tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN June 20, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
troubles him deeply. we were pleased to get otto back to the united states to be with his family, but if we had been i believe to secure that earlier, potentially there could have been, you know, medical help that could have been rendered earlier. obviously we don't know the answer to that but i think the president worked really hard to do what he could to secure the release of them. it's a shame what happened and i think he was very clear about that when he spoke to members of the media earlier today. >> two questions. also on otto, the president today said that he thinks it's terrible what happened to otto. do you have any more details on specifically what he endured there? >> i do not and we would not share them at this point. i think there's --. >> second question. there are reports that your role is changing here at the white house. i wanted to know if you can address those reports. are they true or not and if so, can you tell us what's in store. >> right here. you can keep taking your selfies and -- so, but look.
it's no secret, we've had a couple vacancies, including our communications director that was gone for while. we've been seeking input from individuals as far as ideas that they have. we've been meeting with potential people that may be of service to this administration. i don't think that should come as any surprise but we're always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president's message and his agenda, and we'll continue to have those discussions internally. when we have an announcement of a personal nature, we'll let you know. that's a good deal. in light of tomorrow's visit. >> thanks, sean. you already mentioned the president's coming. we understand that our long-time governor and now ambassador to china, terry branstead, will be there with him. the president has already praised ambassador branstead's long-time relationship with china's president xi. as you know, the president has a certain style the way he tweets and talks and that that doesn't exactly mirror the way terry
branstead has had his career. in light of that, how do you see this dynamic playing out in ambassador branstead's role with china? >> thanks, dave. tomorrow, as you noted, the president will be joined by governor branstead at kirkwood to not just discuss some of the agriculture aspects of what's going to be discussed but also talk about trade. i think he was clearly impressed with governor branstead's, you know, as chuck grassley put it, he's been an ambassador for iowa for decades, if not his whole life, and i think the president feels those skill sets, his understanding of china, and his dedication to help support u.s. products and agricultural goods and other stuff services to china in particular is going to be a huge asset for the united states. he chose governor branstead because he was impressed with what he had done as ambassador -- as governor in iowa, and the respect that he has to the people of iowa, i think, is going to serve this country well.
>> sean. >> catherine. >> thanks, sean. i want to circle back on the georgia sixth. is it fair to say the president will be watching with great interest the race that happens tonight and what's his message? i know he had a couple tweets. what's his message to the people of the peach state as they consider the direction for that particular district, if i could follow up. >> okay. so, just so we're clear, i'm not going to comment on political races. that being said, as i've noted before, it's no surprise that the president is going to support republicans up and down the ticket, especially to maintain our majorities in the house and the senate as we move forward. so obviously, as you've noted, he has tweeted about that. he believes that there's a clear and stark choice. but i'll leave it at that. >> let me ask you about the communication shop here. i know that you're probably wearing more than one hat at the moment and yet there's been a great deal of unrest, certainly in this room and perhaps in other spaces about a lack of press briefings, a lack of communication with you directly outside of, say, the office. i just wanted to know if you
would sort of unpack the idea behind fewer on camera briefings, just to sort of help make sense of what's going on. >> sure. i mean, what i'll tell you is i've said it -- look, multiple times prior to actually taking the job in december and january. i explained that, you know, we're going what we can to communicate our message. we have a tremendous respect for the first amendment. your ability to do your job and report and seek out ideas. and then we're going to work with you. i think the briefing is one aspect of what we do. we're really early in the morning and really late at night available to all of your questions, whether it's e-mail or in person. this is one avenue to do that. as you've noted, we've opened up skype questions to bring more people into the briefing room. but we have done, you know, multiple more opportunities for people to interact with the president according to several folks that have been here for several administrations. we've looked at a lot of data that suggests that when you look
at the number of availabilities and interviews that the president's given, it's pretty significant compared to past administrations. so i think that we -- while you guys will always advocate for greater transparency and more access, i think that we have done a very good job of not just providing opportunities here at a daily briefing but also making ourselves available as the staff, you know, almost 24 hours a day when it comes down to it and i think you look at the steps that we've taken to give access to reporters, and i do think it's pretty significant. i understand you'll always have issues. you'll always want more. and that's fair. i mean, that's your right. that's what a lot of the press is there to advocate for. you have an association that does that as well. and i think that you'll continue to fight for it. we'll continue to do our job and hopefully -- but i do believe that if you look at it who willisticly, we have a staff that's very accommodating, tries to get to -- in responsive to your questions. >> sean.
