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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Assails Major Parts of Obama's Legacy; Trump to Dems: 'Come to Me' and Negotiate on Health Care; Trump Decertifies Iran Nuclear Deal But Doesn't End It; Pelosi Asked About "World War III"; Pelosi Reacts To Trump Feud With Top GOP Senator; Sheriff Clarifies Timeline Of Las Vegas Mass Shooting; Trump Assails Major Parts Of Obama Legacy; In Or Out. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 13, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, raw deal. President Trump accuses Iran of cheating on its agreement to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, even though top members of his own administration say that isn't the case. Tonight, he's forcing Congress to make the next move. Will the president's refusal to certify Iran's compliance open the way to a better deal or isolate the United States?
Raising premiums? In his most direct assault yet on Obamacare, President Trump puts a stop to subsidies designed to help millions of lower-income Americans afford insurance. He calls the money payouts to insurance companies. But will people who voted for the president now see their health care costs soar by thousands of dollars?
No conspiracy. In a combative and emotional news conference, the sheriff leading the investigation into the Las Vegas massacre angrily denies allegations of incompetence. He also reveals the killer targeted police and revises the timeline of what happened and when. But are we any closer to understanding why he opened fire on thousands of concertgoers?
And high winds. Forecasters now fear 60-mile-an-hour winds will push California's wildfires into more neighborhoods. With the death toll rising and hundreds listed as missing, could California's worst wildfire season get even worse this weekend?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories as President Trump took major steps to keep his campaign promises, rolling back significant parts of former President Obama's legacy.
This afternoon, the president announced he will not certify that Iran is complying with terms of the nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration. He stopped short of pulling the United States out of the multinational agreement, but accused Iran of violating the deal's spirit and some of its provisions. The president's actions are drawing anger in Iran and pushback from Russia. Also this afternoon, the president told Democrats -- and I'm quoting
now -- "Come to me and negotiate on health care." His demand comes as his administration stopped reimbursing insurance companies for providing lower cost, lower deductible Obamacare policies to millions of lower income Americans. Angry Democrats accuse the president of deliberately sabotaging the Affordable Care Act that he failed to get Congress to repeal and replace.
Also breaking, in a defensive and emotional news conference, the sheriff leading the investigation into the Las Vegas mass shooting clarifies the timeline of what happened once again and says the killer targeted police. The sheriff also says he is absolutely offended by allegations his investigation is incompetent.
Meanwhile, President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM. He'll take our questions about Obamacare and more. And our correspondents and analysts, specialists, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's start with our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president is trying to live up to his campaign promises by taking down two major parts of the Obama legacy, involving health care and the Iran nuclear deal.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. President Trump spent the day chipping away at Barack Obama's legacy by going after two of the former president's signature achievement, Obamacare and, as you said, the Iran nuclear deal.
The president defended those decisions as well as handling of Puerto Rico, claiming that he, in fact, loves the people on the island.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Today, President Trump turned his campaign rhetoric into action, threatening to unravel the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, but only after he kicks the issue to Congress, giving lawmakers a chance to toughen the agreement. If Congress fails to act, he warns, he may scrap the deal.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I may do that. I may do that. The deal is terrible. So what we've done is, through the certification process, we'll have Congress take a look at it, and I may very well do that.
ACOSTA: The president arrived at his policy after senior leaders in his own cabinet pleaded for him to stay in the agreement now. The president was still in a defiant mood, insisting that Iran had violated the agreement.
TRUMP: The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement.
ACOSTA: Just one day after his own secretary of state told reporters, quote, "We don't disagree. We don't dispute that Iran is under technical compliance." Still, the president's move stops well short of his campaign threats to completely pull out of the agreement.
TRUMP: Our leaders never read "The Art of the Deal," one of the great books, of course. The Iran deal, this recent deal which is a catastrophe.
ACOSTA: The president is taking dramatic action to undermine another piece of Barack Obama's legacy, Obamacare. Ending the payments to insurance companies that help provide health care to lower income enrollees.
[17:05:06] TRUMP: And one by one it's going to come down.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump said his actions won't harm the poor.
(on camera): Mr. President, aren't you concerned about poor people losing health care?
TRUMP: No, because I think what we'll do is we'll be able to renegotiate so that everybody gets -- we just took care of a big chunk, and now we'll take care of the other chunk. What would be nice, if the Democratic leaders could come over to the White House, we'll negotiate some deal that's good for everybody.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Experts say the president's move will hike rates for both middle-class and lower-income Americans at an estimated cost to the government of more than $7 billion next year. The president is acting to dismantle Obamacare, even though he said he would let it collapse on its own earlier this year.
