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Meet the Press

Meet the Press - May 7, 2017

NBC News - Meet The Press

"05.07.17"

(BEGIN TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

This Sunday, health care fallout. President Trump gets a big win, and isn't afraid to gloat.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

How am I doing? Am I doing okay? I'm president. Hey, I'm president.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Democrats can't stop the Obamacare repeal, Yet aren't afraid to taunt.

DEMOCRATS:

Hey hey hey, goodbye.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And senators aren't afraid to make predictions, both Republicans--

SEN. BOB CORKER:

We've turned the volume off on health care.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--and Democrats.

SEN. ED MARKEY:

Zero chance, dead on arrival, over in the Senate.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We have the Obamacare repeal vote covered on all sides. Defending the bill with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Its chances in the Senate with Republican Senator Roy Blunt and the Democrats’ response with Senator Dianne Feinstein. Plus, Democrats lost the House in 2010 after passing Obamacare. What will happen now to Republicans who voted to kill it?

And sound familiar? A computer hack attack on the leading candidate in today's French presidential election. Why U.S. intel believes the Russians are at it again. Joining me for insight and analysis are Rich Lowry of The National Review; Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent; Matt Bai, national political columnist for Yahoo News; and Politico's Eliana Johnson. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest running show in television history, celebrating its 70th year, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And good Sunday morning. Chuck Todd is off today. It's not often you see a White House signing ceremony celebrating the passage of a bill that has merely made it through the House. But after their health care win, President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan were more than happy to spike the football, even if there is still a lot of green grass between them and the end zone.

That said, the House did just hand a skeptical Senate a bill not scored by the Congressional Budget Office, not read by most of those who voted for it, and that counts among its winners those with high incomes, wealthier people without preexisting conditions, the young, and large employers.

And among its losers, the poor, older Americans, people with preexisting conditions, and those who counted on Obamacare's essential health benefits. Still, this was a win that President Trump needed and got. Many people declared the repeal and replace movement dead as recently as this week. But the president, as he has done so many times before, proved people wrong.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MALE VOICE:

The ayes are 217, the nays are 213.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

After a legislative victory, a White House celebration.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

How am I doing? Am I doing okay? I'm president. Hey, I'm president. Can you believe it, right?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to scale back health care for millions of Americans. Bending, if not breaking, promises Mr. Trump has made.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I want to keep pre-existing condition. I think we need it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But the House bill would allow states to opt out of rules which prohibit insurance companies from raising rates on people with pre-existing conditions. Candidate Trump promised there will be no cuts to social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. But according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the first version of the bill, federal funding for Medicaid would drop by $880 billion over the next ten years. In January, President-elect Trump promised insurance for everybody, repeating a vow he made on the campaign trail.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But the Congressional Budget Office estimated 24 million people would lose health care over the next decade. The House bill eliminates the essential health benefits requirement, meaning insurance companies could choose not to cover services like maternity and pediatric care, mental health and prescription drugs, even under employer-based plans. Republicans say it will lower premiums overall.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

You'll have better health care at a lower cost.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The bill also ends federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Republicans still have to wrestle the bill through the Senate that House conservatives will accept. Some Republican senators already say the House bill “falls short,” “don't support the bill as currently constructed,” and have “more questions than answers.” Now a 13-member Senate working group will write a new bill.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER:

In the Senate bill, if you have a preexisting condition, you'll be able to get insurance. In fact, that law can't be changed.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And after this emotional plea--

JIMMY KIMMEL:

No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY:Would a child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life? I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Democrats are hoping to make health care a potent election issue, taunting Republicans on the House floor.

FEMALE VOICE:

--transactions related to North Korea and other purposes.

DEMOCRATS:

Hey hey hey, goodbye.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

After the vote, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed the ratings of 20 Republican-held seats to show new opportunities for Democrats in the midterms. And within an hour of the House vote, a Democrat running for governor of Virginia released this ad, blaming Republicans for crushing affordable health care.

TOM PERRIELLO:

And we'll make sure this never happens in Virginia.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And joining me now is the secretary of health and human services Tom Price. Thank you very much for being with us, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for joining us.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Thanks Andrea. Thank you so much. Good to be with you today.

