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White House: "We're Convinced We've Got" Health Care Votes; Trump "Guarantees" Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions; Trump Won't Back Off Falsehood That Obama Wiretapped Him; Is Trump Not Listening To His Intelligence Community?; Trump: Why Couldn't Civil War Have Been Worked Out?; Pence Admits Trump's Tax Cut Plan May Increase Deficit. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Stop me if you've heard this one, but I think we may have been here before. Congress up against a deadline and up against another congressional recess, and a White House looking for a win, and, again, it has to do with health care reform. The president's chief economic adviser is projecting confidence, though, this morning. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a great week. We're going to get health care down to the floor of the House. We're convinced we've got the votes.


BOLDUAN: Convinced we've got the votes. So, when is the vote? Good question. We do know what Congress -- we do know that Congress is set to head out of town once again for a week-long recess next week.

So let's get to state of play. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill with much more. So, Sunlen, they're confident. So, where do things stand?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly is a real sense of urgency up here on Capitol Hill, Kate, coming not only from the White House pushing for them to hold a vote, but House Republicans, frankly, want this off their plate, they want this to go over to the Senate.

So, there is this sense that they will push and drive towards having a vote this week. Of course, they are set to head out on recess on Thursday, so very short window of time, but there is some confidence that in this window of time, they will be able to have a vote.

They are not there yet with the vote. They do not have 216 votes necessary to pass this bill through, and that's why we saw really a flurry of activity behind the scenes over the weekend where House leadership was trying to educate members of what's in this bill, trying to flip those votes from either undecided or no to the yes column.

There is certainly a clear sense of momentum. You had the House Freedom Caucus getting on board last week, but the same issues, the same divides with House moderates that really has bedeviled this process from the beginning still remain.

BOLDUAN: And one of those issues, Sunlen, that we're talking about here is pre-existing conditions. There seems to be some confusion over what this latest bill, this latest amendment does with regard to pre-existing conditions. Even the president, is he also confused?

SERFATY: Well, that's right, the president certainly raised a lot of eyebrows over the weekend in this interview with CBS where he really called into question his own understanding of the bill or how he's selling the bill and certainly a discussion going forward about what the details actually mean in the bill.

Here's first what he said, where he's basically saying that the Republican plan that they're pushing forward he said guarantees coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill, and I mandate it. I said, it has to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the fixes that was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes and they're changing it and changing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So those will be permanent?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, that's a development, sir. Crucial question, it's not going to be left up to the states. Everybody gets pre-existing no matter where they live.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, but the states will have a lot to do with it because we ultimately want to get it back down to it. The state will be in a much better position to take care because it's smaller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I'm not hearing you, Mr. President, say it will guarantee pre-existing conditions.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We actually have a clause that guarantees.


SERFATY: That's not exactly what's in this bill. The MacArthur amendment as you noted before was negotiated up here on Capitol Hill where it does allow states to opt out of the Obamacare provision for those providing coverage, guaranteeing coverage for those with pre- existing as long as they set up these so-called high-risk pools. So certainly a lot of mixed messages coming from the president on this very important week for the health care bill on Capitol Hill -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And even mixed messages amongst Republicans as we've heard on this exact provision this morning, which is wild, considering they could be moving towards a vote and they're still debating exactly how this all affects Americans. Great to see you, Sunlen. Thank you so much.

So, President Trump also now 100-plus days in still seems to be holding on to the unsubstantiated claim, his claim, that former President Obama wiretapped him, even though he said in the very same press interview that he's not standing by anything. Just listen to this.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, he was very nice to me, but after that, we've had some difficulties. So, it doesn't matter. You know, words are less important to me than deeds, and you saw what happened with surveillance and everybody saw what happened with surveillance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Difficulties how?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I thought that -- well, you saw what happened with surveillance. And I think that was inappropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean, sir?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You can figure that out yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the reason I ask is you said -- you called him sick and bad.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, you can figure it out yourself. He was very nice to me with words and when I was with him, but after that, there has been no relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you stand by that claim of --

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't stand by anything. You can take it however you want. I think our side's been proven strongly and everybody's talking about it, and frankly, it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think that's a very big topic, and it's a topic that should be number one and we should find out what the hell is going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wanted to find out, though, you're the president of the United States. You said he was sick and bad because he --

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You can take it any way you want.

