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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Meets With Senators: GOP Forced To Delay Health Bill Vote; GOP In Disarray After Health Care Vote Postponed; Long Time Trump Associate To Testify Before Intel Committee. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 27, 2017 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, breaking news, an embarrassing set back for the president. The Senate forced to postpone its vote on the health care bill. What happens next? Senator Bernie Sanders is out front.

Plus the White House calling possible Trump-Russian collusion a hoax as the president keeps up attacks on Barack Obama. The investigators respond out front.

And Donald Trump obsessed with a "Time" magazine cover showing his face. This business is low (INAUDIBLE) with pride. The problem is it's fake. Let's go out front.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, forced to back down in an embarrassing setback. Republicans tonight forced to postpone a vote on the Senate health care bill. It's a blow to the president. He had the senators over today to talk about this. Moments ago they left. They had a meeting with him about the bill. The Republican Party tonight in disarray over the health care bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be great if we get it done, and if we don't get it done, it is just going to be something that we're not going to like and that's OK. And I understand that very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice but to delay the vote because he didn't have the vote in his own party. It is clear the bill was going down as Republicans started to vote. So what happened?

(START VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: The legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anybody else would hope. But we're going to press on. We think the status quo is unsustainable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: More than seven years they have trumted Obamacare repeal and replace and Republicans when they finally have the House and Senate don't even have the votes from their own party to begin debate. The vote is delayed until after the July 4th, resource, date to become determined. But it's more time going to change the outcome. Jim Acosta is OutFront at the White House. And Jim, look, this is a defeat for the Republicans. It is a defeat for the president, who put a lot of his own skin into this game.

JIM ACOSTA< CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it certainly is a setback for the president. Remember, he did have setbacks in the House and they ultimately got that bill through the House. But I'm told by sources familiar with this meeting that the president had with these Republican senators this afternoon that he didn't win any converts when it comes to this current bill but that the president did sound open to making changes to the bill, and that is something that the White House Deputy Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders told reporters in the briefing room earlier today that they would be talking about modifications and changes to this bill.

But she was also pushing back on the Congressional Budget Office report that said that 22 million people would -- more people would go without health insurance as a result of the Senate bill. But Erin, interestingly when she was asked whether or not the president views the Senate bill as less mean than the House counterpart, remember he called that one mean, she did not answer the question, Erin.

BURNETT: And one of the reasons, Jim, that this deal fell apart is a pro-Trump group actually was --

ACOSTA: Yes.

BURNETT: -- targeted or threatening to target Republican senators who opposed the bill. So that would truly be a civil war in the Republican Party.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BURNETT: What can you tell us?

ACOSTA: That's right. Keep in mind, this group of America First Priority, this is a group that is run by a lot of people that came out of the Trump campaign. They are Trump people. Some people came out of the White House working over there currently. And this group basically was laying down a marker, running an ad against the Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller who is in a tight race out there in Nevada, may not hold on to that seat, really going after him for opposing this bill.

What I'm told, Erin, by sources is not only was this brought up in the meeting with the president earlier this afternoon, a lot of senators saying, hey, why are you doing this. Erin, Dean Heller, the senator from Nevada brought this up himself with the president. So, this was obviously a maneuver from Trump world that backfired very badly and may have cost him a lot of votes this week and may have put this in peril indefinitely. But no question about it. A lot of Republican senators are upset about this including Senator Heller himself, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thanks so much, Jim.

ACOSTA: You got it.

BURNETT: And OutFront now the Republican senator for Kentucky, Dr. Rand Paul, an early voice of opposition to the health care bill, who met with President Trump earlier today. So, Senator Paul, let me ask you about that meeting. What did the president say to you?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know, I thought we had a good conversation. I thought it was constructive. I think he appeared to me to be open to trying to make the bill better, and he understands he's got people coming from all different directions, you know, within the Republican caucus and it's going to take some work. And I think ultimately that's why the Senate leadership pulled it, is it's going to take a few weeks to get everything together to try to figure out, you know, something we can all agree on.

BURNETT: After your meeting, you tweeted, senator, just came from the White House. Donald trump is open to making bill better. Is Senate leadership? So let me just ask you directly. What is McConnell doing wrong right now?

PAUL: Well, it is meant as a parlay. It's meant -- it's an invitation to negotiation. We've been saying for four or five days now that we are a no, but we could be a yes if the bill becomes better.

[19:05:07] We haven't gotten any conversation from Senate leadership, so we're maybe, you know, poking the bear a bit here in order to try to get a little conversation started. But we have also put our specific changes in writing. We have sent them to the White House this afternoon. We're also sending them to the Senate Republican leadership to show them we have some very specific asks and if they're willing to work with us, we'll see where it goes.

