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Trump Back on Twitter; Trump Slams Russia Probe; Trump Rips Obamacare; Immigration Reform; JetBlue Flight Skids Off Taxiway; Arctic Blast Brings Freezing Temperatures. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:40] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Dana Bash, in for Kate Baldwin.

Back to work, back to the golf course, back to Twitter and back to pushing for a new health care law. After a fairly quiet Christmas Day, President Trump is using his Twitter account to attack a few of his favorite topics, including Obamacare and the FBI.

Let's get straight to CNN's Sara Murray, who is in West Palm Beach.

Sara, this health care tweet, the dossier tweet, what do you make of it?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, the president didn't have anything on his public schedule today, but he certainly has plenty to say on Twitter. He started with, you know, a nod to his legislative agenda I guess if you think that health care is back on the agenda. We certainly heard from the Senate majority leader that that didn't seem likely. But the president is taking aim at Obamacare once again saying that he's all but undone it by revoking this individual mandate through a tax reform plan and predicting apparently that there may be some new wave of bipartisanship in 2018 and Republicans could come together with Democrats and create a new health care plan. Now, that may be a stretch if you've been paying any attention to what relationships are like right now between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.

But that wasn't the president's only thought, only feeling on Twitter this morning. He remains distracted, upset, infuriated, if you will, by this Russia investigation. Apparently he was taking in some cable news this morning and so he railed yet again against this dossier that talked about collusion, about coordination between Trump and his affiliates and Russian officials.

Now, much of that has been uncorroborated, although U.S. investigators have confirmed some of those contacts. As for Trump's view of it, he called it a pile of garbage.

BASH: He sure did.

Sara, the president still has the dossier on his mind, as you mentioned, but he also has been told by his lawyers that this whole investigation is going to wrap up soon. In fact, his lawyers are continuing to say that publicly. Do you get the sense that the president's actually --

MURRAY: Yes, --

BASH: Sorry, do you get the sense the president actually believes that from his lawyers and is that why his lawyers are saying that in public and in private?

MURRAY: Well, yes, sources have been telling us that the president does believe this. That this is the same sort of information he's getting from his legal team privately. Their belief that Mueller will wrap up his investigation, the special counsel's investigation, into allegations of collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign sometime soon.

And, in fact, Jay Sekulow, who's a member of the president's legal team, just spoke to "The Wall Street Journal" and said, I know we collectively, the lawyers, are looking forward to an expeditious wrapping up of this matter.

But it's worth noting that legal experts who are watching this probe play out, other lawyers who are involved in it, don't necessarily think that things are going to wrap up speedily. And as for the president's allies, they're a little bit worried about what his reaction might be if things don't come to a close as quickly as the lawyers are predicting.

BASH: That's exactly what I was thinking. It's a dangerous game that the lawyers are playing. We also don't know what happened in the meeting that was supposed to take place between the president's lawyers and Robert Mueller's special counsel team.

Sara, thank you so much for that report.

Let's talk a little bit more about the president's reference about the dossier. He called it bogus this morning. But investigators have corroborated parts of it.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is here with more.

So, Jessica, let's tick through the president's accusations. First of all, the dossier being bogus. What's the reality?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reality is, Dana, it is not entirely bogus. It is true that the most salacious allegations contained in the dossier have not been verified. However, the broad assertion in the dossier that Russia waged a campaign to interference in the U.S. election in 2016, that is accepted as fact by the U.S. intelligence community.

Now, it is important to note that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials, they did their own work separate from the dossier to support their findings that Russia tried to meddle in favor of Trump. Plus, as CNN reported earlier this year, other aspects of the dossier, like communications between senior Russian officials and other Russians mentioned in the memos, those actually did take place. And the FBI, last year, used the dossier as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor former Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Sources familiar with it say that the dossier was cited in the application to monitor Page.

