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EARLY START

Senate Health Care Bill in Jeopardy; White House Warns Syria; Travel Ban Surprise: Navy Memorial for USS Fitzgerald Sailors. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 27, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is conceding it's on the thresholds of losing the health care battle. The score from the Congressional Budget Office has some Republicans jumping ship. Now a number of GOP senators not only against the bill, they didn't even want to begin debate.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. says it has concerns another chemical attack could happen in Syria. The warning from the White House and why it says it won't just blame the Syrians.

BRIGGS: And both sides claiming a win after the Supreme Court agrees to take up the travel ban in the fall. What it means until then for travelers from six Muslim majority nations. The Trump administration certainly needed some sort of win on this travel ban. They hailed this as a 9-0 decision --

KOSIK: Split down the middle, compromise.

BRIGGS: Some sort of win for him.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

And new this morning on the health care battle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still pushing for a vote on Obamacare repeal and replace this week despite developments that leave the Senate health care bill hanging by a thread.

Two senior aides telling CNN McConnell wants that vote, but he plans to assess what the sentiment is today at a Senate Republican lunch. That's happening around 12:30. They say he could change his plans depending on feedback from Senate Republican leaders.

[04:30:05] BRIGGS: Now, the reason the GOP bill is barely hanging on, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. The so-called score that shows 22 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026.

So, four Republican senators already saying they'll vote against even beginning debate. That's enough to kill the measure. Others, including Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, say they still have reservations, as well.

KOSIK: Lee is among four senators set to meet with Vice President Pence tonight to talk about health care.

Our coverage begins with CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, it's a top-line number that seems tailor-made to spook Republican senators who are sitting on the fence and that seems to be exactly what happened. Twenty-two million fewer uninsured Americans over a ten-year period, that's according to the Congressional Budget Office. The score really everybody was waiting for.

And the repercussions were immediate. Senator Susan Collins, moderate member from Maine, saying after the score was released that she would not vote to move forward on the Senate bill, kind of a procedural vote. That's a must-have if they actually want to get this done this week which still is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's prerogative. That's what he wants to do. She now joins Rand Paul, Dean Heller, and other senators saying they're not willing to move this forward without major changes.

Well, three's a magic number. You only have 52 Republican senators. If three are not willing to move this forward, then you have a serious problem. That makes the behind-the-scenes all the more important. But the real quick is as Republicans try and get this done as soon as this week in the wake of such a bad score, will anybody come on board no matter what changes are made.

Take a listen to what Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, another key, moderate, outstanding senator told my colleague, Dana Bash.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I don't have enough information. I don't have enough data in terms of the impact to my state to be able to vote in the affirmative. So I'm trying to get the information.

This is big stuff. And so, making sure that we get it right is something that I have said is an imperative. I don't think it's asking to much to say give us the time to fairly and critically analyze these numbers. These numbers that we're talking about, these are men and women. These are our families that are being impacted.

So, let's, please, get it right.

MATTINGLY: And Senator Murkowski not the only ones raising concerns about the process.

But, guys, it's really the policy that matters most here. And on some positive note if you want to take one from the CBO score, the CBO included that the Senate bill would have $321 billion in deficit savings over the course of a ten-year period. That's more than $200 billion from what the House had. The House makes the baseline number. They basically have to match what the House had in deficit reduction in order to move this bill forward in the U.S. Senate. That means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has about $200

billion to work with, some money to hand out, perhaps more Medicaid spending for senators that are concerned for Medicaid-expansion states that aren't happy with the gradual phase out. Any number of different issues, opioid funding, those types of things, that's something that Mitch McConnell can actually work with.

The real question now as they still try and target a vote by the end of the week, can they actually get 50 votes? At least as of Monday night, as of Tuesday morning, they're not there yet, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Phil Mattingly, health care savant, there for us.

The White House also conceding repeal and replace is in deep trouble. A West Wing official admitting last night, quote, we're right on the threshold of losing health care. The official saying if the effort to replace Obamacare collapses in the Senate, the White House would simply move on to tax reform.

KOSIK: All this following a direct White House attack on the Congressional Budget Office, right after it put out its new analysis.

For the latest, let's go in to -- go to Jim Acosta at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, the White House is blasting a Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate version of the bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare. The White House savaged that report from the nonpartisan CBO, saying in a statement, quote: The CBO has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how health care legislation will impact insurance coverage.

At a Rose Garden event with the prime minister of India, President Trump refused to answer questions on the CBO score. In fact, the president declined to answer any questions of reporters at all despite the fact that the White House set up the event in the Rose Garden as if it were an official White House press conference. But that's been part of the erosion of press access here at the White House in recent weeks, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisting on mostly off-camera briefings here at the White House -- Alison and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jim Acosta, thanks.

