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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  June 23, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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have a fantastic weekend. in the meantime, at this hour with kate bolduan starts right about now. hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. thanks, john berman. case closed, right? not so fast. did president trump's admission about not recording james comey open up a new can of legal worms? johnny depp making political statements. the health care bill brings deep cuts to medicaid. the white house putting a new spin on it today. first, this. the revealing details about exactly thousand russian meddling in the 2016 race went down and how the obama administration struggled to respond. "the washington post," brand-new report says the marching orders
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came directly from the top, president vladimir putin himself with the goal of hurting hillary clinton and helping donald trump. they get the play-by-play of president trump and president obama delivering their response. we have one of the reporters behind this major, major story. thanks so much for joining me. this is the first time that folks are hearing not only of vladimir putin's direct involvement, but that intelligence captures his specific instructions and the objections he wanted to obtain. how and when was the president first alerted? >> that's one of the important facts here. this intelligence bombshell surfaces in the very beginning of august. not long after both parties held their conventions and way before the election, of course. so, one of the things our story
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explores is why is it that it was only five months later that the administration shared any of this information with the public? >> you also spoke to more than two dozen current and former u.s. officials for the story. it doesn't sound like there was much consensus or at least complete consensus on how and when the administration should respond. what was the level there? >> you are exactly right. there was a lot of disagreement and intense disagreement. there were factions that wanted to respond much more aggress zively to russia and then those who were more cautious, who worried about making the problem worse, about provoking putin further and perceived as interfering in the election. so, there were moments we describe in the story that were interesting to me, where john kerry, shortly before the election is pushing one last
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time, can we tee up sanctions or something to retaliate against russia? maybe we can announce them after the election if you don't want to beforehand? he's told, go away, we are not talking about this right now. a lot of the story is focused on why? why there was such hand wringing about this and such hesitation. >> this was a tough call, no doubt, being in the middle of the election. the response john kerry got is very telling and interesting. what degree did you find in your reporting or did folks think the administration let politics shape their response to a national security crisis? >> there are many former administration officials who fear that became true. weirdly, the administration's determination not to be seen, not to be seen as politicizing the national security issue meant that because of politics, it was refusing to act. it had this perverse outcome.
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the level of remorse and regret varies, of course, senior officials close to obama defend those decisions and say they did the right thing. then, you know, there were interesting quotes in the story. we quote one official saying, this is the hardest thing in all my work in government to defend. i feel like we sort of choked. >> yeah. that's a quote everyone is taking note of. one thing i want to make sure we get out as well, you also seem to reveal, uncover that president obama, he approved a secret program after all this happened before he left office, planting cyber bombs in russian infrastructure. where was that in terms of rolling out or putting that in place when they left? is there any sense of what the trump administration has done since? >> that's the oddest thing about this part of the response. this was something that was not
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announced. it was a covert measure. obama signs a secret classified finding to approve this and it is basically designed to prepare for a day down the road when u.s. might find itself in some kind of cyber exchange, a cyber combat with moscow. it wanted to have more weapons at its disposal. he directed the spy agencies to find places to put those. it could be detonated remotely some day. this is something he sets in motion. it's going to take time to work on, time to complete. it will be up to president trump or the next president after that, to decide whether to use any of this capability and so far, i mean, it seems obvious he hasn't. nor could we see any evidence that trump had to undo anything obama set in motion. >> thank you so much for coming on. it's a really important read. thanks for coming on, i
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appreciate it. >> thank you. joining me now, tony, former adviser to president obama and the obama administration. tony, nice to see you. it's a big read. a big report they did, looking back at the process of how it went down and the level of struggle within the obama administration. everything you have seen in this report so far, now that it's out there, is the post accurate? >> they did a terrific job reconstructing what happened, the deliberations and concerns. when grow back, it was a moving picture. it's not like we had a snapshot of what they were up to. it evolved over time. we thought they were trying to do what they always do, pull information, get something to use later down the road. then, it looked like they were trying to interfere in the election by creating doubt about our institutions. that's part of the reason. >> letting themselves be known. >> that's part of the reason why, as we deliberated this, the
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more we play this in public, the more we play their game. we create further doubt making it a big, public matter. that's one thing that was a concern. the other thing, we thought they were trying to interfere in the elector system themselves. we made massive efforts so they couldn't do that. this led to two things, president obama issued a very stark warning to president putin in september at the g-20 conference in china. what we saw or thought we saw after that, it looked like the russians stopped their efforts. but, the damage is already done. they had taken information before. they passed it along to wikileaks and still continued to come out. we thought we deterred them from doing more. wait until after the election to see how to punish them. >> hindsight, yes. a lot of folks feel differently. i want to get to that in a second. the quote greg miller had from a former administration official.
