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EARLY START

White House Intervention In Obamacare Repeal; EPA Chief: CO2 Doesn't Cause Global Warming; Investigating White House Ties To Russia. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN HOST: The White House is privately signaling it is open to a big change in the House Republican bill, rolling back Obamacare's Medicaid expansion years sooner than the current proposal. Now, that's according to two senior administration officials and a senior House conservative aide.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: The shift comes after two House committees signed off on the bill following marathon markup sessions. One of these sessions ran 27 straight hours.

BRIGGS: Brutal.

ROMANS: But with concerns growing about the measure's content and the pace it's being pushed through the House, opponents -- Republican opponents are ramping up their public criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: There's no deadline. We need to get health care reform right, we don't have to get it fast. There are a lot of Republicans who are saying these exact same things in private. I'm simply saying in public what many Republicans are voicing, that the legislation as it's written, one, probably cannot pass the Senate but, two, would not solve the problems of our health care system. Problems that Obamacare made worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Today, a new push in the sales campaign for Obamacare repeal as President Trump meets with key House committee chairmen and the vice president sits down with conservative leaders. Let's get the latest now from CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, conservatives still very wary about this proposal and not guaranteeing that when it gets to the floor they'll support it at all. All it does is underscore that there's a lot more work to do. The reality is this. When you talk to House Republican leadership aides, when you talk to Senate Republican leaders altogether, they say this is the vehicle moving forward. If they want to repeal Obamacare, that issue that they've campaigned on cycle after cycle, this is the moment to do it. Now the biggest issue, by far, is Medicaid. In the bill as it

currently stands, the Medicaid expansion that came with Obamacare would be rolled back in 2020. What conservatives want is 2017. That is problematic going forward. Still, they have an ear at the White House. The president telling conservative groups that he is not only open to the idea but would consider trying to act on it. That would be problematic for both the House and the Senate where a lot of moderate senators -- a lot of senators from those Medicaid expansion states simply wouldn't go along.

The reality is this. This bill still moving forward. The process a little bit slow and certainly ugly, but when you talk to Senate leaders and House leaders they say they'll still get it done -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Phil Mattingly -- slow and ugly. Let's bring in --

BRIGGS: Not Phil, though. Phil's not slow or ugly. He is --

ROMANS: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

BRIGGS: -- dashing and --

ROMANS: We're talking --

BRIGGS: -- quick, I assume.

ROMANS: He is. We're talking about the legislative process. Let's bring in political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Horizon Investments. He is live in Washington this morning. This process -- it looks like all this opposition, all of these quarters (ph) coming out of the woodwork saying what they want, what they don't like, but that's what this process is supposed to be, right?

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Yes, it's all about horse-trading, Christine. It's going to go on for several weeks, if not months. I'm a little puzzled by Trump. I mean, he's supposed to be the world's greatest negotiator, right, so he told conservatives in early March he's willing to agree to some of their demands? You don't cut a deal like that until you're in the House-Senate Conference Committee, so I question the timing. All he did was just complicate life for more moderate Republicans in the Senate.

BRIGGS: Yes, and interesting. Back to President Trump, you've seen how his vice president, Pence, going out on the trail this weekend to try to sell this thing in Kentucky and President Trump's been relatively silent on it. What you do hear is that push that this is a three-phase effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Is that going to work to get more people on board?

VALLIERE: Well, I just -- strategically, I do think a bill will get out of the House in the next few weeks. I think a bill can get out of the Senate, as well. Two different bills -- radically different.

ROMANS: Yes.

VALLIERE: Then you get in the House-Senate Conference Committee -- the real action. That's where they cut a deal and I don't rule it out. I'm probably in the minority. I still think that the Ryan proposal or something like it can still make it.

ROMANS: I know Medicaid expansion and just what that looks like and how quickly --

VALLIERE: Right.

ROMANS: -- it's rolled back is the big sticking point right now, which we've been saying -- I've been saying. Those are the worldviews that are colliding here. Obamacare represented the government fixing and mandating coverage for everyone.

BRIGGS: The federal government.

ROMANS: The federal government -- and the states are talking about flexibility and the freedom of choice at a very -- you know, the GOP is talking about a very different thing there. Paul Ryan is saying, with his little tent talk today --

BRIGGS: The tent talk.

ROMANS: -- with his pointer and his, you know --

BRIGGS: He rolled up his sleeves.

ROMANS: Vintage Paul Ryan yesterday. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare. The time is here, the time is now, this is the moment, and this is the closest this will ever happen. It really comes down to a binary choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Where we are on the rollback of Medicaid expansion, is that the most important hurdle?

VALLIERE: Absolutely, Christine. There are so many moderate Republicans -- Rob Portman of Ohio, for example -- who consider this non-negotiable. To cut way back on Medicaid will not fly in the Senate.

