Gov. Scott on why the Senate healthcare bill needs to pass

Florida governor discusses the repeal and replace process on 'The Story'


This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Breaking tonight, President Trump gives senators the old: "can I see you in my office?" After his side fails to come up with the numbers that they need to get health care reform moving. The president was measured when he met with them. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be great if we get it done. And if we don't get it done, it's going to be something that we're not going to like, and that's OK, and I understand that very well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what do you think --

TRUMP: I think the Senate bill is going to be great.


MACCALLUM: It's going to be great. Congressman, scramble for the cameras. Some are claiming victory today; others say this game is far from over.


SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILLINOIS: This is a victory for 22 million people in America who would've lost their health insurance.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-MAINE: Delaying the vote makes a great deal of sense.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS, R-SOUTH DAKOTA: It's not about of walking away from the existing bill; it's a matter of gaining consensus.

REP. STENY HOYER, D-MARYLAND: As they step back, we are prepared to engage them.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: I believe we will get to yes. It's going to take more discussions.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NEW YORK: We know the fight is not over, that is for sure.

SEN. DAVID PERDUE, R-GEORGIA: I'm not happy with this. I believe we don't have enough right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republican leader in the Senate pull his bill, this fight is not over.


MACCALLUM: Florida Governor, Rick Scott, was on the Hill today, he was talking to many of those senators; he's here with his take. But we begin with ObamaCare architect and Fox News contributor, Zeke Emanuel. Zeke, good evening, welcome back to the program --


MACCALLUM: Good to see you tonight.

EMANUEL: Glad to be here.

MACCALLUM: Is this Senate bill, basically, still ObamaCare in your mind?

EMANUEL: Well, the Senate bill is not going very far and it's not actually, in my view, a reform. Something that takes away the entire Medicaid expansion that hobbles the exchanges is a way of taking down, trying to take down the essential positives of the Affordable Care Act.

MACCALLUM: So, you believe, basically, at least the structure in place, although it backs off the long-term additions to Medicare over the years. Do you feel like -- you know, the other night we talked to Jonathan Gruber; he said, basically, you know, he was kind of pleased with this version because it is still ObamaCare, do you agree?

EMANUEL: No, I think it's kind of like a neutron bomb. You remember it left the structures in place and killed all the people. I think that's one way of thinking about this bill. It gets rid of the 22 million people who have coverage while leaving a lot of the structures of the Affordable Care Act in place. That's not compassion. A lot of the House people voted for the House bill, on the premise that the Senate would fix the bill. The Senate did anything but fix the bill; they did not make it more compassionate. It's still pro through --

MACCALLUM: What do you make of the argument that under the original ObamaCare: 23 million people opted out of it; they either paid to -- you know, they paid the fine, or they avoided it, they ignored it, they didn't check the box and said, you know, I have no health insurance. And that now you're giving more people --

EMANUEL: Martha, I'm actually saying -

MACCALLUM: Let me ask you a question. Now you're giving more people the option to decide whether or not they want to pay for their health care through this program.

EMANUEL: Martha, let me make two points. Since day one of passing through the Affordable Care Act, I said that we are going to need revisions. We're going to learn about unintended consequences. We didn't get everything we wanted in the bill, especially, efforts to control cost and reduce deductibles. So, I've always said we need reform. I think we actually need a process of constant reform because we're learning new things as we go along.

The second point, I would say is, if people -- if the American public has to understand one thing very clearly if you want pre-existing conditions excluded, so insurance companies cannot exclude people with cancer or heart disease or diabetes, or depression or asthma, you have to have everybody in the system. You cannot allow people to choose: I'm going to be in or I'm going to be out until I get sick and then I'll jump in. Those two things cannot operate at the same time. If we want no pre-existing disease exclusion by insurance companies, you have to have a mandate or some other way of getting everyone into the system. I know people don't like that, but that is inevitable. It is one of those things you have to eat your vegetables to make progress here.

MACCALLUM: I mean, that is one of the big failures of the program. I mean, that's what we've learned that you know --

EMANUEL: No, it's not a failure --

MACCALLUM: That you couldn't get young people to buy in because they only wanted to buy in once they got sick. So, why should they put their hard- earned money into this (INAUDIBLE), if they don't have to do it until they get sick? Let me finish my point. Go.

