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Price: Nobody Will Be Worse Off Financially; White House Told to Provide Wiretapping Proof Monday; Tillerson Makes First Asia Trip as Regional Tensions Escalate. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 12, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Hello on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
Up first tonight, changes to the nation's health care system. What they will look like we still don't know. But in a few short hours, we should have an idea of what they might cost.
Tomorrow, the Congressional Budget Office is set to make public its cost analysis of the bill that's meant to repeal and replace Obamacare.
At town hall meetings this weekend, Republican and Democratic lawmakers heard directly from people concerned about the plan's cost, while many others said they are worried that millions could be left uninsured.
Earlier today, the man who will oversee this plan promised two things -- more people would be covered and that cost will be more or less the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through, understanding that they'll have choices, that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family.
[18:00:02] Not the government forces them to buy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And those in Congress who oppose the bill aren't quite as confident that this new plan will be as affordable.
And one senator in particular is especially unhappy with just how quickly this bill is moving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: This bill is so outrageous that not only are the Republicans moved forward in the House without the CBO score, they want to move forward in the Senate without any hearings whatsoever. If you realize this bill is going to impact tens and tens of millions of people and to the best of my knowledge, they want to bring it right to the floor of the Senate.
I'm a member of the Health Education Committee. When Obamacare was being debated, we had hearing after hearing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: We're also watching this today. Intelligence officials in Congress say they want to see evidence to back up President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped last year by his predecessor. The House Intelligence Committee gave the White House a deadline to show proof, and that deadline comes tomorrow.
CNN's Athena Jones is here with more on that.
Athena, you're at the White House. Any indications from there on what's going to happen tomorrow?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.
Well, there's no indication that the White House is prepared to offer any proof to back up the president's unsubstantiated allegations. Reporters, of course, have been asking the White House since last Saturday to provide that evidence. And instead of doing so after a couple days of being asked that, they decided on Sunday, last Sunday, to call for these congressional investigations.
But nothing has been provided in the last eight days. The president himself has also has been dodging these questions. He was asked repeatedly by a reporter standing just a few feet away from him late last week about any evidence he might be able to provide and he ignored that reporter.
The vice president also dodged a direct question asking him if he believed that President Obama had anything to do with wiretapping then candidate Trump's communications in Trump Tower, and Vice President Pence would not answer it directly instead pointing at these investigations.
So, this is something that not just Democrats but also Republicans have been asking for this evidence. Take a listen to what Senator John McCain had to say about all of this on "STATE OF THE UNION" today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: President Trump has to provide the American people not just the intelligence committee but the American people with evidence that his predecessor, former president of the United States, was guilty of breaking the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And Senator McCain also said that if the president, the White House can't provide any sort of evidence, that the president should retract his allegation.
I also think we should make it clear for viewers that the letter that the House Intelligence Committee said was actually to the Department of Justice. And so, it is the Department of Justice that is being asked to provide all relevant documents backing up the president's claim. And what's interesting about that, Ana, is that it was just last week that FBI Director James Comey, this is according to my colleagues reporting, asked the folks at the Justice Department to publicly refute the president's claims because it would be illegal for President Obama to have done that.
So, you had the FBI director saying this wasn't true. The Department of Justice has so far declined to make any sort of public statement, but it is interesting that is the department being asked to supply this proof that according to several officials just is not -- doesn't exist.
CABRERA: And there's nothing on the schedule tomorrow that suggests that there will be some kind of public statement or anything like that?
JONES: Not so far. We haven't seen tomorrow's schedule. There are often is some sort of briefing each day. But, yes, you heard folks like Senator McCain demand a retraction if the White House can't provide evidence, but that doesn't mean that the White House is going to do that either.
So, it's a big question mark what we're going to see come out of tomorrow, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones at a the White House, thank you.
Joining me now to discuss further, CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson. He hosts a conservative radio talk show. Also, Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic strategist, a Democratic National Committee member.
Robert, we'll start with you. (INAUDIBLE) you have evidence there's got to be something, right?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely not. That's the point. You're seeing really -- what's really interesting is watching a bipartisan coalition come together amongst Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The big -- no one believes there's evidence that President Obama illegally wiretapped President Trump. If there was, President Trump could have easily produced it.
