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INSIDE POLITICS

House Republicans Unveil Obamacare Replacement; Critics Blast Obamacare Replacement; Countries Could be Added to Ban; DHS on Families at the Border; Trump Wiretap Claim. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 7, 2017 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

House Republicans unveil their Obamacare replacement bill and there are complaints galore left and right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Show us the numbers. Show us the numbers about the -- what the impact is personally on people. Show us the numbers as to how many people will be thrown off. It is -- it couldn't be worse.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Millions of Americans will lose their health insurance. Many who will have health insurance will not have a policy that is -- is protected today as we have under the Affordable Care Act.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: To suggest that what we put on President Trump's desk, you know, sets a new entitlement, keep some taxes, doesn't repeal all of Obamacare, we've got to do better.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: This is Obamacare light. It will not pass. Conservatives aren't going to take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, Trump travel ban 2.0. It targets six majority Muslim countries. But even the president's point man on the issue says it doesn't solve a big problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There's probably 13 or 14 other countries, not all of them Muslim countries, not all of them in the Middle East, that have very questionable vetting procedures that we can rely on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And still, no proof. Leading Republicans say President Trump's wiretapping allegations put his credibility at risk, but Democrats take it a step further. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: This is simply a president who cannot separate fact from fantasy, and as a commander in chief, doesn't know right from wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us this day to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Sarah Murray, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg Politics, Matt Viser of "The Boston Globe," and Mary Katharine Ham of "The Federalist."

The House Republican leadership is rolling out its Obamacare replacement plan today and facing an instant revolt on the right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If you drop your insurance and then you want to buy it again, there is a penalty. Under Obamacare, you had to pay the government the penalty. Under Obamacare light, the House leadership plan, you will pay the penalty to the insurance company. This is in all likelihood unconstitutional. It's the individual mandate, but you pay your penalty not to the government, to a private insurance company. So much of their bill is a bail-out for the insurance companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It is just day one, and those are Republicans. Now, the House plan -- let's look at the details -- it keeps the most popular Obamacare provisions, like allowing children to stay on a parent's plan until age 26, also keeps the prohibition on insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. But it would repeal the mandate that everyone must get insurance. It would change Medicaid rules that many governors have used to expand coverage. And it would repeal the subsidies that helped low income Americans afford coverage. Instead, the new House GOP plan says tax credits are a better incentive to get insurance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: This is Obamacare gone. This is the first and most important step to giving relief to Americans from this terrible law.

REP. GREG WALDEN (R), OREGON: The facts are, we've arrived at the scene of a pretty big wreck and we're trying to clean up the mess.

BRADY: We have a choice. We can act now, or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity. House Republicans are choosing to act now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: They are choosing to act now. Mary Katharine, let me start with you, because this is a House

Republican plan. We have a Republican president. Republicans think not only can we repeal, we can replace. However, in the past couple of hours, the Cato Institute, libertarian leaning group, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group, and Americans for Prosperity, more of a Tea Party group --

MARY KATHARINE HAM, "THE FEDERALIST": Right.

KING: All say this is a bad plan.

HAM: Right. I mean there are reasons that they didn't want to come out with the details of the plan, right? And I -- and part of it is because you're going to come under fire almost no matter what is in it.

Look, I think there are many on the right who are going to have issues with many parts of this because the popular parts of the plan are not conservative, right?

KING: Right.

HAM: But they are expensive, and you have to figure out how to like -- how to marry the moderates and the tea partiers on this stuff. And it's going to be tough. Some of this is people making noise to get changes in the bill. But this was always going to be extremely hard because an entitlement was given to people. It's hard to take it away. It was hard for Obama to do it even while straight up lying about the fact that people were going to be able to keep their plans -- lost mine four times, I digress -- and a compliant press basically saying that that would end up being the case. That was not the case. I'm glad Republicans are not making that case explicitly because it would not be true again. But they've won three national elections based on this pitch that they were going to repeal, one of them with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, and they've won all three of those times.

KING: Right.

HAM: So I think there might be some area for boldness here where -- that they're not taking.