ANDREA MITCHELL:Well good to be with you. Let’s talk about the health care bill as it was passed by the house. The president promised that he would take care of people with pre-existing conditions. Critics say that this bill as passed by the house does not.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

No, I think it’s absolutely true that the president is fulfilling his promise to the American people and that is to make certain that every single American has access to the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not that their government forces them to buy and make certain that we ensure that individuals with pre-existing illnesses and injuries and conditions are covered, but covered in a way that they want. Again, not that Washington forces them.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But you’re talking about access. Access at what price? Are you pricing people out of the market? Eighty four percent of people fifty five years and older according to your department’s own studies have pre-existing conditions. Are they going to be able to afford the price that is set because states can opt out and there will no longer be any requirement that this be affordable.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Absolutely. We think it’s going to be more affordable as a matter of fact, Andrea. It’s important to look at the people that we’re talking about. If you have Medicare, if you have Medicaid, if you have insurance through the VA or Tricare or through your employer, none of this affects you in the pre-existing illness or condition discussion that we’re having. If you do have a pre-existing condition and you’re in the exchange market right now, remember that many, many people have increasing premiums, increasing deductibles. They’re in an area of this country where there is either one insurer offering coverage or in some places none. Those are folks that have pre-existing illnesses and injuries and can’t get any care at all. They may have an insurance card, but they can’t get care--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But Mr. Secretary--

SEC. TOM PRICE:

This is a system that’s not working for patients and that’s what we’re trying to fix.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I didn’t mean to interrupt but let me just stipulate. There are areas, we know that in Iowa, now in Virginia, that there are insurance market issues. That could be fixed. But let’s stipulate that that still needs to be fixed. But what about this issue of pre-existing conditions. You have twenty two major health care groups. We’re going to scroll the names, let our viewers see twenty two groups including the AMA, you’re talking about the doctors, the American Lung Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association, twenty two groups, the AARP, nurses, even insurers. All of them are against the way the house passed this bill. Are they wrong?

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Well what I believe they’re not recognizing is that this is a different and we believe a better way to cover individual with pre-existing illnesses and injuries because it allows for every single person to get the access to the kind of coverage that they want. Look, nobody wants folks who have a pre-existing illness or injury not to be covered. We want to make certain that we can do it at a lower price and broader choices for patients. So that again they’re able to see the doctor that they want to see. They’re able to go to the hospital that they want to go to, and to the clinic that they want to go to, not that Washington forces them to participate in.

So this is a, yes, it's a different way. But it's a way that we believe to be better and more comprehensive and ability to have those patients have the kind of coverage and care that they want. And just because we stipulate that there are places where there's only one insurer or no insurers, that's a major problem. And those are the kinds of things we're trying to fix.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But you say that people are not going to lose what they are getting now. Well, let's take a look at what you said on Fox Business on Friday.

(BEGIN TAPE)STEVE DOOCY:

Under Obamacare, the older folks and sicker folks could pay three times more than the younger folks, whereas under this plan, they might pay five times more. That's going in the wrong direction.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Well, it's pricing for what the individual's health status is. And that's important to appreciate.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

So you're raising the costs on the sickest people, the sicker people to pay for the people who are healthier.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

No, what we're trying to do is to make certain that every single person has health coverage. Remember, there are 20 million people right now in this country who have said to the federal government, said to the previous administration, "Nonsense, I'm not going to participate in your plan. I'll either pay a fine through the I.R.S. or I'll get a waiver." That's 20 million individuals who don't have coverage, and we ought to say, "Why don't they have coverage?" And try to fix that.

The fact of the matter is that if those individuals who are sicker, who are older, who are poorer, they will get larger subsidies so that they're able to gain the kind of coverage that they need and want for themselves and for their family. Our desire is to make certain that we have a system that works for patients, not for government, not for insurance companies, but for patients. That's the goal.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, we looked at the map, and we looked at the states with people under the age of 65 who have pre-existing conditions. The highest rates of people under 65 with preexisting conditions are in states that voted for President Trump. What do you say to your own voters?

SEC. TOM PRICE:

I say to them and the president has an absolute commitment to make certain that they have the kind of coverage that they want. Look, this is a different way to do things. There's no doubt about it. We believe it's a better way because it puts patients and families and doctors in charge of health care, not Washington D.C. This is a change in how we would manage to allow for individuals to gain the kind of coverage that they want. We understand that.

And sometimes change can be disconcerting to folks. And that's why I would suggest that that list of groups that you had up earlier, say they now oppose it, the fact of the matter is, they're not focusing on the kinds of things that are going to improve the system, improve the system for patients and families and docs. Not make it so the government or insurance companies are in charge.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, let's talk about women. I mean, when we looked at the Rose Garden and the celebration of this on Thursday, they were mostly all men and white men at that. There was no diversity there. Women's health issues arguably are going to be disproportionately affected. Take a look at this. Obamacare includes maternity and newborn care, preventative care, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, birth control, all of this under the essential package, no longer required under this House bill.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Andrea, come on. Look at that picture. Congresswoman Diane Black, the chair of the Budget Committee, I was standing next to her, Seema Verma, the administrator of C.M.S., I was standing right next to her. This is--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Out of a group of dozens and dozens of people, you can cite two or three women?