The bigger concern is, does President Trump actually believe what he's saying and trust these fake news characters like Mark Levin or Sean Hannity, or maybe he gets advice from the "National Enquirer" --
CABRERA: So, you believe that he really does believe he will find that?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I don't know if he just believes it, or if he's just trying to get a distraction like he did with the birther lie and claiming fraudulent voting, issues like that to take away from the real issue which is, in fact, his administration's culpability in Russian influence and Russian hacking. We already know some of the senior advisers have either misled or, in fact, lied about their contacts with the Russian ambassador.
[18:05:02] And, of course, as John McCain pointed out, the platform for the Republican Party convention was changed with a much more favorable light for Russian over the issue of Ukraine.
CABRERA: There is the issue of Russia. So, what do you think is going to happen tomorrow, Ben?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, first off, I think that you're going to see this probably not all play out tomorrow, as some are saying, if they wanting or demanding. I think the second issue is, there's indisputable evidence that there was a FISA court warrant that asked for and rejected. And then the second one that was granted closer to election day that would dealt easily with those around Donald Trump and some of the people they may have been talking to.
It is not a crazy idea to think that somebody could have asked for a wiretap under the guidelines of, oh, well, they are speaking to somebody in the Russian government, so therefore, we want to know what they're saying. And that could have been monitored.
I think what you're going to see is probably some sort of monitoring did happen that would have covered and/or canvassed the same way that FISA courts allowed for, the Trump campaign or Trump Tower. The question of --
CABRERA: Now, Ben --
FERGUSON: -- wiretapping is the one that I think where that's the rule where it's not being used.
ZIMMERMAN: You're ducking the issue.
FERGUSON: I'm not ducking the issue. I've been very clear about what I believe.
CABRERA: What level of proof would you like to have seen that the president has in his arsenal before putting out that tweet?
FERGUSON: Well, first, I don't think I would have used the word "wiretapping". I would have used the word "surveillance". But what I would like to see is at some point in the near future for this warrant to actually be shown so that we can see exactly what was in it and did it, in fact, cover any capacity.
ZIMMERMAN: It's very easy to do, Ben. Let's be clear.
FERGUSON: OK, but let me finish my point here, OK?
(CROSSTALK) ZIMMERMAN: First of all, Donald Trump accused President Obama of illegally wiretapping hum. That's the issue on the table. That's what he's got to show evidence for.
The other point that's even more critical to me is if, in fact, Donald Trump or some of his top lieutenants were, in fact, the subject of a FISA warrant tap which takes a high threshold to be granted a FISA warrant, a wiretap under the FISA courts. Then that's because they might have been in exact with Russian operatives or perhaps participating in some espionage. We have to know that, too. Donald Trump has got to come clean on all of that.
FERGUSON: Hold on, hold on. What you just said there is literally the most ridiculous comment I may have heard in this entire conversation.
ZIMMERMAN: Why did Jeff Sessions not tell the truth? Why did Flynn lie?
CABRERA: Go ahead, Ben.
FERGUSON: Let me finish what I was going to say. When you get a warrant, it doesn't necessarily mean it's directed towards an individual who would be, for example, in the Trump campaign.
FERGUSON: That warrant may cover somebody in Russia, a great example. And I think you and I can agree on this, that there's no doubt there's extreme surveillance on the ambassador from Russia and there has been probably for decades no matter who was in that position. If that was under that warrant, that FISA court warrant, which would be warranted, I think we could also agree with everything that's been going on in Russia.
And let's forget here, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, not only kicked out those that were connected to the Russian government weeks before he left office, but also it was because of surveillance and things that they knew about the people in the United States. And actually diplomats and other businessmen that he kicked out of the country because of evidence that we do not know about. So, there's two things here.
CABRERA: You're referring to the Russians being (INAUDIBLE) in the action taken -
ZIMMERMAN: Why hasn't President Trump endorsed those sanctions? Why hasn't President Trump actually acknowledged that according to our national intelligence communities that, in fact, Russia was trying to interfere with our election by hurting Hillary Clinton? Why is Donald Trump not speaking about Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and in Kaliningrad and the Arctic?
These are the questions --
ZIMMERMAN: Those questions that have to be addressed here.
CABRERA: Ben, should the president be addressing some of those questions? These questions are not going away.
FERGUSON: Well, you look at Russia, for example, and I'll answer that one directly. We have had a policy with Russia that has been obviously not working under the Obama administration. And Russian aggression while they were involved with them for the last eight years has gone up.
