'The Briefing Room': Health care, taxes and Gold Star families

ABC News' Powerhouse Political team analyzes today's White House press briefing, including the latest on health care, tax reform and Trump's recent controversy involving the widow of a fallen soldier.
14:33 | 10/18/17

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Transcript for 'The Briefing Room': Health care, taxes and Gold Star families
Hi there welcome to the briefing room on ABC's Rick client that I cap and all the for a White House game. Political reporter Mary Alice parks for gonna have to participants from the White House a couple nowlin moment. But some news story of the week this conflagration in the presidential. Started itself but we're from the White House today is that is appalling and disgraceful and the media created narrative appallingly bad with the congresswoman. And yet some important admission is from the white house on the substance. Of this phone call that is now captivated the country unless point four hours. I think that started. On Monday entrance guarded night and when the president was talking about. The president's not riding letters are making calls to those who were killed in action obviously. They narrative today is one of those found cause and that he needed and to the widow that Sargent pat Johnson. And it the story here is. If you heat. Allegedly he said. To the widow I knew what he signed up army unit usually don't do what he signed up for is what he said and here we have. I'm conflicting messages coming from congresswoman Wilson who relayed this is that it was something I am discussing that the president said he's. Aren't acting right in he said that this was actually totally fabricated but it's safe but but fire. He met online or else what is it important distinction it doesn't really saying that he didn't think it was more. Right the president's week I didn't say that she's totally robbed. So there's enters this trip and his group she doesn't look at times he really not saying are you saying that he didn't come across that way and kind and she just wouldn't answer that's obviously sad that the sentiment was. Iran but I think you're exactly right to look back a few days because he's he's out there and she's up there saying this is. Become disgusting if become too political com. But the 'cause it was the one that first made it political he took a question about fallen American soldiers. And turned it around with an attack on president past president detective brought almost past president and their aides and a need to absolutely immediately called. And it's something that he falsely stated that the President Obama didn't make up any of these calls its an Indian prison and when he did yesterday was that. General Kelly's chief of staff whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2000 intending Ethan why don't you asked Kelly if he got hogs there's Sanders. I'm was asked about that too which she spoke. At what I think gun and Kelly sentiment and she says that he's discussing it we this is publicized but when it saying. Unnecessarily he was. So what does come and we haven't heard from general Kelley itself that's one person I wanna talk through it Jon Karl and I interviewed for our for a powerhouse politics of today Leon Panetta who. Worked very close in general Kelley was White House chief of staff as well. I index Joan Kelly was his chief military when he was over at the Pentagon and he says that this was an appropriate of the president to bring this up as he so private about it we haven't heard from him. We do here for the White House that the official line is that the president was very sympathetic. During this phone call that is if it. While its engine that when she sent. She would rather cold and either case. Frustration that we see you online and statements from veterans groups and some other bullets are damaged today is it's that all this doesn't need the president's team very empathetic. So what they're going there and justice struck. By how she seems. Pretty cold up there yeah I think that's right in and this is not gonna end because of the way that there they're firing back and forth now. Let's talk about health care because we have yet we have that we have currently what alma. Yeah. The theater. Great to see you. Yeah exactly so it was a hooked up so bear ever because of the speed because the president. Was sport before is against that but actually was against the before he was even for so we've had like a double ought to get it right he started at least until I exactly where they stand out. It I think they're just ongoing and right now president likes the deal in theory. He says he likes certainly lakes senator Lamar Alexander who helped put this together but they're right and he can't get on board because what he says he wants is something big something Brock is remember at the heart that this is a bit at the end date rape is an agreement that would just extend these subsidies. For low income Americans for two years and give states some more flexibility but it is a far cry. From a big repeal and replace. So now the question is what comes next because we were all we've been down this road before they try to do something bigger it didn't work out so what comes next and a department or. What's at stake here while congress duties to debate but they can do something bigger while the White House continues to decide what they may or may not stand for here. Americans could see their premiums are now Americans are setting million Americans who receive these Nazis about seven billion dollars. And the CBO is set premiums would rise by 20% people will lose their coverage and politically the question is who they blame the president. The president says they nice guy bad bill yesterday. Yesterday he he says that he was part of negotiations and he and he could see it happening. And Mary this was this was the fall back option right now and the idea out Alexander Murray that want as the back up that. It is all or was giving new light shall we say last week when the president came an decided to end the subsidies but this conversation between Murray and Alexander going on for months trying to come up with something that they could do. To shore up the market to give insurers a little bit about a clear signal want from Washington hoping that that premiums wouldn't go up. While lawmakers continued to debate how to over all of our enemies he wanted to guys whether whether he knew what he was saying. Anybody else ardent against these and some of the miners oppose the he sent these are unlawful unless congress acts and events. They are facts for you and many an accident left him left him stuck in spinning and having to say oh wait actually I still want a full repeal and it puts. In Japan because on one hand they don't want the ball out. From cutting these subsidies to be on their hands they don't want people seeing their premiums going up about being blamed on the president being blamed on them but on the other hand conservatives say anything that looks like propping obamacare we've been promising to get rid of that and it just looks like that's like this that yeah it. That's right released that two year period at the and then there's the other big topic that of course we always talk about like that alternate reality was presidents on message right would be kind of attacks are formally he gave a speech. Last night on this there's still a lot of congressional movement on this the Senate's moving toward a vote. Buries it is this bill anything like what it was promised in the first place arena talk about something a lot smaller. It definitely is now we're Gannett ultimately now and it is interesting to him when he had two different Republican senators and ask them about some of the other. Topics of the day that the president various feuds that that the eight people. They look at me and just sort of gloss over the questions they had to tax reform. Beacon is what they wanna be focused on what they want to be talking about