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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 22, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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thanks for watching "360," time to hand over to don lemon. "cnn tonight" starts right now. we've breaking news on the fbi's russia investigation to tell you about. this is "cnn tonight," i'm don lemon. revelations coming fast and furious. cnn has learned the fbi has information to indicate trump associates communicated with suspected russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to hillary clinton's campaign. according to u.s. officials. get to breaking news. joining me, they broke the story with evan perez. pamela, what are you learning?
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>> we learned that fbi has information that indicates associates of president donald trump communicated with suspected russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging hillary clinton's campaign, according to u.s. officials. fbi director james comey made his bombshell announcement as you recall on monday before congress that the fbi is investigating the trump campaign's ties to russia. fbi is now reviewing this information that includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings according to officials. information is raising suspicions of counterintelligence operatives that coordination could have taken place but information is not conclusive and investigation is ongoing. no comment but trump officials denied any evidence of collusion.
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>> this gives us insight into what comey knew when he spoke on monday correct? >> absolutely don. if you recall in addition to comey saying the investigation includes looking at connections to trump associates, he also explained what investigators are looking at, what exactly they're dewing and how they come to this point. take a listen. >> don't you need some action or some information besides just attending a meeting, paid to attend a conference, or a picture was taken or you traveled to country before you're open to investigation for counterintelligence by the fbi? >> standard is there's a couple of different at play. credible accusation of wrong doing or reasonable reason to believe american may be acting as agent of a foreign power. >> one official suggests information they have suggests quote people connected to the
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campaign were in contact and appeared to be giving thumbs up to release information when it was ready. told by sources. but other officials say it's premature to gather that inference from the information they've gathered so far. largely circumstantial and fbi can't prove collusion took place. but this information is suggesting that collusion is a large focus of their investigation, the officials said. >> pamela back to you, what sort of coordination is under investigation here? >> we're told that most of the fbi is focused on the stolen and published e-mails by wikileaks, including the dnc and clinton campaign's john podesta. official said the information investigated not drawn from the leaked dossier of unverified
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information compiled from former british intelligence official by trump's political opponents but dossier also suggested coordination between trump people and russian operatives. >> do we know who is being investigated? >> investigators have not told us. we do know that some of the people who have been scrutinized, that were part of the trump campaign and are part of the trump world, mike flynn, paul manafort, roger stone and obviously carter page, they have had some contacts with the russians we're told by u.s. officials. and the intelligence community sort of became concerned about it. and their communication, their contact with those folks are now being scrutinized. all four have denied improper contacts. and also don, some of the issues that fbi investigators are now facing is that it's become a
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little more difficult to learn when the russians are doing. some of the intelligence gathering become difficult because folks within the russian community in russia have changed the way they're communicating amongst each other and with some of the folks here. it's created some problem for investigators. we're trying to gather more intelligence, figure out what was going on here. >> shimon, pamela brown and evan perez breaking the information. thank you all. bring in kirsten powers, david chalian, jack kingston, ryan lizza and philip mudd. my goodness. so much to unpack. david start with you. this is development tonight. question out on all of this is what if anything did the president know and when did he know it. >> those are certainly two key questions that will sort of be
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going at for long duration of this investigation. no doubt about that don. but it is a significant story because this entire story since it started has been about has there been coordination between trump campaign officials or trump associates and russia, geared at russia's interference with the american election to defeat hillary clinton and get donald trump elected? this is the first step in seeing some that of potential coordination is indeed under investigation. learned from comey on monday this is what they were looking at but this goes a step further to say they have some suggestion this does potentially exist. this is very early in the process. long road to go but each drip, drip, drip of information begs the question what did candidate trump know, if anything at all
