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Trump Delivers Statement on Health Care; Trump Says Very Close to Votes Needed to Replace Obamacare; Trump Again Rips Attorney General. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What exactly it is that is going to get on the floor. Most importantly the key thing is get 50 Republican votes.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: So, let's go with math, just what we know, you have to have the 50. Gloria, Dana put it perfectly. We don't -- I say we. Think of the senators who are, you know, in Washington thinking, hang on a second, Mr. President, we know what math, we know it hasn't worked, to X iteration, Y iteration and Z iteration on health care, what are we doing? And why are we even voting if thus far it looks like it's failing?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Because they want to know they can even proceed with their debate, and that there is some hope of getting something done. But there are a couple other factors at play here. First of all, you're looking at a repeal that has, what, 17 percent approval in the country. You're looking at a president with 36 percent, 37 percent of popularity in the country. You're looking at senators who are not sure that the president will have their back if they walk out on a limb for him.

So, there's a lot of them who aren't sure they want to do that, and so you put all these things together, and you have a bunch of senators who are trying to sort of make the calculation, the risk calculation here about whether it is worth it for them to do this, because every Republican has said for the last number of years you've got to repeal and replace Obamacare. Or whether they ought not to do it now, because what they come up with will give the Democrats a lot of ammunition in 2018. The person who knows what he wants is the president, and what he wants is a victory, plain and simple. Details be damned. He just wants to win.

BALDWIN: Let me just hit pause in the conversation. I want to continue it. We're going to sneak in a quick break. When we come back, and there's the door waiting for the president to walk through it for an address on health care to the nation. We'll be back.

There is the door waiting for president to walk through it and deliver an address on health care to the nation. We'll be back in a moment.


TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: The families who are with us today to tell their stories. The uncertainty and hardship that each of them have faced in confronting your family's health challenges are a vivid reminder for all of us why on this problem is not an option. Right now, Obamacare is failing to deliver for the American people, and the folks here in this room today are a stark reminder of that problem. Principles of health care are pretty clear -- accessibility, afford ability, quality, choices. You all represent millions of American for whom those principles have been violated. It's because of your voices and your experience that we're here today to urge congress to give the president a bill to sign.

[15:35:00] The president has laid out a positive vision for how to fix this mess, by putting patients, families and physicians in charge of health care decisions, not Washington, D.C. we are committed to ensuring that the American people enjoy a health care system that works for them. The president has made that crystal clear. And an individual who just like the president has been working day and night on getting this accomplished is the vice president. He understands the imperative of patient-centered health care, and it's an honor to introduce to you my friend, the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you, Dr. Price. Good afternoon to all. To the families who are gathered here from all across America on behalf of the first family, welcome to the White House. Since the first day of this administration, President Donald Trump has been working to keep the promises he made to the American people -- rebuild the military, revive our economy, and this president has worked tirelessly to repeal and replace Obamacare. President Trump knows that every day Obama care survives is another day that American families and American businesses struggle.

As we've traveled across the country, we've heard firsthand from Americans just like those who stand behind me today, from families bearing the costs of skyrocketing premiums and plummeting choices from families who have lost their doctors, and from families who are starting to lose hope that congress will ever respond. But as I have told every one of them and people all across this country, thanks to the leadership of president Trump, helped is on the way. President Trump hears you, he is fighting for you.

He will keep fighting every day until we give the American people access to the health care they deserve. Tomorrow the United States senate will have the opportunity to begin the debate on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. As the president said this morning, after years of talking and campaigning, now is the to inform senators to act. Republicans in the senate will are, in his words, the chance to do the right thing, keep their promise to the American people and these families and families all across this country. This president and the American people are counting on the senate to act.

So, with gratitude for his leadership and his persistence and determination to make American health care great again, it is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to these families and to all of you, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you very much, Vice President Pence, Secretary Price, and thank you everyone for being here today. For the past 17 years, Obamacare has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent hard-working Americans. Behind me today we have real American families, great families. We spent a lot of time with them, suffering because seven years ago a small group of politicians and special interests in Washington engineered a government takeover of health care.

[15:40:00] Every pledge that Washington Democrats made to pass that bill turned out to be a big, fat, ugly lie. Democrats promised Americans like Steve Finn, a former police officer in West Virginia, that they would save $2,500 a year under Obamacare, instead his premiums have more than tripled. That's pretty bad.

As a result of Obamacare's skyrocketing cost, Steve and his family and many of his employees had no other option than going on Medicaid and giving up their existing coverage. That's pretty bad. No choice, right? No choice. For them Obamacare's promise was a nightmare. Marjorie and Kevin Weir from South Carolina have a son Monty, who is suffering from spina bifida. Washington Democrats promised families like the Weirs that if they liked their doctor, they could keep their doctor. Now there's only one insurer left in the state exchange and Marjorie says that every year she waits anxiously to learn if the doctors and hospitals that her son needs the most will remain in their network. More Obamacare lies. And we have seen that up front unfortunately. Up front and personal.

The Democrats promised Melissa Acerson that her son's preexisting conditions would be covered. The Acersons quickly learned that Obamacare's promise of covering for preexisting conditions was meaningless, for the doctors you need to care for you aren't on your plan, so you just have a meaningless promise. And everybody knows it, and most people on Obamacare know it. After an excruciating series of events and complications, Melissa and her husband found themselves just before Christmas emotionally and financially devastated, crying in a doctor's office faced with yet another seemingly unpayable bill.

When insurance wouldn't cover the Acersons' care, they emptied out Melissa's 401(k) to pay their bills. They're not the first. The first rule of medicine is do no harm. But Obamacare's lies have caused and throughout the whole country, families like this, nothing but pain. Aaron and Ande Whitsig are small business owners from Illinois. They have six children. Their youngest daughter Poppy has a rare genetic condition. Children born with it are sometimes called butterfly children, because their skin is as fragile the as the wings of a butterfly.

Poppy has too wear special bandages all of the time. Unfortunately, her insurance has been repeatedly continued and replaced with what Washington deems equivalent policies, but for Poppy these plans are not equivalent, and Poppy's family has to spend pressure time and tremendous resources fighting for exceptions for Poppy.

The Washington politicians who made those promises to Steve, Marjorie, Melissa, Aaron and their beautiful children, want to ignore all the pain, all the suffering and all of the money, the tremendous amounts of money that these lies have cost. They want to forget about the countless Americans they have hurt, and the many they are continuing to hurt every day be by refusing to help us replace Obamacare. For the last seven years Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare's victims. Remember, repeal and replace, repeal and replace.

They kept saying it over and over again. Every Republican running for office promised immediate release from this disastrous law. We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace. What they've been saying for the last seven years. So far senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare. They now have a chance, however, to hopefully, hopefully fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time. And that is through replacement of a horrible disaster known as Obamacare. The senate is very close to the votes it needs to pass a replacement.

[15:45:00] The problem is we have zero help from the Democrats, they're obstructionists. That's all they are good at, obstructionism. Making things not work. They say exactly the right things, but then do exactly what they're not supposed to be doing. The Democrats are not giving us one vote. We need virtually every single vote from the Republicans, not easy to do. The senate bill being considered outside of the outright repeal of Obamacare will also provide emergency relief for the law's victims and deliver truly great health care and health care reforms that our citizens, want, need, and really should be demanding. Some are demanding.

You'll see that at the voters' booth. Believe me. Here are some of the terrific reforms we will be doing if everything works out the way it should. The senate bill eliminates the painful individual mandate. It eliminates the job-killing employer mandate, repeals other burdensome taxes and will significantly lower Americans' premiums. It will stabilize collapsing health insurance markets and give Americans far more choice and far more flexibility. The senate bill protects coverage for preexisting conditions, and you don't hear this from the Democrats, they like to tell you the opposite and they didn't even know the bill. They run out and say death, death, death.

Well, Obama care is death, that's death, and besides that it's failing. It dramatically expands health savings accounts and tax credits to Americans can purchase a private plan that's right for them. It devotes substantial resources to fight the opioid -- and this is a tremendous problem -- the opioid epidemic. $45 billion is being put in so people in states like New Hampshire, Ohio and so many others that have such a big problem can be helped and helped greatly. We'll be fighting the drug problems very, very seriously in my administration in providing among many other things higher quality case and flexibility.

Tomorrow the senate will vote on whether to allow this urgently need bill to come to the senate floor for debate. The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican is whether they will side with Obamacare's architect, which have been so destructive to our country or with its forgotten victims. Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare. Which is what it is. For Democrats, this vote is a chance make up for the terrible harm they have inflicted on Americans like those who were with us today. Obamacare has been for them a nightmare. There is still time to do the right thing, and for senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise, over and over again, they said repeal and replace, repeat and replace, But they can now keep their promise to the American people, to provide emergency relief to those in desperate need of help, and to improve health care for all Americans.

Every member of the senate I say this, the American people have waited long enough. There's been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action. We are here to solve problems for the people. Obamacare has broken our health care system. It's broken, it's collapsing, it's gone. Now it's up to us to get great health care for the American people. We must repeal and replace Obamacare now. Thank you, god bless you, god bless of United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

BALDWIN: All right. President Trump there flanked by a number of children, pretty partisan speech by the way by the White House specifically on health care and it's clear he wants Republicans to fulfill their promise of seven years to repeal and replace Obamacare.

[15:50:00] But again he said at one point, senate Republicans have not done their jobs. Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, David Gergen, S.E. Cupp, all with me as we scan some of these pictures. Dana Bash, thoughts?

BASH: He used the presidential muscle like he did really for the first time in a robust way, last week, it got buried under a lot of other news, news that, you know, he perpetuated, for example, about his attorney general going after him. But on health care, this is the kind of thing that his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill who have been desperate for presidential leadership, they were hoping for. Certainly, was a partisan speech. Again, that's what they're hoping for, reminders from somebody with a loud megaphone about what Republicans ran on election after election since Obamacare was put in office.

Now, whether or not this kind of muscle is going to magically make 50 votes appear for who knows what, which is where we are right now -- that's the state of play -- that's a big question mark. Maybe. for another president, they would take this public muscle flexing and add to it, you know, a private cajoling and working on the substance with senators and trying to figure out whether the sort of sweet spot is to get the 50 votes. He tried that a bit in the house, it didn't work out so well. He's taking a step back, at the recommendation of senate Republicans right now. So, we'll see if he can do -- if the public cajoling will make much of a difference. But at least he is trying.

BALDWIN: David Gergen, you've worked in multiple administrations on both sides. Do you think this sort of cajoling and presidential muscle will work?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN AND CLINTON: At this hour, this 11th hour, just a few minutes before midnight, it's going to be very hard. I think Dana is absolutely right. He is flexing his muscles. Had he done this six months ago, eight months ago and begun selling the package, I think he would be in much better condition now. This was like a standard White House kind of event, but late. And as I say, I think if he had built up to this, I think he would be much more effective.

He has two problems now. Public opinion has largely gelled around the idea that Obamacare is now preferable to the Republican bill. Polls are showing that. Gloria pointed that out earlier. It's hard to turn that around. I think one thing we did learn from the speech is they're going to go for repeal and replace, not just for repeal and delay, and that's going to be the central thrust of the effort.

BALDWIN: Right, that's the crazy piece of it we didn't know. Repeal and replace now, later repeal and replace, we didn't know. But it sounds like repeal and replace up for grabs. Gloria. Does the bully pulpit tact work for president Trump?

BORGER: It's interesting to see him use it because we haven't seen him use it on behalf of this legislation very often. I also heard him -- basically it was sort of a veiled threat to senators saying any senator who is against starting debate, which is what the vote will be on, means you're OK with the Obamacare nightmare. Meaning I wouldn't rule out the president campaigning against those people. We've seen them willing to go after Senator Heller in Nevada, although they kind of stepped back from that precipice, but I think this was the president saying, if you're not with me, I'm going to be against you.

BALDWIN: S.E., I wanted to talk to you about Jeff Sessions, on what you just heard. The White House keeps blaming Democrats as the obstructionists but it's members of their own party who get can't it get to get this thing passed.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me just say welcome to Washington, Mr. President. Because as everyone has stated, this was a very typical, traditional classic White House moment of political theater. But you cannot understate how extraordinary that is for Donald Trump. This was a speech about real people and real problems with real enemies, not imagined enemies, you know. He didn't slam the press or his own A.G., for example, or imagined threats. He went after the real enemy, which he sees as Obamacare and the Democratic policies behind it.

[15:55:00] That was not only incredibly disciplined, but I thought very effective. I also heard for the first time some policy in this speech. He talked about what the bill was going to do and what it wasn't going to do. Again, we can talk about there being a low bar, but this really was one of the most -- this is the opposite of presidenting by tweet, what we just saw here. It might be common for another administration, but for this one, this was new.

BALDWIN: Do we think this was -- Dana, let me put this question to you. Did Anthony Scaramucci have anything to do with this?

BORGER: I would say, yes, had we not seen a version of this last week when the president gathered all of the Republican senators and had kind of a, you know, traditional set of remarks along the lines of what we just heard today. I know that that was pushed in a big way by his legislative affairs team, mark short, for example. I was told Kellyanne Conway was involved in writing those remarks. I wouldn't be surprised and I don't know for sure yet if they were the team that were involved in this as well. But she is exactly right. That was, come on down and let's restart this. This was standing at a lectern in one of the ornate rooms of the White House doing something super- presidential, which we would have gone like this, so what, if President Obama and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush had all done this. But this is so jarring because it's so classically presidential and so un-Trump-like.

BALDWIN: Can we go back 60 seconds to a ruling by tweet? Throw up the tweet with the beleaguered A.G., adjective being used. And Gergen, to you apparently our reporting indicates the president and the A.G. Jeff Sessions since that "The New York Times" interview when the president threw him under the bus, and said I wouldn't have hired him on, if I knew he was going to recuse himself on the Russian investigation. Calling him beleaguered, how do you interpret that? If you are boss which he is, calling you're AG. Beleaguered who is a loyal soldier from the get, how do you interpret that?

GERGEN: I don't think there is any other way to interpret it. That he is trying to shove him out. I think the underlying message is, I really would like to have someone else as A.G., and by the way, I think it's open to interpretation that he wants a new A.G. who has not recused himself, and can take control of the Mueller investigation. That he will have his own person in charge, overseeing the investigation. I think that's what's going on. It's hard to know for sure.

BALDWIN: If you're Jeff Sessions, S.E., what are you thinking?

CUPP: You've, I'm sure, seen "The Apprentice," Brooke.

BALDWIN: You're fired?

CUPP: No. At the end, I was going the other direction. At the end, the last two remaining contestants are there and usually they bring in all the losing contestants. And the losing contestants help the last two remaining execute their visions. It's very clear Donald Trump sees congress and members of his cabinet as the losing contestants on "The Apprentice." I am the president. Your job is to execute my vision. He doesn't fundamentally understand the wall between the A.G. and the president, he doesn't understand that congressmen have to go home to their constituents, and that that is driving whether they support a bill or not, not supporting the president. He really has this idea of the people around him defending, and as he said in a tweet, protecting the president. And he's very disappointed every time he doesn't see that in evidence.

BALDWIN: But to go with the "you're fired" line in talking to Chris Cillizza, he makes the point, Gloria, that when you look back on Flynn and Spicer, Spicer resigned but the report is that the president really wanted him to stay on. You look at Flynn, and this is someone who, because he lied to the vice president, they ultimately had to let him go, but since then the president has spoken so highly of. This is such a different story, and I'm wondering why you think that is.

BORGER: Look, this is a president who understands and probably likes Jeff Sessions. Jeff sessions has been ultimately loyal to him. First guy in the senate to endorse him, you know, and he rewarded him with the job that he wanted, and I think the president feels betrayed because Jeff Sessions, he believes, wasn't ultimately loyal to him but might have been more loyal to the Department of Justice.

[16:00:00] So, what he's trying to do, as David says, is get him to quit. He doesn't want to fire him. It's not like "you're fired, I quit," kind of thing. I think he wants him to leave. If I were Jeff Sessions, I'm sure I would be thinking about that right now, because he said he would stay on unless it wasn't appropriate. And, you know, the more that this tension plays out in public, the fact that they haven't spoken, it just doesn't bode well for Sessions, but I would argue if Sessions goes, there is even more of a mess for the president.

BASH: Can I quickly add to that?

BALDWIN: Yes, please.

BASH: Two things I was told by a source close to the president, that Sessions did and in Donald Trump's eyes, it was wrong. Number one, surprised him when he recused himself, didn't tell him. Which we can talk about the protocol of that, he probably didn't do the right thing, this is what I am told, but in Donald Trump's mind surprised him and showed weakness. That's it. I mean, those are two-character traits that sent him off -- into a complete tirade about what Jeff Sessions did. Add to that the fact that he well knows, and he is right, that with that recusal came the domino effect of everything we've seen since, with Rosenstein getting the special counsel, so on and so forth.

BORGER: The firing of Jim Comey started it all. Let's just say that.

BALDWIN: Right. And then just quickly. In 30 seconds, David Gergen, I want to hear from you, but the floating of Rudy Giuliani as potential A.G. complicated things even more, even though he said there was no truth to that report. Go ahead, David Gergen, I never want to cut you off.

GERGEN: Let me go to Gloria's point because I think it's important. I think Donald Trump is extremely uncomfortable with the Mueller investigation resting in the hands of Mueller. He wants to take control of that back. He feels very frustrated about that, and I think this is really about getting sessions out so he can put his own person in there. But to Gloria's point, it's going to be one heck of a mess if he does force Sessions out.