>> sean. >> richard. >> thank you, sean. two questions. yesterday, the premier was in town to talk nafta and he met, among others, secretary ross and the governor of kentucky. i'll let you say it. >> i was just -- i thought you said connecticut. >> no. and the governor said that he needs good quality aluminum. his home builders need good quality softwood lumber. is the president receptive to this type of argument? >> you mean with respect to canada? i think that wilbur ross and the department of congress have made it very clear that they want to get a better deal for our country. i understand the governor's point and we're going to continue to work through the proper channels and dispute resolution settlement to get that -- to achieve our goals and make sure that the concerns that we have are settled correctly through the mechanism that
exists. speaking of kentucky, i'm going to -- hold on. >> today is world refugee day. does the president feel that refugees are a threat to american security? >> i think the first and foremost thing that the president is concerned about, obviously, you take an area like syria, for example, he's been very focused on trying to get countries to agree and to work together on creating safe zones, because refugees, for the most part, in a lot of areas, would rather be in their country where they're from, safely. have a place to raise their family and not be resettled. that's our number one goal for them in those cases. but number two is i think the president's also been very clear. his number goal as commander in chief is to protect the -- our country, our homeland, and our people. and that he needs to make sure the people coming into this country are doing so through peaceful means, and so his number one priority, as the number one priority of any leader is, is to protect their people first and foremost. but then obviously, as we look throughout the globe, and find areas and regions that need support, we've tried to work
through diplomatic and economic channels to create solutions. speaking of kentucky, though, i'm going to will clark who's at wahs. >> machisean, thanks for taking question. my question is about the administration's position on coal. the administration had, during the campaign, said they wanted to bring back coal jobs to eastern kentucky. now there's a lot of those coal miners in that part of the state who are saying that they want tech jobs, they're going back to college to get the skills for those jobs. does the administration still support the return of coal to those portions of eastern kentucky and into west virginia, and what is the president's relationship with kentucky governor? i know he was at the white house last week, and was also at the nominating convention in cleveland among other places. >> yeah, he's been here a few times. i think they have a fantastic relationship. the governor has been a great advocate. he's done a lot in kentucky to grow jobs and really fight for innovation down there and i know that his ideas and his input
have been very well received here at the white house. and we want to continue to work with him. i think with respect to your question, will, it's not really a binary choice. i think the president wants to continue to and has supported several measures to really restore the coal industry and to bring it back, and then, you know, to touch on the theme of this week, we want to do what we can to really focus on technology, helping our government bring back jobs, create new opportunities for our country, for jobs. we talked about this a couple weeks ago when when we talked about workforce development or only a week ago. part of it is making sure people have the training and skills that they need, whether that's going to vocational school or going to an area that gives them skills in an area like high-tech or technology to pursue new change in life or a new career or just, you know, out of high school, but we need to make sure that we have the training and the support, the loan system, et cetera, that will support people who want to go into a lot of these fields. so i don't think it's a choice of one industry over another. obviously the president has and
will continue to do a lot to support coal, especially the clean coal industry, and at the same time, make sure that we have opportunities to give the workforce of the next century or the americans the skill set to compete. and that's something that secretary acosta spoke from on this podium extensively last week. >> has the president seen a draft of the senate health care bill? >> i don't know that. i know that there was some chatter today. i know the president has been on the phone extensively with the leader and with key senators so i don't know if he's seen the legislation or not, but i know that they've been working extremely hard and the president has been giving his input and his ideas, feedback to them. and he's very excited about where this thing is headed. >> sean. >> do you know if anyone on the staff has seen a draft of the bill. >> i don't. i know that they are up there working hand in glove with them, so to the extent that it's -- i don't even know where we are in
terms of a final plan. i know that the staff has been working very closely with the leader staff, with senate finance and others, so i don't want to get ahead of an announcement on senator mcconnell saying when that final product is done. so i will refer you back to him. jennifer. >> i guess i have kind of two questions. so the first one is just in the last few minutes, gary spoke at a meeting and said something about a september timeline for a bill on tax reform to actually get to the floor of congress. is that realistic? as far as timelines go, we've heard a lot of things that keep getting pushed back. we haven't gotten to a final vote on health care let alone all the other things that have been talked about. is that -- do you think that's actually going to be a realistic timeline? >> i think we're working really hard. i think you saw the speaker and the have the talk about this. there's a strong commitment to doing it and i think it's
frankly bicameral and bipartisan. i saw senator warner from virginia talking about his concerns for the corporate tax rate and the need to come down to the 20s. that's great. i would love his support on this. i think there's going to be very bipartisan, very bicameral support on this tax reform. the degree to which we can get individuals to join on and craft a bill will determine the schedule but i think that's a congressional timetable that we have to move with. >> will there with outreach to democrats in that timetable? >> i think they've already met with some democrats, and they'll continue to. but that has been part of the plan. it's already been part of the plan. they'll continue to reach out to members of congress that share these goals. >> the other question is just -- today announced that they're going to be building this new factory in china. the president won kind of with very, kind of declared victory when this plant was not going to be built in mexico. so one, is there an administration reaction to the
decision to go there and then two, there's been some signs that the administration wanted to get tougher on china. are we going to see that? >> well, with respect to your first question, secretary ross has put out a statement with respect to ford's decision and i think the general consensus is that the president wants to create a tax system that companies want to come back and bring back jobs and manufacturing here in the united states. and once we can pass that plan that you just asked about, that really gets our companies more competitive, doesn't leave them with the highest tax rate and also deals with a lot of other aspects about our business tax code that puts them as a disadvantage to their foreign competitors, then i think you're going to see more and more companies not just go to other countries but come back to the united states, grow in the united states, manufacture more in the united states, and that's where, i think, overall, we continue to see the need to have tax reform to achieve those results. sara. >> thanks, sean. the president today said that if
otto warmbier had been brought home sooner, the results would have been a lot different. does the president believe that the obama administration is partly responsible for what happened to otto warmbier? >> the president was pleased that he was able to work with the state department and get otto home as soon as he could, but i think when you -- when you realize what happened, the president knows -- believes that had it happened sooner or quicker, potentially there might have been additional medical resources that could have been provided. he's just obviously saddened by this entire situation, and just would have hoped that it could have been resolved earlier. >> just wanted to ask, the house caucus and there he is three gop senators have suggested that the -- either be scrapped or just greatly shortened into more business can be done.
