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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
GOP Health Care Plan Collapses, Ryan & Trump Pull Bill; 3 Ex- Trump Advisers Offer to Testify on Russia. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 24, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening from this smoking political crater formerly known as Washington.
Today, Republicans failed to do what they've been promising for years, the president failed to do what he has been saying in one way or another, that he would literally since the beginning of his campaign, literally as in the very first day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to repeal Obamacare and it can be -- and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody, but much better and much less expensive for people and for the government. And we can do it.
So, I've watched the politicians, I've dealt with them all my life. If you can't make a good deal with a politician, then there's something wrong with you. You're certainly not very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, without commentating on that assessment, the simple fact is he could not bring home a deal with House Republicans nor could House Speaker Paul Ryan. So, a deal that no one especially seemed to like entered a death spiral yesterday, was euthanized today.
Then, Paul Ryan weighed in, followed by the president. His comments are worth playing at some lengths. But before we go to our correspondents, our panel, shortly former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, let's take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We were very close, and it was a very, very tight margin. We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren't going to give us a single vote, so it's a very difficult thing to do.
I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now.
We couldn't quite get there. We were just a very small number of votes short in terms of getting our bill passed. A lot of people don't realize how good our bill was because they were viewing phase one. But when you add phase two -- which was mostly the signings of Secretary Price, who's behind me -- and you add phase three, which I think we would have gotten -- it became a great bill. Premiums would have gone down and it would have been very stable, it would have been very strong.
What would be really good, with no Democrat support, is if the Democrats, when it explodes -- which it will soon -- if they got together with us and got a real healthcare bill. I would be totally open to it. And I think that's going to happen.
I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because now they own Obamacare. They own it -- 100 percent own it.
And this is not a Republican healthcare, this is not anything but a Democrat healthcare. And they have Obamacare for a little while longer, until it ceases to exist, which it will at some point in the near future. And just remember this is not our bill, this is their bill.
Now, when they all become civilized and get together, and try and work out a great healthcare bill for the people of this country, we're open to it. We're totally open to it.
I want to thank the Republican Party. I want to thank Paul Ryan -- he worked very, very hard, I will tell you that. He worked very, very hard. Tom Price and Mike Pence -- who's right here -- our vice president, our great vice president. Everybody worked hard.
I worked as a team player and would have loved to have seen it passed. But again, I think you know I was very clear, I think there wasn't a speech I made, or very few where I didn't mention that perhaps the best thing that can happen is exactly what happened today, because we'll end up with a truly great healthcare bill in the future, after this mess known as Obamacare explodes.
We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote-getting process. We learned a lot about some very arcane rules in, obviously, both the Senate and in the House.
So, it's been -- certainly for me, it's been a very interesting experience. But in the end, I think it's going to be an experience that leads to an even better healthcare plan.
And I never said, I guess I'm here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare. You've all heard my speeches. I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Never said repeal and replace within 64 days he said there. Keeping them honest, that's not true. He promised repeatedly during the campaign to make it his first order of business. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: On my first day, I'm going to ask Congress to immediately send me a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.
Immediately repealing and replacing Obamacare.
We will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: That was the president on repealing and replacing Obamacare ASAP during the campaign.
CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on how things came unravel today and where they go from here.
Phil, I mean, an incredible here in Washington.
[20:05:00] Walk us through what happened? How did it end up on the cutting room floor?
MATTINGLY: Yes, it's a long way from last night when the ultimatum was delivered. There was a rah-rah optimistic atmosphere coming out of that closed door conference meeting. It became clear early to Paul Ryan and other leadership that the votes weren't there. They continued to work. They worked primarily on that conservative House Freedom Caucus.
But by the time lunchtime came around, the speaker made the calculation, he had to go to the White House, he had to tell the president that the votes weren't there. The votes weren't coming. And it was probably time to pull the bill.
Now, an interesting element is, Anderson, the president said he understood where the speaker was coming from but this was a loyalty test and this was something that could help expose some of those members that didn't necessarily appreciate what the leadership and what the White House were willing to offer.
The speaker warned him off of that. Made very clear that the individuals that would be voting for this bill were many of the individuals that helped Republicans secure and maintain the majority, told them it wasn't the best idea. That said, there was still a House Freedom Caucus meeting that was scheduled with Tom Price and Mick Mulvaney. They allowed that to happen after it was clear after the meeting there would be no movement with those conservatives, those House Freedom Caucus members.
The call was made. President Trump called the speaker and told him clearly it was time to pull the bill. And that, Anderson, is exactly what happened, and the ramifications of that aren't just micro, they're not just this week or this bill. They are health care, period. Obamacare stands not just for now, not just for the next couple months but for the foreseeable future -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, a lot of Republicans talked, well, OK, if this goes down, maybe kind of go piecemeal, piece by piece, try to do this in smaller chunks rather than all at once. But is the president saying he's just going to move on to the next thing like tax reform and just dropping health care completely until, in his words, Obamacare implodes?