EMANUEL: That's what would happen if you didn't have a mandate. They would sit on the sidelines until they got sick and then come in.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Well, I mean, under this program, the mandate would be gone. But basically, were bailing out the insurance companies now. That's why you got, you know, a nice boost for hospitals and for insurance companies because now the money is all going to go to them to stabilize them.

EMANUEL: Martha, if we actually -- there are things we can do to encourage young people to get into the insurance market. A lot of them don't know they're eligible for subsidies. A lot of them don't understand what the risks are without it. And I do think we need to be serious about enforcing the mandate, and what the insurance companies have said. Reduce the number of exemptions and exclusions so that people actually have to come in and tell them we're serious about it. We also do need to stabilize the insurance companies, just the way Republicans stabilized the insurance companies under Medicare Part D-the Drug Benefit.

You don't know who's going to be in the market, you don't know what their profile is going to look like. And so, you -- to keep rates down, you need stabilization. But you know, the uncertainty created by this bill, the uncertainty created by the Republicans about the cautionary subsidies-those subsidies for the deductibles and coinsurance. Though, we're not going to enforce the mandate claim by the president; that creates a lot of uncertainty. And insurance companies increase the premiums. One of the reasons we've got the big fish to premiums is the uncertainty created by the Republicans.

MACCALLUM: All right. I got to leave it there. Zeke, thank you very much.

Let's bring in Florida Governor, Rick Scott took into politics after a career in health care, and he was in meetings all day on Capitol Hill talking about this bill. Governor Scott, good to have you here. I mean, this is really the opposite of what you spent your life in the private sector doing, which is to give a lot more choice to people and to allow the free market to have a role in health care choice. And that a lot of Republicans say we are so far from that where this bill stands today. Do you agree with that?

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLORIDA: Well, look, this is a work in progress. I appreciate the fact that President Trump invites us into; I met with Vice President Pence today, they're working hard, they want to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Let's look at the numbers. ObamaCare is a disaster. Costs have spiraled out of control. We knew that was going to happen. The only way to you're going to get the cost down, where people can afford their own health care is more competition, allow people to buy the insurance they want to buy.

MACCALLUM: I mean, you know, we're just -- this is what Zeke Emanuel and I were just talking about. You had millions of people who opted out of ObamaCare. They said I don't want to -- either I'm going to pay the fine, or I'm just not going to check the box and I'm going to ignore it, and in those cases, they weren't fine. But you either have to have it one way or the other in terms of how I look at this. You either had to have everybody buy-in, essentially, have a single-payer system, or you have to allow the free market a larger role in health care in order to bring prices down. Is that right?

SCOTT: Right. Martha, the free market works. It works in every other industry.

MACCALLUM: But that's not what we're getting in this Republican bill, is it?

SCOTT: Well, I think -- look, they're still working on it. You know, I came up fighting for Florida. I want to make sure that our state gets treated fairly by Medicaid reimbursement. We pay our taxes just like every other state. Our taxes, our federal taxes remain lower, so to make sure that the Medicaid reimbursement coming back to us is fair to us.

And second, whether you have a pre-existing condition or not, you should be able to buy the insurance you want. You will spend your money smarter and better than anybody else will. I grew up in a family without health insurance. I know the struggles my parents had to get health care for my brother who had a significant hip disease. We've to give them less expensive health care, great health care at a price that they can afford.

MACCALLUM: All right. You say you're there fighting for Medicaid reimbursement for your state; that's what a lot of Governors are doing. Nobody wants to give anything back once their state has been given it. Now, you know, I think it's a legitimate question to ask why we have such an increase in people on Medicaid, you know, and the subset question there is should able-bodied people have to work in order to get Medicaid. We've got an economy that's generally improving over the last several years. And yet we have more and more people on Medicaid, why is that?

EMANUEL: Martha, we didn't do the expansion because we knew the program could not pay for it. But here's the numbers: we have a million more people on our basic Medicaid program in New York, and they get paid $23 billion out of the federal government, and we get $14 billion. How is that fair? I want to make sure we take care of our taxpayers. I want to make sure we take care of our citizens. I want people to get health care. But it's hard to be fair to our state. We didn't do the expansion, so we need to get the same rate per person as every other state. And then give our citizens the choice of what to buy

MACCALLUM: Governor Scott, thank you very much.

