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Obama Advices on Obamacare Repeal; Obama Suggests Trumpcare; Manchin Skips President's Meeting; Trump Tells GOP to Be Careful; Obamacare Battle on The Hill; Trump Mocks Intel on Hacks; Pence and McConnell Live on Capitol Hill; Trump's Differences on WikiLeaks. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 4, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:09] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
We begin with a dramatic showdown on Capitol Hill now playing out as President Obama coins the phrase "Trumpcare." Today, the president and vice president-elect visited with lawmakers in these sort of dueling split screen meetings to strategize on the future of Obamacare. Governor Pence declared repealing and replacing Obama's signature law as, quote/unquote, "the first order of business," and it's the replacement piece that Democrats are seizing upon. The president directed his party to, quote/unquote, "don't rescue" Republicans on Obamacare, and even advising to call whatever program takes its place "Trumpcare." Turn the tables on the Republicans, he says. Here is more from both sides, beginning with Vice President-elect Pence's promise for a smooth transition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: It will be important that we be careful as we do that. That we do that in a way that doesn't work a hardship on American families who have gained insurance through this program, doesn't work a hardship on our economy. And as I told the House Republican conference today, we're working on a strategy in concert with the leadership of the House and the Senate for both a legislative and executive action agenda to ensure that an orderly and smooth transition to a market based health care reform system is achieved.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: The Republican plan to cut health care wouldn't make America great again, it would make America sick again. But Republicans will soon learn that you can't keep the good parts of the ACA and remove the rest of the law and still have it work. And that's what they're struggling with and that's why they're not getting anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let me turn now to CNN's senior political reporter Manu Raju and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. So, Manu, first to you on the meeting with President Obama and the
Democratic members. We know that the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said the meeting with the president was great, but I understand you say it was a tad feistier than that.
MANU RAJU, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It was. It was an effort to try to fire up the troops and try to say that the Republicans can't repeal the law and not face serious consequences. He was arguing that they're going to face consequences from voters who don't actually realize how much they actually like some of the provisions in the law.
And he was actually urging Democrats do, and he said that we should - they should fire up their basis of supporters, grassroots supporters, and get them to town hall meetings in districts, House districts, and in states, and let Republicans know that they should not move forward in this manner. Actually said, I am told from a source in the room, he said that we could do what the Tea Party did in 2009 when the Tea Party activists and conservative activists hounded Democrats in town hall meetings because of their opposition to Obamacare. And that eventually led, in 2010, to the Democrats losing the House. He said that we should let them just pass a bill that is like, quote, "Trumpcare," that is worse than Obamacare with a few Democratic votes and try to rally his - Democrats against a replacement plan.
But, Brooke, not everybody is listening to that advice. I just spoke with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat up for re-election in 2018, about the Obama meeting. He skipped it. Here's why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, I would caution you, the Democrats brought it - they birthed it with 60 votes and no Republicans. All Democrats. Now you're going to basically kill it, throw it out with the bath water with 51. And then you're going to try to bring it back with 60. Well, you've got 52 Republicans. You're going to need eight Democrats. Can you keep all your Republicans if you're trying to moderate it some? Wouldn't it be much easier to work and try to fix what you don't like right now, rather than throwing the good parts out too?
RAJU: But would you be willing to be one of those eight Democrats to work with Republicans to replace the law?
MANCHIN: Oh, I would be absolutely happy to repair the law, I'm not going to vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it.
RAJU: What about replace? But what about after the repeal?
MANCHIN: (INAUDIBLE). Well, after the repeal, I'm still going to work. Heck, yes, you've got to work no matter what they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So that is a significant comment -
RAJU: Because not many Democrats are willing to say they're willing to work on replace the health care law. And right now, in this hour, Brooke, Joe Manchin actually meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to discuss health care. And that's really the first meeting that we know of between a Democrat and a Republican, the incoming administration, to discuss how to move forward on health care reform. But, still, a very steep hill to climb for the - for the Republicans to replace the law. Not many Democrats willing to go anywhere near where Donald Trump wants to go and the Republicans have yet to lay out their plan as well.