MATTINGLY: All together. I think that's the most interesting element of all this. In a closed door conference meeting this afternoon, after the decision was made to pull the bill, that was the message. Direct message from Speaker Ryan: Trump is done, the president is moving on.
And I can tell you, there was stunned silence when this was conveyed to the room according to people that were inside of it, that they realized, this thing, this issue that they've been campaigning on in 2010, 2014, 2016 was now off the table and they were moving forward. The real question is, how does this damage or kind of help them learn going forward when you tackle other big ambitious items like tax reform, like infrastructure? The reality is right now, Anderson, there's no answer to that question.
COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.
We're going to talk to the entire panel shortly. First, though, I want to bring in CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman, who spoke today by phone with the president shortly after the bill was pulled.
You said that he showed uncharacteristic discipline. How did the conversation go?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly in that phone call. I'm not saying lit hold until tomorrow morning which I think people are looking for his Twitter feed to see how he reacts. But he was very focused in his message, which was this is the Democrats' fault.
Now, you can argue with that message, but that was his message. We couldn't get a single Democratic vote, we can only go by Republicans, and we just didn't have enough Republicans.
COOPER: He was downplaying divisions among Republicans.
HABERMAN: He -- to a point, because he did volunteer, I didn't ask it, he said, you know, he didn't blame Paul Ryan and then said -- singled out the Tuesday Group, which is this group of moderates. There are a lot of members there, called them, quote/unquote, "terrific", which I took as a dig at the House Freedom Caucus even though he didn't name them.
And then, later on, he talked about one of the complications was there's a lot of different party. You know, it's essentially -- he didn't say it exactly this way, but as if you're dealing with different political parties, you know, conservatives, moderates, all within the same Republican umbrella.
He did not sound frustrated. I have heard from adviser who has spoken to him that he is quite frustrated, I think he's been a little bit gob-smacked by what kind of process this is.
COOPER: Much different -- because you asked how this compared to business.
HABERMAN: I asked how it compares to real estate deals. He said, oh, it's really no different. It's essentially the same thing, but apparently, as he was departing the Oval Office tonight or talking to some aides, he did say to one of them, you know, this was a lot harder, real estate was much easier than this.
I think this is a learning curve for him. I mean, he -- it's also worth remembering, look, he said and he said that to me as well, you know, that I've been here 64 days, I didn't say I was going to do it in this number of days.
He did push Congress to push this through pretty quickly and there was some resistance from Congress on this. So, it's going to be hard for him going forward to navigate the way out of owning this.
I don't know that blaming it on the Democrats is actually the way to do it. What he said to me is in a year it will collapse, Democrats come back to me and then they're going to want to make a deal and I'm open to doing that.
I do not believe that that is likely to happen. But that is where he's putting his focus.
COOPER: You don't believe it's likely to happen because you don't believe Obamacare is likely to implode in the way that the president believes it will?
HABERMAN: Not the way that he's been describing it. I mean, there are certainly -- enrollments are down but not to the degree he's saying. There are premiums that are going to rise, but as uniformly as he was describing it.
[20:10:01] And either way, certainly at the moment, Democrats are not many much of a deal mood with the president.
COOPER: I mean, he trashes the "New York Times" all the time.
HABERMAN: He does?
COOPER: So I've heard. Did he call you? Did he --
HABERMAN: I reached out to one of his aides and asked if he was up for speaking and they put me through to him.
COOPER: And just in terms of -- there was one thing in the article that stood out to me. It's basically, he said -- there was almost, I don't know if relief but sort of like it's done.
HABERMAN: It was funny. I asked him, are you happy to have this in your rear-view mirror? And he said -- he didn't hear the question and I repeated it, are you happy it's over with? And he said I am. It's enough already. I think he -- I don't think he meant that he found legislating is
hard, which is how some took it on Twitter, but it was more that I think there was enormous frustration for him and I think this is a fair complaint, just that it's his own party, they would go to the House Freedom Caucus and make what they would thought was a concession and then hear back, you know, OK, now we're moving the goal posts over this way. And then once they agreed to something here, then the Tuesday Group would want something too.
So, I think he felt like he was navigating a game of inches pack and forth.
COOPER: Well, I mean, that's one thing that's always been so hard about health care.
HABERMAN: Yes, yes.
COOPER: It's been described as whack-a-mole. You know, you kind of solve one problem and another pops up, because with what you've done for the Freedom Caucus annoys the moderate.
HABERMAN: And he -- we reported, Glenn Thrush and I and my colleague reported last night that he'd already started musing to people over the last couple days that he should have done tax reform first, as a number of his advisers urged him to do. Now, Congress didn't want to do that. And so, there were a lot of reasons for that.
