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: Trump: Obama Knew About Russia Hack, "Did Nothing"; Republicans Question Mueller & Comey Relationship; Senate Health Care Bill Losing Support; New Details on "USS Fitzgerald" Collision; Doctors Say Their Voices Not Being Heard on Capitol Hill; What Role Can Democrats Play in Health Care Showdown; Why Democrats Lost 4 Special Elections Since Trump Took Office; Surprising Number of Americans Moving to Mexico; Apple Senior V.P: Learn How to Code. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 24, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:10] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, on this Saturday. You are in CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Great to have you with us.
President Trump is now responding to a stunning report in "The Washington Post" that details how and when President Obama learned that Russia was leading a major campaign to sway last year's election. President Trump tweeting this, "Just out, the Obama administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. Why?"
"The Post" report alleges the CIA first told President Obama last August about Moscow's interference. The intelligence even detailed Vladimir Putin's specific instructions, "Defeat Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win the White House." It would be another two months before the public would learn about Russia's role and even longer until Americans would be told about the Kremlin's exact goal.
Let's get more on what President Trump is saying about all this as well as the Russian reaction. CNN White House correspondent, Athena Jones, is live outside the White House. Also with us, CNN contributor and CNN's former Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, joining live from the Russian capitol.
Athena, two days ago, President Trump called Russia's election hacking a hoax and a scam. Is the president now saying he does believe definitively that Russia hacked the election?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, it certainly sounds as though the president now agrees with U.S. intelligence agencies who concluded months ago that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He still hasn't given a definitive denunciation or a definitive stand-alone statement about that issue. But listen to what he told FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election and he did nothing about it, but nobody wants to talk about that. The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even -- you know, before the election. And I hardly see it. It's an amazing thing to me. In other words, the question is, if he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? He should have done something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So there you hear the president seeming to now take the U.S. intelligence agencies at their word that Russia meddled. This, after months as you say calling this whole story a hoax, a scam, an excuse by Democrats to explain an election that they didn't win, that they were expected to win. But it also sounds like this is less about the president agreeing that Russia meddled and more about him poking his former rival -- or poking a rival, President Obama -- Ana?
CABRERA: Athena, one former Obama White House official says the administration, quote, "choked" in responding to Russia. What action did President Obama take?
JONES: Well, the post report said that the administration began taking action right away. You talked about how it was in August the CIA delivered this highly classified report in August, it was also in August that then-director John Brennan gave intelligence FSB, the following month in China for the G-20 summit, the president himself, President Obama, spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and gave him a warning telling him to knock it off. That's the summary of what the president said but giving Vladimir Putin a warning to knock it off. The following month in October is when we saw the first statement, initial statement put out by the administration talking about Russian activities. And also in October, Susan Rice, national security advisor, delivered a message to Putin through the Russian ambassador, we've heard so much about, Ambassador Kislyak, so there were a lot of communications beforehand.
And former national security advisor, Tony Blinken, told Kate Bolduan on Friday that after that conversation the president had with Putin in September, Blinken says we saw or thought we saw after that it looked like the Russians stopped their efforts, but the damage was already done. Precisely because much of the hacking had already taken place.
But it isn't as though the Obama administration did nothing. Critics simply say those sanctions that came later in December, the economic sanctions, the kicking out of some 35 diplomats, the closing of those two Russian compounds, didn't really go far enough. In many ways, the economic sanctions were symbolic. And bottom line, the administration didn't do enough soon enough strongly enough, and publicly enough -- Ana?
CABRERA: Well, Jill, the CIA, we've learned through this report from "The Washington Post," was able to capture Putin's exact orders from sources from deep within the Kremlin. Is that likely to rattle Putin? [15:04:51] JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, behind the
scenes, I'm sure they are concerned about that information. Publicly, they're not saying anything. The Kremlin has had no comment. The foreign ministry had a very quick statement, which was kind of strange, "The show must go on." And I think the show, in that sense, they mean this, you know, as they would put it, political circus that's ongoing in the United States. They are not going to engage on anything specific. It's really not in their interest at this point. Instead, President Putin, as he has done for months now, has said we did not do anything, we did not interfere. And he turns it around and says, you, the United States, have been interfering in our domestic interests as well.
