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Affordable Care Act Challenge in Court Today; Former Presidential Candidate Ross Perot Dies; Interview with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Presidential Candidate. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 09, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:18] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Health care coverage for millions of you, on the line today. A panel of federal judges, hearing oral arguments today in a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican states and backed by the Trump administration, that could gut the Affordable Care Act.

TEXT: End to Obamacare Would Mean: No protections for pre-existing conditions; Wouldn't allow children to stay on parents' plan until 26; No caps on out-of-pocket expenses; Return of annual/lifetime caps on coverage

HARLOW: At stake? Insurance for 20 million Americans, protection for people with pre-existing conditions, subsidies for low-income people and much more. Our Joan Biskupic joins us from outside of the courthouse in New Orleans.

this is a really, really big deal, Joan. Tell people why.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It really is, Poppy. This is the third major challenge to the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed in 2010. And what's different this time is exactly what you said. Millions of Americans are now covered by its protections.

TEXT: If Obamacare is Struck Down: Roughly 20 million people would be uninsured; Some 52 million people may be uninsurable due to pre- existing conditions; Insurers would no longer be required to cover all applicants and provide comprehensive benefits

BISKUPIC: Texas and several other Republican-controlled states have challenged the law, saying that in 2017 when Congress zeroed out a tax penalty for people who were not obtaining health insurance, it invalidated the individual insurance requirement and the entire law. And now, Poppy, the Trump Justice Department is echoing that, saying the entire law should be declared unconstitutional.

So defending it are California and other Democratic-led states, and the now-Democratic-controlled U.S. House. They're coming into court today, to say that whatever Congress did in 2017, it didn't jeopardize the individual insurance requirement, and it certainly didn't do the entire law.

The case will be heard this afternoon by three appellate judges -- two Republicans, one Democrat -- and no matter what happens, this is going to play into the 2020 election campaign and, Poppy, likely be destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.

HARLOW: OK. Joan Biskupic, thank you very much. Stay on it. Of course, Chief Justice John Roberts will play a huge role in this, as it likely goes to the Supreme Court. That's what your new book, "The Chief," is all about. People should read it. And keep us posted on what happens today. Joan Biskupic, we appreciate it.

Quick break. We're back in a moment.


[10:35:00] HARLOW: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, calling on the Senate floor for Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): -- and serial sex trafficker of children, Acosta chose to let him off easy. This is not acceptable. We cannot have, as one of the leading appointed officials in America, someone who has done this. Plain and simple.

Second, I am calling on the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility to make public the results of its review of Acosta's handling of the Epstein case. Senators Murray and Kaine have called for these findings, but the Justice Department so far has stonewalled, has refused to make them public. This review cannot be kept in the dark, particularly given the new revelations. And there should be hearings.

And, third, the president needs to answer for his statements he has made about his relationship with Mr. Epstein. In 2002, he said he'd known Epstein for 15 years and he was, quote, "A terrific guy who enjoyed women" -- quote -- "on the younger side," unquote. Epstein was also reportedly a regular at the Mar-a-Lago Club for years.

The president needs to answer for this. And "I don't recall" is not an acceptable answer in this case, particularly since President Trump appointed Mr. Acosta to such a powerful position.

Now on health care. Today, oral arguments begin in the Texas v. United States. And the fate of our entire health care system hangs in the balance due to this nasty, cruel lawsuit led by President Trump's Department of Justice.


HARLOW: All right. We do have sad news to share with you. We have just learned that self-made billionaire, philanthropist, former presidential candidate Ross Perot has died. He was 89 years old. Of course, you will know him for his two runs for the presidency, both in 1992 and then again in 1996. Our Wolf Blitzer has a look back at his remarkable life.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR (voice-over): H. Ross Perot was already a mega-successful businessman when he leapt into the American consciousness as an independent presidential candidate in 1992. His folksy manner --

ROSS PEROT, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I was down in Texas, taking care of business, tending to my family. This (ph) situation got so bad that I decided I'd better get into it.

BLITZER (voice-over): -- and his laser-like focus on the economy --

PEROT: We have got to stop sending jobs overseas.

BLITZER (voice-over): -- made Perot one of the most successful third party presidential candidates in U.S. history. He won almost 19 percent of the vote in 1992.

