For the Record with Greta, Transcript 3/16/2017
Show: FOR THE RECORD
Date: March 16, 2017
Guest: Chris Van Hollen, Bill Kristol, Nicholas Kristof, Matthew Rosenberg, Diane Black, Diane Black, John Yarmuth, Nick Kristoff, Bill Kristol, Gordon Chang
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, NBC NEWS HOST FOR THE RECORD: Of course, I have
Wisconsin going all the way winning, and beating Virginia tech starting
tonight. Thank you, Chuck for that.
TODD: Ok, great.
VAN SUSTEREN: Tonight no evidence of a wiretap. A stunning bipartisan
rejection of President Trump claims that he was wiretapped by President
Obama or any kind of surveillance at all. But then, a bigger stunner,
despite that joint statement of no evidence from the highest ranking
Republican and Democrat, the White House is not backing down. Democrats
though are now calling for an apology. But Sean Spicer, on behalf of the
president is not going there, so what happens now and what will we hear
from the FBI? And also, battle lines are drawn over the new Trump budget.
Who are the winners? Defense and border security, and who are the losers,
the EPA, cancer research, meals on wheels and much more. We`re going to
talk to the top Democrat and top Republican on the budget committee.
And tonight, Speaker Paul Ryan trying to stop the Republican revolt over
his health care plan, the GOP rivals say the Republican health care bill is
dead on arrival. Most say that GOP health care bill is going to change,
but the big question, how, and how much?
President Trump`s surveillance claims of wiretap claim shut down. The
Senate intelligence committee saying, based on the information available to
us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance
by any element in the United States government either before or after
Election Day 2016. Now, that news broke right before White House press
secretary Sean Spicer, was supposed to begin his briefing, he was more than
an hour late. And well, you just had to be there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Sean, are you saying that despite the findings, the
bipartisan findings of the senate intelligence committee?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, they`re not findings.
There`s a statement out today, they have not begun this, as you know
yesterday, two days ago, the Department of Justice asked nor an additional
week. The statement clearly says at this time, that they don`t believe
that. They have yet to go through the information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that the president still stands by his
allegation that President Obama ordered wiretapping or surveillance of
Trump Tower, despite the fact that the senate intelligence committee says
they see there`s no issue that it happened.
SPICER: No, first of all, he stands by it. You`re mischaracterizing what
happened today is the question. I believe he will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know the senate and house intelligence committee.
Both leaders from both parties on both of those panels saying they don`t
see any evidence of any wiretapping. How can the president go on and
SPICER: Because that is not – you`re mischaracterizing what Chairman
Nunez said. He said, I think it`s possible. He is following up on this.
To suggest that is – you`re stating unequivocally that you somehow – you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said –
SPICER: Right and I think we`ve already cleared that up. He said exactly
that. The president has already said clearly when he referred to
wiretapping, he is referring to surveillance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like you and the president are saying now.
We don`t mean wiretapping any more. That is not true anymore.
SPICER: No, no, that is not –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it going to be next?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going back to the fact that the president used
wiretapping in quotes, last night he said it was very important it was in
quotes. Out of the four tweets where he accuses Barack Obama of
wiretapping him, he only used quotes in two of them. Does he feel like
Trump tower was broadly surveilled?
SPICER: He was very clear about this last night. He talked about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he wasn`t.
SPICER: Yeah, he was. He meant it, he put it in quotes, and it was very
broad. I understand that, that is the point of them looking into this. I
think the idea is to look into this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If all this comes out and there`s no proof that
President Obama had any role in any wiretapping, there was no wiretapping.
Will president Trump then offer an apology?
SPICER: That is like three times this weekend, I think the answer is.
We`re not going to prejudge where the outcome of this is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the –
SPICER: No, hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the wiretapping, the house intelligence committee
and senate intelligence committee –
SPICER: No, here`s the quote. I think it`s very possible, that is what he
said when he said the president`s communication could have been swept up in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Here`s what White House Intelligence Committee Chairman
Devin Nunez said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any reason to believe that the president
himself or anyone working for him in the White House, would be one of these
names that may have been swept up in something that could have ultimately
related to what happened with Michael Flynn?
DEVIN NUNES, REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I
think it`s very possible. Like I said, we should know that by Friday. We
don`t have any evidence that that took place. In fact, I – I don`t
believe just in the last week of time, the people we talked to, I don`t
think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Remember, it was the White House asking these committees to
investigate, and tonight the president stands by his surveillance claims
despite having any evidence. Here`s what President Trump said last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the most part,
I`m not going to discuss it, because we have it before the committee, and
we will be submitting things before the committee very soon. That hasn`t
been submitted as of yet.