KING: Right, the burden is on them to do this because of that, though. The 2010, 2014, and then 2016. Only the Obama re-election year, and the Republicans didn't get wiped out down below in the Congress, they did OK in those elections. But they're moving this bill forward without a lot of the key details. Number one, how much would it cost?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

KING: Number two, how many people would be affected? How many people who have health insurance today, like Obamacare or not, how many people who have it today wouldn't have it under the Republican plan? That's called a score in Washington. The Congressional Budget Office needs to score it. The urgency is to move quickly, but Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, saying today, and most of the Democrats just stepping aside. They want to let the Republicans have their own internal war over this, saying, how dare you advance this when we don't do the math?

[12:05:02] MURRAY: Well, right. And, you know, let's be honest about the number that Democrats care about here. They don't care about the cost of this plan. I mean Republicans are going to care a lot about the price tag on it. What Democrats are going to focus on are the number of people who will lose health insurance, who currently have health insurance, and then they are going to run across the country and they are going to find those people who are at risk of losing health insurance and then you will see them written about in newspapers and you will see them on television, and that is the reason this is going to be so difficult for Republicans because Mary Katharine said it's really difficult to take away an entitlement that you've already given someone, and you will always find a young, sick person or an old grandma or someone who is sympathetic, who is going to lose their coverage.

And so Republicans are going to take heat for that. It will be interesting to watch this party that's now spent, you know, years running on this, try to actually do it. It's almost, you know, running and winning elections is the easy part. It's the governing that's the hard part.

KING: Governing is the hard part. And when you have something so complicated -- and you're right, Republicans have the high ground politically because they can make the case. We campaigned on this in 2010. We got the House. We campaigned on this in 2014. We got the Senate back. We won the presidential election. The details are hard. When you have something so complicated, communicating is important. You should communicate with clarity. And you don't want to drive anybody away.

Here's Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican chairman on the House side. A -- one of the key players in trying to help the leadership sell its plan. He's already walking this one back because people said not the way you want to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Well, we're getting rid of the individual mandate. We're getting rid of those things that people said that they don't want. And, you know what, Americans have choices, and they've got to make a choice. And so maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They've got to make those decisions themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: That was a little too honest, wasn't it?

KING: Yes. Yes, I mean, to the point it is -- he -- what he's saying essentially is this is your responsibility. We're going to a market- based system. And we're going to help you, but you have to do it. But that's probably not communications 101. TALEV: Look, a big part of -- a significant part of what is

destabilized the viability of Obamacare in its current form is the kind of detraction of it by Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures all across the country. Republicans have an interesting choice now, which is, do they shore up and validate the Republican alternative to Obamacare in a way that will support it and maintain it at the state level and make it more affordable or not? And the cost part -- the cost piece of it, whether you're giving up your iPhone or whether the government's going to subsidize or whatever, is, of course, the biggest part. It's not even really the keeping your kids who are 26. Those kids are cheap anyway. And keeping those kids in the system makes it more likely that they will say, hey, I rely on insurance. I want to keep buying insurance. That's good for the system if you're going to take away a mandate. But it's making sure sick people can get coverage, mandating the coverage for women. It's these pieces that are really expensive. And until there is some Republican coalition agreement on who pays for it and how to guarantee it.

KING: And to those points, and to the point you made earlier, Mary Katharine, it takes a couple years to figure that out. The president of the United States, the former president, did say, if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Didn't turn out that way. Didn't turn out anywhere close to that way.

HAM: Not so much. It's almost as if one could have predicted it, as I did many times.

KING: Yes. Right. But it -- but it -- yes, but -- yes, but for people to actually have that happen to them takes some time.

HAM: Yes.

KING: And so the Republicans need to pass this bill, and then you deal with the consequences later, which makes this a giant test for the president of the United States because he has this internal feud in his own party. So today he's having some of the House deputy whips, for those of you at home, those are the people who help count the votes, members of the leadership team, junior members of the leadership team, but they go out and they count the votes. Are you for it? Are you for it? What do you need for you to be for it? That's what they do. Then he's having dinner this week with Ted Cruz.