From the beginning, Perot's campaign struck a chord with those seeking a third party candidate. He threw his hat into the ring on CNN's "LARRY KIND LIVE."

PEROT: Number one, I will not run as either a Democrat or Republican because I will not sell out to anybody, but to the American people. And I will sell out to them.

BLITZER (voice-over): In a presidential debate, he attacked both Republican President George H.W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton with equal vigor about the nation's debt.

PEROT: Now, it's not the Republicans' fault of course. And it's not the Democrats' fault. And what I'm looking for is, who did it?

BLITZER (voice-over): Perot also directly challenged both candidates' support of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Perot feared it would cause the loss of American jobs.

PEROT: There will be a job-sucking sound going south.

BLITZER (voice-over): Perot's campaign against NAFTA continued beyond the presidential race. The Clinton White House responded with the challenge: a one-on-one debate with Vice President Al Gore, live on CNN with Larry King as moderator.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I'm listening. I haven't heard the answer, but go ahead. I'm --

ROSS: That's because you haven't quit talking.

GORE: Well, I'm listening.

LARRY KING, CNN MODERATOR: You're (ph) on equal time here.

GORE: How do you stop it without NAFTA?

ROSS: Are you going to listen? Work on it.

BLITZER (voice-over): It was watched by millions of viewers. Just over a week later, NAFTA passed both the House and Senate. It took effect on January 1, 1994.

Ross Perot was born in 1930 in Texarkana, Texas, where his father ran a cotton mill. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1953, and spent four years at sea. He started Electronic Data Systems in the early 1960s. It later became one of the world's largest technology services companies, processing data.

Perot became a billionaire in 1984, when he sold a controlling interest in EDS to General Motors for $2.5 billion. A couple of years later, he started a second data processing company, Perot Systems Corporation. It sold to Dell in 2009 for almost $4 billion.

[10:40:05] In 1969, President Richard Nixon asked Perot to seek better treatment for U.S. prisoners of war in North Vietnam. He traveled to Laos, where he met with ambassadors from Russia and North Vietnam.

Perot made headlines again in 1979. When two EDS employees were taken hostage during a revolution in Iran, he organized and paid for a successful private mission to rescue the men and bring them home.

Perot ran for president again in 1996. But this time, he was barred from the debates. So he bought network air time and broadcast a series of informercials to explain his personal vision for America.

Perot won only eight percent of the vote in '96. Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.


HARLOW: All right. Our Jamie Gangel joins us now on the phone.

And, Jamie, of course, our thoughts with his wife Margot. He is survived by her and their five children together.

You covered him for years. Tell me what he was like.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that Ross Perot, Poppy, was perhaps the original maverick -- we used that term a lot -- from his voice to his style. Very plain-spoken. We, you know, before Donald Trump captured the American public, certainly Ross Perot did as an independent.

He also didn't listen to the people around him. He was -- and by that I mean, the political advisors. When I covered his campaign, they would say, you know, "Do this" or "Don't do that," to him. "Don't do interviews." And he really ran his own ship.

But I think from my years covering him, the thing that stood out to me was his role in, as an independent candidate, when he got in the race with George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Because as Wolf just reported, he's got -- Perot got almost 19 percent --


GANGEL: -- of the vote. And if you look back at those numbers, I know the Bush campaign really

felt that Perot was a spoiler for the Republican candidate. And there were several reasons that George H.W. Bush lost that re-election, but a lot of it they blamed on Ross Perot -- Poppy.

HARLOW: They did indeed. What do we not know? What do most people, Jamie, not know about Ross Perot that you think they should know, as we remember him today?

GANGEL: You know, I don't think we should forget -- at the time he ran, I think we -- you know, he was very much in the public consciousness. And people knew that he was really a self-made man. He --


GANGEL: -- grew up in Texarkana, as I recall. He went into the Navy, became a salesman for IBM, and very quickly became a top employee. No -- not a surprise. He was a good salesman, as we then saw in his political career. And then after he left IBM, he started Electronic Data Systems in Dallas. And once again, just soared to the top.

