Return to Transcripts main page
House Set To Vote Today On Obamacare Repeal; FBI Info May Tie Trump Associates To Russians During Campaign; Nunes: Trump Intelligence "Incidentally Collected"; Terror Raids Overnight In London. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired March 23, 2017 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:30:30] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Will the Republican health care plan pass the House today? Members of the Freedom Caucus are optimistic but moderates are jumping ship. Can the president get the party on the same page to repeal Obamacare exactly seven years after it was signed into law? Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. A busy day.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN HOST: And I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour on a major news day. History will be made today one way or another. Either Republicans will take their first vote towards actually repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act or we could see a staggering vote in the seven-year GOP campaign against Obamacare and, perhaps, the entire Trump agenda. The White House and Republican leaders now deep into a furious last-ditch campaign to turn no votes by members of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus into yes votes.
ROMANS: One critical issue at this point, ending essential health benefits that Obamacare requires in every insurance policy. More on that and what essential health benefits are in just a moment. Right now, there is still no deal but Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows suddenly sounding more upbeat that one will be made soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: I'm really optimistic that we can get there. I mean, there's still a lot of details to work out, Sean, and so to say that we've got a deal, that wouldn't be accurate. The president and I came to an agreement in principle. I think what we're trying to do now is to make sure that our agreement is actually something that can be executed in a way that passes the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: It's a major turn of events. While Meadows is changing his tune, some moderate Republicans are sounding an alarm. After a late meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Congressman Charlie Dent, the chairman of the moderate "Tuesday Group," announced he is now opposed to the bill.
So, with all this give and take, here's where things stand at the moment. According to CNN's whip count, 24 House Republicans have said they are flat-out no's, another four say they are leaning against. That's 28 lawmakers but, of course, that is all subject to change if the Freedom Caucus flips to supporting the bill. There are more than 30 members of that Freedom Caucus, most of whom were against the bill.
ROMANS: As for the president himself, aides say he's not involved in all the details of the legislation. One aide tells CNN "he either doesn't know, doesn't care or both." But they say he is deeply into selling the bill and "appears energized" by that.
BRIGGS: All right, let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan in Washington. Good morning to you, Tal.
TAL KOPAN, REPORTER, CNN POLITICS: Good morning.
BRIGGS: This is hard to figure out which direction it's headed but to see Mark Meadows optimistic is a major turn. So if they made some promises to the House Freedom Caucus -- a deal in principle -- can they, in your estimation, hold the moderates and get something through with 216 today?
KOPAN: Well, the devil is in the details as has been throughout this entire process. And you're right, there are some agreements that are going to sort of be a rock and a hard place because if you make it with one group then, you know, the other side of the spectrum might bolt.
But at the same time, you know, there is a bit of a game of chicken playing out here and it's very easy to say you're going to vote no to something and when push comes to shove, if the bill is actually on the floor, it's a lot harder to actually vote no on something and take that vote back to your constituents and explain it. And now, some of these lawmakers feel very strongly that they are in the right place when it comes to their constituents. And, you know, some of these Freedom Caucus guys will tell you the melting of the phone lines in their office are in favor of their no position --
KOPAN: -- so they may feel they have the cover. But we're still going to see when that bill is up there and the vote board is going how they actually come down.
ROMANS: One of those Congressmen is a Republican from Kentucky, Tom Massie, and I want to show you this tweet here. He changed his vote from no to hell no, and he told Erin Burnett last night that his phone calls are running 275 for no to four for yes. And he said he's giving the president cover because he said if they vote for this, this is a one-term president. That's what he thinks.
KOPAN: Yes. I mean, you know, what's really interesting is you're almost hearing more about the politics of this repeal than you are about the repeal itself. You know, the president's own messaging has been we promised we would do this, we need to do this. And there are some lawmakers who are saying, you know, we may be talking about repeal but what's actually in the bill is not enough for us and that's part of why they feel like they can win that messaging back home to their constituents.
[05:35:20] They simply don't feel that when you actually get into the subject matter and the content of the bill, it is what was promised. So there's a lot of talk of the politics of this --
KOPAN: -- but there are still some people also looking at the details of the policy of this and not liking what they see.
BRIGGS: Yes. The president, clearly, just needs a win here, something they get it to the Senate and get to tax reform, in his estimation, but from the politics to the policy is that essential benefits. That's what may have been at the key of this deal in principle with the conservative Freedom Caucus. Things like maternity, mental health, prescriptions, emergency services. Now, if they are able to strip this and get a yes, what type of problem does that present procedurally in the Senate?
