tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN July 26, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PDT
all right. good morning everyone. i'm john berman. >> and i'm poppy harlow. as of 9:00 a.m. here on the east coast jeff sessions is still the attorney general and senate republicans have not passed a health care overhaul yet. will that be the case at the end of the show. as the president will say only time will tell. the senate is expected to take up an appeal only proposal. this just hours after lawmakers rejected the republicans most comprehensive plan to repeal and replace. >> this morning the president is on the attack against key votes within his own party targeting
lisa merkowski. this is what he wrote. senator lisa merkowski of the great state of alaska really let the republicans and our country down yesterday. too bad. senator merkowski's name now part of the president's growing naughty list that now includes his own attorney general jeff sessions. the president seems to be trying to push him out. this morning sources tell cnn that several white house officials are telling the president 0 back off. let's begin with the health care debate. mj, where are we? >>reporter: good morning, guys. the next couple of days are going to be extremely chaotic. at this point, it's really hard to be able to lay out hour by hour what we expect to see happen. let's begin with what we saw happen last night. senators voted on the motion to proceed they took up an amendment that was a comhence i. appeal and replace bill that
mitch mcconnell had been working on. it excluded 100 billion to go towards medicaid states. as as well as an amendment by ted cruz. now that was not successful. i want to emphasize here that was an amendment that required 60 votes for passes because the cbo had not scored it. the however even though it was not expected to pass, the end vote was 43 to 57. so really does not bode well for any attempts to move forward on anything that resembles a comhepzico comhen comprehensive plan. they will bring up the 2015 bill. remember this was a bill passed through congress two years ago that president barack obama vetoed. remember, this is something that will appeal the individual and employer mandates and repeal a lot of the taxes in obamacare. now we do not expect this
amendment to be successful either, because too many senate republicans have already come out to say that they do not want to vote for something that is repeal only without a replacement in place. now, when i said chaotic earlier, this is because we are going to see a flood of amendments come to the senate floor. democrats have promised they expect to release dozens and dozens of amendments esen shto republicans to take votes in h the next couple of days. the end goal is to get something out of the senate to move to the house to hash out the differences. see if they can get something out. >> thank you very much. president trump has treated his own attorney general like a piñata with public taunts excoriating attacks. now he may be content to sort of let jeff sessions twist in the wind. president trump is refusing to say if he will fire him.
we're even learning that some top officials in the white house are urning the president to rain rein in those attacks. >> certainly criticism from the president of the united states directed at his attorney general. president trump's chief complaint, we've heard it before -- is that the attorney general recused himself in the russia investigation when the president thinks he did not have to do that and should not have. but there are some other complaints the president has articulated including one that the attorney general has not done enough to deal with leakers in the administration. the just a little while ago on cnn, the communications director, the new communications director, anthony scaramucci indicating that sessions is putting together a comprehensive, if you will, int interagency plan to deal with leakers, which might help sessions at least try to get
back in the good graces of the president. still, the question is whether president trump want the the ag out. here's what the communications director said about that. >> do you think that he's going to get rid of jeff sessions? because he seems to be injuring him in public? >> i don't know the answer to that. i would recommend to every cabinet secretary and every teammate have a tough skin. >> have they spoken? >> i don't know the answer. >> sessions, of course was the first sitting united states senator to endorse donald trump when he was running for president. and the president has more or less been minimizing over the last 24 hours or so, that move by sessions. here's what he said to "the wall street journal." he was a senator from alabama, looks at 40,000 people and he probably said so what do i have to lose and he endorsed me. so it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.
