hello i'm wolf blitzer in 1:00 p.m. eastern. wherever you're watching from, thanks for joining us. lots of news. the hike stakes health battle being waged on capitol hill. the house republican plan to repeal and replace obamacare is certain to be a focus of today's white house briefing this hour. take a look at some live pictures coming in from the briefing room. the press secretary, sean spicer will be taking reportseers' questions live. we'll bring it to you live. two key house committees is
taking up the healthcare hearings. first, a bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of president trump's explosive and unsubstanunsu unsubstanch waited claims. manu, the two committees of the subcommittee formally requested specific information on whether there is -- any wire tapping president trump by president obama. what can you tell us on that? >> reporter: that's right. that senator lindsey graham of south carolina. senator shelton whitehouse of rhode island. members of a subcommittee who is looking into russian meddling in the election. they're taking the issue that donald trump raised over the weekend that he may have been wire tapped by his predecessor
during the election season. they're taking that very seriously. they're asking the fbi, the justice department to turn over any sort of information related to that issue believing that this is -- could be a potentially criminal act if things did not -- were not followed correctly. and if it was spying on united states citizen, also, they're very concerned if there is not that evidence, that would also be a problem for the white house. now, this comes as a larger effort is taking place on capitol hill to look into this issue of russia and russia meddling. committees on capitol hill are digging into this. senators on the intelligence committee and house members on the intelligence committee on their side are going over to langley, virginia, to cia headquarters today, tomorrow, next week, to dig through troves of information to determine whether or not there was any sort of coordination at all between trump officials and
russian officials during the heat of the elections. one key member of the senate intelligence committee, susan -- >> hold on for one second. i'm going to get back to you and jeff. we're getting videotape. i want to show it to our viewers as it feeds in from the white house. this is an international women's day luncheon. there she is the first lady, melania trump walking in. we only have a little bit of this video. she's going to be speaking to the women who have gathered. unfortunately, the white house would not let us remain inside for her remarks. but there she is, the first lady getting ready to speak to these women who have been invited. as you can see the pool of reporters and the camera crews are beinge escorted out. i'll get a report on that i'm sure. let me go over to jeff zellany. tell us a little bit about the decision by the first lady to
host this luncheon on this special day, international women's day? >> reporter: wolf, it definitely is the first sign and the most we've seen in terms of involvement of the first lady. she normally is not at the white house in washington. this is a rare appearance she's making. she clearly is making the effort to participate in this women's luncheon. she is not identified what her top issues and priority will be as first lady. she suggested she's going to be a different type of first lady in every way. she's making occasional appearances in washington. this is the first type of a formal luncheon she has hosted here at the white house. later this evening, she'll be joining the president at a dinner with a couple influential people as well. senator ted cruz and his wife, heidi cruz. it's one of the reasons she's in town as well, wolf. >> all right. stand by. i want to get back to you in a second.
manu i interrupted you to show our viewers that video of the first lady welcoming in the women for a luncheon. let's get back to the issue you were talking about, the investigation into whether there's any evidence at all to back up what the president tweeted early saturday morning, that the former president, barack obama, illegally wire tapped trump tower in new york city. so far, we be heard from the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell. now evidence he's seeing. the two chairman of the house and intelligence committee. no evidence they've seen. has anyone seen any hard evidence to back up the really amazing assertion by the president? >> reporter: wolf, there has not been any one on capitol hill who has said they have seen any
evidence right now on this issue. even members on the senate intelligence committee. i said that i had spoken with susan collins of maine who was asking for the white house to turn over that evidence. she's also today calling for a public hearing on the issue of russia. so people understand what she says is a threat that russia poses to elections across the world. not just here in the united states. now, i mentioned earlier also i spoke to lindsey graham and sheldon whitehouse who are two members of the senate judiciary committee who want to see if there's any evidence. senator graham told me they would be willing to subpoena the justice department for records, to determine whether or not there was actually an effort ongoing during the obama administration ordered by the president of the united states at the time to spy on donald trump. take a listen to what lindsey graham just told me. you made news with the white house, why are you requesting