And I think this kind of stonewalling or maybe not saying anything, silence, is having an effect because Russian people, for the most part, are not particularly interested in this debate and the investigations and all of that. They follow a little bit, but very, very little. They were very interested in the election campaign there's no question. But then when President Trump became President Trump, all of their expectations that things would improve and maybe quickly fell by the wayside. So right now, there's a certain resignation that America's back to its old behavior, it's against Russia, and things are not going to improve. It's kind of a down approach to all of this right now among many Russians.
CABRERA: So, Jill, has there been much of an impact felt from the punishment that the Obama administration ended up handing down?
DOUGHERTY: That is a little bit harder to assess. You can certainly say the sanctions, economic sanctions, did have a certain effect. Some of them, yes, were symbolic. Others have had an economic effect. Probably, the biggest effect was just oil prices. But that's one thing. But this indication in "The Post" about cyber weapons inserted into the Russian system, into infrastructure or its networks, is a worrisome thing or could be for the Russians. Apparently, it didn't get developed and was never used, but that opportunity still exists, apparently. It would depend on what President Trump would do. But that's worrisome.
So I don't think that the Kremlin is very confident right now or sitting back. I think there are those two worrisome signs really of great concern for them.
CABRERA: All right, Jill Dougherty, Athena Jones, our thanks to both of you.
Let's talk more about this, these stunning new developments, the president's response to the new report.
Joining us now, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Shermichael Singleton, and "Metro" paper columnist, Ellis Henican, who writes a column, "Trump's America"; and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona.
Shermichael, I'll start with you. President Trump slamming Obama for not doing more. Meanwhile, President Trump has had access to the same intelligence since the election. What has he done?
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's legitimate to wonder why the Obama administration didn't do more. And even one of President Obama's senior advisors stated to the "Washington Post" that they choked. I would like to know why. Why weren't they more aggressive as it pertains to Russia and their alleged -- it's not alleged -- we now know for a fact they did attempt to interfere in the election process -- why didn't they do anything. But now President Trump is in office and the fact he has come out -- he hasn't even admitted yet that the Russians did attempt to interfere in the election, although every single one of our foreign intelligence agencies have all stated that they have, even some of our allies from Great Britain stated also that they have evidence that the Russians did, yet the president has yet to state that. So I think it's a bit hypocritical for the president to say, Obama, you didn't do anything. Well, Mr. President, you're not doing anything either.
CABRERA: So, Maria, I want you to look at this timeline because, again, there has been a lot of criticism since this new report came out that really did single and narrow down the timeline. President Obama found out in early August that Russia was behind the hacking and that its intent was to help Trump win the election. The public didn't find out about Russia's role until October. We didn't find out Russia's goal until December. Why such a lack of transparency?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that, first of all, the White House was trying to really figure out what had happened. I'm sure this was a huge surprise to the president and to the Obama administration, as it was to all of us when we found out. But as Athena reported, it's not like they sat on their laurels and did nothing. They actually confronted their Russian counterparts from the intelligence agencies, all the way up to President Obama, and told them to cut it out in no uncertain terms. But as it turns out, and Athena also mentioned this, the damage had already been done. The hacking had already been done. The fake news reports were already out there. The Russian bots had already been at it for over a year. So while hindsight is 20/20, and I'm sure I'm among the Democrats that are frustrated that the White House couldn't do more, but perhaps they couldn't do more.
But I really applaud Shermichael for calling out Trump in terms of hypocrisy. On the one hand, he, you know, can't have it both ways. Did Russia meddle, or didn't they? And then he comes out with a tweet blaming Obama for the Russian meddling that he has yet to say that happened in the first place. And the second thing is that he has had access to the highest intelligence reports and a lot more information about how this happened and what can be done about it, and yet he seems to care not at all about what has happened to our democracy. The only thing he seems to care about is the intelligence agencies and his former director of the FBI come out publicly to say he's not under investigation. It's all about him.