KOPAN: Yes, well, it presents two problems in the Senate. One is moderates and you can't spook any Republicans in the Senate, essentially -- you know, maybe one or two -- and still pass this bill. The second question, as you mentioned, procedurally.
Part of why this is so sort of rushed and on a clock is that Republicans decided to do this through a procedure called reconciliation which allows them to pass a sort of shell budget resolution, which they did a few weeks ago, and then move forward with this plan. And it lowers the vote threshold so they don't need to get any Democratic support to do the repeal. But that procedure is limited to things that can be sort of construed as related to the budget, which because of Obamacare's tax provisions --
KOPAN: -- some of it can be. So now, they're sort of stuck. If they try to do something like this there's a chance that the parliamentarian will say uh-uh, you can't do this through reconciliation --
KOPAN: -- and then they actually have to get Democrats on board in the Senate which is going to be a very difficult sell.
ROMANS: Oh, absolutely. I think you're going to see things changing hour by hour today, if not minute by minute.
ROMANS: Let's talk about the latest reporting on Russia and potential coordination between people on the Trump transition team -- or the Trump campaign, rather, and Russian officials or Russian agents. This FBI reporting -- this reporting from our justice team is just fascinating. Bring us up to speed. KOPAN: Yes, and, you know, the way it's being described is there might be some information that the FBI has that seems to point towards that coordination. But, you know, keep in mind this investigation -- there are no conclusions being drawn yet.
KOPAN: This has all the hallmarks of going on a very long time --
KOPAN: -- which is probably exactly what the administration doesn't want because we're starting to see this drip, drip, drip where you get these data points -- these dots that members of Congress are trying to connect, you know, in public while the FBI does it work. And now, this report that there may be some information that would point to coordination between certain officials of the Trump campaign and Russia. But again, we don't know yet how heavy the FBI is weighting this information. We just know that it's out there and that this is not going away anytime soon.
BRIGGS: Not at all. It could be headed for a select committee, ultimately. Tal Kopan, thanks so much.
KOPAN: Thank you, guys.
BRIGGS: All right. So, did the chairman of the House Intel Committee compromise this whole investigation into Russia's election meddling? Devin Nunes meeting with President Trump has Democrats fuming this morning. More, next.
[05:42:35] ROMANS: Big questions this morning about whether the House Intelligence Committee probe of Russia's alleged meddling in the election has been compromised. That's because the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes, announced communications involving President Trump and his associates may have been "incidentally collected" by intelligence agencies conducting surveillance on foreign subjects after the election.
Nunes said to be steaming at the intel he has read -- dozens of reports, he said, that he has read. He personally briefed Mr. Trump on this new development but he didn't inform his Democratic counterparts. Listen to Nunes defend his actions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It concerned me enough to have to notify the president because he was the -- it was him and his transition team that were involved in this and he needs to be able to see those reports. These are intelligence reports that were widely disseminated. It's not fair for him not to know what's in these reports while the past administration and many agencies do know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: The ranking member of the House Intel Committee, Democratic Adam Schiff, insists Nunes has cast a "profound cloud" over efforts to investigate Russia's meddling and he's not sold the investigation can go on this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA, RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I -- you know, I think we have to have a real head- to-head, frankly, in the committee about how we're going to run this investigation. I do think that probably more so than other single act during the course of this investigation, today's events underscore the need for a truly independent commission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: President Trump says he feels "somewhat vindicated" by what Nunes told him.
ROMANS: Let's dig into this further. Let's go to Washington now. CNN military analyst Col. Cedric Leighton, retired Air Force colonel and a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Good morning. You know, really a remarkable set of events yesterday --
ROMANS: -- when you have, you know, the Intel Committee chairman going to the president -- rushing to the president with this information that he's said he's seen in dozens of intelligence reports, and then going to the press and answering some questions but not really revealing too many details about what exactly he found in there. What do you make of this? Decipher this for us.
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER MEMBER, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, AIR FORCE COLONEL (RET.): Well, Christine, it is one of the strangest things I've seen. I've worked a lot with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in my past and there was never a situation where the chairman of that committee would go to the White House and not inform his counterpart from the opposite party, so this is an unprecedented situation. It is a situation where you have, really, too many unanswered questions for him to actually go and do this.