SCOTT: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Best of luck to you in Florida and to the folks in Washington trying to hammer this out. It's going to be after the fourth of July now, which we all know. Thank very much, Governor Scott, good to see you. So, still ahead, an exclusive wide-ranging interview with top adviser to the president: Gary Cohen. Our own Ed Henry, asking him, if it's time that the White House, kind of, stepped on the gas on a few things. Watch.


ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're playing a lot of defense on what the president's policy is. Is this a chance to go on offense?


MACCALLUM: Plus, members of the Obama administration now find themselves on the hot seat. What investigators now focusing on why they failed to act against Russia when their own intelligence warned them, there was some meddling going on in the election? Newt Gingrich is here to respond.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think President Obama wasn't aggressive enough on going after Russia's interference in the election?


MACCALLUM: Back to "The Story" now, breaking tonight, John Podesta, former chairman of Hillary Clinton's failed presidential run was called to the Hill today to explain what he knew about Russian interference at the time of the 2016 campaign. He sat down behind closed doors with lawmakers, and he came out and did speak to the reporters and defended former President Obama's response to that, which was reportedly a little more than a slap on the wrist. Watch.


JOHN PODESTA, FORMER COUNSELOR OF OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: The president and the entire administration were dealing with an unprecedented incident of the weaponization of the fruits of Russian cyber activity. And I think they are trying to make the best judgments they could on behalf of the American people.


MACCALLUM: He also said, he was hoping he would not be invited back to testify more on the Hill. As he left, Newt Gingrich is here now, Fox News Political Contributor and Author of "Understanding Trump." Newt, good to see you tonight, welcome back to the show. What do you make of John Podesta's comments there?

NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what's he going to say? Look, I think the whole thing is bizarre. The president of the United States, apparently, in August, was briefed by the CIA that Russians had been -- seriously, it's something to interfere in the American election. For whatever reason, the president made the decision not to tell the American people, not to tell the two presidential candidates who would; by the way, I think both have roundly condemned that. I think you could've had Trump and Clinton on the same side, vigorously condemning Putin, saying it was totally unprecedented no matter who was going to help. And I think it would've been a much healthier kind of thing.

I said I think the president, President Obama, should come up and testify. When did he learn, who did he learn from, who did he get in his advisors, why would they keep it secret from the American people for five months? And frankly, the things they did to retaliate were pathetically weak, which was, of course, the Obama model in foreign policy. But I think, if the serious effort if the CIA believed there was, the NSA believed there was a serious effort, I think they should've had a public American confrontation with Putin, and they would've had Presidential candidates behind him.

Instead, because this whole fiasco of six months of worrying about Trump and collusion, and none of which gets proven. And then we finally discover, oh, you know, president Obama already knew about this almost a year ago. It's just unconscionable.

MACCALLUM: You wrote a piece yesterday saying the numbers don't lie. Mueller is hunting. Talking about the people that he's hired, the lawyers that he's hired, and you feel that their background points to a very political bent to them and it all goes in the Clinton direction. So, the first question I have for you about that is, given this new part of this whole spotlight, turning back on the Obama administration and asking how they dealt with this information when at that point it was, you know, pretty much everybody thought Hillary Clinton was going to win, and they decided not to come out and talk about it. And that does deserve a question for the President. But is that going to change Mueller's investigation, this newer sort of angle to all of this?

GINGRICH: Look, Mueller's investigation has nothing to do with Russia. Russia was the excuse to appoint Mueller. Mueller is going to go after obstruction of justice, he's going to go after perjury, and he's going to go after the financial problem. Mueller is out on a hunt to try to get the president; he has nothing to do with the original Russian story, and you can tell that by the people he hired. And let me be clear about numbers, I thought it was amazing that among those people who donated to the Justice Department, 97 percent donated to Clinton, and three percent donated to Trump. However, in Mueller's law firm --

MACCALLUM: And why is that surprising given the fact that it was the Obama Justice Department?

