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Trump Escalates Battle with U.S. Intelligence; Interview with Sen. Mark Warner; Sources: Intelligence Officials Dismayed with Trump; Obama Advises Dems on Hill about Obamacare Fight; Reports: Ivanka Trump's $5.5-Million Home Near Obama's. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 4, 2017 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, doubter in chief, Donald Trump takes to Twitter to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's findings about Russian cyberattacks during the presidential election and falsely suggests the intelligence community put off an upcoming briefing. Trump also tweets praise for WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Tonight, we have new details on how the U.S. intelligence professionals are reacting to their new commander in chief.

[17:00:31] Sick again. President Obama comes to Capitol Hill to plot strategy with outnumbered Democrats, who say Republicans want to make America "sick again" by repealing Obamacare. The president's advice: start calling the Republican alternative "Trumpcare."

A bridge too far? Trump raises eyebrows by raising (ph) new members of his White House staff, including a former contestant on his TV show, "The Apprentice," and a former Chris Christie political aide who was fired in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal.

And wanted House. A multi-million-dollar home in a stylish neighborhood here in Washington, D.C., could be the hottest property going. Are Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and their family moving in, just down the street from Barack and Michelle Obama's new home?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight we're watching the very public and growing rift between President-elect Donald Trump and the country's intelligence professionals. The FBI, the CIA, other agencies, they agree Russia is behind last year's election-related cyberattacks. The president-elect now seems to believe WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who says Russia wasn't the source of the e-mails stolen from the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Also tonight, the fight over repealing Obamacare is underway. President Obama came to Capitol Hill to encourage Democrats, suggesting they label the Republican alternative "Trumpcare."

Vice-President-elect Mike Pence was inside the Capitol at the same time as the president, promising Obamacare will be replaced with something that lowers the cost of premiums and deductibles. But the Republicans aren't revealing their plans. We're also learning more right now about the 5-1/2-million-dollar

House here in Washington that Ivanka Trump and her family soon may be calling home. It's only blocks from the new home of another D.C. power couple, the Obamas.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia Senator Mark Warner -- there you see him -- he'll be taking our questions. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with the extraordinary split between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community. CNN's Sara Murray is outside Trump Tower in New York City for us.

Sara, Trump himself clearly is escalating the battle.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Wolf. And it's not just a rift between Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community. It's a rift now between Donald Trump and prominent leaders of the Republican Party as the president-elect appears more likely at this point to align himself with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who insists he didn't get any of his information from Russia, than with members of his own party and the U.S. intelligence agencies.


MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump publicly vigorously casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. And appearing to place his trust in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange instead.


MURRAY: Just days before he's set to huddle with CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, and director of national intelligence James Clapper, Trump tweeting, "The" -- quote -- "'intelligence' briefing on so-called" -- quote -- "'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange."

U.S. officials dispute Trump's claim that there was any delay. The president-elect continuing his tweet storm: "Julian Assange said" -- quote -- "'a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta.' Why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info."

Very different from Trump's 2010 stance on WikiLeaks after the group published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents.

TRUMP: I think it's disgraceful.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: You do think it's disgraceful?

TRUMP: There should be, like, a death penalty or something. MURRAY: Trump's relentless skepticism towards U.S. intelligence and

praise for Assange, whose website, WikiLeaks, published the hacked e- mails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, highlighting a sharp split between the president-elect and other GOP leaders.

House Speaker Paul Ryan unleashing a wave of criticism against the WikiLeaks founder.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (via phone): I think the guy is a sycophant for Russia. He leaks, he steals data, and compromises national security.

MURRAY: As Senator Lindsey Graham offers this advice to Trump.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This was done by the Russians, and I hope by Friday President-elect Trump will come to that realization and ignore Mr. Assange. Not only should he ignore Julian Assange; he should condemn him for what he's done to our country.

[17:05:11] MURRAY: Assange insists his information isn't coming from the Russian government.

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER OF WIKILEAKS: Our source is not a state party. Sorry, the answer for our interactions is no.

MURRAY: As CIA Director Brennan questions his credibility.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: He's not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.

MURRAY: And implores skeptics to wait for the upcoming intelligence report on Russia.

