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Earthquake Hits Oaxaca, Mexico; President Trump Criticizes Senator John McCain for His Opposition to Latest Senate Health Care Reform Bill; North Korea To Speak at United Nations General Assembly; President Trump Rescinds Invitation to Golden State Warriors to Visit White House; NFL Players and Commissioner Respond to President Trump's Comments Criticizing Players Kneeling During National Anthem. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 23, 2017 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: -- election in 2018. That's the issue.

One more, if I have time. Did I eat up my time? No time. All right, there you go. I get all worked up. Thank you for watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Breaking news this morning, another powerful earthquake has rocked Mexico. This one comes as a magnitude 6.1 in Oaxaca.

PAUL: A slight tremor was felt in Mexico City. That's hundreds of miles away we want to point out. Earthquake sirens were blaring there, forcing rescue workers to briefly halt the rescue operations that they are conducting right now. You can see workers here moving off the rubble where they were searching as the sirens went off. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar in the CNN weather center, what do you know about this earthquake? Is this actually an aftershock?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It does appear to be an aftershock. The question is, of which quake is it an aftershock for? Magnitude 6.1 and very, very shallow of an earthquake. Depth was only nine kilometers, that's only 5.5 miles deep. That may seem like a lot, but in earthquake scale that's not even close. Anything 70 kilometers or lower is considered shallow. So the fact that we're not even at 10 kilometers just goes to show you how shallow this particular earthquake is.

Now, where that plays in effect is in the damage because the closer they are to the surface the more likely they are to cause damage. And that damage can be more widespread because it radiates out along the surface. Now we talked about an aftershock. This is very much likely an aftershock. But we've had two big earthquakes in the last couple of weeks. One, the one that was just to the southeast of Mexico City that was a 7.1, but a couple weeks before that we had the 8.1 earthquake to the southeast of where the current earthquake was located.

So at this point, Victor and Christi, while we know it's likely an aftershock, the question becomes of which quake. It's more likely that it was of the larger quake that it's much closer to. But you can't rule out the one that we just had a couple of days ago. The point in the entire matter is that both of these areas have now suffered so much structural damage from those two earthquakes that even though this wasn't as strong of an earthquake, you're still likely to suffer some damage because those buildings aren't what they used to be.

BLACKWELL: So what's the -- I guess the question I'm asking is how often is it that we have that major earthquake maybe two weeks ago, then one on Tuesday, and then nothing for this period, and then have something of this size?

CHINCHAR: Right. So a good question, so let's take a look. You will often get earthquakes frequently that have aftershocks right after. Most of them occur within a couple of days if not the first two weeks. But you can have blackout periods, if you will, where you'll go hours or days without some and then you get some more. And aftershocks can technically still occur even a month after the original earthquake. So, again, they don't happen in a certain order all the time. They are very sporadic in nature. That's why it makes it hard to plan for them, especially as you were showing some of the crews. They just have to be on guard at all times to know they have to break away at a moment's notice if another aftershock occurs.

PAUL: And that's a tough way to live. That's a lot of anxiety there. Thank you so much, Allison, we appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN correspondent Rosa Flores who is in Mexico City where crews are still trying to rescue victims from the last earthquake. Rosa, describe for us what you felt there and what the reaction was of the people who were already just shy from now having two of these earthquakes and now this today.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just imagine this is the same alert, there was an alert that went out that locals say that they heard on Tuesday when that 7.1 deadly earthquake happened. So when we heard that alert, we immediately noticed that all of the rescue workers that are back in the rescue operations now, they ran from the rubble to safer ground.

And then all of the residents, police officers, volunteers that were around us, they all went to the center of the streets, asked to stay away from buildings obviously because of the danger. And then waiting, they were waiting to see what was going to happen if an earthquake was actually going to occur.

After a few minutes then everything resumed back to normal. You can see the rescue workers behind me are working again. They're trying to reach those people that they believe are trapped. But then you also have to think of the families of those people who are trapped that have been camped out here for days. They of course very nervous because they heard that same alert on Tuesday when that deadly 7.1 earthquake happened, and they were on pins and needles hoping that the earth was not going to shake anymore.