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and when did he learn of it. >> and to be clear, report says coordination may have taken place. officials cautioning it's not conclusive yet but what kind of trouble may they be in? >> step back here. look at both sides of the coin, depending on the political aisle you're on. people connected with the campaign. information that suggests something. that suggests that people may have coordinated. very loose language. if you want to poke a hole in this say i need evidence not supposition. on the other hand talk about something nobody is talking about. this investigation has been going on many months. fbi director got burned in the fall and going back to last summer when he exposed, revealed investigation into hillary clinton, opened and reclosed it. now back to the hill, months after this investigation has been opened and again says we have information we have to tell
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you has led us to open investigation against president trump's team. i look at that and say there is no way he did that unless after months he looked at information they're collecting and saying this is pretty ugly. there is smoke here but he does not reveal that unless he's saying this has to be exposed to the american public. that's serious. >> the fallback for the white house and administration has been the leakers, how do you think they'll respond to this? can't just simply blame leakers this time. >> they'll respond saying this is nothing enough. we know the fbi has been looking into this. all week just basically dismissing any reports. maybe phil can help with this, i have naïve and maybe counterintuitive question about this. if you're one of the people the fbi is looking at, at what point do your actions move from being normal political activities to
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collusion with a foreign power that is illegal? in other words, not going to name names because throwing out a theory. if you did have prior knowledge the russians were going to release those e-mails, is that illegal? maybe phil has a sense of that. when do you trip into outright collusion and espionage? if i was a journalist, if we had published famous e-mails, i don't think anybody would have said it's chargeable offense. as we get closer to figuring out exactly what is going on here, tricky areas about what the line is. >> philip, how do you respond? >> let me not play a lawyer on tv. brother and father are lawyers but i'm not. >> rubber meets the road when prosecution becomes possible. >> less go inside this for a moment and flip it. i think it's perfectly proep for
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members of the trump campaign to speak to russian officials. can you imagine if they came in saying we were nervous about talking about russians because of potential wiretaps on the russians so we don't know how they think, completely inappropriate. i think should have talked to the russians. here's the rub, if they were involved in conversations that involved passing russian information to goosiver, one of the people involved in revealing the e-mails, or participating in conversations about how to influence the election, that's agent of foreign power. you can't do that. >> i want to get congressman and kierstin in. sean spicer maintains no evidence to suggest any collusion took place but you hear people connected to the campaign appeared, appeared to give the thumbs up to release
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the information. fbi can't prove it took place yet. is it troubling to you? >> i think at this point clapper was clear saying there's no evidence of collusion, moerel saying it. as i listen to comey, he was all over the place with lots of different answers. clever at times and when he wanted to talk, seemed to have no problem talking. other times said i can't answer that. i felt like he said there's no evidence. at one point said yet, probably to please some of the gallery. >> i don't think this is right what you're saying here. >> question might be who are the u.s. officials who say may have been, and why are they talking to the press and not to the committee of jurisdiction? >> you know what, it's interesting that you would say that, lot of people saying that about nunez today.
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why wasn't he talking to officials but that's whole other subject. >> can i say one thing? comey did not say there was no collusion. went up to the hill and said he's investigating collusion. that's the groundbreaking. >> said so far not found any. >> whole investigation is about collusion. did not rule it out obviously. >> let's hope it also about leaks too. >> it is. he made that clear too. >> initial investigation started with collusion, not about leaks. i think the republicans made it about leaks because the president wanted the leaks investigated. kirsten, this white house doesn't it have to find a way to deal with this russia story in more credible manner? revelations not going to stop, shooting off tweets about his predecessor, on and on. >> i think this is the best they can do. don't want to acknowledge any of this is happening. only thing to do is attack the
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messenger, complain of anonymous leaks. say that manafort and flynn were interns on the campaign. general flynn was a volunteer now we're hearing. not integral to donald trump's campaign. preposterous. but setting legalities aside, if they were doing what pamela brown was reporting, what that means in terms of was there a quid pro quo? russia is helping -- if allegations are right and helping with disrupting of the election, was russia getting something in return for it? why does donald trump never criticize russia? why did general flynn indicate they're going to lift sanctions? was there a quid pro quo. >> people here circumstantial evidence, say there's no
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chairman of the house intelligence committee going rogue today with unexpected white house meeting and what he claims is new information on surveillance of the trump transition team. david nunez surprised everyone by running to white house to inform them some trump communications were picked up through normal incidental collection before speaking to his own committee.