so does sessions stay or go? it would be very difficult for the president to get rid of him because it would be very difficult to find a replacement. there is something else to are can. consider. of sessions built up a huge following. now those conservative followers seem to be coming to his rescue. >> that's right. republicans in the senator rallying to his support right now. not to mention conservative media. thank you very much. let's discuss all this. joining us mark preston, jack kingston and former congressman from the state of georgia. jennifer, former white house communications secretary. and laura coats. former federal prosecutor. i want to start with you and the law, laura. the you think that what the president's doing is trying to force jeff sessions to quit because firing him might expose him to future obstruction
charges. my question to you, though, is pushing a guy out by publicly h humiliating him, will the law look differently. >> no because the pass i. aggressive approach will say look, the president the united states, if jeff sessions resigns he didn't have an actual hand in the firing, therefore you would have a more tangential relationship with the idea of obstruction of justice. that's not going 0 to be a situation where you have the president being as complicit. he wants to force it out in a way it doesn't make him look like obstruction. when he fire the james comey. you have the usurpation of loretta lynch. you did have universal criticism of james comey that gave the president an escape route. now you have the president of the united states on record with the "new york times" talking about his dismay with the
attorney general over his handling of russia. that, my friend looks more like obstruction. remember, the end game here is to have somebody in place to be able to get rid of robert mueller, the one person who's charged with independence over the russian criminal probe. >> all right, guys. let me get you to weigh in on a tweet from the president. i think we might have it. put it on the screen. after consulting with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the united states government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the u.s. military. our military must be focused on desizive and overwhelming -- looks like there's going to be more to ucome. what is your response congressman? >> well i think that the lead of the statement is that he's listened to his military advisors, which is one of the criticisms from the left and the right often that the president gets is that he doesn't listen
to the key people, whether they're in the intel community or local law enforcement or whatever. the so this is the case where he's actually saying i've sat down, i've heard their concerns, and i want to say that one other thing as a republican taking a step back. as a republican convention last july, he was the first nominee in the history of our party to talk about lbgq from the platform of the state arena. the amend i think that he is a progressive guy. ted crus accused him of having -- i don't think it's a slam against transgender so much as. >> well, on the one hand -- congressman you are correct the president when candidate did say katelyn general n katelyn -- let me just read you
the rest of this statement from the president. he was talking about the military. doesn't want them to be overburdened. he cannot be burdened by the tremendous medical cost it would entail. thank you. one point. first of all the president just made an ficofficial policy statement. this is a big policy decision z. the chose to do it like this. the this was from president obama, whom you worked for, this was a decision he made to open up the military to transgender troops. your reaction now to the president's statement. >> well, first of all, it's not a decision that any president just makes in the oval office by themselves. president obama made that consideration after careful consideration and consultation for months with high level members of the military who wanted the time to consider whether it could be implemented. i'm just going to take donald
trump's tweet or blame a same that he conusulted with militar leaders with a grain of salt because there has been months and years of consultation and consideration. i think there is a purely political decision and something he's doing to satisfy his right wing. it's really disappointing because there has been a lot of thought put into that policy. the country has chamgnged and t military had put a lot of planning into making that policy decision to begin with. >> let's go to the pentagon. barbara, he says this is what his generals and military experts have advised him to do. the this would be an overhaul of the obama administration poll policy. >> i'll tell you. where we are across the hall from the pentagon press office, this tweet has taken them really very suddenly. we were just asking for some guidance on all of this.
and right now, there's nobody in the press office that knew the president was going to make this statement on twitter. that may tell us something about the level of consultation. but let's take a step back for a minute. at the united states military, the people who serve in the u.s. military, always have been a reflection of american society. so number one, if anybody thinks that there are not already transgender persons serving on active duty in the u.s. military, i would say think again. people from across america -- let's put it a way, serve in the u.s. military. there will have to be a decision about what the president thinks is going to happen to people already serving on active duty in an honorable fashion who are transgender. now, the next thing is under the obama administration and the previous defense secretary,
there was this decision to begin to look at this, and indeed begin to look at the medical costs if they wanted to get the medical treatment that they would be going through, the medical procedures and how to do all of this. the next step, took it to the heads of all the services, chiefs of staff of the army, marine corps, chief of naval operations, head of the air force to get their input on what should be done. there was, by the chiefs, some discussion that they wanted to put it off. the that they weren't really ready to advise wholesale on moving ahead with any of the proposals on how these people who identify themselves as transgender, who are transgender, might be able to get medical procedures while they were serving in h the u.s. military. so we knew, from defense secretary mattis that some of this delay was in the works while they were continuing to
look at it. but what the president has done is put full stop on it and now what we don't know is the way ahead. can somebody who is transgender not serve the country? is that really what we're looking at? >> well, his policy, which he just laid out, he said in any capacity. so he's not just talking about front lines, not talking about -- any capacity. so -- >> let me just say something. if you take the commander in chief at his word, may not serve in any capacity. does -- of course this is very early moments of the president's tweet. may not serve in any capacity. does the united states military now go on a search for those who are serving who ever transgender and force them out of the military? i think right now as we stand here, that is the big unanswered question. >> and we have to learn more going forward.