But it`s potentially a very serious situation. And don`t forget, when I
say wiretap, those words were in quotes, that really covers, because
wiretapping is pretty old fashioned stuff, but that really covers
surveillance and many other things. Wiretap covers a lot of different
things. I think you`re going to find some very interesting items coming to
the forefront over the next two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: With me, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from the great
state of Maryland. Good evening, sir.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, MARYLAND DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Greta, it`s great to be
VAN SUSTEREN: And I should add that late today, we got a statement from
Senator Lindsey Graham saying, I strongly believe these statements by
political leaders, that would be the House and Senate Intel Leaders, both
sides of the aisle, should not be a substitute for a public response from
the Department of Justice on the matter, it`s entirely acceptable for DOJ
and FBI to make a simple statement that goes to the heart of the matter
without jeopardizing classified information? Are you satisfied (inaudible)
with the house or senate or do you think Lindsey Graham that the FBI should
be a sort of the final statement on this.
VAN HOLLEN: I`m satisfied with the bipartisan statements out of the house
and senate intelligence committee. I think it`s worth having the FBI
weigh-in on this, obviously, FBI director Comey want to the do that, and I
would welcome his statements. But Greta, this just shows that we`ve got a
really dangerous situation for the country. I mean, this is obviously bad
for the White House, but it`s bad for the country, when the credibility of
the president of the United States is just zeroed out, entirely, because we
need at least those in the global community to be able to take the words of
the president seriously, and unfortunately, we`ve learned today on a
bipartisan basis that that cannot be done.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it seems that – it`s a Tad bit turned upside down.
We`ve been talking about this for the last 10 or 12 days. I went back and
got a hard copy of the New York Times which is something that the Trump
White House is hanging its hat on, and the hard copy, not the unlined copy
said wiretap data used in inquiry of Trump aids. That is what they`re
saying. I will add that we`ve had investigations by the house intel senate
intel and they say that they have done an investigation, in fact, Senator
Warren`s spokesperson said today, the bipartisan leaders of the
intelligence committee would not have made the statement they made, without
having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities. So even though
this started as a legitimate concern of some sort by President Obama we`ve
had all this since.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, look Greta, I don`t think there`s any basis for the
Trump tweets to begin with, and the fact that the White House continues to
try and spin head over heels in that clip you just played, just shows that
the bottom continues to fall out of their credibility. And the president
has already been somebody who`s in this alternative universe, this
alternative fact place, and this just goes to show they`re stuck there, and
again, it`s bad enough for the president and the White House – it`s a real
danger for the country.
VAN SUSTEREN: In what way? I have to admit I don`t like it, I don`t like
this either. We have gotten to the bizarre point, I don`t like this
either. I actually – if these four senators and some of them are on the
same party are saying they talked to people and it didn`t happen, you know
that is where I am. How do you see it as dangerous?
VAN HOLLEN: I see it dangerous, because when the president of the United
States makes very serious accusations, accusing a former president of
essentially breaking the law. And then we discover on a bipartisan basis
that is not just true, there`s no basis for those statements. The
question, of course arises, can you ever trust what the president says at
moments that it will matter to the country? And in terms of every day
conversations he has with the country and with international leaders. So,
I think it is really dangerous, we heard a lot of alternative facts during
the campaign. We continue to hear them after the Inaugural, but this one
had that seriousness, because it essentially accused a former president of
breaking the law. It does not be fitting the office of the president or
somebody to be making those baseless claims.
VAN SUSTEREN: I hear a lot of that discussion inside the beltway. Then I
look at last night with President Trump in Nashville and I know he has
thousands of supporters across the country. They think the media`s making
a big deal out of this, the Democrats are, and some Republicans, I mean his
supporters are very strong right now. I don`t think they think this is
VAN HOLLEN: Well let me say this, we heard candidate Trump saying during
the campaign, he could walk down a street of New York and shoot people, his
supporters would still be with him. You know what? That is disturbing and
it may be true with respect to his core supporters as this president puts
out more policies that are totally inconsistent with the promises that he
made during the campaign trail. I think a lot of those people who
supported Trump with some hesitation are going to see this for what it is.
And today the Trump budget came down. I can tell you the Trump budget
betrays many of the promises and commitments that he made to his supporters
and things he said on the campaign trail that others in the country may
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you for joining us, it`s the first time I`ve
been able to call you senator. I`ve called you congressman for so many
years, but congratulations on your win and thank you for joining us.