Look at what they did in Crimea. Look at our allies in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, how concerned they are. Look at what they did in Syria and how they helped Assad while he was gassing his own people.
So, when you have the president walked in, Donald Trump, and saying, hey, I'm going to try to have a reset with Russia. Well, based on the failure that he was inheriting from Barack Obama, it was not a bad idea to have some sort of reset, to see if you could open a new dialogue. Because having no dialogue with Russia was not healthy for the United States of America. I don't have a problem with it.
ZIMMERMAN: I do have a problem --
CABRERA: I'll give you the last word and we'll talk about Obamacare.
ZIMMERMAN: I do have a problem when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, during the campaign encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails, when Donald Trump praised WikiLeaks, when Donald Trump actually praised Vladimir Putin, a murderer and a gangster, as being a leader and praised him repeatedly, actually put it a moral equivalence between Russia and the United States. I have a problem with that.
It's not a reset, Ben. That's appeasement.
CABRERA: OK, let's talk Obamacare, guys. Let's talk Obamacare. This is a big issue that's affecting millions of Americans, every single American here in this country.
[18:10:04] Republican Rand Paul said this morning on CBS that Speaker Paul Ryan's approach on this has been, quote, "his way or the highway."
Meantime, Cory Booker, Democrat, said this to our Jake Tapper. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, I mean, that's really where we are. The Republicans cannot just force this down our throats. It's going to knock a lot of folks off, hurt long-term care, hurt good working class folks. So, I don't understand this, almost. I don't understand what their political strategy because this is bad politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Ben, it kind of sounds like Rand Paul and Cory Booker is almost saying the same thing. Is Paul Ryan pushing too hard?
FERGUSON: Look, I think Paul Ryan understands that he needs to get something, he needs to get something done soon and the American people are demanding and expecting it. That's the reason why the Republicans are in charge of the House, Senate and the White House.
I think Cory Booker's point there is honestly laughable because remember, he was in a party with a group of people including Nancy Pelosi who says as speaker of the House at the time, we won't know what's in the bill until we pass the bill. So, for him or for Bernie Sanders to be saying, we want to know what's in the bill, well, go -- you can look at it online. It's readthebillonline.gop.
So, Republicans have been incredibly transparent about what's in this bill. It's literally up here. Readthebill.gop. I've read it. It's also not near as long as Obamacare was.
And for Democrats to come out and say that somehow this is moving too quickly, I think it's hypocrisy.
I understand Rand Paul's point here and where he's coming from. He said that he ran on repeal and replace. He does not feel that this is true repeal and replace. And he wants to slow down to look at this a little more.
And I'll say this -- I think there has to be some sort of compromise there. I don't want to move too fast as a conservative, but I also don't want to wait too long to get something done. And that's where they're going to have to meet in the middle and they don't need a civil war over this in the Republican Party.
CABRERA: Robert, we haven't seen the CBO score just yet. The Congressional Budget Office is expected to come out with that perhaps as early as tomorrow, which will essentially break down what the cost of this plan could be and who it's going to affect.
Should that be a part of the conversation in determining where this bill goes?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, actually, you even have Republican members of the Senate who have actually -- Senator Tom Cotton has criticized Donald Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress for moving on this bill before the CBO score. Now, I -- from my experience working on Capitol Hill and knowing a lot of the folks there over the years, I've always found, Democrats always attack the CBO score before it comes out when they know it's going to be bad and Republicans play the same game.
The fact that you see the Trump administration and Republican leadership attacking the CBO score, in other words, how much it will cost, how many people will be covered. We expect you see him attacking it now before it's even out, they know how bad it's going to be because that's consistent with every other independent analysis. The American Enterprise Institute, Joe Antos, said between 10 million and 15 million people will lose coverage. Brookings said about 15 million. I believe Kaiser said about 6 million, if I'm not mistaken.
So, there's an expectation that under -- and this is rising above partisanship. You are seeing Democrats and Republicans both sound the alarm because under the Donald Trump bill, the Trumpcare, here's a man who spent his life putting his name on everything, he's not running to put his name on this bill so fast. But under his bill, he's decimating Medicare and Medicaid by every standard through tax cuts.
FERGUSON: Not true.
ZIMMERMAN: To the top 10 -- to the top 10 earners.
