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Gabbard Confronted On Syria And Remarks About Assad; Biden and Harris Muddle Through Health Care Policies; More Tariffs On Chinese Goods; Trump to Rescind Medals Awarded To Navy SEAL's Prosecutors. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] SEN. TULSI GABBARD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's trillions more dollars, so means meeting with a dictator or meeting with an adversary. Absolutely, I would do it.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Bashar al-Assad is a murderer and a torturer. Do you not agree with that?

GABBARD: I don't dispute that.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: She's been criticized for not having sort of a full-throated condemnation of that, however. But again, here we have a moment that we didn't see on the debate stage, that might have been more effective on the debate stage.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLTICS: Kamala Harris should have been ready for that. There's been a long-standing criticism of her record aside from Tulsi Gabbard. So she needed to be ready to defend her record on prosecutions of what other liberals believe are petty crimes. That's the first thing.

KEILAR: But maybe she didn't think it would come from Gabbard, so she wasn't armed.

STODDARD: And she -- right. So she was surprised, and I should get out of the window.

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She shouldn't have enough of surprise.

STODDARD: But she should have been ready for it to come from somebody.

ALI: She should have been ready.

STODDARD: Number one and number two, she should have been ready with her response about Assad. People were hoping that the moderators were going to ask about Tulsi Gabbard's relationship with Assad.

And it is all over the internet today that the Russian bots are helping Tulsi Gabbard and going after Kamala Harris. And that Tulsi Gabbard refuses to condemn Assad because she's doing the work of the Russians and is going to run as a third-party spoiler and reelect Trump.

There are serious knives out for Tulsi Gabbard. She didn't take anything last night.

ALI: Yes. And it was a huge mistake because you can simultaneously hold two positions at the same time. Tulsi Gabbard exposed Kamala Harris' troubling record as a prosecutor, which is very troubling to progressive voters. She did that, she was exposed. And that's going to make her vulnerable.

At the same time, you can say that Tulsi Gabbard is a terrible candidate because of her promotion of Assad's talking points because she met Assad in secret, because to this day she has not called him out as a war criminal. It took Anderson three tries and the most he could get is, "I don't dispute that."

In addition to the fact she's conflicted about torture. In addition to the fact that she, you know, it works with Hindu nationalists. In addition to the fact that MAGA seems to love her, I wonder why?

And so that moment where Kamala Harris was after the fact talking to Anderson and took out Tulsi Gabbard, that should have been done on the debate stage. And if Gabbard is ever brought back on the debate stage again, this needs to be addressed.

And you have to ask her, are you capable of actually critiquing Assad? And if you're so anti-war, how come you praise Russia's bombing of Syria, Tulsi?

KEILAR: There you go, there's the question. Wajahat, A.B., thank you so much to both of you.

Now, health care dominating the conversation at both debates but some of the candidates are having a hard time articulating their plans. The architect of Obamacare will join me next.

And a rare and public rebuke after President Trump orders Navy officials to strip the medals of prosecutors who unsuccessfully tried a Navy SEAL for war crimes.


[13:37:30] KEILAR: It was Joe Biden versus Senator Kamala Harris round two at last night's debate, this time sparring over the number one issue for Democratic voters, health care.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any time someone tells you're going to get something good in 10 years, you should wonder why it takes 10 years. If you notice, there's no talk about the fact that the plan in 10 years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer-based insurance. SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your plan does not

cover everyone in America by your staffs and your own definition. Ten million people, as many as 10 million people will not have access to health care. And in 2019 in America, for a Democrat to be running for president with a plan that does not cover everyone, I think is without excuse.


KEILAR: All right. So here's a quick breakdown of both plans. Senator Harris' would move all Americans to a Medicare for all type system over the course of 10 years as you heard. However, newborns and the uninsured would automatically be enrolled.

Private insurance companies would still exist but their plans would have to meet strict guidelines. Harris says that she'll pay for the plan by taxing Wall Street and progressively taxing families earning more than $100,000 a year. Many experts say that won't cover the cost though.

And then Biden's plan is essentially what the Obama administration originally wanted Obamacare to look like. He's going to have a public option similar to Medicare. He'll also allow people to keep their private insurance. He'll offer large subsidies to help make Obamacare more affordable, and he'll allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

With me is Zeke Emanuel, he's a former Obama White House Health Policy Advisor and one of the architects of Obamacare.

So I want to address -- can we first address what all of these plans are not addressing, because the one complaint you'll hear from anyone who's a human and had some sort of medical need is cost.


KEILAR: And yet we're not hearing that.

EMANUEL: That's right. Deductibles have gone up, copays have gone up, drug costs have really gone up. And people are worried about the cost of health care. And you hear this term unaffordable to people and they're really worried about it.