this information? >> the president has asked congress to look into whether or not his campaign was wire tapped by the obama administration. i will take up that challenge. and we sent a letter to the department of justice and the fbi. asking them for any information that they may have used to obtain a warrant. the whole purpose of this is to find out if a warrant was issued directed at the trump campaign. >> reporter: and if they don't provide the information? >> then i'll have done my job. either they're lying to me or there is no information. i don't believe they would lie to me about this. i expect them to come forward as to whether or not a warrant was obtained or sought. >> reporter: will you subpoena this information if they don't comply? >> yes. >> reporter: you will? and could they avoid it? if they don't comply with the subpoena then what? >> the current president has accused the former president of basically wire tapping his
campaign. one of the ways you could do that legally is obtain a warrant from a federal judge. it would have to be probable cause that the trump campaign was up to some nefarious activity with the russians or somebody else. if there is no warrant, that excludes that. the fisa court could issue one. i don't think it could be, i think the fisa court can only operate with foreign agents, not american citizens. when it comes to surveilling an american citizen, the only way you can do it lawfully is obtain a warrant. if there is no warrant, then that checks that box. >> reporter: did you talk to trump about this last night? >> i talked to him about russia. i said russia is not our friend. they need to pay a price for interfering in our elections. the president gets that the best way to change the world is to be strong. he's in a problem solving deal
making mode. there are deals to be made out there to get the country growing again. he's in the deal making mode. i hope republicans, democrats will meet him in the middle. >> reporter: he took the russia concern seriously? >> my view is that russia did it it wasn't -- >> reporter: he did. >> yeah, i think he sees aggressive behavior by russia in the crimea. there's no doubt in my mind he'll be helpful to the ukraine, that the president will be supportive of nato. having other people contribute more is a good thing. but my meeting convinced me he understands the value of nato and the value of a strong america. had he wants to do business with russia and china, that's fine. you just got to do it from a position of strength. the only way you'll do business with russia is to make them pay a price for the activity they've been engaging in all over the world. i did a hearing yesterday with the baltic nations, ukraine georgia and poland. for 25 years russia has been trying to destroy these emerging
democracies. >> reporter: interesting we're hearing for the first time that lindsey graham when he had lunch with donald trump yesterday and pressed upon the president his concerns with russia, pushing the president on russia, on vladmir putin, but he did not. it sounds like bring up the issue of wire tapping which is what lindsey graham and his counterpart on that committee are seeking today more documents on that and threatening subpoenas if the justice department doesn't provide the evidence. it could be embarrassing politically for the white house. >> a key republican and key democrat working together to try to get some evidence to back up if there is any evidence, the president's assertion -- let me go to jeff zelany. we know the former president through a spokesman over the weekend flatly denied this allegation. you're getting more information on how president obama himself has reacted to the assertions
put forward by the current president. >> reporter: we are, indeed. we're talking to people around the former president. the words that come up are exasperated. that's the words to describe what president obama was feeling and thought when he saw, you know, this very unusual and extraordinary charge made about him last saturday. this is something that is out of a different type of playbook than we're used to seeing about how sitting and previous presidents interact. usually previous presidents who have just left office stay on the sidelines and stay silent. president obama largely has. his aides are more actively engaged than he is on pushing back on some of these things. we're told that he simply was not furious about this because he doesn't take the charge seriously. he knows that it didn't happen. exasperated and irked and a
strong eye roll that he could not believe, that's president obama, could not believe that president trump was bringing this up, particularly on saturday on twitter. >> earlier in the week we heard that the fbi director, james comey, was incredulous to the accusations levelled by president trump. all right. guys thanks very much. excellent reporting as usual. let's talk about this entire investigation on russia. healthcare, much more, our panel is with us. this letter from senator graham, senator whitehouse, they want evidence if there is any evidence. so far everyone who has looked as seen no hard evidence to back up what the president claimed. >> you're absolutely right. that's the big part of this is if there is evidence. so far the allegations have been
baseless. so as manue noted if the investigation goes on the bipartisan senators he spoke with if they do the investigation and nothing comes out it has the potential to be embarrassing for the white house not just here but across the world. >> jackie, let me read a little bit from the letter from the two senators. we request that the department of justice provide us copies of any warrant applications and court orders redacted as necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods that may be compromised and. >> lindsey graham said he was willing to subpoena the information if they don't willingly give it to him. this is a very serious allegation, this isn't a spout off or a one off. this is something they do want to get to the bottom to. they should. he's accusing the fbi and the president of a crime if there is