[11:05:05]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I'm asking you because you don't want it to be fake news. I want to hear it from President Trump.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You don't have to ask me.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I want to know your opinions. You're the president of the United States.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: That's enough. Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Yes, the president there volunteering his take once again on wiretapping, saying it should be discussed, and then shutting down the interview because he doesn't want to discuss it.

Let's get over to the White House. Joe Johns is CNN's senior Washington correspondent, for more on this. Joe, is the White House saying anything about this today?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Not so far that I can recall, quite frankly. I have to tell you, listening to that, it goes to White House credibility, the credibility of the man in the oval office, but he said two things, if you listen very carefully.

He said I don't stand by anything, but he seemed to be supporting the assertion that President Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower before Donald Trump came here to the White House. That's an assertion that he put out there on Twitter on a weekend.

It has been roundly refuted, including by the likes of none other than the director of the FBI, James Comey, who, in fact, said that he had no information to support that allegation. He said that in a public hearing on Capitol Hill --


JOHNS: -- to members of Congress. So, it seems like that has already been asked and answered, but the president continues to stand by it, continues to put out there. It's been referred to as a conspiracy theory, quite frankly.

And it has not been advanced except for the fact that it certainly distracted from the national conversation about Russians allegedly participating, or at least interfering with the last election and whether the Trump campaign in any way coordinated with that. So, once again, we hear that from the president, and once again, it sort of needs to be refuted.

BOLDUAN: And the president raising this himself and then not wanting to answer questions about it when John Dickerson, who rightfully wanted to follow up. Joe, great to see you. I'm sure a lot of questions for the White House on this one again today.

Joining me to discuss, CNN politics reporter, editor-at-large, Chris Cilizza. Chris, great to see you. Joe points out, James Comey very clearly refuted the wiretapping claim in a public hearing.

But so we're all on the same wiretapping page again, here's what Republicans in Congress also concluded about the president's wiretapping claim. Listen here. Paul Ryan.


REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia got to the bottom so far with respect to our intelligence community that no such wiretapping existed.


BOLDUAN: Right. Why do you think he's not letting up on this? I mean, wasn't this something that the White House very, at east privately to reporters was very excited to get past, these tweets?

CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. It was a gigantic unforced error by Donald Trump on a Saturday at Mar-a- Lago. I still remember, I woke up and I looked and I thought, that doesn't seem right. Then I woke back up an hour later and there it still was.

BOLDUAN: You could go back to sleep after that? I'm impressed.

CILIZZA: Yes, I know. Well, I've been a political reporter for a long time now. Look, he continues to do things like this. This is the biggest, most damaging claim, because it goes right to his credibility. I mean, it's just not true.

FBI director, director of National Intelligence, head of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, who are both Republicans, Paul Ryan, Barack Obama. On the Trump side, on that John Dickerson interview, he says, I believe our side has proven --

BOLDUAN: Proven right or proven wrong, I think he said.

CILIZZA: This is not accurate. I keep being reminded that you're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. The patrolmen I problem is Donald Trump conflates opinion and fact. If he feels that way, then it's true, and that's on the same level of the FBI director, the director of National Intelligence, you know. It's just, it's not accurate, and yet, there are a lot of people who believe him and will not believe the two of us having this conversation because we work for a mainstream media outlet.

BOLDUAN: Along the same lines of kind of not being on the same page with his intelligence -- with the intelligence community or what the intelligence is showing right now, the president still doesn't seem to be on the same page with the intelligence community with regard to Russia being involved in the hacking of the election, still leaving open the possibility that it was not Russia, but China or someone else. Listen to this one, Chris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT TRUMP: If you don't catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I'll go along with Russia. Could have been China. Could have been a lot of different groups --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, President Donald Trump is ambivalent, or just not sure?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, we have to find out what happened. I'd love to find out what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you don't think it was Russia.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'll tell you something, it had nothing to do with us. It had nothing to do with this, and everyone knows it.


