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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
No Vote Tonight on Health Care Bill; Grieving Father Explains Why He No Longer Backs Trump; U.S. Officials: Info Suggests Trump Associates May Have Coordinated With Russians; Moderate GOP Lawmakers Arrive For Meeting With Trump; London Attacker Identified As Khalid Masood; Attacker Known To Police, Had Assault Convictions; Police Arrest Several People In Anti-Terror Raids; U.K. Official: Too Early To Say If Attacker Had ISIS Link. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired March 23, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Here is the specific solution in this bill to cover your specific problem.
[16:30:04] Repeal and replace does not sort of get to people where they live and in their own lives the way that did. And they're still barely.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: What's also interesting is you heard Kevin McCarthy earlier in the show, the House majority leader, blaming this all on the Senate rules. It's all the Senate rules' fault.
Well, those rules have been around for a while, and they have been Republicans have been planning for this moment literally for more than seven years.
MICHAEL SCHERER, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TIME: Poor Kevin McCarthy. I mean, McCarthy has been in that situation several times now where he's got to pull together the votes. He hasn't been able to pull together votes.
The reality is this has not been for six years a governable Republican caucus in the House. You know, Boehner was out almost a month ago now saying there's no deal coming in the House. I mean, he knew his members. They never had a deal everybody could come together on.
So, the problems here are not just about the will of the leaders or their tactics. The problem is that fundamentally, this is not a coherent caucus when it comes to figuring out what they want for national health care policy going forward.
TAPPER: And, Bill, I wonder -- I've also heard the criticism of this bill instead of getting the Freedom Caucus on board with the bill and then moving it to the right to bring on more moderates or vice versa, it's kind of just a bill that Paul Ryan and Tom Price seem to put together from -- based on their vision of health care, but not necessarily trying to specifically appeal to either group.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Right. And pretty compromising as it were with the Senate rules. One House member said to me why not just pass the House bill? That's
the Senate's problem. Let them figure out what the parliament will or will not accept. Let them say, we can't accept this, then they come back to us and say, I'm sorry, you have to accept it. OK, look, we tried our best to pass a really good bill. Maybe we'll have to swallow hard to pass this thing.
Ryan sort of pre -- as I say, you know, he submitted a bill he thought would be compliant with Senate rules, but he's asking them to cast their hardest vote in advance without any evidence that a better bill couldn't come from the Senate. Make it -- you know, that's what I think the House could have done, pass a good bill from the House, let the Senate parliamentarian do her will, let the Senate Democrats filibuster. Three months from now, and again, there's no urgency, this could go to September 30th under the first reconciliation. Then, three months from now, you say, you know what, we just couldn't quite get what we wanted, we've got to swallow hard and pass this bill.
TAPPER: And this also -- we were discussing Senate minutiae right now. But this gets into the fact that they're trying to do this so that it only requires 51 Senate votes and they don't have to worry about getting any Democrats. Once again, I remember saying this back in 2009, 2010, why not try to appeal to get other parties -- the other party on board and Republicans then, Democrats now don't want any part of it?
TUMULTY: And in the end, the -- you know, to get the Affordable Care Act through, they did have to use the reconciliation process. But that was their last resort, not their first resort.
TAPPER: All right. Karen, Bill, Michael, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Check out Michael's interview with President Trump in the new "TIME" magazine. We were going to talk about it today, but we had all this breaking news. But it's really great. TIME.com.
Coming up, he sold his truck and quit his job to follow President Trump, then-candidate Trump on the campaign trail. He believed the president's promise to make sure other parents would not have to suffer the heartache that he did, losing a child to the ravages of opioid addiction. But now, he feels betrayed by President Trump and the health care legislation. He's here to tell us why.
Stay with us.
[16:37:42] TAPPER: We're back with the national lead.
We are following breaking news at this hour. The House vote on the Republican health care plan has been postponed. The White House says that the new vote will happen tomorrow.
One of the several criticisms of the health care bill is that it does not do enough to fix this nation's severe drug addiction problems. You might not know this, but the opioid epidemic is now considered by public health officials to be the worst drug crisis in the history of the United States. Thirty-three thousand Americans overdosed in 2015 from opioids. That's a grim statistic that experts say seems destined to rise.
And yet despite this urgent need, critics say Republican efforts on the Hill might actually make the problem worse. That's the view, at least, of a man who says he attended 45 Trump rallies during the campaign who now says he can no longer trust the man he says he helped elect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRAIG MOSS, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER (singing): Let's make America great again, hey, hey, let's make America great again --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You might recognize Kraig Moss. He sold his construction business equipment and stopped paying his mortgage so that he could follow the Trump campaign and play his guitar outside venues.