VAN HOLLEN: It`s great to be on your new show. Thanks, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bill Kristol is the founder and editor of the Weekly
Standard and Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for the New York Times. Nick
first to you. We have the house Intel committee. We have the senate Intel
committee saying no evidence. Where does this take us?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well I think it was pretty
clear right from the beginning, there was no evidence of President Obama
wiretapping President Trump, but now you have Republicans confirming that,
I guess I question how much of an impact that has on Trump supporters,
after all, he said years ago, that within days he was presenting definitive
evidence that President Obama was born in Kenya, that never emerged. He
was going to present definitive evidence of massive voter fraud that never
emerged. The evidence he was talking about now will never emerge either.
It undermines the credibility of the U.S., and when there`s a North Korea
crisis for example. And President Trump makes an announcement to the world
and appeals to support for allies, American credibility will be called into
question. It will distract from what I think is a more important national
security issue, that is the allegations of collusion between elements of
Trump campaign and Russia, which are unproven, but absolutely we need to
VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, where do you see this? There was the whole
controversy, I mean Donald Trump will be pushed the whole birther movement
and that is gone away. That is completely moved off everyone`s radar
screen. Is this going to move off everyone`s radar? Is this different?
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD FOUNDER AND EDITOR: I think it`s
different because he is president. Private Citizens can say irresponsible
things. Candidates can say irresponsible things. President of the United
States – that is a very different matter. And he is saying he is got the
White House spokesman standing behind him. Donald Trump says the podium
should say president of the United States on the seal. It`s not Trump
tower any more, defending Trump. He is articulating the judgments of the
president of the United States.
VAN SUSTEREN: What`s the real impact? I mean even Speaker Ryan was just
down with Chuck Todd in Meet the Press, I mean nobody – his own party is
not defending him. We keep saying credibility, but what sort of – tell me
some real impact.
KRISTOL: I mean it`s hard to know.
VAN SUSTEREN: It`s so unusual situations.
KRISTOL: It is so unusual. It`s hard to measure the impact. How much
damage does it take for people to get used to a reckless sitting president
and in two weeks we`ll know more and then in two weeks if we don`t. Will
he then say I was wrong on this? It does damage the general level of
public discourse, you know it`s hard to know, at the end of the day, some
of his supporters are going to dismiss this, I think it`s hurting him. I
actually don`t agree with the people that say, this doesn`t affect his
support. It is funny, Trump just makes I it.
You know, Trump will be president, he won`t be a very good president, but
he`ll do what he does. We need to focus on getting the conservative agenda
back on track. I would love to have some fresh thinking. We can talk more
about those issues on this show, and then this happens you get pulled back
into the Trump swamp, why are we discussing this? It`s trivial. They were
saying compared to North Korea or health care or whatever, it is kind of
important that the actual president of the United States is staying things
that are false and reckless and having the entire having a spokesman back
VAN SUSTEREN: Nick, in terms of our intelligence committee, they`re the
ones, especially the FBI they must be sitting there wanting to say
something, I know they`re – the FBI director Jim Comey is going to speak
on Monday, but there was at least one report that the FBI director will ask
the justice department to be able to speak out. Any thoughts on what this
is – if this is having any impact on the FBI?
KRISTOF: I don`t know firsthand from my own reporting, what I understand
is that there`s a real feeling in the FBI being demoralized, being accused
of being a pawn in some kind of President Obama power gain for political
purposes against President Trump that is not what they did. And in fact is
not how Washington works. There is a clear process for probable cause, in
the criminal area, through FISA warrants in the intelligence arena, the
idea that the president is calling J. Edgar Hoover and asking him to drop
in a bug in Trump Tower, that is not how the world works in 2017.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is wild, isn`t it? This whole thing, I sit here and
watch Spicer today, and watch this whole thing –
KRISTOL: If you were to believe Trump, you would believe the FBI director
is lying. People supporting the FBI director are lying.
There`s a big conspiracy, 20, 50, 100 career civil servants and
intelligence officers who are purposely doing something illegal.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think people probably could have thought we read all the
investigations about Russia and our election. Anyone who`s having a
conversation with Russia, people are always spying on the Russians, but
they would be picked up in a sweep. That was the big difference.
KRISTOL: He is saying that others did it at the direction of President
Obama, knowing it was illegal. It does sort of cast doubt on the integrity
of large numbers of people working at the U.S. government, doesn`t it?
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t know. Anyway we`ll take a quick break.
Nick and Bill, stick around, we`re going to take a break. Up next, looking
for the source of the wiretap claim, we`re going to talk to New York Times
reporters, does his reporting support what they`re saying.
Plus a battle over the Trump budget, a big boost for defense, some other
programs on the chopping block.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can`t spend money on programs just because they
sound good, great meals on wheels sounds great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And there`s terrifying new video from our past made public
for the first time. We will tell you why we`re talking about it today?
And what it has to do with a top diplomatic mission by the Secretary of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe the president, though, when he says that
President Obama wiretapped Trump tower?
