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AT THIS HOUR
Deadline Day For Trump To Reveal Wiretapping Evidence; Interviewer Responds To Trump Adviser's Pushback; Trump, GOP Brace For Price Tag On Health Care Bill; Price: "Nobody Will Be Worse Off" Under GOP Health Bill; GOP Senator Health Bill Puts House Majority In Jeopardy. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired March 13, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: John Berman, thank you so much. Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. Put up or shut up. That's essentially John McCain's blunt message to President Obama right now coming on a deadline day of sorts for the administration to show proof of the president's explosive claims that former President Obama wiretapped his phones.
The House Intelligence Committee is demanding to see the evidence by today. So far, though, no evidence, nada, from the White House or the Justice Department on this.
Adding to the confusion this morning, counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, is suggesting that the president could have been subject to wider surveillance than even he claims, but now Conway is blaming the reporter for taking her out of context. That reporter is joining me in just a second.
But first let's get to CNN's Jessica Schneider, tracking the very latest on where this wiretap investigation stands. Jessica, any word yet from the Justice Department that they've provided any evidence or anything at all to the House Intelligence Committee on this?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, no word yet. We are waiting. Of course, today is that deadline for the Justice Department to send any and all proof of President Trump's explosive wiretapping allegation to the House committee that's leading this investigation.
But it is unclear if the White House will have anything to hand over. For more than a week now, members of the Trump administration have repeatedly been asked where is the evidence when it comes to the president's claim that former President Obama wiretapped him.
And for that week plus, the White House has dodged. The president has ignored repeated questions at the few open press events he's had, and no proof has been put forward. Former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has said he knows of no FISA court warrant.
Interestingly, this weekend, Senator John McCain said that this could all be put to rest, he implored the president to prove it or retract his wiretapping accusations. So Kate, we'll see if the Justice Department hands over any proof by the end of the day today -- Kate.
KEILAR: And of course, again, how much will the public learn no matter what is turned over to the House Intelligence Committee? We will of course be asking everyone on Capitol Hill. Jessica, great to see you. Thank you so much.
All of that brings us to "The Bergen County Record," Kellyanne Conway's hometown paper. In an interview with the "The Bergen County Record," Conway said there are a number of ways to conduct surveillance, including using microwave that turn into cameras. But now she says her comments had nothing to do with President Trump's claims. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: None of that is true. I was answering a question about surveillance techniques generally. I was reflecting what people saw on the news last week, which were several articles about how we can surveil each other generally.
The answer I had given about the president and wiretapping in Trump Tower is very simple, and I've said it many times including this morning on other networks. That screaming headline doesn't even reach the quote and the content accurately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Joining me now to discuss is Mike Kelly, the columnist with "The Bergen County Record." He is the man who conducted the interview with Kellyanne Conway that is getting all of the attention this morning. Mike, thanks for coming in.
So let's take a step back because this talk about this moment that is very important, and that is getting, rightfully so, attention today. This interview was on camera as well as. This is what Kellyanne Conway said to you, including your question to her. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE KELLY, COLUMNIST, "THE BERGEN RECORD": Let me ask you about this. One of the things that seems to be dogging him, at least this past week, is the wiretap allegation that Trump Tower was wiretapped. What can you say about that? Do you know whether Trump Tower was wiretapped?
CONWAY: What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other, unfortunately.
KELLY: Do you believe --
CONWAY: There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets. Any number of different ways. Microwaves that turn into camera, et cetera. So we know that is just a fact of modern life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Today she says she was speaking generally, that you're taking her out of context. Did you misinterpret her?
KELLY: No, not at all. It's pretty clear what I asked her. I asked her about the wiretaps at Trump Tower, does she know anything about it. Simple yes/no question. What she chose to do was offer this other scenario.
KEILAR: Were you talking -- I watched, unless there is some video that I didn't see in this interview, you weren't really talking about generally surveillance at all. You were talking specifically about wiretaps the whole time.
KELLY: Specifically about Trump Tower and specifically what the president said about President Obama, that Trump Tower had been wiretapped. There was no doubt what I was talking about. We weren't having a discussion about surveillance techniques in general. We were having a discussion about wiretapping. You can see from the video exactly what I asked her.
KEILAR: What do you make of what Kellyanne Conway said to Chris Cuomo this morning and she said on other networks as well?
KELLY: Yes, really two things. I think what is going on here is that the Trump administration is trying to broaden the story. Initially President Trump came out and said, Trump Tower is wiretapped. Now they're trying to suggest that there's even a possible broader conspiracy here.