Moss says he had very personal reasons to do so. He lost his 24-year- old son Rob to a heroin overdose in 2014. Moss supported the Trump plan for addiction treatment. But now, Moss feels President Trump is going back on his promises by supporting a Republican health care bill that does not address it.
And Kraig Moss joins me now.
First off, Mr. Moss, as I've told you before -- my deepest condolences to you and yours for the loss of your son. I can't imagine the pain but I think it's very admirable what you're doing to try to bring attention to this important issue.
MOSS: Well, thank you. And thank you for having me on your show.
TAPPER: So, the Republican health care plan would end the Obamacare requirement that addiction services be covered under Medicaid in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid. Now, in 2014, one in four Americans treated for addiction were on Medicaid, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
So, what might it mean for others like your son Rob who struggled with addiction if this requirement is taken away from Medicaid?
[16:40:01] MOSS: Well, I'm going to tell you, it takes away the only hope these kids and these young adults have. It takes away the hope that the only life line that they have to get off this drug -- we were supposed to add to the services that are currently available and what's happened is we're taking away what we're supposed to add to. This whole thing is just topsy-turvy and backwards. It's a tragedy that they're even considering trying to put this thing through.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you, you say that your trust in President Trump is gone, but you were a big supporter of his. We saw you at rally after rally. Is there anything President Trump can do to restore the trust? Is there something he can do to help fight opioid abuse that might bring you back?
MOSS: Well, you know, trust many times takes a lifetime to achieve and one day to lose. So, to get the trust back, it's going to take some doing.
But what he can do to fight the opioid problem with a stroke of a pen is authorize funding for, let's say, one dose of Narcan to go out to every volunteer emergency squad in a population, towns in a population, say, 10,000 people or less. I'm talking about the emergency squads that sell chickens on Saturday to buy new fire hoses and emergency equipment because every one of those doses of Narcan represents a saved life. And had the emergency squad that came to my son's rescue had one can of that, he'd have been alive today.
TAPPER: Did you ever get to meet with President Trump? And what would you say to him if he happens to be watching right now?
MOSS: I've never met him personally and sat down over coffee or tea, but he did shake my hand on several occasions at different rallies. The one most memorable was the January 15th rally in Urbandale, Iowa, where I had asked him a question pertaining to if he became president what he would do to combat the ongoing heroin epidemic we find ourselves in.
And he consoled me, he comforted me. He told me we are going to work at putting facilities more available for these kids and to get these kids off opioids and get them off the heroin and do the best we can in order to combat the epidemic we find ourselves in.
TAPPER: And, lastly, Kraig, I want to take a moment to honor the memory of your 24-year-old son rob. What do you want people to know about your son? We're showing his picture right now. What do you want people to know about him while they think about this health care bill and the changes in health care that Congress and the president are trying to bring?
MOSS: My son was a good man. My son was the kind of man that during a snowstorm like we just had would be across the street to the elderly woman who is on a fixed income, who had a driveway -- she did drive. And he would go there and shovel her driveway and her sidewalk.
And she'd come out and try to stop him and say, I don't have any money to pay you. My son would go and my son would shovel the driveway and at the end of the season, he'd come in the house with an apple pie and he said, this is my apple pie for shoveling the driveway.
That's what kind of -- that's what kind of man my son was. He was a man that did everything for everyone else and thought about nobody but someone else's troubles even though he had troubles of his own.
He's the kind of man that would borrow my truck to -- if something normal would go, like a universal joint or something, he would fix it. He wouldn't leave it on the side of the road. He would fix it. And he'd have it towed and take care of it. My son was a good man. My son was a good man. He was -- he had a big
heart and he showed everybody his heart.
TAPPER: And you're showing yours right now, Kraig Moss. We thank you for -- we thank you for your time and good luck to you, sir. We're going to stay in touch with you.
MOSS: All right, thank you.
TAPPER: And there are thousands and thousands of stories just like that one. Stay with us.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Sticking with politics, the White House today attacked the latest CNN report about the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sources telling CNN that the FBI possesses information suggesting that associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to potentially coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign. CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown who helped break the story with Evan Perez joins me now. And Pamela, the White House is attacking the report for being too vague and for including - and for - and one of their criticisms specifically was saying that they're investigating Trump associates, that term itself is vague.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And as you will recall on Monday, Jake, FBI Director James Comey said himself that Trump campaign associates are under investigation. And we reported some of those associates include former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and the investigation we've learned has under earthed information that has raised suspicion among counter intelligence investigators.