Late last night, the White House issued a warning aimed at Syria. In a statement, the White House says there are potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime. That would lead to the mass murder of civilians. It also warned President Bashar al Assad that there will be a heavy price to pay if such an attack is carried out.

So, what prompted this warning seemingly out of nowhere?

For the latest, let's bring in international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, monitoring developments from Abu Dhabi.

[04:35:05] Nic, any sense of where this came from?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Really, Dave, not at the moment. I mean, this has come from the White House until now. The Pentagon hasn't put forward any evidence that they may have to substantiate this, put flesh on the bones, if you will. And perhaps that would not be something they would do anyway. Really that would tip their hand to Assad, what they know, how they know it, et cetera.

President Trump, you know, came to office saying that he wasn't going to give warnings, that he was going to act. So, certainly, Assad will be aware that the last time he used chemical weapons, President Trump absolutely did not hesitate in responding. In fact, when they were speaking in the Rose Garden next to King Abdullah back in early April this year, talked, you know, passionately about children, potentially children who were the victims back in that attack. And the White House has been clear saying that children could be the victims again now.

I mean, what's interesting is that Nikki Haley has also said, ambassador to the United Nations, of course, has said it's not just Assad that would pay a heavy price but Russia and Iran who back him would be held responsible, as well. Secretary of State Tillerson yesterday speaking with the opposite member in the Kremlin, Sergey Lavrov. And today, we don't know what was -- if the chemical weapons issue came up in that conversation.

But, today, Vladimir Putin and Russian president spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is absolutely against, strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons. So, Russia seems to be putting some distance between itself and Assad and chemical weapons right now. But what substantially has the White House seen, what later may we learn from the Pentagon? That isn't clear at the moment, Dave.

BRIGGS: Uh-huh. And a White House meeting between H.R. McMaster and President Trump. Perhaps we'll learn more.

Nic Robertson, thank you, sir.

KOSIK: OK. We're hearing about a mixed decision on the travel ban from the Supreme Court. Which travelers are allowed in, who's being kept out, and why? We'll explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:41:18] KOSIK: There's a new study that's casting doubt on the benefits of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle. Seattle was one of the first cities in the U.S. to introduce a $15 minimum wage in 2014. And researchers at the University of Washington say the hike may actually be hurting workers. That's because when wages rose last year, the number of hours that workers actually worked dropped. And that meant about $125 less in pay each month. This conclusion undercuts an earlier study that found the hike hasn't

affected employment. However, the report, that report actually only looked at restaurant employees, while the Washington team tracked all low-wage workers. Liberal groups are criticizing the Washington study's methodology, but there's still plenty of momentum for a higher minimum wage. Many states are actually taking matters into their own hands. Seventeen states hiked their minimum wage this year. New York and California are on track to raise theirs to $15 by 2022.

BRIGGS: Key elements of the president's travel ban could take effect in just a few days. Taking an unexpected approach, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing some people from six Muslim-majority countries to be kept out of the U.S. by the ban and allowing others in until the justices consider the case next term.

KOSIK: President Trump hailing the ruling on Twitter last night, calling it, quote, a great day for America's future security and safety, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court. He said: I will keep fighting for the American people and win.

BRIGGS: The Department of Homeland Security hoping to learn from its mistakes and promising a better rollout than the chaos passengers witnessed at the airports in January. So, for now the bottom line is, if you have a clear connection to the U.S., personal or business, you can come. If you don't, keep out.

KOSIK: Where and how will that determination be made?

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has more from the Supreme Court.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, an unexpected decision from the Supreme Court. They will allow parts of President Trump's travel ban to go forward -- in particular, those foreign nationals from those six Muslim-majority countries who do not have a clear connection or bona fide relationship with any person or entity here in the United States, those people can be banned from the country. However, the court saying that any other foreign national from those six countries who does, in fact, have a connection here, whether it's a family member, whether it's being admitted to a university, or whether it's having secured a job here, those people must be admitted in.

And as a result of this somewhat split decision, there have been different outcomes, different reactions.

Both sides of this claiming somewhat partial victories. In fact, President Trump came out with a statement shortly after the decision, calling this a clear victory for our national security. But, you know, lawyers for the plaintiffs, as well as organizations like civil liberties unions, they are saying that this is just one part of a win, in their much bigger fight.