no -- if they didn't go through the proper procedures here. so the fact that congress wants to get to the bottom of this, that's what donald trump was calling for. he asked congress to investigate it and they're making good on that. >> as you know, there's been a lot of suggestion, out there that the u.s. intelligence committee, the fbi, routinely is monitoring foreign officials, russian officials presumably in this particular case. they don't do that to american citizens unless there's hard evidence of potential espionage, for example. >> right. this confusion gives white house staff like sean spicer a way to fudge this. believe me if there is evidence and president trump could have, as one reporter outlined, picked up the phone and gotten it himself. every one of his top staffers with be imploring him to show it to some of us. there was some sort of surveillance which was reported by "the new york times." there are seven associates with
trump that were on the phone with different russian officials and they could have been surveilled and wire tapped. there's something somewhere out there. they seek to confuse the two issues. that's not the same as saying that president obama ordered a wire tap on his personal phone calls in trump tower. it's a way to muddy the message. they sent it over to congress. congress is calling their bluff. if there's nothing, and, obviously, director comey who maybe no one trusts anymore but has gone out of his way to let the press no is asking for the justice department to rebuke this charge, to refute it. if there's no evidence, it's going to be more than embarrassing, actually. >> if there's no evidence to back up the president's assertions and he was very active on twitter. just to remind our viewers saturday morning at 6:35 a.m., terrible, just found out that obama had my wires tapped in trump tower just before the victory. nothing found, this is mccartism. 6:52 i get a good lawyer could
make a good case out of the fact that president obama was tapping my phones in october, just prior to election. 7:02. how low is president obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? this is nixon watergate. bad or sick guy. boom boom boom. he didn't mince any words and there were no if's there. these were all flat assertions. he says it's a fact that president obama did this. >> you know, go back to my previous point. i think it actually is more than embarrassing. when you read the tweets like that if there's found to be no evidence it could be discrediting for this president and will be seen as without having the facts or evidence to bring it up he's thrown an assertion out there that congress is looking into that the american people are talking to. congress is doing the right thing but this could get the level of dangerous and erode the public's confidence in the white
house. >> certainly could. all right. everybody stand by. we're waiting for sean spicer, his daily press briefing that will be on camera today. we'll have live coverage coming up this hour. today as we pointed out is international women's day. president trump is paying tribute on twitter this morning. the president tweeted this, quote, i have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy on international women's day. join me in honoring the critical role of women here in america and around the world. in fact, all around the world today there are marches planned to push for gender equality, others making their voices heard with the national strike movement called day without a woman. cnn's athena jones is following the protests here in washington. rach rachel crane is joining us at the march in new york city. we've seen the demonstrations call out president trump at this event today, what's the latest? >> reporter: hi, wolf. that's right there have been a lot of strong words directed at
the white house. you can see behind the event just now breaking up. it started a couple of hours ago, a couple blocks from the white house, marched here to the white house and there were a series of speakers within earshot of anyone who may be near the windows across pennsylvania avenue. you mentioned the tweets that the president sent out. one was a statement on international women's day that included this line. saying that the united states is a beacon of hope and a leader in promoting women's rights is committed to empowering women at home and abroad. that's not the message we've been hearing. they have called the administration hateful. murderous, misogynistic. saying the policy, the global gag rule, known as the mexico city rule. that rule that bans any u.s. dollars from going to ngo's or organizations around the world, any of those organizations are not allowed to provide abortions. they're not allowed to discuss abortions or refer anyone to an abortion. the women who have been speaking
here have been arguing that is going to hurt the poorest women in the world. many people who are vulnerable and need the comprehensive family planning and medical servic services offered by these organizations. you've had folks make the argument that i -- no one's going to raise my child so no one should be able to tell anyone whether to have a child. another woman made a point saying it's 2017. it's time for white men to stop telling me what to do with my body. a lot of impassioned speeches. a lot of the familiar chants we heard. this is what feminism looks like what democracy looks like. no gag, no wall, no ban. this is one of a couple of events taking place here in washington, d.c. to mark this international women's day. wolf? >> rachel, you're there at that march that's part of this day without a woman movement. you're in new york. what's the message you're seeing? >> reporter: well, as you can see around me, this massive