BURNETT: Are any of those to do with pre-existing conditions, your specific acts?

PAUL: It has to do with the idea of trying to legalize the sale of inexpensive insurance. As you know, each of the regulation that you add is about 12 Obamacare regulations, but each of them have a cost. So if you want to -- let's say you make $30,000 a year and with all those regulatory mandates that cost $10,000 a year for you and you're just a working guy and you can't pay $10,000 out of $30,000, you have to free up people so they don't have all the regulations.

Does it mean we don't want people to have pre-existing coverage, does it mean we don't want guarantee the issue and community issue and pregnancy and dental coverage. But if you want everything, it gets too expensive for people to buy it. And that's the death spiral of Obamacare. Young healthy working class people were priced out of the marketplace and sicker people got the insurance. And what happened is the insurance premiums went through the roof.

BURNETT: Right.

PAUL: That's what we're struggling with right now.

BURNETT: So I understand how you're explaining pre-existing conditions. But let me ask you because you mentioned pregnancy. Let's just take that as an example. Obviously it's something that affects both men and women, but if a young man who isn't going to be pregnant or isn't with the partner who's going to be pregnant doesn't want to get pregnancy insurance, I would assume you would say, OK, that would make it more affordable for him to buy a plan rights to understand?

PAUL: Well, if you live in a free country you would have freedom and freedom would be the freedom to choose both good and bad decisions --

BURNETT: Yes.

PAUL: -- but also to choose what's good for you. The poorest people in our country are the youngest people. You get richer with each (ph) successive decade.

BURNETT: Yes.

PAUL: So if you are 23 years old, you are not married and you are responsible and you say you know what, I need to save money for a car or I need to save money so I can get an apartment so I could move out from my parents' house, you know, those are important things to you --

BURNETT: Yes.

PAUL: -- you should get to make the decision that you don't want pregnancy coverage. The government shouldn't be the one that says we know best and you have to take or leave what the government tells you.

BURNETT: I understand your point and your logic. But when you end up in a situation if you take that all the way to its conclusion, right, where only people who are pregnant or going to become pregnant are paying for pregnancy insurance which of course it is very expensive thing in this county to have a baby. So then all that cost is being borne nearly by the women who are going to be pregnant women.

PAUL: Right.

BURNETT: Which doesn't seems there, right, when it's men who are part of that process as well.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: I know but I think the misconception here is that we're going to look at all Americans' life and see what decisions or contracts they might make that don't seem to be fair. If you allow the marketplace to work, the wonder and beauty of capitalism, the invisible hand that Adam Smith talked about is that when everybody strives through self-interest to maximize a profit, interestingly, the great side benefit of this supply and demand curve cross and you distribute the most amount of goods at the least amount of cost. (CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Right. But in the case of health care, don't you end up in a situation where we all like to think that we're not going to get sick. So I am going to buy the cheapest plan I can for my current situation and then got forbid I get sick, I'm not going to bought the right plan for it. I mean, in the free market, that's going to happen all over the place. That's part of the problem here.

PAUL: Well, what we should do is rather than dictate to people what kind of insurance they can get, we should try to give them options. So, for example, the individual market, if you're a plumber and you and your wife and the two of you (INAUDIBLE) insurance pool, it's a terrible place to be. But it's not part of the free market.

It's an artifact of tax policy dating back to World War II that says insurance is going to be tied to employment. If weren't doing that and if we said to the people in the individual market, to the plumber, you can join the Chamber of Commerce. You can join the plumber's association. You can join the individuals that want to group together association and buy your insurance as a group, you could get a way out of that individual conundrum, you can get group policies. And most of the group policies that you have things like pregnancy. If you work for General Motors, my guess is pregnancy is automatically in your insurance because you are a big group and you have the leverage to demand it from your insurance company.

BURNETT: So why not go for the biggest group of all and just have insurance for everybody?

PAUL: Well, socialism is not a good idea. And I know you can ask my friend Senator Sanders. But socialism is an utter failure at least to poverty. Look at Venezuela. Venezuela is one of the most rich resource countries in all of the world. The average person there lost 20 pounds last year, not through choice --

BURNETT: Yes.

PAUL: -- but from virtual starvation. Socialism is terrible economic --

BURNETT: But you did just make a great argument for national health care. You said the bigger the group the lower the cost, so all I'm taking is your argument to its logical conclusion.

PAUL: No, no. I was talking about voluntary grades, not the (INAUDIBLE).

[19:10:02] But -- so -- now when people join together, large associations are a good idea. Collective bargaining is not a bad idea. Labor, getting together. But that's not the government doing it. That's just people getting together, have more leverage in the marketplace. So I'm all for trying to balance the equation with insurance companies. I think they have too much power, but I am not willing to have the government break them up. I want the marketplace break them up by giving more freedom to the consumer to organize. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Senator Paul. Good to have you with me.