barbara starr, we're going to let you go. thank you very much. we want to shift back for just a moment to what we were talking about before and this is the fate of jeff sessions. one of the things that has developed is the support from the attorney general from within the republican party. senators saying no, we stand by jeff sessions. conservative media saying we stand by jeff sessions right now. the and now some people in the white house apparently telling the president he should back off. what do you make of it. >> well, 24 hours ago sitting in the same position. talked about how there still is a little bit of loyalty left in washington, d.c. and actually seeing that play out now. whether that is centrist or republican senators who tend to go more to the senate. but rob from ohio forcefully coming out, acknowledging he doesn't always agree with him on the issues but finds him to be
an honorable man. at the same time seeing things from conservatives. look at the totality of what donald trump is doing now. not only is he personally hurting jeff sessions but he's hurting himself. hurting the presidency because he's weakening some of the mous powerful people he's surrounded himself with that he needs to be effective. whether that's to implement his policies or whether that is jeff sessions trying to go to capitol hill in order to get republicans to come on board, maybe try to whip some votes on some of the other controversial policies they may address in the future. president trump may think he's taking a dig at jeff sessions but it's hurting him by doing so. >> congressman before we go, do you think there is one legitimate reason for president trump to fire jeff sessions, if he does? >> i think that they should have had a better understanding about what his role would be.
as i understand it, before he recused himself, he did not talk to the president. i do think that's a slap to the president. but i want to say this. what anthony scaramucci just said on the previous clip is you need to have thick skin to be in this cabinet and yesterday he said the two of them need to you can ta i believe that that's right attorney general sessions really does have a way back to viability and vibrancy by looking at the leaks, maybe doing something on opioids, continuing to be a strong enforcer of the border. and i think you can have a fall and a rise in this town. we've seen it with newt gingrich. i was in the house when -- any newt resigned as speaker is now one of the most influential voices in america. the so you can fall in washington or be pushed but you can come back. the. >> so the method in the tweets
are a whole new ball game. congressman thank you. the mark preston, we appreciate it. a major senate hearing on russia's election meddling about to get underway. the head line is who is not going to be there. two of those folks on your screen. but who is there also fascinating. >> also, the new sanctions against russia drawing new critics but not from the white house or just the russians. who complaining now? plus time off or thinking about taking off. secretary of state rex tillerson back to work amid reports he is frustrated and may be possibly thinking about resigning early. your insurance company
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heard from hutmuch. >> reporter: launched and investigation for months in the aftermath of the james comey decision to publicly announce that hillary clinton was not under investigation, was not to be charged with a crime after the e-mail investigation. mr. horowitz announced earlier this year he would look into the circumstances of comey's handling of the clinton e-mail case as well as comey's decision to of course tell congress the day before the election they were going to look into this matter further. the in addition to that, who wh horowitz has been urged to look into other issues including the firing of comey and the recusal of jeff sessions. and whether or not he
effectively recused himself or i ter feared in any way. a lot of key issues michael horowitz is going to be weighing in on. other officials testifying. as well as a finance ier who could shed now light. there could be new information this committee gleans even though paul manafort, donald trump jr. as well as glenn simpson who is the head of that firm, behind that russian dossier all cut deals to avoid appearing in h public in today's hearing providing records, potentially private interview before they come publicly. >> that kicks off very short ily. you'll see the opening statements here. some more breaking news. officials tell cnn that