[05:35:00] ROMANS: It's not cutting back, it's choice, it's choice.

VALLIERE: Yes.

ROMANS: That's what they say. It's not cutting back. VALLIERE: They say that, but tell that to Rob Portman and a lot of other Republicans who don't agree with it. I think an awful lot of Republicans are beginning to realize that this issue could become an albatross for them in 2018 and 2020. And it's an adage that I think is true, which is whichever party owns the issue of health care regrets it because it's so complicated and you become a target once you come up with a plan.

BRIGGS: You've got 28 mid-terms and you've had a 2020 presidential election. Jim Jordan will be on "NEW DAY." He's a part of that House Freedom Caucus. We'll see if the president sold him in their meeting yesterday.

Meanwhile, the new EPA chief for President Trump speaking out about -- well, the headline tells it all on the "Daily News."

ROMANS: The "Daily News."

BRIGGS: "CO2 No Evil." Let's hear what he had to say about global warming yesterday on CNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I think that measuring, with precision, human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there is tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the -- to the global warming that we see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: That was shocking --

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- because it flies in the face, not just with international agreement, but their own website reads, "Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change." What is the impact of that statement in the White House, in this country, for rollbacks that could come on regulations?

VALLIERE: Well, it's going to invigorate the environmental movement for sure, a comment like that. You know, guys, I thought that the most absurd comment of the week, the title had already been given to Ben Carson who said that slaves were just immigrants seeking a better life here in the U.S. But this comment from Pruitt about pollution is right up there with a statement that is just going to reverberate for weeks or months to come. It shows a really fundamental disconnect with what scientists believe and what he believes.

ROMANS: I guess you'll call it a tie then --

VALLIERE: Yes.

ROMANS: -- for the most absurd statement of the week.

VALLIERE: Yes.

ROMANS: Fascinating. Let's just quickly talk about the -- all the Russia stuff.

VALLIERE: Yes.

ROMANS: Is that going to be -- the latest Russia allegations, are they going to -- is this going to hurt investors? Is it going to -- the drips and drabs, I think, makes it almost less potent.

VALLIERE: Well, it's a story that's going to go on for months and months. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at the Comey meetings yesterday.

ROMANS: Yes.

VALLIERE: I'm sure he told members of Congress that there was absolutely no validity to the Trump comments of about a week ago. But the big question that you ask is for the markets, no. There are other fundamentals and we're going to get something at 8:30 that I think will show the unemployment rate is quite good and that the labor market is healing. So for the markets -- you know, there's always background news in Washington but the fundamentals on the economy are really quite good.

ROMANS: I know. Maybe so good the Fed's going to have to raise rates next week.

VALLIERE: Yes, indeed, yes.

ROMANS: That sets up Janet Yellen against President Donald Trump.

BRIGGS: But the markets want that, right? They're ready for that.

ROMANS: I think they are. Don't you think they're ready for higher rates?

VALLIERE: I think one move, maybe a couple of moves this year, but if she starts to indicate there's a lot more moves to come that would be a concern. For now, the reason the Fed's doing it is that the economy's getting really strong. That's a good story.

ROMANS: All right, the economy's getting really strong. That's a good story. Greg Valliere, have a good weekend.

VALLIERE: All right, you, too.

ROMANS: Thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: Enjoy it, sir.

ROMANS: All right. Four months after early reports of a -- of a computer server connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank were widely dismissed, an FBI investigation remains open. Sources close to the probe tell CNN it is in the hands of the FBI's counterintelligence team, the same team looking into Russia's suspected interference in the 2016 election. One U.S. officials said investigators find this server connection "odd" but the official said there is still more work, Dave, for the FBI to do.

BRIGGS: Internet records show that last summer a server owned by the Russia-based Alpha Bank looked up the contact number for a Trump Organization server and Alpha server did so far more than any other companies -- about 80 percent of all lookups to the Trump server. Some say nearly 3,000. So far, no evidence the two servers actually communicated with one another and no indication of any wrongdoing.

In a statement to CNN, Alpha Bank says neither it nor its co-founder or president have had any contact with Mr. Trump or his organization. The FBI declined to comment. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

ROMANS: All right. The other big story this morning, South Korea's president removed from power, leading to deadly protests on the street. How does this affect the U.S. relationship with Seoul? We're going to go there next and see if now that it is evening in Seoul any of this has calmed down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:44:00] BRIGGS: Breaking this morning, deadly protests in South Korea after the country's high court upheld a decision to impeach the country's embattled president, their first female president. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the breaking details. She is live in Seoul.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Dave. Well, it has been a historic day here in South Korea. The country's first female president has become the country's first impeached president. Now, earlier today there was a massive protest here. The pro-Park supporters, they don't think that she should have been impeached. There have been allegations of corruption and bribery. Prosecutors saying she should now be tried as a bribery suspect because she has lost presidential immunity.