TRUMP: Let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier. And I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail.
ACOSTA: Holding an impromptu mini news conference on the South Lawn of the White House -- the president also defended his actions in Puerto Rico, including his tweets slamming local leaders on the island, as well as his warning that assistance won't last forever.
(on camera): Why do you keep going after Puerto Rico and saying you won't stay there forever?
TRUMP: We've done a great job.
ACOSTA: You didn't say that about Texas or Louisiana. You say it about Puerto Rico. Why?
TRUMP: We've done a great job in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has to get the infrastructure going. We're helping them with their infrastructure.
ACOSTA: Now, as for the Iran deal, there are mixed messages coming from the administration. While the president said today that he may end up cancelling the agreement altogether, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the U.S. would remain in the deal if Congress does nothing. And it's unclear Republican lawmakers will be able to find the votes on Iran when they have failed to act on so many other fronts -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.
We're going to have much more on the Iran deal in a few moments, but first, let's get to the president's moves to change the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. Despite the president's call for Democrats to come and negotiate about health care, they're furious right now about his refusal to pay the Obamacare subsidies.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is accusing the president of the United States of deliberately forcing up the cost of health insurance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Make no mistake: last night the president single-handedly decided to raise America's health premiums for no reason except spite and cruelty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is up on Capitol Hill.
Phil, despite Republicans' total contempt for Obamacare, is it possible they may take action to undo what the president has actually done today?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Wolf, and that's because of the Republican conference. It is not unified on this issue specifically.
Now, absolutely, they are opposed to Obamacare. They want to repeal and replace the law, even though they haven't figured out a way to do that legislatively yet.
But when it comes to these payments, when it comes to these subsidies, a lot of Republicans, including high-ranking Republicans, like Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, like House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady say these subsidies are necessary so long as Obamacare is the law, and a fix is needed.
Now Wolf, Republican leaders at least publicly haven't tipped their hand on what their next steps are. But I can tell you, behind the scenes, several aides have told me this has led to an extremely complicated process going forward. On the policy, they are very cognizant of what this could do to insurance markets, what this could do to individuals who receive subsidies through Obamacare, specifically to their premiums.
On the politics, there's also a recognition, as you heard from Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrats are absolutely going to say that this has to be in any spending deal or any future deal before the end of the year, and they recognize for their members, for the policy and the politics, this is going to be very complicated.
And think -- and keep in mind, Wolf, they have a very complicated next ten weeks already on the schedule. This only adds to that.
BLITZER: Certainly does. Phil, was this move by the president done in concert with Republicans up on Capitol Hill where you are? Did they know this was coming? Because lawmakers will have to take action even though they have had some trouble doing much so far.
MATTINGLY: Wolf, I'm told that this was a complete surprise to several, if not all, Republican leaders here on Capitol Hill. Many of them reading about it before hearing anything from the administration.
Now, look, keep in mind, Republicans in 2014, House Republicans, actually launched the lawsuit that found that these subsidies were unconstitutional, that they should be appropriated by Congress. They are opposed to the subsidies.
But implicitly, they were more than willing to accept the administration continuing to pay them until they found a pathway forward. Now as I noted, the idea that the administration would move forward on this not flag this for congressional leaders heading into this kind of very contentious debate has created all sorts of complications here as they try and almost thread the needle here on an issue that has already divided their conference, and as they are very cognizant of, could create major problems in insurance markets, which could have a fallout not just on the policy side but also the political side, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly could. All right. Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM is President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney.
Director Mulvaney, thanks very much for joining us.
[17:10:03] MICK MULVANEY, Wolf, thank you very much for having me.
The criticism you're getting, not just from Democrats but even Republicans who are telling you, you just heard this comes as a surprise, that this step to remove these subsidies is going to wind up hurting a whole bunch of people who wound up voting for the president of the United States. Their premiums are going to skyrocket as a result of this.
MULVANEY: Yes. I had a chance to watch the presentation of various folks who just spoke there, and it was interesting that they used the same language, subsidies to people, subsidies to folks. That's not what these are, Wolf. This is money -- if you follow the money here, which is what we do at the Office of Management and Budget. These are checks from the treasury to some of the largest health insurance companies in the country. That's what this was. This was not a subsidy to you or me or anybody else who's on Obamacare.
BLITZER: All these subsidies are designed to subsidize premiums for individuals.
MULVANEY: And those companies are already required by law to keep the premiums at a certain level. What this was was essentially a pay-off to the insurance companies to support Obamacare in the first place back in 2009/2010. It's been a terrible policy. And only at the very end of the last segment there that you saw was the comment about how they're unconstitutional. This money was never appropriated. In fact, I was in the House in 2014 when I voted to give Paul Ryan the ability to file a lawsuit on this, because these monies cannot be...