One of the things this president does, and we saw this around the presidential choice as well, is he sort -- it's almost like he stress tests an idea and he'll talk to different aides and says, do you think this is good, do you think this is good? But the more he does that it's because there's nagging doubt, and he clearly was heading into today.
COOPER: Maggie is going to stay with us for the full panel.
Coming up later, my conversation with an advocate for a different kind of health care reform, former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders when we continue from Washington.
COOPER: We are talking about the fallout from what became seen as a radioactive piece of legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. We're also talking about not just a legislative defeat for president, but his ability to do what he's always said, which is what he does best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
[20:15:03] TRUMP: I have tremendous energy, tremendous, to a point where it's almost ridiculous when you think about it.
But we need somebody with great energy, with great passion, with great deal making skills.
I'm going to make the great deals. I am going to make great deals for our country.
What I do is I do deals, I deal.
I negotiate by creating leverage so I can extract a good deal for the United States, for the people.
I make deals. I negotiate.
Everybody wants me to negotiate. That's what I'm known as a negotiator. I'm so anxious to negotiate.
Nobody can out-negotiate these deals.
I will make a great deal and lots of great deals for the American people.
I am a deal maker and that's what the country needs is a dealmaker.
We don't make great deals anymore, but we will once I become president. I'm a closer. We're going to close. We're going to start winning so much. Just like the video. We're going to win and win and win!
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: Well, back with the panel. Chief political analyst Gloria Borger, "New Yorker" Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza, "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King, Maggie Haberman is back with us. Also, former Georgia Republican Congressman Jack Kingston, former Obama communications director, Jen Psaki, former Trump senior communications advisor, Jason Miller, and Brian Fallon, former Clinton campaign press secretary.
John King, I mean, an extraordinary day here in Washington.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is and, listen, Donald Trump has defied every rule in politics, so we should put anything in harding(ph) tonight or in cement tonight. However, however, he failed at his first big test.
And to the point you just played all that sound and the sound from his announcement speeches, I know the politicians, I can get a deal, if you can't get a deal them, you're not very good. His words. Not our words.
"I'm the guy who does deals." He could not get his party to follow him on the first big test of the Trump presidency. To Maggie's point, he can second guess the sequencing but he made this decision.
He came to Washington. He said, I am uniquely qualified to do this, plus, I have my friend Mike Pence, my friend Tom Price, my friend Mick Mulvaney, I brought in some inside Washington guys, I'm the outsider, they're going to help me with the inside game, we're going to get this done.
What is the lasting effect? Who knows? But the factions in the Republican Party he inherited is a pre-existing condition. They were there before. But this idea that he didn't know, who knew health care was so complicated, who knew there were different parties within the Republican Party, anyone who did their homework would know that. If he talked to his vice president, he would know that.
This was going to be incredibly hard from day one because this is not all politics. They had deeply -- deep political divides, philosophical divides how to replace Obamacare. They'd all repeal it tomorrow. But some of them need to replace it because of where they live and who they answer to when the next election comes up.
And if he didn't know that going into this, well, he simply didn't do his homework.
COOPER: And, Gloria, he's clearly trying to -- in Maggie's interview, pinned it on the Democrats, saying, you know, we need to get Democrats coming on. I mean, it's a Republican-led House.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
COOPER: And he couldn't get them all.
BORGER: And, look, I think he's clearly angry at the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus, I don't know if he said it directly to you. But it seemed to me today when he was speaking and said they're my friends but then talked about a bipartisan deal, that it was a clear dig at them because it would be clear that he would be going around them.
I mean, I think the big problem here is that he hasn't figured out how to translate the populism from the campaign into any kind of legislative agenda that he can get through the Congress. I mean, this bill was a Paul Ryan bill. This wasn't a Donald Trump bill even though in the end he came to embrace it. He didn't do it as wholeheartedly.
And, Maggie, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that in his tone today, he wasn't as angry as he seemed to be after Jeff Sessions recused himself, you know, from dealing on anything with Russia, that the anger that we've sometimes seen pop up just wasn't there, and I think the Republicans cared more about losing this than Donald Trump did.
HABERMAN: So, I think you're right in theory in the sense when I spoke to him, his demeanor was pretty calm, he was -- as I said, he was very disciplined and on message. But as we also know -- and I'm not trying to take anything away from that --
HABERMAN: -- and suggest predictively, but we know based on history that he has a habit of kind of stewing a little while.
BORGER: We'll see tomorrow.
HABERMAN: We're heading into a Friday night.
BORGER: We'll see tomorrow.
HABERMAN: Saturday, he lives alone. He will be alone in the White House residence watching television, possibly right now. And how this all plays out I think is going to affect it.
I think he was a little gob-smacked, I really do. I mean, I don't -- I don't know where whether that means he will blow up or get upset.