BROWN: U.S. officials tell CNN, the FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign. This after FBI Director James Comey announced Monday that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
[16:50:05] JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
BROWN: Comey also explained what would trigger an investigation like this.
COMEY: The standard is I think there's a couple different at play. A credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe that an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power. BROWN: The FBI is now reviewing information which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in- person meetings. This information is raising the suspicions of FBI counter intelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place. Though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing. House Intelligence Committee Democrats say there is strong evidence out there.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: You said that there is more than just circumstantial evidence of collusion. What did you mean by that?
ADAM SCHIFF, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: I don't feel comfortable talking about the particular evidence either that the FBI is looking at or that we're looking at. But I do think that it's appropriate to say that it's the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation
BROWN: One law official said the information in hand suggest quote "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it is premature to draw that inference. The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place. Senator McCain today said he hasn't yet seen evidence, but the investigation should proceed.
JOHN MCCAIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARIZONA: I have seen no substantiation, but it continues on and on and on that that's the reason why we need a select committee to clear this whole issue up.
BROWN: The FBI has already been investigating four former Trump campaign associates. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page, where contacts with Russians known to U.S. intelligence. All four have denied improper contacts. The White House today reacted to the possible collusion.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you use a term like associates, you don't even put a time frame around it. It's a little bit nebulous at best to suggest that somebody over and over again making a claim the way you do and the narrative continues without any substantiation.
BROWN: And one of the obstacles the sources say the FBI now faces in finding conclusive intelligence is that communications between Trump's associates and Russians have seized in recent months given the public focus on Russia's ties to the Trump campaign and some Russian officials have even changed their methods of communicating, making monitoring more difficult, Jake. The FBI declined to comment.
TAPPER: I believe Spicer's comments came during the same press conference where he said that the healthcare bill would pass this evening and there was no plan B.
BROWN: Yes. TAPPER: Just noting, Pamela Brown, thank you so much. A look outside the White House where the Tuesday group, a group of moderate republicans are arriving to meet with President Trump after this momentous moment of the House Republican Leadership polling the bill and postponing the vote. More when we come back.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Turning to our "WORLD LEAD" today. British police have identified Khalid Masood as the terrorist responsible for the deadliest terror attack in London since the 2005 attacks on buses in the tube. ISIS is claiming that Masood was one of its followers. The terrorist took the lives of three innocent people, Kurt Cochran, an American tourist visiting with his wife Melissa, to celebrate their 25th anniversary is one of them. She suffered a broken leg and rib and her brother said she will recover. Also killed, Keith Palmer, a police officer on duty at the gates of Parliament, and Aysha Frade a teacher. Around 40 other people were injured in the attack. Let's go to CNN's Phil Black who's in London for us. And Phil, what more are we learning about this terrorist?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, Khalid Masood was 52, British born and known to police here because he had a long violent criminal record. One that stretched from 1983 to 2003 and included convictions for violent assault, causing grieve us bodily harm, possessing offensive weapons. His most recent conviction in 2003 was for possession of a knife. In addition to that, we found out that MI-5, Britain's Domestic Security and Intelligence Service had also looked into Masood, investigated him. This is according to British Prime Minister Theresa May. She wasn't specific about the time frame but she said some years ago. And this was because of concerns about possible extremism. Nothing was found, it would seem. He was determined to be a peripheral figure, someone who in the Prime Minister's words, was no longer part of the current intelligence picture. So, in summary, we've got someone who was a known violent convicted criminal who at some point was investigated because of suspected extremism. But none of this was recent. And, so, that's why this terrible attack was allowed to happen and no one saw it coming, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Phil, overnight, police arrested a number of individuals in raids throughout Britain. Is it clear whether this was a lone wolf attack or not?
BLACK: So, the police are confident he acted alone in terms of carrying out the violence of the day. What they are still trying to determine is whether or not he had any support or encouragement through the preparation. And, so, they have been searching properties that they believe are related to this in London and Birmingham, another city in particular that's the west midlands area of the U.K., that's where we know Masood most recently lived and they have arrested eight people in total, three women, five men, all on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts. Now, we're not quite sure what that means at this stage because it is a term that has a very broad interpretation. We don't know if they played a direct role in the attack that took place here yesterday whether it relates to some other plot or whether it's something. Again, it is entirely possible enough and happens here that police - sorry, suspects are arrested under that term and later arrested. We'll be looking for that in the coming days. Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Black in London for us. Thank you so much. That is it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the art of no deal. House Republican Leaders postpone the vote on their Healthcare bill. Still short -