BLITZER: But aren't you concerned if you remove these subsidies a lot of these big insurance companies are going to pull out and not provide any insurance to these individuals? It's going to -- the competition is going to go way, way down. Some people won't be able to get anything.
MULVANEY: I'm absolutely -- I welcome the left, the Democrat Party to the conversation about what it's like to have insurance companies pull out on states...
BLITZER: These are Republicans who are worried about that.
MULVANEY: Well, the point of the matter, though, is that it seems like the Democrats were not very concerned about premiums going up when they went up because of Obamacare in the first place. They weren't very concerned about bare counties back when we had them. These payments are payments to insurance companies.
I cannot believe that Nancy Pelosi was just on your screen there defending bailout payments to large corporations. Typically, the Democrats are against that. So it's sort of like the shoe is on the other foot here. The bottom is these are bad policy, and the payments are not appropriate.
BLITZER: Once again, they're designed as subsidies to help with the premiums for individuals. The premiums are going to go up if the subsidies go away.
But here's the other criticism, that the president is doing this because he wants to see Obamacare fail.
MULVANEY: Again, the president doesn't want to write a check of your and my tax money to these large health insurance companies that are making hundreds of millions of dollars.
Let's make -- let's be perfectly clear. These companies have done extraordinarily well since Obamacare became the law of the land. And the president didn't want to simply stand by and see that continue to happen. That, married to the fact that these are unappropriated payments -- and you and I know what that means. It means Congress made no appropriation for this. The Department of Justice came out with a letter earlier this week, said they can no longer defend the Obama position that these are legal payments, and we had to stop them.
BLITZER: Does the president want to see Obamacare fail?
MULVANEY: I think the president, along with most of us, know that Obamacare is failing on its own and didn't need any help to do so. We've made this decision because it was bad policy and because the payments were...
BLITZER: But this will speed it up?
MULVANEY: It was going fast enough as it is. If you're willing to admit to me here tonight that Obamacare is going to fail and that we need to repeal and replace it, I'll agree with your premise.
BLITZER: The Congressional Budget Office still says it's relatively stable right now.
But let me read to you what the president tweeted this morning: "The Democrats' Obamacare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix."
BLITZER: All right, so if they call the president to fix, is he willing to sit down with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leadership, the Republican leadership, and come up with a plan to fix the problems of the Affordable Care Act but stop short of repealing it?
MULVANEY: I think that word depends on who you're talking to. We are interested in repealing Obamacare and replacing it with something better.
BLITZER: But that's not going to happen.
MULVANEY: If the Democrats want to fund that, fixing Obamacare.
BLITZER: You're not going to have a chance to do that, at least according to the legislative director at the White House, Marc Short, who was here yesterday, until at least the spring of next year. That will be the first time you'll have a chance to repeal and replace.
In the intermediate time, Director Mulvaney, are you willing to sit down with the Democrats and come up with some improvements that both sides can agree on?
MULVANEY: If it's -- if it's better for the American people and it's better for the public, it's better for health care in this nation, why would the Democrats be against it just because it repeals Obamacare? Because his name is on the front part of that?
BLITZER: You know they're not going to accept anything that repeals Obamacare.
MULVANEY: Why not?
BLITZER: That's their position.
MULVANEY: And it is. If you ask them why...
BLITZER: They say they're willing to fix. They're willing to improve it. They know there are problems. They're willing to improve it. And you have a Republican senator, Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray, a Democrat, they're working to try to fix it right now, stopping short of repealing and replacing. Are you willing to go along with Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray?
MULVANEY: My understanding -- and I could have this wrong -- but my understanding of the Lamar Alexander/Patty Murray bill was to simply appropriate these unappropriated payments. Appropriate or legalize...
BLITZER: To improve the current system.
MULVANEY: Well, no, to fix the problem.
[17:15:00] BLITZER: But would you go along with Lamar Alexander on that?
MULVANEY: I think I've said a couple of times today that, if it's just a clean bill. If what -- the only thing that Congress can do is to try and force the administration to bail out these insurance companies. The answer is no.
If they're interested in talking about health care more widely, to fix it in the Democrats' word, to repeal and replace in our words, the answer is absolute yes. The president is interested in working with anybody who wants to work with him.
BLITZER: "Democrats should call me to fix." And he's suggested that on a number of occasions. Apparently had a pretty good dinner not too long ago with Chuck and Nancy, as he likes to call them. So are you confident that something with the Democrats can be worked out in the interim?
