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GOP Faces Town Hall Turmoil Over Health Care Bill; Last-Minute Drama as France Picks a President; Will House Health Care Vote Help Trump Agenda?; Trump Team Warned Flynn About Russia Contacts. Aired 8- 9a ET
Aired May 7, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:12] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Much needed win for the president and with it, a risky promise.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Premiums will be coming down. Yes, deductibles will be coming down.
KING: Next up, the Senate. But Democrats already see political goal.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: You have walked the plank from moderate to radical.
KING: Plus, a spending billing conservatives hate and how the White House hopes to turn the page.
TRUMP: I'm proposing actually the single largest tax cut in American history.
And France picks a president and decides the fate of the European Union.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reports, now.
KING: To our viewers in the United States and around the world -- welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your Sunday.
We will take you live to France in about a few moments for an update on today's quite consequential presidential vote and its potential impact, not only on U.S.-French relations but on the eastern economic and military alliances.
The final chapter has a familiar ring, one campaign is hacked, and the debate is testy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We begin this Sunday, though, with America's recurring political divide over health care, and President Trump's hope of soon fulfilling a seven-year Republican promise, to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Step one is done. The House just barely passed its plan Thursday. The president sees it as a momentum shifting spring board, hoping a Senate victory is next and then another big ticket agenda item.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to get this finished and then we're going -- as you know, we put our tax plan in, it's a massive tax cut. The biggest tax cut in the history of our country. I used to say the biggest since Ronald Reagan. Now, it's bigger than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, is one House vote really that much of a game changer or is the president overly optimistic?
With us to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace of "The Associated Press", Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times", CNN's Phil Mattingly, and Margaret Talev of "Bloomberg Politics".
Step two for the health care debate is the Senate, where the rules and the tiny Republican majority make things a lot more difficult. Plus, key Republicans already are dismissing the House plan, in part because it likely will cost millions their coverage. It scales back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. It allows higher premiums for older Americans, and it caps Medicaid payments to the state, the states use those payments to help low income Americans get coverage.
As the Senate begins its challenging work, also pay attention to this, the early voter reaction to the House vote will shape the mood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are mandating people in Medicaid accept dying. You are making a mandate that kill people --
REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R), IDAHO: No one wants to die. You know, that line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's Raul Labrador there, conservative from Idaho, going home to a very red state. Now, some of this is organized. But this will shape the mood, Phil -- they're home this week and then they come back to Washington next week. They're all going to watch to see how much blow back they get as the moves over.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think, look, everybody wants to see their reaction now. They took the vote. They took the very difficult vote. They went through the extraordinarily complicated, difficult, onerous, whatever word you want to use there to get to this point.
Now, the reaction comes back. And you can look to the Senate and see what's going to happen with the bill, but I think for House Republicans right now, who just barely squeezed this out, 217 votes when they needed 216, a lot of individuals took votes that probably they didn't want to take, I know for that a lot of members made very clear, I don't want to be yes on this, I'll be there if you need me. And leadership said, guess what, we need you.
And so, now, for those members, a lot whom, 14 of whom, come from Clinton won districts, what happens when they go home? What happens when they come to these town halls? What happens when the attack ads of which I'm told the opportunity to make them is -- they are just trying to figure out what to attack on because they feel like they have so many options -- what happens when those hit?
I think it's very early to say that this swings everything. Democrats are going to get with the majority. There's no question at all they feel like they can go on offense here.
KING: And how much of this was policy? They like the bill. A lot of Republicans -- I showed you some of the political concerns there and the policy effort as it moves to the Senate, and how much of this was -- there was essentially a message from leadership that we'll worry about the middle later, if we don't do this, our base will abandon us and next year's midterm election when it's all about turning out your base.
To that point, Mark Sanford, Republican in the House said, it would have been the apocalypse of Republicans hadn't done this in the House.
Now, listen to Senator Ted Cruz, as it moves over there, he's one of the conservatives who don't like parts of this bill, but --
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: For seven years, the Republicans have been promising if only you elect us, we'll repeal Obamacare. I think consequences of failure would be catastrophic.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
[08:05:04] KING: So, they worry about came at that time catastrophe politically? But what about the details?
JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right. I mean, you're hearing this line, increasingly, both in the House and now as we move to the Senate, just this broad idea that for Republicans, health care is so central to what they promised voters, that if they don't do anything, that the blowback could be very damaging. But what's so interesting about health care and live this with
President Obama, is that you're talking about a really complex piece of legislation, something that has sweeping impact across the country. But it's sometimes the simplest line that end up being the most memorable, with Obama, it was -- if you like your plan, you can keep it, if you like your doctor, you can keep it. As I hear Raul Labrador say no one dies from not having health care, or I hear President Trump talked about premiums going down, all the benefits -- those are the lines that Republicans will be held accountable for if this does move through the Senate.
KING: Premiums will go down, deductibles will go down is going to be in an ad before we're off the set today.
The president was part and he deserves credit, he needed a victory. He got a short term victory. We'll see what the finish line is, he was part of the effort to get those final votes that Phil mentioned, bringing in two of the members who proposed one of the key amendments to this. Does he understand, they're obviously very happy at the White House, does he understand it gets a lot harder. Now, you're going to try to cut a deal in the Senate.
And then, if they get something through the Senate, which is still a big if, as we have this conversation, then a much harder task, the Senate is going to pass something over here, the House bill is over here, and good luck, Mr. President.
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG NEWS: That's right. I mean, I think we've seen with President Trump during the campaign season that he -- his instinct generally believed that never let strategy get in the way of good tactics and that it makes sense to bite off taxable pieces to take your victories where you can and to move forward. The White House I think believes that you threat the Senate a little differently than you treat the House, that Mitch McConnell has different negotiating skills and different expectations and different abilities than Paul Ryan. They also understand the complications.
So I think you will see some different treatment and maybe more deference even as the public posture from the White House is, we have to take control and be involved every day, I don't think they're going to treat Mitch McConnell the same way.
But as you mentioned, for President Trump -- President Trump's line, his guarantee is that people with pre-existing conditions are going to get even better coverage than they did with President Obama. If this actually should pass the Senate and become law in some form, that is the measure that he and the entire Republican Party will be tested against.
KING: This bill as it now stands, Jonathan, does not keep a lot of the president's campaign promises. Some -- in some cases, not even close.
JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right, he vowed to cover everybody more than once and to offer them terrific care. And he said even during last few months he was asked in interviews that if it didn't reflect those promises, he wouldn't sign it. His instinct on this I think is much more expansive than his actual adoptive party, right? He's not a free market guy. I think his instinct is to help people and not pay a sort of political price for signing something that is not popular.
That said, it got to the point where he just wanted to sign something and wanted to get a victory because he was getting sick of bad headlines. And I think that is why there was some sigh of relief that you saw in the Rose Garden.
But I think to say, I'm reminded of the James Carville dictum, that the mover on health care pays a political price. It doesn't matter which party it is or what you're doing in health care. If you're moving on health care, if you're tampering with health care, you are intervening in the lives of Americans in a profound way and the history of that in this country politically is that the party that does that pays a price.
KING: And so, the Democrats certainly did in 2010, the first midterm election after Obamacare, and then again in 2014.
MARTIN: In '94, you can say, right?
KING: Yes, in '94, Bill Clinton and they didn't get the bill, and they still pay the price.
We just heard Raul Labrador, a conservative out west. Now, here is Tom Reed, a moderate member in the Northeast at a town hall back home again getting pushback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at me, a 14-year-old boy in the eye and justify how you can vote for a bill that will take away mine and millions of other guarantees about being discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition?
REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: The fact that pre-existing condition is in the bill and it's in this bill is going to continue, you will have access to health insurance just as you do today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The line that you will have access to health insurance just as you do today. We all have access to Maseratis and Ferraris, too. The question is, can you afford it? If states -- and it depends on what state you're in, it depends on what states you're in, but some states can change the rules. And so, yes, that young man, his family will have access, but states can change the premium structure dramatically.
MATTINGLY: Right. So, the interesting thing is -- having covered this bill from start to where we are now, and knowing the in the weeds details of it.
There is a way Republicans can explain that they believe they are maintaining pre-existing conditions, that the price controls that exist in Obamacare can be maintained, that there's protections underneath. There is a lot of different -- to continue your coverage, there's other $8 billion to help you with premiums, if you can't. All of these types of things that take a long time to explain.
You know what doesn't take a long time to explain, one sentence saying Republicans have changed pre-existing conditions in a campaign ad.
[08:10:00] And that's the difficult position they're in right now and I think in covering this the last couple of weeks, to your earlier point, and, John's, too, the main pitch was let's just get this over to the Senate, OK? Let's get it over to the Senate. To the moderates, they will change it, they will strip out a lot of these things and then they will send it back, and it will be a better bill when we get it back if you're moderate and you're concern about your sweet.