And to your point that he cared less than Paul Ryan did because this wasn't his bill, I agree with that, but I think it's also really important to remember the thing that he discovered more than I think he understood during the campaign, and, yes, maybe a reflection of not doing homework or not fully grasping the nuances of your on party and the politics, but he and the Freedom Caucus don't have a ton in common in terms of the way they view government and the role of government.
Donald Trump essentially is from New York City -- not essentially -- is from New York City, despite sort of borrowing the language of outside of New York City, what -- yes?
[20:20:03] Go ahead.
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN: I want to say they have a common enemy that I'd say would be inside Washington.
KINGSTON: There's not same thing, but it's a strong --
HABERMAN: Sure. But that doesn't say how you should actually -- the role that government should play in terms of people's lives. And so, when you are talking about government-funded programs, when you were talking about Medicaid, Donald Trump is a lot less with Paul Ryan and the Freedom Caucus frankly than he is with a lot of Democrats.
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: There's this debate within the party between essentially the neo-libertarians that the Freedom Caucus represents, small government, free market, that's what they pushed every step. You have to give them some credit because they were pushing policy, right? They were not -- they had a philosophical idea about this bill.
Trump has these inchoate ideas that are populist and nationalist to throw around these terms, but nobody could take off the shelf what the populist nationalist --
COOPER: Jason, where -- I mean, who do you blame for this?
JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I would say the president ultimately is right, the Democrats didn't come over. And so, there's -- a lot is on them. Hold on. Let me finish. But I think also too, I think we need to go down the list and really
call out some names and make it clear where this fell apart. So, Speaker Paul Ryan and House leadership, they should have been waiting there on November 9th in the wee hours when myself and the president and Kellyanne and all the other folks were there, found out the "A.P." called the race and the speaker should have been jumping out of a celebration cake with a big Obamacare repeal and replace --
KINGSTON: Not have been a pretty sight.
MILLER: Mr. President, here's the bill, we have had seven years since this passed. We've had six years we've had the majority, here you go.
COOPER: Did you expect they would have something prepared?
COOPER: Hold on one second.
MILLER: Absolute malpractice the Republican leadership did not have this ready to go.
One over problem, too, and that's the fact Republican leadership didn't bring in the Freedom Caucus early enough in the process. Now, that being said, the Freedom Caucus, can't say they got off scot-free here, because with this power that they have is a voting bloc comes responsibility. They had the opportunity here to improve this bill and finally come up with something to repeal and replace Obamacare.
No one's going home this weekend throwing high fives to people at supermarkets.
COOPER: Well, what happened to the buck stops here for president of the United States?
MILLER: Well, ultimately, this is Paul Ryan's bill. And I think that's one of the lessons for the administration.
MILLER: Hold on. This is a lesson for the administration.
COOPER: That's the new title on the December that can the buck doesn't stop here, it stops with Paul Ryan?
LIZZA: Do you think there should be a new speaker?
KINGSTON: I don't think the game is over because every single Republican in there and every Republican that ran for the school board and county coroner and everything else promised to repeal and replace. Now, hey have a two-year term.
KING: For four consecutive elections. KINGSTON: They're going to be up for re-election in two years and I
can promise you, they're going to have primary opponents who are going to say, you know what, you didn't deliver. There will be great 30- second sound bites.
So, who's sitting in the better seat is the president. He can say stew about it and call me.
I'm not convinced this isn't a negotiating tactic of his saying, OK, I'm going to mover on to tax reform.
BORGER: But he said I'm moving to tax reform but he can't do the tax reform he wants to do because he doesn't have the money because they didn't repeal Obamacare.
KING: He wants a border tax a lot of Republicans oppose, then an infrastructure plan a lot of Republicans oppose. He has to start winning to get --
KINGSTON: This is the Democrats' home advantage on health care because it is entitlements, government expansion.
KINGSTON: It's a subject that you guys feel a lot more -- taxes, we feel better about. I think Republicans --
COOPER: I do like how two Democrats are sort of sitting here with Cheshire cat grins.
KINGSTON: Now, I mean, you guys like health care. It's one of your things that you talked about.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENATOR: I don't think most Republicans will like you saying that Democrats like health care and Republicans don't. But I will say --
COOPER: Aren't all Americans going to like health care? I like having healthcare.
PSAKI: Today was a big day for many of the Democrats who fought for Obamacare, who fought against it. But nobody should be out there gloating, nobody should be out there thinking this is over. There are still fixes that need to be made. Even if Hillary Clinton had become president, that would have been a discussion that was on the table.
COOPER: But does that happen now? I mean --
PSAKI: Well, here's the question to what Jason said, you know, Donald Trump has written about being open to a public option before. Chuck Schumer has talked about that. President Obama has talked about. Hillary Clinton has talked about that. Is this an opportunity?
KINGSTON: He said this will lead to a better health care plan. He said that --
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. A lot more to discuss tonight.