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it is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. i feel like we sort of chokes. do you feel like that? >> no. maybe the judgment was wrong and we should have done certain things we didn't do. given everything we were dealing with, the perception of russia's main objective is undermine confidence, that was one thing that motivated us, be careful how you play it in public. later, there was consensus they were trying to undermine the elections, they were trying to defeat hillary clinton and get donald trump. we thought this was important to try to speak with one voice. we went to congress to bring this to them. the post article reflects this. >> yes. >> to our surprise, even shock, a number of leaders accused us of playing politics. they didn't believe it.
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they said we were making it up. >> mitch mcconnell did not believe the intelligence and did not respond to a request for comment to "the washington post." you know now, there are democrats on capitol hill who are frustrated looking back at how things played out. adam schiff is one of them. look no further than the hearing he has with homeland security secretary, jay johnson. he expressed that in the hearing. here is a moment to remind viewers. >> why did it take the administration so long to make a public statement a foreign adversary was trying to influence the american election. the statement didn't come until october. why did we wait from july to october to make that statement? >> i'm going to disagree that there was some type of delay. this was a big decision and there were a lot of considerations that went into it. >> what are the considerations he knows.
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just after that. there is one candidate saying this election was going to be rigged against him. was politics a consideration? >> look, i think to some extent it was. >> is that okay? >> in retro spect you should say you can put it aside and do the right thing. the concern was it is politics, in the broader sense. one candidate saying the election was going to be rigged. russia trying to show doubt in the institutions and election. the more you play it up yourself, the more you feed exactly what the russians were trying to advance, which is doubt. >> can you answer, real quick, there is a thought that one of the reasons the president decided to go slower, wait, was that he thought hillary clinton was going to win. at the moment of the polls, she was up. he thought the outcome was going to be okay, we can respond after that. >> one was not wanting to advance their game and trying to stop them from doing what they
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were doing. the president's warning to putin seemed to have that effect. after all, jay johnson and the director of national intelligence put out and unprecedented statement in early october raising the concerns to the public, the day the "access hollywood" tape came out and drown out the whole story. strange things happen, but unbalanced. we thought we were playing it the safe way. >> no regrets? >> there are always regrets. hindsight is 20/20. the president talking about his tapes admission and what bothers him about robert mueller. that's next, plus, first madonna, then cathy griffin. now, captain jack spar row. what johnny depp said about the president and assassination. that's coming up.