There are lots of worries of going into the emergency room and just having these enormous bills. And it is surprising that Democrats are talking only about coverage and very a little about cost control, maybe a little about bringing drug prices down negotiating with Medicare or something.

But it's not a comprehensive cost control proposal and I do think that is one of the things that is absent from these debates.

[13:40:01] KEILAR: It's like one leg of the stool when it comes to health care. You can't ignore cost and how it affects --


KEILAR: -- the other things.

EMANUEL: But we usually say that there are -- right. There's cost, there's access, getting everyone covered, there's quality also, and there's the patient experience. Is it easy to use? Are they getting to the right place without a lot of hassle?

So those are the four main elements and we're really talking only about access, coverage.

KEILAR: So which of these plans, Kamala Harris' or Joe Biden's is doable? And which one should -- might be considered as a lofty goal but perhaps you fall short, you set your marker ahead of negotiations.

EMANUEL: Well, the real question is what you mean by doable there. They're both doable in the sense that they could operate. And Kamala Harris does keep private insurance in the system, unlike Senator Sanders, by allowing Medicare Advantage to continue. So the private insurance companies actually would compete and those are pretty popular.

On the other hand, could it pass Congress? Well, that's -- if that's what you mean by doable, it's much more likely that Joe Biden's plan passes Congress than Kamala Harris'. But, you know, it depends upon the election.

If she ran -- if she becomes the nominee, wins big, you know, then it becomes in part a mandate on that plan and you do have a lot of political momentum behind it.

KEILAR: Biden was saying that her plan will cost about $30 trillion. His is just a fraction of that cost because it's a testament to, I guess, what their aims are here, right? Is --

EMANUEL: No, no, no.

KEILAR: Well --

BRIANNA KEILAR: It's all about what you include cost. And again here's the thing. And I think she did have a reasonable point there, which is, look, we're already spending $3.5 -- trillion per year on health care. Multiply that by 10. That's $35 trillion.

So yes, her plan is going to cost $30 trillion but that is not additional because a lot of it is shifted of what we're paying today.

KEILAR: OK, so the very good point. However, when you're looking at that price, she didn't deny his explanation --

EMANUEL: That's right. Right.

KEILAR: -- of the cost. But when you're looking at that price tag and she's saying, she's only going to have this graduated tax on people making more than a $100,000. And then she's going to be taxing basically Wall Street products.

EMANUEL: Right, right. KEILAR: That's not going to cover it.

EMANUEL: I haven't exactly done the numbers, but it certainly doesn't look at first blush like it will cover it. Let me just remind the viewers, the median income in America is around $60,000 per household. That means half of the households are less.

She's not starting her tax until well high of that at a $100,000. So only a small fraction of people will be paying premiums. And yes, those 0.01 percent dividend taxes, those really unlikely to be enough to cover this bill.

So you're going to have to find some other revenue. Having been in the Office of Management and Budget trying to find where you can find -- get revenue to pay for this.


EMANUEL: Remember, we paid for the Affordable Care Act by $500 billion in cuts over 10 years and $500 billion new taxes mainly to wealthy people, $250,000 or more, raising their Medicare tax and things. It's hard to find that money. It's not so easy to find trillions of dollars to pay for these kind of reforms.

KEILAR: And real quickly because I do want to get this question in but I'm almost out of time. Biden's plan even by his own admission will cover the vast majority of Americans. It's not all of them. His campaign says 97 percent. Is that enough in this race?

EMANUEL: Well, compared to the 89 percent or 90 percent we have today, that's a huge increase. That's where Massachusetts is and most people think Massachusetts has done a fantastic job of getting people covered. Is it enough?

Of course we all want a 100 percent. And other countries have gotten a 100 percent and that's where we should get to. But is it a big improvement from 90 percent to 97 percent?

You bet. And we should not be against big improvements because under the Trump administration, we're not getting improvements, we're sliding backwards. More people are losing health insurance.

Any Democrat is going to be better than President Trump in improving the health care system and that's what we have to remember. The alternative is dreadful.

KEILAR: All right. Zeke Emanuel, thank you so much for coming.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

KEILAR: Appreciate it.

[13:44:19] Breaking news, the President, via twitter, making a big announcement on the trade war with China. His new escalation, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: We have breaking news, President Trump just announcing on Twitter that he will impose a new 10 percent tariff on the remaining $300 billion worth of goods and products coming from China. And the President says this will take effect very soon, on September 1st.