FERGUSON: It's not accurate.
ZIMMERMAN: Excuse me. In addition to which, what really is most concerning is, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, those who are Donald Trump voters, middle income, lower middle income voters, they're going to actually lose between $5,000 and $7,000 in federal subsidies for their health insurance. Yet the top 1 percent according to the independent Tax Foundation --
ZIMMERMAN: Let me finish my point --
ZIMMERMAN: The top 1 percent is going to receive a tax break of up to $157 billion over the ten years.
CABRERA: Ben, go ahead.
FERGUSON: Again, this whole tax break for 1 percent that you're saying over ten years has absolutely nothing to do with health care and I don't know where in the world you're getting that number because it's not the bill. If you got read the bill, which I have, and I'm assuming you probably haven't --
ZIMMERMAN: It's absolutely based upon the bill.
FERGUSON: It's not in here. It's not in there. Again, I read the bill. Have you read the bill?
ZIMMERMAN: Not only did I read the bill --
FERGUSON: No, no, I let you talk --
CABRERA: Let Ben finsish.
FERGUSON: Nothing in the bill about the top 1 percent. That is fearmongering and if you go read the bill and you can show it to me, tweet it to me, and I'll apologize.
But it's not in there. That is absolutely fearmongering.
The second thing is, you said this decimates Medicare and Medicaid. Show me in the bill where it actually does that. That is second issue, again, it's fearmongering. It is not in the bill. I have read the bill and that was one of the things that Paul Ryan --
CABRERA: Ben, part of the proposal is to eliminate that Medicaid expansion and there's still the discussion about exactly when that would happen.
ZIMMERMAN: And the tax breaks they're advocating is part of the legislation to this, Ben, and there are independent commissions to confirm it.
CABRERA: Let Ben respond.
FERGUSON: An expansion is future things.
[18:15:01] Expansion is growing a program.
This is not -- you're acting that somehow --
CABRERA: These are people who have Medicaid, though, that was expanded because of Obamacare. It's my understanding of that, Ben.
ZIMMERMAN: That's correct.
CABRERA: And so, these are folks who would stand to lose their current coverage or money that is coming from that funding currently.
FERGUSON: Is there a subsidy that's going to be coming in also though to cover part of that? And the answer is if you look at the bill, yes, there is. So, you can say -- you know, again, I think this is another example of classic fearmongering where the Democrats are coming out and they're going to terrify everybody.
Remember the lie that Democrats said a week, two and three weeks ago. They said, well, you're going to lose your coverage and they're not going to have another bill there and you're going to have no insurance for a period of time. That was never on the table. That was an absolute falsehood and lie.
And yet, this bill comes and they're like -- well, all these people are going to lose their coverage. If you actually look at what's in the bill, I would say, show me where all these people are going to lose their coverage. There will be no lapse in coverage either, which Democrats have also fearmongered on, which is part of the reason why the Obamacare approval rating right now is at almost all time high, about 50 percent, because when you go out there and you tell you that what the Republicans are going to do, you're going to have a lapse in coverage when you have no insurance for months -- which is not true -- of course, people are going to like Obamacare more.
CABRERA: We've got to leave it there, guys.
Ben Ferguson and Robert Zimmerman, thank you both.
ZIMMERMAN: Good to be with you.
CABRERA: A feisty conversation.
Up next, a high profile trip for a low profile secretary of state. Rex Tillerson heading overseas with no press and leaving behind questions about how much influence he has in the White House. That's coming up.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:20:40] CABRERA: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes one of his first big trips of the week when he visits Asia. And the big topics: North Korea and threats against Japan and South Korea, plus, growing friction between the U.S. and China.
This trip is going to be low key by secretary of state standards. Tillerson is bringing little in the way of staff and no media.
I want to bring in CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott in Washington.
Elise, just how unusual is this low profile approach by Tillerson?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty unusual. I mean, we know that as the CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, kept a notoriously low profile. But as the nation's top diplomat, a large part of that is really public diplomacy and kind of the explainer in chief, if you will, of communicating U.S. foreign policy and getting the U.S. message, which not only helps educate the American people and the world, but also kind of helps the U.S. with its influence overseas.
You know, Rex Tillerson, since he's come to office, has really kept a very low profile, but certainly as he goes to Asia, in this very tense time with not only with between North Korea and the region, but also between the U.S. and China, I think people are really looking for more of a vision of how he sees himself and U.S. foreign policy.