SPICER: That is what I said, we cleared that up, and that we see no
evidence of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: We`re back following the breaking news, the senate
intelligence committee just a short time ago, saying there is no evidence
of surveillance at Trump tower. This is President Trump last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve been reading about things, I read in – I think it was January
20th, the New York Times article, where they were talking about
wiretapping, there was an article. I think they used that exact term. I
read other things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not wait to tweet about it until you can prove it,
the value of your words when you can`t provide evidence.
TRUMP: Well because the New York Times wrote about it, not that I respect
the New York Times, I call it the failing New York Times, but they wrote on
January 20th, using the word wiretap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: You can see the word wiretap was used in the print headline
on January 20th and it did appear twice in the story, the online version
has a different headline, Intercepted Russian Communications part of
inquiries to Trump associates. It did not assert that Mr. Obama had
ordered surveillance on Mr. Trump, nor did it mention Mr. Obama, rather the
story referred to intercepted information collected overseas.
Matthew Rosenberg is one of the reporters on that story, And a National
Security Reporter for the New York Times, nice to see you Matt.
MATTHEW ROSENBURG, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Thank you for having me on.
VAN SUSTEREN: It did not say in the article that President Obama
wiretapped candidate Trump?
ROSENBURG: It actually, supposed he said that, that there was no
indication he was, that we didn`t know that and then trust me, I`ve said
this before, if we knew that someone was surveilling President Trump, we
would write that, that is a great story. We don`t know it. It doesn`t
seem to have happened. And I`m honored to be cited by the president, I
guess, it`s a complete misreading of the story.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think he is doing that?
ROSENBURG: It comes out, goes online the night of January 19th, on March
3rd, there`s right wing talk radio talking about how the president was
under surveillance. On March 4th, he is tweeting about this. It`s a
pretty big distance. Then it takes another two weeks, before he finds the
reason why he tweeted. In that time, you had info wars and a bunch of
other fringe websites and news sites coming up with a theory, justification
after the fact. The New York Times are the ones that reported it,
therefore, we have the evidence, it`s the New York Times, and they`re
against us. It`s bizarre and –
VAN SUSTEREN: Who did get caught in this wiretap and where was this
ROSENBURG: A lot of it was Russians talking to Russians about contact with
Trump associates. It was not, you know they were surveilling this person
or that person.
VAN SUSTEREN: It wasn`t me calling a Russian and getting caught in the
VAN SUSTEREN: It was Russian to Russians rather than one of the Trump
associates or someone making a call to a Russian?
ROSENBURG: There may have been some of that. We know that was the case
with General Flynn, he was caught talking to the Russian ambassador. We`ve
been monitoring the Russian ambassador since 1919 probably? We tap his
phones, yes. That is where these guys get caught up. We don`t have any
indication that Trump, or Trump tower were under surveillance.
VAN SUSTEREN: Your sources are they – just generally, your national
security. Your job is national security. Are they upset by this at all?
How are they feeling? The survey is being played in the public domain?
ROSENBURG: You know, I think its two ways, you have people who have left
the former administration, who are going to be upset by most of this, and
they`re inherently not in favor of the current president. You have a lot
of career officials, people who have given their life to this, who are
still in the government. They`re most upset by this, because they know
they never presented this to the president. He is saying, basically, your
work doesn`t matter, I have my own sources. That is deeply insulting to
people in the CIA and FBI who don`t get rich doing their work and offer us
their lives doing it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, thank you.
ROSENBURG: Thank you very much.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ahead, Speaker Paul Ryan promising changes in the GOP health
care bill. Will it be enough to get the votes within its own party?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There really isn`t a great deal of unity over Paul
Ryan`s replacement plan. It`s false for him to go around saying, you guys
ran on my plan. The heck we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Also do you like defense and border security? How about the
EPA, Meals on wheels? Well the new White House budget sparking a tough
debate on America`s priorities. We will talk to the two top lawmakers on
the budget committee that is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER: This is always going to be an open process where
we get feedback from people, we get feedback from members, we get feedback
from people, and we incorporate that feedback.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Paul Ryan saying problems are rallying around the GOP health
care bill. And today the bill did squeak through the house budget
committee. Three Republicans voted against it, a possible sign of trouble
ahead, meanwhile, a fight opening on another front, President Trump
releasing his 2018 budget, calling for more funding for the defense
department, homeland security and veteran`s affairs, b big cuts for the
State Department, Education Department, EPA and the Housing Department.
The president`s budget director Mick Mulvaney defending cuts and programs
like meals on wheels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, BUDGET DIRECTOR: We can`t spend money on programs just
because they sound good, meals on wheels sounds great, again, that is a
state decision to fund that particular horse. Take the federal money give
it to the states, say, we want to give you money for programs that don`t
work, I can`t defend that any more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me, House budget Committee Chair and registered
Nurse Congresswoman Diane Black, Republican from the great state of
Tennessee, nice to see you congresswoman.