(CROSSTALK) [15:11:09] CABRERA: Ellis, do you think President Trump has backed himself into a corner by criticizing President Obama, saying he didn't do enough regarding this Russian meddling? Does he have to do more now, essentially?
ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, METRO U.S.: You're asking for logical consistency here.
I don't think Donald Trump considers himself battled by that. Perfectly fair question, but I just don't know that it applies. Really, what we're talking about here, right, is a matter of degree. It's undeniable looking back it would have been better if Barack Obama and the administration had done more. But it reminds me of that line in the Bible about don't be complaining about the speck in your neighbor's eye when you have a boulder in your own. Hello? If Obama didn't do enough, Trump has done nothing. And it doesn't seem to have any indication he's going to do anything.
CABRERA: Guys, let me pivot just a minute and talk about the broader investigation. And special counsel, Robert Mueller, his relationship with James Comey has been called into question recently by the president and other Republicans. "Bothersome now." Republican Congressman Andy Biggs is now calling for Mueller to recuse himself, saying in part, quote, "Special Counsel Robert Mueller should recuse himself because the integrity of his appointment is in question due to the former FBI Director James Comey's manipulative leaks and the relationship between Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller."
Shermichael, what do you make of this strategy to discredit Mueller, someone who both sides praised when appointed.
SINGLETON: I got to tell you it's very, very smart, for the president that is, because he cannot fire Mueller. If he were to fire him, it would be a political disaster for him. But if you have Republicans in the House and the Senate saying, oh, you know, we think you should recuse yourself, there's a lot of pressure that begins to build up. And the president's able to say, look, I'm not saying you should leave, the American Congress is saying you should leave, the American people are saying you should leave, so maybe it is in the best interest he recuses himself and select someone else. For president, I think if this continues, this could be a political bonus for them.
CABRERA: All right, I have to leave it right there.
Shermichael, Ellis, Maria, I wish I had more time.Thank you all. I appreciate it.
CABRERA: Five Republican Senators come out against their party's latest health care bill. Can Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, get these crucial votes and help the president keep this campaign promise? We'll discuss, next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:17:38] CABRERA: Now to the battle over your health care. Republican support for the new Senate health care bill doesn't add up to victory just yet. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, wants a vote in five days, next Thursday, before Congress leaves Washington for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but he can only afford to lose two Republican votes and still pass this bill. Right now, five Republican Senators, by CNN's count, say they oppose this bill in its current form, three more GOP Senators say they have concerns.
So let's talk it over with CNN's congressional reporter, Lauren Fox, about where this goes from here.
Lauren, clearly, this is a numbers game right now. What are these resisting Republican Senators want changed in the bill?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, that is the question. And it depends who you ask. If you ask conservatives, they want more Obamacare regulations repealed from this bill. If you ask moderates, they want more money for Medicaid, more money for drug treatment. And I think this is the difficult part for Mitch McConnell, whatever he gets -- whatever he gives conservatives could alienate moderates from supporting this bill. That's the conundrum here. It is certainly a game of math.
CABRERA: Seems they're going in opposite directions these two sides that are threatening to withhold their vote or not vote "yes" as a Republican. Lauren, how serious now about the timeline is McConnell wanting to do this before Fourth of July?
FOX: He's very serious about this timeline. And I talk to a lot of Republican leaders this week and they said, you know, this doesn't get better with time. If we're going to get the votes, we're going to get them before Thursday, otherwise, you know, the longer this goes on, the more difficult it is. If members go home for the Fourth of July recess and then come back after hearing from constituents, Mitch McConnell might have a more difficult time passing this bill. It's really crucial, in these next five days, Mitch McConnell convinces enough Republicans, the magic number, again here, is 50 Republican members, to support this bill. It doesn't get easier over time.
CABRERA: And I know you've been also tracking how House Republicans are reacting to the Senate bill because, ultimately, if there are changes in the Senate, it will come back to the House. Is the House accepting the current plan that the Senate has come up with?