PAUL: Thank you.

BURNETT: You just heard Senator Paul mentioned. Senator Sanders, OutFront now. The independent senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Senator, good to have you with me.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you.

BURNETT: You heard Rand Paul, some of his argument there. He says insurance is too expensive.

SANDERS: I also heard, Erin, if my ear piece was correct, I heard him talk about Gulags. I live 50 miles away from Canada where they manage to guarantee health care to all people with (INAUDIBLE) lower cost per capita. We have national health care throughout every major country in Europe, the U.K., France, Germany. Not quite sure they are Gulags. The truth is the United States of America is the only major country not to guarantee health care to all people and we end up spending far, far more per capita on health care and prescription drugs.

BURNETT: So when it comes to Senator Paul, I was curious if you actually agreed with him on something here which is the point he made that insurance is too expensive. This bill as it is constructed, the GOP bill that he's now not going to vote it on, he says it would bail out the big insurers. It sounded to me like you and he would actually fully agree on those points.

SANDERS: Well, I'm not quite sure we will. Of course we are the only major country on earth that allows for profit private insurance companies to make huge profits. We allow drug companies to make incredible profits and we have to deal with that.

But the bottom line is getting back to this legislation. What this legislation was about with Republicans today couldn't get the votes for. It would have thrown 22 million people, mostly lower-income people, off of health insurance. These are people with cancer, with diabetes, with heart disease, children with disabilities. This bill would have substantially raised premiums for old workers. You're 62 years of age --

BURNETT: Yes.

SANDERS: -- you're making $45,000 a year, what a defunded Planned Parenthood (ph), massive cuts in Medicaid which impact people (INAUDIBLE). This was a disaster and I'm glad at least temporarily the American people were able to defeat it.

BURNETT: OK. I'm going to come back. You use the world disaster. But first, let me just ask you this because when you said the 22 million people being thrown off, you know, the CBO does say up to 15 million of those people who choose to not have health insurance because they're no longer charged a penalty to do so that's different than being thrown off.

SANDERS: But Erin, not really. I mean, again, we are the only major country not to guarantee health care to all people. So if you are 21 years of age and you are feeling great today and you walk out and get hit by a bus, well you know, what? You made a bad choice by not getting health care. Health care is a right, not a privilege. Everybody can get sick. Everybody can have an accident. Everybody in America should have health care in my view.

BURNETT: So you refer to the GOP bill as a disaster.

SANDERS: Yes.

BURNETT: I want to get back to that because the president met with Republican senators to try to get them onboard, obviously wasn't successful of that. But he also used the word disaster to refer to a different health care bill. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have really no choice but to solve this situation. Obamacare is a total disaster. It's melting down as we speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It's an often used word these days. But look, he has a point, senator. Why premiums up by an average 25% in the 39 states that use the marketplace. Doesn't the president have a point?

SANDERS: Well, yes. Well, first of all, if you ask many of the leading insurance companies, what they will tell you is that one of the reasons that premiums are going up as fast as they are has to do with the fact that the Trump administration is sabotaging Obamacare in terms of cut it, hesitating on cost sharing and not individual mandate. So less money is comoing in to the system --

BURNETT: OK. But to be clear, they were going up before Trump won.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: They were, yes. Fair enough. Look, look, look, I voted for the Affordable Care Act. It has put 20 million more people into the ranks of the insured. It has dealt with the issue of obscenity (ph) pre-existing conditions, et cetera, et cetera.

BURNETT: Yes. The premiums are --

SANDERS: But, Erin, if your question to me is, does -- do we need to significantly improve the Affordable Care Act, the answer is absolutely. But you don't do that by giving $500 billion in tax breaks to the top 2% and massive tax breaks to the insurance companies and drug companies.

BURNETT: OK.

SANDERS: What the Republicans have proposed is not a cure or improvement of Obamacare, it is a massive tax break for the wealthiest people in the country.

BURNETT: So when you say that you know there do need to be changes, though, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

SANDERS: Yes.

BURNETT: He was asked today if he would involve you, Democrats in the health care talks. And here's how he respond it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:15:06] UNIDENTIFIEF FEMALE: Will your ongoing discussion involve Democrats at all?

MCCONNELL: They're not interested in participating on us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Are you part of the problem?

SANDERS: Look, Erin, this -- you know, Mitch McConnell, Senator McConnell, has guided this whole approach without holding one hearing. I'm a member of the Health Education Committee. There have been zero hearings for legislation which will impact one-sixth of the American economy and every single person in this country. Of course we want to be involved in the discussion as to how you improve the Affordable Care Act, not how you throw millions of it and give tax breaks to the rich.