We are told by the White House the president is fully prepared to travel the country and make this case. He tweeted this this morning. "Our wonderful new health care bill is now out for review and negotiation. Obamacare is a complete and total disaster, is imploding fast." The negotiation part is what makes it interesting. How involved will this president be, and how involved does Speaker Ryan want him to be when it comes to where are the semi-colons, what stays and what goes?

MATT VISER, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": I think you look -- you look back to 2009 and the Democrats and despite President Trump's newfound realization that this is complicated, you know, we've know it's complicated for a while. And you look at how long Democrats took in 2009. Max Baucus is working his way and there was a lot of internal divisions over universal health care and how to do this. The difference now it seems with this bill is that it's being sort of attacked on both sides. Conservatives are attacking it over the cost of it and there's some moderate Republicans who are worried about Medicaid and what happens in their -- in their states. So it's not like there's just a tug in one direction. It makes it a lot more complicated given the fractious nature of the Republican Party and how people are looking at this bill, which needs more leadership from the president to sort of figure out how are we going to do this, and what are we going to do?

HAM: Well, I think Trump, as always, is a wild card because he's not deeply interested in health care policy, even though he's -- I think he can be a pretty good salesman and can speak to what people are actually feeling on Obamacare. I'm sure he knows, because he watches the polls, for instance, it is enduringly polled that more people are hurt than helped by Obamacare. So there are sad stories on both sides of this. And I'm sure he's pretty good at honing in on that if he were out on the trail and doing that or -- or talking on TV about it. The problem is, does he go and sit in a room with a senator one day who says, well, I want this part preserved, and he goes, that's a pretty good idea.

[12:10:18] KING: Right.

HAM: Let's present it. And it throws off the whole CBO score. So I think that's the real wild card that he can sell, but what's he decide to end up selling?

KING: That's a great point as the debate goes forward.

Everybody sit tight. This debate will be with us for weeks, I suspect even months. Be fun to watch.

Next, the president's new travel ban will be challenged in court, just like the first version. This time, though, the White House says it is prepared to fight all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

Take two of the Trump travel ban means round two of the court right over its legality. Administration critics who've successfully blocked the first version in court concede now that this revised ban is more narrowly focused and more carefully written, but they will still challenge it on grounds it is, to them, a thinly vailed Muslim ban.

[12:15:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNE LIN, SENIOR LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, ACLU: The revised ban issued by the president is the Muslim ban 2.0. It is a reincarnation of the original failed and flawed Muslim ban that was blocked by courts across the country. For some reason, President Trump and his advisors like losing, and they like losing badly over and over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The White House says it is much more confident it can win in court this time. Other critics say there's a bigger issue at play here. They say the six countries specifically listed in the restrictions aren't the biggest worry spots and they say the president's own point man makes their case for them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "WOLF": So what other countries would -- might be added to that?

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, there's a number of them out there. I don't want to speculate. But I'm -- there's probably 13 or 14 other countries, not all of them Muslim countries, not all of them in the Middle East, that have very questionable vetting procedures that we can rely on. And then if we overlay additional vetting procedures, the chances are those countries -- there will be minimum citizens from those countries that visit our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's come at this in reverse order in the sense you listen to Secretary Kelly there. Six countries now in the restrictions. Iraq was dropped for the original seven. But he says 12, 13, 14 more. With the time they had, why aren't they in there? Why didn't the administration -- if you have a bigger problem -- or they worry they can't do that because then it will lose in the courts?

MURRAY: I think there are so many questions about why they made some decisions regarding this. You know, they clearly had this set of countries in their mind. They based it in part off of, you know, a list from the Obama administration. I think they felt like that could help them move things along. But they've been pretty disingenuous in the data they've used to support this. They listed, you know, 300 problematic refugees but wouldn't say what countries they came from. They have no answer for what happens if you came here as a child. And for the fact that, you know, most experts say the worrisome thing is that people come here and they become radicalized in America, not the fact that they come from their countries planning to do harm when they come here.

So, you know, they really haven't been able to provide the kind of documentation, the kind of support to hang this thing on, and this is just another example of that. Now, they have left the door open to, you know, maybe we could expand this to more countries. So maybe that's what we'll see.