Guess what? You took that vote anyway, despite. And I think one the wildest thinks to me talking to some of these Northeastern members, talking to some of these members from Clinton districts who said, look, we just have to get did over with. You know, we'll take the vote and moving on because we think it will come back.
And the idea that that vote in the House, even if it comes back, looks a lot better to them for their constituents, is not going to -- it's not going to negate the vote that they took in the House right now.
So, again, there is a way for Republicans based on this proposal to explain the pre-existing issue, but they have to explain it. And it takes time. And in politics, it's difficult to win when you're explaining things that take time.
MARTIN: And the reason they added that tweak, as Phil well knows, is because they had to get the votes, the Freedom Caucus, the hard right element of the House --
KING: Raul Labradors.
MARTIN: Yes, to vote yes. Those folks needed some kind of cover and this was it. And it would be ironic if they lose their majority next year because they made this change because guess what, guys, in 2018, it ain't the Freedom Caucus who are facing the competitive races. It's those who walked the plank from the Northeast, from parts of the West and Midwest who voted yes reluctantly or even voted no and could still pay a price.
The folks on the far right don't have tough seats.
KING: And as Nancy Pelosi said, Democrats are going to make those lawmakers, in her words, glow in the dark.
KING: We'll see how that debate plays out.
Up next, today's consequential presidential vote: will France follow the U.K. out of the European Union? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[08:16:00] KING: Welcome back.
France is picking a president today and big last minute drama sounds more than a little familiar. The campaign frontrunner Emmanuel Macron says his campaign was the subject of a massive hack and that fraudulent documents are mixed in with reams of legitimate campaign records and correspondents now posted online.
His opponent, Marine Le Pen, of the far right National Front, says her campaign had nothing do with it. Russia which favors Le Pen says any suggestion it is involved is pure slander.
The race had plenty of drama and importance even before this last minute hack. Macron is an investment banker and a political newcomer, but holds largely establishment positions like keeping France in the European Union and the NATO alliance. Le Pen wants to close mosques, limit immigrations, improve ties with the Kremlin and pull France from the E.U.
CNN's Hala Gorani live in Paris as the voting continues today.
Hala, let's start with the big question many Americans are asking as they wake up on Sunday morning, why should they care? Why is this election so important beyond the borders of France?
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a question of whether or not this populist fever that's swept the U.K. with Brexit and also that led to the election of Donald Trump will also materialize in France. Marine Le Pen is certainly closer to Russia. She's anti-globalization. She favors renegotiating France's role inside the E.U., possibly even organizing a referendum for Brexit, which is France's exit from the E.U.
Emmanuel Macron is a political upstart. He's only 39 years old and -- but he does embrace, as you mentioned there, establishment positions like staying within the E.U., even has E.U. flags at his rallies really, and in the current climate, this is politically very different from his opponent, and also embracing NATO and other international organizations. He's even pledged to call Angela Merkel and visit Merkel as his first sort of foreign overture to an international leader. And this shows how pro-Europe he is.
So, Americans should care because a victory by Marine Le Pen would mean a fundamental redrawing of the political map in Europe and will have an impact far beyond the borders of this country, John.
KING: And any sense -- it's the last minute development of the campaign, but any sense of the impact or will there be an impact of this hack on the voting?
GORANI: It's very interesting because the hack which really was a coordinated attempt to influence the campaign came just minutes before a media blackout. By law here, we for instance are not allowed to talk poll numbers. We can't even use sort of political slogans. There are no political propaganda is allowed after midnight on Friday. So, an entire day before the vote.
And that hack came minutes before that. So that didn't allow for Emmanuel Macron's campaign to discuss the hack. We cannot verify the contents of it, the campaign itself minutes before midnight on Friday said yes, there are authentic documents, but they have also been interlaced with fake, photoshopped and doctored documents and e-mails.
So, it's very difficult for even any journalist right now looking online to see what was unearthed, revealed from this hack, what impact it could have. It hasn't been widely discussed. I don't think that it happened, you know, timeline-wise with enough lead time to have any impact on the campaign right now.
This isn't something that's making headline news and that I'm hearing people, ordinary French voters here, say will have an impact on who they decide to vote for today, John.
KING: Hala Gorani, live for us Paris -- Hala, enjoy the rest of the day.
The votes, polls are open until 2:00 here in the East. We'll continue to track that trace. Stay with CNN for the results a bit later.