at least make the first steps on tax reform. is that something -- could the president support either scrapping or shortening the august recess? >> i think that's going to be up to the house and the senate to determine their recesses. they don't -- generally, we don't get involved in their schedule. i'll let speaker ryan and leader mcconnell decide what's appropriate in terms of their -- >> is the president satisfied with the pace that the congress is moving? >> if we continue to move forward with health care the way that we've been told we're going to, then i think we're great. we've got our priorities. we want to get health care done. we want to get tax reform done and obviously the president's spoken very extensively about infrastructure. if we can get those done, i think we feel really good. >> i have two questions. >> we'll go as quick as congress wants. that's a little out of our hands but as soon as congress can do it, we'll do what we can. you saw when the house had its
bill up, the president worked feverishly to make sure that he did everything he could to get it over the finish line. i think we'll do the same for all those other scenarios. >> i'd like to follow up on health care. you were around when republicans were criticizing democrats back in the day of obamacare for it being, as you put it fairly recently, jammed down people's throats. you said it was rushed and secretive. how is this happening now with this bill getting frankly passed behind closed doors any different? >> i think we wanted to be part of the process back then. >> are democrats part of the process now? y >> you look at what senator shumer said in february where no democrat's going to go near this and what he said in a letter may 9, they said that no democrats would be part of an effort that would repeal obamacare. so, they have chosen to take themselves -- to not make themselves part of this process. there is -- when senator mcconnell brings the bill forward, i'm sure there will be
plenty of time for debate. >> he's talking about voting next week. >> i'll let senator mcconnell determine the senate schedule and run the senate that he sees fit but let's not mistake ourselves with how they approach this thing. their leader, senator shumer, made it very clear on at least two separate occasions that they didn't want to be part of this process. they didn't want to repeal and replace obamacare. they were happy with obamacare. we believe obamacare's failing. we want a better system for the american people, a patient-centric health care system that brings down cost and gives more access nlt ibility t people. they chose not to -- made it very clear that they did not want to engage in this process. so to turn around now, that's something they should take up with their own leader. >> on north korea, does the president support a travel ban to those heading to north korea and given senator mccain's comments that he believes otto warmbier was murdered, is it this administration's position that north korea killed that
young man? >> on the first one, i think the state department is mulling additional advisories and i'll leave it to them. our travel is restrictions and such is run through the state department so i would refer you to them. and again, i don't want to, before anything further goes on with respect to him, i'm not going to comment on whether or not his situation -- how it was handled until we have further information on that. >> two questions for you. from the perspective of the administration, how transparent have lawmakers been on capitol hill when drafting this health care bill? >> how what? >> how transparent have they been? >> well, i think that we've had a very robust discussion with lawmakers first in the house and now in the senate who have ideas and input but ultimately, each of those bills is the product of their own chamber. i mean, the house, we obviously had plenty of sessions with members of the house as they move forward. we've done a lot in the senate, but each of those chambers runs their own chamber respectively by the leadership they have. it's not our job to go in and
dictate how they do it. we have tried to be as helpful as we can throughout this process by highlighting the need for repeal and replacing a failed system. and we'll continue to do that. but it's not for me to get up and talk about how their process works through each of their respective chambers. >> follow-up on steve's question on russian sanctions. just very plainly, does plump believe that the russian government interfered in the 2016 elections. >> i have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing. obviously we've been dealing with a lot of other issues today. >> generally speaking, i mean, this conversation about russian interference in our elections, there's 16 intelligence agencies that say that they did. the former fbi director said that without a doubt the russians interfere. >> i understand. i've seen the reports. >> does the president share those views? >> i have not sat down and asked him about a specific reaction to them. so i'd be glad to touch skbas get ba base and get back to you. >> didn't you say it was fake news, sean? didn't the president say it was
fake news? >> sean, regarding the president's cuba policy, the cuban foreign minister just yesterday said it is a grotesque spectacle. does the president have any reaction to that? >> the policy that the president laid out for cuba first and foremost is something that will help the cuban people. it will stop encouraging payments to the military and help them economically lift themselves up. that is the greatest form of human rights that we can put forward right now make sure that those efforts that dwe do and that the american citizens who travel follow the law. our goal is to make sure that the policies for this government, first and foremost, help the cuban people and i think that's what the president has done and we will continue to advocate for. >> second question if i might about the tapes between the president and james comey. were those tapes made? do they exist? and will the president be releasing them to the house intelligence committee by friday? >> the president has said that he will make an announcement on this. i expect it this week. and so when he's ready to make