VISER: And you look at -- you look at the rollout of this. I mean the president did it without the press there to see him signing this. Sean Spicer didn't answer questions on camera. You had the three cabinet members who did give statements, but they didn't, you know, have any press -- press conference. So there wasn't the type of opportunity, or, you know, sort of the -- the -- the feeling that the administration was proud of this, and they wanted attention on it. You know, I mean it was sort of announced and then went (ph) away (ph). KING: I think -- I think part of that was everybody knew the first

question of those three cabinet secretaries would have been, do you believe the president's wiretapping allegations?

TALEV: It would have been the question of the president, too.

KING: It would -- yes, it would have been a question -- it would have been a question to the president too, which is why I will give Secretary Kelly credit for at least coming out and doing interviews on this.

HAM: Yes.

KING: He has been up front about this, even when he was blindsided the first time around by the White House handling of this. He was willing to go out and take responsibility for it. So he can debate -- we have to debate the policy. We'll see what happens.

But they do say this time that they feel on better legal ground. They've taken care of the green card issue. They've dropped Iraq because of promises from the Iraqi government and Iraq's cooperation that they can figure that one out more narrowly tailored. But you hear the ACLU there, this -- we're still going to go through a court fight here.

HAM: Yes, that doesn't surprise me. I think -- I think the administration's probably right, they are on more solid ground. I'm glad that there are some changes here that are based on data that they got in this interim process. And there's still this political element, I think, which is that there is a gap between the American people and how they feel about the vetting and the folks gathering to protest at the airports. By the way, not nearly as large or as loud of crowds this time around.

KING: Right.

HAM: And the American people listen to Kelly and think, OK, well, they're thinking about how they're going to vet from these countries and I like that they're thinking about that instead of shaming me about being worried about the people who come into the country without proper vetting. And I think that is something that works on Trump's behalf that people maybe in this town don't notice as much.

KING: Right.

TALEV: I think there are a couple of elements to watch for. One is the change in the language covering religious minorities. The DHS still has the ability -- the principles still have the ability to do that through waivers, but it's not written into the language the same way. That seems to be a legal modification (INAUDIBLE) to withstand lawsuit. Another is what happens after the 90 days. Two kind of conflicting sets in the discussions that we all had yesterday. One is the idea more countries could be added. The other is that some of these six could satisfy those concerns within 90 days and come off the list. And the third is the number that Sara raised that 300 that the FBI has a beat on. At some point, somebody is going to force an answer to, where those people came from, how many of them are still refugees versus citizens, and that could be essential to unpacking kind of how this rule withstands (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Right. And as we watch the legal challenges unfold on these questions we press, I do think it's safe to say on this day that it's better from the White House perspective that you have Secretary Kelly out there making the case for you, as opposed to Stephen Miller on the White House lawn saying the president's always right and these judges are all idiots. I think -- I think you get a better case there.

[12:20:12] But part of Secretary Kelly's job is also selling other controversial immigration promises from this administration. Listen to him here. Wolf Blitzer asked him one of the key questions. You're at the border. You have increased enforcement. And a family is coming across the border. There is an adult who is illegally entering the United States with children. What do you do?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "WOLF": Let me just be precise.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Right.

BLITZER: If you get some young kids who are coming in -- manage to sneak into the United States --

KELLY: Right.

BLITZER: With their parents, are Department of Homeland Security personnel going to separate the children from their moms and dads?

KELLY: Yes, I am considering in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, not agreeing or disagreeing. That's the policy debate that will happen in town. Plaudits to Secretary Kelly for going out and clearly explained what they're thinking about doing. If you're going to have a controversial debate about something, lay it out there.

I get the policy in the sense that he thinks of it as a deterrent. Word about these things spread pretty quickly on both sides of the border. He is trying to say, I want it known that if you come across this way, we will separate the minors and we'll put them into foster care and the parents then will be deal with the detention hearings or be shipped back. He wants it known on the other side of the border that if you do this, you're at risk of separating your family. However, how is it going to play out on this side?