Let's bring the conversation in the room. Again, it matters importantly if you look at the NATO, if you look at the European Union. And to Hala's point, people didn't predict Donald Trump would win and he won. People thought that U.K. referendum would say in and it didn't happen.
So, you know, as you watch this play out, it's a pretty fundamental question. Essentially, is France going to continue the movement or is France going to put a stop to it?
PACE: It's fascinating. It's hugely consequential for Donald Trump as he now starts to look abroad.
[08:20:01] He's going to be taking his first trip to Europe later this month.
Marine Le Pen is a candidate who ideologically has more similarities to Trump than Macron, and while Trump has not endorsed in this race, he has said that he thought that recent attacks in Paris would help Le Pen, their adviser Steve Bannon from the White House who are in line with Le Pen.
But looking more broadly at his agenda, you know, if you have a leader in France who is pro-E.U., you look toward the elections in Germany later this year where Merkel and her party will be on the ballot, she is obviously seen as the leader of the E.U. That would be quite a shift in western policy versus what we saw with Brexit and the Trump election.
TALEV: I think that's a great point because it's not so much that President Trump is necessarily going to want to embrace Marine Le Pen as the idea that if it's Macron and if it were to be Macron with real numbers behind it, it could be problematic for President Trump. But, you know, it's interesting because to some of his base, there are
obvious appeals to that candidate, but for President Trump himself, he's kept a distance pretty consistently since the campaign when Marine Le Pen would come to New York and that sort of thing. He's kept just enough of a distance in the White House, taking great pains the other day to say no matter who is elected in the French election, the president looks forward to working with them.
MARTIN: And Trump has been quiet during the runoff, right before the first round of voting, he put his thumb on the scale in "A.P." interview as a matter of fact, basically coming out for Le Pen.
It's notable that since then, he has not. And that's in part I think I think because Trump always wants to be a winner.
MARTIN: It's clear that Le Pen is well down in the polls. He doesn't want to be behind somebody who's not going to win the race.
But my colleague, Mark (INAUDIBLE) had a very good point. And that is operationally, the reality of how Trump is governing, Le Pen would be problematic for him actually because it would be a lot more of a hassle to have her, somebody who wants to withdraw France from the E.U., who is not going to be cooperative when it comes to international affairs. Trump, the candidate, may have liked Le Pen. But Trump who is actually governing as president, the sort of Mattis- Tillerson-McMaster president, I think operationally, Le Pen is problematic for how much this actually (INAUDIBLE)
KING: And you mentioned the timing of this. It was an interview that you participated in, on April 21, where he said of Le Pen, the president said, she's the strongest on borders, she's strongest on what's been going on in France, whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism and whoever is toughest at the borders will do well in the election.
That's when you had several candidates running, the big field of candidates running. He has been quiet since who -- the man directly involved is the former president and Macron thinks this will help. Here is a video that former President Obama taped for him that Macron has spread as quickly as he can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I've admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run. He has stood up for liberal values. He put forward a vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world. And he is committed to a better future for the French people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You wouldn't do it unless you thought and your consultants thought that somehow this is going to sway votes in France. MATTINGLY: Yes, no question about it. I think it's a surprise, based
on what we've seen over the course of the last couple of months. You rolled down the list of things that seemed to go defense everything that Emmanuel Macron and President Trump represent, and clearly they believe he still has an impact over there.
And I think what's most interesting when you look at and you look at the relationship between those two, which is clearly grown, there is a phone call between the two. Obviously cutting a campaign ad as well, it's trying to figure out for me who the relationship on the world leader stage will be the best for President Trump.
Like we all watched when we were covering the White House how President Obama got along with Renzi or Cameron or Hollande or Merkel, or all of these people, and how those relationships formed and really helped direct the policy of the United States, as well, because of the relationships of those individuals.
Who is President Trump's Merkel? Who is President Trump's Renzi?
And I think that's an open question right now. And Le Pen certainly has the opportunity whether or not her policies go against or hinder him, maybe the relationship there that could be formed and I'm intrigued by how this impacts that, if Macron wins, if Le Pen wins, who that person or people are for President Trump.
PACE: And one thing I found interesting in that interview with President Trump, he talked a lot, at great length about his relationships with world leaders. He really wanted to emphasize this point that he is developing strong relationships. And it's so fascinating to see a person who ran as America first, I'm only going to be putting our country's interests at the top of my agenda, now that he actually has to have these meetings, he's the guy that wants to be liked. He wants --
MARTIN: It's flattering.