I think the other thing that -- you know, Wolf mentioned this, but it's very important to remember, he was a driving force behind the MIA movement in Vietnam. He really pushed very hard and spent a lot of time, effort and money --


GANGEL: -- on trying to bring MIA back --

HARLOW: Sure, sure.

GANGEL: -- and resolve that.

HARLOW: Well, Jamie, thank you so much for this. I mean, you had years covering him and I really appreciate you calling in.

[10:44:13] I'll just leave everyone with this. His son, Ross Perot Jr., asked to describe his father, said, "Obviously, a great family man. A wonderful father. But at the end of the day, he was a wonderful humanitarian." Again, our thoughts are with his family. We'll be right back.


HARLOW: All right. This just in to CNN, a federal appeals court has just ruled that President Trump cannot block users on Twitter. The court says by blocking users, President Trump unconstitutionally discriminated against those who wanted to access his social media account, just because he disagreed with their speech.

All right. We're seeing the first anti-Trump TV attack ad of the 2020 presidential race. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TEXT: Trump promised manufacturing jobs would stay -- but they're not. MSNBC, 3.9.19

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll be seeing drug prices falling very substantially, I promise you.

TEXT: Drug prices going up, despite Trump promise. Associated Press, 9.24.18

TRUMP: We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, I promise you.

[10:50:02] TEXT: Trump falls short on infrastructure. Washington Post, 5.26.19

No more broken promises.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president, I will take on the fights that no one else will.


HARLOW: That ad is from presidential candidate, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She joins me now.

Good morning, Senator. Thank you for being with me.

GILLIBRAND: Delighted. How are you, Poppy.

HARLOW: I'm well, thank you. So you're going to, as you call it, "Trump's backyard." You're in New Hampshire this morning. You're taking it to the voters that flipped from voting for Obama to voting for President Trump. Talk to me about why you think that is the best strategy to win in a Democratic primary.

GILLIBRAND: Because I think, as I talk to voters across America, they want someone who will beat Trump. And they know that the problems are more than just President Trump, that in fact there's real issues underlying the economy and our government that need to be addressed.

So I'm going to President Trump's backyard to show the American people how many promises he's actually broken. He promised to lower prescription drug prices, and failed. He promised to end bad trade deals and bring back manufacturing jobs, and failed. He promised to end gun violence, and he's failed.

And so I'm going to talk about my vision for the country, to actually get things done.

HARLOW: So let's talk about some of the issues. Immigration, women's rights, guns. Let's start with immigration.

As a member of Congress, you have a long record on immigration. You opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants. You voted to increase funding for ICE. You called securing the southern border a national security priority. At one point, you posted that English should be the official language of the United States.

And I know that you've backed away from all of those positions, so much so that you raised your hand in the last debate, when asked if crossing the border as an undocumented migrant should no longer be illegal. It's a dramatic reversal. Why such a change of heart?

GILLIBRAND: Well, Poppy, I've answered this question about a dozen times, including on your network. And 10 years ago, I became senator for the entire state of New York. And I not only had the humility to recognize my positions were wrong, but I had the courage to lead from a new position.

And I've been leading on those issues for over a decade. I've led on comprehensive immigration reform, with a pathway to citizenship. I've a comprehensive approach about how to treat asylum-seekers at the border in a far more humane way. Because, look, we have a president who under his leadership, severed (ph) --

HARLOW: But I guess I'm getting at the why.

GILLIBRAND: -- children have died in his custody.

HARLOW: I guess I'm getting at the why, Senator --

GILLIBRAND: Because --

HARLOW: -- let me -- let me ask you. For example, the former DHS secretary under President Obama -- I'm sure you read Jeh Johnson's op- ed yesterday -- and he said, quote, "Those who aspire to public office should not espouse campaign promises that have no prospect for success --

TEXT: WP Opinions On Immigration Policy: "We cannot... publicly embrace a policy to not deport those who enter or remain in this country illegally unless they commit a crime. This is tantamount to a public declaration... that our borders are effectively open to all; ... Those who aspire to public office should not espouse campaign promises that have no prospect for success -- this is a disservice to our democracy and assumes voters are fools."

HARLOW: -- "this is a disservice to our democracy and assumes voters are fools." He's talking about decriminalizing crossing the border as an undocumented migrant. What was it that changed you so dramatically on this issue?