Up next, Senator Bernie Sanders joins us for his take on all, this especially how President Trump pretty much blamed the Democrats for the failure of the GOP health care. We'll find out what the senator thinks about it.
We'll be right back.
[20:28:20] COOPER: And our breaking news tonight, the collapse of the GOP health care bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan, President Trump pulling it just minutes before the vote, admitting they could not get enough support from fellow Republicans. But as we showed you earlier, President Trump is also blaming Democrats, blaming them mainly, for the bill's failure when he spoke to reporters this afternoon.
Here's another look at what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrat. They weren't going to gives us a single vote. So, it's a very difficult thing to do.
So, Obamacare is exploding. With no Democrats support, we couldn't quite get there.
I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because now they own Obamacare. They own it, 100 percent own it.
Just remember, this is not our bill, this is their bill. This really would have worked out better if we could have had some Democrat support. Remember this, we had no Democrat support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us now is former Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Senator Sanders, thanks for being with us.
When you hear the president blaming the Democrats for his bill's collapse, what's your response?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My response is that's exactly what the American people wanted. The American people understood that this is not a health care bill, Anderson. This was a $300 billion tax break for the top 2 percent, massive tax breaks for the drug companies and for the insurance companies, and threw 24 million people off health insurance, defunded Planned Parenthood, significantly raised premiums for all the workers and cut Medicaid by $880 billion.
Poll after poll showed that is exactly what the American people did not want and Democrats should take credit for killing a really, really bad piece of legislation.
COOPER: Who do you think is responsible for the failure to get the bill passed? I mean you say credit should go to the Democrats and not the Republicans.
SANDERS: Anderson, that's just a media game. Nobody really cares that it's a failure of Trump or a failure of Ryan. What the American people are asking is how does it happen that we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right?
Anderson, I am talking to you tonight 50 miles away from the Canadian border. We can get there in an hour. They manage to provide health care for every man, woman, and child in their country at half the cost per person than we do.
The cost of prescription drugs in Canada significantly lower than it is in the United States. So the question is why are we not moving forward with a Medicare for all single-payer program guaranteeing health care to all people which will be much more cost effective than what we presently have?
COOPER: What actually do you think happens now? I know clearly that is what you would like to see happen but the president is just talking about letting Obamacare fail. CBO says it's not imploding -- it's not on a death spiral like many Republicans are saying it is. What do you actually see happening? There many Democrats just say, look, things do need to be amended or changed in Obamacare.
SANDERS: Right. Look, again, I believe in a Medicare for all single- payer program but it ain't going to happen right now. We don't have the support in the Congress for that. So while we continue that long- term struggle right now, we need to improve the Affordable Care Act. That means a public option available in every state in this country which gives people a wide variety of options but makes sure that there is competition in every community in this country.
In my view, it means lowering the age of Medicare from 60 -- from 65 down to 55, allowing more Americans to participate in that program. It means passing Medicare, negotiating ability with the pharmaceutical industry and reimportation, allowing us to buy less expensive drugs around the world, which will not only lower the cost of medicine in this country, lower the cost of health care. Those are some short- term remedies that I think we need to go forward on.
COOPER: But obviously you would need to convince Republicans in the House. That's not going to happen it seems at this point. So what happens just over the next year? I mean the president is saying this is going to fail on its own and Democrats are going to come back to him a year from now trying to make a deal.
SANDERS: Well, you know, Anderson, I look at life a little bit differently needless to say than the president does. I think one of the reasons that this legislation went down today is that all over this country, we had hundreds of thousands of people coming out to rallies. CNN covered town meetings where instead of having 20 or 30 people agreeing with the Republican, member of -- let's cut Social Security and Medicare. You had a thousand people showing up saying, you know what, you're not going to triple the rates that I pay for health insurance. You're not going to throw me off of Medicaid.
People began the process of fighting back. We have got to continue that. The Republican agenda, tax breaks for billionaires, massive cuts to health care, great increase in expenditures for the military budget. Not acknowledging the reality of climate change. All of those ideas are way out of touch with where the American people are. Our job now is to rally the American people to demand that the U.S. Congress represent the middle class in this country, not just the 1 percent.
COOPER: What is your opinion on this Republican notion that Obamacare is going to explode, that it's going -- it's in a death spiral that it's going to explode?
SANDERS: Well, I think the evidence suggests that that is not the case. But on the other hand, what is fair to acknowledge is deductibles in many cases are too high, premiums are too high, and while Obamacare has slowed down, the rate of health care increase, it is going up much too fast.
So what a sensible approach is, is to say, "OK, here are the problems." Give you one example. One example, Anderson. Could give you a million.
A couple years ago the last statistics that we had the five major drug companies in this country made $50 billion in profit. Five companies while they charged the American people the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
If we had Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices with the drug companies, if we allow pharmacists and distributors to buy lower cost medicine from Canada and other countries, we could lower the cost of prescription drugs, lower the cost of health care.