[11:05:08]Who knows what will come out tomorrow? My point here is that, they haven't offered a scintilla of evidence of any wiretaps. It's been almost ten days since President Trump said that.
KEILAR: Why she blaming you, though, Mike? That's what I can't get. I mean, there's a way to answer the question and say, "I don't know, the committees are investigating." I don't understand why she's coming to you saying it's your fault.
KELLY: Kate, this is an old story. You're a journalist, so am I, we face this every day. If you can't control the story, they blame the messenger. This happens every day. It doesn't matter whether you're a small town reporter or a national columnist. It's what happens in our business.
This is an interesting moment for journalism I think because I believe what is happening here is that the Trump administration is trying to raise questions about the messenger when I think the real question here is the message.
What kind of a statement is it that when a close aide to the president suggests that there are other surveillance techniques at work here? KEILAR: That actually is one of the things --
KELLY: That's why I reported it. That is news. When one of the president's closest advisers says that --
KEILAR: And that leads me to -- that was what I was wondering in this. When she was speaking on CNN earlier, asked about the president's tweet, she said the president's tweets speak for themselves. He can very well speak for himself. We understand that. Do you think she speaks for President Trump? Do you get the sense when you were sitting there with her, she was shooting from the hip or there's some strategy in the message that she was offering?
KELLY: I don't know. I don't think -- she's a smart person. I don't think Kellyanne Conway --
KEILAR: We've known her for years, yes.
KELLY: Highly respected. But I don't think Kellyanne Conway shoots from the hip. I think she's smart. Is there a larger strategy at work here? I don't know. I raised this in my column. Is this part of a Trump strategy to try to either make this a little murkier or broaden the investigation? It's hard to say.
But the fact of the matter is that the president of the United States accused his predecessor of wiretapping him. It's been almost ten days now. That allegation has not -- there is not a scintilla of proof out there. Here we are with the Republican controlled House demanding evidence, and we're not seeing anything.
I asked her about that, and she suggested that there are other surveillance techniques to do it. Look, is that a possibility? I don't know, but the fact of the matter is, a high ranking official in the White House --
KEILAR: She's not even standing by that anymore, right? She's now blaming you, saying you misinterpreted the question in general. May I just say as a fellow reporter, in the universe of convoluted questions, and we ask many of them in our careers, that was not one of them. That was a pretty clear question coming from you.
KELLY: Straight up.
KEILAR: Great to see you, Mike. Thanks for coming in.
KELLY: Good to see you, Kate. Thanks for having me.
KEILAR: The other battle that the White House is facing right now, over repealing and replacing Obamacare. President Trump right now will be meeting with HHS Secretary Tom Price and what the White House says is a group of Americans that has been hurt by Obamacare.
But everyone is also keeping their eye in their inboxes at this very moment waiting for the official cost estimate of the Republican plan to replace it to drop. It will offer insight not only into how much this plan would cost over a certain number of years but how many people would gain or lose coverage under the plan.
Not everyone seems to be looking forward to this Congressional Budget Office assessment, as we wait for it to happen. Congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, is one in the realm of in truth of transparency looking forward to this Congressional Budget Office assessment coming out. She's joining me now from Capitol Hill.
So Sunlen, everyone is waiting for the report at the same time folks in the White House are already dismissing it.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's been really interesting to watch in recent days. Since last week, Kate, really the White House and House Republicans trying to preemptively undermine the credibility of the CBO and really attack the CBO for their predictions. Some of which were (inaudible) during the Obamacare debate.
But certainly it is an important day up here on Capitol Hill for the fate of this bill. It could do a lot to potentially hurt or help the bill's chances. That goes a long way when you're talking about House Republicans really trying to keep up the momentum on this bill as they usher it through the House.
But again, there have been administration officials and Republicans out in full force really attacking the CBO in advance of when the scores come out. Here is the White House budget director on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there would be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are. So I love the folks at the CBO. They work really hard, they do, but sometimes we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing. And estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn't the best use of their time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: There will be a lot of moving parts on all of this this week, not only the CBO score.
[11:10:03]Then you have on Tuesday you have members of the House Freedom Caucus going to the White House for pizza and bowling. They have been very critical of this bill. They want to see changes.
And then on Wednesday, Kate, the House Budget Committee will start their markup of their portion of the bill. That's the last step before it potentially goes to the House floor -- Kate.