PACE: He wants these world leaders to like them.
MARTIN: And it puts him on a higher stage.
KING: And we'll know the results of this election tonight, and in a couple of weeks, the president -- he goes to the G7 meeting, very important, he's got a pull aside with Putin there, and then he goes -- he has a NATO summit, as well, Saudi Arabia, Israel.
So, we're going to learn more about this as it goes forward. Everybody, sit tight.
Next, is the glass half empty or half full? A good jobs report gives the Trump White House reason for cheer, but conservative outrage over the government spending bill suggests there is some bubbling anxiety on the right.
[08:29:22] KING: Welcome back.
President Trump did not get the traditional honeymoon period nor did he rack up any signature legislative achievements in his first 100 days. So, these second 100 days is critical, as the president looks for both policy and political momentum.
He got a little help on Friday. Let's look at the unemployment report that came out on Friday: 211,000 new jobs created, welcome news to the White House especially after this largely seasonal blip in March. But that put a little bit of a scare in the White House.
Two hundred and eleven thousand jobs in April, 232, 000 in February. The economy helping out the president 10 far, most Americans judge it by this -- the unemployment rate, 4.4 percent. It's been ten years, ten years, since the rate was that low. So, that is a help for the president.
Also, if you care about your 401(k), the markets have been good to the president since day one.
[08:30:00] No, more jobs won't help settle big difference over health care and tax reform, but a strong economy is any president's friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We want to turn our country into a jobs machine, a jobs magnet. Something that really works again. We want America to be the best place in the world to hire, grow, invest and start a brand new beautiful business.
Together, we are going to fight for every last American job and we are going to fight for great, great trade deals that are so good for our workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's the weekly -- we still call it the radio address. They do an after camera and it's all over the Internet, but it's called the weekly radio address.
The question is, you know, if you're in the White House and you have good economic numbers, that's usually the tide that lifts you up a little bit. Not always. We saw this struggle throughout the campaign. But is this -- the question is this.
Is this a reset moment for the Trump agenda after the first 100 days when we had all this conversation about no signature legislative achievement, all the same fighting in the White House. Can he get along with Congress? Or is it just a temporary victory? Is this really what he thinks a spring board, I'm going to get tax reform, I've learned how to work with Congress, I'm going to get infrastructure, when he still hasn't gotten health care to the finish line yet?
TALEV: The unemployment numbers are really good. The first quarter GDP numbers were pretty lackluster, and you see him trying to thread that needle, taking advantage of the numbers that look good. Trying to take the numbers that are not the greatest indicators and say, well, that's a hangover from President Obama and trying to use that as leverage to get, just as you said tax reform and all these sort of things.
There's sort of two things to watch. Number one, what do the second quarter GDP numbers say? And number two, what are the potential locations of movement on the health care bill for the economy?
We're already starting to see some of these stories and predictions about how before Obamacare was actually good in terms of creating health sector jobs. As this legislation advances, what are hospitals doing on hiring? What is the industry in general doing to sort of hedge or gauge against it. That could actually be something that he maybe wasn't expecting.
MARTIN: But what's striking was the health care stocks on Thursday and Friday did not retract, which is very interesting because the market is so fixated, I think, on tax reform right now. But I'm always struck by that, that very fact because you raise a good point. Will the health industry take a hit because of this. And, you know, we've got assumption into the market yet.
But I think, John, probably the best week so far of the White House. I think the combination of a booming job market and getting the first real stab in a legislative accomplishment gives them reason to be happy.
And, again, you mentioned this before, so much of the midterms is about having your folks motivated. You know, the left is motivated. The right has to have something to be happy about next year.
KING: And to that, let me interrupt your point in a second, because I want to show some headlines.
The reason the president was so giddy is because he also on Friday signed a spending bill the conservatives don't like. And the president goes on the Internet, he looks to "Breitbart," he goes to "Hot Air," he goes to "Townhall." He goes to these conservative Web sites for affirmation.
If you look at the headlines earlier in the week, they were devastating to this White House. If you look at them up there. You know, the places where normally they are praising president, they were criticizing him, they were criticizing Congress.
So after days of seeing stuff like this, that's why we can -- I just want to show him briefly in the Rose Garden how giddy he was. Again, this just passed the House. Pick up your civics book. You got to go to the Senate, then they have to compromise, then the president has to sign it. Not -- you don't usually have a rose garden ceremony until you're at the finish line, but the president wanted to celebrate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You know, coming from a different world and only being a politician for a short period of time, how am I doing? Am I doing OK? I'm president. Hey, I'm president. Can you believe it, right?