GINGRICH: Well, that approves how liberal the base is. But in the law firm Mueller came from, it was 99.81 percent for Hillary, and 0.19 percent for Trump. Now, in that culture and environment, why would any Republican be relaxed or comforted, why would any independent be relaxed or comforted, that sounds like such steep bias that it's inevitably going to be a problem. But the with President Obama's different --

MACCALLUM: So, he does not really make any to -- I'm sorry to interrupt. He hasn't really made any effort, you're saying, to have any appearance that this is a sort of evenhanded investigation group that he's hired.

GINGRICH: You know, it would've been simple. Hire one pro-Trump lawyer for every pro-Clinton lawyer, people would not have had much complaint; that's what's happened. He actually hired a lawyer who was a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation.


GINGRICH: How can you expect any Republican to relax in that circumstance?

MACCALLUM: I understand. I mean, going into this, he got a lot of acclaims even from you, and it would've been quite easy for him to make sure that he had a team that had a lot of balance in it so that the integrity would never be questioned going forward. I want to play this exchange with Lindsay Graham today and intelligence officials on the Hill and get your quick thought.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I talked into the Russian Ambassador in the United States, apparently you all are listening. I don't really mind if you're listening. I do mind if somebody can take that conversation, and use against me politically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, we have that request from you, and we are processing --

GRAHAM: Yes, it's like months ago. So, like, am I going to get it in my lifetime?

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IOWA: If there's anything in this country people are entitled to, it's entitled to at least an answer to their question.

GRAHAM: If I were you, I'd answer my question because he's mad.



MACCALLUM: Don't get Chuck Grassley fired up, right, Newt?

GINGRICH: Yes, he was and he should be. Look, what we're seeing is typical behavior -- this is what people mean about the swamp or the deep state. The bureaucracy plays rope-a-dope. They draw everything out. They can't quite get it done. They wait for the news media to potentially lead. I think people should be outraged that you have this essentially out of control, a totally internally directed system that doesn't seem to be responsible to anybody. And I think that's the opposite of what a free society is supposed to be.

MACCALLUM: Great point. Newt, thank you very much, always good to see you.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, coming up, a battle brewing between the White House and CNN bubbled over in the press room today; who has the upper hand in this back and forth? We're going to bring you the back story on that tonight.

Plus, Syria, put on notice. As the White House delivers a loaded warning after they claimed: the Assad regime may be getting ready for more chemical attacks on its own people. Could we soon see another round of U.S. strikes?


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Assad is beyond brutal. I think he is -- he's barbaric in many ways. I don't see a healthy Syria with Assad in place.



MACCALLUM: So, we're back. Late last night, a stern message was delivered from the White House to Syria and here it is: "The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to the preparations the regime made before its April 4th, 2017 chemical weapons attack. As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price."

Today, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, extended that warning to Assad's allies.


HALEY: I believe that the goal at this point-not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message that if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. And I think they have to make a decision, either they allow Assad to go forward with the chemical weapons attack and they get associated with it or they try to get this to stop.


MACCALLUM: There you have it. Joining me now, Representative Will Hurd, of the House Intel Committee, he's a former CIA Officer. Congressman, welcome! Good to have you here. I think a lot of people saw that statement and had a similar reaction. It's very strong; of course, it came out of nowhere late last night. What is the likely intelligence basis for this?

REP. WILL HURD, R-TEXAS: Well, when you make a statement like that, it's based on actual intelligence. And I will say this, Martha, as -- I had the honor of serving 9-1/2 years shoulder to shoulder with some real patriots as an undercover officer in the CIA. And I learned something there: be nice with nice guys, and tough with tough guys. And this is a tough message. We already know Bashar al-Assad is a barbarian. And only a barbarian would use chemical weapons against his own people.

And a lot of times we only focus on the last time he did this, which has resulted in 59 missiles into Syria, but he had done this dozens of times before. And I think this is a clear message. And I think the Syrians, I think the Iranians, I think the Russians know that President Trump means business and there will be a response. And if this red line crossed, you'll see a response.

MACCALLUM: Is it a wise move, do you think, to give this kind of heads-up? Does it give them a little space to maybe make a different choice if those weapons are being moved into place?

HURD: You know when you let people know how you're going to respond to certain behavior, that's a deterrent. And the goal here is to prevent the Syrians from using chemical weapons on their own people or on a U.S. forces or own allied forces. And so, there are times when you do want to telegraph your response because it does give you -- it does serve as a deterrent. And I think everybody recognizes that President Trump and his team mean business, and the Iranians, and the Russians, instead of worrying about our response. What they should be doing is making sure that Assad doesn't use his chemical weapons, because if he uses them, the Iranians and the Russians are just as much at fault.