Now, Trump has talked a lot about the high cost of prescription drugs. I suspect it's just another lie. I don't think he was serious about it. But if Republicans are serious, let's work together. That's one way to save billions of dollars for Americans in terms of health care costs.
[20:35:02] COOPER: When you heard the president say nobody knew how tough this would be, nobody knew how tough it would be to overturn Obamacare. What did you think?
SANDERS: Well, I mean, I think -- I thought it was rather amusing that a few weeks ago President Trump said health care's really complicated. Well, you know, for those of us who are on the Health Education Committee, those of us who had dozens and dozens of hearings and mark-ups, spent long times marking up this bill, yes, health care is pretty complicated.
But at the end of the day, this is -- the bottom line here, we pay by far more -- much more per capita for health care than do the people of any other country. Double the Canadians, almost triple the British. And our health care outcomes in many respects are not as good.
So I think we need to rethink a health care system which is dominated by private, for-profit insurance companies, dominated by very greedy drug companies, and let's go forward and try to protect the American people and not just wealthy campaign contributors.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Just ahead, in the hours before, the GOP health care bill was pulled. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said over and over that President Trump had given his all in trying to close the deal. So what happened? More on that ahead.
COOPER: The breaking news on Capitol Hill with the rubber about to meet the road in the hour of the House vote approaching Republicans blink, pulling their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. They could not get the votes needed to deliver and what they've been promising to do for seven years. President Trump did not -- could not seal the deal but for not for lack of trying certainly according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you look at legislative efforts, I think the president has given it his all. The president has put a lot of time and effort into this and I think he's made a strong case.
I think it shocked a lot of people frankly how very, very detail oriented, how personal it was for him.
[20:39:58] There's no question in my mind at least that the president and the team here have left everything on the field. Has the team put everything out there? Have we left everything on the field? Absolutely. We've done everything. We've done every single thing that every meeting, every call, calling members, you know, as early as 6:00 in the morning going and going until 11:00 at night the last several nights.
Has he pulled out every stop? Has he called every member? Has he tweaked every tweak? Has he done every single thing he can possibly and used every minute of every day that's possible to get this thing through? Then the answer is yes. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sean Spicer in the hours leading up to the bill's ultimate defeat.
Brian Fallon, we haven't heard from you. How damaging is this for President Trump in term of what he wants to do moving forward?
BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Pretty damaging. And I think that it's his failure. He can say that it was Paul Ryan's bill but the decision to outsource the drafting of this to Paul Ryan was his decision and he didn't go out there and sell it. This whole process has only taken about three weeks and he's not been out there on the stump selling the bill. That is a 17 percent approval rating according to Quinnipiac. That's his problem. He should have gone out and fix it.
And internally, he may have gone through the motions of lobbying members of Congress, he brought people into the White House, he did go to Capitol Hill, but at the end of the day, people didn't fear him. We kept hearing for days that these freedom caucus members were ultimately going to succumb because of fear that he was going to come to their districts and primary them.
But he actually, in one of the Capitol Hill meeting, he stood up and apparently pointed to Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, and said I'm going to come after you and people didn't know whether he was truly threatening or actually joking.
The reality is Mark Meadows never win along with the bill. He defied him to the very end. The Kochs, all these outside Republican groups did not fear the president. And that's going to be a problem for him when it comes time to pass things like the debt ceiling, where he's going to need them to take uncomfortable votes and right now they're not --
COOPER: In fact the Kochs were saying we're going to give -- if those who were opposing this, we're going to support you, we're going to have your back.
Congressman Kingston, if you look at the president's term so far -- and again, it's very early and every president has an adjustment from campaigning to actually leading, but failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, the travel ban blocked twice by federal courts, the Iran nuclear deal that he promised he would rip up on day one, didn't happen, the border wall, very doubtful Mexico is going to pay for it. No truth to the wiretap claims. How do you spin this as a good start?
JACK KINGSTON, (R) FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: Well number one is he has a great Cabinet and he is about to get a Supreme Court nominee. Chuck Schumer is not looking good in his opposition to Gorsuch. So I mean he may be the good, loyal oppositionist but nobody is taking him seriously.
COOPER: The Supreme Court clearly -- KINGSTON: Yes, he's going to get that. Keystone Pipeline, $8 billion project that Obama held up for seven years, today Charter Communication has announced a $25 billion investment, 20,000 new jobs. He's, you know, had success with Lockheed, had success with Carrier, he is talking to businesses. And, you know, these aren't really government programs but these are wins and these are things that conservative voters are going to say yes --
COOPER: Do you think overall for this first 60-some-odd days he is winning?
KINGSTON: I think he is. I think he is winning. I think that it's still a very tough atmosphere in Washington, D.C. And people tend to give the president the benefit of the doubt. No matter who the president is, they still have so much --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But his approval rating is 37 percent. So it looks like they're not giving him that much of a benefit of the doubt.