[14:05:04] BALDWIN: Yes. OK. So you threw a lot out there and I would love to hear, you know, Dana opine on some of that.
But first, Dana, let me just get straight to President-elect Donald Trump because with all of this Obamacare or Trumpcare or whatever either party's calling this, he sent out this triple tweet and I just want to read this for everyone.
He, Trump, warning his party to be, quote, "careful and that the Dems own the failed Obamacare disaster with is poor coverage and massive premium increases, like the 116 percent hike in Arizona." He goes on, "also deductibles are so high that it is practically useless. Don't let the Schumer clowns," Chuck Schumer the Senate minority leader, "out of this web. Massive increases of Obamacare will take place this year and Dems are to blame for the mess. It will fall of its own weight. Be careful."
Dana, I know I've asked you this before, what is Trump saying? I really mean that, though.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BALDWIN: I mean when I first read that, I thought, is he saying let it stay and because it's a disaster then it will fail? Translate.
BASH: What he's saying is actually what his vice president-elect echoed in front of the cameras and very likely behind closed doors with Republicans earlier today, which is, we know that everybody has been champing at the bit to repeal Obamacare. The House has - has voted on it -
BALDWIN: For seven years.
BASH: Yes, for seven years, over and over and over again, knowing that it's not going to go anywhere. But Chuck Schumer said today that he thinks it's, you know, the dog that finally caught the bus. And what Donald Trump is saying in that tweet is, be careful not to be the dog that caught the bus, meaning, you know, you want to do this because it was your promise, but the Democrats do have - they - maybe not the upper hand, but they do have a point, a very strong point, that - and the whole reason why the Obama administration and the people who work for him, you know, how - seven - six, seven years ago wanted to do this at the beginning of his administration is because when people have a benefit, even if it is not perfect, to take it away from them, is not easy. And Donald Trump is obviously realizing that not only that, Trump himself has said, and his advisors have backed him up in recent days, that he doesn't want to take the people who are on the roles now off the roles. It's very, very complicates both in terms of policy first and foremost, but also politically. And he gets that, which is a big part of the message again that Mike Pence came to the Republicans with on Capitol Hill today, which is, we want do this, but we want to do this smartly. So let's just take a breath.
BALDWIN: So - so I understand that the Pence Republican meeting, it was described as a pep rally, no specific policy, you know, details except some timeline of sixth months to have the initial proposal. But the issue is, as you both know, repeal is one thing, replace is another. And so you have the Democrats, Manu, who are saying constantly, the talking point is, they don't have a plan, they don't have a plan, "they" being the Republicans. From what I understand, you know, different Republicans have different plans. Is - can you just fact check that for me, Manu, and tell me, what's the truth as far as a replacement plan goes?
RAJU: Well, the Republicans have a lot of different ideas about how to expand the health (INAUDIBLE), whether it's tax credits or whether it's allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. But there's no one plan, comprehensive plan, that the whole party has united behind. A lot of ideas that are out there. There's no specific legislation that they have offered, that the whole party is pushing right now. There are a lot of different things that different factions within the Republican conference are discussing.
Now, one thing that Mike Pence did discuss today with House Republicans was moving forward administratively, letting Donald Trump take some executive actions and when - if Tom Price gets confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary, him issuing regulations that could begin the process of replacing Obamacare. Now, they didn't give a lot of specifics about what exactly that means, but they at least want to try to do stuff administratively and then let the legislation happen -
RAJU: And that's going to take a lot longer to get support to get legislation through.
BALDWIN: OK. OK. So much more on that.
I do want to pivot - Manu and Dana, thank you so much - because the other huge headline unfolding today, President-elect Donald Trump is not only taking shots at the intelligence agencies he's about to lead in 16 days, he is siding with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the CIA. Mr. Trump tweeted the, quote/unquote, "intelligence briefing" on so-called, quote, "Russian hacking was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange." Now, intelligence officials say there is actually no delay. The meeting was always set for this Friday, one day after the president, President Obama, was to be briefed.