[10:05:00] Now, I am hundreds of miles from the epicenter in Oaxaca in southern Mexico. We didn't feel it here where I'm standing, but some of my colleagues at the hotel where we're staying, they felt it. So hundreds of miles away from the epicenter some of our colleagues felt those aftershocks.

And, Victor, Christi, I can't say it enough -- the families here have been waiting in an agonizing wait for days hoping to hear about their loved ones. The last thing that they wanted to hear was an earthquake alert while they're hoping that the rescue workers you see behind me come back with good news, hoping that their loved ones are still alive, that they're still safe, and that at some point they're going to emerge from the rubble.

PAUL: Rosa, you were talking earlier about the project that they're conducting right now behind you as they're trying to lift some of the heavier pieces of concrete off so they can really get in there and try to get to some of these people they believe to be underneath. Where does that stand right now? What kind of progress have they made say in the last hour and a half?

FLORES: You know, they had to stop the rescue operations for a bit after that earthquake alert, but take a look behind me. They have resumed. And you can see a lot of the rescue workers moving and sifting through a lot of debris. About 10, 15 minutes ago they had rescue dogs out there. And the rescue dogs were barking, wagging their tails. We saw a lot of activity, a lot of movement.

But you know, Christi, thank goodness that when that alarm went off that crane that was moving just moments ago, a gigantic piece of debris or a basket with pieces of debris, thank goodness that was not happening at the moment because just imagine if there was a frenzy to get off of that mountain of debris to make sure that these rescuers are safe, just imagine if there would have been a big piece of debris that they were moving at that point in time.

So it's still a very active scene here, a very dangerous operation for sure, especially as perhaps as, you know, more aftershocks happen. And we don't know when they're going to happen. People here just waiting for those alerts. There's a distinctive alert that everybody around us began to tell us that's the alert for the earthquake, that's the alert for earthquakes. And of course just people here hoping and praying that they don't hear that sound again.

PAUL: Again, no doubt about it. Rosa Flores, thank you so much. Do stay safe there.

BLACKWELL: President Trump has a lot to say this morning, a lot to say on Twitter, we should say. And his latest target is one of the more popular players in the NBA.

PAUL: Stephan Curry of the Golden State Warriors got his presidential invitation to the White House revoked via Twitter. Now, this happened after President Trump held a rally last night in Alabama. And at that point he really spoke out against NFL players who kneel in protest during the National Anthem. Well, the NFL commissioner has just responded to that. We're going to bring that to you in just a moment.

BLACKWELL: The president is also taking on John McCain who plans to vote no on the Republicans' latest health plan. That puts the plan one vote shy, one no-vote shy of failure. CNN's Boris Sanchez joins me now from Washington. Boris, the president not happy with John McCain.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Good morning, Victor and Christi. The president tweeting out several times about health care well before even 7:00 a.m. His focus of attack is the Arizona Senator John McCain who revealed yesterday in a statement that he would not be supporting the Graham-Cassidy that would be the latest incarnation of a Republican attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Here is one of the president's tweets. He writes, quote, "John McCain never had any intention of voting for this bill which his governor loves. He campaigned on repeal and replace. Let Arizona down." In a separate tweet the president also said that John McCain let Lindsey Graham down. Look at this. Quote, "Large block grants to states is a good thing to do, better control and management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down," again, Lindsey Graham, one of the sponsors of the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Last night at his rally in Alabama, though, the president did say that he still holds hope that Republicans will be able to undo the Affordable Care Act. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John McCain was not on the list, so that was a totally unexpected thing. Terrible. Honestly, terrible. Repeal and replace because, John McCain, if you look at his campaign, his last campaign was all about repeal and replace, repeal and replace. So he decided to do something different, and that's fine. And I say we still have a chance -- oh, we're going to do it eventually. We're going to do it eventually with Luther and everyone we're going to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: As you said, Victor, the margin is razor thin for Republicans here. They cannot afford to lose any more votes.

[10:10:00] So the president is now focusing on other Republican senators. He tweeted about Alaska this morning and Lisa Murkowski. If you recall, last time a repeal and replace bill came up she voted against it. This time she's told reporters that she is undecided.