SEC. TOM PRICE:

These are prominent individuals who are leading, who are leading in this area of health care. The goal, as I mentioned, is to make certain that every single American, men, women, rich, poor, old, young, have the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their families, not that government forces them to buy. That's the change.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, let's talk about not only women, but also what the president promised. I want to play for you what the president promised about Medicaid during the campaign.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

There is a percentage, a fairly large percentage that can't afford it, then those people don't get taken care of, that’s wrong. We're going to take care of that through the Medicaid system, we're going to take care of those people. We have no choice. We're not going to let people die on the streets.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Medicaid expansion is going to be cut in the first version of this bill, and there's no C.B.O. score because they rushed it through before getting the accounting from the nonpartisan congressional budget office. But the first version had $880 billion cut from Medicaid. That goes right against the president's promise not to cut Medicaid.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

No, what it does is say that there's a better way to do things. Imagine a system, if you will, where if you have insurance through your employer, but you fall on tough times, and you fall into the Medicaid market, that that transition is seamless. Imagine if you go the other way, from Medicaid to employer-sponsored insurance, that that transition is seamless.

Imagine that you go from Medicaid to the individual market or the exchange market, that that transition is seamless. Right now, there are huge holes in these things. We don't want to pull out the rug from anybody, we want to make certain--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But you found 880-- With all due respect, you found $880 billion. Isn't this just another way to come up with a close to a trillion dollars, the president actually said as much on Fox Business. You're finding almost a trillion dollars in savings in order to be able to pay a tax cut that is revenue neutral.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Andrea, in the Medicaid system right now, one out of every three physicians in this nation who ought to be seeing patients in Medicaid are not. We ought to, as a society, ask ourselves, why is that the case, and fix that. The Medicaid population is basically four different demographics. It's seniors, it's disabled, it's healthy moms and kids. And what the federal government now stipulates is that those healthy moms and kids need to be cared for in exactly the same manner as the seniors and the disabled.

That doesn't make any sense to anybody. So what we're trying to do is to improve the Medicaid system, make it more responsive to patients so that there are more resources to be able to be utilized for the disabled and the aged. That makes a whole lot of sense.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I think a lot of people wonder how taking more than $800 billion out of something is going to put more resources in it. But let me ask you one final question about health care. The Office of Drug Policy, drug control, the White House office is being decimated, according to one proposal, 90% cut. Why eliminate the White House Office of Drug Control at the very time when we have an opioid epidemic in this country?

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Well, this is a budget that hasn't been completed yet. But what I will tell you is that the president has an absolute commitment to making certain that we fight the opioid crisis. It's one of the three top priorities that I've identified for the Department of Health and Human Services.

I was-- We were able to put out $485 million in grants to states just two weeks ago. I'm moving around the country this coming week to go to states where we want to make certain that they are allowed and have the resources to be able to address this opioid crisis. This is an absolute scourge in our country. 33,000 deaths last year due to opioid overdose. We cannot tolerate that. And the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the president, this is an absolute priority.

Now whether it's through an office within the White House or whether it's through a department, an agency of government, I don't think the American people care. What they care about is that we are absolutely addressing this opioid crisis in the most aggressive and effective manner possible.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. We'll have to leave it there. Thanks for being with us today on Meet the Press.

SEC. TOM PRICE:

Thanks, Andrea.

ANDREA MITCHELL:And the house bill does face an uncertain future in the Senate. Republicans can afford to lose only two votes. And there’s an enormous gap between what conservative hard liners want and what more moderate Republicans will accept. So joining me now is Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. Welcome.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Good to be with you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Thanks for joining us on Meet the Press. Let’s start with something that Secretary Price said. He’s going to improve Medicaid by cutting at least in the first version of this bill and we don’t have a score yet from the budget office, the Congressional Budget Office, as to how much would be cut from this bill. But from the first version you’re cutting $880 billion dollars, but making it better? I mean the president doesn’t propose something he likes like the military will be made better by cutting almost a trillion dollars from the military. He wants to spend more.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well I think part of the point is here we’re on the path to spend a trillion dollars and all, really the only addition this significant to health care coverage under Obamacare are people who got expanded Medicaid as part of that. You know the system’s just not working. The individual market is collapsing and has been--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

