, talked to him, talked to the president.

We'll be working on a transition here for a couple of weeks together with General Kelly starting on Monday morning so this isn't a -- this is not like a situation where there's a bunch of ill will feelings. This is, I think, good for the president, I think it's smart for him to pick General Kelly and I think that things are going to be run very well.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You say you resigned yesterday. Tell us why. Why did you make that important decision to resign?

PRIEBUS: Well, it wasn't -- it was something that I've always talked to the president about which is -- and I've always said to him and he always agreed with me. Any time either one of us think that we need to make a change or move in a different direction, let's just talk about it and get it done, and so I think the president thought about that and we talked about it yesterday and I resigned and he accepted my resignation.

But this is about the president, it's about moving his agenda forward. I think he made a smart decision with General Kelly and I think he's going to do a great job. And I'm looking forward to the future.

One other thing, I'm always going to be a Trump fan. I'm on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, our next guest says a chief of staff choice can make or break an administration.

Chris Whipple with us now. He's the author of the "Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency."

Thank you so much for being with us, Chris. React if you would, please --


PAUL: Of course. To what Reince Priebus was saying. Do you agree that General Kelly -- a general in this post will bring some change?

WHIPPLE: Well, you know, let me just begin by saying that as I listened to Priebus talking to Wolf Blitzer yesterday I couldn't help but be reminded of what something that Andy Card told to me. I spoke to all 17 living White House chiefs of staff. And Andy memorably said to me, if somebody tells to you that they're ready to leave the White House, they're probably lying. Nobody ever really wants to leave the White House. So bear that in mind when you hear Priebus talking about how happy everybody is with this reset. You know, Kelly has got -- may well have mission impossible. This is

a White House that is broke. It is a White House that hasn't been able to do anything right. It can't issue executive orders that are enforceable. It can't pass legislation. It can't prioritize the president's agenda. It can't get anybody on the same page.

You know, in a normal White House, all of that flows from an empowered White House chief of staff who can execute the president's agenda. That definitely was not Reince Priebus and as for Kelly, by the way, contrary to what somebody said on your program a minute ago, generals have generally not done well in this position. The only chief -- modern chief who was a general was Alexander Hague lasted a couple of days more than a month under Ford.

PAUL: Why is that?

WHIPPLE: Well, I think it's an extraordinarily difficult skill set that a White House chief has to have. You can't simply order around or strap people up to lie dictators to try to ferret out leaks. You have to be somebody who is grounded. You have to be somebody who is -- you know, Leon who along with Jim Baker was one of the best, was described as an iron fist in a velvet glove. And at the end of the day, the most important thing a chief must do is walk into the Oval Office, close the door and tell the president what we does not want to hear.

Now can anybody really imagine Donald Trump welcoming that kind of chief?

PAUL: Well, and there's an interesting viewpoint in the "Washington Post" this morning as they talk about why Priebus may have felt demeaned because Priebus has said he at one point felt demeaned by the president and the "Washington Post" said this.

"At one point during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overheard distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect."

This is according to someone familiar with the incident. How does the president's treatment of someone, particularly the chief of staff, set the tone for the power he will or not have?

WHIPPLE: Well, it's absolutely critical. It's fundamental. This all comes down to Donald Trump and whether he is constitutionally, and I don't mean by that the document, whether he is capable of empowering someone to, A, execute his agenda, and B, to tell him hard truths and that's the critical thing here.

[06:35:08] It's not for the faint of heart. You know, it's -- you've got to have somebody who quite frankly makes conditions. I mean, I don't know what conditions Kelly has made, if any, but one of them has to be that he's first among equals in the West Wing. That means that Scaramucci cannot report directly to the president. That way lies disaster. You know, Gerry Ford tried an approach like this where everybody came

and went from the Oval Office. Nobody empowered as first among equals. He called it the spokes of the wheel with the president at the center. It was a disaster.

PAUL: It was a disaster. All right. Well, last but not least, I wanted to ask you something that that you said. You said that a president reveals a lot about himself in the chief he picks. We know that the president had tried to get Kelly on board before. Several times we understand. He politely declined saying he had things to do at the DHS. But now that he has accepted what do you think this pick says about President Trump?