I don't know. I thought you needed a little bit more time, they always told me, more time, but we didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: Like Ed Koch stand off, right?
PACE: That Rose Garden celebration just underscored how difficult this first 100 and however many days has been for this president.
He got a piece of legislation through the House by the narrowest of margins. That's the reality of what happened. And he and Republicans had to put a lot of political capital on the line to do that. They don't know if they will get full health care legislation. Tax reform is going to be incredibly difficult. And he had to sign a spending bill that a lot of people in his party don't like.
This was -- while this was perhaps one of his better weeks in office, this was not an easy week for this president.
MATTINGLY: I would just say two things. First off, by about halfway through the Rose Garden ceremony or celebration or whatever we're actually calling it, I started getting e-mails from senior Republicans being like this is not a good look.
We recognize what actually is to come and how difficult this process is going to be going forward. I think it underscored, one, that it was a big week. Two, that they really needed a win and they really needed to show that there was positive movement on health care, but I kind of take the -- a little bit of a contrarian view about how difficult this process has all been and what it actually means.
They got something done in the House. A House majority that up to this point has been nothing but a mess and a disaster for leadership, not just this year, but over the course of the last five, six, seven years.
[08:35:00] They figured out a way on a very difficult piece of legislation to whip together a coalition to move something forward. This is a spring board, should be a spring board for leadership that up to this point had never passed a major piece of legislation that was very significant, that had extraordinarily difficult times trying to whip people together that could never seem to get a coalition together. They did it.
Now does this mean they are going to clear the way to easily move tax reform or infrastructure or anything like that? No, the coalitions look different on that. The policy looks very different on that. But it is a step forward for a group of members that up to this point have never gone through the process like a Pelosi has or a McConnell has even or a Reid has.
They have a win there. Perhaps this is a spring board forward. And that, whether or not they finish health care in the next six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks or ever, that matters in some way.
KING: Well, that timetable also matters in the sense that, you know, I don't understand why, but I've been here a long time, Washington can't do more than one thing at a time.
And so if you want to get to tax reform, you want to get to infrastructure, they've got to figure out this health care thing. And to the point you are making about the first 100 days, the president said it's fake news. I had the best 100 days ever and I don't get any for it.
But we have a photo from his own chief strategist office where Steve Bannon has the list on the wall of the major Trump campaign promises, behind him there on that white board, and the idea was to check them off as they are passed and none are checked yet because they haven't got there.
So the question now is, does this give them momentum?
Please, you want to jump in.
MARTIN: Yes, I was going to say what was striking about that picture on the wall is how much Trump has bent to what other interests want, whether it's the Hill, whether it is more traditional folks in his party, whether it is this sort of national security, folks around him, you know, he has had to basically exceed to preferences or foreign leaders and drift from his main campaign promises.
Now, look, he is not an ideological guy to say the least, but he has abated so much of what he ran on to get stuff done. You know, take the example of money in this bill for funding the wall. It wasn't going to happen. They caved. How about running against tearing up NAFTA?
He gets phone calls from the head of, you know, Canada, Mexico. And he's reminded that farmers were for Trump and he caved. So, yes, he is doing what he has to do to try to sort of avoid problems or get some kind of victory, but in doing so, he's retreating on a lot of what he campaigned on.
KING: And to your point, this springboard. Have the House Republicans figured out how to govern, which is the question. You take -- to put the issue aside, pick your issue and put it in there. Can they govern, especially with the Republican president?
And then the other issue, the question I think is can the Republican Party manage to Jonathan's point earlier, you disrupt the health care system at your own peril.
The Obama, the Democrats learned that the Obama -- we want to show you what happen to Virginia governor's race. We talked about House's races, we talked about Senate races. There are 30 plus governors races next year because of what the House bill does. All those gubernatorial candidates is going to be asked, will you or won't you? You're going to stay in or you're going to opt out?
Here's one of the Democrats running for Virginia governor. It's a good ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PERRIELLO, VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Republican leaders are trying to do this to affordable care. I'm Tom Perriello. In Congress I voted for Obamacare because it was wrong when a million Virginians weren't covered while insurance companies held all the power. We'll make sure this never happens in Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a one take spot.
KING: But the interesting thing is, in the election after Obamacare passed, rare was the Democrat who ran an ad saying I voted for Obamacare.