Another person the president is trying to reach out to is Rand Paul, someone who's been adamantly against this bill, saying that he would vote against it. As a matter of fact, just yesterday he tweeted that he wouldn't be bullied or bribed into voting for the Graham-Cassidy bill. Despite that the president tweeted out to him this morning, saying that he hopes he finds a way to yes for the good of the Republican Party. There's the tweet right there. Sources are telling CNN that it is unlikely that Rand Paul will change his vote. Despite that, we've heard several sources in Capitol Hill tell CNN that the president has reached out to the senator several times this week, including within the past 24 hours where we've heard that President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both had some calls to the senator from Kentucky. Despite that, again, we're hearing it is unlikely he will change his vote, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Boris Sanchez for us in Washington. Boris, thank you very much.

Back to the president's latest statements via Twitter. Let's remember these are official statements from the president of the United States. Just because it's on Twitter doesn't make it any less newsworthy. Just about an hour ago President Trump rescinded an invitation extended to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, attacking the team's star player in the process. Here's the tweet. "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Steph Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn."

PAUL: Now, again, this comes after the president demanded NFL owners fire players who kneel during the National Anthem. CNN sports anchor Coy Wire here with us now. And we are hearing from what the NBA?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. Yes. And we did talk about this earlier in the show, right? We wondered whether the Warriors would even be invited to the White House given President Trump's proclivity for not wanting to be shown up by anyone. And after we heard and played those comments from Steph Curry, NBA champion, former MVP, he made some comments yesterday, let's remind our viewers. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHAN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: We don't stand for basically what our president has -- the things that he's said and the things that he hasn't said and the right times that we won't stand for it. And by acting, or not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what is -- what we turn a blind eye to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: So President Trump's tweet likely in response to Steph Curry saying the team would not go. But in addition to Curry, their head coach, remember, Steve Kerr has said in the past President Trump, quote, "couldn't be more ill-suited to be president because he's a blowhard," unquote. So not surprising that President Trump withdrew an invite that was apparently offered.

Now, here's the other big story this morning regarding the intersection of sports and politics. President Trump blasting NFL and its players yesterday at the rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange, ripping players like Colin Kaepernick. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out. He's fired. He's fired!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: The president calling on the NFL to fire players who kneel during the National Anthem. He said they're disrespectful, told the fans to leave the stadium when those players refused to stand for the anthem last year. Kaepernick drew national attention for refusing to stand, standing up for racial and social injustice. He says the flag represents a country that, quote, "oppresses people of color."

So the president urging NFL to fire players who are using their platform to seemingly try to create positive change in their communities where they think they can. Many of ask should athletes just stick to sports, should players not use their voices to combat racial and social injustice? If not, then where do you draw the line? Should J.J. Watt not have used his platform to raise nearly $40 million dollars for hurricane relief efforts?

Here are some of the NFL player responses to President Trump's comments. Lions' Eric Ebron says "Does anyone tell Trump to stick to politics like they tell us to stick to sports?" Vikings' Bishop Sankey saying "Shaking my head in awe because Kaepernick is exercising his right as an American citizen to protest." Broncos' Max Garcia says "What an emphatic response. Where was this passion in response to Charlottesville?" Executive director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith tweeted this morning, "We will never back down. We can no longer afford to stick to sports."

And a statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just minutes ago, "The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month.

[10:15:05] Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

So the intersection of sports and social issues is becoming a tough pill to swallow for many, guys. Sports has always been a respite of sorts from the social issues and the politics, and it seems like those days of being able to kick back, watch a game, sip on a cold brew are becoming fewer and far between.

BLACKWELL: Coy, what's the difference between what we're seeing here, the comments from Steph Curry and president rescinding that invitation, and what we saw when the Patriots won and you had Dont'a Hightower and Chris Long and Martellus Bennett all call out the president specifically and say they weren't going, and the Patriots still were invited to the White House. Do you see any difference there? WIRE: There is a slight difference because that was just a few

players. And you did have a majority of the Patriots who still wanted to go and experience it. That is a great honor, right, to be able to go to the White House and the tradition is there. You had many players still going. You had Robert Kraft who's been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump in the past. You had Tom Brady, remember, "Make America Great Again" hat was found in his locker. So that team had a different dynamic, and I think every individual team depending on the players and the leadership within those locker rooms have a different perspective on President Trump and how he's handling some of these social issues.

PAUL: Interesting. Coy, thank you.