FOX: Well, House conservatives have already expressed some problems with the Senate bill. House Freedom Caucus leader, Mark Meadows, said earlier this week that he didn't think that the current version of the Senate bill would pass the House of Representatives at this point, but he did say of course that this bill may change in the next couple of days. So it's really an open question. Other House Republicans are really trying to stay quiet. They were really frustrated with how involved Senators got involved in their process. They're trying to give them a little breathing room here. It's something to be watching. This bill could change over the next few days.
[15:20:12] CABRERA: Lauren Fox, keep us posted. Thank you.
FOX: Thank you.
CABRERA: President Trump is weighing in as well on health care in a showdown of sorts. Tweeting, quote, "Democrats slam health care GOP proposal as deductibles increase by over 100 percent." There's the tweet. "Remember keep your doctor, keep your plan?"
Let's talk it over with CNN political analyst, Patrick Healy, of "The New York Times."
Patrick, what is the president's strategy here when he's bringing up this old Obamacare slogan, keep your doctor, and obviously, we know what happened. Is he trying to stir up energy in his base to back the Senate bill, do you think?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's absolutely right. And he knows and he's trying to send the message to Republicans that this is what they have campaigned on, run on, had messaging around for seven years now. That he is presenting this is Republicans chance to make good on their promises to repeal and replace Obamacare and that they need to move something to get some bill down the road. And that for those conservative Senators and those moderate Senator who is are out there, this is their chance. That he's basically saying, you know, we've been talking about this for so long that, while you may have sort of side concerns right now, we can hash it out. You can't be like the Democrats who passed something seven years ago and are now sort of he's trying to hang around their necks.
CABRERA: There was so much criticism of the Democrats rushing their vote through, but they actually had months to go over and make changes and discuss and hash it out among Senators and go back. And Republicans and House members and all the different players were brought into the process. We just saw what's in the Senate bill two days ago and they want a vote less than a week later.
HEALY: That's right. They are -- you can call it fast tracking or ramming it through -- trying to have as little debate and conversation about it as possible. Democrats, when they put through the Affordable Care Act, they opened the process to hearings, to amendments from Republicans, they took votes on Republican concerns. They were I think genuinely interested to try to pick off a few Republican votes. They knew this would be a Democratic measure but were looking for at least some. Right now, the Republicans in the White House and Congress basically see that block of 48 Democrats as not moving.
CABRERA: They're ignoring them.
HEALY: Ignoring them entirely. What they're now looking at though is trying to figure out how to thread the needle. And Mitch McConnell is a master at this. You know, you can --
CABRERA: More so than Paul Ryan, you think?
HEALY: Paul Ryan took two bites of the apple. We'll see. I think Lauren is right. McConnell wants this vote by July 4th. He doesn't want members to have to go home and have this hanging over their heads and constituents at town hall meetings hitting them very hard.
CABRERA: Here's one of the issues. There are these five GOP Senators who've come out vocally saying they oppose the bill as is. Mike Lee is one of them. Here's what he says, "Conservatives have compromised on not repealing, on spending levels, tax credit subsidies, corporate bailouts, Medicaid and the Obamacare regulations. That is on every substantive question in this bill."
So he's already trying to set up the battle, saying conservatives have given everything away, and yet moderates are saying, no, this doesn't have enough Medicaid funding, this is going to leave people who are poor or who are elderly or who are sicker high and dry.
HEALY: Right. To some extent, this is a replay of what went on in the House. Two months ago, three months ago, in the House, you had conservative Republicans who were saying, we want these kind of changes, we want waivers for states. You had moderates in the House saying we want more spending. We want --
CABRERA: Is there anything that could bridge that divide that you see?
HEALY: Right. I think right now what you could see is McConnell basically saying for the states that are really dependent on Medicaid expansion that there's going to be some way to put -- say some kind of flexibilities or money into the bill that may bring someone like -- may get Dean Heller, Republican Senator from Nevada, to a place where he can say Nevadans are going to be protected. That the hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who've come on with health care under the Affordable Care Act will somehow sort of be protected. If he can get to a "yes" -- and that's what it's all about.