MACCALLUM: And I think Nikki Haley made that very clear today. Congressman, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

HURD: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

MACCALLUM: So, meanwhile, another former Obama administration official is under fire for what some called a hypocritical tweet. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, writing: "More people are fleeing for their lives today than any time since Hitler. Most refugees yearn, but lack, the U.S. tie that SCOTUS says need." She's referring to the change in the travel ban that says that you have to have some sort of connection to something: school, work, a family member in order to be able to come here from those countries where that apply.

So, however, that tweet received quite a bit of blowback from many who are quick to point out that the Obama administration's role in the Syria crisis was less than commendable. Former U.N. Spokesman, Richard Grenell, for example, is saying: "Outrageous hypocrisy, given your front row seat to the Syria chaos." Here now: Pete Hoekstra, former House Intel Committee Chairman; and Marie Harf, former State Department Spokesperson and Fox News Contributor. Welcome to you both, as always. Marie, let me start with you. I mean, that's a direct criticism of the administration; the State Department where you worked.

MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: It is, and it's not the first time Rick Grenell has done that. But I can tell you, there was no one who fought more for Syrian refugees, for the people of Syria, than Sam Power did. And her message wasn't actually a controversial one that the Syrian people are going through this horrible civil war, and we keep welcoming refugees to our shores.

MACCALLUM: But why didn't we set up safe zones for them there? Or have a no-fly zone over the area, and homeland, and the villagers that they lived in, where they very much wanted to stay?

HARF: Well, safe zones are a good idea in theory. But in practice, they are exceedingly difficult to do. First of all, there weren't a lot of places for a lot this conflict where we could do that, and that would probably mean committing a lot more U.S. troops and U.S. assets to protect that; something, I think, a lot of the American people aren't looking to do. Why, when the Syrian people or try to escape this, would we prevent refugees from coming here? It's such a simple message, and I actually don't think it's a controversial one.

MACCALLUM: Well, I mean, what it did was it forced millions of people out of their homeland who wanted to stay where they were. They want protection in their country. Pete Hoekstra, your thoughts on Samantha Power's comments on this?

PETE HOEKSTRA, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's very, very disappointing. This really shouldn't be a partisan issue, but when she comes out and makes these statements, you have to point out that it was the Obama administration policies in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, that created this refugee crisis. All three of those countries became failed states. We saw the genocide of Christians, the attacks on the Kurds, the Yazidis, and everything, and that is what created the environment where I think you've got somewhere between 7 and 9 million people who are either refugees or displaced persons. And this is what the Trump administration inherited. This isn't about whether we're going to take 60 to a 100,000 refugees into the United States. This is about how do we go back into the Middle East, how do we stabilize the Middle East so that this 7 to 9 million people, hopefully, could find a way back to their homes and try to reestablish their lives in their home countries.

MACCALLUM: And we've already seen a very different response from this administration. We saw the first missile strike against Syria. In recent weeks, we've seen the shooting down of a Syrian fighter jet. We've also seen the shooting down of two drones. So it's quite clear, Marie, that this administration is willing to take military action in order to topple Assad, which is something that the Obama administration said had to happen. He must go, said President Obama.

HARF: Well, I'm not sure that the Trump administration is trying to use military force to topple Assad. And in fact, I'm not sure what their actual strategy is. I was supportive of those strikes after the last chemical attack. I said it on air. I've said it many times since. But what I also said was one night of strikes is not a strategy. And in the long term, I haven't seen the Trump administration say publicly or to congress or to the American people, here's the strategy, here's the end goal, and here's how we're going to get there. And this warning last night to me was incredibly interesting because now if Assad does another chemical weapons attack, Donald Trump has drawn his own redline.

MACCALLUM: That's exactly what President Obama did, and he didn't step over it.

HARF: We could debate that issue for a long time. We have debated it, actually.


MACCALLUM: You could be shock that someone would say that, when the president that you work for said that exact same thing and wouldn't do it, and didn't act.

HARF: Well, Donald Trump was very critical of drawing a red line. He was very critical of.