WIRE: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: North Korea accusing the president of declaring war this morning while also threatening to detonate a massive H-bomb. Next we're looking ahead to North Korea's expected speech at the United Nations today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:20:55] PAUL: Well, North Korea state media is calling President Trump's U.N. speech, quote, "an open declaration of war." And they go onto say "We will throw the irrational war fanatics of Trump's gang in the fire of justice." This happening, of course, as the USGS says a magnitude 3.5 earthquake has been detected in North Korea. It was picked up near the country's nuclear test site. Two South Korean officials say so far their analysis shows that it was a natural earthquake.

From Tokyo now, CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. What are you hearing about this, first of all, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this statement from the Korean meteorological agency is the latest we've heard, and it's ironic to say in these times that actually the news of a natural earthquake could be good. They're saying that what they registered was a 3.2 magnitude earthquake about six kilometers, about four miles from the test site in North Korea in the northeastern part of the country near the Chinese border.

And they're saying they're ruling out that it's either a collapse of the test site or a nuclear explosion. At this point they are saying contrary to what we heard from the Chinese earlier, that they believe that this was simply a natural earthquake.

And of course at the moment everybody, given the level of tension, given the threats we've heard recently from North Korean officials, the expectation of course was that it was anything but natural. For instance, we did hear yesterday from the North Korean foreign minister who's attending the general assembly of the United Nations where they were threatening something much worse. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RI YONG-HO, NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I think this could probably mean the strongest ever hydrogen bomb test on or above the Pacific Ocean.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: And of course words like that have seriously concerned Japanese officials. We heard yesterday the Japanese defense minister saying that if that is the case, if Korea -- North Korea were to fire a nuclear-tipped missile over Japan, that would be serious cause for concern to them, Christi.

PAUL: So, Ben, I know that you are normally reporting from the Middle East, and because of that I do want to ask you about some of the news coming out this morning that Iran has test fired a ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads. How likely is it that that country may be reacting to President Trump's recent rhetoric at the U.N.?

WEDEMAN: Well, we haven't heard any specific statements from Iranian officials that that is the case. In fact, yesterday there was a parade in Tehran, the Iranian capital, marking the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war where they said that basically Iran will do what it needs to do to defend itself. And that's where they put -- that's the perspective in which they see their missile program.

Now, what we saw on Iranian state television was the launch of a new medium range missile called the Khorramshahr. According to the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division this is a missile that has a range of 2,000 kilometers. That's 1,250 miles, and as you've said can launch multiple warheads. That puts Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within range of Iran. However it's worth pointing out that Iran has in the past fired missiles with a longer range, a greater range than that.

Now, we did hear President Trump when he made his address to the United Nations the other day saying that Iran's missile program could endanger the 2015 nuclear deal worked out between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. President Trump is worried that Iran will sometime in the future use these missiles to -- rather fit these missiles with nuclear warheads, and therefore that's why he is threatening to scrap this deal with Iran.

[10:25:12] PAUL: All right, Ben Wedeman, always appreciate the insight. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: President Trump again going after Senator John McCain after he dealt his own party another setback on health care repeal.

PAUL: Also, another powerful earthquake rattles Mexico, this just days after that quake killed hundreds of people. We're going to take you there for a live report. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news. [10:30:02] BLACKWELL: Breaking news this morning. Another powerful earthquake has rocked Mexico. The magnitude 6.1 quake in Oaxaca, a slight tremor was felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City.

PAUL: Earthquake sirens were blaring. It forced rescue workers to briefly halt the rescue operations they've been conducting. You see here the workers were moving off the rubble where they were searching this morning. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar in the CNN Weather Center. And I think one of the things, Allison, you were talking about is really difficult here is the fact that it's so shallow.

We're going to have Allison in just a moment. I apologize, we're having an issue -- we have a moment. We're going to get Allison back. But we do want to go to Rosa Flores because she's there in Mexico City where crews are still trying, and you can see them there, to conduct those rescue efforts. They believe there are people under the rubble there. Rosa, you felt the quake, is that right?

FLORES: You know, when that earthquake alarm went off just over an hour ago hearts started racing because it was the same alarm that residents here heard on Tuesday when that 7.1 deadly earthquake happened. But the difference is that we're days later, rescue efforts are happening, and there are people here whose family members are presumed trapped inside the rubble that you see behind me. So you can imagine the worry, the agony of these families.