[12:05:13] But really, Dana, this dossier, as you saw from the president's tweet, it continues to be a subject of intense interest and, of course, criticism from the president, as well as Republicans.


BASH: OK, so let's take another part of his tweet. The president claimed that the dossier was the basis for going after the Trump campaign. I assume he means the investigation looking into the Trump campaign and any collusion with Russia.


BASH: Is that true?

SCHNEIDER: Well, again, Dana, it wasn't the entire basis. So the FBI and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, they've used the dossier as part of the investigation, but not the entire basis for Mueller's inquiry. And Mueller's team, it has its own investigation. In fact, in the four people that have been charged so far, there has been no reference to the dossier or any of its findings.

So what's interesting, though, is that Mueller's team, it did meet this past summer with the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele. That's according to sources. And it is possible that information from that interview with Steele, it could potentially help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and any suspected Russian operatives, if those communications may have broken any laws.

But when the intelligence community, when they issued that report in January, they were very careful to keep Steele's research, that was the basis of the dossier, out of its publicly released report in January about Russian meddling.

So, Dana, this dossier continues to be a Republican talking point. The president, Republican members of Congress, they'll likely continue to attack this in 2018. But the investigation into possible collusion, it does continue in Congress, and by the special counsel. So the president will continue to be probably be tweeting about this. But, yes, that investigation into collusion, it does continue.


BASH: It sure does.

Jessica, thank you so much for giving us those important reality checks.

Now, let's turn to our panel. Lots to talk about. Scott Bolden is a former Democratic chairman of the D.C. Democratic Party, now chairman of the National Bar Association's Political Action Committee. Sahil Kapur is a political reporter at "Bloomberg." Andre Bauer is a CNN political commentator and former lieutenant governor of South Carolina. And Amie Parnes is CNN's political analyst and senior political correspondent for "The Hill." She also, I should say, coauthored the book "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign."

OK. Oh, a lot of talk. Isn't it supposed to be a holiday week? What's happening? OK --


BASH: Yes, exactly.

Let's talk about first the whole notion of Obamacare. The president saying, well, we've effectively repealed Obamacare.


BASH: OK, they did repeal the individual mandate, which is a big deal because it's -- for lots of reasons, but just in terms of the way that the operation -- the Obamacare operation works, it's a money maker.

KAPUR: Right.

BASH: But there are still a lot of other things in place, regulations, preexisting conditions, things like that. Having said all that, do you think that there's any chance that what the president said is going to happen, that they are going to take it up again in 2018 in an election year, the notion of repealing and replacing Obamacare?

KAPUR: Well, this is one of those things that Republicans never want to admit that they're giving up. It's been seven years now they've been -- excuse me -- they've been campaigning on this, they've been promising it, and it's not a tenable proposition to tell their base --

BASH: Although Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, basically did admit they're not going to do anything.

KAPUR: He came close. He said we're likely going to move on. I think he's just being a realist.

BASH: Right.

KAPUR: If a 52-41 Republican Senate could not repeal and replace the ACA, how is a 51-49 Republican Senate with Doug Jones getting sworn in a few weeks going to do that?

The president has said numerous times that Obamacare is gone, it's dead, it's repealed, that it's not accurate. You pointed out, the individual mandate is gone. The CBO projects that millions of people are going to drop their coverage and premiums are going to go up in the coming years about 10 percent per year in the next decade as a result of it. What's still in there is the subsidies to buy insurance, the Medicaid expansion, the regulations that allow young adults to stay on a parent's policy until 27 and, most notably, the regulations on insurance companies that they cannot turn people away or discriminate for a pre-existing condition or charge higher. That's a huge deal. These things are still there and Republicans have not found a way to get rid of them because they're popular.

BASH: OK, so let's talk about some of the things that the -- that the Congress and the president likely will take up.

Andre, I want to bring you in here because I talked to some conservative leaders about what they're hoping to see from the president in the next year and I had a -- heard a lot of concern about the way that the White House and some Republicans in Congress are moving on immigration. Take a listen to this.