HARF: But Donald Trump owns this now. And if they do something again, he will have to do something to respond. It will be -- I'm not sure that they know what they would do in response, and I think the American people want to know what would that be.

MACCALLUM: All right. Let me get Pete Hoekstra here one more time. Your reaction.

HOEKSTRA: I'm sure that Assad -- you know, what the Trump administration did last night, they made it very clear. Assad, you use weapons again, we will strike, we will hit you again. You cross that redline. This was all about deterrent, hoping that Assad would change his mind and not use these weapons. I think in the coming weeks you will see the evolution of a Trump doctrine for not only Syria and Iraq, but also for Libya and Afghanistan. And I think it will be a different approach, one that hopefully will work and bring some stability to those countries and their citizens.

MACCALLUM: On the way out here, the irony that all of those actions that you just talked about, Pete, are very anti-Russia, and will make Russia very unhappy. So that sort of put up against this Russia scandal is a bit of a head scratcher. Thank you very much. Good to see both as always.

HOEKSTRA: Great, thank you.

MACCALLUM: So hours ago, Republican senators were at the White House to talk health care with the president. And up next, top White House insider, Gary Cohn, gives us the back story tonight. Watch.


GARY COHN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: How do you fix it when Republicans on the hill just don't have a consensus.


MACCALLUM: Ed Henry here with more of his exclusive interview with President Trump's top economic advisor. Plus, fallen U.S. navy sailors honored. Google hit with a big fine. And President Trump battling Disney. All those stories straight ahead when we come back.


MACCALLUM: So those are some of the big stories, but here's some other side stories that are making news tonight. The U.S. navy paying tribute today to the seven soldiers killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship off Japan. More than 2,000 soldiers and their families attended the ceremony to honor those victims. The warship and a container ship from the Philippines crashed on June 17th, severely damaging the destroyer. The incident is currently under investigation.

And Google has been slap with a record $2.7 billion antitrust find by European Union regulators. Google is accused of using its search engine to unfairly steer people to its own shopping platform. The tech giant is now considering an appeal. And finally, the house of mouse versus the White House, President Trump animatronic debut at Disney's hall of presidents. So they're delaying rolling out the Trump figure. Disney is reportedly blaming the White House. Imagineers as they're called, they usually work with the president's team to write and record a little speech that the robotic president will say when the kids go to Disney. According to Disney, the White House alone is crafting that address.

In the meantime, back to the real White House where President Trump and his administration have been trying to break through the noise surrounding Russia and get back to advancing the president's agenda. So chief national correspondent, Ed Henry, spoke exclusively with President Trump's chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, and he joins us tonight from the White House lawn. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPODENT: Well, good to see you, Martha. And Gary Cohn is also the key driver of much of the president's agenda. He told me that despite all these noise we're hearing on Russia, they are determined to make progress, yes, on health care, tax cuts, and also their big focus all this week, which is increasing U.S. energy exports, which means more American jobs.


GARY COHN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: The president is very committed to health care. The president has talked about what's going on with ObamaCare, how it's affecting our citizens, how the service has gone down. The premiums have gone up. How there's many counties out there that are offering no health care options, no providers out there. The president is committed to fix this. He's meeting with the senators as we speak right now. He's actively engaged and wants to see this to the finish line.

HENRY: But how do you fix it when it appears like Republicans on the hill just don't have a consensus?

COHN: Look, the president is a dealmaker. The president always talked about himself as a dealmaker. This is another deal he needs to make, there are issues that need to be worked out. He's in there talking to the group right now. He's trying to create a consensus. He's trying to drive to a bill that can get passed by the senate.

HENRY: Another issue you're trying to get on the radar is energy, I understand. Energy dominance sounds like something that maybe the president is focused on.

COHN: Well the president is focused on energy dominance. You know, we're in a unique position in this country. It's been since 1953, since we are a energy exporter in this country. Think about that. We're no longer dependent on other countries to be willing to sell us energy. We're now in a position where we can take care of ourselves, not only can we take care of ourselves, we can export energy out of the United States, and we can take care of other nations around the world. That puts us in a unique position.

HENRY: After the Paris climate accord, pulling out, you're playing a lot a defense on what the president policy is. Is this is a chance to go on offense and say, look, rather than an accord we're actually taking action.