I want to get out of the way so you can see some of these rescue efforts now because they have resumed. There for a moment when the alerts went out that an earthquake could happen, now we know it's a 6.2 -- or 6.1 earthquake. All of the rescue workers you are seeing on your screen now, they all ran from that debris to safer ground. All of the residents, volunteers, police officers, military that were on the streets and working in and around buildings went to the center of the street to make sure that they were away from buildings as much as they could.

But, you know, this is still a very dangerous and very active scene at the moment because they've brought in big machinery. There is a big crane that they're using now to remove larger and bigger pieces of debris. And, Christi, you and I have been talking about this for a while now, just the agony, the worry of the families that have been here camping out. There is a campground just behind our camera that keeps on growing because these families say that they want to be here, they want to show a presence so that the rescue workers know they're here, that the Mexican government know that they're here, and that they are here because they are supporting not only their efforts but hoping and praying that they will reach their loved ones alive and they will pull them from this rubble to safety.

PAUL: I think anybody watching who puts themselves in that position can say, you know what, that's exactly where I would be as well until I knew something. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

PAUL: All right, so let's now go to Allison Chinchar in the CNN Weather Center. Allison, tell us where it is. And I think one of the important things you highlighted earlier in the hour is how shallow this earthquake was.

CHINCHAR: And I cannot emphasize that enough. We talk about earthquakes all the time, but this truly is an incredibly shallow earthquake. The magnitude may not be as strong as the ones we've seen in the last couple of weeks, but this is certainly probably the most shallow one we've seen of all of the ones that have happened in the last couple of weeks.

Again, this happened in the southeastern portion of Mexico, about an eight-hour drive southeast of Mexico City. So to put that in perspective, it's quite a ways away. But when we talk about shallow versus deep earthquakes, anything that is less than 70 kilometers from the surface is considered shallow. This is less than 10 kilometers deep, so that just goes to show you, again, how shallow this earthquake is.

But getting aftershocks is not uncommon at all with a lot of these. And we've had two in the last couple of weeks. We had the 8.1 magnitude quake just off the coast of southeastern Mexico that happened about two to three weeks ago. And then the one that happened several days ago that was a 7.1 just outside of Mexico City. At this point, Victor and Christi, this is likely an aftershock of one of those. The question is which one because both of those earthquakes can trigger aftershocks. This will take the USGS some time to kind of pinpoint exactly what it's likely to be.

PAUL: All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

CHINCHAR: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: President Trump going after Arizona Senator John McCain this morning, saying he is letting his state down by potentially going against, voting no on the latest Republican health care repeal plan. That's not all the president is saying. We'll detail it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:37:02] PAUL: I know you know how powerful music is. In fact, Peter Gabriel even said it makes you think and even move your body. So how can such a powerful art form bring people together? The Global Citizens Festival is hoping to accomplish this using music and technology to fight poverty. Here's Laurie Segall.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Explain what the concept behind Global Citizens Festival is.

HUGH EVANS, CEO GLOBAL CITIZEN: We said could we use the power of music, this great uniter, to bring people together from every race, religion, creed, color, in this melting pot of ideas. And then the second premise was, could we bring together public policy? Could we make issues like gender equality, like tackling the environmental crisis, could we make them accessible to everyday people?

OK, how do we do that? We want to do it in the most iconic venue in the whole world, the great wall of Central Park. Amazingly Mayor Bloomberg and then Mayor de Blasio said we could have it for the only rock concert of the year. And we said let's give away 80 percent of those tickets for free in exchange for people's actions. So what that enabled us to is encourage world leaders who are going to come to New York City for the U.N. General Assembly meeting to actually come up on stage and make commitments on behalf of the world's poor.

SEGALL: What role has technology and digital played, because I can imagine a lot of these movements now are amplified by the fact that we're all so connected?

EVANS: Well, really digital is everything for us now. Let's say that you want to come to the Global Citizen Festival or you're passionate about the issue of say girls' education. You can open the app. You click on the "Action" button. This one says, you know, call on Canada support quality education for all poor now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for showing up for Global Citizen.

