RUSH: We welcome back — and how fortuitous the timing. We have the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, with us. Welcome, sir, and welcome back. How are you doing?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rush. Great to be on with you.
RUSH: All right. Well, we’ve got two things I want to ask you about, and the first one is breaking news, and I may catch you up short on this because I understand that you — according to the press secretary, Spicer, you — at the White House are not fully briefed on this. But I’ll give you the upshot of it: The U.S. intelligence community chairman Devin Nunes says that he now has “confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community did collect information on U.S. individuals involved in the Trump transition,” including the president himself.
“Details about U.S. persons involved in the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reports.” He said that this was legal intel; it was not about Russia. It was intelligence that had been gathered, and it was of Trump administration or transition officials, and he mentioned that some of this intelligence has found its way into media reports starting after the election running up to the inauguration.”
Nunes says…. “The information was ‘legally brought to him by sources who thought we should know it,’ Nunes said,” quote/unquote. He didn’t provide detail on the source. “Nunes also said that ‘additional names’ of Trump transition officials had been unmasked in the intelligence reports. He indicated that Trump’s communications may have been swept up,” and he’s on the way to the White House to share what he knows with the president. Has that happened? Do you know any more about this than what I’ve just relayed here?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t, Rush. I do know that Chairman Nunes is going to brief the White House this afternoon on his findings. He addressed the media and… Look, we just have every confidence in the ability of this bipartisan committee to examine the facts and bring those facts before the American people. But we will… We’ll have that briefing this afternoon. I expect more of that information to be available in the public domain.
But I can tell you the focus here at the White House continues to be eyes forward, and not just on the president’s agenda at home with the advance of the repeal and replace of Obamacare, the advance of Judge Gorsuch. But also, Rush, I was just in the Oval Office with the president when he spoke to Prime Minister Theresa May expressing his deepest condolences and the concern of the American people at the loss of life in the terrorist attack that took place just outside Parliament.
RUSH: Speaking of which, we’ve heard there are four deaths, including one policeman. Is that what you’ve been told?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I have not had that number confirmed. I was aware of press reports of two deaths. But obviously the investigation is unfolding, and as the president spoke to the prime minister, they were continuing their investigation. I will be meeting later today with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson here at the White House to both express the deep condolences and prayers of the American people, but also our solidarity with them to continue to confront and to defeat radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to the people of both of our countries and to the wider world.
RUSH: Is there any connection to this incident yet and the intelligence gathered by the raid on Yemen that has led to the temporary ban on electronic devices on certain airlines incoming to U.K. and the United States? Any relation between what happened today and the intel you’ve gathered in that raid?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not that I’m aware of, Rush, although I know when the prime minister and the president spoke this morning, she indicated to the president that if there was any actionable intelligence related to the security of people of the United States, that obviously our intelligence agencies work very closely on that. But this is just a horrific incident, and, as the facts continue to unfold, it is just a reminder, I think, of why this is a time for us to be even more diligent than we’ve ever been before.
I think the American people can be encouraged by the fact that they have elected a commander-in-chief who is prepared to hunt down and destroy ISIS and those who would threaten our people and inspire violence and take violence to our allies. But also, as you saw this week, this is a president that is prepared to take decisive action to ensure the safety and security of people that are traveling to this country, and we’re gonna continue. We’re gonna continue to drive forward on policies to ensure, in every way that’s humanly possible, that this kind of violence does not come onto our shores again.
RUSH: Back to the report by the Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes. A lot of people think this is potential bombshell material, Mr. Vice President, because ever since the president made that famous tweet that he thought he was being surveilled at Trump Tower, it has been a feeding frenzy. Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial and everybody in the media claiming that the president just… This just won’t do; we can’t have this kind of behavior from a president. Now, this news today seems to confirm what the president said in a general way.