CABRERA: That's a state that has largely benefitted from Obamacare.
HEALY: Largely benefitted, Nevada, Ohio. Republican Senator Rob Portman in Ohio knows the Affordable Care Act has helped a lot of people in Ohio who didn't have health care at first. Mitch McConnell needs to get those people to a place where they can at least say, this isn't a perfect bill, it could still change in negotiations with the House, but the people who are getting insurance now, we're looking out for them and they are going to be taken care of.
CABRERA: If you were to be a betting man, is it going to happen before Fourth of July?
HEALY: This is going to be very hard. This will be Mitch McConnell's probably biggest test yet. CABRERA: We'll see.
Thanks so much, Patrick Healy.
HEALY: Thanks, Ana.
[15:24:53] CABRERA: Good to see you.
Coming up, investigators are finding new details about what happened in the final moments before the tragic collision between the "USS Fitzgerald" and a container ship off the coast of Japan. We'll bring those to you live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: This weekend, we know more about collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a giant container ship, a bizarre accident that cost the lives of seven U.S. sailors. It happened last Saturday. The "USS Fitzgerald" and a Philippines-flagged container ship somehow smashed into each other, tearing a giant hole and flooding the destroyer. The latest on the investigation in a moment.
[15:30:00] But first, what we're learning about the victims. Among the sailors who died in this accident, Xavier Martin, 24 years old, from Maryland. His heartbroken father spoke to CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD MARTIN, FATHER OF XAVIER MARTIN: The way we communicated was with WhatsApp. The last time I actually spoke or I heard his voice was the previous -- well, that Tuesday. Throughout the week, we were texting but -- I was texting him but I didn't hear anything. And what I understood, the crash actually happened at 2:20 a.m. And I'm looking at my phone, and at the top, where it actually said his last time of activity and that's how we communicated, it actually said 2:56, which was 36 minutes after the fact.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So on this, on WhatsApp, your son after his ship has been hit and the water is filling in --
BALDWIN: -- he goes to his phone --
BALDWIN: -- to reach out to you?
BALDWIN: How does that make you feel?
MARTIN: I can't help but think -- I would think any parent would never want to hear the last recording of their children or their child perishing, so thank god, I wasn't able to hear that. But I try to block out the visualization that my son is perishing and he's crying and screaming and, you know, "Dad" -- it's pretty hard to imagine.
CABRERA: So heavy.
I want to get to CNN's Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne.
Ryan, that was so painful listening to Xavier Martin's father. He was just one of seven sailors who perished in that collision. Tell us the latest on the investigation, who's looking into what happened, what have they released so far?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRSEPONDENT: Well, Ana, there's several investigations ongoing into the matter. The U.S. Navy is conducting one, but there are also investigations being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as Japanese authorities.
And we're beginning to hear some of the initial findings from the -- unofficial findings from the Navy's official investigation. They're saying the investigation is going to take some time. There's some preliminary information coming out. We understand, struck the "USS Fitzgerald" on the starboard side, right where the sleeping area is for some of these sailors. They believe five of these sailors were incapacitated almost immediately upon collision. It also struck the communications node right there in that part of the ship, which prevented the crew of the "Fitzgerald" from calling through their usual communications channels calling for additional support. They actually had to rely on satellite cell phones to kind of reach their higher headquarters and ask for support.
So, again, these are definitely some of the things that are being looked at. Most of all is how this cargo ship was undetected by the crew of the "USS Fitzgerald" before the collision. That's one of the things investigators are going to be looking at most closely. They're reviewing radar data from aboard the "Fitzgerald," the Aegis defense system, very sophisticated radar, they're going to be looking at that, as well as radar and other data from the cargo ship that collided into the Fitzgerald.
CABRERA: All right, Ryan Browne, thank you.
Search-and-rescue crews, meantime, have pulled 15 bodies from the rubble of a devastating landslide in China. 118 people are still missing. The landside buried more than 60 homes there. These images really paint the picture of the effort to get to the people who may be trapped understood beneath. But right now, these efforts are being hampered by another, a smaller landslide that blocked a portion of the road that the crews need just to bring in the heavy equipment to do this work.