WHIPPLE: Well, first of all, you have to wonder why Kelly accepted. I mean, this, as I say, may well be mission impossible given the temperament and the character of the president he's about to serve and it all comes down to whether Donald Trump is ready to empower a White House chief of staff to do the things he has to do to salvage this presidency which may not be salvageable at this point.

One demand I think Kelly should make on day one is that he should simply take the president aside and say, look, I understand that Twitter is a weapon for you, it's very effective. But you're going to have to run the tweets by me first.

PAUL: All right. Chris Whipple, learned so much from you this morning. Thank you for being here.

WHIPPLE: Thanks for having me.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, still to come, another White House shakeup comes just hours after Congress hands the president a legislative defeat on health care. President Trump blames Democrats but where does the internal power struggle go from here and how will it impact his agenda? That's next.


[06:41:09] BLACKWELL: Forty-one minutes after the hour now.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is out, Republican Senators failed to repeal Obamacare and the White House's rolled out of its new transgender policy is still in limbo.

Now this was really a wild week in Washington that has some Republicans in some respect on the defense. Meanwhile Democrats are pushing a new economic agenda amid all that's going on.

Joining me now talk, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna. He serves on both the House Budget and Armed Services Committee.

Congressman Ro Khanna, good morning to you.

Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So let's first start with just your reaction, your response to the shakeup we've seen at the White House. Priebus out, Kelly in.

REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, it's a White House in disarray. And Republicans used to be known for prudent and leadership, and here you have a communications director making vulgar comments. It's something we've never seen before and they've lost focus on things that people care about which is jobs and the future for their kids and so the question is, when are they going to start focusing on actually making people's lives better.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about health care. The defeat that we saw late this week which would have been the big headline heading into the weekend but of course we've now seen this shakeup.

I want you to listen to one of your House colleagues, Chris Stewart, and his discussion of Democrats and your party's role in health care and legislation moving forward.


REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: People say to me all the time, well, will you work with the Democrats? And I respond two ways. One is we've tried to work for the Democrats and the second is, I don't know a single Democratic proposal other than spending more money. And I just don't know what we do know. I want to say -- you know, I'm not hopeless about it but I am very frustrated.


BLACKWELL: So there are some plans that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Assisting people who live in counties where there are no options under the ACA, making premiums and payouts a little cheaper for the poor.

The question is, how do you get consensus around those, momentum, and get a vote?

KHANNA: Well, I think we've also put plans to lower the costs. For example, one area is drug companies. There have been plans the president ran on, allowing for the importation of drugs or allowing Medicare to negotiate drugs so that people don't have to pay so much for their prescription drugs. That's something where if the White House were to lead you could get a vote.

And other is the cost of insurance. I mean people hate the idea that insurance CEOs are making $20 million, $30 million a year, and overcharging while their premiums are going up. There are ways we can help reduce the cost on that. And finally hospital fees. The facility fees that hospitals are charging and overcharging American taxpayers so there are a number of proposals.

What we really need is the White House to get behind some of the campaign promises that the president made. But the Democrats have a number of bills that not only increase coverage but also go to costs.

BLACKWELL: How do you get them to vote, though, is the question. How do you get leadership to try to get these in front of some of these committees?

KHANNA: Well, I think we've tried. I mean, we're working with some of the Republican colleagues. In many cases they have Republican rank-and-file support. And the question is, how do we get the Republican leadership to allow them for a vote. And the only way that's going to happen in my judgment is if the White House comes out for some of these things.

The interesting point is that the White House, the president campaigned for allowing the importation of drugs, on going after hospital fees, so if the White House were to say look, we're going to try to fulfill some of these campaign promises there are bipartisan bills. Leadership, bring this to a vote and maybe it will come for a vote. But so far the Republican leadership has not brought up any really Democratic bills. Of the 43 bills that have passed I think there have only been two Democratic bills. So they've just not been bringing them up to the floor.

[06:45:03] BLACKWELL: So, Congressman Khanna, this week, Democrats rolled out this new rebranding effort, "A Better Deal." Maybe that's what they're going to run on in 2018. We heard from some of the potential candidates in 2018 who are going to be running for House seats who have called this hallow, underwhelming and the same old rhetoric.