that announcement, we'll let you know. how's that. thank you guys. see you tomorrow in
iowa. thank you. >> all right. so, that final question again on the tapes. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin, just jotting down my headlines, the tapes, sean spicer's role changing, the all important sixth district congressional race, happening today, and health care and north korea so. i've got a lot of great voices joining me. i will point out our colleague jim acosta not called upon in the briefing. we had cameras and audio today so that was a win for journalism. david, let's start on health care. i was just passed along, our latest reporting from cnn. we have confirmation, it sounds like, from senators, bob corker, republican from tennessee saying they are expecting to get some text of this bill by the end of the week. we heard from sean spicer, saying he doesn't know if the president has seen the bill. how confident did he sound
answering those health care questions to you. >> he sounded like someone who did not want to get in mitch mcconnell's way at all in this process. he knows they are moving along. he knows mitch mcconnell has sed this deadline. there clearly have been meetings with the white house and they have been briefed on what's going on but he did not want to step on anything that the senate majority leader is doing. what i thought was interesting was how sean handled the political question about health care and the hypocrisy that has -- this charge that has been levelled against republicans. >> he was ready for it. >> oh, without a do it. i mean, he flipped through his book and got to his response. but yes, this notion that in 2009, 2010, when obamacare was being passed, republicans were demanding transparency that democrats were doing this behind closed doors and jamming it down the country's throat, sean's line on this is, well, we were trying to get involved in the process and democrats have said they want nothing to do with repealing obamacare. i don't know that that's going to hold up against all the tweets and statements that exist
from republicans, from mike pence on down, from all those years ago. >> but there was a young woman who stood up and asked about that victory lap when the president brought all those house republicans over once that bill was finalized on the house side and then what was it, just a couple days ago, the president referred to, you know, in his dealings with senators, gloria, referred to the house version and the house republicans' bill as "mean." did sean have an answer for that? >> well, his answer was that, and i quote, the president clearly wants a bill that has heart in it. and we have heard that phrase now time and time again from the white house. it's clear that sean has talked to the president about this. and if i'm a house republican, who voted for this bill, and walked out on that limb, which the president just sawed off, i would be -- i would be a little upset about that.
because i guarantee you that every republican who voted for that bill would have a different way of characterizing it. and it wouldn't be that it didn't have heart. so, and what heart may mean, by the way, brooke, is more money. is it more money for medicaid? what is heart exactly mean, and how does paul ryan, then, explain what heart means to his republicans. >> and brooke, just very quickly, to add to gloria there before you change topics, the notion that sean was up there at the podium and said, well, the president wants to see a bill that meets his priorities and goals, well, then, what was the rose garden ceremony about? did the house bill not meet his goals? because he was championing it. >> it was a victory lap. we all talked about it. totally. so, perry, let me stay on to health care. senior political writer at 538,
question to you on the health care bill and specifically the fact that sean spicer was saying that he, being the president or his staff, hasn't seen it yet. >> yes, that was what stuck out to me. this health care bill is the biggest story in washington and actually affects the american people a lot as well and sean would not say that the president knew much about the process or the details of it at all, which was very striking. my understanding is actually the trump staff is being briefed on the details of the bill. i actually think that he could probably have answered that question more precisely. i think the staff is involved in the middle but the fact that they couldn't necessarily say what it was about was odd and i think it goes to the idea that when you say the bill maybe is lacking in heart, you can't also say we're heavily involved in the bill. so you got to reconcile those messages. if the bill is heartless and mean, then i think trump has to be away from the bill. >> can't have it both ways. let's talk about north korea and the tragic passing of this 22-year-old, otto warmbier. now that he's finally come home for just a couple days to be
home with his family, unresponsive, died. this is what sean spicer said, addressing that. >> does the president believe that the obama administration is partly responsible for what happened to otto warmbier? >> the president was pleased that he was able to work with the state department and get otto home as soon as he could. but i think when you -- when you realize what happened, the president knows -- you know, believes that had it happened sooner or quicker, potentially there might have been additional medical resources that could have been provided. he's just obviously saddened by this entire situation j and just would have hoped that it could have been resolved earlier. >> so, karen, we have you back, congressional reporter for the "washington post." let me just ask you. what sean spicer just said, we do know, by the way, that there was efforts uds underway under the obamacare administration but this was a president, this came up in the briefing, this was a president who said once upon a time, hey, maybe i'll meet with the leader of north korea.