CABRERA: So, it may be unusual to have a low profile. Does that necessarily mean it's ineffective? LABOTT: Well, I mean, look, it's still early. We don't know how
effective he's going to be ultimately. He certainly has a lot of access to President Trump. The two have met, you know, several times a week, they'll have lunch, they'll have dinner, they're talking on the phone all the time.
But if you look at some of the world leaders, they are gravitating towards Jared Kushner, who is the son-in-law of President Trump and a very close adviser. The Mexican foreign minister was in town, he told Secretary Tillerson, listen, I have to have a private meeting with Jared Kushner. The Saudi deputy crown prince was in town a few weeks ago, he gravitated to the White House.
I think a lot of times, Jared Kushner, who also is taking on the Mideast peace file is seen as someone who is very close to President Trump. Maybe people feel like they might have more of an in at the White House.
If you combine that with the fact that Rex Tillerson has kept a low profile, I think this could maybe ultimately affect his influence on the world stage if world leaders aren't seeing him out there as the voice of U.S. foreign policy that raises a lot of questions. But again, it's very early to know what his vision is. And I think people are really hungry for more information about who he is, what he's doing on behalf of President Trump for U.S. foreign policy. You know, they are really looking for that chief U.S. diplomat to play more of a visible role.
CABRERA: And when we're trying to uncover who he is, what he's doing, that's incumbent upon the media to also help shed some light. What is the impact that you see of Tillerson not allowing reporters to accompany him on this new trip?
LABOTT: Well, there are some journalists that will be traveling commercially. It's really kind of difficult when he's hopscotching between China, Japan and South Korea to follow him all at once. There are going to be some pulls on the ground.
But usually when we travel, and I have traveled with five secretaries of state already, really what happens is you get to speak with the secretary's aides. Maybe you'll get some off the record sessions with him. There are press conferences. There's a whole litany of press access that helps particularly the U.S. press that are part of what we call the diplomatic press corps to explain what the U.S. foreign policy is and what the U.S. message is.
Now, clearly, Secretary Tillerson has a different point of view. He doesn't want to be seen. He doesn't want to be heard. He wants to do this quiet U.S. diplomacy.
But one of the real tools other secretaries of state have found is the megaphone of the U.S. secretary of state. So, we'll have to see in this trip he's able to get that message across when you have other countries like China kind of filling in the vacuum and creating their own narrative. You ultimately don't know how effective the policy will be. [18:25:01] So, I mean, it's like I said, it's still early. The U.S. diplomatic press corps is certainly hoping that Secretary Tillerson and his staff will see the wisdom of bringing journalists along for the ride to see firsthand U.S. diplomacy in action. Explain it to the U.S. public and to explain it to the world.
CABRERA: All right. Elise Labott, we'll wait and see. Thank you.
And don't miss Elise's digital piece. "Tillerson Finds It's Hard for a CEO to Become a Secretary", that's on CNN.com.
Well, college basketball fans start those brackets. The NCAA tournament selection committee has just announced the 68 teams that will compete for the national championship this year. Of course, we all know the number one seeds are where our brackets really begin.
We have Villanova in the East. North Carolina in the South. Kansas in the top seed in the Midwest region. And Gonzaga is number one in the West.
Now, the big dance begins Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, with the first four on truTV. The road to the final four ends in Glendale, Arizona, with the championship played on Monday, April 3rd.
I will be filling out a bracket. If you want to go head to head with me, just go to CNN.com/brackets. We'll have some fun.
Up next, a Jewish community center evacuated just days ago over a bomb threat receiving yet another threat today. This as three other centers are also targeted. What we're learning now about this alarming and growing trend in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
[18:30:55] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Developing right now, CNN learning at least five Jewish community centers have received bomb threats just today, continuing the worrying and alarming rise in anti- Semitic hate crimes. CNN's Sara Ganim has been following this.
Sara, what can you tell us about this latest threat?
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this rash continuing that we've seen since the start of the year, more than 150, now, Jewish institutions that have been targeted. Several incidents occurring this weekend as a Jewish community is celebrating the holiday, Purim.
Today, Jewish community centers in Vancouver, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Houston received bomb threats. And here in New York, the Rochester JCC had their second threat this week alone. They had to evacuate for part of the day, but a few hours ago got the all-clear to reopen. Of course, remember, every time one of these happens, services at these JCCs, these institutions, provide for the community, they have to stop while they investigate.