I want to get to Sarah Westwood at the White House. Sarah, why is the President deciding to do this now?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, President Trump is lamenting the lack of progress in talks between Chinese officials and US officials, although he described this most recent round of talks in China as constructive. President Trump is also pointing to the fact that China's promise of increase purchase in agricultural goods from the US has never materialized.

Now, recall that just a little over a month ago at the G-20 summit in Japan, President Trump was touting that agreement that China had supposedly made to buy more agricultural goods as a concession from China, touting it as a sign of progress. Now, President Trump acknowledging today in this series of tweets that that never actually materialized from China.

[13:50:00] At that same summit, at the G-20 where President Trump did sit down with Chinese President Xi, Trump had said that he would wait for the time being to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods. Now with this additional 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, the President already moving away from that.

These talks will continue again, Brianna, here in Washington in September with Chinese officials.

KEILAR: All right, Sarah Westwood. We're seeing the markets are not loving that news. Thank you, Sarah.

The President issuing a sharp rebuke of military prosecutors, ordering Navy officials to rescind medals given to them after they unsuccessfully tried a Navy SEAL for war crimes.


[13:55:35] KEILAR: President Donald Trump has ordered top Navy officials to rescind medals awarded to prosecutors for their performance trying a war crimes case against a Navy SEAL even though they lost the case in dramatic fashion.

And the Navy says it will follow through. And prosecutors whose awards are being pulled unsuccessfully tried Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher for murder. The President had previously intervened in the case, helping facilitate Gallagher's move to more comfortable confinement during the trial, then congratulating him when he was cleared of the most serious of the charges against him last month.

He says the prosecutors, Trump as were "ridiculously given a Navy achievement medal. Not only did they lost the case, they had difficulty with respect to information that may have been obtained from opposing lawyers and for giving immunity to a totally -- in a totally incompetent fashion."

I want to bring in Colonel Cedric Leighton and let's deal with this in parts in, colonel. First, you have the issue where the President's intervention in a -- we'll talk about that in a moment, should he have done that, but first the medals.

The star prosecution witness in the case completely changed his story. Once he was at trial, he said, actually he killed this ISIS militant, that Eddie Gallagher actually did not. And many experts who have followed this trial believed that he succumbed to pressure to change his story within the SEAL community. If so, that's not the prosecution's fault, right?

But those prosecutors made serious -- I mean objectively serious terrible errors. One being they tracked these tracking software and e-mails to the defense, in the end they lost the case. Should they have been given these medals.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Sure the answer, Brianna is no, they should not. And the reason is they were doing their job. Medals are for going above and beyond at that job.

And when you fail, in the case of these prosecutors, when you fail to win a conviction or to achieve whatever operational goal you have, there's no reason for somebody to be receiving a medal. And it's particularly surprising given the Navy's culture.

The Navy is very stingy with medals for junior personnel. And to see them do something like this, to give them, award the prosecution, navy achievement medals, I think, is very, very unusual to say the least.

KEILAR: Unusual, so why would it have been done, do you think?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think a part of it has to do with politics, internal politics. They may have been trying to buck up the prosecutors and say, "Hey, you guys did as well as you possibly could under difficult circumstances. You did well in spite of interference from other places, including the President." So that may have been the reasoning for that.

But still, it seems very, very strange to someone who has, you know, lived with the military medal system for a long time.

KEILAR: So once these medals were given though to these prosecutors, should the President have intervened in having them rescinded?

LEIGHTON: No, it's too late at that particular point. You know, once a medal is awarded to a person, unless there is a, you know, a criminal act that occurred in the course of the achievement that's being rewarded or there's something elsewhere you can question the conduct of the individual recipient, then the answer is no.

Now, of course, he'll come back and say, oh but their conduct was wrong, they did all the things like you mentioned, the e-mail tracking system that was added to e-mails from the prosecution to the defense. All of that is definitely wrong behavior. So in this case, we have a situation where it was right to rescind these medals, it should have been done before the fact. But we also have the potential for undue command influence leading all the way up to the commander in chief in this case.

So it's a very bad situation all around and it makes it difficult, you know, for there to be a clean way of looking at this particular case.

KEILAR: What message does it send to unit commanders who give these medals and the service members?

LEIGHTON: Well, it sends a message that it limits the commander's discretion in a case like this. Unit commanders have the discretion to award achievement medals in all of the services. And when it comes to personnel, they look at these medals as being a recognition for a job well done. And that is exactly what those medals were intended to do.

The fact that these medals have been rescinded also will serve as a dampener on moral. Not just in the legal community in the Navy but potentially throughout the Navy, and possibly the other services as well.

KEILAR: Cedric, thank you so much. Colonel Cedric Leighton, great insight. And that is it for me. Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you. Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN, thank you for being with me.