BRENNAN: I would suggest to individuals who have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it, that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments.

MURRAY: Today Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is backing up his boss's leeriness of U.S. intelligence.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IL), VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think that the president-elect has expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions.

MURRAY: Trump did secure one additional ally in his support for Assange: 2008 vice-presidential hopeful, Sara Palin. She took to Facebook to say, "This important information that finally opened people's eyes to Democrat candidates and operatives would not have been exposed, were it not for Julian Assange." That's after Palin called him an anti-American operative in 2010.


MURRAY: Now, the incoming White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said earlier today that what Donald Trump really does want to see from heads of intelligence agencies is how they took this raw data, how they took this raw intelligence and came to the conclusion that Russia may have meddled in the U.S. election.

That meeting is slated for Friday. So we'll see if Donald Trump changes his tone at all in the wake of that briefing.

BLITZER: That will be really important, to see how he commutes -- how he discusses all of this after that important meeting on Friday. Thanks very much for that, Sara Murray.

We're also learning new details about how members of the U.S. intelligence community feel about the president-elect and his doubts and his criticism surrounding their work.

Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, has been working her sources. What's the reaction you're getting from these intelligence professionals?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a growing sense, Wolf, of dismay and distress that they're off to such a rocky start. As one official told me, you never want to get off on the wrong foot with the boss, and that's exactly what' happening here.

And there's a feeling within the intelligence community that they're entering a different era of hostility between the future president and the intelligence agencies that will be working for him.

And one official put it this way in terms of the feeling. This official said, "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, nonpartisan intelligence analysis.

So, that is sort of -- kind of sums up how people I've spoken to today feel about this growing divide between the president-elect and the intelligence community.

BLITZER: What you heard, Pamela, about the intelligence briefings the president-elect already has received on this subject?

BROWN: That's right. So what I've been told by officials is that there is a disconnect between Donald Trump's public persona, these tweets, and how he is behind the scenes at these intelligence briefings. One official described him as very polite, deferential, professional, that at times he does ask questions and challenge the intelligence. But that what you see playing out in the public is different in terms of how he is behind the scenes, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, what can we expect at this high-profile meeting that's now scheduled for New York City on Friday? The leaders of the U.S. Intelligence community and Donald Trump?

BROWN: That's right, and this will be the first time, Wolf, that Donald Trump comes face to face with the leaders of these intelligence agencies that he's been challenging. We expect the top leaders, James Comey, head of the FBI; James

Clapper, head of DNI, Admiral Mike Rogers of NSA, just a few of the leaders who will be at this meeting. And for the first time, they will present to Donald Trump the full picture of why the United States believes Russia is to blame for the election hacks.

BLITZER: And we'll see once again how he emerges from that meeting...


BLITZER: ... what he says, what he tweets. That will be very important.

BROWN: There's a lot of hope. Hope in the intelligence community that relations will improve, perhaps, after this. We'll have to see.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens on Friday. Thanks very much for that. Pamela Brown reporting.

With us now is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

Senator Warner, thanks very much for joining us and congratulations. You're the new vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. You tweeted that you wished Donald Trump showed, in your words, "more respect to intelligence professionals. What's the risk of not accepting the intelligence community's findings? What kind of impact could that have?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, Wolf, I mean just when you think it can't get any stranger, the president-elect does things that are -- frankly, you couldn't even imagine.

The notion that he is, in effect, celebrating Julian Assange, who not only leaked classified information, but is actually under indictment in his home country in Sweden and has been a -- fleeing from justice, hiding out in an embassy for years, that they're going to take this guy's word over the thousands of people who every day put their life on the line to protect our country? Maybe not in the same way that our military does, but we're thinking about the FBI, and the CIA and the host of other intelligence agencies whose sole job is to tell truth to power.

[17:10:32] And what I worry is whether the president-elect will accept that truth. And my hope is that, come Friday, you'll see him change his perspective.

But we've got a president-elect here that is already in unprecedented territory. I know he's maybe met with one or another of the intelligence community, but the fact that he's not had any organized sit-down with the community leaders and he's, what, 12 days away from a -- his swearing in, that's unprecedented.