now perhaps changing their tune. >> right. you know, the president was tweeting slightly less diplomatically earlier than what sean spicer said earlier today. but certainly this is something where the white house got a lot of accolades from both sides of the political spectrum for actually bringing otto warmbier home. it would have been better to save him if that was a possibility but the president came off looking good after this, and it's a question of how does he take a victory lap on that without looking petty and it's not really the right time to say that, oh, well, you know, we brought home an american citizen who was in this sort of physical state in north korea, a coma that hadn't been disclosed for so long and then dies almost immediately after he gets home. that's not exactly the right moment to say, north korea's great. so they're not going there anymore. it's a shift definitely in the policy, the test balloons that were being sent out before and now everybody wants to take a stronger stance and trump's in a position to look fairly strong on north korea if he goes forward from this episode in a
way that everybody, again, both sides of the aisle can stand behind him. >> let's talk about that. the moving forward piece. gloria, we know the president condemned the brutal regime, his words, lamented the loss of a young man, quote, in the prime of his life. but moving forward, what does he do? what are his options? >> well, i think, you know, that's not for me to say at this point. obviously, they're looking at everything. they're talking to allies. sean mentioned that they've had some positive movement from china on this, and that they continue to work to put appropriate pressure over there. but short of some kind of military action, it's not clear -- it's not clear what their options are. this is a difficult problem. i believe that president obama told him this was going to be one of the most difficult things on his plate, and he is now discovering, in fact, that it
is. having said that, of course, early on, he would sit down and talk with everybody and that he'd be willing to talk with north korea. i think now the president is getting a real dose of real politics here and how difficult and untenable this situation really is. >> he was also asked a couple questions, david, on the georgia sixth congressional district, you know, this race being fought tooth and nail, comes down to today, karen handel, jon ossoff, and when sean spicer was responding, he seemed to downplay the results saying, don't read too much into it. what was that about? lowering expectations for republicans? >> well, i can assure you there's almost no chance that we're not going to overread the results of this election, both we in the press and whoever ends up winning will overinterrupt is results as well. i thought it was interesting to hear sean say, hey, the president only won this district by one point and it's going to be very competitive so he certainly was trying to level
set expectations here. did not not sound like somebody who was supremely confident that the republicans were going to have a victory tonight, and i understand that the president won it by just one point but mitt romney won it by 23 and tom price never got less than 60% of the vote in this district. and even sean spicer says it's going to be competitive. that shows us where we are. >> whose win would have bigger national ramifications? would it be for the republicans or for the democrats, do you think? >> i think if the republicans lose this seat, it would be big for two reasons. the first is, obviously, that it would raise the doubt, can they keep control of the house, this is a district like david just said that's been traditionally republican. the same question is, the members are looking at what is my vote on health care going to be and it's going to come back to the house as well and if handel loses this race, it's going to be make members more nervous about joining the health
care agenda and trump's agenda overall. >> you know what else struck me, karen, one of the final questions coming from a reporter in the back was on russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. gloria, i heard you were shaking your head. you know, it just strikes me the that sean spicer, karen, still cannot answer the question as to whether he thinks russia medaled. >> and he and others in the white house are basically becoming the only people left in washington, d.c., that can't answer that question. pretty much the whole administration has said they believe the intelligence report on that. that has been the consensus opinion of everybody who's in the know is that there was meddling. you can argue about why and the extent and the collusion allegations and everything else, but meddling seems to be a pretty easy pill to swallow for everyone and he want for members of the this administration and spice ser spicer is a spokesman for the president. it might be expecting too much
to have them change their tune as the stakes become higher when we talk about now the investigation that's happening both with the special counsel, the various investigations in congress which are looking into russian meddling but that is looking at the president and his inner circle. if trump shifts now, that would be unique but given what we know about the president, it's also potentially unlikely that this would be the political moment he'd choose to side with the rest of the intelligence community and many people from his administration about taking this report that russia medaled at face value to heart. >> sean spicer said, i hadn't talked to him about it today. >> if there's one thing that you can be unequivocal about at this point, it's that russia meddled in our election. how successful they were and everything else, we can all find out about that. but the notion that sean said, i have not sat down and talked with him, meaning the president, about russian interference, is