JENNY BETH MARTIN, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS CITIZENS FUND: It sounded more like he was going to grant amnesty for people who have entered this country illegally. And that's a real concern.

[12:10:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think it's pretty clear that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer would like to lure him into making a deal.


BASH: Andre, is that what you're hearing from Republicans in South Carolina, concern that the guy who, you know, may build a wall famous is actually going to cut a deal, at least specifically for these dreamers, these young people who came to the \United States illegally, to stay in the U.S. legally?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a mixed bag. I think there are many Republicans, like myself, that say, look, we have to have some type of orders. We want to continue to see the president move towards that.

But I think there are other Republicans that aren't quite as firm in their thinking and they would like to see -- you know, it's an emotional thing. They hate to see these folks that have been here for so long and this is all they know, that taken away from them. But we also know whether it was Reagan, Clinton, for years we've continued to go ahead and say, oh, well, we ought to take care of these folks and we continue to let all these folks come in illegally, but we really don't address that we need to do a better job of making it legal for people to get in. Not making it so difficult for people that want to add to society, they want to be a part of our society, and want it -- want to really add something it. We need to make it easier for those.

When I was a member of the South Carolina senate, there were multiple times I had hardworking business folks that were trying to do it the right way continue to be turned down. And that is where the real rub is for -- and I think that's why you saw the president get more Latino votes than anybody ever thought he would, more than Romney, because he said, look, we need to reward the people doing it the right way, not penalize them. But we need to look see what we're doing that allows so many to come over her illegally. And that's the real rub between the two different folks.

BASH: And, Amie, I am hearing -- and I'm sure you're hearing similar, that there is real work going on quietly behind the scenes on an immigration deal. You know one dealing with dreamers and border security that could potentially get not just, you know, the president's signature, but in order to get the president's signature, you would need Democrats on board because you're going to lose a lot of conservatives. Do you think that's really as viable as some people are saying?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think maybe so because what's happening is we're going into 2018, the midterm elections and coming up, Republicans are very aware of the fact that they need Hispanic -- they need the Hispanic vote to support them in 2018 and beyond in 2020. And so I think they're going to do what they need to do to sort of, you know, try to appeal to them, to give them a bit of a nod. This was a huge voting block that Democrats have obviously been working towards and have won support for and Republicans desperately need.

So I think what you are going to see is Republicans try to find a fix to this issue and I think there's more and more support for it from what I'm hearing behind the scenes.

BASH: OK, so, Scott, their -- immigration is just one of the things on the list. We showed it for a blip there before. If we can put it back up on the screen. Potential bipartisan deals that could be cut in the coming year. Immigration, as I mentioned. Lowering prescription drug prices. The president talks about that all the time. Did on the campaign trail. So did Democrats. Infrastructure reform. Same thing.

Do you think that this is possible? And, from a Democratic perspective, do you think Democrats are going to frankly give the president a win at a time where they have felt that they have been emboldened and successful by saying no, Republicans claim obstructing, at every turn?

BOLDEN: Well, the Democrats have never been invited to the table. And of those three issues that you listed there as possible bipartisan support, I would imagine that infrastructure, because infrastructure means jobs, is the most viable.

Now, immigration and DACA is also very viable. The reality is, it's not so much from the Democrats giving the Republican a win or Donald Trump a win, the Democrats will claim a win also because they're not in the majority. And then they're looking at 2018 as well. And when 2018 comes, based on the displeasure with the president and his low polling numbers at like 33, 35 percent, the Democrats with any win, are going to be emboldened to tell their story and hopefully take over the House and the Senate. Don't know if that's going to happen or not, but that's how the Democratic thinking goes.

BASH: Were you going to say something? KAPUR: Yes, no, I would just say -- excuse me -- when it comes to infrastructure, it always -- a prospect of bipartisanship always sounds good at the 10,000 foot level --

BASH: Yes.