I spoke to the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism about what's been happening across the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: We don't know exactly what the motivation is, but what I think we can say is, for the person who is doing this, they are very committed to it because we are now seeing wave after wave of this kind of threats that is virtually unprecedented in recent years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANIM: Now there was an arrest earlier this month, a man accused of being behind at least eight of these threats. But these have clearly continued, Ana.
CABRERA: And it's not just threats against JCCs, right? Help put this in the broader context.
GANIM: Right, so a little bit of context around this. Across the country, hate crimes are actually up. And in many places, the numbers are being driven by the rise in anti-Semitic crimes.
So here in New York City, anti-Semitic hate crimes are up 189 percent. Across the country, the crimes against the Jewish community actually account for more than 50 percent of all hate crimes against faith- based institutions or people because of their faith.
CABRERA: That's just a shame, not good. Thanks so much, Sara Ganim, for giving us that report. We appreciate it.
Visit Capitol Hill any given day, and we're likely to hear both parties accuse each other of obstruction. One New York Democrat wants to change that, however. He is calling for compromise on one of the country's most divisive issues.
What that is, when Congressman Tom Suozzi joins me next in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:37:24] CABRERA: Welcome back. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Republicans refused to work with President Obama and congressional Democrats. And now, nearly two months into the Trump administration, Democrats don't seem interested in working with their colleagues on the right. But one New York Democrat is calling for compromise on an issue you might not expect from a northeast liberal, abortion.
Congressman Tom Suozzi writes, quote, "We can harness the public's energy to develop a consensus and pass bipartisan legislation to reduce abortions. Women facing unintended pregnancies deserve support, not our judgment."
And Congressman Tom Suozzi is joining me now. Thanks for being here with us. And we were talking during the break, the idea of compromise has seemed like such a bad word the last several years in Congress. You're a Democrat calling for compromise on abortion specifically. What's your proposal?
REP. TOM SUOZZI (D), NEW YORK: My proposal is that everybody is sick and tired of everybody just yelling at each other all the time. They are sick of just fighting and arguing. Let's try and find not necessarily a compromise, but consensus or common ground. What can we agree upon?
So I'm committed to abortion remaining safe and legal, but I think, I, like everyone, would like to see less of them. So what can we do to try and reduce the number of abortions in this country?
And I've called for three different proposals. One is to support homes for singles mothers. Two is to support adoption services. And three is to try and prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place by supporting contraception, birth control, and other ways, education, to try and prevent unintended pregnancies from happening in the first place.
CABRERA: Of course, conservatives who are worried about the budget would say, where is the money going to come from? You're proposing allocating about a $100 million. Where is that money coming from?
SUOZZI: You know, $100 million in the context of the federal budget is a very small, small number. And it's important that there are existing programs related to adoption, related to teen pregnancy prevention, and related to housing that we could cobble them together. The importance of this is that people need to stop yelling and screaming at each other and try and find some common ground.
For 40 years, since Roe versus Wade, everybody's yelling at each other. They're protesting. They're trying to defund Planned Parenthood right now. Let's stop the yelling and screaming.
Let's try and do what the people want us to do, which is to try and figure out how to solve problems. And I think this is a way to do it.
CABRERA: Going back to reducing the number of abortions, you talk about preventing unintended pregnancies. We call them unintended pregnancies because they're just that. You can call them an accident or a mistake. So where is the system falling short right now when it comes to that?
SUOZZI: I don't think that we have both sides agreeing to work on this together because they're so fixated on the abortion issue itself that, often, they're different camps.
[18:39:56] And I think that you'll find that most people -- I'm a Catholic Democrat, for example. Most Catholics, even though our church will say that they don't like contraception and that's their philosophy -- we're not trying to change their philosophy -- but most Catholics use contraception. And we need to figure out how to get people to just talk about these things, that the most effective way to prevent abortion is to prevent an unintended pregnancy in the first place. So we need to educate better. You know, some people would say abstinence only is awful. And other
people will say, oh, we're against birth control. Well, let's try and educate people, young people especially, about abstinence but also provide them with medically accurate information about contraception and combine them together.
CABRERA: I'm curious what the response has been your colleagues to this proposal you've put out there. Who have you heard from, and what are they saying?