MULVANEY: I was at the dinner, the Chuck and Nancy Chinese food dinner. I'm absolutely confident something could get done on DACA, because the president wants to see it; so many people do.
BLITZER: On the DREAMers. But what about on health care?
MULVANEY: DACA and the DREAM Act are two entirely different things.
But on health care, the president's interested in making this system better. We call that repeal and replace. It's what we want to do. If anybody wants to help us do that, that's fine.
BLITZER: The president has promised, as you know repeatedly, cheaper, better health care. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that premiums will rise 20 percent, on average, for what's called the silver level plan in 2018. Is the president keeping his promise?
MULVANEY: Fascinated how they could do that so quickly, and yet they can't score Graham-Cassidy in a month when we give it to them. But that's another story entirely.
Here's how I would answer that. Yesterday -- and this didn't get discussed in the opening segment of the show. The president took some sweeping actions to actually lower premiums for millions of Americans. The associated health plans, the short-term limited-duration plans, some of the other things we're doing yesterday in that executive order, will dramatically lower premiums on folks. It's what the president wants to do.
The reason we took the action today that we did on the CSR payments, the cost-sharing reduction payments, is because they were terrible policy giving money to companies that don't need it. And they were not...
BLITZER: We did cover that extensively yesterday with the president...
MULVANEY: Thank you.
BLITZER: ... when he announced yesterday that he signed that executive order.
But what will the president say to the millions of Americans potentially out there -- and you're familiar, a former member of Congress -- whose premiums are about to go up as a result of the decision? He had the Justice Department take today.
MULVANEY: Keep in mind, most of the insurance companies, in fact, I think the only exception is in North Dakota, South Dakota and Arizona. Most of the insurance companies who filed their proposed rates for next year have already assumed that these payments were not being made. So there's not going to be any additional increase over what they...
BLITZER: You don't think premiums will go up for a lot of Americans as a result of this?
MULVANEY: I think -- premiums are already going to go up.
BLITZER: But will they go up?
MULVANEY: Premiums have gone up every single year under Obamacare. If insurance companies want to try and raise their rates because they're no longer getting a bailout, that's their problem.
BLITZER: Let me get -- before I let you go, you're the budget director. Tax cuts, that's a big proposal the president wants to move forward. When you were a member of Congress -- and I remember this well -- you were a big deficit hawk.
The Congressional Budget Office now estimating that if these proposed tax cuts, the tax reform that the president is putting forward, go up, it could increase the deficit by trillions, trillions of dollars. Are you ready to accept that?
MULVANEY: I'm not familiar with that. I've seen the report from the Tax Policy Center. I didn't realize the CBO had scored this yet.
BLITZER: They haven't scored it yet, but there's a preliminary estimate that it could be trillions of dollars. MULVANEY: OK. Well, again, the CBO's job is to score proposed
legislation. There isn't any proposed legislation. But let me deal to the larger issue of proposed deficits. Keep in mind, the Senate instructions on the budget, the Senate, I think, will take up the end of next week, will cap that potential impact on the deficit at $1.5 trillion over the next few years.
BLITZER: Are you -- are you ready to go with $1.5 billion [SIC] increase in the national debt, the deficit, if your legislation goes through?
MULVANEY: I've said many, many times the only way we're going to balance the budget, OK, in the current atmosphere in Washington, D.C., is fiscal restraint, growing government more slowly than we otherwise would, plus economic growth. And that's what we think the effects will be...
BLITZER: But a trillion and a half dollars, you're willing to see it go up a trillion -- $1.5 trillion?
MULVANEY: If you're 30 years old...
BLITZER: When you were in Congress, you wouldn't have accepted that.
MULVANEY: If you're 30 years old and you're watching this program, Wolf, you've never lived and worked in this country as an adult with a healthy American economy. It is a tremendous wealth-creating machine for the rich, the middle class and the poor alike. And we will do everything in our -- that we possibly can to get back to that. And if that means taking short-term increases in deficits, yes.
BLITZER: So you're willing to go along with it. Because as you know, a lot of Republicans in the House and the Senate, they say they want tax cuts, but they don't want it -- they want it to be deficit neutral. They don't want to see $1.5 trillion increase in the national debt to pay for these kinds of tax cuts.
MULVANEY: I am not the only deficit hawk in this town who wants to see economic growth and is willing to incur short-term increases in the deficit in order to get that. That is the only way you actually pay off the -- excuse me, balance the budget.
It's what happened in the 1990s. Slower growth in government expenditures and tremendous economic growth. That's how we balanced the budget in the past. That's how we're going to do it again.