EVANS: Hi, this is Hugh Evans calling for Global Citizen. I'm calling to speak to Canadian representative. We're calling on you to commit $260 million to support the Global Partnership for Education. It just said your points have been added. Thanks. And now I've got 40 points. I've got 40 points, I want to redeem those points. Let's I want to enter the Shakira world tour. I say enter, and then it says confirm entry. Sure enough I've entered the draw now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:17] BLACKWELL: Next week Senate Republicans will try again to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but that has become really a lot harder to do now that Senator John McCain has announced he is a firm no. That leaves zero room to lose another vote.

Several Republicans are still concerned about the bill. President Trump blasted Senator McCain's decision this morning on Twitter. He said "John McCain never had any intentions of voting for this bill, which his governor loves. He campaigned on repeal and replace. Let Arizona down."

Joining me now to discuss, Mario Molino, former CEO of Molino Healthcare, and Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show" on the phone with us. Good morning to both of you.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So Ben, let me start with you. The president tweeted this morning he knows Rand Paul, thinks he may find a way to get there for the good of the party. Rand Paul was the first no on this bill because he couldn't vote for something, he says, that kept, in his words, 90 percent of the taxes from Obamacare. The president says that Rand Paul can get to a yes. Is that a misunderstanding of the Bill, or is he calling Rand Paul's bluff here because there's no way this can work with giving these block grants to the states without those taxes.

FERGUSON: Yes, I don't think it's a bluff. I think the president's looking for a new bargaining partner since it's very clear that he's not going to be bargaining in any capacity with John McCain. And so he's saying, hey, I've got to find somebody else that's willing to come to the table. It may be Rand Paul that's willing to come to the table and at least look at this and talk about some things. Or it could be some carve-outs or different things that are made or adjusted or changes that could be done.

You know, Rick Santorum yesterday said, and he's one of the architects of this bill that, look, they're talking to everybody and they're trying to figure out how to make this thing work and repeal and replace Obamacare. And when you have someone like Senator McCain that's made it abundantly clear that he is not going to come to the table, that he's not going to work on this at all, I mean, you know, I think there is a fair amount of criticism towards Senator McCain that he's just been a consistent no. But he actually hasn't spent a lot of time with these architects trying to work on these bills. He's just more or less said I'm not going to do it.

So when you know that's the situation you're in, I think the president's pretty smart to say, look, maybe Rand Paul and I can work on this, maybe we can come to an understanding. And that would be certainly a positive moving forward. And I think it also tells you a little about the president's strategy. Instead of just coming out and attacking people that are saying no, he's trying to court them a little bit. I think he's learning from past couple months ago when we were having the same debate over Obamacare in the Senate and he was really critical of those who did not come to his side or did not agree with them, and now he seems to be changing that a little bit.

BLACKWELL: It sounds like what you're saying is John McCain doesn't seem like he wants to work on these bills, but from John McCain's statement not only in July before he voted no on the skinny repeal and now on this Graham-Cassidy is that what he wants to do is work on it but he wants to work on it through the regular order, through markups, through a CBO report on how much it will cost, how many people will gain or lose coverage and go through the hearing process.

Mario, let me come to you. The Republicans say, the ones who support this bill at least, say that the block grant model is best for the country because it allows states to experiment and to make this work for them for the population of their individual states. You say what to that?

MARIO MOLINA, FORMER CEO, MOLINA HEALTHCARE: Well, that freedom already exists within the law. They have the ability to do that under the ACA. And the problem with this is that you really don't have freedom when you make these dramatic cuts. This is the most radical change to the Medicaid program in the last 50 years. States will have freedom, but they won't have the money to implement these programs.

BLACKWELL: So, Ben, I want you to listen to what one senator who's leaning no, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, is saying -- or at least she said, she told our Jake Tapper back on "State of the Union" soon after joining Senator Murkowski and Senator McCain in voting no, this is what she said would be the requirement moving forward under repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[10:45:17] SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: We need to go back to committee, to the health committee and the finance committee, identify the problems, carefully evaluate possible solutions through hearings, and then produce a series of bills to correct these problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So she's also saying what John McCain said is that this needs to go through a process, a normal regular order. Why isn't that happening? I know there's the September 30th deadline, but John McCain also says this needs to be something that's bipartisan, which I guess is irrespective of September 30th.

FERGUSON: I think that honestly that's a little bit of a copout, that's somebody that doesn't really want to act on this and doesn't want to have to make a tough decision on it.