KAPUR: But get to the 5,000 or 1,000 foot level and differences emerge.


BASH: Yes.

KAPUR: Is it going -- right, is it going to be a public/private partnership?

BASH: Exactly.

KAPUR: How's it going to be funded? You ask Republicans on Capitol Hill -- and, Dana, you know this -- you ask them about infrastructure, you know, they frown, they sometimes roll their eyes, they try to change the topic. They're not excited about this at all. And I think with the president's personal brand so toxic among Democrats, fewer than 10 percent support him, there's going to be a level of distrust that's going to make it difficult for party leaders to --

BASH: Toxic among Democrats, obviously. But, Andre, not so much among the conservative base. He has really been catering to and appealing to the base all year. And I've talked to some Republicans who say he's going to use that capital with the base to make some deals across party lines this election year, 2018. Do you think that's something that could actually happen?

[12:15:16] BAUER: Look, he's delivered as well as any president I can remember in modern times. I mean he's gotten everything he said he would do that was really important to the base has been done. And even moderates -- the Democrats are going to have an opportunity next year and I don't think they're going to want to give him any victories because he's already got so many. They're going to have to run against him.

And after passing this tax bill, that was kind of the coup de grace. I mean he went through and did things that are making people's lives better. And when there's more money in people's pockets next year, and they see that they've heard all the stuff about a tax bill when they actually see they had more money, you're going to have a tough time convincing those moderate folks to go to the Democratic Party because they're going to actually see an improvement in their life. And so often government says they're going to do so much. But when you actually see result, those are hard to overcome.

And the stock market's getting ready to hit 25,000 again. Even people that don't dabble in the stock market, people like my step-mother, who was a school teacher, her retirement account now is so wonderful that she's seeing a benefit from something that she really doesn't dabble in. And those results are going to be hard for the Democratic Party to overcome in seats that they have a chance to win.

BOLDEN: Yes, but, Dana, the real problem is, 60 percent plus of Americans, while that's a short-term fix on the tax piece, 60 plus percent of Americans don't agree with what Donald Trump is doing. They believe that what he's doing with the country, his, quote, wins, are bad for the country and that's Democrats and Republicans. And so I don't know how the Republicans claim victory in 2018 or even 2020 with those numbers juxtaposed to what the GOP says these are great accomplishments. They just don't match up. And I've got to tell you, that -- it not matching up doesn't equivocate or doesn't -- isn't equal to winning those elections.

BASH: And, Amie, let me bring you in for one final thought. I mean this is really the crux of it, right, it's what people see on paper, what people see in statistics and how people -- versus how people feel at home sitting around their kitchen table trying to make their budgets work.

PARNES: Right. And I think Republicans are really banking on that. They're saying, OK, going into the spring, people will start feeling better about things. They'll see more money in their paychecks.

The problem is that I think they need to go out and sell that because, as we just talked about, there are a lot of people who, if you look at the recent polls, people aren't really convinced about this. They -- their -- they have their doubts about the tax bill and they know that it's temporary. They know that it was done, I think, for an election year and to kind of win some popularity for Republicans or some approval for Republicans. So I think this is something that I think Donald Trump, even though he's saying he doesn't need to sell it, I think he and Republicans are going to have to talk about it more going into 2018 and talk about why this is a good idea.

BASH: Yes, it's hard to imagine not needing to sell --

BOLDEN: Lots of convincing.

BASH: To sell anything, no matter how popular it is or isn't.

KAPUR: Exactly.

BASH: Everyone, thank you so much for that discussion.

And coming up, one of Vladimir Putin's biggest critics has been barred from entering Russia's presidential race and is now calling for an election boycott. We're live in Moscow.

Plus, winter weather leading to a scary moment for travelers after a plane hits ice and spins off a taxiway moments after landing.