Still ahead here in the NEWSROOM, as new details of the latest health care bill come to light, we sit down with those on the front lines of health care who say their voices are being ignored.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:37:50] CABRERA: Welcome back. You're in the NEWSROOM.
Many Americans got their first look at the Senate health care plan this week, and physicians on the front lines of health care say their voices are not being heard on Capitol Hill.
CNN's Martin Savidge spoke with three doctors in Washington State to find out what they think of Obamacare and the plan that might replace it.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kitsap County, Washington State, an hour's drive west of Seattle, like anywhere in America, a place where people need health care and a way to pay for it.
Kristin Gunnerberg is a surgeon; Peter Lehmann, a primary care physician; and Niran Al-Agba, a pediatrician. Different doctors, different politics.
PETER LEHMANN, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: I voted for Gary Johnson.
SAVIDGE (on camera): The Libertarian.
LEHMANN: The Libertarian candidate.
NIRAN AL-AGBA, PEDIATRICIAN: I voted for Donald Trump.
KRISTIN GUNNERGERG, SURGEON: I voted for Hillary Clinton.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): You might think there's little they agree on. Wrong. They all believe the current health care system is unsustainable.
LEHMANN: Can I say it's broken?
SAVIDGE (on camera): Yeah, I know.
LEHMANN: I say it's unequivocally broken. Ask any patient. Do they think it's a system that serves their needs and that they're happy with?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Under programs dominated by health insurers, they say, doctors are stressed to see more and more patients to make ends meet. Patients are frustrated because they can't get an appointment to see a doctor. And when they finally do, only get a few minutes. It's all about numbers.
GUNNERGERG: We're kind of looking the wrong direction, I think. We need to be looking at how do we provide quality care for patients without driving up price.
SAVIDGE: That's the Democrat doctor criticizing Obamacare.
And the Trump doctor says the new GOP plan is just as bad and will cover fewer people.
AL-AGBA: Well, I don't think it's better. I think we're probably on the wrong track.
SAVIDGE: Dr. Al-Agba told Trump that, in a letter she posted online, begging, "Please, go back to the drawing board and start again."
AL-AGBA: The problem, they say, is not all the talk about which party's health care plan is better. It's that Washington's having the wrong conversation.
(on camera): We're spending too much time talking about how do we cover people with insurance rather than, what?
[15:40:04] AL-AGBA: Rather than talking with patients about the price for care and what is the real cost.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): The skyrocketing cost of everything in health care, they say, is what makes it unaffordable and, thereby, inaccessible. And because they daily battle with cost versus care, doctors have a lot of good ideas on how to fix things. Except whenever Democrats or Republicans discuss health care reform, the doctors say, there's always something missing, which they noticed again in a photo of Trump and his team.
LEHMANN: There were no physicians.
SAVIDGE (on camera): What?
LEHMANN: Not a one.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): What about the doctor Trump appointed secretary of health? Tom Price, they say, has for a long time been more politician than physician.
(on camera): Why wouldn't we come to you? I mean, you are on the front lines, so to speak.
AL-AGBA: Front-line practicing physicians have a long history of not necessarily being at the table. And I think it's a shame that we haven't been, because if we had been more involved from the beginning, we might be in a different position.
SAVIDGE: I should probably point out that these doctors don't want to come across as just dumping on health insurers. They believe health insurance has a role to play. It's just not the whole solution. And they want to be part of the active discussion because, they say, maybe more than anybody, they know that, whether it's Obamacare or the latest Republican plan, when it comes to health care in America, we just can't keep going the way we're going.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Bremerton, Washington.
CABRERA: This is an issue that affects all of us. So with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate what role can Democrats play in the ongoing health care showdown on Capitol Hill?
Former Obama deputy secretary of labor, Chris Lu, is joining us now.
Chris, Republicans are essentially dismantling Obamacare as we know it. Can Democrats do anything to influence the health care debate on the Hill right now?