DIANE BLACK, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR AND REGISTERED NURSE: Great to
be with you, Greta. Thank you for having me.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ok, your chair for the budget committee, but before we get
to that, from your position, your former job as a registered nurse. You
are still a registered Nurse, are you satisfied that this GOP bill is the
best for care for the patient?
BLACK: I am still, I am interested in still seeing some changes, Greta.
This is not the end. We`re continuing to talk and make the bill better, I
want at the end of the day to being sure that all of the folks are going to
have an opportunity to have affordable accessible care.
VAN SUSTEREN: But having an opportunity, and you know this from your own
career as a nurse doesn`t mean that people always going to go on time, you
know, they need preventive care. They need colonoscopies before they get
colon cancer. I mean, does this bill provide those opportunities for people
who are lower income or maybe even, you know, poor so they can get that
necessary preventive care?
BLACK: Yes, Greta, we`re putting a lot of pieces in place and so, you
know, a big portion of our population, over 60 percent of our population
get their health care through their health care insurance through their
employer. And then we have folks that are on Medicaid, that`s a different
population. And then we have people that are just unable to get through
employers and they don`t qualify for Medicaid and so we`re trying to look
at all three of those populations and to make sure that we have something
in place to get access to people in each one of those areas.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t detect they`re fully embracing this, I don`t know.
Maybe it`s my imagination but I detect there`s some things you don`t like
BLACK: There are always pieces that can be made better and that`s the
reason why we`re going through the regular order. It`s been through two
committees already. It went through my committee today. We actually sent
some instructions to our rules committee because as you know, we cannot
amend this bill. What the process is, is that our budget committee is there
to say that the two committees that gave us the plans, their bills, that
they met the reconciliation instructions that we gave to them, but we`re
not able to amend it.
However, we were able to get an opportunity for our committee to have four
different areas of instruction that they`re sending to the rules committee
that will again make the bill better. We are going to just stay in the
fight here. This is not the end. This is regular order. And you know what
Greta, I`m really glad after being here for seven years and I`m
experiencing regular order. We are in the (INAUDIBLE) of last six years.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, if you could amend it. If you had a magic wand
and everybody to take your amendment, what would it be?
BLACK: Well, one of those is that I think we ought to give states
opportunity to have more control over when they get their Medicaid dollars.
Right now in the bill, there`s a per capita. Some of the states actually
want to have block grants that give them much more latitude to do what they
want to do with their Medicaid dollars. I am for that. That was one of the
provisions that we passed out of our committee today and passed along for
suggestion to the rules committee to consider. It actually is our
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have the votes in the full house because I take it
you`re not going to get – I don`t think you`re going to get Democrats to
vote. Do you have enough Republicans without those republicans who don`t
like it to pass this?
BLACK: I don`t know the answer to that. I know there was (INAUDIBLE)on
yesterday. I`m not privy to that information. But I can tell you that we`re
still working and that is something that I`ll continue to say because
America hasn`t seen this. They haven`t seen regular order.
I haven`t seen regular order. It`s been six years that I`ve been here, now
my seventh year, we`re finally seeing a process that really works along the
way. Ease (ph) up along the way, the bill gets made better and we still
have steps to go yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us.
BLACK: You`re very welcome. Thank you for having me Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump making the case on health care with some
campaign style rallies. He was in Nashville last week and next week he`ll
head to Kentucky, the same state that Vice President Pence travelled to
Joining me, Democratic Kentucky congressman John Yarmuth. He`s the ranking
member of the House Democratic Committee. Today, Congressman Yarmuth voted
no in the budget committee to the GOP health care bill. Good evening sir.
REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY: Hello Greta. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Good to have you. Why I know you don`t like the bill because
you voted no, but before we get to that, would you have been content just
to have – would Obamacare have been fine just to sort of go on the next
few years or was there – was it going to collapse?
YARMUTH: No, it wasn`t going to collapse. I think all of us recognize that
there`s a problem in the individual insurance market, we have put safe
guards in place to help mitigate the losses that some insurance companies
might experience if they got disproportionate amount of sick people. That`s
happened. The Republicans actually sabotaged the system and cut funding for
So, we do have a problem with the individual market and we need to figure
out how to correct that. The rest of the ACA is working just fine. The
Medicaid expansion is working fine. We have the lowest rate of increase in
both group insurance and Medicare premiums and costs in 50 years. So a lot
is going well with the Affordable Care Act. We do have a problem in the
individual market which by the way only affects about 6 percent of the
VAN SUSTEREN: Al right. Was the Medicaid group – was that expanding from
year to year to year?