crowd now on the move. they're headed to trump international hotel. just a couple blocks away. also, where we're located in midtown manhattan, we're a stone's throw away from trump tower. now the organizers he said they're planning to create a human wall surrounding trump international hotel. they said if he wants to build a wall, that they will build a wall. today was a celebration of international women's day. but the hot topic today at this rally was, of course, donald trump. i want to also highlight that today's rally here in manhattan was in fact, organized by the same people that organized the march on washington. they highlighted that they believe that we're in darker times now than they were on january 21st. they highlighted that the fights and the struggles women are fighting today for are immigration reform,
reproductiverectomireproductive rights, but given the political climate they have taken on increased performance to fight for their rights. >> rachel thank you. we'll continue to monitor these marches. an important programming note for our viewers on friday night, cnn shares the story of melania trump. she's a fashion model, immigrant and now america's first unexpected first lady. a cnn special report, melania trump, the making of a first lady. coming up, moments away from the white house press briefing, live pictures coming in from the briefing room. the press secretary sean spicer will discuss no doubt ask questions about the republican divide over the obamacare replacement bill. he'll also be asked i'm sure questions on congressional hearings on russia. wire taps, a whole lot more. we'll have live coverage stand by. wikileaks has published
documents it claims are secret cia spy tools. what the agency is doing to fight back and what might have been leaked. congresswoman jackie spears is standing by to join us live. lots to discuss with her right after a quick break. s a naturald that goes beyond assuming ingredients are safe... to knowing they are. going beyond expectations... because our pets deserve it. beyond. natural pet food. [he has a new business teaching lessons. rodney wanted to know how his business was doing... ...so he got quickbooks. it organizes all his accounts, so he can see his bottom line. ahhh...that's a profit. know where you stand instantly. visit quickbooks-dot-com.
the more mysterious they sound, the more... powerful you'll think they are. it's time to see what power really looks like. new neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair with accelerated retinol sa. clinically proven to reduce wrinkles in just one week. wrinkles? your time is up! rapid wrinkle repair. and for dark spots. rapid tone repair. neutrogena® see what's possible. real milk has eight times more protein than almond milk. real milk has naturally occurring calcium, almond milk doesn't. and it also only has 2% almonds, which looks like this. what's the other 98%? get real, get naturally nutritious real milk.
looking at live pictures coming in from the white house briefing room. the press secretary sean spicer to take to the lectern any moment now. we'll have live coverage once he walks into the briefing room. a federal investigation is being opened into the wikileaks bo bombshell. it alleges cia hacking operations including hacking into phones and televisions to spy on people world wide. barbara starr is joining us with the latest.
barbara, do we know if the documents, first of all are genuine? >> reporter: what u.s. officials are telling cnn is yes, they do believe the documents to a very large extent are authentic. they can't be sure every word, every page that something hasn't been altered inserted or deleted, but they are working on the assumption of their belief that it's all very authentic and verified. this investigation will involve the fbi looking into the potential of criminal activity and will involve the cia because it's cia documents. they need to figure out how this happened. who did it, who was behind it. how did they get access to these documents. and could there even be more out there, detailing cia hacking operations. it is very important to understand the cia under federal law can collect intelligence overseas on overseas targets. that is what this is all about.
no surprise that the cia and the intelligence community would know how to wire tap, how to hack into phones. how to get into electronic devices. one of the big concerns that they have inside the federal government at this point, is whether wikileaks will post more and to what extent wikileaks may post computer material. if that gets out there, the concern is people who are not authorized won't just have the information but have the road map, how to carry out those kind of operations. >> all pretty shocking material. thanks very much, barbara for that. let's discuss with democratic congresswoman jackie spear of california. she's a member of the armed services and intelligence committees. thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> your colleague called for an
immediate congressional investigation saying in a statement. i am deeply disturbed by the allegations that the cia lost its arsenal of hacking tools. the ramifications could be devastating. we need to know if the cia lost control of attacking tools. who may have those tools, and how do we now protect the privacy of americans. have you already been briefed on this situation? if so, what can you tell us? >> no, i have not yet been briefed on the situation. but i can tell you that whether it was edward snowden or some of the other leakers of information, they have historically been contractors. persons who have been hired by contractors who then provide services to the central intelligence agency. i'm concerned that we do not have a handle on making sure those persons are properly vetted in terms of whether or not they are, in fact, going to put our country first.