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>> he is very, very good friends with comey, which is very bothersome. but, he's also -- we are going to have to see. we are going to have to see in terms. look, there has been no obstruction. there has been no collusion. there has been leaking by comey, but no collusion or obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that. we'll have to see. i can say that the people that have been hired are all hillary clinton supporters. some of them worked for hillary clinton. i mean, the whole thing is ridiculous, if you want to know the truth, from that standpoint. but, robert mueller is an honorable man and hopefully he'll come up with an honorable solution. >> some of the attorneys hired have contributed to democrats over time, some contributed to republicans and democrats. that came out after what many already expects, he did not
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record conversations with james comey, ending weeks of speculation that the president, himself, started. joining me now, former u.s. attorney, a cnn analyst and michael se michael zelden is here as well. cnn national security analyst and spokesman for the security council for president obama sean turner is here and tara. great to see you all. thanks for being here. michael, first to you. you worked with bob mueller at the justice department. do you have a sense, because the president brought it up saying they were very, very close. do you know how close of friends mueller and comey are and do you think it is a problem today? >> i don't think it's a problem at all. mueller knows what his mandate is under the order of rosenstein. he's going to fulfill that mandate. friendship be damned, if you
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will. the president, in fact, said mueller is an honorable person at the end. that is a correct answer. mueller is an honorable person. they friendship will not interfere with this. >> that is an important bit of this. michael moore, what do you think the president is trying to do here? do you think he's trying to discredit bob mueller? what does this get him? >> i think he's doing the same thing he's done since the campaign. when somebody starts getting close and nipping on his heels, he starts to attack and gives praise, then turns around and talking about maybe they have a conflict. he did the same to ted cruz. go down the list of candidates he ran against. he's trying to cast doubt in case things turn against him. like he said in the election, this thing is rigged against me. we know what was going on. he's coming in, trying to plant seeds of doubt.
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i don't think the relationship between mueller and comey is anything to be alarmed about, nor do i think appointing democrats matters. really, everybody who is appointed by the president is likely to support president trump. i just don't know those things, i think he's throwing red herrings out there to throw the public off and keep us guessing. this is the same basket as it has taping comment. >> we'll get to tapes in one second. sean, jump in on this. as michael says, he's trying to sow the seeds of doubt. will this help him? >> i don't think it will. at this point, as michael points out, this is the president's m.o. where he's making a mistake here is, look, if bob mueller was an unknown entity, the president might be able to say these things. people might not look without a
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real understanding of whether that's true or not. when the president says these things about mueller and comey, look, these people are known entities. they have a reputation. everyone knows their reputation is beyond reproach. i don't think this is -- this strategy is going to work with regard to bob mueller. the president, as i said will be well served to take a step back. let bob mueller do their job and, in the end, i think the president does that. i think the damage he's already done himself by making comments, you know, he will at least stop them not making further comments against bob mueller. >> tara, with regard to the ongoing investigation and how much it does bother the president, clearly, this is something that keeps him up at night and wakes him up early. there's a new report by "the washington post," there's a new strategy in place. somebody gets on the phone with him early, 6:00 or 6:30 for him
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to hash it out, get on with business throughout the day and not stew on it. is there evidence that strategy is working? >> it's unclear because he's already started firing off tweets. we know yesterday was a planned tweet drafted with the communications department to address the tapes issue. it was preleaked to a reporter an hour before the actual tweet came out saying he did not tweet. maybe they are becoming more strategic with the tweets. perhaps the president who does hold grudges is benefiting from being able to speak in the morning. he tends to wake up angry according to aides that i have spoke to. he goes to bed seeming okay, he slept on it, talks to friends in the evening, wakes up and watches morning shows and he's angry. i don't think any executive should start their day that way. the team is managing him a bit. what i have heard from white house officials is they have to
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tone him down. a lot of things he wants to put in tweets are farther than hyperbole and he needs to be restrained often. this is a full-time job. >> talk about the planned statement that came up yesterday on the tapes. michael zelden, this ends the speculation of 41 days. many thought there were no recordingings. i want to play for you how sean spicer, today, explained the tweet and explained exactly what they were trying to do with the tapes conversation to begin with. listen to this. >> the reality is he wanted to make sure the truth came out. talking about the tapes made comy think, i better be honest and tell the truth about the circumstances regarding the situation. >> so, what he wanted to do was try to make sure, by doing it that comey would tell the truth when testifying. does that have legal fallout?