CHRIS LU, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF LABOR: One important thing we can do is give the message to the American people about what this proposal actually does. What the Senate unveiled this week is every bit as bad as the House proposal that the president himself called mean. And it's important for Democrats, which is what we are doing, to explain about how this will strip away coverage from millions of Americans, how it will increase premiums and deductibles for senior citizens, how it will remove important health benefits, like maternity care, mental health care. So the challenge for Democrats is to make that message known to the American people.
CABRERA: It doesn't guarantee some of those. It doesn't necessarily remove them but it doesn't guarantee, as you point out.
Let's turn to the politics behind the health care debate on Capitol Hill. We know Democrats have lost four special elections since President Trump took office. Why haven't Democrats been running these elections on issues like health care or the economy, issues that affect middle class Americans, or are they just too distracted by the Russia investigation and other shiny objects?
LU: Well, Democrats candidates have been talking about health care, they've been talking about good jobs, increasing wages, creating more opportunity. The challenges in this national media it is sometimes hard to get that message out. But I would say that, obviously, what happened last Tuesday in Georgia was disappointing, but it wasn't surprising. When you go back to 2011, no House special election has switched parties. And this was a seat in Georgia, mind you, that tom price carried by 24 points last year. So this was always going to be challenging territory. But when you put into context the increase enthusiasm among the party, the gap that we have closed in these very, very red districts, that looks very promising as we get to the fall and Democrats will be defending a governor seat in Virginia in trying to win back one in New Jersey. And both of those look very promising right now.
CABRERA: Let me bring up a couple of poll numbers and get your take on this. This is a new NBC/"the Wall Street Journal" poll, just out. It shows President Trump's approval rating at 40 percent. His base isn't eroding, about the same he's been for a while now. He seems to have a strategy that is stay with his status quo, keep doing what I'm doing. What should Democrats be doing to grow their base?
LU: Well, our base is energized. And I think what's important in that role as well as others is the president's approval rating among Independents. Right now, his approval rating is in the 30 to low 30s Independents in particular around something like health care where the approval rating for the Senate and House Republican bill is in the single digits right now. That will play an important role in showing not only our base, but Independents and, frankly, a lot of Republicans that the policies that the president's proposing aren't good for middle class and working-class Americans.
CABRERA: Now, the same poll also says people want to see Democratic Congress in 2018 by eight points. Yet, Democrats haven't won any recent elections as we discussed. Why can't those two pieces connect?
[15:45:08] LU: Well, look, it is important to note that the Georgia sixth congressional district, as I said, was a disappointing loss.
CABRERA: Right, but you're going to have to flip some of the seats that currently are Republican in order to get there, right?
LU: Absolutely. And it's important to note that there are 71 Congressional districts that have less Republican support than Georgia's sixth. We only need to flip 24 seats. So there is clearly enough playable seats right now. And, again, we're a long way from now in November, but to be up eight points this far ahead is very positive.
CABRERA: You wrote an article last week, criticized President Trump's budget for cutting over $2 billion in federal job training programs. Can the president be the jobs president that he campaigned on and slash some of these job training programs or is there another solution that you see in terms of meeting some of the budgetary constraints?
LU: It is important that a president who promised to create jobs is cutting job training programs by $2 billion. You can't create jobs without training people for those jobs. And, look, Republicans and Democrats can join together on sensible job creation proposals, like infrastructure, but so far, we haven't seen anything out of the president. What passes for job creation is him tweeting at companies not to move their operations overseas. And what you just saw this past week is Carrier, Boeing and Ford and others that said they were going to keep their jobs in the United States are now moving them. So the president's own strategy for keeping jobs here isn't working.
CABRERA: Chris Lu, our thanks to you for joining us. Have a great weekend.
LU: Thank you.
CABRERA: Where do you work? It's often the question people like to ask but many adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have trouble answering that question. It's estimated, in fact, that nearly 70 percent of them do not have jobs.
Amy Wright, the mother of two children with Down's syndrome, set out to change that. That's why she's this week's "CNN Hero."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY WRIGHT, CNN HERO: People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world. And yet, they're an invisibility minority because most of them are so used to being in the shadows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your first today.