The second thing is I would say to all the senators who are saying they want regular order, how much have they been lobbying the majority leader on that issue? Look, John McCain, Susan Collins, many of them are very close with Mitch McConnell. I would say, why aren't you going after Mitch McConnell and talking about this instead of going towards the president?

I think some of these people had no intention of giving Donald Trump a victory on Obamacare because it's personal, they don't like him. I think it's pretty clear with some of these senators, their intent here. McConnell is in a tough situation. He's got good friends. Even Lindsey Graham -- I look at it this way. Lindsey Graham is very good friends with John McCain. And if this was something that Lindsey Graham thought was a real issue and could somehow switch John McCain's vote on this by going through, quote, regular order, I think Lindsey Graham probably would have gone to Mitch McConnell. I think Mitch McConnell would have said let's do this in a different way as we try this another way, try this again.

But remember, right now if you're the White House and you're the majority leader, you still are in a position to win this vote. We always knew it was going to be tight. I see people say one more vote loss and this thing's over. It was always going to be one or two votes. It was never going to be more than that. So to have one Republican senator walk away from this doesn't necessarily change anything.

BLACKWELL: All right, let me go back to Mario once more. So if this does not succeed and that's possible in the next several days, do you expect that the president will approach or will start to work with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Chuck and Nancy as he affectionately called them? And what should, from your perspective, be the solution, be the fixes? MOLINA: Well, first of all, we had a bipartisan fix on its way

through the Senate with Senator Murray and Senator Alexander. He doesn't need to go back to anyone. He just needs the normal course of business to play out in the Senate. And they had ideas that would help stabilize the individual marketplace and ensure that people on Medicaid continue to have coverage. It's the largest insurance program in the country.

And so we should let that play out. We should fund the CSRs for the next two years so people who have deductibles that they can't afford get help, and we should let this whole thing play out in the Senate, have a debate. Sunshine is the best antiseptic, and there's been too little sunshine on this bill.

BLACKWELL: All right, Mario Molina, Ben Ferguson, thank you both.

FERGUSON: Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: All right, well, the president just called out star NBA player Steph Curry. We'll tell you what's happened over the last couple hours. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:52:53] PAUL: There have been a series of tweets this morning from the president, and he just disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a trip to the White House, blasting star player Steph Curry in the process.

BLACKWELL: Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources" joins us now. So, the president said Steph Curry hesitated, so he disinvited him.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDICA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Trump apparently saw this on a competing network this morning, tweeted 20 minutes later. This comes as the Golden State Warriors are considering skipping that traditional celebratory trip to the White House.

It's part of a much broader sports world tension with regards to President Trump. Curry one of many athletes who has been critical of the president, skeptical of the president. And we're not just seeing this in the NBA. It's really the NFL as well. I think we're going to see a weekend-long issue between Trump and the National Football League partly because of what Trump said last night at that rally. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out. He's fired. He's fired!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Trump calling him on "The Apprentice," you're fired, but talking about mostly African-American athletes who have been taking a knee, protesting the National Anthem, making a statement at football games.

We've just heard this morning from the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, we can put his statement up on screen. It's a curious statement because it criticizes the divisive comments from the president but never actually mentions the president's name. The statement says "Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

This is unusual to see the commissioner come out and say anything. The NFL tries to be non-political, but we're in an environment where there's really no such thing as being non-political. Whether it's Steph Curry, whether it's the president saying you're not invited to the White House, or whether it's the president criticizing how football is trying to make the game safer, trying to reduce the horrible concussions and CTE cases that we've seen. The president seems to want these conflicts. He embraces these conflicts. I sometimes wonder if it's because he doesn't want people talking about the ongoing Russia conspiracy investigations and other matters that are obviously problems for his White House.

[10:55:12] But here we are Saturday morning, we're going to see Trump versus the NFL, Trump versus Steph Curry. Certainly a storyline that lots and lots of people are interested in and talking about on this sports filled weekend.

BLACKWELL: All right, Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Brian.

And thank you for being with us. We hope you make some great memories today.

BLACKWELL: There is a lot more ahead in the next hour of CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. It's 11:00 on the east coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with breaking news out of Mexico where a 6.1 earthquake has been reported in Oaxaca. This coming just four days after a separate catastrophic quake rattled the country.