>> but after snowden, you would think they took steps to make sure contractors, regular employees, officials across the board would be better security. isn't that what they promised? >> that was their promise. and we have had them into the committee to talk about what efforts they have made to close the leaks. and they have done many things. but clearly, not enough. and, you know, there are many institutions in this country that have figured it out. financial institutions being one of them. so i think there's going to have to be some firm conversations with the cia about what it has to do in order to get its house in order. >> as a result of this leak, there's a lot of americans concerned about their security, their personal privacy. i want your thoughts on what the fbi director, james comey, said today about privacy, listen to this. >> even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy
member and attorneys are not absolutely private. a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications. there is no such thing as absolute privacy in america. there is no place in america outside of judicial reach. >> what's your reaction, congresswoman? >> what he's saying is that if you can get a warrant, if you can show probable cause, you can, in fact, invade someone's privacy. but the privacy that we each have has individuals is not subject to scrutiny without having some probable cause that there's a crime that's been committed. there's the defense of not being required to testify against your spouse, among other protections that we have in our laws. >> democratic congressman adam shift said the intelligence committee will now investigate president trump's claims that
president obama illegally wire tapped trump tower last year. >> the president has asked our committee to investigate this. and i would say, mr. president, we accept. >> he was referring to president trump. what do you expect to find? >> well, first of all, you know, that gives credibility to what is an outrageous statement by the president. we should be able to make that clear within a day. there is no investigation that should take more than 24 hours to figure out whether or not that took place. frankly, the president would have to go to the department of justice, the department of justice would have to go to a court, seeking a warrant and establishing probable cause. so, again, this is so outside the realm of possibility. but to give it credibility, by saying we're going to investigate it, frankly, i think is a mistake. but if we're going to investigate it, we should be able to do it in 24 hours and
get back to the american people. >> senator lindsey graham, a republican, sheldon whitehouse, a democrat, they sent a letter to the department of justice asking any warrant applications or court orders related to wire tapping of trump campaign officials or trump tower or anything involving donald trump should be made available to the committee. do you think the intelligence committee should do the same thing on the house side? >> yes, we should have access to all of that information as part of our investigation into whether or not there is collusion between the trump campaign and russian persons of interest. >> congresswoman jackie spear of california, thanks very much for joining us. >> my pleasure. thank you. china today warned that the u.s. and north korea are on a course for a head-on collision. china's foreign minister called on the u.s. to halt a deployment of a missile defense system to south korea. he called on north korea to
suspend its nuclear weapons program. the united nations have condemned north korea's latest missile test. the u.s. is working on a strategy to deal with north korea. >> we saw we had a launch in february. we saw the assassination of jim jong nam after that with chemical weapons. and now a multiple ballistic missile launch. this is somebody who is trying to get attention. we are evaluating how we'll handle north korea going forward. we are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly. >> we're following new developments in the murder of north korean leader kim jong-un's half brother. ivan watson is joining us from koa kuala lumpur with details.
what have you learned? >> reporter: wolf, you know, the mystery of this airport assassination, just gets stranger and stranger. because about a month afterwards, now this mysterious video has popped up online, which appears to show a surviving son of the victim, take a listen to an excerpt from this video. >> my name is kim han sol. from north korea. part of the kim family. here is my passport. my father has been killed a few days ago. i'm currently with my mother and my sister and we're very grateful to -- and we hope this
gets better soon. yeah. >> reporter: that video is heavily censored, but south korean intelligence has confirmed to cnn they do believe this is, in fact, kim han sol, around 22 years old. mostly educated overseas, not in north korea. what's mysterious about this is the group that's published it, no korea watcher has heard of them before. and in their statement, they thank the governments of the u.s., the netherlands, china and an unidentified fourth country for helping spirit kim han sol and his relatives to safety. we reached out to the governments, they haven't commented on this. but it does appear to be, again, a surviving son of the man who was murdered, apparently, with a chemical weapon, vx nerve agent here at the main airport in kuala lumpur last month. >> kim jung nam, the half
brother of kim jong-un and his family. once they left north korea they lived mostly in china, is that right? >> reporter: that's right. in china. this son has given interviews before. he mostly studied in europe at high schools and universities across europe. for the first time, it's important the malaysian government has openly accused north korea of carrying out the assassination last month with what it describes as a chemical weapon of mass destruction. al north korea has been denying it. it's very important that the relations have disintegrated between these two countries. the malaysians expelled the north korean ambassador on monday. north korea has since declared that all of malaysia's diplomats in peyongyang are not allowed t
leave. malaysia is not allowing north koreans to leave here. >> let's go right to sean spicer at the white house. >> how their vital contributions have and continue to be to our society, our economy, our family and our businesses. the president tweeted this morning about the surge in hiring in the two months he's been average. january and february were the strongest consecutive months for hiring in over a year and a half. a new report from adp and moody's showed strong private job growth that is far exceeding market expectations. this morning samsung confirmed it's planning a surge. it's expect today reach $300 million. the wave of optimism and growth in the wake of the president's pledges to help american businesses continues to produce results for people throughout our nation.