And then you have this. Mr. Trump also tweeted on Julian Assange, saying, "Assange said a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta," the Hillary Clinton campaign chair, "so why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info."
[14:10:12] Let's talk it over with CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown and CNN's Andrew Kaczynski, who just found some interesting sound that I just listened to from, what, I think it was 2010.
But, Pamela, first to you. A couple years ago Trump was slamming WikiLeaks. What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and now as you see in that tweet that you just read, Brooke, he seems to be siding now with Julian Assange, after Julian Assange said that Russia did not give the information to WikiLeaks from the DNC e-mails, as well as John Podesta's e-mails. But as we know, Brooke, Russia - if Russia is indeed behind the hack, it wouldn't be the one handing over those documents. It would be a third party. That's how the operation works.
And I've been speaking to people in the intelligence community today in the wake of these escalating attacks from President-elect Trump against the intelligence community and from the officials we've spoken with, there is sort of a growing sense of distress and dismay about this. As one person told me, look, you don't want to get off on the wrong foot with the new boss and there is this feeling like they are entering into this new, hostile environment and there's really - it's unclear why -
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Had the privilege this morning of speaking to the House Republican conference and the opportunity to meet with Senator Schumer in his chambers and - and then the opportunity to speak to Senate Republicans today. It is - it is 2017. We are back to work. And just 16 days away from when we'll make America great again. The opportunity to be here with the leadership of the House and Senate and to talk about the priorities of the president-elect and to see the collaboration and the spirit that this leadership team has brought to moving the president's agenda forward is truly inspiring.
The president-elect said many times on the campaign trail that he had a three-part agenda, jobs, jobs, jobs. And the focus of our administration, from the outset, after getting our team in place through the confirmation process, is going to be to focus on supporting economic growth, repealing onerous regulations that are stifling the American economy, working with leaders in the House and the Senate to roll back an avalanche of red tape that's come out of this administration. We'll be looking for opportunity before we get to the spring to pass the tax relief that the president-elect advocated for working families, small businesses, family farms and really get this economy going again.
There will be a focus on infrastructure, a focus on border security, immigration. There will be a focus on military spending, rebuilding our military. And, of course, the president-elect will be naming his choice for the Supreme Court of the United States.
But as I said today, to members of the Senate, that the first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare has failed. And the American people have sent a decisive message to Washington, D.C., that they want Obamacare to be repealed and replaced with health care reform that will lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government. We're working very closely with the Senate leadership on a budget resolution that will begin the process of repealing Obamacare and also create a framework for a replacement going forward. We're also working on a series of executive orders that the president-elect will put into effect to ensure that there is an orderly transition during the period after we repeal Obamacare to a market-based health care economy in America.
Look, Obamacare has failed. The promises of Obamacare have all been proven to be false. I was here in a different capacity in March of 2010 when we were told if you like your doctor you can keep it. Not true. If you like your health insurance, you can keep it. Not true. We were told that the cost of health insurance would go down if Obamacare became law. Not true. Right now the American people are laboring under extraordinary increases in premiums. The average deductible for a bronze policy today is $12,000. And American families have seen an increase in premium of $5,000 and this year the average premium increase on families has been 25 percent, over 100 percent in some American states. That all comes to an end when with set into motion the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
[14:15:03] And what I can assure you and the American people is that President-elect Donald Trump is a man of his word. He campaigned on a broad range of policies to make America great again, to have America prospering again, standing tall in the world again, honoring our most cherished constitutional principles for the first order of business today. And for the president-elect, and I'm - I'm grateful for the leader of the House and the Senate is to keep our word to the American people, to repeal and replace Obamacare with health care reforms that again will focus on lowering the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government.