BOLDUAN: So, on day 102 now we're still back at day 1 on this one. It makes me wonder if anything's going to change his mind in terms of evidence coming out that would change his mind on either of these topics we're talking about.

[11:10:11]CILIZZA: Just to be clear on this one, Kate, FBI and the CIA have said it was Russia, and not only that it was Russia, but they were actively trying to help him and hurt Hillary Clinton. The FBI and the CIA both agreeing on that point.

Again, I think Donald Trump has a situation where if he says it, he believes it to be true. That doesn't make it true, but he is taking advantage of the fact that there is a lot of distrust with the media, a lot of distrust with fact-checking, broadly speak 'but this, we should not be surprised by this, Kate.

It's not as if the campaign he ran was a strict adherent to the truth. My former employer, the "Washington Post" has a fact-checking operation there and they found that two-thirds of the 90-plus things that Donald Trump said that they fact-checked from the campaign were 100 percent totally false.

And yet, you look at exit polling after the election, more people thought Donald Trump was honest and trustworthy than Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Right, but --

CILIZZA: So I don't know what you do with that, but it's not new.

BOLDUAN: It's one thing to distrust the media, right? But it's another thing for the president of the United States to seemingly distrust his intelligence community. I mean, that's a completely different thing.

CILIZZA: And what we have seen time and time again in this first 102 days is Donald Trump says things that are either directly contradictory to or not on message with things that his defense secretary, the Department of Homeland Security, the secretary of state, the U.N. ambassador are saying.

And then his aide, Sean Spicer, other people are tasked with trying to say that, well, know, "a" and "b" are the exact same thing, when we know the letter "a" and the letter "b" are not the exact same thing. It doesn't pass the smell test here.

The thing about it is we talk about it, Kate, we go back and forth. I think that it is clear Donald Trump is not telling the truth on a number of these things. It's been proven over and over again.

And yet, you could go to that rally in Harrisburg over the weekend, and every person there will tell you he's doing what he said he would do, he's telling the truth about things.

And again, I throw my hands up because I'm not sure what else we can do. We do fact-check him, we do say he's wrong when he's wrong, and he continues to say these things, and the fourth and most important point, people believe it.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Going back to -- let's go back to square one together.


BOLDUAN: Republicans working on getting the votes together on the health care bill. I want to just kind of get your gut on where things stand because there now is this big focus, well, has been kind of throughout, on pre-existing conditions and protecting those people with pre-existing conditions, but it appears the president and his party are not on the same page.

He says it's guaranteed to be protected. Senators like Charlie Dent don't agree with that. We don't have time for the sound bite, but Charlie Dent has real concerns about what people with pre-existing conditions, how they would be impacted with this bill. Why is there confusion here?

CILIZZA: Well, for the exact reason we just talked about, which is he says stuff that's not consistent with what his advisers say, and then they have to try to make it work. But remember the reason that the Freedom Caucus signed on to this new version of the health care bill was because the pre-existing conditions things went to the states, right?

That's the whole difference. That it's not for everyone. It went to the states. Now he's saying it's not true, but then if you listen to the clip you played earlier, then he says, well, the states are going to have a large role.

What does that mean? How do you square that circle? I talked with one senior Republican House member who said Gary Kohn, President Trump's economic adviser who said the votes are there, that that's premature, still not there.

Doesn't mean they can't get there by the end of the week, but on the raw vote count, they're still not to the 215, I believe that they need. BOLDUAN: All right. Stand by to stand by on that one, Chris. Great to see you.

CILIZZA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Also developing right now, in a new interview -- another interview -- the president asks, why was there an American civil war? What prompted that? We'll discuss.

Plus, the world leader who told President Obama to go to hell and once said he slaughtered drug addicts. He just got an invite to the White House. Hear why. That's also ahead.



BOLDUAN: President Trump today asking, why was there a civil war? He's also suggesting that Andrew Jackson could have stopped the whole thing. Listen to this.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn't have had the civil war. He was -- he was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the civil war. He said, there's no reason for this. People don't realize, you know, the civil war.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: If you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the civil war? Why could that one not have been worked out?