kind of surprising, stunning to me. because this was topic a from day one, and it doesn't mean you didn't talk to him yesterday about it or the day before. but it's surprising to me that sean wouldn't have been in a meeting with the president and advisers or with the president where they talked about the seriousness of this russian meddling that is inspiring all kinds of congressional investigations. setting aside the donald trump part of this, personally, and his associates and all the rest of that controversy, but this notion, which threat bens the vy heart of american democracy that the president's press secretary has not sat down and discussed this with the president, i find troubling. >> and that the president has not discussed this with the american people as to how he's going to ensure that this doesn't happen again going in
the future. to me is like one of the greatest missed opportunities for this president because of how he has felt personally, he has missed this opportunity to grab an issue and assuage the american people that this core, as gloria's saying, this core small "d" democratic function is going to happen without a problem in the future. >> well, you know, if we take comey at his word with regard to testimony, it sounds like the president never once asked him, you know, as the then head of the fbi about this. so maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he hasn't addressed it with the american people. i'm not saying that's the right way to go. i'm just pointing out one fact. lastly, sean spicer sort of thrust in the middle of news himself because there have been reports as to whether or not he might move along, move away from the podium in the brady briefing room so this is what sean spicer said in addressing himself. >> there are reports that your role is changing here at the white house. i wanted to know if you can address those reports. are they true or not and if so, can you tell us what's in store.
>> right here. so, you can keep taking your selfies. i saw a few folks. so, but look, it's no secret we've had a couple vacancies including our communications director that was gone for a while. we've been seeking input from individuals as far as ideas that they have. we've been meeting with potential people that may be of service to this administration. i don't think that should come as any surprise but we're always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president's message and his agenda and we'll continue to have those discussions internally. when we have an announcement of a personal nature, we'll let you know. >> so, perry, just quickly, sort of still joked about taking selfies. he didn't deny it, though. didn't deny those reports. what did you think? >> he basically confirmed it as far as i could tell. i don't know when he's leaving. it made me think that he definitely knows he could be leaving soon. >> okay. perry and karen and david and gloria, thank you all so very much on this tuesday afternoon. let's move on, though. a pretty explosive suggestion.
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we're back with more breaking news here. i'm brooke baldwin. you're watching cnn. you have senate democrats fearing that republicans would unveil a bill that would have sweeping effects on your health care, but so far, they have been helpless to stop these closed-door proceedings. with me now, wisconsinen democratic senator tammy baldwin. she has been very outspoken about the changes the republican bill may bring. senator, welcome. >> thank you for having me on. >> we just heard from sean spicer address a number of issues in the press briefing, including this very important issue being health care and addressing democrats head on. let me play this and i want you to respond. >> okay. >> you were around when republicans were criticizing democrats back in the day of obamacare for it being, as you put it fairly recently, jammed down people's throats. you said it was are rushed, it was secretive, that was the criticism. so how is what's happening now with this bill getting passed frankly behind closed doors any
different than what republicans criticized democrats for doing. >> i think we wanted to be part process back then. you look at what senator shumer said back in february to a moveon.org call where he said no democrat's going to go near this and what he said in a letter may 9, he said that no democrats would be part of an effort that would repeal obamacare. so, they have chosen to take themselves not -- to not make themselves part of this process. there is, when senator mcconnell brings the bill forward, i'm sure there will be plenty of time to have debate. it's the senate. there's always time for debate. >> he's talking about voting next week. >> i'll let senator mcconnell determine the senate schedule and determine the senate schedule that he sees fit but lest not mistake ourselves with how they approached this thing. their leader, senator schumer made it very clear that they didn't want to be part of this process. they were happy with obamacare. we believe obamacare's failing. >> senator baldwin, how would you respond to sean spicer?