GILLIBRAND: So, Poppy, we need a president who has the humility to recognize when they're wrong, has the wisdom to listen to their constituents, learn from them and change their positions. That's who I am.

And I have the courage to actually lead from a better position, and I've been doing so for over a decade. This isn't a new campaign perspective. This is something I've been fighting for as a U.S. senator for 10 years, and winning.

The thing that I do is, I bring people together to get things done and to make a difference. I do not think we should criminalize children and parents coming across the border who are seeking asylum. They need our help --

HARLOW: So on -- and to --

GILLIBRAND: -- our country is stronger because of immigration, it is not weaker.

HARLOW: And to your --

GILLIBRAND: And we need to have not only comprehensive immigration reform, but we also need a humane asylum system and I have a plan to have a community-based system so these families can come across, they can be given lawyers, have real immigration judges and actually have a community-based system.

I disagree with what President Trump has been doing --


GILLIBRAND: -- and I believe we need leadership. And leaders --


GILLIBRAND: -- who can have a vision for how to get this done.

HARLOW: So to your argument about saying, "I'm on this road trip, on this bus trip because I think I'm the one who can beat President Trump on this," you have never lost an election in your 13-year political career. But when you look at the polling right now, you're polling somewhere between zero and one percent.

"Washington Post Magazine" did a fascinating profile on you just yesterday. And here's what they wrote. Quote, "Gillibrand's brand -- motherly, responsible, pragmatic, experienced -- is going to be a tough sell if what we really want, at some level, is for our politicians to entertain us." Do you think that's part of why you haven't broken through more?

GILLIBRAND: It is so early, Poppy. We've had one debate, and there's going to be 10. So it's a long process between now and the first primary in New Hampshire and the first caucus in Iowa. And those are states I intend to win.

[10:55:00] I'm really proud of the campaign we are running because we are leading the national debate on women's reproductive freedom. I'm the only candidate that went to the front lines in Georgia to say that women's reproductive freedom are basic constitutional, human and civil rights.

HARLOW: So on the issue of women's rights, can you elaborate for me? Because this is what you have -- has been a cornerstone of your campaign. You have a hundred percent lifetime rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. What is the first thing, Senator, you would do as president to ensure women's equality in this country?

GILLIBRAND: A lot of things. I would focus on the economy --

HARLOW: But number one.

GILLIBRAND: -- I would focus -- there's a lot. I would pass national paid leave, is probably the first thing I would do. Because it's bipartisan and it's something whose time has come. And I've led on it for over five years, and I have a comprehensive approach to make sure all families can meet the needs of their loved ones and still succeed in the economy.

I would also only appoint judges and justices that see Roe v. Wade as settled precedent, as the law of the land that it is. And guaranteeing access in all 50 states.

But we also have to make sure the economy grows for everyone. And that means things as simple as better job training so people can earn a higher wage.

Which is why I'm taking the fight to Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania. These are states that flipped to Trump in the last election. And there are so many voters who need a leader who can not only speak to our base and inspire them to fight for this democracy by getting money out of politics and having publicly funded elections and passing a Green New Deal.

But also reach across the aisle and find those undecided voters and Republicans who want a different path for this country. And that's who I am. I win in red places and purple places.

HARLOW: We have --

GILLIBRAND: I'm the only candidate up there who has won a two-to-one Republican district twice --

HARLOW : We have --

GILLIBRAND: -- and brought the whole country together, passing bipartisan legislation.

HARLOW: We have seen you win those districts in New York. I am so sorry we're out of time. We had a lot of breaking news, as you know, this hour.

When you come back, I want to ask you about something you said yesterday on the economy. Because you said it's important to stand up to, quote, "even fellow Democrats" on the economy. I'd love to know what you mean. We'll save that for next time, Senator.

GILLIBRAND: Yes, well --

HARLOW: Thank you.

GILLIBRAND: -- we can talk about trade.

HARLOW: Come back next --

GILLIBRAND: We can talk about mistakes that have been made.

HARLOW: -- come back -- come back next week. I'm out of time. I apologize for that. Thank you for doing this.

Thank you all for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow. Kate Bolduan picks it up next.