And let me say this about the selling of the bill that Brian was talking about. This president knows how to sell stuff. He does. He knows how to go out there and go on the stump and make the case. The problem I think this time was that he couldn't make the case because he didn't really believe in the case. And they didn't educate the public about what was in the bill that is better than what is in Obamacare. People didn't know.
They heard -- the Democrats made a very good case in opposition, I would argue, and they were out there every minute making that case. And the Republicans did not go home and make the case and when they were first attacked at their town hall meetings, that was the first sign. That was the sign that they were in trouble.
COOPER: Do you think those town hall meetings had a big impact?
BORGER: Yes, I do. And I think, you know, they went back to the negotiating table, you saw a lot of them, got nervous and maybe the president got nervous. I don't know. But he never said this is better than Obamacare. This provision will do more for you than Obamacare did. So he never got out there and sold it.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to come back. Number one, if you take Sean Spicer at his word, that's a pretty damning indictment of the president's sway then.
KING: If he did everything he could and he couldn't move members of his own party after winning -- after taking over the party and win the election, that's a pretty damning indictment of how much sway the president has.
I will dispute the Democrats a little bit to say in the last couple of weeks. I do think the president put a lot into this in the last couple of weeks. I think he put a held a lot into this in the last couple of weeks. But if you studied history like immigration for Republicans, this is the quicksand of American politics, health care.
Those Democrats who voted for Obamacare thought they were casting a good vote. They lost 63 seats in the House in the next election. We were still a recession. We had 10 percent unemployment. It's not all in the Obamacare.
But then in 2014 after losing the House in 2010, in 2014 the Democrats lost the Senate. Do you not think that every Republican today thinking about am I undecided on this, am I yes, am I or no, was thinking about the history of the politics, number one. Plus, you do have profound policy differences within the Republican Party.
[20:45:10] The Freedom Caucus people don't believe the government should be in the health care business. They think they should be in the market and the government should have a very limited role.
The 26 Republicans who Hillary Clinton carried their district, well, they have to answer to a different set of voters who did not want to take away guaranteed maternity coverage, did not want to take away guaranteed mental health care coverage.
And so, Donald Trump did not run on a very specific health care plan. He ran on repeal and replace and it will be better for you, I promise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did run on taxes and trade.
KING: But if he was -- but so if he was going to touch health care -- he didn't litigate it. Obama and Clinton and Edwards litigated health care. They spent a ton of time on the detail in the campaign. And they fought about universal coverage. They fought about the specific subset. And then the president took months to sell it to the country. He even went to the House Republican Conference in Baltimore where Mike Pence introduced him.
It was -- look, it was fake. It was -- I'll say it right up front. It was -- President Obama was not genuine in his outreach to Republicans on health care but he at least checked the box.
BORGER: But he was familiar with all the detail.
KING: At least checked the box. This is so complicated. We were talking about this during the break. If -- once the president decided to let Ryan -- to outsource the bill to Ryan to be the -- to take the insiders' game, do health care first, not your outsider agenda that you ran on, they needed to do work.
They should have been doing work during the transition, going to the southern members districts and saying, I'm going to ask Anderson Cooper to cast a vote, he doesn't want to cast for me when we go back in Washington in January and I'm telling you, you voted for me, back him up. They didn't do that --
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: That's right. I don't think they're going to make that mistake as we get to taxes, we get to infrastructure, we get to trade. Look, this administration has to get back to Donald Trump issues. He got taxes, trade, immigration, defeating ISIS. Those are the really the cores, really the things that move voters. Might not have been traditional Republican voters --
COOPER: Wasn't the repeal and replace Obamacare, I mean, wasn't that a huge issue, I mean, a core -- that was the number one thing for Donald Trump, wasn't it?
KINGSTON: That was more of a Ted Cruz issue.
BORGER: Come on.
COOPER: That was on day one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably went to 20 rallies where Donald Trump spoke. I never saw he speak about --
KING: That's interesting. You're saying it was obligatory, that he was faking it.
KINGSTON: I'm just saying it's an obligatory Republican line for everybody who runs for office wearing the --
COOPER: That was written by his staffer Paul Manafort. In fact, let's just look at this again because I think I'm in an alternate universe. Let's take a look at what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my first day I'm going to ask Congress send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.
Immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.
Immediately repealing and replacing Obamacare.
We will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINGSTON: Let me say this. Those -- if I was looking at the sign --
KINGSTON: And I just back to Jason's point, his core issues really were jobs, strong national defense, to begin with and that's where he really likes to be. I mean it is an obligatory --
MILLER: -- repeal and replace Obamacare, you asked him what he was going to do on the jobs he would say --
KINGSTON: Wait. Let me finish this point.
COOPER: That was day one of his campaign.