but of course so much oxygen being sucked some of these other issues. You know the president as he image but collar on the same page the problem is now getting the rest of Republicans. On that PH because there's still a lot of disagreement a lot of details to work out regularly what this deal will look into question the fact that Democrats were there at the yet you think it's. Like possible that Democrats. Some any homework and I just look the deal colorful want right I don't think it yeah. It's part is when because. What they're when he leads into what is the text what really tightening you know the overarching themes that the president wants a lot of those are really gonna work out a lot of Democrats but when you get to the nitty gritty. But topic a police although they get this done by the end of the year. All right Mary as we talk about these candidates also scrambled wanna take over Jordan Phelps at the White House with our question everything of our colleague Cecilia be asking a question about what this proof. Looks like Jordan it sounded like. Well we know there's no recording now but it sounds like they're from the White House is possibly prepared to put out general Kelley and others to read but this the family of this soldier. That's right it looks like there is no tape recording only proof here with the general Kelley in his story as we ask general Kelley has previously said. I had expressed that this is a very private matter for hand for his son to even be rot out. But Sanders now saying ice wouldn't say whether he knew before hand but saying he certainly guys. No now and if he discussed it anything it's so wait this has been handled. I can focus on on the process so general Kelley may now have to come out and talk about a topic that we very much no he does not want to talk about publicly. Didn't want this to happen in the first place that it that was the interest and we saw little Kelly Jordan in the bright house briefing room last week. To read but rumors of his own demise. And and didn't give that is first got a free ranging. News conference like that is there any sense they might put it on again I mean it Evans and Cecil awkward given the circumstances. You know Rick that last added. Showing at general kite was a total surprise attack eyes how we certainly have gotten. More than just a few surprises here at the trump White House and I certainly wouldn't rule out. All right well another another surprise over a couple held today attorney general Jeff Sessions this first time in a couple of months that he's been a couple of a lot of pent up. Demand for what he had to say. The guy to Eton he was basically ducking debate questions a lot of questions about block shots. A lot of questions about executive privilege he is having his weird thing where he's saying I'm not gonna talk about it but what I'm saying with the president. Justin thinks he says executive wrote at some point. And he said questions on a wide range issue and any other day. We'll be talking not thought that every single issue from. Doc app Fran the rest of questions like you're just talking about. Still his relationship with the president the relationship with James commie the traveled at a rock and it goes on and on. This is a huge deal to have. That bit attorney general there and testify in front of the senate for the first time since he used to chair that Britney. And in an actress and he was. Mentioning executive provides issue but. He was asked whether you president of ever indicated it wouldn't any willingness anyone in America what is that exactly but what you set out that we are not exactly that Mary out that. The way other issues and then also. He did and tell us that he hasn't been interviewed Bryant special counsel Robert Mueller yes we learn not. Asthma and Jordan we we remember a couple of months ago when it Jeff Sessions at very much on the hot seat the president. Acknowledging that he might have a fire at some point even today is has asked that out of the briefing but even today. He's musing on Twitter where the Justice Department is in relation to the homey investigation that's hardly a vote of confidence in your attorney general on the day that he's on Capitol Hill taking all this fire. Yeah right this is one of those relationships to watch at the we know that. I attorney general sessions wise on the hot seat might and actually gotten fired a few months back but he's held on he's a survivor but we don't really see him mikes at these days at the White House so how. Warm or rather cool the relationship is between the president and his attorney general. I is an open question in and an interesting one to watch. But certainly I attorney general sessions isn't the only member of the president's cabinet who we've seen him kind of under pat we've seen in Q that. Out with his secretary of state south you know the president says one thing his cabinet as. And that's RIN and and it's hard to know what if that policy out of this White House. And is reminded of that Russian investigation is still out there you say to date it that he has not been contacted by Bob Muller's office which is looked a bit of news of them buys a lot of people thought that at some point you brought him. And it got very testy exchange after a check your source as but he came back around victories are confident that we'll finish the job. All right let's wrap things up guys with them with some final thoughts are Jordan the and he could any conclusions that you could draw today as you say always a surprise at the top White House. You know Rick my only. But today it's this how nasty things are over here right now you know we're dealing. With a moment consolation. A moment of grieving certainly a moment of grieving for those families who lost loved ones. In that attack in night here and and here we are talking about what the president. Did or did not say and the White House calling out. This congress one main act for her. Actions as disgusting and appalling you know it all seems very nasty ad and you know sometimes you have to wish we could just get back to focusing on what really matters and grieve for those service members we lost. All that was. Quality is we have two watch. How this plays out how the White House response that the tone changed his house. Noting earlier obviously it was significant moment for this White House and in important movement and if the DREAM Act to understand what really happened in he says. That business is about him though is also the president on the arm exactly and here is exactly right turn on that. Once again as a White House. He jerk reaction is to be that no matter what them under the topic to be defensive and argumentative and compassion. And and one more thing that they do is blame the press that an easy default for them but the idea didn't as the house well that's the thing and this was a media created the impression you Kenyans themselves in this Jon Kelley created if this was in response to a question. That had nothing to do with who make phone calls two. Active it's a fallen service members the past the president went there. I he is doubled down on that sentiment he is now defending himself and in in the light of he could stay silent on this and you'd someone sort of interpretation of the phone call fines fees are on the right if anyone has the family of the service members are that right. That's not that way is comparing himself to its predecessors through. Yeah yeah. And I argue. I'm at a house that night and the and the argument around all of that hope will continue. All right guys thank you Jordan felt thank you to Mary Bruce thank you two Katherine folders and Mary Alice parks that doesn't. For this edition. Of the briefing room please check out the powerhouse politics podcast check out the dough. Publishing earlier than ever every morning at abcnews.com. That is if it is it is in every hero will be back with the next time.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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