So why not fix those market issues? Why not do the fixes rather than taking Medicaid expansion, slashing it and addressing pre-existing conditions by basically saying it’s not a requirement? Insurers can just up the price and price it out of the market for people.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well I think the goal here should be to include people in the system who aren’t in it yet, to give people more choices, to create more competition. I don’t talk to anybody who doesn’t believe there has to be a way that’s better than the current system, to be sure that people that have pre-existing conditions continue to be covered and for the states to have more options in Medicaid is a good thing not a bad thing. Every state is different. This is a huge budget issue in every state. People need things like a medical home if that’s what the state thinks they can put together so you have a place to go. Coverage is different than access. And both in the insurance market where a lot of people have coverage but nobody has a place to go because their deductible’s so high, or in Medicaid where people are covered but doctors increasingly don’t want to take Medicaid patients. Those are the kind of problems we ought to be solving.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Some of your Republican senators have already spoken out against it. Rob Portman from Ohio does-- that the house bill does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population. Lindsey Graham says “it needs to be viewed with suspicion.” Is this dead on arrival? Are you starting over? Are you taking the house bill and trying to improve on it? What are your bottom lines?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

You know I think what’s happening is not dead on arrival, not taking the house bill and bringing it immediately to the floor, but taking what the house was able to do, looking at that carefully and come up with what the senate thinks the senate can do. You know that’s the way legislation used to be passed. There’d be a house bill. There’d be a senate bill. Then you’d get together, the conferees who understood by that time the intricacies of what they’re doing and come up with a bill that can go to the president’s desk and I hope that’s what we do here.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Presumably you will read what you’re working on and actually get a Congressional Budget Office score? The house didn’t wait.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well we will. And from the house’s perspective, you know they added a few things late but this is not a new issue. The senate’s going to have to have the kind of score they need to move this forward and the senate’s going to be looking at this to see what we can do to take the house work, look at what the house did, look at what we can do to improve that in our view, and then see if that’s a bill that in all likelihood you have to go back to the house and say “here’s what you think, here’s what we think.” Let’s be sure we give people more access. Let’s be sure we solve the problems of Obamacare. You know, a third of the counties in America only have one insurance company willing to offer insurance on the individual market. Five states only have one company willing to offer insurance. There’s something dramatically wrong with the current system. I saw one of my Democrat colleagues this week said that this system isn’t working and he said “I’m maybe willing to be part of a repeal and replace strategy” and we need to hear and see more of that.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Will you be able to do something that satisfies Susan Collins on the Planned Parenthood issue and also can satisfy the Freedom Caucus if you produce something that goes back to a conference committee with the house?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well you know obviously if we’re successful we have to do something that either gets 50 senators and the vice president or 60 senators for even more broad based change. And we ought to be looking at both of those options.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Let me ask you about the Senate Intelligence Committee. You serve on the committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee has now written letters asking for a number of former associates or Republican operatives who were involved in the campaign, like Paul Manafort was the campaign manager and Carter Page, Roger Stone, asking what their contacts with the Russians were. Are you going to get to the bottom of this possible Russian connection that the FBI started investigating all the way back in July?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well I think there’s no question there was Russian interference in our elections just like we’re seeing now in France and seen in Germany. In fact in Europe we’ve seen for well over a decade the Russians trying to interfere. So we need to look at that, that’s one issue, we need to look at that in a way that better prepares us for 2018 and 2020. And in terms of bringing everybody in that should be talked to, I think the Senate Intelligence Committee is the one committee that’s been asked to reach conclusions here, and that conclusion needs to include talking to anybody that a reasonable person thinks we should’ve talked to, looking at anything that a reasonable person would think we should’ve looked at, and hopefully a largely bipartisan consensus of “here’s what we found” and I think what you saw this week was the indication that that process of now bringing individuals in after a tremendous background effort to see what we ought to be asking is happening.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And Sally Yates, testifying tomorrow before a subcommittee of judiciary, what do you want to hear from Sally Yates? Because there are indications now that the Trump transition itself was warned about Mike Flynn and his connections and the conversations he'd had with the Russian ambassador.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well, I think in terms of the transition team and particularly the new national security advisor talking to ambassadors from around the world, there's nothing wrong with that. What is wrong--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But the substance of what has been said.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

What was particularly wrong was General Flynn not being truthful about the substance of what he said and the campaign was apparently, or the transition rather, was apparently concerned about that early on, and it appears they should have been.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And the fact that you say that the Russians were involved, the president has still not accepted that reality. Why not?

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well, I think the president, I don't know what the president's view of this would be, because I haven't talked to him about it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But, everything he's said publicly has been to deny it and to call it a witch hunt.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Well, I think what he's talking about is collusion, you know, we're going to determine whether there was any or not, and where those facts lead us. I'm not sure that there's any reason for the president to believe that there was collusion between his campaign. I think the president has to understand at this point that the Russians were doing things to both increase their influence.