BOLDUAN: I was definitely not a history major. I do remember, though, Andrew Jackson died quite a few years before the civil war, about 16 years before.

Let's start there. Joining me now, Paris Dennard is a CNN political commentator, former Bush White House director for Black Outreach, and Bill Press is here, host of "Bill Press Radio Show." Gentlemen, great to have you as always.

Paris, he brought this up himself. What is the president saying when he says people don't ask why there was a civil war?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think that it's a legitimate question to ask in terms of what led up to the civil war. Why did we have a civil war? What went into the mindset of a nation that was so divided to make us get to the point of --

BOLDUAN: But legitimately, people have asked that for a long time, right? Like while we were in school and such.

DENNARD: I don't -- I was told the reasons for the civil war. I think he's asking the American people to ask why, ask why we got to the point there was so much division in our nation that we got to this point.

I think he was drawing parallels between his candidacy and Andrew Jackson's candidacy and the deep divisions and the issues that went on between those campaigns, drawing the parallels between then and now.

So, I think we should ask the question now, why did the country get to the point where so much division, so much hatred, so much lack of respect - for basic human rights and looking at people that look like me, treating them differently -- why did this happen?

[11:20:12]Maybe he's saying more people need to ask the question why, especially millennials, especially younger people.


BILL PRESS, HOST, "THE BILL PRESS SHOW": Let me just say with all due respect, that's the most nonsensical statement I've ever heard on any television network. We all know why there was a civil war. It was because the southern states treated people inhumanely, immoral slavery existed. They refused to give it up.

The last thing we need today is to go back and question or fight the civil war. Thank God it's behind us. It was a shameful moment in our history. We have made great strides since. We have a long way to go. Everybody -- I mean, this is the same -- where did Donald Trump get his history degree from Trump University? Here he is --

DENNARD: Well, he didn't get a history degree.

PRESS: Well, obviously he didn't get a history degree, but here's a man who thinks Frederick Douglass is still out there doing great things --


PRESS: Who thinks Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower, and now, who thinks that Andrew Jackson was some role model. Andrew Jackson was a slave owner. Andrew Jackson murdered thousands and thousands of Native Americans. That's how he got to be so famous and we're holding him up as a role model? I mean, come on. This is the worst Donald Trump I think has ever sunk.

DENNARD: I think that when --

BOLDUAN: Paris, go ahead.

DENNARD: In a day in age when people are still denying the holocaust and talking about that issue as if it didn't happen, we can go back and ask why Hitler did what he did to exterminate so many Jews. We should ask why so that it never happens again. So, it is fair, Bill, for the president to ask the question --

PRESS: No, no --

DENNARD: -- as to why we had the civil war so that it never happens again, so the divisions that we saw then will not happen now.

PRESS: Paris, Paris --

DENNARD: And as it relates to Frederick Douglass, Bill, I was in the room when that happened --


BOLDUAN: If everyone talks at the same time, I can't hear you. Paris, finish.

DENNARD: The only point I'm making is, we can ask the question why, and we should always ask the question why and make sure that things like this never happen again.

PRESS: May I point out --

BOLDUAN: Why bring up the civil war? Like, legitimately, I do wonder with what -- why on earth is the president talking about the causes leading up to the civil war and saying that Andrew Jackson would have been the guy that would have prevented it from happening, when clearly --

PRESS: He died 16 years earlier!

DENNARD: He stated that. He said had he been there longer, had he been around at that time, he would have made that happen. He acknowledged that Andrew Jackson was not there --

PRESS: Paris, no --

DENNARD: No, let me finish, Bill, thank you.

PRESS: Well, you have, three times.

DENNARD: Bill, don't interrupt me anymore.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to interrupt both of you if you don't get along. Go.

DENNARD: The point was that there was division in the country and there was parallels between his administration and Andrew Jackson's administration and there was great division in the country during the civil war time and there is great division right now. Ask why we got to that point then so that we cannot get to that point now.

BOLDUAN: Well, and Bill, you can't deny, his long talk about admiring Andrew Jackson. I mean, it's the one piece of art he wanted in the oval office. He later went to Andrew Jackson's tomb, I think like a month ago.