Go back and look at when President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton, Bush 41, they sat down with the intelligence community early, early on in their transition to make sure they realized how dangerous the world is and how you separate fact from fiction.

BLITZER: What would you do -- I know it's hypothetical at this point -- if he emerges from that meeting on Friday with James Comey, as you heard, the FBI director; General Clapper, the head -- director of national intelligence; Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, the NSA, what if he continues that skepticism following that meeting?

WARNER: Well, Wolf, those of us on the Intelligence Committee, and then the balance of the Senate will get versions of that same brief next week.

So, I think you hear virtually unanimous opinions from both Democrats and Republicans -- this, thank goodness, is not breaking down on a partisan line -- that believes the October 7 letter where all the intelligence agencies -- there's actually 16 of them -- came out and said Russians are interfering, messing in our elections in unprecedented ways. I think the vast majority of senators accept that. I want to see what the administration has put together.

We in the Senate will take on further investigation, because we've got to make sure the American people know what happened. So, one, it can't happen again. And two, as we've discussed before, we've got critical elections in France, Germany, Denmark. Some of the same tactics the Russians potentially used in America could be used in those nations, as well.

BLITZER: So, what would you do, though, if he continues to refuse to accept the conclusions of the American intelligence community after he gets briefed on Friday? What can the Senate do other than simply hold hearings?

WARNER: Well, there will be questions that we would ask of his nominees who are going to serve as the new leaders of the intelligence community. Will they be willing to speak truth to power, even if the president-elect -- my hope and prayer will be the president-elect realizes this is the most important job in the world; and he's got to be willing to hear proof, even if it's not the opinion he starts with.

BLITZER: As you know, there's been a lot of speculation that he might reverse the sanctions, the latest sanctions that President Obama imposed on the Russians, including the removal of some 35 Russian diplomats and their families, shutting down some facilities, Russian facilities here in the United States.

So what happens if, after January 20, Donald Trump reverses that?

WARNER: Well, first of all, one, I hope that doesn't come to pass, because he'll get this information.

Two, I think you would have a huge outcry from the Senate and, for that matter, from the House from people who have been read in and recognize that, you know, we need to take action. I think many of us believe we should have taken action even earlier.

So, I think you would have a bipartisan firestorm on the Hill unlike anything we've seen in recent past.

BLITZER: If the hacking wasn't related to the DNC or the election, do you believe President-elect Trump would accept the intelligence linking it to Russia?

WARNER: Again, let's -- I don't want to get ahead of the briefings that will take place next week. I'm very hopeful that the administration can make as much of this information declassified as possible, making sure we protect sources and methods, but declassify as much as possible.

Because at the end of the day, I think when the American people have the information, they will reach the same kind of conclusions that most of us who have been briefed so far would reach.

BLITZER: Because you know the speculation out there, Senator, that he's not accepting the conclusions of the American intelligence community because he feels that would play into the hands of those who say his election as president of the United States was -- there was something wrong with that, because the Russians interfered. It wasn't really legitimate, if you will. And anything that suggests that, he's going to disassociate himself with. You know that's the speculation, why he refuses to accept the assessment.

[17:15:12] WARNER: Wolf, Donald Trump, even though I didn't support him, is going to be sworn in as president on January 20. I think this is not from those of us who feel we need to get to the bottom of all this. It won't be finished with just the administration's actions. Congress needs to continue its own investigation. We're not trying to re-litigate -- at least I'm not trying to re-litigate the election.

I am trying to put Americans on notice and, for that matter, the rest of the world in terms of the type of tactics and the tools that the Russians have that can interfere, if they go to the heart of a democracy, which is our electoral process. And some of the tools that have been published -- already publicly reported in the press. You know, we're in a brave new era.

BLITZER: You're now the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. You've replaced Dianne Feinstein. And you've been well- briefed on all of this so far. What do you know about this review? Is there more concrete evidence in the review, proving absolutely that the Russian government is behind the hacking?

WARNER: Well, Wolf, I would accept Director Brennan's comments. Let's wait until that review is laid out to President Obama, President-elect Trump, those of us on the intel community and others. And I believe that we'll all reach -- I think all reasonably -- reasonable people will reach the same conclusion, and that is the conclusion that the intelligence community already reached as early as October 7, saying unprecedented Russian active measures involved in our electoral process.