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schiff and others were fuming. to be clear not wiretapping or related to russia. what took place? >> not just democrats, even jeff lake, senator from arizona said this seemed to be against protocol. nunez caught everyone by surprise but got a hold of information from a source. we don't know what is the content of that information other than he says it was completely legal. fisa court approved surveilling of foreign entity and american gets caught up in that conversation, incidental collection, that person is usually not known unless somebody goes and asked for that person to be unmasked. he seemed to think that either donald trump or some family members or other people pertaining to trump were involved in this and got caught up and wanted to get that information to the white house. as you know, donald trump took this as he felt somewhat
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vindicated by this information from devon nunez, even though it doesn't vindicate. nothing to do -- >> doesn't vindicate him at all. >> not what donald trump was tweeting about in early march. >> i keep hearing this. infuriates me. none of this information, not even nunez says that trump people or u.s. citizens targeted. saying incidental collection of information. that someone else, a foreign agent was the subject and other people's information or conversations were incidentally collected or listened to. not illegal. happens all the time. trying to figure out what is new about this and how is it pertinent to the investigation? >> don i can say, one thing that the press missed, press conference, very first words. if you listen to the tape. yesterday at beginning of our hearing, i asked people to come forward if they had any
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information on surveillance of american citizens. that was a warning shot to the fbi because i believe they had things they had told the intel committee privately that were acceptable to be told publicly but comey did not say that. >> nothing that shows in this information, with all due respect, that u.s. citizens were targeted or subject of this. >> he said it had nothing to do with russia. said information that he had seen had nothing to do with russia. >> but the information he has seen nothing to do with u.s. citizens targeted or surveilled. >> yes they do. >> no it doesn't. >> trump transition people why spied on? >> incidental communications. mr. mudd please -- >> i don't know why this is so hard. >> it's not that difficult. jack you're spinning. that's not what he said. philip. >> break down into tears first? >> please. >> look at two pieces of this.
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president of the united states indicated in tweets two weeks ago that his predecessor illegally collected information against american citizens in trump tower. that's illegal. doesn't involve u.s. court and involves directing federal agencies to do something that people like me would resign over. stop for a moment. for decades foreign dmoemts and officials will be intercepted by american intelligence agencies. what it's intercepted, occasionally approved by u.s. fisa court. what that interception takes place, occasionally talking to american citizen. that's collateral, american citizen not surveilled but foreigner is. >> not urch masked though. >> yes they do. >> who asked them to be --
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>> let him explain then go in. >> when there's investigation under way for example by fbi against that foreign official, fbi obviously is going to say who was that russian, chinese, iranian official talking to as part of the investigation, we have to know. that process is formal, called unmasking. i now need to know the name of that u.s. person. that happens all the time. >> philip, but why would they need to be unmasked if it had nothing to do with russia? because supposedly this is about russia. >> we don't know they were unmasked. >> time out. >> conversation. >> that's what nunez said, they were unmasked. >> no he didn't. >> maybe nunez unmasked them. no one knew this information. >> his question why unmasked and who ordered them. >> can we stand back and look at absurdity of the chairman of the house intelligence committee
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going to white house to make a public statement and making all of this public today? this is not how you conduct an investigation when you're head of the house intelligence committee. >> it's not -- what about the head of the fbi going public with all the stuff he's been doing, frankly starting with hillary clinton and investigation of her. >> you're upset about that now jack? >> it's not like the ranking member and other members, democrat and republicans, aren't going out publicly and talking. >> but even if it's true, two wrongs don't make a right. not an argument. way he handled it, unorthodox. >> white house is subject of the investigation. >> i think a member of the congress on the intel committee will be on the show tonight. >> stand by everyone. here is john mccain. >> reason i'm calling for select
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or special committee so is i think this back and forth and what the american people have found out so far, no longer does the congress have credibility to handle this alone. i don't say that lightly. >> david chalian. >> that is a man of authority, obviously, who perhaps can begin to sway his own party. i still think it's going to be a tough sell for a lot of republicans who want to protect trump and the white house on this still right now to call for special committee or outside independent investigator, that goes in ways they can't always control. i do think what nunez did was gut the house intelligence process. it's very hard for american voter, citizen at home watching all this unfold after seeing antics today to actually trust anything coming out of the house intelligence committee as impartial arbiter.