foreign general jeff sessions indeed as some reports were swirling is planning to announce stepped up multiple investigations on leaks. this is something the president has called for over and over again and criticized the attorney general for not doing more. >> yes. the this may be one of the paths that he has to rehabilitation in the eyes of the president. see what happens with that. joining us now to talk about a lot of developments this morning democratic congressman of california, congressman thanks for being with us. first we want to get your reaction to the breaking news, the president put out a statement saying that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the united states military in any capacity. your reaction. >> i thank you, john and poppy for having me on your show. i believe that is an awful decision in fact the bipartisan house of representatives rejected that very amendment last week. we voted on it and rejected it
i'm surprised he tweeted that. i served in active duty in the military. i can tell you we don't care about gender orientation or identity or who you love. we care you can shoot straight and complete the mission. >> he cites the president, first of all generals and military experts and then cites what he calls burdensome and tremendous medical costs and disruption. this follows a statement from the president back in june of last year. a tweet. when he said thank you to the lgbtq community. i will fight for you while hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs. does this do that? >> i have no idea where he gets his burdensome medical costs from. but keep m mind what he's doing now is excluding qualified and
k compe tent people. and so this is actually hurting our military readiness and he hope he reverses his decision. >> congressman, what do you think happens to at the people already serving and what is your message to the transgender people serving now. >> it's going to have a similar effect under don't ask, don't tell. people are going to go into hiding. you're going to have commanders who are not going to want to have their troops be taken away from the military because they're doing a great job. you've got thousands of people serving in the military who are transgender and doing a fantastic job. >> we're going to stay on this topic. we're going to ask your republican counterpart about this. we do want to get you on some other topics because you have been very vocal about them. one is jeff sessions. here's a tweet from you
yesterday. dear jeff sessions -- a small taste of what immigrants feel every day. that sounds like you do not want him in this job. the do you think jeff sessions should fire -- be fired or quit? >> thank you poppy for that question. i am deeply conflicted. in a normal world, i would have wanted jeff sessions to have resigned months ago. but in this bizarre trump world jeff sessions is one of the people keie keeping special cou from being fired. i think it's unpresidential for donald trump to publicly criticize the attorney general and i thing if he fired them it could be obstruction. >> it's okay for you to i criticize, but not the president. i will say it's nushlt for tunu for the president to say it. >> let me give you an example of
james comey. there were people on the democrat and republican side who did not like him and criticized him but a fire form broke out because the president fired him. it's because the president was doing that with corrupt intent to obstruct justice. and that's. >> that's your opinion. >> that is my opinion. but what we're seeing now is he's not trying to get jeff sessions to resign because they disagree on immigration policy. he's trying to get him to resign because he won't influence of the russian investigation. that's a problem. >> he made it clear. it's because he recused himself from the investigation. that's why he is angry and some people do take that laep to say what the president wants to do is look for a way to push out robert mueller. see if anything develops there. at the president said he's going to wait. congressman thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you. >> all right. one step forward, one step back. the senate is in session in just minutes debating health care after getting away through yesterday dealt a severe setback
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all right. happening now looking at live pictures of senator majority leader mitch mcconnell. pushing his efforts to repeal and replace or maybe just replace. after taking one big step forward yesterday, they took one giant step back. up next, the vote to repeal only. that too, expected to fail. >> with the heavy lift to find support, republican leaders are now talking about something the skinny repeal. the call that the word of the day. >>reporter: lot of people talking about skinny, poppy.