But there was a huge amount of anger here and you can see some of the protesters simply don't want to go home. We have seen pockets of violence against the police, against each other. We know that there have been two people killed in these protests, showing that emotions have been running extremely high and there has been a great deal of frustration, bitterness, and anger among these people that Park Geun- hye is gone.

[05:45:00] But this isn't representative of the whole country. There are millions of people around the country who wanted Park Geun-hye to be impeached. There was a smaller protest down the road when the verdict was called. They were cheering, they were jumping up and down, and there were cheers of joy. So there's a real split inside Korea at this point.

But for people here it's not just that they're pro-Park Geun-hye, they are anti the liberal presidential candidate who is the most likely to be president at this point. They believe that he is too pro-North Korean. They're concerned that he will want negotiations with North Korea.

They're also concerned that he doesn't want THAAD, the U.S. anti- missile -- ballistic missile system that starting arriving in this country on Monday. They're concerned that he could stop that happening but the fact is it starting arriving on Monday. It will take at least 60 days until an election is held so it is quite hard to see how he could actually stop that, even if he did become president. Back to you.

BRIGGS: A chaotic scene that could rewrite the talks between the U.S. and North Korea. Paula Hancocks, stay on it for us. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Back in the U.S., winter making an encore with snow falling this morning across the northeast. I want to bring in meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: So, Dave and Christine, you think the worst of winter is certainly behind us. Here we are in March and we should be warming up. As a matter of fact, we saw on Thursday a high temperature in Washington, D.C. of 74. But no, now we've got this arctic air, and I do mean arctic air, plowing in across the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley, into the Northeast, in New England.

And look at the swath of snowfall that we're expecting as we go into Friday. Some areas -- the Southern Cape primarily but, also, in a swath from a portion of Connecticut to Rhode Island looking at maybe five, possibly as much as 10 inches of snowfall. But all the way from Pittsburgh towards Philadelphia to New York, and even into Boston, could see between three and five inches, maybe four to eight inches of snowfall. Here's that coverage all the way from West Virginia, into much of Pennsylvania, into New York.

And look at these temperatures. High temperature in Washington, D.C., 47. New York City, 38. But it's the overnight lows. Wow, coming up in Boston on Sunday, a morning low of nine. Back to you guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: OK, so your school's out.

BRIGGS: Snow day.

ROMANS: I'm still waiting to find out but it's going to be interesting in the Northeast here in New York City, at least. And it's going to be interesting because it's jobs day in America. How are investors feeling ahead of this big jobs report? Will the president embrace it if it's a big one? It could be a big jobs report for the president's --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- first full month in office. We're going to get a check on CNN Money Stream, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:52:05] BRIGGS: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is offering to share secrets -- secret details about stolen CIA hacking tools -- to help tech companies fix their gaps in security. Assange saying WikiLeaks has a lot of unpublished information about tools it claims allow the CIA to use people's phones and T.V.'s to spy on them. The big question for the tech companies is whether they should cooperate with the fugitive in order to possibly fix their products or is Assange just too toxic.

ROMANS: Let's bring in our friend Samuel Burke. He is "CNNMONEY" business and tech correspondent. He is with us this morning live in London. How nice of him to help the biggest, most powerful companies in tech fix their problems.

SAMUEL BURKE, BUSINESS & TECH CORRESPONDENT, "CNNMONEY": Good morning, Dave. Good morning, Christine. I don't think the tech companies will be thanking him anytime soon. Remember, just because there's been the unauthorized release of classified information doesn't suddenly mean that it's declassified information and that's really what's putting the tech companies in a pickle.

On top of that, you have so many people who dislike Assange. Democrats upset with him for the release of Hillary Clinton's emails and then, on the other hand, you have so many Republicans who have been upset with him for years. Take a look at what Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska says about Assange who is, of course, just around the corner here from CNN's London bureau. "Assange should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit," he says. "He's an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin and has dedicated his life's work to endangering innocent lives."

The good news for these tech companies and for us, if these products really are -- have been hackable, is the fact that so many of these tech companies believe that they already had this information. Apple has indicated that they've seen flaws like this two years ago which have already been patched. And, Microsoft had something ingenious. They simply said here's our email address. If anybody wants to contact us, WikiLeaks or CIA, feel free to shoot us an email.

BRIGGS: Sam, how quickly can the tech companies fix security issues on these products?

BURKE: Rapid fire, Dave. We've seen before when Apple gets ahold of one of these flaws they try to patch it immediately --

ROMANS: Yes.

BURKE: -- and that's why so many people need to update their IOS as soon as that is released because it's all about security these days.

ROMANS: Oh, updating the IOS.

BURKE: Yes. BRIGGS: Thank you, Sam. The backdrop of this is that the Ecuadorian presidential elections are going on. The right-wing candidate says he will give him the boot -- Assange the boot from their embassy in London within 30 days, so that could have a major impact --

ROMANS: Interesting.