PRESS: True.

BOLDUAN: That's not a surprise.

PRESS: No, he did. I just want to point out, the facts matter, OK? The fact is, in that interview, Donald Trump said that Andrew Jackson was very angry about what he saw happening in the civil war. He talked about him as alive in the civil war days, Dennard. So, he got it wrong. Let's admit that.

And the other thing, is and Kate made this point earlier, I mean, we've been over and over and over the civil war. This is not a new thing. We know why it happened. Again, it's a shameful moment in our history.

The same with the holocaust! We've been over and over that, and we all condemn that, deplore it. We all committed ourselves that something like that never happens again. Why would Donald Trump be raising this issue? Are we going to re-debate the civil war, really?

DENNARD: If we went with Bill --

BOLDUAN: Paris, final word on this one.

DENNARD: If we went with bill's analogy, let's get away with the holocaust, do away with the African-American museum --

BOLDUAN: I don't think Bill Press was suggesting we do away with the holocaust --

PRESS: All I'm saying is we all know --


BOLDUAN: I do not think Bill Press is trying to say get rid of the Holocaust Museum.

DENNARD: Or the African-American museum. We should study it and ask the question why. It's a fair question.

PRESS: Come on, get out of here.

DENNARD: No, Bill, I will not get out of here.

BOLDUAN: You're both going to get out of here because I love you dearly. Let's move on to something --

PRESS: Thank you!

BOLDUAN: I don't know if this is less anger-inducing or not. Who knows? The next big fight after health care is tax reform. A big question has been how will the cuts be paid for so not to add to the deficit? This is obviously -- I mean, if you say the word deficit hawk, you mostly think of Republicans, right? Yes. Well, listen to the vice president just yesterday and what he had to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to increase the deficit?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, maybe in the short term, but the truth is, if we don't get this economy growing at 3 percent or more, as the president believes that we can, we're never going to meet the obligations that we've made today.


BOLDUAN: Right, adding to the deficit. It's one thing to say it's going to be paid for by economic growth, which is a theory, but that's a big thing to admit by the Republican vice president, that it will add to the deficit maybe in the short term. That sets the White House up for a big problem down the road. Will Republicans sign on to that?

DENNARD: Listen, I've said from the beginning that this administration is going to upset both Republicans and Democrats because the president does not compromise as an ideologue. I think at the end of the day, what he wants to do is have the best health care plan out there for the American people.

And if that adds to the deficit, I think in a manner of true candid and honesty, he said it may add to the deficit to do that, but these are the tough decisions and questions that the president as well as the Congress will have to work out to get the best deal for the American people, because the deal we have now is certainly not working and is a bad one.

BOLDUAN: Right, but Bill, here's the point, Republicans have control of the floor calendar. I mean, are Republicans going to be OK bringing, even if the president strikes a tax reform deal with Democrats, are Republicans going to bring that to the floor?

PRESS: Well, first off, I think it's important to point out that we do not have a tax reform bill. We don't have a plan. We have a one- page memo that was released by the White House last week in order to get that out before the 100-day mark, number one.

Number two, anything that the Trump administration is talking about is going to have to get through a Republican-controlled House and Senate. As we seen with health care or with a wall, that's not automatic that he gets everything he wants from the Congress.

And thirdly, you're absolutely right, the outline we've seen so far, at any rate, there is no consideration for how these tax cuts are going to be paid for, other than piling it on to the deficit on to the national debt, which means our kids are going to pay for it with their credit card.

So, it totally contradicts everything the Republican Party has said that it stands for, and this idea that tax cuts are going to generate huge economic growth first started by Ronald Reagan. It didn't work for him. It's not going to work for Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: Well, we may soon test the theory again. Paris Dennard, great to see you. Bill Press, great to see you. Hit the history books, boys!

DENNARD: Is it important?

BOLDUAN: Yes, it is important, Paris, I agree. President Trump extends an invitation to the controversial president of the Philippines to the White House, the same leader who told President Obama to go to hell. Is the State Department on board with this one?

Plus, blood on the ceiling, violent turbulence rocks a packed passenger jet. People are still in the hospital today. That's next.