[05:45:10] BRIGGS: All right. And at the heart of this, Devin Nunes suggesting that names were improperly unmasked. If you could unmask for us what this all means and how they may have done so, speaking about our U.S. Intelligence Committee.
LEIGHTON: So, what would happen -- for example, let's say there's say there's a telephone call between Dave and myself. And, Christine is another party but she is not talking to either one of us but she is talking to somebody else, and they're going through all the different areas where they could possibly get at the targeted information, and let's say Dave is the target of an investigation. Well, if that were to happen they would have a court order that would say Dave is the target of the investigation.
They happened to pick up Christine's conversations but those conversations are incidental conversations. They would then be discarded under normal procedures. They would not be analyzed. They would not be looked at once they determined it was Christine who was doing the talking. So what you have here is incidental communications that supposedly were being conducted by the Trump transition team. Those conversations would have been wrapped up in these kinds of intercepts so that is what should have been discarded is what I think Chairman Nunes' point is.
LEIGHTON: The problem that you have is, you know, are these related to other investigations, so it gets a bit murky in those areas.
LEIGHTON: But what you really have is a court order. He says the collection was legal and since the collection was legal, at the very least, even if it is troubling to him, he should have coordinated with his Democratic counterpart and said OK, you know, what we have here, is this something that really requires further investigation or do we need to have the Intel Community change its procedures, but none of that was done.
ROMANS: He said it wasn't about Russia. He was asked by the -- Devin Nunes -- Congressman said it wasn't it -- this wasn't Russia-related which I think caught a lot of people by surprise because every hour there's a new development on, you know, the FBI investigation into Russia.
LEIGHTON: That's right, and you know, because there's so many developments regarding Russia, this issue has tainted the whole Russia investigation. And having tainted it makes it really impossible for this committee to conduct a fair and impartial investigation of the Russia ties, even if these intercepts had absolutely nothing to do with that country.
BRIGGS: And that's why John McCain joining Adam Schiff in calling for a select committee to investigate these collusion allegations. But a new story, yesterday about this time, regarding Paul Manafort, by the Associated Press, that he took eight-figure sums from a Russian oligarch to essentially lobby on behalf of the Putin government. How does this change, at all, the debate? Did he do anything illegal? This was 2005 to 2009, six years before working for the Trump election committee.
LEIGHTON: So he obviously didn't know he was going to be working for the Trump election committee but --
BRIGGS: We hope. LEIGHTON: Right -- you hope, right, unless they really had this planned out.
BRIGGS: That's really sinister, yes.
LEIGHTON: Exactly, exactly. But if, you know, this happened like the reports say that it did then, you know, anybody who does business with a foreign entity, and especially an entity in Russia, should know that they're going to be looked at. You know, Russian entities are, just as a fact of life, targets of intelligence --
LEIGHTON: -- operations by the U.S. and its allies and those kinds of things -- those kinds of financial transactions need to be above board. They need to be able to be explained and the fact that they -- there is not good explanation for this stuff, at least so far, makes it very hard for people to believe --
LEIGHTON: -- anything that is being said now about Russia.
ROMANS: Colonel Cedric Leighton, so nice to have your analysis here this morning on a variety of very important topics. Thank you, sir. Have a nice morning.
LEIGHTON: You too, Christine. Thanks so much.
BRIGGS: All right. We trust that Alisyn Camerota was listening intently to everything the colonel was saying there and you'll continue to help us understand this story on "NEW DAY."
ROMANS: Hi there, Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Absolutely. We have all of the latest developments on that. If I were to tell you everything that is on "NEW DAY" this morning in this tease, it would take 15 minutes -- a 15-minute tease because we have 10 pounds of show stuffed in a five- pound bag.
So I basically can tell you that we're going to give you the stunning developments on both sides of the Russia accusations. We also have the latest in the London terror attacks. And then we also have the latest counts as to whether or not the Republicans do actually have the votes for their health care plan. They have, you know, less than 12 hours to figure that out. So we will have all of the newsmakers on all of these stories for you live coming up in about 11 minutes.
[05:50:03] BRIGGS: Jim Jordan will join them, of the House Freedom Caucus.
ROMANS: That will be great.
BRIGGS: We'll find out where they are on this bill. Can't wait to hear him, Alisyn. ROMANS: Thanks, Alisyn
CAMEROTA: Thanks, guys.
ROMANS: All right, four big-name companies pulling ads from some Google platforms. They're really upset about where their ads were shown. Some pretty shocking stuff there. What Google is doing now to try to win them back.