Here's a guy running for governor who says when I was in Congress, I voted for it, but that table has flipped.
PACE: Yes, Tom Perriello lost his job because of the health care vote. I mean, what's going to be particularly interesting about the governor's race is, is that the governors are the ones who make a lot of these real decisions on health care. And this can swing two ways.
I mean, I don't know how strategic this is necessarily on the Republican Party and the White House's part, but you could see a scenario where if a governor makes a decision to pull back on pre- existing conditions or pull back on a Medicaid expansion and the state finds it unpopular, Trump just says, well, it's that guy's fault. It's not my fault.
I mean, I can actually see that scenario playing out. But for Democrats getting back some of these governor's mansions is just incredibly important to their future as a party, because we've seen that decimated in the states. If they can start picking back some places like Virginia, they see that not just as important in the short term, but also just a long term.
MARTIN: You're drawing the line.
TALEV: Virginia is going to be an important bell weather for the implications.
KING: Right. I think the early test will come, what, six weeks from now. You get the special election in Georgia, the House election there. that's one key test, but then the Virginia governor's race later this year will test the mood.
I think it's just -- to see Democrats bragging about voting for Obamacare, that was something you did not see right after they actually voted for Obamacare.
Everybody sit tight. Next, when the question involves Trump, Russia and controversy, more often than not, the answer includes these two words -- Michael Flynn.
[08:42:40] KING: Welcome back.
It's a big day tomorrow in the continuing investigation of contacts between Trump loyalists and Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates will testify before a Senate committee.
And CNN was told she is prepared to say she warned the White House that then national security adviser Michael Flynn was not telling the truth and potentially opening himself to Kremlin blackmail when he denied discussing the possibility of lifting U.S. sanctions in a phone conversation with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
That call came during the presidential transition just as President Obama was announcing new sanctions because of Russia's election meddling. President Trump ultimately fired Flynn, but the White House played down the Yates warning and more broadly has brushed aside questions about Flynn's contacts and payments from Russian officials.
Flynn is one of several Trump associates whose Russian ties are under scrutiny though we didn't learn much about the status of the FBI investigation when the Director James Comey testified this past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you stand by your testimony that there is an active investigation, counter intelligence investigation regarding Trump campaign individuals and the Russian government as to whether or not they collaborated, you said that in March.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: To see if there was any coordination between the Russian effort --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Is that still going on?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Enlightening, wasn't it?
PACE: There is an FBI investigation.
TALEV: On the other hand, that's pretty much all you need to know.
KING: It's all we need to know during a sensitive investigation. How important is this tomorrow? You know, public testimony from it. She was an Obama administration appointee, held over this acting attorney general and fired by the Trump administration because she wouldn't go to court and defend its travel ban.
But set that aside, she says she went to the White House and warned them, Michael Flynn was caught in intelligence, talking to the Russian ambassador, he talked about sanctions. When he tells you he didn't, he's lying.
PACE: I think it depends on how much more revealing she is beyond that outline. If she essentially gives that story, Republicans in the White House will say we know that. That's what we've been aware of. Democrats are hoping she will get beyond the general outline. Say exactly what Mike Flynn was saying during his conversations with the Russian ambassador and exactly why she felt that what he was saying was so concerning that he could actually be blackmailed.
It's a pretty extraordinary thing for the acting attorney general at that point to rush to the White House to say. So Democrats have really high expectations that this will be a big, dramatic moment in the congressional investigations. Republicans, again, down playing this as old news.
[08:45:00] KING: And it's interesting. The Flynn (INAUDIBLE), that "Washington Post" first reported, CNN has confirmed it, during the transition, some campaign officials -- you know, Trump transition officials warned him, saying, you know, you have to understand the Russian ambassador is likely being monitored, likely being eavesdropped on. You can't be talking to him like that and Flynn apparently just said, so what.
TALEV: You know, like on a very basic surface level, the way that the Trump campaign and then transition and then administration has treated kind of all this controversy is to suggest that Democrats, the Obama administration, press, that there is basically everyone is pitching in to try to make it look like something that is a bigger deal than it was.
And I think what the likely Yates testimony does is set a marker just about the depth and the consistency of these concerns. It's another potentially important piece in the puzzle of understanding what everyone knew and when they knew it. And I think to that extent it's important.