KEILAR: Absolutely. Sunlen, a lot of moving parts is right. Great to see you, Sunlen. Thanks so much. We're waiting for that report to come out. But ahead of that report to come out, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price laid down an important and maybe risky marker about the president's -- about the Republicans' plan and its impact. Listen here to Tom Price on "Meet The Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY; I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through, understanding that they'll have choices, that they can select the kind of coverage they want for themselves and their family, not the government forces them to buy. There's costs that needs to come down. We believe we'll be able to do that through the system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Let me bring in right now, national political reporter, Maeve Reston. Maeve, it's great to see you. So what are you hearing? What's your sense here? Is this going to be the quote and the sound bite that comes back to bite Republican in this White House?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It may well be. I mean, certainly what we're seeing so far is a very different analysis of the bill than what Secretary Price just said right there. I mean, the Brookings Institution is saying that as many as 15 million people could lose health care under this bill.
Obviously, it's incredibly controversial in Congress where you have, as Sunlen mentioned, you have senators like Senator Murkowski from Alaska and Senator Portman saying that they don't want to see Medicaid expansion taken away from a lot of people, it would be like pulling the rug out from under them.
So obviously we're all eagerly awaiting these numbers from the CBO this morning. But that really may be a comment that comes back to haunt the White House and Donald Trump.
KEILAR: House Speaker Paul Ryan, though, on this very issue of who could gain in this respect, more importantly, lose health care, he had an interesting take about this over the weekend in the Sunday interviews, saying he is not going to be surprised at all when it says that less people will have health insurance under the Republican plan versus Obamacare. Why, he says? Because Obamacare was a mandate.
RESTON: Right. So clearly Ryan is trying to move the argument in that direction, that this bill will give people more choices, that you'll see potentially more insurers getting into the game, and that will give people choices, particularly young people.
But there are a lot of people around the country that don't agree with that argument, who are nervous about losing their health care. We saw that in the town halls recently. And so I mean, this is going to be a week where Ryan's powers of persuasion are tested on Capitol Hill on that argument.
KEILAR: Absolutely, even though some folks might be dismissing the CBO report, you can be assured everyone will be reading it. Great to see you.
RESTON: That's right.
KEILAR: Thank you so much. So if President Trump can't provide the evidence that the Obama administration, most specifically President Obama himself ordered an illegal wiretap of him, what happens then? I'll ask a Republican lawmaker about that.
Plus Congressman Steve King says this, "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." Now he's under fire and he's doubling down. Hear his explanation.
More than two years after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Video is surfacing now that may change the narrative, change the conversation about what happened in the hours before his altercation with a police officer that led to his death.
KEILAR: A huge day for President Trump and his administration, bracing for the price tag of the Republicans' Obamacare replacement plan and also facing a deadline to provide any evidence of the president's claim that former President Obama wiretapped him.
Just a short time ago I talked to Pennsylvania Congressman Republican Charlie Dent about all of this, beginning with the so far unsubstantiated wiretapping claims.
REPRESENTATIVE CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm glad the intelligence committee is asking the president for evidence or proof of his very serious charge. Look, I have not seen anything to suggest that there is any proof or evidence that President Obama or someone in his administration frankly tapped Donald Trump's phone as a candidate.
I haven't seen that evidence. What I do think could have happened is that the FBI or somebody in the United States government could have been surveilling certain Russian figures like the ambassador and then somebody could have incidentally been picked up in a conversation, like Michael Flynn apparently was, based on all the published reports.
So I think that certainly could have happened, but I have not seen any evidence or proof that President Obama ordered a wiretap on Donald Trump. I haven't seen it and I think it's incumbent upon the president, President Trump, to provide any information that he has.
KEILAR: Congressman, what if there isn't anything there? What if that proof never comes? What does that say about the president?
DENT: Well, I can't defend it. You know, it certainly damages credibility. I've always said, when you're president of the United States, anything you say is policy, or in this case anything you tweet is seen as policy.
And I think that is something that, you know, I think that this administration needs to work on, that presidential words do matter, that different people interpret them in different ways.
You know, there are people overseas who hear these words and then it's hard to say, don't pay attention to the words, he doesn't always necessarily mean what he says. Well, that's not a great message. It does speak to credibility and I think that the White House really does need to work on this.
KEILAR: Yes, say what you mean and mean what you say. And on that point, let's talk about health care. Tom Price said this yesterday in talking about the Republican plan.
[11:20:04]He said, "I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially" with this Republican plan. Do you agree with him?
DENT: Well, I am trying to understand this bill better. I am concerned that people who are currently on the exchanges, for example, and are receiving subsidies, that whatever happens in this transition, if we move to tax credits, and I'm fine with tax credits, but I want to make sure those tax credits are sufficient for people to buy coverage.