I mean, the Russians couldn't be happier than have us on a Sunday when the French elections are going on, talking about how once again the Russians have figured out how to punch above their weight. This is a country that struggles economically, it's a country that resents its current role in the world, the diminished role it has now.

And getting involved in these elections is one way that it can reassert itself in ways that it's not otherwise able to. And I think it's unfortunate for every democracy involved, just like it has been for over a decade in Europe and the world should have been more concerned about this when those little countries were also fighting back as the Russians tried to involve themselves in their elections.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Senator Roy Blunt, thank you so much for being with us on Meet the Press.

SEN. ROY BLUNT:

Good, good to be with you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And when we come back, Democrats say they have no intention of passing a bill that looks anything like what the House just approved. Senator Dianne Feinstein joining me. And later, Democrats lost a net of 63 seats in the House after voting for Obamacare. Will the same thing happen to House Republicans now after voting to repeal it? As we've seen one Democratic candidate for governor is already using the vote to bash Republicans.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TOM PERRIELLO:

And in Congress I voted for Obamacare, because it was wrong--

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And welcome back. The panel is here: Kristen Welker, NBC News White House Correspondent, Rich Lowry of the National Review, Matt Bai, national political columnist for Yahoo! News, and Politico’s Eliana Johnson. Welcome all. Thanks for being here. Kristen, the Democrats are celebrating, they are seizing the advantage they feel, they’re putting out ads already. Are they jumping to conclusions too quickly? The Republicans know how to message. And you heard Tom Price completely on message, “we’re improving it, it’s failing,” that’s what they’re going to say.

KRISTEN WELKER:

That’s right. There’s no doubt that they could be jumping the gun. They’re trying to capitalize on this moment. One Democratic group preparing to put out a six-figure ad buy starting tomorrow, targeting 24 members of Congress. But I spoke to one top Democratic operative who said the challenge is they need to not just run against something, but run for something. We know that Republicans are gearing up for a very tough fight. Mitch McConnell telling his team, “Look, the headlines are going to be tough. But let’s bear down. Let’s get to work. Let’s get this passed.” And they are going to be targeting the pre-existing conditions, Andrea. They’re going to change that.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I wanted to ask you, Matt Bai, about one Republican congressman, Mo Brooks. Look at what he had to say about the health care vote.

(BEGIN TAPE)

REP. MO BROOKS:

Basically, you’re talking about a class of people, who for whatever reason, either because they lack the resources or they wanted to game the system, they’ve decided not to have insurance and then they get sick and then they want other people to pay for it.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

So let’s talk about this. I mean, he also had earlier said that the whole problem with people with pre-existing conditions that people are sick because they didn’t live healthy lives. That it’s their own fault if they’re sick.

MATT BAI:

Right, well, I mean the idea people should have insurance so other people don’t have to pay for it is not a new idea. It was the entire guiding animus behind the Obama health care plan. Look, I’d be worried if I were them. I’d be worried for a couple reasons. First of all, because look we’ve now had three straight presidencies where the president has lost either one chamber during their first term or both and have lost both chambers during the course of their presidencies. We’ve never had that happen before in America. So we have a very volatile midterm climate every time. So that’s one problem. And we have never seen a party try to roll back a major social program on this scale. We don’t know what that looks like from the public point of view.

So when we talk about a messaging perspective, I heard Secretary Price, that was a lot of good rhetoric, he had very few specifics, it was, you know, basically a campaign kind of interview. I think they have to be very, very careful with the unknowns here. It's a very volatile issue and a very volatile political climate.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

I think one of the challenges that you're seeing Republicans grapple with here is that they are trying to do something historic, which is to roll back a social program. And the challenge is they're trying to do that without actually taking anything away from anybody who got something that they now like. I think that's what you're going to see the Senate grapple with.

But I am sort of puzzled by this assumption that I think you see underlying the conversation, which is that this is supposed to be a political victory for Republicans. When you saw Democrats pass Obamacare in 2010, it was hugely unpopular, and they paid an enormous price at the ballot box in 2010. And I think President Obama at that time made the calculation that it was worth it because this was something Democrats believed in.

I wonder if Republicans are going into this thinking that there's a price, that it's worth paying a price at the ballot box if this is something they believe in. I don't know that these things are supposed to be cost-free politically.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And Rich, the fact is, they're already running into some problems back in the district. Raúl Labrador on Friday was at a town hall meeting, and I think we have a bit of tape of the exchange from the audience, when he claimed that this was not going to take anything away from them.

(BEGIN TAPE)

FEMALE VOICE:

You are mandating people on Medicaid accept dying. You are making them--

REP. RAÚL LABRADOR:

No one wants anybody to die. You know, that line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I mean, there is--

MATT BAI:

Sounds like there's some bipartisanship, because nobody wants anyone to die.