VISER: I think that's -- I mean it gives certainly a lot of ammunition to critics of it. You know, to have like -- some of the most, you know, hospitable cases or cases that you can have sympathy for that family in being torn apart and ripped apart, you know, at the border and those images. I mean the reason -- one of the reasons that I think there's so much opposition to the first executive order was those images at the airports. You know, you had people there, you know, who were detained, and you had people cheering once they came off. So, I mean, I think images liking that can be pretty powerful if that's what we end up seeing in a couple of weeks or months.

MURRAY: It also seems to ignore the other side of that, which is, OK, you separate children from their parents and then what? Then what do you do with them? We put them in detention centers that are -- we already believe to be overcrowded. And Trump wants to detain more people. We put them in our fantastic foster care system? I mean what part of that seems like a feasible solution and who, from the administration, is going to be out there defending it when, like Matt says, you have people who find these sympathetic examples and say, this is a kid who has been separated from their one relative they know and is now in a -- with -- staying with a foster family that doesn't even speak the same language potentially.

KING: Right.

HAM: Well, or you put -- or you put them in foster care and then they're dreamers? I don't -- I mean I'm like --

MURRAY: Like, like what happens on the other side of that?

HAM: Yes.

KING: Right. Right.

HAM: But I think -- I think you might be right, that the idea is to deter before it gets to this.

MURRAY: Right.

KING: Yes, the issue is to talk about it publicly to deter people on the other side, but it's complicated for those who do get across the border. But Secretary Kelly went on to say, the goal is, if they have someone in foster care, is to try to see if they have family members in the states legally here and then pair them up with them. But it's a process. And during the process you get into the politics. Again, the beginning of many debates, the ripples of this issue as we go forward.

Up next, new tensions between the FBI and the White House as the stunning weekend wiretap allegations raise more credibility questions for the president and for his team.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:27:28] KING: Welcome back.

Three days and six hours now since President Trump dropped a bottom shell, accusing President Obama of wiretapping the phones at Trump Tower during last year's presidential campaign. Now President Trump offered no evidence, but he is now demanding Congress investigate. One problem for the White House? Even many Republicans see that as a cop- out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is a very serious charge and one that needs corroboration. And I'm not in favor of Congress continuing an investigation. First, I believe the president should tell the American people what evidence he has that this kind of action was carried out by the previous president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Evidence with the allegation. Interesting theory there from Senator McCain.

The accusation was made Saturday in a pre-sunrise tweet storm. Yes, that's trademark Trump. But this one, more consequential.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The president of the United States put his own reputation, the reputation of his predecessor, and the reputation of his nation at risk to get at least a draw out of the next 24 hours news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you think of that assessment there from General Hayden, that the president -- we know the president was angry. We know the president was mad at his own people, including his attorney general for recusing himself. We know that the president, if you talk to his friends and advisors and aides, thinks that there is this determined calculated effort within the intelligence community and the federal bureaucracy to undermine his presidency. General Hayden says essentially he is risking the credibility of the country and himself personally by trying to change the subject with a tweet storm.

VISER: He is. I mean a lot of this is, frankly, irresponsible, you know? And even yesterday he was sort of asking Sean Spicer to put -- what is the evidence? Like, where did he get this idea, you know? And they point to the House and Senate are going to investigate. So essentially the House and Senate are going to investigate where the president got this information to publicly have this tweet, you know? And so it's just a house of mirrors sort of thing that is hard to sort of discern where this is -- where this is leading. And it's a damaging thing, I think, for us to --

KING: Damaging thing. The president, again, if he has this evidence, put it out. But the president of the United States accuses his predecessor of doing something. Now, he's either accusing his president -- the former president, as he suggested in his tweet, of some Nixonian abuses of power, or he's saying the previous administration got a wiretap, got a legally approved wiretap, which we don't know. We don't know the answer to this yet.

TALEV: There's a third option too.

KING: OK. TALEV: The third option is that at the time they made the tweet the president thought that the former president could legally have ordered a tap on him.

[12:30:00] KING: Well, I would hope the current president of the United States understands that no president of the United States can snap his fingers and order a wiretap, at least that's what the law says, unless there's some mystical power we don't know about. But reporters at the White House, several of you spent a lot of time at the White House, I did that once.