And I'm not yet persuaded that that is the case. I understand the argument about more competition. Prices of some policies will come down. But there seems to be a pretty big gap between the rate of subsidy for people currently in the ACA and the amount of tax credits available to those who will be coming into the new system.
So I'm not ready to defend any particular claim that no one could be impacted because I think that some possibly will be impacted.
KEILAR: Yes, I mean, do you fear this could be the 2017 version of "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"?
DENT: Well, I don't know if I would go that far, but I am not going to make any statements, I'll say, I will not make any draconian or Sherman-esque type statements on health care. I think we've all learned our lesson on that, and President Obama certainly did, "if you like your doctor, you can keep them," well, that certainly didn't work out to be the case.
And you know, he made a lot of big claims too about premiums were supposed to go down and they've in fact gone up. So I'm being very careful not to make those types of statements other than the fact that I want to make sure people are not going to be impacted negatively in any type of a transition.
KEILAR: If the final version -- I know you care about the Medicaid expansion, it affects a lot of people in your district. If the final version rolls back the sunset date, cutting off the Medicaid expansion sooner, can you support the bill?
DENT: I've said to many folks that taking that date back from 2020 to 2018 will be a huge problem will be a huge problem and that will cost votes. Like I said, I have concerns with the bill now, as it is, with the 2020 date taking it back to 2018 is a nonstarter for many of us. And I don't think I'm just speaking for myself on that point. I've spoken to many House Republicans who feel as strongly as I do that that is just going to be a very serious blow to this bill.
KEILAR: Are you a "no" right now as it stands?
DENT: Well, I'm putting myself down as undecided right now. Like I said, I have some concerns and reservations, based on what I'm reading. I do want to see what the CBO score says. I want to see what the CBO scores says that's going to come out this week, maybe as early as today. From what I'm told, we're being prepared that this might not be a very good report, but I guess we'll wait to see.
KEILAR: The CBO score, if it does come out today, the new OMB director, your former colleague, Mick Mulvaney, has interesting things to say about this CBO score, basically saying that sometimes in his words we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing and estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn't the best use of their time. So the White House may not be taking these numbers seriously when they come out. Do you take them seriously?
DENT: Yes, I do. But I would say, I think Budget Director Mulvaney, who I've known, I've worked with him, he's a friend, I would say this, that the CBO often has to make a lot of assumptions and some of them aren't very good assumptions. And that's not their fault. They have to deal with what's presented to them. So they have to make assumptions and those assumptions can, of course -- are factored into their calculations.
KEILAR: But you take what CBO says seriously and that factors into your decision making process, right?
DENT: Yes, it does. And I will look at their methodology and their analysis, recognizing that some of those assumptions, you know, are -- that some of those assumptions are not going to be good ones and again, not necessarily their fault. It's because of the information that's been provided to them, but I do take their recommendations seriously. I don't take them as gospel, but I take them very seriously.
KEILAR: One final question for you, Senator Tom Cotton has been outspoken about the process that the house has been going about with regard to this bill. He said very clearly yesterday he's afraid if the House votes for this bill it will cost the Republicans the majority in the House. Do you share that fear?
DENT: I guess anything is possible. I'm not going to disagree with my friend, Tommy Cotton, but it's certainly a possibility. I would also -- I say the bigger issue that Senator Cotton has raised is this, he says that this legislation is dead on arrival in the Senate and that is of great concern to me.
[11:25:06]I think he is probably correct that this bill, if it were to pass the House that the Senate would certainly not pass it in this form.
KEILAR: And you think there's a real possibility it could cost you the majority in the House? DENT: Look, going into the midterm elections in 2018, Republicans will be at a bit of a disadvantage. Historically, the party of the president usually suffers some losses in the midterm. So that's for a whole host of reasons. Could health care be a contributing factor? Sure, it could but so could any number of other things.
But the biggest driver of that is simply history. The history is that the party of the president in the midterms typically doesn't do very well in those elections. That's my analysis.
KEILAR: That's the way it is. Well, these are one of those votes that do go down in history. That's why you're looking so closely before you cast a vote on this bill or whatever bill ends up hitting the floor. Congressman, great to have you. Thanks for coming in.
DENT: Kate, great to be with you. Thank you for having me.
KEILAR: Coming up for us, the Republican congressman facing cries of racism for his tweets about civilization and, quote, "someone else's babies." Then there's also his attempt to explain himself. We'll discuss that ahead.
Plus a filmmaker fighting back against claims that he selectively and unfairly edited never before seen video of Michael Brown before his shooting death. Hear his explanation.