WRIGHT: Our 40 employees. they're proud to be employed and they will shout it from the rooftops. It's given them a sense of being valued and respected in ways that we take for granted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Curious to find out how Amy's making this all happen? Go to cnnheroes.com. While you're there, nominate someone who is changing the world to be a 2017 "CNN Hero."
[15:52:14] CABRERA: Late this week, President Trump again insisted he would build that wall along the Mexican/American border. That type of heated rhetoric has some Americans wondering what side of the wall they want to live on.
As Leyla Santiago shows us, you may be surprised by some of those picking up and crossing the southern border in search of new lives.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in San Miguel, where the colonial era meets the rush of today.
SANTIAGO: Culture fills the streets. And so do American retirees, finding a haven to call home in Mexico.
RANDALL HARRIS, U.S. CITIZEN LOOKING FOR MEXICAN HOME: It's a great size as well.
SANTIAGO: Leanora and Randall Harris have lived in California for more than 30 years.
LEANORA HARRIS, U.S. CITIZEN LOOKING FOR MEXICAN HOME: Beautiful.
SANTIAGO: These grandparents are looking for a new home here.
RANDALL HARRIS: The edge in the United States has gotten to be a little rough.
LEANORA HARRIS: The lack of compassion of the present administration, it's concerning.
SANTIAGO: Local realtors say they're seeing more U.S. citizens, like Leanora and Randall, speeding up retirement plans and buying homes in San Miguel.
UNIDENTIFIED REAL ESTATE AGENT: We do hear a lot more of -- I don't know how to say this delicately, dissatisfaction with the current climate in the United States.
KATHY PEOPLES, U.S. CITIZEN WHO MOVED TO MEXICO: All the hate speak in the United States, I couldn't be around it anymore.
SANTIAGO: Kathy Peoples just moved from Maryland. She worked on Capitol Hill. The day that Trump was sworn into office, she moved to Mexico.
(on camera): Did the election make you take that step?
PEOPLES: It seems like Trump represents the fear of the population who got him elected and the possibility that things were going to change.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Making it easy for her to join the growing number of Americans taking advantage of affordable health care and the lower cost of living in San Miguel.
PEOPLES: I have no plans to go back.
LEANORA HARRIS: That's so nice:
SANTIAGO: All this, likely, a part of the future for the Harris family.
RANDALL HARRIS: We have immigrants as part of the family, and we're concerned about that. Part of the reason for being down here is almost like planning ahead.
LEANORA HARRIS: Because of the volatility of this administration, you never know what can happen.
SANTIAGO: No matter what happens, Americans are finding a new life here, far away from the politics they left behind.
Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Miguel.
CABRERA: If you're looking to create the future of technology, Apple's senior vice president, Phil Schiller, says learn how to code.
Here's CNN's Laurie Segall.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: How do you try to get people invested in developing apps, developing this kind of technology at an early age?
[15:55:01] PHILIP SCHILLER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WORLDWIDE MANAGEMENT, APPLE: The growth of the Apple developer economy is a potential driving force for the whole economy in America and other countries around the word.
One of the cool things that I'm proud that we're working on is an education program called Everyone Can Code. It's a playoff of the anyone can cook from "Ratatouille," that movie. It's kind of the same thing, Everyone Can Cook, but not everybody will be a chef.
We all grew up where you had to learn a foreign language. I think it's really important that people learn to code. Because as kids growing up, maybe you have the propensity to be a great developer, but by the time you get older, you haven't tried it you might not be willing to start. If you don't become a developer, later on in life, chances are your life will interact with a software programmer and you want to understand where they're coming from.
One of the programs we're launching is K-12 in the United States, Everyone Can Code. Swift playgrounds to help kids learn how to control robots and make drones fly. I think that can have a huge change in our economy, and just in the education of students around the world, if people are approaching it as just like a foreign language. Everyone needs to code.
CABRERA: For more on this, check out the new tech section on the website, CNN.com/tech.
We'll be right back.