BLITZER: One final question on the health care. As you saw the polls, more Americans thought Obamacare was working. They didn't necessarily like -- in the numbers that they supported Obamacare repeal and replace. Are you willing to keep on pushing for repeal and replace, even though
a minority of Americans say that's the way to go?
[17:20:05] MULVANEY: You know, I'd love to see a poll of the people actually on Obamacare. People don't realize this. When I was in Congress, I was on Obamacare, and it was terrible. I lost my doctor. My wife lost her doctor. My kids lost their doctor. Our premiums went up. Our co-pays went up. It cost us a fortune to be on that program. We had insurance, but it cost us tens of thousands of dollars to...
BLITZER: But there -- there are, what, 20 million more Americans, at least they have some insurance. Isn't that good?
MULVANEY: Well, there's 28 million people right now who don't have insurance despite Obamacare, which is why what we did yesterday was so important.
BLITZER: So there's a lot of work that you guys need to do. But the repeal and replace, you agree with Marc Short, the legislative director of the White House: it's not going to happen, repeal and replace, at least until spring of next year?
MULVANEY: I think that's probably fair. If the Senate wants to pass it next week, they're welcome to, and we welcome that. But I don't see that happening.
BLITZER: They had plenty of opportunities.
MULVANEY: Yes, they did.
BLITZER: Didn't happen yet.
MULVANEY: Yes, they did.
BLITZER: Mick Mulvaney, thanks very much for coming in.
MULVANEY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: The director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Up next, will Democrats take up the president's offer to negotiate on health care? I'll ask Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego, whose home state has seen a very dramatic spike in Obamacare premiums.
Plus, more details emerging right now about President Trump's charge that Iran is violating both the spirit and the terms of the deal on its nuclear program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Finally, we will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:25:52] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories over at the White House, where President Trump is trying to fulfill two major campaign promises to take down Barack Obama's legacy. This afternoon, he refused to certify that Iran is complying with the
nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration, and after stopping payments designed to help lower income Americans afford Obamacare insurance policies, the president called on Democrats to negotiate with him about health care.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. You just heard the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, make his case why what the president is doing on health care -- we'll start with health care -- is the right thing to do. Let me get your reaction.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Well, first of all, it's not based on any type of legislative reality. Republicans have full control of the House, the Senate and the presidency. And they couldn't even get their own bill for repeal and replace through. And now they expect the Democrats to come and bail them out.
The problem is that this is their doing. The president broke it. This is now Trumpcare, and now he has to work with us to fix it. And the only way we're going to fix it is we're going to go forward. We're not going to go backwards. We're only going to make sure that more Americans are covered and not less. And we're certainly not going to do it, you know, with a gun to our head.
So I think the president and Mr. Mulvaney really need to get with reality and just realize what they actually did. Because of their ego, because they wanted to fulfill a campaign promise, they just raised premiums on millions of Americans; essentially a tax on working-class Americans that did not exist yesterday will now start existing.
BLITZER: Let's be specific, Congressman. What does it mean for your constituents, families in Arizona, who are eligible for these subsidized premiums?
GALLEGO: Well, first of all, Arizona is in a tougher position, because we had assumed, our insurance agencies had assumed that we would have the subsidies going throughout the year, and they adjusted the premiums to that assumption. So now premiums are definitely going to go up.
Secondly, without the subsidies that used to be able to compensate for rising premiums, many of my Arizona citizens are going to basically go without. According to the CBO, next year, 1 million Americans are going to have less health insurance. And that was just at the sign of the pen of the president. Because of his actions, his reckless actions, 1 million Americans will have less -- will not have health insurance.
BLITZER: Even before the president...
GALLEGO: Many of those will be Arizonans. BLITZER: But even before the president did anything, what, premiums
for those on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, in your state, Arizona, went up 100 percent.
GALLEGO: Certainly, they've been going up, and we had seen that in Arizona for a couple of years.
At the same time, the subsidies that were being provided were helping a lot of these working-class Americans actually pay for that health insurance. And at the end of the day, we had seen a curtailing of the premiums, in terms of how fast it was growing -- going up year by year. Last year, it was up to 6 percent. We had anticipated this year it would be 3 percent. Obviously, that's now going to change because of this rash action by the president.
BLITZER: The president tweeted this this morning. I'll read it. "The Democrats' Obamacare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix."
Are you ready, you and your Democratic colleagues, to call the president to fix Obamacare, to improve it and make it better for millions of Americans?
GALLEGO: Look, we always have been. If you look at what was going on in the Senate, we had Senator Lamar Alexander pushing a bipartisan bill to actually help stabilize the markets. The Democrats have offered many, many amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act to improve it.