YARMUTH: The Medicaid –
VAN SUSTEREN: The number of people in Medicaid. Was that a growing number?
YARMUTH: It actually does grow year to year to year but people come and go
off of – oh, I`m sorry, Medicare, yes. We know that –
VAN SUSTEREN: Medicaid. Medicaid.
YARMUTH: Oh, Medicaid, I`m sorry. It`s noisy in here. In Medicaid, we know
that people come and go off Medicaid very frequently. They get on and then
they find work and they do better and they get off Medicaid. So, we expect
that the numbers will be – depends really, Greta, on how many of the 19
states that have not expanded Medicaid decide ultimately to do it. If they
do it, the obviously there`ll be more people on Medicaid. If they don`t,
then we expect that number to remain relatively constant.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, hypothetically, if those states only decide
to do Medicaid expansion and with the federal government paying 90 percent
to 10 percent what the states do, that`s obviously got a huge price tag. I
want to take care of people from, you know, I want people to have access to
health care, but I`m trying to think how do we work these numbers?
YARMUTH: Well, I mean, the original plan, the ACA when we passed it, the
numbers were actually projected very well. We reduced the deficit by about
$125 billion in the first 10 years, by $1 trillion in the second years. So
we anticipated that and the mistake in the CBO numbers basically resulted
because the Supreme Court said that we couldn`t force states to do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well then I don`t understand, I get so many e-mail
complaints about Obama. I`m sure a lot of people got a lot of nice things
to say about it too but I focus on the complaint. People are saying that
like in Arizona, the premiums go up skyrocket, more than 100 percent. I
mean these catastrophic numbers, these co-pays that people – they`re
punishing people because they – I`m not saying punishing people because –
they`re punishing to people who can`t pay them. So I`m hearing these horror
YARMUTH: Again, that`s in a couple of states and that relates only to the
individual insurance market where there is a problem. That`s not the rest
of the insurance market and we`re talking again about 6 percent of the
population. We need to work on that. What the Republican proposal does is
make it worse because they take away the subsidies for the premiums, which
by the way rose with the amount of the premium increase. So, even though
premiums might have increased by 50 or 70 percent, the subsidies were
increasing at a proportionate rate so the individual does not add any more
money. What the Republicans do –
VAN SUSTEREN: But the subsidies have a cost. I mean, we got to get the
subsidies from some place?
YARMUTH: That`s right, they do. And at the core of it is we have to do
something about health care cost in general. You know, one of the things
that we wanted to do is deal with prescription drug cost and we haven`t
gotten any cooperation from the other side on that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well we got a lot of work to do. Anyway, congressman, thank
you very much for joining us.
YARMUTH: Thanks Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, the big picture on the Trump agenda. We`ll be
back with Nick Kristoff and Bill Kristol, that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: No interest in particularly embarrassing
the president. He wanted to back away and correct himself. But we`re 12, 13
days, almost two weeks from his tweet. We`ve seen no evidence. If he`s got
more information, share it with at least the intelligence committee or
retract his statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Mark Warner talking about the wiretap controversy.
It`s a cloud that`s been hanging over the Trump White House for nearly two
weeks. And NBC`s first read (ph) pointed out the President`s agenda is now
“stuck in the mud.” The travel ban has been blocked and the GOP health care
plan seems to be unraveling.
A new FNC poll shows that among those opposed to the plan, 67 percent say
it changes Obamacare too much and 21 percent say it doesn`t change
Obamacare enough. But there is some good news for President Trump, 51
percent say he is fulfilling more promises than other presidents and
supporters of his support – and thousands of his supporters showing up
last night at his rally in Nashville.
Some stood in line for more than 12 hours to see him. Back with me, Bill
Kristol and Nicholas Kristof. Nick, I think if I had been president –
nobody has actually voted me to be president or speaker of the house – I
would have started with infrastructure and not health care because there`s
a little bit for someone in that. Some people get jobs and some people
don`t have to drive over potholes. I mean, it seems like it would have been
a better way to start an administration.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Absolutely. Well, I
mean more broadly. Every president until now has always started off trying
to reach out and to build political capital initially. And instead
President Trump really hit almost a concerted effort to squander political
capital by focusing on base and then indeed focusing on repealing
And I do indeed think that`s one reason why his agenda is stalled. I think
that`s a fair assessment. I do have to say though that, I mean I, while I
think his agenda in building things up is stalled, I do worry about his
capacity to still bring things down and you know, in the case o health
care, I think it`s – it sure looks like that health care bill is going to
spiral down the drain.