yesterday, i forgot to -- there are a couple of thing yz didn't get to yesterday. let me mention a couple of those. yesterday afternoon, the secretary of veteran's affairs, and senior white house staff met with several veteran service organizations, included in what's referred to the big six to discuss the president's commitment to helping our veterans and modernizing our va. the meeting represented a step in fulfilling the president's promise to the men and women who have served our nation. the president looks forward to personally following up on that meeting. last night, the president named several individuals whom he intends to nominate or appoint. courtney simmons elwood. general counsel of the central intelligence agency. jeffrey rosen, deputy secretary of transportation. john j. sullivan, general counsel, department of defense.
and tony sague jr. the assistant secretary at the department of treasury. on to the events of the day, this morning, after receiving his daily intelligence briefing the president made with the founder and president of emerson collective. an organization dedicated to removing the barriers that, unfortunately, prevent some in the world from achieving their full potential. they discussed education and immigration policy, which are two of the areas that emerson collective focuses on. then the president held a lunch focused on infrastructure with leaders in the private sector. infrastructure used to be a point of american pride. now an ineffective system keeps projects in limbo for years. the regulatory roadblocks have been removed through his
executive actions. as the president has said many times, strong public/private partnerships will be key to revitalizing our country's ruined roads, crumbling bridge and out dated airports. the government has wasted too much of the taxpayer's money on inefficient and misguided projects. by looking at infrastructure from a businessperson's perspective, as the president in these executives do. we can restore, respect for the taxpayer dollar and make the best investment. the president was particularly pleased to be holding this meeting now that secretary of transportation, epa administrator and energy ske secretary perry are confirmed. they were at the lunch and then steve roth, josh harris, co-founder of apollo global management, bill ford, the ceo of general atlantic. lynn scarlet, the managing
director of the nature conservancy and elan musk of space x. later this afternoon the president will meet with congressman elijah cummings to discuss rising prescription drug prices. the president is looking forward to continuing the dialogue they started a few weeks ago. at 4:00 the president will meet with ryan zinke to discuss the priorities of the department of interior, especially as it pertains to the government owned lands in alaska. this evening the president will meet with conservative leaders about healthcare. we'll have more details a little bit later this afternoon. the president and vice president support the house bill for obamacare to repeal and replace. tonight, the president will have dinner with senator and mrs. cruz. finally, a couple of additional administration announcements. today, the president and the first lady announce the initial
details for the 139th white house easter egg roll taking place on monday april 17th. they're honored to continue the traditions of the past. they'll play a lasting role in the fabric of our nation's history. tickets to the easter egg roll are free to the public and will be allotted through an online lottery. further details on the lottery and information on that day will be released later this month. keep an eye on whitehouse.gov for updates. the traditional st. patrick's day visit is on march 16th. we'll have further details on that visit as well as the other foreign leader visits later this week. with that, some questions. david smith of the guardian. >> can i ask about the president's state visit to the uk. is there timing for that and what wads your reaction to some members of parliament in britain saying the president is not
welcome, they actually used words like racist and sexist. has that led him to reconsider? >> the president, as you know, accepted her majesty's invitation when the prime minister was here. he looks forward to going over and visiting the united kingdom. as we have details to share with you further, we will. but there is nothing further at this time. caitlin? >> the white house have a reaction to the iranian vessels coming within 150 yards of a navy ship over the weekend? are they on notice and will you offer anything besides a verbal reaction? >> the u.s. ship that was in close proximity is something the president has been made aware of. the president has been very clear that this provocative action is something that won't be tolerated. with that, i would refer you to the department of defense, who is monitoring that situation and will talk about the appropriate actions they may take. your next one? >> does he have any plans to
revamp the h 1 b visa program? >> i think we've talked about about immigration as a whole. there is the legal part of immigration and then the illegal part of immigration. the president's actions he's taken in terms of his executive order and other revamping of immigration policy have focused on our border security. keeping our country safe, our people safe. and then, obviously, whether it's h 1 b visas or spousal visas, student visas, there's a natural desire to have a full look at at that. he discussed the raise act yesterday with senators purdue and cotton. we'll have more on that coming forward. but i think as he mentioned he was supportive of their efforts with respect to how we view legal immigration. he mentioned in his joint address we're a handful of country that doesn't use a merit based system of immigration. and that's something we need to
look into. hunter? >> two quick questions. are you aware of any women who work at the white house who are participating in the strikes today? also, more generally, what is the administration's reaction to this protest? and do you think it's an effective way -- skipping work is an effective way for women to demonstrate their power and significance? >> on the first part, i'm not aware of any that are not here. i think everyone that i'm aware of has shown up and is working hard to advance the president's agenda. they're committed to moving this country forward. for those of us who have joined the president throughout government. i think -- but, obviously, as the prz statesident stated toda want to recognize the contributions women make to our businesses, economy, society, and you know, it's a free country. people have the right to express themselves. but i think that we should on a daily basis, not just one day a year but 365 days a year
appreciate the contributions women make. it shouldn't be a daily thing. hopefully we can help fix that a little bit more. john? >> thanks a lot. there seems to be a ground swell of opposition to the healthcare bill that was offered up by leadership in the house of representatives. you mentioned the president will be meeting this evening with conservatives. what is his message to those individuals? are they members of the freedom caucus? senator rand paul be there? and can you give a sense about what the president intends to do to turn around that opposition that was quite apparent yesterday? >> so a few things on that. one as i mentioned will have a list of participants later. two, i think there has been a lot of -- from business and conservative groups have been very supportive of this. whether it's americans for tax reform, american taxpayer's union, the u.s. chamber of commerce, one nation health.
the association of amac, international association of wholesale distributors and others. there's been tremendous support for this. we've had people throughout washington, d.c. going to different association and groups throughout the day, last couple of days talking about the benefits of this. and we're going to continue to do out reach. he met with the house whip team expressing his support for the bill and the process it's about to continue. he'll work with these individuals today. we'll have a full court press our team throughout the administration on local radio and local television to get that message to the american people to talk about the things we talked about yesterday. why we have a crisis right now in healthcare and why obamacare is failing. secondly, why the solution that the president's worked on with the house is the right one to bring down costs and reinstitute choice. that message is going to continue to get delivered both today and for the next several
weeks until it passes the house and the senate and comes back to his desk. again, one of the important messages that i think those on the conservative side need to understand, is right now, there is an uneven playing field. if you get your insurance through medicaid, medicare, through the government or an employer's based healthcare you're untaxed. it's the self-employed individuals, small businesses who are paying the penalty. we have to remember, we talk so often about the importance of entrepreneurship, importance of small businesses to our economy. they are the ones who suffer with an inequity in the tax system. by leveling that playing field, by giving them more option and driving down costs, we're actually doing a very conservative thing here. by removing the mandate of a government mandated you must buy this program or you will pay a
appella penalty we are enacting strong conservative values in healthcare that give all americans more choice at a lower cost. i think that should be a very positive message, john. >> as a . i'm sure you and your family are aware that -- offers a very comprehensive health care, anyone in this building, on the hill, their staff, family, friends -- not their friends, maybe who knows, very generous, no, it's state of the art. the individuals involved in the health care situation right now, debate, no matter how it plays out can they have the sympathy for individuals who may not benefit as much when they're negotiating all these plans? >> in what respect?