RICH LOWRY:

Exactly. Medicaid is not good health insurance. It's better than nothing, but actually, you look at the research, it's harder to prove that than you would think. So it does provide a better sense of financial security, which is important to people, but it's a system that needs to be reformed.

And this focus on pre-existing conditions, the politics are horrible. But it's really disproportionate to the nature of the change they're proposing, which is just allowing some states to get a waiver on certain conditions. Including that you're not going to get charged more if you've been continuously covered, including the states have to have a high-risk pool to catch people who are falling through the cracks. But the politics are so terrible, I wouldn't be surprised if the Senate just ends up dumping this provision.

MATT BAI:

But Rich, you've got to be able to pay for that. And what I think is cynical about this bill, and like everybody who voted for it, I've not read the entire bill, but what I think is quite cynical here is it's basically the old trick of, like, "Let's push this to the states." You decide if you want to get out from under these protections, and then you figure out how to pay for it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And you already have some governors like Rick Snyder in Michigan and others who are saying, "We're not doing that. We're not pushing this, taking this. And we're not going to go along with these kinds of cutbacks in Medicaid."

KRISTEN WELKER:

That's right. And you asked the question, is this bill D.O.A. in the Senate. I am told it's not. But again, the preexisting condition portion of it may be D.O.A. They think the politics of it are very difficult, they think practically it's very difficult. And even though you hear them say, "Look, we're not under any deadline," the reality is, there is a bit of a deadline because come September, they have to deal with the spending bill, they have to deal potentially with the debt ceiling. And so I'm told if they don't get something done by July or August, it's going to get much more difficult.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But the president acknowledged in fact that this is to create a pool of money for the tax cut. Because what they're proposing on taxes is a trillion dollars.

RICH LOWRY:

Democrats passed a, basically a transfer program, a social program that was masquerading as an economic growth measure. Republicans have passed a pure tax cut that is masquerading as a health care measure. It's really not.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

That's not a secret. I think that's what Republicans said all along. They wanted to tackle health care first so that they could then tackle tax reform. But I think, you know, Rich's point about Medicaid being equated with, you know, good health insurance, is valid. And I think what you're going to see the Senate try to tackle is the goal is to get people on private insurance, which has much better proven results.

The challenge with the House bill is that it supplants Medicaid over time with a tax subsidy that doesn't really allow people to afford private insurance when it's substituted out. And that's really dangerous politics for Republicans.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, we're going to leave it there for now. We will pick it up in a moment. But later in the broadcast, Hillary Clinton taking on James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Wikileaks, and the mainstream media in explaining why she lost the presidential election. But up next, Senator Dianne Feinstein on James Comey and on what the Democrats plan to do about that health care bill.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And welcome back. When FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, he defended his decision to announce days before the 2016 election that the bureau had discovered new Clinton emails and had reopened its investigation.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JAMES COMEY:

If I were not to speak about that, it would be a disastrous, catastrophic concealment. Incredibly painful choice but actually not all that hard between very bad and catastrophic. I had to tell Congress that we were taking these additional steps. I prayed to find a third door. I couldn’t find it.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Senator Dianne Feinstein is not at all convinced that there was no third door, and she says that the FBI director’s October surprise helped sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Senator Feinstein joins me now here in Washington.

Senator, thank you very much. We want to talk about what Comey said and the Sally Yates testimony before a subcommittee, your committee, tomorrow. But first let’s talk about health care. They passed it without reading it, but there are big problems, legitimate problems, with Obamacare. The fact that some of the insurers, Aetna and others are pulling out, Virginia is now going to be affected. Iowa doesn’t have a choice. Don’t they have a point?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well there is a point, yes. But I want to say something. Twenty million more people are insured post the beginning of Obamacare today. This bill, which looks like this and is complicated to read, I’ve been trying to read it over the weekend, and this is the manager’s package that has the series of amendments, this has just come over to the Senate. It has no score. It’s probably one of the biggest bills that the Senate will ever consider.