But it may well be that he is also, if nothing gets through, he`s going to
preside over the collapse of Obamacare by essentially undoing the mandate
with just – with nothing to replace it.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it will be called Trumpcare at that point?
KRISTOF: And, I mean, he will own it but at that point, you will have
millions of people who will lose health care insurance and the various
estimates are that, you know, some are between 25,000 and 50,000 extra
deaths would arrive each year. That`s one extra death every 15 minutes as a
result of that. And he would blame President Obama for creating supposedly
unsustainable health care system.
Democrats would squaff (ph), his supporters would explain it but the bottom
line is, at the end of the day an awful lot more people would die. And then
you look internationally, and you know, he has constraints domestically on
his agenda. If he wants to do something very risky with North Korea, he
doesn`t have a lot of constraints and that`s one thing that keeps me up in
the middle of the night as well.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: I think he has a pretty
big constraint there. Secretary of defense Jim Mattis, I do not believe
fully he`s doing very risky things nor does H.R. McMaser, the National
Security Advisor. So I think it will turn out that Trump –
VAN SUSTEREN: See I think he`s –
KRISTOL: – more constrained on substantive matters than people might have
VAN SUSTEREN: I think his unpredictability actually is something that may
benefit him with North Korea, in a peculiar way because, I mean that guy,
Kim Jong-Un is so unpredictable and I actually don`t think that Trump
would, you know, with the second of defense there, I don`t think he`s going
to do anything, you know, wildly –
KRISTOL: We are in a kind of crazy, I mean they`re going to try different
substance on his policies but we are in this highly bizarre position that
someone like me is hoping that the secretary of defense and the national
security adviser constrains Trump to a more responsible course on the same
drastic policy, and I tend to think that does happen on a lot of issues.
But it`s also true that how much damage is done by this – by doing that
executive order in the first week. I`m quite hardlined on the war on terror
but now if you try to pursue it more sensibly let`s say, I don`t know,
escalate the war against ISIS, to do everything that might be important.
There were same things in Homeland Security that might be important. It`s
not as if we may –
VAN SUSTEREN: But why can`t –
KRISTOL: – Homeland Security. He`s now discredited it by doing this
initial executive order in such a sloppy and haphazard and foolish and
mean-spirited way. And the same with health care, I`m for conservative
informed agenda on health care. I think there are better ways to do it than
Obamacare. Honestly, can I go out now and give, you know, give a talk or
write an article that says there is a serious Republican alternative after
this fiasco we`ve seen?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, and like the thing that sort of bothers me about
Washington is that it doesn`t seem like Capitol Hill can multitask. Every
single person is probably watching TV (inaudible) probably also making
dinner, probably picking up toys from the floor, doing all sorts of – but
you know, we do one – congress is like we`re doing health care. Why can`t
they do infrastructure simultaneously, if something that – you know why
can`t they do all these other projects in which people might find or tax
reform – any of these.
KRISTOF: Well, I guess one thing that troubles me is that President Trump
and the administration have approached national security, which is of
course a concern that everybody shares through this very narrow prism, just
a military buildup and the security is indeed one of those things that you
assure not only by bombing things, but also with the diplomacy by
environmental regulations. I mean our greatest national security threat in
the last decade was probably the risk of Ebola killing many, many
Americans, and that was stopped with foreign aid in West Africa, which is
one thing –
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me just say one thing. Let me do a tease, there`s a new
Ebola movie coming out that I`ve already seen that is actuall breathtaking
Nick that I want you to see because I know you`d like it, but I got to take
a break. But anyway, both of you, thank you very much.
KRISTOF: Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ahead, a truly stunning video, the government declassified
never before seen nuclear weapons tests from 60 years ago, why it matters
now, and what the secretary of state is saying today.
VAN SUSTEREN: In just a few minutes, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
departing Japan and heading to South Korea and tensions over at North
Korea`s nuclear program. And tonight I have something new to show you, it
highlights what the stakes are as we talk about this issue. These are newly
declassified U.S. government videos of nuclear weapons tests from the
1950s. Vivid illustrations of the destructive power of nuclear weapons.
That pacific island is still uninhabitable six decades later. And this is a
test from 1955 at a site in Nevada called Area 2. It`s part of a series of
14 tests known as Operation Teapot. And here`s another from that operation,
the government made about 7,000 videos of nuclear tests which you`ll
remember those videos as we think about North Korea`s recent missile tests.
This morning, Secretary Tillerson said the U.S. needs to rethink its
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The diplomatic and other efforts of the
past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearization have
failed. So we have 20 years of failed approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Gordon Chang is an Asia expert, author of “Nuclear Showdown:
North Korea Takes on the World.” Nice to see you Gordon.