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>> firstly, it doesn't resinate as being ingeneral would you say. it strikes me, comey is going to testify honestly, period. he's an honest guy. he swore to tell the truth, he's going to tell the truth and he did tell the truth. this strikes me along intimidation than along the, let's encourage him to be truthful. i think the effort to say he better hope there are truth in the tapes that is a veil threat. i think that's what this was more than it was an aspirational statement that comey would be truthful and encouraging him to do the right thing, fbi director comey. >> the second part of it, as we get to it, sean, president trump suggested in his tweet and kellyanne conway went further in discussing it saying he didn't tape it. clearly leaving open the possibility that someone else
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may have taped something, as in the intelligence community. can you address that? >> i can. i have to tell you, i think that aspect of this tweet, particularly, if, as tar a said if this is vetted it is unconscionable they said there's no reason to attack your intelligence community and think they are surveilling you or listening or taping your conversations. the president has to understand the intelligence community exists to support him and provide him with the information he needs to make the decisions to protect his country, the most important job. when i read that, i really felt for my former colleagues in the intelligence community. all they want to do is provide the president with advantage. there's no reason for the not so subtle tweep at the ic.
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>> thank you all so much. i appreciate it. coming up, johnny depp the latest celebrity to cross the line. what he said about president trump that has it has secret service taking note. the controversial republican health care plan right now in serious jeopardy. several republican senators refuse to support it at the moment. what are they demanding and where is this thing heading? in . i did active duty 11 years. and two in the reserves. our 18 year old was in an accident. when i call usaa it was that voice asking me, "is your daughter ok?" that's where i felt relief. it actually helped to know that somebody else cared and wanted make sure that i was okay. that was really great. we're the rivera family, and we will be with usaa for life. usaa. we know what it means to serve. call today to talk about your insurance needs. and it's also a story mail aabout people and while we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country,
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secrets on capitol hill. now, it could spark a showdown in the senate. it's drawing anger from democrats, no surprise. they are upset it could gut benefits for folks, which could mean less coverage and treatment options for patients with pre-existing conditions. it fazes out medicaid expansion. what is surprising is how many republicans are a no go. four senators have gone to opposition for various reasons. mitch mcconnell can only serve to lose two gop votes to get this over the line. the goal is to hold a vote on it next week. president trump says he supports the bill, despite promising medicaid and long-term medicaid cuts despite promising not to cut medicaid. max baucus played a key role in passing obamacare and bob was
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known for his work across the aisle with democrats, as dangerous as that can be these days. great to see you, thanks for coming in. senator, first to you, democrats call this plan mean. president obama joined in on that yesterday in issuing this statement on facebook. he said this, simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old or start a family, this will do you harm. urnds the guise of making it easier to stomach cannot change the meanness at the core of the legislation. do you think this legislation, do you think this bill is mean or think it's politics talking? >> frankly, i think it's mean because it's about an $880 billion cut in health care benefits to lower income people and seniors. it's a big tax break to most wealthy of us at the same amount. that's not right. that's morally wrong for the
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united states of america to give a big tax cut to the most well think and cut health benefits for the poorest. >> congressman, conservatives who aren't happy, they say it doesn't go far enough. they say it does more to rescue obamacare than it does to repeal it, which is what they have run on so many times. should republicans be happy about this bill? >> well, i think what republicans are trying to do, of course, is balance a budget. they are trying to preserve a private health insurance system. the challenge with doing that is, if you don't have an individual mandate, which we used to be for as conservatives, then became against it when it was barack obama's thing. if you don't have the individual mandate, it's hard to offer guaranteed coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions. that's the dilemma. yes, try to balance the budget, but if you are going to preserve it, you have to find a way to
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make a way to get everybody covered and keep them covered. that's what's playing out right now. that tension. >> senator, what is your advice, though, at this point to your democratic colleagues right now? they have little power to do anything about this, other than complain like republicans did when democrats pushed through obamacare. >> right. you know, i think senator mcconnell will get 50 votes, that's the magic number. he'll twist arms on the right and on the left. he'll get to 50. he's going to get this passed, there's no doubt about that in my mind. democrats, in the meantime, should say what's happening. that is expose what is in the mill. the 800 pound gorilla that nobody is addressing is the system that is much more expensive on a per person basis, basically because of a lot of
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inefficiencies we do not want to address, partly because there's so much money in hel care system today. we have to find ways to cut costs that way rather than cutting the cost of health care benefits to low income people. >> let's talk about health care benefits and the health insurance program, medicaid for americans, congressman. the white house was asked to respond to changes to medicaid, that the bill brings about. kellyanne conway we responded and takes issue to how folks are responding to what is in the republican plan. listen to this. >> only in washington would this be called a cut. over time, there are protections in place for the disabled, the elderly, the poor, the non-working poor, pregnant women. it's going to allow states to decide what they need to help those in need. >> congressman, do you agree with kellyanne conway?