We don’t know its breadth and depth as analyzed professionally. We don’t know its cost as analyzed professionally. And there are a lot of major changes which are going to have a dramatic impact on the health care marketplace, which is now one-fifth of the economy. I think I was reading the chief economist of Barkley’s this morning, Andrea, pointed out that this is going to have a major impact on the economy if it goes through. So, I don’t want to monopolize this.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

No, no, I’m really intrigued by your comments about this. Do you think that something can come out of the Senate? Can enough Democrats go over or enough moderate Republicans be persuaded that they should vote for something? Or what has to come out of the bill for you to consider supporting it?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well first, I don’t know what the leader, McConnell, has in mind. I don’t know that the thirteen white men, when you have five Republican women who are excluded from that, that these thirteen men are supposed to sit down and put something together.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

You’re speaking of the working group that has been put together.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

The working group.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And it’s all male.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

And it’s all male. And women’s health is a big part of this, and women are a majority of the population, and their health interests deserve to be contemplated in any form. My position is, and I believe this is the Democratic position, don’t repeal Obamacare. Take those sections, like the individual market, which has some problems in it, and deal with it and fix those sections. And it can be done. I’m really very worried that, in the rush to judgment, we create a major health care problem for people. And we lose a lot of jobs in so doing, and we create a whole atmosphere of unpredictability.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I want to ask you about the FBI director’s testimony. He said he was mildly nauseous at thinking that he had impacted the election but thought he had no choice. You disagree.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

I disagree with him. I think you look before you leap. The FBI has a policy of not announcing October surprises; this was eleven days before the election. What he could have done was said, let’s just be sure, let’s get a search warrant, let’s look at the Weiner computer, and let’s see what there is. And if he did that, he would have the information that, well, there’s no need for another investigation. We have all this material already. Three thousand emails, twelve classified, we’ve already looked at them, so there was no need.

So what he did was authorize what I believe to be a needless investigation eleven days, which I have no doubt, and I believe that the Clinton campaign’s polls show this, that it made a big difference. And the FBI should not do that. So I don’t understand the march to do this immediately when he could have gotten the search warrant first.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

What do you want to hear from Sally Yates. She was fired, she was the acting Attorney General, she’s going to be testifying tomorrow morning for the first time in public.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well, Sally Yates is very much respected. She’s a professional, she’s not a politician, she has spent a lot of time in the department, she is very widely respected, and she apparently has some information as to who knew what when that she is willing to share. And that would be what she knew about Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia and exactly what she knew they were.

I don’t want to, in any way, say that I know what she’s going to say because I don’t. But there are so many questions here as to who knew what when, what was done with this. Why did Russia, who always responds to sanctions, when President Obama PNG’d thirty-five Russian intelligence officers—

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Kicked them out of the country. Punished them.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Kicked them out, that’s right. Immediately. There was no response from Russia. And that in itself was a message because Russia always responds. This time they didn’t. What changed? That’s what we need to know.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

What we now know is that the Trump transition was warned about Michael Flynn. Why was he then hired as National Security Adviser?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well I wouldn’t know that answer.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Does it raise suspicions in your mind?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Well it raises suspicions because, from my point of view, he was fired by Jim Clapper from his job in the intelligence—running an intelligence agency. And that’s a potential danger signal. And when I saw a three-star general in front of the Republican convention shouting “lock her up,” I thought, oh my goodness. This would never happen, it never has happened before, this is a three-star general of the United States military doing this with no evidence. And it made a big impression on me.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Dianne Feinstein, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much for coming in on Meet the Press.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN:

Thank you, thank you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And when we come back, Republican members of the House celebrated their passage of the Obamacare repeal. But how many of them will live to regret their vote in the 2018 midterms? That’s coming up next.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And welcome back, it's Data Download time. Every political action has a reaction -- usually, from the voters themselves, and that goes for the Republican vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. So how will both “yes” and “no” votes play in Republican districts across the country?

Currently, there are 23 Republican House members in districts carried by Hillary Clinton. Nine of those voted no on the health care bill, while 14 voted yes. And of those yes votes, 7 were from the state of California alone, a state Clinton won by more than 4 million votes. What's more: of 41 competitive Republican districts according to the Cook Political Report, 31 members voted yes, while 10 members voted no.

This could be an incredibly risky move for some of those House Republicans, whose districts are far more moderate than the average GOP district. By one measure, since the health care vote, the Cook Report has already moved 20 House seats currently held by Republicans one step in the Democrats' favor, including three races from "Lean Republican" to pure "Toss-ups".

One of those congressmen, Mike Coffman, didn't even vote for the bill, but the Cook Report believes his mere hesitation will hurt him with the voters. A lot of Republicans seem to be keenly aware of the political dangers this bill poses. Of the 20 GOP no votes, 14 come from suburban districts, including four from the greater Philadelphia area and Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock from suburban Washington DC.

The inability of this health care bill to win support from these districts may be another sign the Republican Party is struggling to find policies that appeal to those politically valuable areas. And when we come back it's End Game time: The latest election hacking being tied to Russia and the real reason Hillary Clinton says she lost the 2016 presidential election.