COHN: We're not playing defense. The president has always been committed to all of the above energy strategy. The president is in favor of all parts of the energy complex in the United States. He's been supportive of coal, he's supportive of solar, he supportive of anything in between, and the natural gas as part of the in between products. We continue to do things in the administration to make energy viable in the United States, and make us energy dominant. We're doing that by getting rid of regulations and making our energy complex more competitive.

HENRY: Down the road, you eventually want to get to tax reform as well.

COHN: We definitely want to get the tax reform sooner than eventually. The sooner we get to tax reform the better. Our objective right now is to get to tax reform right after the August recess.

HENRY: The whole list you ticked off, how do you do all of that when a lot of the media just wants to talk about Russia, frankly?

COHN: Look, the media can talk about what they want to talk about. We're going to execute on our agenda. That's what we've been doing. We've been going through methodically. We've been repealing much of the over burden regulation that's been going on, we've been talking about what we want to talk about. We've been executing what we want to execute upon. We've been meeting every day with tax people. We've been meeting with listening groups. I've got another listening group today talking about taxes, talking about a tax bill, talking about what we need in this country to drive taxes to a place that stimulates economic growth. We're going to do that.


HENRY: And let me give you a concrete example. Gary Cohn said they're working on a deal to sell hundreds of billions of dollars in liquefied natural gas to China and other countries. That could mean big U.S. jobs, but it also could mean fixing that trade imbalance that the president talked about so much in the campaign, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, it's fascinating. We talk about energy independence for decades, and it changes your national security dynamic. In a huge way, when you're no longer beholden to other countries in the Middle East for your energy, it's just a huge game changer. I want to ask you before I let you go, in terms of the mood on the ground at the White House. He's a very interesting man, and he sort of pushed it off like everything's fine, we're getting our work done. Is that your understanding, Ed? Is that what you're seeing on the ground?

HENRY: Sure. And you've always have to be careful they're will be tunnel vision, there's always political problems for the present. There're people around here who say, oh, we're just fine. But Gary Cohn is someone who's been through a lot of battles on Wall Street. He has that sort of calm, cool demeanor. He told me a quick anecdote that they have one company out west that has come to them several times, saying they're trying to build a copper plant. They've been turned out twice by the federal government. I said is that for a few months, over a course of a couple of years? He said no, more than ten years.

MACCALLUM: Unbelievable.

HENRY: We're trying to build a copper plant, they can't do it. It means tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. This is the kinds of deals that we're working on. It sound small, but can have a major economic impact.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. Ed, thank you so much. Really interesting. Good to see tonight, as always, Ed.

HENRY: You too, thanks.

MACCALLUM: So straight ahead, a retracted CNN story prompted the White House to go on offense tonight against what it called a barrage of fake news. The administration latest tear against the media, we'll show it to you when we come back.



UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's the constant barrage of fake news directed at this president, probably, that has garnered a lot of his frustration. If the media can't be trusted to report the news, and that's a dangerous place for America.


MACCALLUM: So that was the White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, today. It all began when CNN published a now retracted story that they said was basically the collusion link between a Trump ally and a Russian investment fund. A story that the network admits now was not vetted enough to publish. CNN apologized and three journalists offered their resignation and left CNN. Trace Gallagher live in our west coast newsroom, with the latest on this. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGER, FOX NEWS: Hey, Martha. The CNN article citing just one anonymous source claimed the senate intelligence committee was looking into the executive of a $10 billion Russian investment fund, and that the Russian executive had met with hedge fund manager and Trump ally, Anthony Scaramucci. After Scaramucci threatened a lawsuit and CNN decided it could not fully stand behind its reporting, the story was retracted. CNN apologized, and Scaramucci accepted. The president, however, was not as magnanimous, tweeting, quote, wow, CNN had to retract big story on Russia with three employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? Fake news. Trump went on to indicate without evidence that CNN maybe about to undergo management changes, and that ratings are way down. To which, CNN fired back, quoting, CNN just posted its most watched second quarter in history. Those are the facts.