The policies will be developing in months ahead but president-elect strongly supported efforts popularly advancing the Congress in years past of health savings accounts, allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines, association health plans. The architecture of the replacement of Obamacare will come together, as it should, through the legislative process in the weeks and months ahead. But the American people voted for change in November, and the president elect and I, working with the leaders in the House and Senate, are determined to keep our promise to the American people, and that all begins with repealing an replacing the failed policy of Obamacare.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Chuck Schumer (INAUDIBLE). Can you talk a little bit, though, about the argument that Democrats are making, sir, just that Republicans will own it essentially if you cannot put together behind -
PENCE: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the first part of your question.
QUESTION: Yes. It was - your meeting with Chuck Schumer, any (INAUDIBLE) on that. PENCE: I did.
QUESTION: And also the argument that Democrats (INAUDIBLE) are taking that Republicans will own it if you can't come together behind (INAUDIBLE). Are you prepared to own the (INAUDIBLE)?
PENCE: I think the most important thing for the president-elect and for the leaders here in Congress is that we keep our word to the American people. Look, Obamacare has failed. All the promises of Obamacare have been shown to be false and broken promises. And the American people want us to start over, to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the kind of reforms that will give the American people more choices when it comes to health insurance. Releasing the power of the free market is the pathway toward expanding access and affordability of health care across this country and the American people know it.
But the, you know, the simple fact is, the American people know who owns Obamacare. It's the first half of the title. It is Obama and the party of Obama. What President-elect Trump and I and the leaders in the Congress are determined to do is to keep faith with the American people who have - who have voted in this past historic election, both in the - in the presidential election and in elections here in the Congress of the United States to give us the majorities and to give us the control of the White House to make good on that promise.
QUESTION: Senator McConnell - Senator McConnell, the - the president- elect's - the president-elect's advisor yesterday said on TV that with replacement for Obamacare that nobody has insurance now under Obamacare will go without it. Is that also your prior, that nobody who has insurance now will go without it?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes, let me just say, we have on the floor of the Senate now the Obamacare repeal resolution. The priorities between now and the - and January 20th are hearings on cabinet members. We hope the minority will treat President-elect Trump's cabinet selections in the same way that we treated President Obama. And we confirmed a number on Inauguration Day itself. We hope to be in a position to do that once again. And we're also going to process the waiver for secretary of defense designee Mattis. Those are the priorities between now and January the 20th.
Let me also just point out. I notice my counterpart, Senator Schumer, announced yesterday that their goal was to apparently never fill the Supreme Court vacancy. That's kind of an expansion of the Biden rule. You recall the Biden rule, in 1992, was the Senate would not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of a presidential election year, which was my view last year. Senator Schumer said in the second Bush administration that they would not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the last 18 months of President Bush 43's tenure. Apparently there's yet a new standard now, which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate and we'll be looking forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it.
(CROSS TALK) [14:20:11] QUESTION: Senator McConnell, on the - on the cabinet nominations, when do you intend to meet with Scott Pruitt and are you comfortable with the slim majority confirmation that (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I believe all of our - all the president-elect's cabinet appointments will be confirmed.
QUESTION: Senator McConnell, is your concern that President-elect Trump will not have much of a team in - they are not - if his nominees are not confirmed on or after or just after Inauguration Day? Basically he'll have half a cabinet (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think it would be great if the Democrats would understand that, particularly with regard to the national security team, the secretary of defense, CIA, homeland security, it would make a lot of sense to have those folks in place on day one, and I hope we get to the point where that will be possible.
REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: (INAUDIBLE) thank you. We've got to go.
MCCONNELL: OK. Thanks a lot. Appreciate you coming up.
PENCE: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
BALDWIN: All right, so you have the vice president-elect. We just heard from the Senate majority leader just then. But a couple things to note. One, this is obviously congressional leadership who flanked him there, talking to reporters there on Capitol Hill today.
OK, I'll continue on. So, talking about Obamacare. Interesting to note, you know, the vice president-elect essentially echoing what he said earlier after meeting with Republican members. You know, priority number one, to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Also just remember, today was also the day that the president, President Obama, was on The Hill talking to Democratic members saying essentially don't rescue Republicans by helping, you know, pass replacement measures.