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>> i was watching it and cringeering for the guys. us kids say he played himself. >> i really think it goes back to the fact that he was extremely irritated that comey didn't come forward with this information yesterday. >> why not go to the committee first before going to white house, subject of the investigation, and going to the press which the trump administration and his surrogates always say the stuff in the media, why is everybody spreading this. why not go to investigating committee and say to mr. schiff, we have this information we need to discuss it, how do we move forward from here? instead left everyone in the dark. are you okay with that? seems like credibility is in question now. >> i'm going to assume that adam schiff and all the committee members already knew this information. >> they did not. >> hold on. >> every single one said they did not know this information. what is mind-boggling to me, is the man sitting in the white house who is leader of the free
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world did not have access to this information when all he has to do is pick up a phone. >> minute he does that, he's interfering. accused of that. if bill clinton arbitrarily got on airplane with someone like attorney general. >> you don't think interfering in business by false tweet about the former president. that's not interfering in the american democracy? >> a tweet that goes out publicly is not same as calling someone privately like attorney general or -- >> it's much worse. it's misinformation. isn't that worse? >> i have spoken to senior member of the intel committee after the hearing yesterday. >> did they leak classified information to you? was it on background or what? >> i don't want to be felon. we already have enough leakers
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and felons in the town and i'm accused of all the other things already. but displeased by the fact that comey was saying things privately that he could have said publicly and didn't say them for reasons unknown. he's clever guy. one week he's the democrat's guy and next he's the republicans. >> what does that have to do with not sharing with adam schiff? >> i know what you're talking about. nunez and others upset because they got a private briefing from comey -- nunez and schiff had a private briefing, they know with a lot of detail with the fbi information is all about. i think nunez was miffed that comey when asked questions wouldn't rule out subjects of the investigation and nunez couldn't say what he knew.
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i think that's what you're talking about jack right? how does that justify what he did today? >> someone on the transition team, someone trying to lead a nonpartisan investigation, made him look like a shill for the white house. >> i believe that devon nunez is a man of honor. and say the same for adam schiff. but i believe intel committee has been way to public with this whole thing. political bait is out there. opportunity to go out and talk about something. i know how it is. seen it go on over and over again in all kinds of committees. i think they should be sequestered in some private room. >> do these guys come back? okay. i'm wondering if the timing is a bit shifty too. let's talk about this when we come back. this is going to come out in a
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and we're back. a new headache for the white house. this time about president trump's former campaign
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chairman. back with my panel. kirsten before we move to paul manafort, talk about the timing. in interview president said in the next couple weeks see what will be released. sean spicer said see how the week ends. >> that's first thing i thought, interview with tucker carlson where he said that. then all this information comes out. all we ever hear about is how terrible anonymous information is, how did you come to get this information now right? where was this information before? doing this investigation. >> do you think it's coordinated? >> i don't know but it looks suspicious that the president said something would come out and now acts like this vindicated him. and of course it hasn't, we've established that's not what nunez said but all the trump supporters taking this as vindication. i guess someone should ask sean spicer tomorrow was this the information you were referencing
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and waiting for? >> people are saying it looks like coordination between the white house and nunez, that is an allegation. >> you know, i can understand why people would make that allegation when president in national interview says just wait, some information is going to come out. i guess we don't actually have the information. >> he was on the trump transition team. >> some development occurs and nunez at end of the comey hearing said there's no a gray cloud hanging over this white house, generated a slew of negative things. watching him try to clean it up for them and give them political cover, i don't think it goes beyond the realm of possibility that the white house would be in on this. >> why go to the white house -- >> i don't think nunez meant it the way we're interpreting it.
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>> urging on the quick closure of this. wanted comey to move on quickly right? >> exactly. i think he was saying this is unfair to the white house that there's this cloud around him. just reading between the lines, i think nunez was hinting that this is an investigation about people outside the white house but comey would not even confirm that so creates this cloud. >> i wonder if today we misunderstood him too. the information may be so damning that maybe the white house should know about it. maybe that's why went to the white house first. let's talk about paul manafort, former campaign chairman pushing back against associated press report alleging he earned millions to help the political interests of vladimir putin. what the white house said today. >> nothing in this morning's report references any actions by the president, white house or any trump administration official.