[12:22:16] BASH: A big scare for passengers on a JetBlue flight in Boston. The plane hit a patch of ice while landing, making it skid and spin off the runway right into a snow bank.

CNN's Rene Marsh joins me now with the details of what happened.

Rene, give me the -- give me the scoop.


BASH: It looks terrifying.

MARSH: Yes, it was for the people on board. I mean there was snow, there was ice in Boston. At some point they actually had to shut down the runways briefly because of the winter weather up there.

So this flight was coming from Savannah, Georgia. It was a JetBlue airlines flight. And just as it was touching down, or once it made touchdown, it started to fish tail. And let me actually let the passengers tell us what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were straight and then all of a sudden it started fish tailing and, yes, and it started getting rough and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I realized we were going off the runway, I was like, uh-oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden we started sliding and then we started spinning and spinning and spinning and ended up in a snow bank.


MARSH: All right, so the good news is that no passengers were injured. We know that they had to be bussed to the terminals. But that plane had since been removed from the runway. Just spoke with the airport. Operations are looking pretty good. So if you're watching and you're wondering, OK, how is this winter weather probably going to impact me for the rest of the day, so far things look pretty decent for people if they're flying.

BASH: IT's such a, you know, sigh of relief, obviously, that nobody was hurt. But I don't know about you, if I'm landing in a place like Boston and I know they're not really shaken or rattled by a little bit of snow or a little bit of ice, I have confidence that for that reason the airport is going to kind of know what they're doing. What are you hearing about what happened?

MARSH: Yes, it is interesting because we know at these airports, I mean they actually have operations that are devoted to knowing exactly what is the situation with the runways and taxiways. Are they -- are they icy? Do they need to shut them down?

BASH: Yes.

MARSH: They are on top of that sort of thing.

However, when you do have weather like they had up there, sometimes conditions can change rather quickly. We don't know, you know, what's behind this incident. But I can tell you that the NTSB is saying right now they don't plan on launching an investigation. And primarily because no injuries, thank goodness, in this case.

BASH: OK, Rene Marsh, thank you for that report.

And the frigid weather, we were just talking about, it's not letting up any time soon. An arctic blast is pushing through the Midwest and nearly 30 million people are facing temperatures well below freezing.

Let's go to Meteorologist Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center for more.


CHAD MYERS, AMS WEATHER CENTER: Dana, in some cases, 50 degrees below freezing. And that sounds worse than let's say 18 below zero to me. If you're -- if you're 15 degrees or 50 degrees below where your skin or water would actually freeze, then you know it's bad.

[12:25:12] Frigid conditions. Watches and warnings all the way across. These are for pets, for animals, for cattle, for people. It doesn't affect the car, but the wind chill factor right now in Duluth is 37 below. Minneapolis it's 19 degrees below zero.

So these are just ridiculous temperatures. And stay inside. Make sure the pets are taken care of as well.

It's the jet stream that has been coming down from the north, from Alaska, straight on down into Chicago, allowing all of that cold air to just kind of ooze from the arctic right into the U.S.

Now, New York, you haven't been quite that cold comparatively, comparted to a little bit farther out to the west. You're still going to be in the teens, maybe even around 27 for the end of the weekend.

Now, it's going to be cold for the ball dropping. But, still, you're not as cold as let's say Minneapolis or Fargo. That Fargo area is really going to be the ground zero. And it looks like maybe around New Year's Eve time, the wind chill is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 below zero. That's 82 degrees below freezing. Take that. I guess, Dana.

BASH: I don't even have words for that. I can't even imagine what that feels like.

MYERS: I Know.

BASH: I just hope everybody is going to be safe and sound and cozy next to the fireplaces up in Fargo and everywhere else you just described.

Chad Myers, thank you so much for that report.


BASH: And the man who wants to be the next president of Russia, and one of the Kremlin's biggest critics, has been barred from entering the presidential race. The reaction in Moscow amid his calls for an election boycott.