What can you do for example? All right. One of the things that you can do is lower the age of Medicare. Right now it's 65. You bring it down to 55. It's going to solve a whole lot of problems for older workers. Second thing you can do, in states where areas not a lot of competition, you can have a public option. You can make something like a Medicare plan or a Medicaid plan available to everybody at a reasonable cost.

Third thing you could do to save a whole lot of money is to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs in this country right now by allowing pharmacists and distributors to buy lower cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, substantially lowering the cost of prescription drugs and health care (INAUDIBLE).

So, of course we would like to be involved. But not to throw people off of health insurance and give tax breaks to billionaires but in fact the deal with problems of Obamacares, which the deductibles are too high, premiums, co-payments are too high. Let's address that.

BURNETT: Senator, before we go, just one other question. We understand your wife has hired a lawyer to represent her in a possible probe into a land deal that fell apart. This was back when he was president of Burlington College.

SANDERS: No, it was not. Let me say a word on that. You know, my wife --

BURNETT: I just want to ask you. Do you know if she's under FBI investigation?

SANDERS: Excuse me. Excuse me. My wife is about the most honest person I know. When she came to that college, it was failing financially and academic. When she left it, it was in better shape that it ever did. Five years later, just at the moment coincidentally no doubt when I'm a candidate for president of the United States, Donald Trump's campaign manager, vice chairman of the Republican Party in Vermont launched this investigation.

So all that I will tell you now, Erin, it is a sad state of affairs in America. Not only when we have, you know, politicians being destroyed, public -- with their attacks against elected officials. When you go after your wife, people's wives, that is pretty pathetic and that's where we are right now and that's about all I'm going to say.

BURNETT: You just want to understand at this time do you have any knowledge as to whether she's under FBI investigation?

SANDERS: That's all I want to say and we'll let it play out. But I think it's fairly pathetic that when, you know, people are involved in public life, it's not only they get attacked, but it's their wives and their families that get attacked. That's what this is about.

BURNETT: Senator Sanders, thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OutFront next, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman meeting behind closed doors with investigators about Russian meddling, what did he say. And the White House warning Syria it will pay a, "heavy price" for another chemical attack that they say is in preparation mode. What does that mean? Well, I'm going to ask top Trump official in charge.

And why is this "Time" magazine cover which Trump's face hanging on the walls of his resorts? Does he know it's fake? Jimmy (INAUDIBLE) is on the case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:22:14] BURNETT: Breaking news, Roger Stone, a Trump associate at this moment agreeing to meet with the House Intelligence Committee. He is going to do that behind closed doors. It's breaking right now. Let's get more details. Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

And Manu, this is a major development. What more do you know?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSSIONAL REPORTER: That's right. July 24th is now the agreement between Roger Stone's attorneys and the House Intelligence Committee for the former Trump advisor and associate to meet behind closed doors. A lot of questions about his connections with Russian officials as well as in whether or not he was involved in any effort to coordinate with Russia, something he has vehemently denied. Now, this comes as the committee has turned to a number of high profile witnesses behind closed doors, including today John Podesta, the former Clinton campaign chairman whose e-mails of course were hacked by Russian hackers and leaked to the press.

Now, after this meeting today behind closed doors, John Podesta was asked directly actually about the Obama Administration's response to the Russia attacks and whether the Obama Administration did enough. Listen what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN PODESTA, FMR. CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I think the president and the entire administration were dealing with an unprecedented incidence of the weaponization of the fruits of Russian cyber activity and making the best judgments they could on behalf of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Despite the testimony today, you are seeing more partisan infighting on that House Intelligence Committee. Some Democrats critical of the call by Republicans. Podesta to come before the committee. Jackie Spear, one of the members on this committee, Democrats saying this is an effort by Republicans to divert attention away from the central issues of the Russia collusion issues, something Republicans of course reject. Right now, Erin, these witnesses coming behind closed doors as this investigation takes shape, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Manu. And of course behind closed doors could be crucial here in terms of what happened. John Avlon joins me now, editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast along with White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan. Good to have both of you with us. Your next to me, John, so let me start with you. Roger Stone, this is somebody they very much have wanted to talk to. It is a significant development. They've got a date.

JOHN AVLON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: America has got a date with Roger Stone, sadly behind closed doors. But Roger Stone is not a shy guy. He loves parading his opinions.

BURNETT: Yes.

AVLON: He loves the attention of the press. But he is a person who has been of interest for a long time. Because he was at the center of so many intersecting relationships.

BURNETT: Right.

AVLON: He sort of push out of the inner circle. But that long time connections with Donald Trump and so he's fascinating figure on this whole thing.

BURNETT: Wikileaks and all of these things.

AVLON: Across the board. He's a proud dirty trickster in politics.