ANNOUNCER:

Coming up, Meet the Press End Game and Post Game brought to you by Boeing, always working to build something better.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And we’re back with the panel. Hillary Clinton this week in her most candid expression of why she thinks she lost. Let’s watch.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON:

Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes. But the reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days. You know, if the election had been on October 27, I’d be your president. And it wasn’t. It was on October 28. And there was just a lot of funny business going on around that.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

There was a lot of funny business, Matt Bai.

MATT BAI:

Yeah, I’m not sure what the utility of her continuing to talk about this. Look, I’ve never lost a national election, so I'm sure it's--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

One that you thought you--

RICH LOWRY:

I'm sure you could, Matt. I'm sure I could if you tried.

MATT BAI:

I appreciate the vote of confidence.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And one that you thought you were going to win.

MATT BAI:

And one I thought I was going to win. Even harder to figure out.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And to Donald Trump.

MATT BAI:

Even harder to imagine one I thought I was going to win. But I will tell you, I agree with Joe Biden on this and what David Axelrod has said on this. She did not lose because of Comey's press conference. Comey put the attention back on her. He may have made it more of a referendum on her, reminded people she was running for president, by all rights, it should have been that referendum all along. But she ran a turnout operation, not a campaign. She did not run an assertive, argumentative campaign, argumentative campaign. She hoped her opponent would implode and spare her having to do that. And that was a huge gamble, and that's why she lost.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I think everyone agrees, I mean, you were there, you and I were there on every minute of that campaign. She points to Nate Silver and others that the polling was going on the way up, and then 11 days out, Comey, and it starts plateauing and going down.

KRISTEN WELKER:

And when you think about the momentum, I think everyone agrees, there were a whole host of reasons that she lost, from messaging to maybe not campaigning enough in places like Michigan and Wisconsin. I was on the plane with her that day.

Her campaign had just announced she was going to expand into Arizona, a traditionally red state. She was going to actually visit Arizona. And then moments later on the plane, she learned, the campaign learned, the press corps learned about this Comey revelation, and you could feel the momentum get zapped in a single moment--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The air just came out of the room.

MATT BAI:

I think the worst thing that Trump said during the campaign was that the election would be rigged if he lost. And Democrats rightly recoiled from this. But since election day, on the Democratic side, it's been rigging arguments almost every single day. And yes, she was vulnerable to any number of intervening events in the last ten days, because this election was so close, and it fundamentally was so close because her campaign was so uninspired and basically incompetent.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Yeah. What's amazing to me is that, you know, these were supposedly her most candid remarks today, but she's essentially sounded like a broken record since the election ended about why she lost, and I think proved and driven home the point of why she lost the election. She sounds terrible. But Trump also has continued to talk and talk and talk about why he won the election, driving home the point that he won the election.

And it seems to me that they both remain in a state of shock, Trump that he actually won, and Clinton that she actually lost. And so they continue to talk about it. And I do think the country, at this point, is still sort of grappling with the new political reality and exchanging political--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I mean, it was extraordinary that everyone who visits the Oval Office apparently, we've seen the pictures, the president is handing out the electoral map to try to offset and deflect from the fact that he lost the popular vote.

RICH LOWRY:

He may be hoping somebody can find a flaw in it and actually point to the fact that he did win the election.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I think it's a lot harder, the job is harder than he thought it was.

RICH LOWRY:

Well, as I've said before, I don't think he had a traditional transition. I think he had a panic period. And then I think the first hundred days, which we keep talking about, was more of a traditional transition, where he looked around and thought, "Okay, how do you do this?" So I think we're just starting to get a sense of the Trump presidency, because of that jolt of him winning the election to him too.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And Kristen, Sally Yates is going to testify tomorrow. There's still a lot of shadows hanging over this White House. What do we think is going to come out of this testimony?

KRISTEN WELKER:

Well, it's going to be extraordinary, Andrea. It's going to be the first time that we hear Sally Yates talk about this. Of course, there's been so much reporting. The anticipation is she's going to say that she warned the Trump White House days before Flynn was actually fired that he may have had an inappropriate conversation with the Russian ambassador.

But just how loud was that alarm bell? I think that's one of the questions that a lot of folks want answered. And on the other side, I think the Trump administration is bracing to paint this in political terms, I am told. They're going to say, "Hey, if this was such a big problem, why did she just keep it to that conversation? Why didn't she speak out more publicly?" So I think you're going to see a very fierce pushback. This is an administration that wants to turn the page from this issue. They want to be focused on their health care victory and moving forward, and Russia continues to overshadow.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We're going to have to leave it there. You have the last word, Kristen Welker. Thank you all so very much. And that's all for today. Chuck was off this week, for the bat mitzvah of his daughter, Margaret. Congratulations to Margaret and the entire family. And Chuck will of course be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *