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EARLY START

Senate Braces on Health Care Showdown; Kushner On Capitol Hill; The Future for Sessions; Israel Removes Mosque Metal Detectors. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 25, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:00:09] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate is ready to vote on health care. What health care are they voting on? Well, no one seems to know. Will John McCain's return make a difference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Rare public remarks from Jared Kushner. He is rebuking critics as he prepares for a second day of questioning about his Russia meetings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Was the president taking a shot at his own attorney general? Drawing questions about whether the president wants Jeff Sessions to stay on the job. He was certainly a notable absence at that Boy Scout jamboree last night.

Good morning, everyone.

ROMANS: Epic.

BRIGGS: Epic, that is an interesting description. It was eyebrow raising, a lot of former scouts outraged.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, July 25th. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East.

We'll get more on what the president, an ad-lib in that speech before the Boy Scouts.

BRIGGS: Definitely off-script, wasn't he?

ROMANS: A lot of the off-script stuff got very political and very interesting. We'll talk about that speech in a moment.

Though we begin with a make-or-break day for Senate Republicans on the health care. A showdown vote scheduled today on whether to begin debate on repealing Obamacare. Chief among the many obstacles, still no clear word what GOP leaders have in store if senators vote to move forward, and that is very much in doubt. So, if they vote to move forward, what are they moving forward on?

BRIGGS: A lot of questions. President Trump raising the stakes and the pressure on fellow Republicans to keep their promise to repeal and replace this health care law. The president driving the point home while speaking to Boy Scouts at this event in West Virginia. The speech being widely criticized for its political tone, including this direct appeal to Health Secretary Tom Price.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: By the way, you're going to get the votes -- you better get them. He better get them. He better -- otherwise, I'll say, Tom, you're fired. I'll get somebody.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Crowd loved it. Not sure --

BRIGGS: They did. No doubt. You're right about it.

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE) the kids who were 12 to 18-year-olds --

BRIGGS: The crowd ate it up. These middle school-aged children largely.

ROMANS: All right. Meantime, we've learned Senator John McCain will return to the Senate for today's crucial health care vote. McCain's first time back at the Capitol since his brain cancer diagnosis.

Let's begin our coverage this morning with CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONENT: Christine and Dave, good morning. All eyes in Washington today from here at the White House over to Capitol Hill are focusing on the critical vote in the Senate on health care. The Senate is scheduled to vote this afternoon on proceeding to debate on the actual bill. It's a bit of a two-step process.

But yesterday here at the White House, we saw President Trump engaged in this issue, engaged in this matter, more so than ever before using the power of the presidency, that unique megaphone to make the case for why Republicans, he says, should vote for this bill.

TRUMP: 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 relief from this disastrous law. We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters.

ZELENY: President Trump engaged in this. Vice President Pence engaged, as well. We received late word Monday evening that Senator John McCain will be flying back to Washington, will be on hand today in the United States Senate to also cast a vote in this. Of course, he is recovering and in fact in treatment for an aggressive type of brain cancer. But his vote is needed on this.

If Republicans get enough votes to go forward on this, the White House indeed will get something of a win here, a much-needed win. But this health care bill and the outcome will say a lot about President Trump's agenda and the Republican Party's agenda going forward -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Sure will. And you heard Jeff mention there, this two-step process.

So, can the vote pass, and if it does, what's next?

Well, CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on that from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, this is the moment we've been waiting for -- the press, the public, the senators themselves -- a vote. A vote is scheduled this afternoon on at least the motion to proceed to the Senate health care bill.

Now, what does actually that mean?

[04:05:01] That means to start the process off. You can't even start the debate let alone the amendment process until senators get 50 votes on this vote this afternoon.

Now, here's the reality. Aides make very clear, they don't believe Republican senators have the votes yet. They believe they're short of that magic number of 50. But there is heavy, heavy pressure, not just from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, not just from the president, not just from the vice president, even the rank and file, trying to get their members to yes, just to kind of kick this process off.

How Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted this to go is there would be an agreed-upon amendment that all 50 senators or more agreed upon to move forward. A large-scale amendment that would strip out any other version of the bill, and that they could essentially get the votes and kick this off. At least move this back over to the House as this process would work. That effort has failed repeatedly.

So where does that leave us? Well, at least according to Senator Corker, the Wild West. If the procedural vote passes, that would mean a wide-open amendment process. Any senator, whether Republican or Democrat, could offer any amendment they see fit to change the House- passed bill that the Senate is currently considering.

The reality is this, so long as Senate Republicans are still short of votes, we might not know up until they walk on to the floor whether they actually have them. But what's very clear, they're making the last push, they very clearly are going to have this vote today. So, it will likely be must-see TV, at least as much as the Senate floor can be must-see TV -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Must-see TV here at EARLY START, 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

BRIGGS: You got that.

ROMANS: Thank so much for that, Phil Mattingly.

Is President Trump in the market for a new attorney general? There are growing signs the White House may be laying the groundwork to replace Jeff Sessions. The president calling his attorney general beleaguered in a tweet Monday. Beleaguered, from the beleaguerer, calling him beleaguered.

Of course, President Trump's own actions contributing to that description. The president told "The New York Times" if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would have picked someone else.

BRIGGS: One Trump adviser tells CNN part of the reason Trump hasn't asked for Sessions' resignation is because it's unclear who would fill the role and if they could get confirmed. One of the names being floated, though, should Sessions be fired or resign, is Rudy Giuliani. And he says Sessions' recusal was the right move.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I believe that Sessions made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: President Trump asked by reporters about Sessions' status -- mum. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. President, should Jeff Sessions resign?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wow.

Meantime, CNN has learned the president and Sessions have not talked since at least the president's interview with "The Times."

It's also worth noting, Mr. Trump brought cabinet members who are Eagle Scouts to a Boy Scouts event in West Virginia Monday. Sessions was one and did not get an invite. That's right. The Eagle Scout-in- chief did not get an invite to the Eagle Scout event.

The White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says the two men need to sit down face to face and discuss the future.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, Jared Kushner back on Capitol Hill today, this time, he'll be testifying behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee. The president's son-in-law and senior adviser met with members from the Senate Intel Committee, reviewing what he says were all four of his meetings with Russians during the campaign and the transition. Kushner said he knew little about the now- infamous meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

Kushner then defending his actions in a rare public statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KUSHNER: Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses. And I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee also say Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort will have to publicly testify eventually or face a subpoena.

So, what does the president have to say about all of this?

We'll find out at 3:00 Eastern Time. There will be a joint news conference with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Rose Garden. CNN will, of course, have live coverage.

ROMANS: Former Boy Scouts and Scout leaders lashing out at the president's speech in West Virginia, comparing the speech to a political rally. After opening with a pledge to put politics aside, the president went on a tear against Obamacare, Obama himself, fake news, and that famous night on television when he was elected. Here's a sample. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You want to achieve your dreams, I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?

We ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or perhaps to the word sewer, but it's not good.

(CHEERS)

[04:10:03] Not good.

Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?

(BOOS)

Do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red it was unbelievable? And you know, we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. Popular vote is much easier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now, the audience was Boy Scouts.

Worth noting, ahead of President Trump's appearance, the Scout troops were offered advice that included avoiding the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign. The Boy Scouts of America had issued a statement following, saying it's nonpartisan and inviting the president is not a political or policy endorsement.

ROMANS: Worth noting, as well, President Obama did appear via video conference, I think, in 2010. And Pete Souza, the former White House photographer, trolling this, showing this cute picture of President Obama with a little Boy Scout in the Oval Office.

BRIGGS: Pete Souza has become quite the effective troll.

Now, just so we're clear, it was a huge crowd. So, we're not fake news. It was 30,000-some, 40,000 people. And they loved the speech.

Was it appropriate? You let us know @earlystart on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Israel taking steps to try and ease simmering tensions with the Palestinians. Will removing metal detectors at a holy site do the trick? We're Live in Jerusalem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:15:38] ROMANS: All right. To money now. President Trump taking his economic message back to the heartland. The president is holding an event today in Youngstown, Ohio, rallying his base of working class voters in an old steel company town.

Candidate Trump promise today to protect American steel. And Youngstown has been hit hard by the industry's decline. In the U.S., steel jobs are half what they were in 2000. So, the administration is looking to help with tariffs on foreign competition.

The Commerce Department already finished an investigation into steel imports. Experts say duties could arrive any day now, waiting for the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to make a final decision on tariffs against Chinese steel in particular.

The question is: how much and whom? Again, many point to China. American companies accuse Chinese steel of boxing out competition with artificially low prices. The steel tariffs could hurt other U.S. industries like automakers. They rely on that cheap steel for manufacturing and they warn duties could translate to job losses or agriculture.

U.S. farmers send a quarter of their products abroad. Many farm groups worry tariffs would trigger a trade war as China, for example, would turn around and then tax American goods.

BRIGGS: Federal charges now filed against the driver involved in the suspected deadly human smuggling case in San Antonio, Texas. James Bradley Jr. charged with knowingly transporting undocumented immigrants. He told authorities he had no idea undocumented immigrants were packed inside the tractor-trailer he was hauling.

One of the survivors describing a horrifying scene saying the trapped victims each took turns taking breaths from a hole in the truck. The death toll now rising to 10. Of the 39 people found inside the trailer, 25 were Mexican nationals. Bradley's request for bail will be taken up at a preliminary hearing on Thursday.

ROMANS: Charlie Gard's devastated parents have ended their battle to bring the little boy to the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our son is an absolute warrior and we could not be prouder and will miss him terribly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: More of what Charlie's parents have to say, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:22:09] BRIGGS: Welcome back.

Israel has now decided to remove recently installed metal detectors from the entrance to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Those metal detectors triggering protests and violence over the past two weeks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Ian Lee.

Ian, good morning to you.

Security cabinet recommended the removal of these metal detectors. Do we think this will help slow the recent spike in violence? IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

They did remove them late last night. There was a Security Council meeting saying they're going to install advanced screening technologies which will be able to scan the people who come in through the doors on to the holy complex. But we are hearing from religious, Islamic religious officials, also hearing from Palestinian officials saying that they're going to reject these measures for the time being until they get further clarification.

But it doesn't look like it's going to appease them. We're seeing a few dozen women over here still chanting, still condemning these moves by Israel. They say that they won't leave, and that they won't back down until things go back to normal, which was that there weren't any of the screening, any of the security, any of these technologies at the gates of this holy complex.

BRIGGS: So difficult to understand, trying to keep everyone safe and ends up doing just the opposite.

All right. Ian, we'll check back with you next hour. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

It will be a heartbreaking end to the short but notable life of baby Charlie Gard. The parents of the terminally ill British boy giving up their legal fight for experimental treatment in the U.S. Their lawyer telling the U.K.'s high court the window of opportunity to save this child no longer exists.

Charlie's mother and father devastated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our son is an absolute warrior, and we could not be prouder of him. And we will miss him terribly. We are going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won't make his first birthday in just under two weeks' time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Charlie's parents expressing frustration with the legal process, saying it delayed treatment that could have helped their son survive. A London hospital is expected to take baby Charlie off life support shortly, we're told.

BRIGGS: Such a difficult story.

All right. Twice on Monday, President Trump called in Republicans to get moving on health care. He did it once at the White House in front of young people, you can see here. And he did it at a Boy Scout event in West Virginia.

Did Republicans get the message? Well, we will find out later today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:29:02] TRUMP: There's been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Senate is ready to vote on health care. What health care plan are they voting on? No one seems to know for sure. Will John McCain's return make a difference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KUSHNER: Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Rare public remarks from Jared Kushner. He's rebuking critics as he prepares for a second day of congressional grilling about his Russia meetings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Was that the president taking a shot at his attorney general? New questions this morning about whether the president wants Jeff Sessions to stay on the job.

BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning. Nice to see you bright and early.

There's a lot to get to this morning as we talk about a make-or-break day for Senate Republicans on health care.