But first of all, we don't actually understand what the president wants. To begin with, the president doesn't actually understand insurance policy, doesn't understand health insurance. And, you know, from conversations we've heard with other members of Congress, he's more interested in the headline of "repeal and replace" than the actual substance of policy.
At the end of the day, we're going to do whatever we can to improve our health care system and bring down costs. We can start by having a bipartisan agreement in bringing down the cost of prescriptions. Something that I think the president has talked about but has done no action.
If the government actually competed and made prescription companies compete for government contracts, we'd save billions and billions of dollars and bring down the health care costs of millions of Americans.
But of course, this president really is all talk and no action and, again, he's just expecting Congress to fulfill his promises because he doesn't have the power nor the wherewithal to do it himself.
BLITZER: Yesterday, here are the situations on the White House Director of Legislator Affairs Mark Short, told me and our viewers that the administration, his words, has the commitments for the votes to try another repeal and replacement of Obamacare next spring, the spring of 2018. But not necessarily before then. What do you make of that?
GALLEGO: Well, you know, I would be shocked that they would be dumb enough to make a move like that in an election year. Many of their members have already feel -- especially in Congress, many moderate Republicans already feel burned that they were made to walk the plank by Speaker Ryan with no end result at the end. And now because subsidies are going to be going up, many of these Republicans are going to be associated with Trumpcare and the rising premiums that have come with it. So the only way forward really is to work with us in a bipartisan manner to actually improve the affordable health care system or Obamacare, whatever they want to call it, and not actually try to destroy it. And if you actually want to try to raise, you know, the, "premium tax on working-class Americans in an election year," you're welcome to do that. And I'll gladly be in the majority again.
BLITZER: One final question, Congressman, before I let you go, I know you're a military veteran. You're a member of the Armed Services Committee. In your opinion, what are the repercussions of the president's decision today not to certify the Iran Nuclear Deal and in effect throw all of this, the controversy in the lap of Congress?
GALLEGO: Well, it's deeply irresponsible. First of all, again, to fulfill a campaign and his ego, he went and destroyed a regime, a program that was not the best, but it was definitely doing one thing which is keeping Iran within compliance. And while I was sitting on the Armed Services Committee, I actually asked secretary -- the secretary of defense whether or not Iran was in compliance if he recommended that we stayed within the JCPOA and the Secretary of Defense, Mattis, said, yes, yes, we should. So why are we taking these routes? Well, one, it's not for any type of foreign security but really to fulfill the president's ego. Two, it's really not really the problem of Congress, the problem that what it pushed up in Congress and the president's problem, the problem is what does this mean for the rest of our partners around the world? It's very difficult to get Russia, China, France, and now even the European Union onboard to all agree to one set of standards. And by us pulling out of this, we actually end up isolating ourselves instead of isolating Iran. And lastly, if we want to actually end up in a peaceful settlement in some sort with our nuclear standoff with North Korea, doing these types of actions does not encourage peaceful end to that problem. Because why would you deal with the United States if you have an erratic president at any point will basically terminate a multilateral, multi-nation agreement? That's not rational acting. And the United States always needs to be a rational actor on the world stage or else you're going to have a lot of bad outcomes. And what the United States Congress has to do basically at this point is fix the irresponsible action of this administration again.
BLITZER: Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Thanks for joining us.
GALLEGO: Thank you. BLITZER: Coming up, new changes in the timeline of the Las Vegas mass shooting but the sheriff angrily rejecting allegations that his investigation is incompetent. And does the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, agree with Senator Bob Corker's assertion that President Trump may be pushing the U.S. toward World War III? Stay with us for her surprising answer.
[17:38:08] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. President Trump announcing this afternoon that he won't certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration. That decision could put the entire agreement in jeopardy, depending on the next steps taken by Congress. Our national security and political experts are here to discuss. And Jim Sciutto, the implications of this are very, very significant what the president said today.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And listen, he took it a step forward from what even Secretary Tillerson was setting this up for in a conversation with reporters yesterday. He made his message yesterday was that, listen, Congress has to take a look at this. If they don't make a change, the fact of the matter is, the deal stays in place. But the president -- and he said this more than once today, he said this -- when he made his statement he said this on the south lawn as he left if Congress doesn't makes changes that he finds sufficient, he said he will terminate the deal. Now, the president could find a way to back off that promise at a later date. That was a more forward-leaning position than we expected going into. It is more than a punt. I mean, this is a punt with potential, you know, real hard consequences.