>> you're fine. you're covered. >> sure, but it's unfortunate. first of all i'm not fine because obamacare premiums on everybody have gone on. federal employees make a contribution to their health care plan as well and all premiums have increased whether you're in an employer based system or not. so one of the big issues with obamacare was in order to fix a problem that faced 15-20 million people is that the entire system got shattered. prices on everybody got ratcheted up. people on medicate suddenly lost their care, so to solve a problem that specified a fine group of people we affected the entire health care market so wlos whether or not you get it from a employer or not. you're absolutely right if
you're a federal employee or state you get to open a book and look at what plan is best for you or your family. how much do you want to pay? how much coverage do you want to have? what's the co-pay you're willing to risk, what service benefits dau do you want for your plan? but for a third of the counties in this country they have one choice, one, or none, the exchanges are becoming fewer and fewer the number of doctors that take medicaid are fewer and fewer, we're in a unique place because we get the understand what the americans get. >> i appreciate your argument, very well taken however i'm going to compare a gs 5 or gs 9, the safety net gives them a certain cushion, they're negotiating but do they really have that kind of compassion
that people may be thrown off health care. >> i think somebody who has health care can't sympathize because somebody who doesn't. it's like somebody who has a job can't be empathetic because of someone else doesn't have a job. it doesn't mean we can't have compassion or be concerned how much that bill for a sick person is costing them. depending on the relationship you have with that person you can even feel worse you can feel guilty how you can't help them. john. >> we have confirmed there's a criminal investigation into this alleged theft of cyber tools
from the cia by wikileaks. what can the white house tells us about the situation particularly the fact that it seems there's another leak from the intelligence community on the scale of edward snowden and can you assure these tools have never been used against that? >> number one it is our policy as a government not to confirm the authenticity of any kind of disclosure or hack, that would be highly inappropriate for us. but you know, all of these occurred under the last administration, that is important. all of these alleged issues. and i think it's interesting to have it asked this way about the damage that could have occurred or what tools could be used in light of what's going on recently. we have had you're own network correspondent james rosen had multiple phones tapped.
was that appropriate back then? i think there's a lot of concern about alleged leaks. there's two steps to this. i think what you saw over the last week in terms of this should be a major concern to people in terms to have leaks coming out and the desire to get to the bottom of them. whether or not not specifically with respect to the disclosure that you're referring to, but i think the idea in a we are having these on going disclosures of national security and classified information that everybody in this country should be outraged. it under mines our security and well being an you have seen over the last two years depending on the leak it depends on the outrage. it's interesting whether the leak occurred under the last administration you had member after member talking about disclosures that occurred during the last administration whether it was members of congress
elijah cummings expressed concerns during the last administration in terms of the americans when it dealt with hillary clinton there was complete outrage about the leaks that occurred. members calling for investigations for the leex, it's interesting how there's a double standard when the leaks occur how much outrage there is, while i don't want to get into confirming or denying this particular thing i think it is interesting how different subjects are approached. this one everyone is immediately rushing to and there should be a lot more coverage to this. this alleged leak should concern every single american in terms of the impact on our national security. >> robin -- has been in prison in iran since last october for collaborating with a hostile government, that being the united states. his health is suffering, is the
president aware of him and the three other americans. >> obviously we're aware of this situation in that particular case i would refer you to the state department. >> what is the president personally going to be doing in order to sell the health care bill and convince people like rand paul to come along who don't like it? >> we're on day two and as i mentioned we've been out in local talk radio and local markets. the president yesterday met with house deputy whips, today he's having additional meetings, already talked to insurance agents. we talked about the leadup, with executives, companies, various members of house and senate with both part -- parties. we're going to be aggressively going after -- talking about the solution that we have for health
care both the need to repeal the current obamacare system and the need to replace it with something that gives patients the choices and costs they need. as mentioned yesterday, there's a difference between having a card and having care, being told you have coverage and not being able to use it is no good an that's the thing i think is really important. when we get asked the question so often how many people are going to be covered, that's not the question that should be asked. how many people are going to get the care they need. having coverage with a high deductible or not having a plan that allows you to get the coverage you need or afford it isn't coverage it's a card and i think that's a big difference, is how do we get the people the affordable care they need. that is a big big difference in the approach happening now.
i think you will see a lot of travel and a lot of activity by the president and all of the administration and not just going to be the president it's going to be the secretary, the director's key administration staff. the vice president has been actively engaged meeting on the hill, talk radio, local television, you have seen meetings with outside interests, op-eds engaging groups and associations and that have an interest in there and industry leaders. but this is going to be a very, very aggressive comprehensive approach to making sure that every american understands that there's a major problem and that we are here to fix it. >> is the president outraged by this? >> well, again, i don't want to -- the allegations, he has been very clear about the concern he has for leaks.
again, i think he is very concerned about the allegations that are out there in terms of what may or may not happen. it is an allegation, it is something that we are not going to confirm at this time but as you can imagine from the president's previous comments he is extremely concerned about this. about these allegations, about the potential that something if this were true would have on our national security. and make no mistake about it, i think the president has talked before that anybody who leaks classified information will be held to the highest degree of law. we will go after people who leak classified information and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. playing with our nation's national security is not something taken lightly. >> when it came to the campaign and hillary clinton, the president said i love wikileaks, does he still feel that way today? >> there's a big difference between discl