SUOZZI: Whenever I talk to anybody about this in a private conversation, they say, you know, that makes sense. But when it's --
CABRERA: Like who, you're Democratic colleagues or across the aisles?
SUOZZI: Well, listen, Democrats are circumspect about me just not taking the straightforward position. We're going to fight, you know, for Roe versus Wade, which, I, of course, will. We're going to fight for contraception and the right to choose. And Republicans are wary about the idea of saying, oh, you're trying to prevent unintended pregnancies by fighting for more funding for contraception and education.
So it's a matter of just getting people to realize that we're all human beings. This is what Americans want. Most Americans think abortions shouldn't be illegal. They just think there should be less of them.
CABRERA: Very quickly, there is a part of this new health care prevention or health care reform plan, I should say, that has been proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan what would strip money from Planned Parenthood because it's an organization that offers abortion. Where do you stand on that that? Are you willing to compromise on that one?
SUOZZI: No, that's a bad idea that they had proposed because, by defunding Planned Parenthood, you're defunding contraception, you're defunding birth control, you're defunding education, and that will result in more unintended pregnancies, which will result in more abortions. So I think that's a bad idea to do.
But if we all agree -- you know, when I talk to Republicans and I say, listen, I agree we should try and reduce the number of abortions, that gets them to listen at least. That we're at least talking about something that they care about as well. And I think that most people would like to agree that reducing the number of abortions is a good idea.
The question is, how can we work together on things we agree upon, that don't violate our principles, that we can actually reduce the number of abortions. Preventing unintended pregnancies is a great way to do that. Giving women other choices such as homes for single mothers, promoting adoption services, those are all good ways to get there.
CABRERA: And working together, a novel concept. "Common sense for the common good" is your op-ed. Thanks for coming on and talking about your opinions and ideas. We appreciate it.
SUOZZI: Thank you, Ana. Thank you so much.
CABRERA: All right. This Wednesday night, with Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash, join us for a live town hall with HHS Secretary Tom Price, who will answer your questions about the new GOP health care proposal, ObamaCare, and what comes next. That's Wednesday night right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
The White House seized on a report last week that showed illegal border crossings declining in the southwest. Coming up here on CNN, I'll chat with a former acting director of ICE to get his take on how the President is handling immigration. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:47:28] CABRERA: President Trump's hard line approach to illegal immigration may be having an impact. New numbers show a sharp decrease in illegal border crossings last month. Customs and border enforcement reporting a 40 percent drop in illegal crossings along the southwest border in February, and the White House was quick to tout these new numbers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: These measures reflect that both the economy and the border are already responding to the President's agenda, even while we're still in the beginning stages of putting his policies in place. The country and the world are clearly ready and waiting for the change that the President campaigned on and is already delivering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in someone who knows a little something about immigration enforcement. Former ICE acting director John Torres, joining me from Washington.
John, thanks for being here with us. Does the Trump administration deserve credit for this decline?
JOHN TORRES, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Well, he certainly deserved credit for the deterrent message that they're getting out there. One thing that really jumped out at me when taking a look at those numbers is that a 40 percent drop in the month of February is actually really significant because, historically, that month, February, is one where we usually see increases in people trying to cross the border.
CABRERA: Right, a 20 percent on average is what my understanding is.
TORRES: Yes, you're right. And I think there's a couple things going on that's at play here.
One is, sure, the message is getting out. And in the immigrant community, that message will really spread quickly. And so if they know that they're going to be arrested, detained, or sent back, they're less likely to try to cross.
But the other thing that's also going on is that, with President Trump winning the election in November, there's really a 60 to 90-day period before he took office and could get his team in place to make those policy changes. And so what's going to happen is, if you look at those numbers, you really see, historically, high numbers during that 60 to 90-day period because people are trying to get here. They want to get here before these changes took effect.
CABRERA: Interesting. Is there anything else you think could be contributing to this drop in illegal border crossings?
TORRES: Well, there's a few other things that are always taking place. And some of it has to do with, in addition to the message getting out and election taking place, but you have the message that is getting out in the community being spread very rapidly, and there's a lot of attention being placed on that. And then you also have messages going out about different changes that are going to take affect down the road.
And so as long as you have people talking about detention and arrests, the immigrant community is going to slow down. They're going to pause. They're going to take a step back, and they're going to wait and see how this is going to play out here in the next couple months.