Of course, this is not the end of the discussion. Even though parts of this travel ban can go into effect, the Supreme Court still will be hearing arguments as to the constitutionality of this travel ban, also about whether it might comply or not comply with immigration law. So, the Supreme Court has let these arguments go forward. They will be hearing arguments next term in October, and at that point, they could address the bigger issues here. They could also touch on whether or not President Trump's statements may factor into the constitutionality of this all.

So, we'll keep an eye to this as we move forward to the next term -- Alison and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: OK. Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.

And there's another major case the Supreme Court will consider next term -- whether a Denver baker broke the law by refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because of his religious beliefs.

[04:45:01] Lower courts ruled the cake shop owner violated Colorado's public accommodations law which prohibits refusing service to customers based on characteristics like race, marital status, or sexual orientation.

The owner claims compelling him to make cakes for same-sex couples violates his First Amendment right to free speech.

BRIGGS: For the second time in two months, a historical marker about civil rights icon Emmett Till has been vandalized on the Mississippi freedom trail. The damaged sign is outside the grocery store where the black teen was accused of whistling at a white woman back in 1955. The sign was scratched last month. And this past weekend, vandals ripped panels containing words and images telling till's story off the back of the marker. Till's kidnapping and murder helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

KOSIK: The wildfire threat reaching a critical level as the heat wave in the West expands.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest.

Good morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good Tuesday morning, Alison and Dave. You know, these conditions around the Southwest still very dire when it comes to the elevated risk, the critical risk depending where you're watching from around the southwest, where excessively dry conditions. Of course, it's still very hot outside. We're watching a front trying to cruise by here.

But, unfortunately, any relief it brings, it's going to be kind of mixed in with some isolated, dry thunderstorms. And you think about dry thunderstorms, very dangerous scenario. We know about nine out of ten fires are caused by humans. 10 percent, though, are caused by lightning strikes. It is just those 10 percent that consume about nine times more land just because of the erratic nature of dry thunderstorms and lightning strikes that spark fires.

So, in an area that is going to be gusty across the Southwest and also dry, it is a risk today here with some thunderstorms possible. But notice, around the Northeast, cooler temperatures until at least the latter portion of this week. And then we try to bring it up a notch, closer to average there in Boston, around 80 for this time of year. New York climbs above average by Thursday, around 85, by the afternoon hours there -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: OK, Pedram, thanks very much.

Tech companies face increasing pressure to fight terrorism on their sites. Four of the biggest names are banding together to do just that.

CNN's "Money Stream" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:51:20] KOSIK: Now to a CNN exclusive. Video secretly taken inside Raqqa, ISIS' de facto capital in Syria. The self-proclaimed caliphate looks to be on the verge of collapse with ISIS terrorists besieged by U.S.-led coalition air strikes. What you're about to see is a rare glimpse at a way of life in the Syrian city ISIS has controlled for years.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has more of this CNN exclusive.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison, over the past two or three years in which ISIS has held that Syrian city of Raqqa in their grip of terror as their de facto capital, we've seen what they've wanted to show us, their own video and snatched glimpses. But now that their control is slipping, activists much more relax about filming.

And so, you see these remarkable images of how they're preparing for the onslaught that's soon going to hit in that city center by Syrian and Kurdish forces. A lot of American support, now almost encircled that city. They have sandbags in the streets. There's defenses, canopies covering the streets, protecting the fighters from being spotted by coalition drones.

But also, too, strange glimpses of life. Two Russian-speaking militants discussing how they've lost radios and are worried about air strikes. A Belgian fighter trying to decide what kind of trousers he wants to wear, pants. And also, too, an Egyptian man with military police looking for a Tunisian.

Snaps of daily life you wouldn't normally see outside of ISIS' strict control. And also, too, activists telling us about the tricks they're playing, particularly when it comes to ISIS informants, leaving them death threats to try and make those who support ISIS increasingly uncomfortable.

Here's what one had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH (voice-over): We can only get to them, he says, by leaving messages on their door like, we know who you are. This soon stops them. And some of our friends started writing the word free on the walls of ISIS buildings.

Then locals started. The elderly writing it on walls, and children on chalkboards, making ISIS wonder who are these people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: Clearly, there is a lengthy conflict ahead. It will possibly be swifter than the brutal eight-month-long fight for Mosul here in Iraq. But there's a lot of coalition firepower facing towards Raqqa. They've been dug in for quite some time, ISIS. They have a lot of civilians in there. You can see how the streets are deserted, how we're told many cars are actually car bombs. It could be messy in the weeks and months ahead, Alison.

KOSIK: You know, Nick, it's interesting to hear you say that they were talking about even just airstrikes. Then you see children in those pictures, really amazing pictures that we haven't seen.

Nick Paton Walsh, thanks very much.