what senator majority mitch mcconnell want the and what he's going to try to do the next couple of days are multiple test amendments to put it out there to see can he get that critical number of 50. the that is really the goal here is to get them to something, to vote on something, and they need 50 to do that. so it could be small. it could be big. we saw yesterday, it failed miserably. it had to reach a 60-vote threshold. they offered $100 billion medicaid. and the pared down bare bones insurance plans. that was a nod to the conservatives. the but ultimately didn't get the number they needed. today they just need 50. the that is repeal and not replace. the delay the replacement by two years. that's an idea by senator rand paul. the problem is originally this came up in 2015. it was voted on earlier this year. rejected by the senate. so it is not likely they're going to see that pass either. then you've got the skinny
repeal. that perhaps, is the one that is the most appealing to most of the republicans, because it eliminates that mandate and that is something that many of them say is highly unpopular. sat the same time democrats say they're going to do anything to undercut the process, to add amendments to make sure republicans are on record with exactly whatever it is that this is moving forward, that might be politically damaging. they want to make sure that they pass those votes. they're going to be putting in things they think republicans are going to be holding their noses at voting no. the and essentially making it very unpopular for the elections in 2018. poppy? >> with the skinny on the skinny. like that? the skinny -- >> i'm just getting used to skinny jeans. >> he really wears them. thank you, we appreciate it. this morning world leaders pushing back against the united
states after lawmakers passed a bill to slap new sanctions on russia, north carolina and iran. >> russia is strikes a harsher tone saying the sanctions threaten the future of u.s./rauu.s. u.s./rauu.s. u.s./russia relations rof. >> reporter:. good morning. the spokesman called this sad news for u.s. russia relations. he said it was no less disappointi disappointing. the and interesting because lower down the ranks of the russian government you go the less measured the tone. the deputy foreign minister came out as said et' a serious step of destroying the prospect of normalizing relationships. a response that would be painful
not americans. we don't know exactly what that means but we do no that moscow has unfinished business when it comes to the issue of retaliation. don't forget the back in december when the obama administration imposed those sanctions on russia for alleged election interference, russia did not retail yacliate at that. the there seems to be with all the hopes they had of the trump administration perhaps lifting sanctions it looks like the opposite to happen. russia is losing patient. >> breaking news. learning that jeff sessions the attorney general. united states is at the white house right now. we're told that it's for routine meetings. but there hasn't been much in jeff sessions' life that's been routine the last few days. plus other cabinet
secretaries may be feeling some jitters also. stay with us. hey. pass please. i'm here to fix the elevator. nothing's wrong with the elevator. right. but you want to fix it. right. so who sent you? new guy. what new guy? watson. my analysis of sensor and maintenance data indicates elevator 3 will malfunction in 2 days. there you go. you still need a pass.
secretary of the state rex tillerson back at work after taking time off amid reports he was frustrated at his role in the state department. some friends even went so far as saying he could resign by the end of the year but the state department is refuting them. joining us now david -- john king reported over the weekend that rex tillerson is getting antsy. he doesn't like the relationship he has with the white house. essential essentially might not last the year. what are you hearing. >> there's a great deal of tension. you talk about the sessions thing earlier. the it's the president contradicted tillerson directly. that was sort of a public humiliation. i think he is frustrated.
he also doesn't seem to fit well at the state department. talking about a massive cut, a third of the budget and reorganizing the ep tire operation. >> tension between the white house and the state department is no new thing. just wonder if this level of it is something that you haven't seen, is new and also does it have anything to do with the fact this is a guy who ran one of the biggest companies in the world. ceo largely did what he wanted to do as long as the board agreed with him. >> yes. and he ran a very small private company. primary thing was being a television star, frankly. this is very different and it's puck icily neva undermining mem his cabinet. >> in this case rare policy issues. also there's the issue of iran. where the president flat-out saying in 90 day the he may not reauthorize. >> mattis, secretary of
defense -- said it avery -- >> can he do that? can i president just decide i'm not sort of confirming that are with he good on this, and that's just that, or does he need the consensus of a team on that? >> we'll see the federal government it enormous, being the world's most powerful, some argue it's not sustainable. this is how trump is running his white house. >> as he would say time will tell. >> a whole lot of things rite now. david, thanks so much. >> if you're wondering what jeff sessions is thinking about, when he talks to the president, so are we. next we are speaking with a senator who did just meet with the attorney general jeff sessions. more on that conversation ahead. ♪ hey siri, take a selfie. [siri tone] want to see more of the rock and siri? just grab your iphone and say, "hey siri, what are you and the rock up to?" ♪
we do have breaking news. we just learned the attorney general of the united states jeff sessions is at the white house. we're told the meetings are routine. nothing routine with the attorney general. the president of the united states tweeting new criticism about the attorney general. want to bring in a friend of the attorney general, represent senator richard shelby of alabama. served in the senate alongside jeff sessions for a long time. senator, thank you so much for being with us. you are someone who has spoken to the attorney general the last few days when he suffered this public shaming at the hands of the president. how did he seem to you? >> well, he is a strong guy. man with integrity and purpose. i told him to hang in there and he will, i hope.
he deserves better than this. he is not the president's personal lawyer. he is the attorney general of the united states. he took an oath to the constitution, not to the president. and i think the president needs to realize that, that he is not his lawyer. he recused himself when he thought he had a possible conflict, and i think he did the right thing. he has had a lot of experience in law enforcement. he is on the judiciary committee, former united states attorney for a long time. he is a man with a lot of friends and a lot of respect. >> so while he is at the white house right now, attorney general jeff sessions, who you say deserves better than the treatment he is getting from the commander in chief, the president -- >> i don't know. we can all speculate what's going on. i'm sure -- >> he is at the white house. >> i'm sure he and the president are having a talk. i'm not privy to it. >> maybe they are, senator.
but we know that just moments ago the president tweeted yet another attack on him writing, why didn't attorney general sessions replace acting fbi director andrew mckab, a comey friend in charge of the clinton investigation but got -- he is continuing the rest of that tweet i would assume right now. it sounds like you are saying the president is way out of bounds on this. is that your message? >> i think jeff sessions deserves better than he is getting. i do believe he has a lot of friends, he has a lot of respect around the country as a man of integrity. that's a job for integrity. he is not the president's lawyer. he is not going to be. nobody should be as the attorney general of the united states. i think jeff sessions at the end of the day deserves much more respect than he is getting now. >> if he is fired, which we don't know will happen, or if he quits because he doesn't want to put up with this anymore, what will you do in the senate? what will the reaction be in the
senate? will you easily confirm his replacement? >> that's all speculation now. he is still there. at the moment. we don't know. let's see what happens. >> i think it's a fair question though that john brings up. yesterday in another interview you said, quote, it would not be taken lightly if he, sessions, is fired. you spoke about it yesterday. what would you do? >> well, i don't know what we could do. but we don't have to sit around and say we like what's going on and we like somebody obviously being brutalized when he shouldn't be and he doesn't deserve it. >> to that point, the president of the united states said last night with the exception of abraham lincoln, i can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office. this brutalizing, as you put it, coming from the president of the united states, do you, senator, find that presidential? >> well, the president's unique.
the president is our president. we wish the president well. but in this instance, i also wish attorney general jeff sessions well. >> let's also -- i want to read you the rest of the president's tweet. trying to pull it up. >> he is talking about andrew mccabe, talking about the $700,000 for his wife's political run. he said this before. let's move on to a new policy from the president directly this morning that he wrote on twitter and that is saying that in no capacity, senator, will transgender individuals be allowed to serve in the u.s. military. this is a complete reversal of an obama administration policy. he is saying this comes from his generals and his military experts. is this a move that you support from a president who vowed to support the lgbt community more than hillary clinton during the campaign? >> that would be a reversal of the current policy.
the current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. you have to remember, our military forces is a volunteer force. i will have to see what he is actually said, read his tweet and go from there. >> are you concerned about the 4,000 transgender people currently serving or up to 6,000 based on what rand says serving in the military right now, what happens to them. >> you ought to treat everybody fairly and you ought to give everybody a chance to serve. >> in that answer, it sounds like you are saying you don't agree with his policy, because this is not treating everyone equally to serve. would you agree with that? >> i would like to see the words of his policy and what he said. >> let's read it for you. after consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the united states government will not allow or accept transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the u.s. military.
our namilitary can be burdened with medical cost and disruption that transgenders would entail. the rand corporation that helped form this policy for the obama administration, senator, says that cost for the reassignment surgeries would be somewhere between 2.4 and $8.4 million. that's what the president says. your response? >> i'm sure we will have hearings on that in the armed services committee and also in the defense appropriations committee that i serve. we will go from there. >> senator richard shelby of alabama, thank you for your time. appreciate you coming on. >> thank you. a lot going on this morning. moments from now there will be a key hearing on capitol hill about russian election meddling. we are going to hear from someone involved in this investigation. we have not heard from before. he could give us snew details where this all is heading.
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