BLITZER: And there is a move among many Republicans right now in the House and the Senate to impose additional sanctions against Iran, and the Iranians presumably would respond to that.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, absolutely. If you -- look, a deal was negotiated. The secretary of defense and other national security officials in the administration and the international monitors have all asserted that they're -- that they're abiding by the agreement, so changing the terms would be viewed by the Iranians as bad faith, as breaking -- essentially breaking the contract. The president doesn't seem to feel there are consequences to this, but there are, not just in terms of the Iranians but our international partners who also were at the table and made this agreement and want the United States to stay a party to them. So there are a lot of ramifications of this.
BLITZER: Yes. And David makes a good point, Kaitlan, about several of the president's top national security advisers saying something very different than what we heard from the president. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:40:12] JOSEPH DUNFORD, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS GENERAL: Iran is not in material breach of the agreement, and I do believe the agreement to date has delayed the development of a nuclear capability by Iran.
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: My view on the nuclear deal is they are in technical compliance of the nuclear arrangement.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Do you believe it's in our national security interests at the present time to remain in the JCPOA? That's a yes-or-no question.
JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Yes, senator, I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's the Secretary of Defense James Mattis. But the president disagrees with that.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. It just shows us how often the president's instincts on national security run in opposition to his actual national security team, except we're seeing it play out in the public here instead of in the other situation room. But what this reminds me of is a comment the president made the other day in the Oval Office. He was asked if he and Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, are on the same page in regards to North Korea and the president said that they have different attitudes. He has a little bit of a different attitude. But in the end, his is the one that matters and that's the way the system works.
SCIUTTO: The president said today that Iran has had in his words multiple violations of disagreement. That's a statement that does not stand up to the facts. And don't take our word for it, listen to his secretary of defense and others advising the president on this. But by the terms of this deal which affected its nuclear program only, not missile issues, not support for terrorism, et cetera, Iran by all accounts, his most senior advisers, every U.S. ally, the British, the French and the Germans released a statement today saying exactly that, they're in compliance. And of course Russia and China. The IAEA today which oversees this agreement said again, Iran is in compliance. So the president said today, Iran has had multiple violations. That's just not true.
AXELROD: And Wolf --
BLITZER: The IAEA is the International Atomic Energy Agency.
AXELROD: If you're North --
BLITZER: Which is monitoring the situation.
AXELROD: If you're North Korea or anyone else in the world looking at this, you have to ask yourself, if I enter into an agreement with the United States, will the United States keep that agreement? And that's not a question that would have been asked six months ago or a year ago.
BLITZER: You know, you have an important interview coming up on "THE AXE FILES" this weekend and I want to play (INAUDIBLE) with Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat, the Democratic leader in the House. You spoke to her about Bob Corker's exchange, nasty exchange that he had with the president of the United States especially his concern, some of his policies could learn to -- could lead to World War III. Let's play this clip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of heads were turning in Washington this week about the exchange between Senator Bob Corker, who is a Republican, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the president, in which Corker described the White House has an adult daycare center and said that he was concerned that the president might be leading us to World War III with his intemperance.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Daycare center -- a daycare center where the director was off that day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you followed the discussion. I see.
PELOSI: Well, that was quite interesting that a senior Republican leader in the Senate would say that about his --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you share that concern?
PELOSI: About what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About the president's temperament and what the implications are in terms of the world? World War III, that's a pretty significant --
PELOSI: That's a big charge. There could be an initiation of serious military action, which would be most unfortunate. I would say this, I'm not sure the president has understood that a president's words weigh a ton. And you can't say things casually and then say, well, I was just putting it way out there, now they'll push me back in north. Those words weigh a ton. And not only raises eyebrows, it raises serious concerns among our allies as to how far the president would be willing to go.
BLITZER: Interesting response. Did you get into also that dinner that she and Senator Schumer had with the president, the Chinese food, the well-known Chinese food dinner? They spoke about the DREAMers and DACA because they all seemed to emerge in a pretty positive nature as a result of that dinner.
AXELROD: They did. But obviously, some things have happened since that have suggest that perhaps the president is backing off a little bit. She left open the possibility in this -- she wouldn't say it outright, but she left open the possibility that this is an issue that could cause a government shutdown at the end of the year if some agreement isn't reached on DACA. She said, well, they have the power to decide whether the government will shut down or not, which is -- what Democrats used to say -- what Republicans used to say about Democrats when they were planning to shut the government down.
BLITZER: Because at least on this, Kaitlan, on this exchange that we just heard from Nancy Pelosi, she didn't seem as tough towards the president as Senator Corker.
[17:45:03] COLLINS: Yes. We've seen them get along. The president seems to favor people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, but when they came out of that meeting, the understanding was that like, money for the border wall would not have to be tied to this DACA fix, but when the administration released their hardline immigration principles last week, that was at the top of the list. So the president thinks he's making these deals on Capitol Hill when he hosts dinners like that, but then when it comes down to the actual policy and legislation, what is actually going to come out of it?