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that's got to be clear from the get-go. the report is entirely focused on actions that paul took a decade ago. regarding -- former adviser to the campaign, and actions that came to light this morning about a client he had last decade. >> how serious is this report? >> incredibly, but spicer is right about this. association with entity that involved transfer of money that's legal. not a significant problem. but months into a investigation that's highly sensitive -- most sensitive things i saw at fbi were political -- fbi director speaks publicly and acknowledged he's investigating this. he doesn't do this unless he has information over the course of months. not a week or two on in. suggests to him he has to talk to the american people. i read into this, they've got a
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so we're hearing the president on the phone tonight personally calling members of the house freedom caucus, trying to persuade them to support the gop health care bill with the scheduled vote hours away. can he make the deal? back with the panel. david i understand may be some moment because working with the caucus to work on some bill. big 24 hours. work on changes or compromise. big 24 hours for the president. nonstop meetings with gop lawmakers the past few days, lobbying for this gop backed bill. is there a sign a deal might be in the works and he can get over the hump? >> they're certainly working for it. i don't think we can overstate how big this vote is for trump. i really do think tomorrow may be -- i think on the eve of one
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of the definitional days of this trump presidency. if he's on the eve of a victory here, it is going to be a hard-fought won victory. i know it's got go through the senate and bill will have problems there. but this alone, if he's able to piece this together and get this through the house, it will be a demonstration that he can do the job. cut these deals and move his goal forward. that is no small thing. on the other hand, if it goes down, i think will be a body blow to this young presidency. >> yeah but -- i hate to predict things. i get the feeling this is important to the president and important to republicans. if they can come to compromise, i think he will get this passed. just my gut. but i could be wrong. but potential deal with conservatives is elimination of essential health benefits including emergency services, hospitalization, preventive care, so on.
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if they get this done and come to compromise about this, how important do you think that will be to win these votes over? >> that's one of two issues. my understanding, that the house freedom caucus holdouts are demanding and that's already been settled. they've given them that. another issue on other regulations that is more -- before i came on air talking to someone in the freedom caucus, still up in the air and going to work on overnight. but just on the policy, think about what they're talking about here. this was obamacare provision that required insurers to provide a bottom line package of benefits. right? conservatives don't like that because think the insurance companies should be able to design whatever package they want and as consumer you should be able to buy it. will be moderate republicans and most democrats who sorvehementl
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oppose that because you can't stabilize health markets if you allow young healthy folks to buy basic packages like that because shoot up premiums for people much sicker. that's the policy part of that. i think you're probably right don because this is important vote it gets done because ryan and trump and mcconnell will do what it takes. >> be up all night and make whatever changes and compromises to this, can't let the president's first piece go down. >> but be rewritten in the senate. it's dead on arrival at senate. >> problem is house freedom caucus, some of the things they're asking for, going to lose the moderates. they have this problem. house freedom caucus say they have 28 solid nos and will not move unless they move on what
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ryan was talking about, title i regulations. that would include keeping 26-year-olds, people on parents' plans until 26, which the president promised to keep. leadership sees this as nogo, i think the white house too but house freedom caucus guys won't move on it. it's basically a game of chicken between the white house, ryan's house and house freedom caucus bem people. are they going to blink? >> representative charlie dent is moderate saying he's still a no right now. >> couple are already, but if gave house freedom caucus what they wanted to lose other moderates but get all the house freedom caucus, might get it through. >> jack this is just what we had before and want you to weigh in on this, you know this. worked there before. this is according to ongoing
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whip which could have changed. 23 house republicans said will vote against the current version, four more indicated likely to oppose it. 27 lawmakers and charlie dent now. and kirsten saying may lose moderates. what is your gut telling you? >> i think get it passed. i think it's come home to your team moment. >> i agree with you on that. >> but right on two counts. anytime you cut a deal with the moderates or conservatives there's a net gain because there's a lot. not like you picked up all of them and net gain because you lost moderates on the other side. other thing she's right about, certain element of chicken going to be played. when i was in house leadership and on the whips team, had a five vote majority, went on the floor with big pieces of legislation not knowing if we
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had the votes, leave the clock open. 17 minutes to vote. famously democrats and republicans often left the clock open an hour until you get the last vote. try to win all by two so somebody is not accused of being the vote that broke the tie but don't know really who is going to come home until you get up there. then there's senior member been there eight or nine terms and say to him, going to make a freshman walk the plank so you have vote purity with interest groups off campus? is that what a team member is about? seen the conversations over and over where people switch back. >> i've got to go. talk about this and former health and human services next.