And while CNN has won awards for its recent investigative work, it is also been involved in a series of embarrassing missteps. Like having to fire its New Year's Eve co-host Kathy Griffin for the picture of her holding an imitation of the president's severed head, or having to host Reza Aslan for going after the president in a series of vulgar tweets. And just a few weeks ago, CNN had to correct a story saying that former FBI director James Comey would testify before the senate that he never told the president he was not under investigation. And for the record, Mr. Trump also believes ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are fake news. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, Trace. Here with more, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at the federalist, and a Fox News contributor, and Emily Tisch Sussman, campaign director for the center for American Progress Action Fund. Good to see you both, tonight. You know, I mean, obviously, this is a dug in battle that has been going on for some time. And this was the latest misstep by CNN, but many would say they did the right thing in this case. And the three reporters, you know, they had no mercy on these three reporters who offered their resignation. Emily?

EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: Why is the president focusing on this? They are in a middle of the largest health care battle. He doesn't like to be misrepresented. He misrepresents himself on a daily basis. Why did he say? Why did he indicate that he had tapes of him and Comey, and had to say he didn't have them? Why did have his press secretary say that the inner circle knows what covfefe is, that's obviously a typo. But he misrepresents himself on a daily basis. I wish he would just stop worrying about his ego and focus on the task at hand. He's running a large, large government. This is not a business that you can run when you have emotions and ego.

MACCALLUM: I mean, it's very clear, and we looked at those tweets from him just moments ago, Mollie. That he feels this is the only way he has to set the record straight because he can speak directly to his twitter followers of which there are millions and millions. So why shouldn't he do that? That's one question. And what about this CNN move, the very latest, Mollie?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, certainly, CNN did the right thing by retracting the story and the three journalists have parted ways with the company. Having said that, this is a story that actually goes back, many months, and CNN has been pushing an elaborate Russian conspiracy theory with many stories that have not really been -- they have not been solid stories. Just a few weeks ago, there was the Comey story that was completely false that they ran crazy with for the day leading up to the testimony. They were claiming that Susan Rice had nothing to do with unmasking, which is something that she didn't even claim. And they were also kind of duped on that original dossier story, where they really hyped that. And we know that these stories really have perpetuated this belief that there is a Russian conspiracy, that Donald Trump is a traitor in the White House, and we have had many dollars, much time, much energy wasted on a conspiracy theory for which there really isn't evidence.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, which could prove to be embarrassing for any journalistic organization that has gone too far out on a limb. And you could sort of feel, Emily, that on a number of fronts they're kind of starting to wonder if they went out too far on that limb, and whether or not it's going to come back to bite them. Of course, we don't know the final outcome of this story yet.

SUSSMAN: We don't, and neither did Trump when he tweeted about it today. So we could call that a misstep, we could call that -- maybe at some point we'll start calling it lies. But, CNN is hardly the only one who are pursuing this line of investigation. And the reasons that news outlets have to do it is because the president won't be up front, and congress won't pursue it really and a very serious way. If he could just -- if he could work, actually have a special investigation, actually support the federal council, not be constantly trying to undermine the special prosecutor in this investigation, we could just have answers, and then it wouldn't have to be this constant.


MACCALLUM: None of them has stopped. They're all moving forward. And you heard Newt Gingrich a little while ago, why he's concerned about that. But I have to leave it there. Mollie Hemingway and Emily Tisch Sussman, thank you very much. Good to see you both.

SUSSMAN: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So while most of the White House press corps was lashing out at Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Here's what happened.


MACCALLUM: Well, the White House maybe battling some of the media, but one member of the Trump administration got some serious love from the -- today. Energy secretary Rick Perry even managed to charm the press corps. Watch.


RICK PERRY, ENERGY SECRETARY: It's my privilege to be here today. Well, it's a very -- I think a very astute question you asked about the issue.


RERRY: I have no idea what you just asked.


PERRY: I would always look at an invitation to a party as a good thing. We have a president who believes in an American exceptionalism, America competition, and making America great again. Thank you.


MACCALLUM: The adoring tweets, Rick Perry, official from another planet, charmingly tells the press, why don't you all get two questions. Here's another one. Rick Perry is having the most fun of anybody who's ever stood at the Trump briefing podium by a factor of infinity. And then, he's a natural at the podium. And to be honest, food for thought, and Rick Perry for press secretary. We will see you back here tomorrow night. Thanks for being here on "The Story" with us. Tucker, coming up next.


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