>> well, certainly, his premise is that democrats don't want to have anything to do with repealing the affordable care act, and it's because what they're doing is a bunch of partisan nonsense to notch up a political and partisan victory. if they wanted to work on strengthening our health care system so that the people i represent in wisconsin and people all over america could have a stronger system to rely on, if we wanted to work together to bring down pharmaceutical prices, premium prices, have more competition, these are things that we are so excited to work on. but what they're doing right now and what we can base this on is the house passed version of the repeal bill is creating a lot of harm to people across america, people with when preexisting conditions, people who are older americans who will see significant increases in their
premium costs in the form of an age tax, and jeopardy to rural clinics and hospitals and access to care in rural areas and the list goes on and on. >> no, i understand, senator, and i understand basing that upon the house version and we'll have to wait. we're hearing from the likes of senator corker and others confirming there will be some sort of version of this bill by the end of the week so add that to your list of frustrations because i understand democrats are angry about how this has been crafted in secrecy, but let me point out, this is a sound from mike pence back in 2009 of the obamacare era, you know, blasting for democrats for doing the very same thing. roll it. >> this is just another version now lurching out of the back rooms after weeks of closed-door negotiations. >> i think it's troubling to millions of americans that after committees did their work this summer in the house and senate, this thing went behind closed
doors over the last month and a half and, you know, we really don't know what's going to be unveil on the west front of the capitol tomorrow and to be doing this on a bill that not only will affect, i think, 1/6 of the economy but 100% of the american people for generations to come is really unconscionable. >> just to be fair to republicans, you know, isn't their hypocrisy really on both sides here? >> you know, i don't believe so. especially given the process that was in both houses of congress, dozens and dozens of hearings. we brought in experts. we heard from industry experts. we heard from families affected. right now -- >> yes, that was the case, senator, forgive me, but that wasn't the case early on. yes, yes to the hearings and debates and the amendments but early on during the process of the crafting of the bill, was it not secretive as republicans are saying?
>> well, somebody drafts a bill and they bring it out and then it's brought into public view. there's hearings. you get expert input. you get a chance to amend it. there were over 300 amendments offered. i understand -- i wasn't in the senate then. i was in the house of representatives, but i understand in the senate, that there were well over 100 republican amendments incorporated into the measure. so there couldn't be a sort of starker difference between the process back then and the process right now. >> sure. >> that's why we're taking to the floor as i did last night to say that the american people who, you know, health care is personal. the american people have a right to know what is in this bill. i hope you're right these rumors are true and we'll get a chance to see ethe bill this weekend but there's no rush. let's have hearings. let's get expert input. that's not what we hear is going to happen. we hear it's going to be rammed through next week. >> you know, you and other senate democrats did precisely
that, you know, took to the floor last night for hours, you know, your options at this point seem limited. do you, senator baldwin, do you feel like your leadership waited too long to go on the offensive for this bill? >> no, absolutely not. we have been speaking out, even when the house was considering their version of it, and certainly listening to our constituents who have been writing, calling, and meeting with us at home about their -- their anxiety, their fear about what this will mean for them. i read letters on the senate floor last night or shared stories from constituents all over the state of wisconsin, many with children with preexisting conditions. laying awake at night, worrying about what this could mean for their family's health and financial security. health is such a personal issue, and we need to have public
engagement, public involvement. now, i know that we do not control the senate in terms of partisan control, and we alone cannot stop it. but speaking out, exposing what they're doing, and drawing in the american public to weigh in also is what we really must -- this is too important of a fight to give up or to lose. >> senator tammy baldwin, thank you so much for taking the time with me. it is so, so important to talk about health care in this country. appreciate it. >> thank you. coming up next is michael flynn cooperating? why some democrats believe the ousted national security adviser is talking to the fbi as he comes under new scrutiny for unreported trips overseas. also, on north korea, will there be some sort of measures retaliation taken against this regime? former prisoner and american college student, otto warmbier, died days after he was released. we'll talk to former new mexico governor bill richardson, who
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pretty explosive suggestion coming from a democratic senator regarding this russia investigation. senator sheldon white house, a member of the senate judiciary committee believes that fired national security adviser michael flynn is cooperating with federal investigators. remember the judiciary committee is leading one of the five investigations of any trump campaign ties with russia, so here are all the reasons why senator whitehouse believes flynn is talking. >> well, if you draw conclusions as a prosecutor about what we can see from the flynn
investigation, all the signals are suggesting that he's already cooperating with the fbi and may have been for some time. first of all, they had him dead to rights on a felony false statement for the statement that they took from him in the white house about kislyak conversations. secondly, comey reported that he gets cooperators to clean up areas of noon compliance and flynn went back and cleaned up his foreign agent registration filings. third, all of the reporting on the subpoenas is one hop away from flynn. he's like the hole in a doughnut of subpoenas. and finally, one of the more talkative people in trumpland has gone absolutely dead silent, and that's what prosecutors strongly encourage cooperating witnesses to do. so, this would be just another bit of leverage for the prosecutors to make sure that he was cooperating and giving truthful testimony in order to