And, Mr. Vice President, to me it’s a matter of common sense. We had all of those stories in the media from the election on through your inauguration, swearing in, and it contains sources deep inside the intelligence community — identified as such — and they were anonymous, and they were these giving details of potentiality and collusion and so forth. And everybody was asking at the time, “Well, how do you know all this?” There had to be some surveillance going on! There had to be to be some surveillance of the Russian ambassador in order for what Mike Flynn was saying to him to be known.
There’s no question there was surveillance, and for the president to offer that up and to be pooh-poohed by it… Now to have this report come out by Devin Nunes, it could be an eat-crow day. I know you guys are looking forward and this is just politics and you’ve got a lot of things to be serious about. But you also have a lot of people out there very concerned at the effort to undermine and unseat this president at the same time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there’s simply no question that literally since the morning after the election there have been voices in the mainstream media and on the political left in this country that have sought to discredit this president even before he took office. I think the resilience that President Trump has shown in driving forward an agenda to make our country safe and prosperous again is truly extraordinary and commendable, and it’s appreciated by millions of people that listen to this show and (chuckles) tens of millions of Americans.
But, look, we’ll take a look at what the Intelligence Committee has come across. I know Chairman Nunes is coming to the White House this afternoon. We’ll carefully examine that. But to your point, there were numerous press accounts in major arteries of the media reporting surveillance in the run-up to this becoming a national story, and we’ll just… We’ll follow the facts as the Intelligence Committee assembles them on this and other issues and let them do their work, and the president and our whole team will continue to work on his agenda to “Make America Great Again,” and that begins tomorrow when we take the first step to repeal and replace Obamacare.
RUSH: Well, let’s delve into that, since you bring that up. The most recent — and keeping track of this is its own job. But I’ll tell you, the best I’ve been able to come up with as we are discussing today, 24 members of the House Freedom Caucus — i.e., the conservative caucus in the House. The leader claims they’ve got 24 votes against the House bill. If that’s true, the House bill is going to fail. Is that what you’ve heard?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I had a great meeting this morning with members of the Freedom Caucus who were kind enough to come over to the White House. You know, Rush, you’ve known me for a long time. The Freedom Caucus didn’t exist when I was a member of Congress, but if I’d have been there when they organized it, you know I’m sure would have joined it. (chuckling) I battled against Big Government not only under Democrat presidents, but under Republican presidents. I opposed the Wall Street bailout, I opposed the Medicare prescription drug bill, and those are tough fights.
But I met with the team today and I said, “Look, for all the debate over the various details of this bill, the truth is that conservatives in the House have improved this legislation.” Because of House conservatives, we’ve managed to add block granting of Medicaid to the states. Because of House conservatives, we now have a work requirement for able-bodied adults in Medicaid, and we’re working on additional amendments that will be taken up in the Senate that will expand the ability of people to buy health insurance across state lines. But the simple fact is that —
RUSH: Well, wait. When is that going to happen?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it actually begins in a couple levels. As you know, Rush, this is a step-by-step process. This first bill, along with Secretary Tom Price’s effort at HHS, really do a couple things. First, we repeal the tax penalties of Obamacare. We essentially take the teeth out of the tiger, and now the American people are no longer faced with a tax penalty (chuckles) if they fail to purchase health insurance.
RUSH: And the mandate’s gone, correct?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The mandate will require 60 votes to take that sentence out of the statute, but we essentially take the enforceability away by removing the tax penalties in this budget bill. And, remember, this first bill only requires 51 votes. So the president said to us, “Get everything you can in this first bill,” and so in this first bill, we repeal the taxes. We launch health savings accounts on a broader basis in the country, and, most importantly, we passed the largest reform of Medicaid in the 50-year history of this program, transferring Medicaid back to the states with all-new flexibility — as I said — with work requirements as an option, with… And we also allow states simply to take a block grant of Medicaid all designed so that they can — in Florida and all over the country — reform Medicaid in ways that will better serve the most vulnerability in those communities.