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>> i would disagree with kellyanne conway. be careful what you ask for, you may get it. if you cut medicaid and send it to the states, a bunch of part time legislatures like in the senator's state and my state are forced upon this thought of how do you restructure a health care system? well, with a cap on what you can spend on it, gee, careful what you ask for, you might get it. in other words what may be the long term consequence that i'm concerned about as a conservative is the country realizes, gee, we have this thing called obamacare that maybe we needed to adjust, but then we ended up with this thing that leaves people without coverage or finding out they have lifetime caps. i can offer you cheap insurance if you let me cap the lifetime coverage for you or exclude
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cancer or exclude mental health. i can offer real cheap insurance, but when you show up in a hospital in a ju ndao christian society, we are going to shift the cost to other people. i'm afraid as a conservative, long-term, we are winning a little battle and losing a great big war. >> a lot more on this plan. a lot of folks reading through it, looking at implications and the cbo budget that comes out next week. thanks for coming on. coming up, the democrats want nancy pelosi gone. she does not care. she says she has support and loves a fight. hear about the closed door meeting about her future as she dismisses criticism from her own party. johnny depp under fire and the secret service taking note after he talks about assassinating the president. that is coming up.
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outrage from all sides of the political divide over what actor johnny depp said to a crowd at a film festival. watch this. >> when is the last time an actor assassinated a president? [ cheers and applause ] >> let me clarify, i'm not an actor. >> joining me now, guy cease el, and keith is here, cnn political commentator. it's great to see you. did johnny depp go too far? >> yes. it's not a good idea for anyone to threaten assassination of a president, even as a joke.
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it's not a good idea when ted nugent did it with hillary clinton and barack obama or when donald trump said it about remedies about the election when he lost. we have far too much advocacy of serious violence in people after the steve scalise shooting and the gabby giffords shooting we had. >> coming from the top is one thing. also, i mean, guy, let me bring you in on this. democrats went crazy and rightfully so if you want to talk ted nugent. he said dangerous things about barack obama, no doubt. we don't node to return to what he said. should democrats go crazy about this, to be honest? >> yes. i don't think there's any democrat that would support what johnny depp said or what ted nugent said. i think, both sides -- i'm not looking to give my political
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violence or johnny depp or ted nugent. both of them and people considering -- i think that's a reasonable approach to this. the other thing is what it does is distracts. instead of another segment talking about an immoral health care bill or another segment about the disaster of overting on the murder of casteel, we are talking about an actor, talking about ridiculous comments. >> right, but it should be called out. >> of course. absolutely. >> right. it should be called out. guy is making the point, keith, you can jump on it. yes, you can say johnny depp stop, cathy griffin stop. does this help democrats at all? >> it doesn't help democrats or anyone. it's not good to have this rhetoric in the discourse. i think what guy is doing is envitment of you and me,
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indictment of the media because we keep focusing on the stories. >> what am i supposed to do? >> i'm not saying you shouldn't do your job. i'm saying we, in the media, keep focusing on the stories. it's not that ted nugent or johnny depp are important people that we have to listen to, we know when they say something controversial, everybody in the media is going to talk about it. i don't mean it as a criticism to you or cnn or any network. >> it deserves to be talked about. nancy pelosi. democrats meeting behind closed doors, about a dozen of them to talk about whether they can push her out from leadership. she's defiant and basically says bring it on, i'm not going anywhere. is it time for new leadership in the house? what is your take? >> i think it's natural after an election to take an assessment of where we are as a party. nancy pelosi is not the problem.