[18:50:08] CABRERA: President Trump, in the next few months, has promised to increase resources, including an additional 10,000 ICE officers for immigration enforcement. What's the impact of that?
TORRES: Well, the impact on that is you're going to see more arrests on the interior. And so as you see places and cities that may step back and say they're not going to cooperate with ICE, there are going to be more ICE agents available to go out and make those arrests in the communities or in immigrant places of residences. And so there's going to be a lot more stories out there coming out about the amount of resources that the federal government is going to have to make these arrests.
CABRERA: John Kelly, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, told our Wolf Blitzer last week about a proposal to separate children from the adults who they are coming over the border with. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We have tremendous experience in dealing with unaccompanied minors. We turn them over to HHS, and they do a very, very good job of either putting them in kind of foster parents or linking them up with parents or family members in the United States.
Yes, I am considering. In order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I'm considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But you understand how that looks to the
average person, who is, you know --
KELLY: It's more important to me, Wolf, to try to keep people off of this awful network.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now, DHS officials have said, children are exploited. They're abused by adults and smugglers who are claiming them as their own in what is a dangerous and sometimes deadly journey north. So do you think what we have just heard would be an effective strategy?
TORRES: It may be an effective strategy. But, yes, as Wolf said, the optics of that are going to be pretty tough. You're going to see stories about children being separated from families, or if you have unaccompanied children who are coming across, them being sent over to a government agency to be cared for. So the optics are going to be tough.
I do think that there will be a deterrent effect. We saw something similar in around 2006, 2007, where family units were being detained across the country to end a catch-and-release program back then. And those numbers dropped pretty quickly because, ultimately, people don't want to have to send their children across the border if they're just going to be sent to a detention facility or a government-holding place.
CABRERA: All right. John Torres, thanks for your time tonight.
TORRES: My pleasure, Anna.
CABRERA: President Trump has said he would be the best jobs president that God ever created, and now we have the jobs numbers for President Trump's first full month in office. CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans has more on today's right "Before the Bell" report.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. The main event for Wall Street this week, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday. Just two weeks ago, investors thought there was only about a 20 percent chance of a rate hike, now that probability is above 90 percent.
So what has changed? Well, here's how New York Fed President Bill Dudley put it recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM DUDLEY, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK: There's no question that animal spirits have been unleashed a bit, post the election. Stock market is up a lot. Household and business confidence has increased significantly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: And all that confidence makes it easier for the Fed to justify a rate hike, and Friday's solid jobs report only makes the case stronger.
One big question, how will President Trump react to rising rates? Some analysts think he should cheer a rate hike because it indicates he's got a strong U.S. economy. But others say, if the Fed continues raising rates this year, it could put the squeeze on this President's economic agenda -- Ana.
CABRERA: Thank you, Christine Romans. More CNN NEWSROOM coming up right after a quick break.
[18:58:29] CABRERA: If you could create a digital version of yourself to stick around after you died, would you?
CNN's new series, "MOSTLY HUMAN," with Laurie Segall explores the growing power of modern technology in our daily lives.
EUGENIA KUYDA, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, LUKA: I've been working on an A.I. start-up for the last two years, and we've been building conversational artificial intelligence. We ended up with a program that can talk like a person. I guess I just wanted to see what will happen.
That I had this spot on my phone, and I would talk to him sometimes. And a few weeks later, I realized that I'm at a party and I'm texting with my dead friend for the last 30 minutes.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: What was it like the first time you texted Roman after he died and he responded?
KUYDA: He got back to me saying you have one of the greatest puzzles on your hands, solve it.
SEGALL: And as the tech gets better, Roman's bot can actually form new opinions.
KUYDA: The more you talk to it, the better it becomes. It becomes you.
SEGALL: It could get smart enough that, even long after I'm gone, it could have its own opinions based on what I might have said. But it brings up this whole new question of, like, if I die, do I want my bot to be there and having conversations with people and potentially having opinions on things that I'm not around for?
You brought your with best friend back in a way through technology. That must be pretty cool for you.
KUYDA: For sure. I remember we had this conversation just before he died and I asked him, would you go to Mars if you can go back? He was like, of course, I'm going there, like 100 percent. So he was always, like, just about the future, even if it would be, you know, not a happy future. For future.