GORDON CHANG, ASIAN EXPERT: Thank you so much.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, everything is going in the wrong direction. They`ve had
five nuclear tests. They`ve had increasing number of ballistic missile
tests. There is no sign that anything is good. We`ve been nice to them,
mean to them, sanctions, we`ve threatened them, we`ve talked to them in
six-party talks, what`s left to do?
CHANG: There`s only one strategy left to pursue. That`s to impose severe
cause on China for supporting their nuclear weapons ballistic missile
programs plus their illicit activities. Now, we haven`t done that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
CHANG: Because I think that we`ve put the priority of integrating China
into the international system at much higher level than disarming North
Korea. This goes back to the administration of George W. Bush and the start
of the six-party talks in 2003. But what we`ve ended up with is a very
arrogant Beijing and a nuked up North Korea.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, the thing is if we look at North Korea, it`s
not just nuclear weapons, they have conventional weapons. They even have
chemical weapons. Look at the half-brother who was just murdered. I mean,
we got so (INAUDIBLE) and it`s got the (INAUDIBLE) I mean, everything going
in the direction of very bad.
CHANG: Yes, well, they already got three missiles that can hit the lower
48 states. Now they haven`t been tested or adequately tested but they`re
based on proven technologies. So within about four years or so, they`ll be
able to make a nuke to those and then hold us to ransom. They also can now
make a nuke to an intermediate range missile and that can reach American
forces in Asia.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the Trump policy towards North Korea if you can
CHANG: They don`t have one yet. It takes a long time to do this. Also,
it`s very, very complicated because you`re dealing not just with North
Korea, you`re dealing with Iran, Pakistan and of course China. Now,
Tillerson`s brief from the White House was a couple things. One of them was
to actually find out what China`s position is and how far they can push
them. And they need to know that before they can then make up theire own
policy, but it`s going to take them quite some time.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I don`t mean to be critical of the Trump administration
because the Obama, the Bush, the Clinton, nobody else has been able to
solve this as well. But now we`ve also got the new dynamic we saw last
week, the president of South Korea got the boot and she was more of a hard
line. So now we`re dealing with someone who is a little bit more moderate
but I don`t know what that`s going to tell us, at least we expect that.
CHANG: Right. May 9th there`s going to be an election. It would probably
be a so-called progressive and for the first time in about four or five
years, there`s going to be a lot of daylight between the positions of Seoul
and Washing on North Korea.
VAN SUSTEREN: But the new one is expected to want to talk more and
communicate more, have more diplomacy with North Korea which frankly hasn`t
worked and neither is the hard line one, the one who just got booted.
CHANG: Right. And also, a new president, if it comes from the progressive
camp will probably want to curtail a THAAD missile defense system, Terminal
High Altitude Area Defense. The U.S. has just deployed that in South Korea,
the Chinese are furious over it. And a new South Korean government may sort
of try to appease Beijing on this by limiting deployment or actually even
VAN SUSTEREN: Gordon, thank you.
CHANG: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: And coming up, I`ve been betrayed big time. I`ll tell you
the full story, next.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have something to say for the record, well, it`s finally
started, March Madness, the NCAA tournament. Now, we so need this because
it is a well needed annual diversion from the wild controversy that swirled
around Washington. Boy, do we have those controversies this year.
We are so drowning in fights here. So yesterday, before I anchored our show
live on Capitol Hill, I ran into two members of congress, Congressman Jason
Chaffetz of Utah and Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. Now those
two men, they`ve been my friends for a number of years, friends of my
So, I have every reason to believe that they would both make the right
decision in selecting this year`s NCAA winner. But alas, both of them, the
two members of congress failed me. They`ve betrayed me. Both of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I picked K.U. to win. I`m sorry cheese
head, but I want K.U.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you not?
CHAFFETS: You (INAUDIBLE) didn`t have a team in the tournament so I had to
pick a real winner, I couldn`t just take my –
VAN SUSTEREN: I previously told everybody if you want to watch picking
them that if you and Dowdy didn`t pick Wisconsin, I would never talk to you
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you pick Wisconsin to win?
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINS: I picked Virginia Tech. I cannot tell
VAN SUSTEREN: Why didn`t you pick Wisconsin?
GOWDY: Had I known I was going win with you or with you. That`s my honest
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Can you believe it, those guys doing that to my Badgers?
Yes, of course. I`m just kidding, but yes, go Badgers. And thank you for
watching tonight. I`ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m.
eastern. And listen, go to my Facebook page because there`s so much going
on in my Facebook page. A lot videos, behind the scenes. And I also want
you to follow me on twitter @Greta. Make sure you go there. And the great
thing about twitter, you could say horrible mean nasty things to me and you
can do it anonymously. I`m just kidding.
Anyway, “Hardballl” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>