KING: What was also interesting about the Comey testimony is earlier in the week Secretary Clinton said she would have won. That she was on the way to winning the presidency and then the Comey letter came out and the WikiLeaks stuff came out. Comey was asked about that and he described how he felt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: This is terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But, honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28 with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do.
Would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight, and this has been one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You know, six months from the election, we're still litigating this. Did we learn anything this week?
MARTIN: I will say this politically. I think Democrats privately will tell you they don't necessarily like the Russian focus and this is why. Their basis - it's fixed, right? Because to them, it's a stolen election and I understand that. They want to talk about economic populism and this health care bill and how folks are being hurt by this administration, not by what happened last year during the campaign. This is going to tension for the next 14 months.
KING: This is going to go on for a very long time.
Our reporters are here for our notebooks, next, including how House leaders got over that 216 vote threshold for their health care victory.
KING: We surround our table with reporters for a reason so we can close by asking them to dig deep in their notebooks, share a little nugget, help you get ahead of the big political news just around the corner.
PACE: The White House is getting closer to make a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, which is a campaign promise that some Trump advisers hope he doesn't fulfill.
There is a particular interest in trying to get a decision done before Trump heads to Europe later this month where he will be meeting with some leaders of countries who are part of it. And one of the big climate change advocates that Trump will be meeting with is of course Pope Francis.
This will be just one really fascinating element of what's going to be an incredibly interesting meeting between the pope and the president.
KING: Wish we could fast forward the calendar to get to that one.
MARTIN: There are dozens of cabinet posts still open as we all know. And one group has not yet been tapped, Democrats. Now as you guys recall, back during December, there was an effort to get some Democratic senators into the cabinet. That fizzled.
I've learned this week actually that the House GOP sought to get Reince Priebus, the chief-of-staff at the White House, to appoint some House Democrats, too.
The idea being you would find some red state House Democrats, put them in a cabinet, nice gigs. You open up those seats and you could win back the seats in special elections.
Well, that has not happened. And the question now is given these jobs still left and given how competitive this next race is going to be, will the administration find some House Democrats in red America, put them in the cabinet. There is one job that is still open as we know, army secretary.
It's been twice -- not turned down, but it's now open and I think there are some folks on The Hill who are kind of hoping this administration is going to find some room for House Democrats in the cabinet so they can get some of those seats.
MATTINGLY: There has been a lot of talk on how what was actually promised to a lot of these Republicans to get them over the finish line for health care. One of the things I'm told explicitly was money. Air cover. They know they are going to need it especially for these 14 Republicans who voted yes and come from Hillary Clinton districts.
Now where is that money going to come from? You have outside groups. American Action Network has already launched a $2 million ad buy in 21 districts. I'm also told they promised that President Trump would be available to campaign and raise. Vice President Pence.
But also keep a very close eye on the speaker. Already, in the first four months, I'm told his political operation has spent $20 million over to the NRCC. Compare that to last year, in election year, only $13 million. They believe that will be major air cover to help these representatives. Major air covers are going to need as one political operative told me. We know a fight is coming. We want that fight. Careful what you wish for.
KING: Coming soon to a TV, radio and mobile device near you.
TALEV: Next Sunday is Mother's Day, which is important because we should all do nice things for our mothers and ourselves. But also important because it's closing weekend everywhere at Mar-A-Lago for the season and at least until the fall. I mean, the main club shuts down. So we haven't heard yet officially from the White House whether President Trump will be marking that anniversary, but he does most years and we'll now see the action and guest list shift up to Bedminster.
So the question is how does the pace change when he's at Bedminster versus Mar-A-Lago? Will we see some of the Mar-A-Lago regulars gravitate up to New Jersey all of a sudden for the next several months. It will be interesting to watch as we all get to know the pace of Trump's off campus weekends.
KING: From the winter or southern White House to the New Jersey White House. You like that.
How close is this as we watch this health care debate now shift to the Senate, we will be reminded again and again and again that senators run statewide, not in the carefully drawn districts that protect most House members.
And because the Republican majority is so small in the Senate, 52-48, we will also be reminded again and again and again that one or two senators can have outside influence.
[08:55:00] Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for example don't like that the House bill cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood. So look for that to change in the Senate.
And senators from north-eastern and mid-western states hits hard by the opioid crisis are already promising to require that drug treatment be recovered by health insurance. The House bill allows state to drop that mandate. The senators think of themselves as adults. They are going to change this bill quite a bit.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday. Remember, we're also here weekdays at noon Eastern. Hope to see you then. Up next, "State of the Union with Jake Tapper." Have a great day.