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in my johnsonville commercial we open up in the forest. hi. i'm jeff. i'm eating my breakfast and all of a sudden a raccoon come up and ask me, "what are you eating?" i told him "johnsonville breakfast sausage, fully cooked."
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porcupine comes in and he says, "does that come in patties?" i said "yup" wolf comes in and says, "how'd you learn to talk to animals?" and i said "books" and we had a good laugh about that. [laughter] that's a commercial made the johnsonville way. breaking news, freedom caucus share mark meadows saying he's optimistic a deal could be reach on the gop health care plan. not there yet but agreement on issues with president trump. said still work to be done but could be worked out tomorrow.
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joining me obamacare veteran, kathleen sebelius. there are signs there are a deal in principle and this could be the end of obamacare as we know it as the republicans promised voters years ago. what's your reaction? >> first of all, this is a first step, a republican house who's going so jam republicans members to vote to take away people's health insurance while they enjoy their own government health insurance, i find it a really troubling time in this country. listened to the discussion a bit ago you all had and i gather one of the issues is whether or not they would allow insurance companies to once again sell health insurance that doesn't fully cover somebody when they get sick. that's a very dangerous place
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for a person to be. millions of policies in the individual market didn't have maternity coverage, which you can't buy once you get pregnant. millions had no mental health coverage. opioid overdose a huge issue and lots didn't have substance abuse. didn't have hospital coverage. couldn't take balancambulance. sold something called health insurance but without the benefits in the workplace. that's the big deal for the freedom caucus. that's their deal. that's not health insurance they have. they and their families have full benefits and coverage, they're saying that should be what is marketed to the american public. i have to go step farther. as former insurance commissioner might say we no longer will let companies deny people on preexisting condition but if you
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begin to pick and choose packages of benefits, if i'm young and totally healthy, skinny benefits and low cost. 55 years old with chronic heart condition and cancer survivor, desperate for the full package. so insurance companies market different plans based on their health. >> they're saying why do i need these services if they don't pertain to me, why should i be forced to buy these services? >> fundamentally don't understand insurance. it's about a pool. it's about risk bearing where some people use it, why do i have fire insurance if my house has never burned down or never been hit by tornado. why have car insurance if i'm a safe driver? it's protecting you from the unexpected and policy where
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everybody pays a share. everybody is in and then when you -- the lottery comes up with your number and you get hit by bus or cancer diagnosis or have a child with a special need, you have a pool of coverage to rely on. it's what happens in a workplace every day to people. they're on health plan. don't pick and choose based on may have bad genes for their heart or torn a ligament. they're in employee health plan. that's what the goal was for individual market. >> and choosing costs rather than what they cover. i have to ask you before time runs out. obamacare exchanges are in trouble in some states and some states the premiums have skyrocketed. do you think it's legitimate problem with obamacare and doesn't it need to be fixed? >> definitely needs to be more competition in some states. that's fixable. the stability pool that the
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republicans have just announced will be part of this act would have been great to have in place four years ago. we would have loved that, to allow states without a lot of competition to open a new market, stabilize their competitors, help insurance companies pay high cost. this republican congress wouldn't work to do that. there are ways to do that without taking away insurance from 14 million people next year and 24 million people eventually and shifting the cost to older, sicker, poorer workers in america. that's just a really bad deal. >> thank you secretary sebelius. i appreciate your time. >> sure. good to talk to you. >> we'll be right back.
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