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i think some context is important here. in 2009, democrats won a hard-fought special election in new york. we were excited about it. we bragged about it. a year later, republicans swept into majority in the house of representatives. again, 12 democrats or a handful of democrats talking about it. nancy pelosi did not run john ossoff's campaign. we need to talk about health care. democrats meeting talking about nancy pelosi distracts from the fact 74 million people are going to be affected by medicaid cuts and eliminate pre-existing protections. this is what democrats should be talking anlt, not arguments about a special election in a republican district. >> one defense for pelosi, keith, is, always, she is a fund raising machine. she brings in a lot of money for the party. one of the democrats calling for
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change in leadership told john berman earlier today, basically posed the question, what does that fund raising gotten us? does he have a point? >> yes and no. first of all, i didn't know i was going to be agreeing with guy today because he's been so off message about everything he said, but he's right about the fact we should focus on the other issues rather that the process issue, we, as a party. nancy pelosi is not the one who runs the campaigns. i personally think -- >> why republicans, the president tweeted, it would be the worst thing for the republican party? >> they hate nancy pelosi, they hate elizabeth warren and a lot of prominent women. >> you think it's sexism? >> it's contributed to the animosity of the powerful women. i think it's time for democrats not to be concerned about that so much. we fall into the trap of buying
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into the rhetoric of what the right is doing. we did this with the hillary clinton campaign. let's focus on our message. we have a winning message and the winning demographics. that's what we are starting to see. we are losing these midterm and special elections. we win presidential elections because people turn out. how do they turn out in the midterm elections. that's the next thing. >> we did not have the right message, that's why we didn't win. >> it's not the message. young people and people of color are the face of the democratic party. that face does not turn out in midterm elections the way they do in presidential elections. our challenge is to get them to turn out in those elections. >> guy, great to see you, thank you so much. preernt it. we are metrodomes away from president trump signing a bill aimed at taking a big step in fixing the veterans affairs depment. drew griffin is standing by for
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more. this moment will be starting any moment at the white house. drew, you know what hasn't been done to fix the v.a., what efforts are trying to be made. lay it out for us as we wait to see this moment happen? >>reporter: the v.a. has two problems. one, the federal government is trying to run a top health care system for veterans. it's not economically feasible. as they are announcing the president. >> keep going. >> reporter: politically, you can't get rid of the v.a. they have management problems, top to bottom, that allowed the scandals and whistleblowers not fixing the problems in health care. that's what this bill is aimed to do, trying to get rid of or give the secretary of the v.a. the power to get rid of bureaucrats that are considered
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a roadblock to modifications or reforms made to the v.a. >> if that's what you saw, when the scandals are uncovered, they knew people had, there had been wrong doing and people to target, but they had a hard time getting those people out. >> you can't get rid of somebody with massive dui arrests. it's hard to if they are sitting in front of the computer watching pornography. you can't get rid of bad, incompetent managers. in 2014, in reaction to the reporting, they did pass a v.a. reform bill that gave powers to the v.a. secretary, bob mcdonnell to get rid of the bad managers and bad actors. but, overall, he decided not to act. here is another bill coming through, a whistle blower protection act, an act that will give the secretary you see there, more powers to get rid of the deadweight, i would say, but
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only if he chooses to. only he takes the time, takes the effort to get rid of these managers. there's a caveat with that. you can't just get rid of managers without having somebody to fill the position. they have a track rate. problems because of the v.a. and restrictions on how much it can pay if they are trying to attract private practitioners to come in and help with the v.a. program. >> excellent point. stand by. we are going to get in a quick break. after this, president trump speaking live. ♪my darlin' ♪i've hungered for your touch papa, hola! ♪i've hungered for your touch no, no no, no no no! ♪i'll be coming home, wait for me♪
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proeken v.a. system. wasn't prepared to wait 68 days for my prosthetic leg to be repaired. wasn't prepared to make a three-hour round trip so just last year they could check to see if i still had my serious combat injuries. i wasn't prepared to watch my wife beg, plead and make callous phone calls to receive what was often basic medical care. but today is a new day and this administration has fulfilled its promise that the veteran is empowered and a veteran is in charge of his or her own care. under the previous administration, i waited over 3 1/2 years for acquired adaptive changes to be made so i could safely reside in my own home. under president trump, with the assistance of secretary shoalkin, these changes were made with weeks.