BRIGGS: Breaking news. Officials in Britain say their working theory about the terror attacks in London was ISIS-inspired. Overnight, police conducting six terror raids connected to the attack, arresting seven. Three people were killed, dozens injured when a man plowed his car into a crowd before trying to storm the Houses of Parliament. CNN's Nina dos Santos tracking the latest developments live near the crime scene at Westminster Bridge in London. Good morning, Nina.
[05:55:15] NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Thanks very much, Dave. Well, this is the closest we've ever been able to get, so far, to the crime scene. Let me just step away and you can see the Houses of Parliament that you mentioned before, where part of that attack took place. And then further towards the left of that you should be able to see Westminster Pier, and beyond that, Westminster Bridge.
That bridge, sadly, was the place were two members of the public, innocent bystanders were mowed down by the vehicle before it crashed into a perimeter fence of the Parliament building and the attacker made his way towards the main gate where he assaulted a police officer, fatally wounding him with a knife. And that attacker was brought down by an armed police officer and he, too, lost his life. So we have three innocent individuals who were killed in this attack and the attacker, himself.
Let's give you more information that we've heard so far on the attacker. Police seem to know who he is. As you said, they've raided various addresses up and down the country and in the capital as to try and gain more access to perhaps the people he knew. But they're saying they don't want to release his identity so far. What they can say is that when it comes to the people who were killed, well, there was a 50-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman who lost their lives on that bridge. So far, they are said to be from a mix of nationalities, some of these individuals, so they haven't yet been named by the police.
From here, they're going to be examining CCTV footage, forensicevidence from the vehicle on that bridge, and also taking a look at the digital footprints of this attacker. They believe he acted alone but the big question is if it was, indeed, ISIS or international terrorist-inspired, who was he communicating with? There's got to be a key line of investigation from here on, Dave.
BRIGGS: Nina, thank you. More on this investigation later on "NEW DAY." ROMANS: All right, let's check on CNN Money stream this morning. Stock futures are mixed for the moment. Investors have paused the rally for now as the vote on health care looms. That's an important indicator of how maybe tax reform may go, so Wall Street closely watching. Global markets are also mixed this morning. You had a little bit of a bounce back in tech stocks yesterday.
Google, though, facing a growing backlash from advertisers after it was discovered that ads were being placed next to videos posted by extremists and hate groups. The companies include Verizon, car rental firm Enterprise, Johnson & Johnson, as well as AT&T, which we should mention has entered into a deal to buy the parent company of CNN, Time Warner -- full disclosure. They aren't pulling their ads on Google search, they're pulling their ads on certain Google-owned platforms like YouTube.
This all stems from an investigation last week by "The Times" newspaper of London. It revealed that some ads for those companies were placed near inappropriate content on YouTube, much of which was posted by religious extremists, a Klu Klux Klan leader, and other controversial groups. Google has since apologized. It's boosting resources to review content to make it easier for brands to control where their ads appear.
BRIGGS: A massive undertaking to police all that. Well, stop me if you've heard this before. It's the biggest day of the Trump administration.
ROMANS: I've heard it before.
BRIGGS: It's got to be it.
ROMANS: If I had a dime every time we said it -- but it's true every time. It is a very big day for the Trump administration and we'll know more about that vote tonight. So thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Can they get 216? We shall see. "NEW DAY" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: The president's associates may have communicated with Russia to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
NUNES: Right now, it looks like incidental collections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel vindicated?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, somewhat, do.
SCHIFF: The chairman briefed the press in advance of briefing his own committee members. That is a deep, deep problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't have a presidential whisperer.
TRUMP: We must repeal Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came into the meeting with being a no and I left being a no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really optimistic that we can get there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chaos in the heart of London.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people on the ground. I saw people flying in the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Londoners will never be cowered by terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, March 23rd, 6:00 here in New York. It is a very busy news day.
We begin with breaking news right now. Police in London announcing they have made seven arrests in connection with yesterday's deadly terror attack outside of the House of Parliament. Officials now say it was likely ISIS-inspired. We will have much more on this developing story.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, and we have new information on a different front, the FBI's investigation on the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. CNN has learned the Bureau has information that some of the president's associates may have coordinated with Russian operatives in the releasing of damaging information about Hillary Clinton's campaign.
CAMEROTA: There are also growing questions about whether the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia is now compromised after its chairman went directly to the president with new surveillance information.