BRIGGS: -- on what happens with Assange.

ROMANS: That's a great back story. All right. Thank you -- thank you, Samuel. The Government Ethics Office slamming the White House for not disciplining top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway after she went on T.V. and told viewers, from the White House briefing room, to go buy Ivanka's stuff during an interview last month. The Ethics director, Walter Shaub expressing grave concern over the decision to forego punishment, saying it risks undermining the ethics program.

BRIGGS: The top U.S. commander for the Middle East is taking full responsibility for the January raid in Yemen that killed a Navy commando. General Joseph Votel defended the execution of the mission before the Senate Armed Services Committee while admitting heavy losses.

[05:55:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I am responsible for this mission. I am the CENTCOM commander and I am responsible for what's done in my region and what's not done in my region, so I accept the responsibility for this. We lost a lot on this operation. We lost a valued operator, we had people wounded, we caused civilian casualties, we lost an expensive aircraft.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Despite the failure to capture any top-level members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Votel insisted the raid did recover valuable information. The CENTCOM commander also said two of the three investigations into this raid have been completed with no sign of incompetence or bad judgment.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Investors feeling good ahead of the morning jobs reports. Futures are solidly higher. Stock markets in Europe and Asia are higher as well.

So this bull market for stocks has been running for eight years now but there's another impressive streak going on. It's been 100 trading days since the Dow or the S&P suffered a loss of more than one percent. That goes back to early October. One hundred fifty-five days without a drop is a record for the Dow, so you'd have to really keep going here. One hundred eighty-five for the S&P. This is all according to S&P, Dow Jones indices.

This started as perceived optimism that Hillary Clinton would win the election, then it turned into the Trump rally with investors cheering the prospects of lower taxes and less regulations. Remember all those people who said you'd have a recession or a market crash if Trump won?

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: You were wrong. Oil prices getting crushed. Crude dropping almost nine percent since the start of the month, now below $50 a barrel for the first time this year. Rising stockpiles in the U.S., higher production sent oil tumbling. This is not translated into lower gas prices yet. The national average has been stuck right around $2.30 a gallon for the past few months. It could come down toward the end of the month but may rise again when stations switch to the more expensive summer blend of gasoline.

Donald Trump vowing to spend $1 trillion on badly needed infrastructure but a new report shows it may take five times that amount to fix everything. The American Society of Civil Engineers says it will take $4.6 trillion. It gives the overall grade of D+ to America's infrastructure. Some highlights and lowlights -- America's public transit systems received the worst grade, a D-. Airports, D. Bridges, improvement, C+. The highest grade goes for rail, a B. The group puts out this report every four years. It's important to note this is a report from engineers, so infrastructure projects are in their best interest.

And the big story today will be the jobs report --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- at 8:30 Eastern time. And I'm wondering if you tell us, at EARLY START, do you think that the job market is strong, needs improvement? We just heard from Greg Valliere. He said it's really strong. The economy really humming here and things are a lot better than maybe conventional wisdom holds.

BRIGGS: And should President Trump take credit if, in fact, 300,000 jobs are created in the past month, as some have estimated?

ROMANS: Yes. Our official -- our official forecast is 190,000 but I think it could be stronger than that, you're right because we've had some other indicators. Four and seven-tenths percent unemployment rate, wages expected to rise. When we talk to companies they say they need skilled workers, you know. But jobs was the reason why Donald Trump got to the White House, so we'll see.

BRIGGS: And we're about to hit the debt ceiling again --

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BRIGGS: -- so we're back to that infrastructure thing -- $1 trillion, $4.6 trillion. We're about to, once again, hit the debt ceiling.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us, I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Jim Jordan joining Chris and Alisyn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: We haven't had entirely forthcoming answers from the director of the FBI.

ROMANS: James Comey meeting with the Congressional Gang of Eight.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Those walls are going to have to come down if we're going to do our jobs.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very confident that the bipartisan Congressional committees will arrive at the right conclusion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI investigators continue to examine whether there was a computer connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the presidential campaign a Russian bank looked up the address to the Trump corporate server some 2,800 times.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The current health care system is a monstrosity.

COTTON: We need to get health care reform right, we don't have to get it fast.

RYAN: This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, March 10th, 6:00 here in New York.

Up first, FBI Director James Comey meeting behind closed doors with the eight lawmakers who had access to the nation's most sensitive data, including that on Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election. What did Comey tell them?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. We also have some reporting for you. CNN is learning that federal investigators are continuing to examine this alleged computer server connection between the Trump Organization server and a Russian bank. What exactly is known and what could it mean?

Also, the battle within the GOP over health care is real. We have the latest on day 50 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin with Joe Johns at the White House -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Still not a lot of detail from those meetings --