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today, our president, donald trump, will sign this important bill into law that will ensure real accountability for our nation's veterans. dr. shoecholschollkin adhered t excellence is promotes and employees at the v.a. will have a service heart for those that have worn our nation's uniform. thank you, president trump and secretary shoalkin for ensuring we are not forgotten and will receive the care we need and deserve. thank you. >>'s listening there, speaker, i believe sergeant michael varardo speaking about the v.a. and difficulties there. another quick break and we'll have president trump right after this. , like what?
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-where? -san francisco. -when? -friday. we gotta go. [ tires screech ] any airline. any hotel. any time. go where you want, when you want with no blackout dates. [ muffled music coming from club. "blue monday" by new order. cheers. ] ♪ how does it feel the travel rewards credit card from bank of america. it's travel, better connected. any moment now we're awaiting to hear from president trump who will come in to speak about veterans affairs administration, and also signing legislation into law. veterans affairs accountability and whistle-blower preekz aotec act of 2016. promised to take care of the nation's veterans. something he's taking a step toward today by signing this -- this legislation into law. let me bring in drew griffin one more time. drew, we listened to the
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sergeant telling about his story, his experience, and difficulties with the v. arrangemen a. stories you've heard time and time again in your reporting about problems with the v.a. do you get a sense, is it getting better? >> reporter: you know, there are signs it's getting better in some areas, in some pockets, kate, but i don't know this person's story. it's a story i've heard many, many times. i sat with a woman in chicago just in april. she was trying to make an appointment for her husband. on the phone half an hour and told her husband's eye doctor will take place in september. five months from now. and why i'm so skeptical about the improvement, it really rests on the shoulders of their, that person there, secretary shulkin. and you have to keep in mind, second shulkin was the undersecretary of health since july of 2015. >> yes. >> reporter: so for a year and a
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half under president obama he ran v.a. health care. and i assume he was running v.a. health care when this young man was still waiting for care, and he says he didn't get care until president trump was sworn in. why didn't he? that's a question people should have secretary shulkin, should they get the chance. time and time again the v.a. promises they're going to reform, make changes. this is yet another reform bill, and it doesn't happen. >> yes. one thing to sign a bill. it's another thing to see the changes, which clearly are slow and difficult to make in such a problematic system that is intertwined when it comes to government health care run by the v.a. president trump speaking now. let's listen in. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you. thank you very much, everybody. that's really greatly appreciated. and thank you to secretary
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shulkin for that introduction and for your really tireless efforts, david, to protect those who have really been protecting all of us for so long. great, great people, and you know what i'm talking about? right? congratulations. in just a short time we've already achieved transformative change at the v.a., and believe me, we're just getting started. we have so many people that have been so helpful right here in the room, and tom and all my friends. it's been fantastic. the enthusiasm for the veterans administration and for making it right for our great veterans has been incredible, and i want to thank all of them. one of my greatest honors and joys during the presidential campaign was the time i spent going all across the country with our nation's really and truly incredible veterans.
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in their courage, their dignity and their selfless sacrifice, they represent the very best of us. our veterans fulfilled their duty to this nation, and now we must fulfill our duty to them. so to every veteran who is here with us today, i just want to say two very simple words. thank you. thank you. thank you. [ applause ] you are the warriors and heroes who have won our freedom, and we will never forget what you have done for all of us, ever. as you all know, all too well, for many years the government failed to keep its promises to our veterans.
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we all remember the nightmare that veterans suffered during the v.a. scandals that were exposed a few years ago. veterans were put on secret wait lists, given the wrong medication, given the bad treatments, and ignored in moments of crisis for them. many veterans died waiting for a simple doctor's appointment. what happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls. outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable. today we are finally changing those laws. it wasn't easy, but we did have some fantastic help to make sure that

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