KINGSTON: If at the end of all this process the best that we as Republicans could come up with was a bill that had a 17 percent approval rating. I think the president and his smart guys in the back room probably said, you know what, let's get out of this thing because you're about to make your guys walk the plank for a bill that's going to get killed in the Senate so why not --
BORGER: Today he said I'm here 64 days, I never said repeal and replace in 64 days. No, he actually said sooner than that.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break.
Just ahead, we have other breaking news on Capitol Hill. Three former top aides during the Trump campaign, including Paul Manafort, have volunteered to be grilled by the House Intelligence Committee, actually saying top aides and Carter Page is referenced is not really correct. Anyway, there probably two top aides, the Republican chairman of that committee has sprung a surprise, canceling their next public hearing, drawing a new fire for dealing new fire for doing so. Again, to all of that in a moment.
[20:52:17] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Three former advisers to President Trump campaign have volunteered to be questioned by Congress about their possible collusion with Russia, including former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort and House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunez made this surprised announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNEZ, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The committee will ask Director Comey and Admiral Rogers to appear in closed session and will postpone the previously scheduled March 28th hearing in order to make time available for Director Comey and Admiral Rogers. The committee has seeks additional information from Monday's hearing that can only be addressed in closed session.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The committee's ranking Democrat, Congressman Adam Schiff slammed Nunez for cancelling Tuesday's hearing, saying it is more proof thte Nunez is biased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: One of the profound takeaways of the last couple of days is we really do need an independent commission here because the public at the end of the day needs to have confidence that someone has done a thorough investigation, untainted by political considerations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well tensions between Nunez and Schiff have been ramping up all well. Today's new development just cranked further. Jessica Schneider tonight has more details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone are already under FBI investigation for their contacts with Russians known to U.S. intelligence. Now they say they'll go before lawmakers.
Paul Manfort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, resigned amid questions about his previous lobbying for pro-Russian interest in Ukraine. Today, a spokesman said Manafort looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts.
Campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page denied allegations that he secretly met with Putin associates. He told the committee, "I would look forward to engaging with you in the interest of finally ending this ruse."
And the attorney for Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump says Stone is anxious to talk. Stone told CNN, "I acknowledge I am a hardball player. I have sharp elbows. But one thing isn't in my bag of tricks, treason."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Flynn.
SCHNEIDER: Former national security adviser, Michael Flynn is also under FBI investigation but his spokesman had no comment on whether Flynn might make a similar offer.
Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunez suddenly cancelling next week's open hearing with former director of national intelligence, retired General James Clapper, former acting attorney general, Sally Yates and former CIA director, John Brennan. The ranking Democrat on the committee accusing the White House of meddling in the process.
SCHIFF: There must have been a very strong push back, you know, from the White House about the nature of Monday's hearing. It's hard for me to come to any conclusion about why an agreed upon hearing would be suddenly canceled.
[20:54:58] SCHNEIDER: Nunez wants the FBI director and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers to come back next week in a closed session. Nunez refuses to disclose what new information he has and where he got it, but he says it revealed incidental collection of communications by President Trump and his associates.
NUNEZ: You can ask me every single name that exists on the planet, and I'm still not going to tell you who our sources are.
SCHNEIDER: Schiff is calling for an independent investigation saying he's concern that Nunez may have shared investigative information with the White House.
SCHIFF: To take evidence that may or may not be related to the investigation through the White House was wholly inappropriate and of course cast grave doubts into the ability to run an incredible investigation.
SCHNEIDER: Thus, Intel Committee is expecting information from the NSA over the next few days on the issue of unmasking, the process of revealing the names of Americans in reports when they're supposed to be hidden.
Well, Chairman Nunez says they want to know why these names were unmasked and if any additional names were revealed. Anderson?
COOPER: Thanks very much.
Much more ahead. In the next hour of "360", we're learning more about how the Republican health care bill collapsed and why President Trump was not able to clench a deal. Now that the bill is dead, the finger pointing, well, that is beginning. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back to the second hour of "360". Failure, fallout and finger pointing after GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act collapsed. Details of the bill were less than popular with the public seen as too harsh by moderate Republicans and not tough enough in the eyes of some conservatives.
In the end, neither House Speaker Paul Ryan nor the president could bridge the divide. The vote on the bill was postponed last night and canceled this afternoon. Short time later, the president weighed in. Here's a portion of his remarks from the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And we were very close. It was a very, very tight margin. We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren't going to give us a single vote, so it's a very difficult thing to do.
I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now. We couldn't quite get there. We're just a very small number of votes short in terms of getting our bill passed. A lot of people don't realize how good our bill was because they were viewing phase one, but when you add phase two -- which was mostly the signings of Secretary Price, who's behind me -- and you add phase three, which I think we would have gotten, it became a great bill.
[21:00:05] And I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare. They own it. 100 percent own it. And this is not a Republican health --