RUSH: Let me ask you about that, because, again, all I know is what I see in the media, and the media says there are governors that are across the country not happy at all with these Medicaid reforms in this bill. They don’t like the date. They don’t like the expansion being taken away earlier than it was intended to be. Help me understand this. I mean, you mentioned health savings accounts. Are they in that or does that need 60 votes as well as the state line removal?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, in this bill, health savings accounts are made more accessible and easier to use. This first bill, we’re lifting the ban on using a health savings accounts for medication that increases the limits on health savings account contributions from about $6,000 for an individual and $13,000 for a family. And it allows a couple of other changes that will make health savings accounts more available and more accessible. But I’ll go back to this Medicaid piece. Look, you know I was a governor; I ran a Medicaid program.
We actually got the most expansive waiver for Medicaid in the history of the program in the state of Indiana. We actually (chuckles) introduced health savings accounts into Medicaid in the Hoosier State, and it is to this day having an enormously positive effect on the lives of the most vulnerable. People are now taking advantage of preventive medicine. They’re moving from emergency room care to primary care. This is all in this first bill. But make no mistake about it. This is gonna be a…
This is gonna be a process where this first legislation is the beginning of the end of Obamacare. We take out the taxes and penalties. We transfer Medicaid back to the states where it can become better and more effective for the people that need it most. We worked with Dr. Tom Price to create all-new flexibilities so that you can see the creation of a national marketplace through deregulation. And then in the final bill that the president will drive through the Congress this spring, we will completely eviscerate all that remains of Obamacare on the books and will make it possible for Americans under the law to purchase health insurance across state lines.
RUSH: Okay. Well, let’s —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s the president’s vision here is allow a national marketplace and allow states to innovate in Medicaid, and that’s a framework for an American system of health insurance.
RUSH: Right, I understand, but you still have —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (unintelligible)
RUSH: You still have a problem in the Senate. You’ve got Tom Cotton saying there isn’t gonna be phase 2, there won’t be phase 3, because this phase isn’t gonna pass the Senate. Rand Paul is saying that. It’s something that I’ve noticed is that almost all the analysis of this bill is that it’s going to fail and so how can we do this in such a way that the Democrats get the blame for it? It depends on who you hear speak and what you read, what you think about this. Do you have the votes in the House to pass this, do you think?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe by the time this vote is called tomorrow night that we will have the votes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: As I said, we had a great discussion. But, Rush, look, the great news for the American people is that in the wake of seven years of failure where every promise made by Obamacare has been broken… Remember they said, “If you like your doctor, you can keep it”? Not true. “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it”? Not true. They said the cost of health insurance would go down. Not true. All those broken promises are going to begin to be swept away; we begin the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare. And the good news is that all the arguments here are really about how we get there. But Republicans in the House and the Senate are all united around the president’s commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare with the kind of reforms that will create that national marketplace and allow states to become the laboratories of innovation in Medicaid, to improve health care services and coverage for our most vulnerable.
RUSH: Mr. Vice President, thank you for your time. We’ve run out of it here in this segment. But I really appreciate you making time to be with us today, particularly with this timing with things happening the way they are. That you were able to make some time for us, we really appreciate. Thank you so much.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Honored to do it, Rush. Thank you.
RUSH: Vice President Mike Pence. So you heard there that the arguments over health care are about style, process, but that everybody on the Republican side is oriented toward getting rid of it, which, you know… Look, folks, I think I read more than anybody else out there reads, and my memory is one of the greatest memories in human history, and I think we heard something there that is a perspective that we haven’t seen, that everybody on the Republican side really wants to get rid of this. There are just disagreements over how and whether this does it.
Correct me if I’m wrong. (interruption) Mr. Snerdley, do you know of any Republicans that want to keep Obamacare? (interruption) Are there some? (interruption) There may be a couple that waver, but I haven’t heard anybody make big news about that, so there… (interruption) Yeah, nobody’s brave enough to say it. They may be there. But, if that’s the case — if there is a unity of purpose to actually get rid of it — then there is a foundation to build on.