One other thing I just wanted to quickly note where Senator McConnell was saying that Senator Schumer was essentially putting a block on seemed to have put a block on any mainstream - unless they were mainstream candidates to the Supreme Court. We'll talk about it next hour.
But, Senator McConnell essentially was saying the same thing the last couple of months with regard to Merrick Garland, who President Obama wanted to put up for that final seat on the court. Just worth noting.
Where were we a couple of minutes ago? We were talking about President-elect Trump and his tweet on this upcoming intelligence briefing on Friday and his note on Julian Assange.
So, Pamela Brown is with me. Andrew Kaczynski with me as well.
And so, Andrew, let me just turn to you because what you have done despite what Trump has tweeted, you dug up something that would totally - that would juxtapose what he has said from 2010.
ANDREW KACZYNSKI, SENIOR EDITOR, CNN KFILE: Right. Trump said a very different thing than he said today. Him, in 2010, he basically said that WikiLeaks was disgraceful. He said this in an interview with Fox News. He said -
BALDWIN: Because today he's sided with Assange.
KACZYNSKI: He's citing - he's citing Assange. If you remember during the campaign, he was basically citing WikiLeaks every day on the trail saying, read WikiLeaks. And in this interview, he even suggested the death penalty for the leaking of all those military secrets from Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks. And I think we actually have a clip of it.
BALDWIN: Yes, let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he's going to talk about WikiLeaks. You had nothing to do with the WikiLeaks -
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: No, but I think it's disgraceful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do think it's disgraceful?
TRUMP: I think there should be like death penalty or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So that was from 2010, which obviously is entirely different from the tune he is singing now.
KACZYNSKI: Very different.
BALDWIN: Pam Brown, back to you, and apologies, we had to cut you off to go to The Bill. But, you know, you have more details as well from U.S. officials. I know you're in touch with your intelligence sources who are troubled, perplexed, you tell me, by this Trump tweet.
BROWN: They're perplexed. They're dismayed. And I want to read you this quote from an official I spoke with today, a U.S. official, just summing up sort of the feeling today. This official says, "it's a sad day when politicians place more stock in Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange than in the Americans who risk their lives daily to provide objective, non-partisan intelligence analysis." So that is really - sums up the feeling among officials in the intelligence community today, those that I have spoken with in the wake of these tweets from Donald Trump last night and then today about Julian Assange, a man wanted in the U.S. for leaking classified information.
What's interesting to note here, Brooke, is this is happening just days from this high profile briefing where Trump will be face to face, in the same room, with the leaders of these intelligence agencies that he's been criticizing. John Brennan, who is the director of the CIA, James Clapper, Admiral Mike Rogers, all of these leaders will be in that briefing on Friday. And this is really going to be a deep dive on the Russia hack, the first briefing where you really get the full picture. And so there is anticipation among intelligence officials and hope that perhaps things will improve after this briefing on Friday. We'll have to wait and see, Brooke.
[14:25:09] BALDWIN: That briefing Friday, as we reported, was always planned the Friday, the day before President Obama will be briefed.
BALDWIN: Pamela and Andrew, thank you so much. More on this in just a moment.
But first, the Senate's top Democrat with a new threat against President-elect Trump over his Supreme Court pick. Why Chuck Schumer is pulling a page from the Republican playbook.
Plus, a racist murderer behind the Charleston church massacre speaking out today in court about his own sanity and why he just told the jury to ignore his lawyers.
And moments from now, armed forces will say farewell to President Obama at a ceremony at Joint Base Meyer (ph). We'll bring it to you live. You're watching CNN.
BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:29:47] I just want to read something for you. "Anything you heard from my lawyers in the last phase, I ask you to forget it." That message spoken today to a jury by the man who killed nine black worshipers at a Charleston church last summer. The 22-year-old now representing himself here in the penalty phase of this trial, delivered a three minute opening statement today, speaking directly to the men and women of the jury who will ultimately decide