BRIGGS: All right. Seven navy sailors who died when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Japanese cargo ship earlier this month being remembered at a memorial service in Japan. It comes with multiple investigations underway into the cause of the deadly crash.

CNN's Will Ripley joining us live from Tokyo with the latest.

Good morning to you, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning, Dave. It was a gray day at Yokosuka Naval Base here in Japan, certainly reflective of the mood as 2,000 people lined the streets leading up to this private memorial service, closed to the press. But we did receive video of what was a very emotional tribute to those seven sailors who came from all over the United State -- Connecticut, California, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, all of them lost ten days ago in a surprise collision in the middle of the night, 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday when a giant 29-ton cargo ship slammed into the side of the USS Fitzgerald, taking everyone by surprise.

[04:55:00] There were stories told of heroism in those moments, confused sailors didn't know what was happening, and yet they sprung into action and prevented the ship from sinking. But in addition to the memorial today, there are important questions, and there are five investigations happening concurrently right now. Two launched by the Navy, one by the coast guard. The Japanese Coast Guard also investigating along with insurance providers, trying to figure out exactly how this could have happened.

The Fitzgerald is a U.S. Navy Destroyer, equipped not only with sophisticated radar, but there should have been several sailors on the lookout on that Saturday night to visually see this giant cargo ship loaded with a thousand crates heading toward the Fitzgerald. The captain should have been notified, brought to the deck to guide the ship to safety. And none of those things happened. The collision happened, and the ship was saved. But seven lives were lost in one of the most deadly naval accidents in the past many years. Certainly deadly peacetime naval accident in calm, good weather, familiar waters, albeit crowded.

And so, one thing is for sure -- this is a day to mourn, but there are many more days of investigation ahead -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Sure remains a mystery. Will Ripley live for us -- thank you.

KOSIK: Let's check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global markets mostly in the red this morning after Wall Street closed mixed. The Dow ending a five-day losing streak on a rise in bank stocks. They jumped after the Italian government said it would bail out two of its banks. While the NASDAQ closed lower after some big- name tech stocks fell. For example, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet both dropped about 1 percent.

It's really been a banner year for tech. The sector is still up more than 20 percent this year.

Car rental company Avis will manage a fleet of self-driving cars. You won't be able to rent one just yet, darn. The deal with Waymo, Google's driverless car company, is for maintenance only. It will handle things like oil changes and tire rotations. This arrangement is good for Waymo in two ways. Avis serves as a home base for any test runs in the future. It will allow Waymo to expand more easily when driverless tech does finally hit the road.

And speaking of tech companies, they are facing increasing pressure to fight terrorism on their site. So, four of the biggest names are actually banding together to do just that. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Microsoft are all forming the global Internet forum to counterterrorism.

The plan here is to share tools to combat extremist content. So, that includes violent imagery and terrorist propaganda. The group will also work with policy experts to learn more about terrorism. So, you're seeing this initiative as a response to world governments demanding stricter rules on line.

However, tech companies -- they are still worried about increasing regulations could wind up violating customer privacy. So, still trying to find that balance.

BRIGGS: All right. It's a huge day in this health care debate here in the United States. EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

BRIGGS: Senate Republicans backing away from their party's health care proposal after a harsh score from the Congressional Budget Office. Now, the White House is conceding it is on the threshold of losing this health care battle.

ROMANS: The White House says Syria will pay a heavy price if it launches another chemical attack. But what prompted this warning out of nowhere from the administration?

BRIGGS: And the administration preparing yet another rollout of its travel ban after the Supreme Court agreed to take up the issue next term. What changes will happen, and how soon?

"The New York Post" phrases it, Yes, we ban, on the cover of "The Post" this morning.

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Tuesday, June 27th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And new this morning on the health care battle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still pushing for a vote on Obamacare repeal and replace this week, despite developments that leave the Senate health care bill hanging by a thread. Two senior GOP aides telling CNN that McConnell wants that vote, but plans to assess sentiment today at a Senate Republican lunch happening around 12:30. They say he could wind up changing his plans, depending on feedback from Senate Republican leaders.

BRIGGS: The reason the GOP bill is barely hanging on, that analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, the so-called score. That shows 22 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026. Four Republican senators already saying they'll vote against even beginning debate. And that's enough to kill the measure.

KOSIK: Others including Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee say they still have reservations, as well. Lee is among four senators set to meet with Vice President Pence tonight to talk about health care.

BRIGGS: For more on the CBO score and the political fallout here, let's turn to Kimberly Leonard, senior health policy reporter for "The Washington examiner."

Welcome to EARLY START. Good to have you this morning.

KOSIK: Good morning.