AXELROD: Well, I think he gets the feedback, you know, this -- he floats these balloons out and then he gets some feedback on whatever blog he's watching or television show he's watching and things can change.
BLITZER: Everybody stick around. An important note to our viewers. You can see the whole David Axelrod latest episode of "THE AXE FILES" tomorrow night, Saturday night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Watch it. Don't miss it. Just ahead, after days of offering some shifting timelines, authorities investigating the massacre in Las Vegas say they finally, they're nailing down some key details about the gunman's confrontation with a security guard over at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
[17:50:45] BLITZER: Nearly two weeks after the most lethal shooting massacre in modern American history, authorities in Las Vegas are still trying to answer some basic questions about when the killing started and why it stopped. Our Brian Todd has been following this story for us. Brian, help us make some sense of the latest timeline that is emerging.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the latest timeline has police finally on the same page with the Mandalay Bay Hotel on when the shooter opened fire on the security guard who encountered him. There's also new information tonight on how the gunman specifically targeted law enforcement officers. The sheriff delivering that news as he appeared before reporters looking completely drained and knocking down what he said were conspiracy theories between the police and the FBI. In an emotional and at times combative news conference today, the Las Vegas Sheriff once again revised his story on how the Las Vegas massacre went down, defending his previous timeline as the result of a complex investigation and not incompetence.
JOE LOMBARDO, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: The word incompetence has been brought forward, and I am absolutely offended with that characterization. This is a very dynamic event, a very big event. Thousands of people involved. Humans involved in documentation.
TODD: Police now say they believe hotel security guard Jesus Campos happened upon Stephen Paddock around the same time Paddock began shooting on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on October 1st, not six minutes before it began as the sheriff had said on Monday.
LOMBARDO: Mr. Campos received his wounds in close proximity to 22:05.
TODD: The sheriff's revised timeline once again suggest Campos's encounter with the shooter may have led police to Paddock much sooner. That's because Campos had tried to enter the 32nd floor from the stairwell next to the shooter's room. Police now say only to find it had been barricaded.
JOSHUA BITSKO, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: He had screwed shut the door with a piece of metal and some screws.
DAVE NEWTON, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: In the stairwell.
BITSKO: In the stairwell going out to the hallway right by this door. Because he knew we'd be coming out that door to gain entry into his door. So he tried to barricade it as best he could.
TODD: Police say Campos was forced to take another route to the 32nd floor and that once in the hallway, the shooter opened fire. Also tonight, new information from the sheriff on Paddock's tactics. He now says at one point the killer turned his guns away from concert- goers when he saw police arriving.
LOMBARDO: It is readily apparent to me that he adjusted his fire and directed it toward the police vehicles.
TODD: With tears welling in his eyes.
LOMBARDO: Excuse me for my emotion.
TODD: Sheriff Joe Lombardo said his officers had rushed to the scene and were trying to save lives. He visited some of those officers this week.
LOMBARDO: Brady received sustained four separate gunshot wounds and the reason I bring this one up, he asked me if he could go back to work today.
TODD: but tonight the biggest mystery surrounding the worst mass shooting in modern American history continues to swirl.
ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES MARSHALLS SERVICE: To me, the biggest mystery is the motive. I mean it's just very odd that we don't know why. When we look at not just mass shootings but anything, we generally know what the motive is fairly quickly. And the mystery to me is that here we are almost two weeks out, and we have no idea why this guy did this. I think that he didn't want us to know the motive. Otherwise, we would have found it out by now.
TODD: But investigators are still doggedly trying to piece that possible motive together. The sheriff saying they're trying to establish a timeline of Stephen Paddock's life and everyone he was ever associated with. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian, that might even include his late father who was a convicted bank robber, right?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. Today, The New York Times posted a psychiatric evaluation that was conducted on the father in a Phoenix jail in 1960. The evaluator -- the -- excuse me, the evaluator concluded that Benjamin Paddock, pictured here, had a sociopathic personality but said they found no evidence of mental disease or defect and that he understood the difference between right and wrong. Now, Stephen paddock's brother has said that the father had very little contact with the family, but they really didn't know him. But Stephen Paddock was only seven years old when the father went to prison.
[17:55:04] BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thanks very much. Lots of questions still out there. Coming up. Today's breaking news. President Trump assails two major parts of the Obama legacy, deciding not to certify the Iran nuclear deal and stopping important subsidies that could undermine Obamacare.
[18:00:02] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. In or out? President Trump takes a tough new stance against Iran, directing to unilaterally fall out of the nuclear deal, reached during the Obama administration.