What's your response to that reaction and do Democrats need a nationwide slogan in 2018 to run under?

KHANNA: Well, I think it's encouraging that we're now focused on jobs and wages and helping the -- helping the economy and there's some very concrete parts of the plan. It talks about investment in communities that have gone through de-industrialization, taking on economic concentration, figuring out how we're going to create apprenticeships and the skilled trades and jobs of the future.

So I am encouraged that there are candidates running across the country. They should tailor the message with their districts and be bold and inspiring. But I am glad that we're at least now focusing on jobs and wages, which is I think what most Americans care about.

BLACKWELL: So you're also a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus as well and this week the president via a statement released on Twitter issued this ban on transgenders serving in any capacity in the military.

There has been pushback -- bipartisan pushback and it seems that members of the military, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were caught off-guard by this. What will be your response? Is there some way to push back legislatively against this ban from the president?

KHANNA: There is. I mean, it's clearly a discriminatory policy. It's moving the clock backwards. I didn't think this kind of discrimination would take place in the 21st century.

Joe Kennedy, who leads the LGBT caucus in Congress, called a lot of us. We had a major press conference. He and others are going to be putting forth legislation. And I'm glad the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that he's not going to implement something based on tweets. There's a process to this and policy. And so far there has been no directive and we in Congress are going to fight to make sure that that doesn't happen. I mean, this is rank discrimination.

BLACKWELL: Congress Ro Khanna of California, thanks for being on NEW DAY.

KHANNA: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: Sure -- Christi.

PAUL: Well, severe storms throughout the mid-Atlantic have knocked out power to thousands this morning. Swift water rescue teams are preparing. Millions of people are still under a flood watch.

We're taking a closer look for you at the severe weather forecast.


[06:51:56] BLACKWELL: Nearly 2800 people are without power this morning after a rare nor'easter storm caused several states to go through some severe flooding.

PAUL: And well, you see a lot of it right there. Record rainfall in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia has prompted widespread road closures, damaged several structures, we understand, and more than 20 million of you are still under this flood watch we know this morning as daily rainfall records have already been broken.

Activating swift water rescue teams throughout that same region, so CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is in the Weather Center with us right now.

So good to see you, Jennifer. Help us understand what's happening and what is to come.


PAUL: What a mess. All right, Jennifer, thank you so much.

A shocking result from a new CTE study has one NFL star pondering his future.

Andy Scholes, what's going on?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger amidst concerns about the degenerative brain disease could factor in how long he continues to play in the NFL. Find out what he had to say. That's coming up on this morning's "Bleacher Report."


[06:58:24] BLACKWELL: A new study linking football to the degenerative brain disease CTE has a lot of NFL players a bit shaken including a two-time Super Bowl champion.

PAUL: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report.'

SCHOLES: Yes, good morning, guys. So Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is really the first big NFL star to come out and say that these new findings considering CTE are going to have a specific role on when he decides to retire from the NFL. The 35-year-old quarterback, he actually contemplated retirement this past off-season before ultimately deciding to return for his 14th season.

Now Roethlisberger telling the "Tribune Review," quote, "I want to play catch with my kids. I want to know my kids' names as much as I want my kids remember what I did and watch me play the game of football. I also want to remember them when I'm 70 years old."

Now a recent Boston University study released this week showed that 110 of the 111 former NFL players' brains that were examined had the degenerative brain disease known as CTE. Now this disease is caused by repeated trauma to the head. It can only be diagnosed after death.

Now Roethlisberger who's had multiple concussions in his career and he said in regards to this new CTE study, quote, "This shows there's nothing to mess with. If you want to mess with your brain, you can't put a new one in, you can't have a brain transplant. If you want to mess with your brain, go ahead. I'm not going to. I love my family and kids."

Roethlisberger added that he's going to be wearing a new helmet this season that is scanned specifically to fit snugly on his head.

Now earlier this week Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel abruptly retired from football at the age of 26. Urschel did not cite the new CTE study as the recent forced retirement but he had written about player safety in the past. Urschel, also a math genius guys, he's pursuing his doctorate at MIT and is going to be taking classes there in the fall. And he said in the past that it really doesn't make much sense for him to play football but he loves it so much he's going to continue to do it. But I guess at this point --