avoid lengthy imprisonment. >> let's start there. with me now, david jolly, former florida congressman, republican, and cnn legal analyst michael zeldon, a former federal prosecutor who is a specialist and former fbi director robert muller. gentlemen, good to see you in new york. let's begin with that interview with senator whitehouse. michael, to you first. mueller was your former boss. would you agree with his assessment that flynn is cooperating with him? >> maybe. if flynn has a story to tell. his lawyer long ago when asked for immunity said, my client has a story to tell. if he has to story to tell and that story has to involve people above him in the pecking order, and that really is the president in certain measure, if he has a story to tell and that story probably has to relate to collusion, then maybe the senator's point is well taken. >> you don't sound totally
convinced. >> well, because we don't know anything about what flynn has to say. what we know about flynn is he's in trouble in the eastern district of virginia for his failure to register as a foreign agent. we know that he has been lying to people from collusion and the sf 86, the security form and has got two other people breathing down his neck so we know he's got a story to tell about himself. so the question is, who else does he have to tell it about. if we know that, we'll know if he's cooperating. >> knowing congress, the fact that senator whitehouse on senate judiciary, you know, is talking and saying what he is, i mean, yes, he's a democrat, but is this at all, do you think, his words are impeding the credibility of his investigation at all? >> i think it's speculation, right? it's the land of politics, if you will, but understand, flynn is the guy that the fbi would want to begin to work with and perhaps offer him, if he has something to say. recall, michael flynn's the one person that president trump continues to try to cover up for. he doesn't want people to touch
michael flynn. he'll throw everybody else under the bus, it seems. >> should white house have taken it that far and come out? >> i think it's speculation. i truly do. it might be correct. >> let's also, on flynn, you mentioned the security clearance forms. this is some of the hot water. apparently there's another incident where he may not have been truthful while filling out these security cleans forms. this involves two trips to the middle east. he apparently failed to sclodise one of them. one he wrote on a hotel that doesn't quaactually exist. we have two democrats seeking more documents in the wake of these two trips. does this to you, putting down the wrong -- a hotel that doesn't even exist, is that alarm bells to you, especially knowing that this is a camp that was under all kinds of scrutiny or no big deal. >> i think there's too much of a pattern to chalk this up to incompetence and it's not just flynn, it's other administration officials who have also erred in their filings or failed to.
i was a sitting member of congress and we had to file those public disclosure forms. that is a moment where you understand you have a responsibility for integrity. do you get a few things wrong? sure. but there's an amendment process. from this administration and public filings to simply chalk it up to incompetence. if it is all incompetence, we have a bigger problem than we realize. >> i see it the same way. he had one opportunity to get it right and he didn't. then he had an opportunity to amend it and if these stories are correct, and now we're at the second amendment, it doesn't make it look like it's innocent mistakes, and whether you omit or you misstate, they're both lies. and they're both actionable. >> we know tomorrow robert mueller is meeting with the two leaders of senate judiciary, democrat diane feinstein, republican chuck grassley. they have just agreed that obstruction of justice will actually be in their committee's purview. what will, between mueller and the senators, will they be
comparing notes? i mean, these are two separate investigations but they all want all kinds of evidence. how does that work tomorrow. >> well, they have to define their swim lanes. who is going to do what. what they all remember is what happened in iran contra, when oliver north was immunized and the prosecutors believed that they could still prosecute notwithstanding the immunity and they couldn't. they lost. and that's what mueller has to make sure that whatever you guys are going to do in your oversight responsibilities, which is their entitlement and it's proper within the judiciary committee, way so than intelligence, please don't interfere add veteranly or inadvertently with what i need to do as a criminal information under the mandate that rosenstein gave me. >> can senate judiciary say to mueller, hey, we want what you have. >> it depends on how mueller guess it. if mueller is subpoenaing it and it's from a grand jury, i don't believe he can give it up. if it's voluntary notes from interviews, maybe they can
share. that's what they'll discuss. >> lastly, let's throw this up on the screen, this latest cbs news poll finds a third of americans say president trump's approach to the russia investigation has worsened in their opinion of him. you see there. 63% of americans disapprove of the president's response to the russia investigation. you know, you're no trump fan. we've talked enough for me to know that. but you know, when will he realize that the handling of this isn't working for him with the american people? >> sean spicer's answer to that question today was really shocking, to say he hadn't actually sat down to speak with the president on meddling and on the russia matter and frankly, it stokes a certain suspicion and rightfully so. it is not a believable statement from the white house press secretary that he hasn't discussed this. and recall, in january, then-president-elect acknowledged, he said, i believe russia hacked the democratic national convention and look at all the information we got from it. there's a reason the american
people lost confidence. >> and that's especially true in the aftermath of comey having said the same thing, so maybe in the run-up to comey's testimony, you think, you've got a lot of things on my plate, i'll get to that. but after comey says, he showed no interest in it for them, these many weeks later to still be showing no interest, i don't know. >> gentlemen, thank you so much. let's roll along. top of the hour, you're watching cnn. cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> by the end of this week. remember that the house already passed its bill in may. remember the victory lab there in may with the house republicans and the president. all of this plays into the looming deadline that republican leaders have self-imposed for themselves, a vote before the summer recess begins in july. so look at the calendar. that's eight legislative days