BLITZER: You know some of these intelligence chiefs are going to be testifying, I think, tomorrow before John McCain's Senate Armed Services Committee. That's an open session, right? WARNER: That is an open session.

BLITZER: I don't know if you're -- are you a member of the Armed Services Committee?

WARNER: I'm not a member of the Armed Services Committee, no, sir.

BLITZER: But you can attend if you want to attend. We'll be watching that very closely.

Would you anticipate they will say in open session there that the Russians directly were involved in the hacking of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign John Podesta's Gmail account, and that the Russians deliberately provided this information to WikiLeaks so they would distribute it, in the hopes that it would hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump become president of the United States? Will they go that far?

WARNER: Wolf, let's wait and see what happens at Armed Services tomorrow, and then let's wait and see what the administration's report looks like.

This process is not going to come to an end on January 20. There are too many members in both parties in the Senate that know that we've got to get to the bottom of this. There's a series of inquiries that we are working through right now, and most importantly, we need to do it timely. We need to do it bipartisan, and we need to get the facts out to the American people.

BLITZER: Senator Warner, there's more to discuss including the future of Obamacare. A huge issue right now for the American people. We'll take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.


[17:22:32] BLITZER: We're back with Senator Mark Warner as we follow today's dramatic developments in the high-stakes fight over health insurance as the U.S. Senate begins the process of repealing Obamacare. President Obama and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, they both were up on Capitol Hill at the same time to plot strategy with lawmakers.

Let's bring in senior political reporter, Manu Raju. Manu, what are they lawmakers telling you?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, both sides are girding for a fight that is bound to consume the duration of this Congress. And while the U.S. Senate did vote today to open debate on a measure that would pave the way for the repeal of Obamacare, this fight is bound to consume the next two years.


RAJU (voice-over): Tonight Republicans taking their first steps to dismantle Obamacare. But President Barack Obama is rallying his party to defend the centerpiece of his legacy. In meetings with House and Senate Republicans, Vice-President-elect

Mike Pence making clear that repealing the law will be Donald Trump's top priority as president.

PENCE: But the first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare. And that was our message today, and it will be our message on Capitol Hill. And it needs to be done.

RAJU: In the Senate, Republicans voted to pave the way for a repeal in a matter of weeks.

But more questions and answers about what the GOP intends to replace it with, and that has rank-and-file Republicans increasingly worried.

Speaking to Democrats on a rare trip to Capitol Hill, sources said Obama warned that Republicans would pay a steep political price for trying to gut the law. And he told Democrats not to, quote, "rescue the GOP," by giving them votes on a replacement plan worse than the Affordable Care Act. The president branding the new GOP plan "Trumpcare."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look out for the American people.

RAJU (on camera): Would you work with them on finding a replacement?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I am not going to cooperate with Republicans when they try to repeal a bill that takes away health care for children, prescription drug cost benefits for -- for seniors. They have no plan to protect seniors. So, you're damn right we're going to fight them.

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: When people lose their ability to have quality health care, there will be -- there will be ramifications for that. But I don't think they're going to differentiate between Democrats and Republicans, quite frankly. I think they're going to hold everybody accountable.

RAJU (voice-over): Getting rid of Obamacare was a centerpiece of Donald Trump's campaign.

TRUMP: Repeal and replace with something terrific.

RAJU: But today even the president-elect is voicing concern, warning in a series of tweets, "Republicans must be careful in that the Dems own the failed Obamacare disaster." Adding, "Don't let the Schumer clowns out of the web." That last comment in reference to the new Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, who called Trump's plan, quote, "Make America sick again." Schumer has warned that his party won't work with Trump to replace the law if the GOP guts it.

[17:25:32] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We are telling the Republicans, so, if you are repealing, show us what you'll replace it with first. They're repealing. We're not. It's their obligation to come up with replace first, and I think we have unanimity within our Democratic caucus on that position. RAJU: But not all Democrats agree. West Virginia Senator Joe

Manchin, up for reelection in a conservative state, met with Pence on Wednesday. While he opposes repealing the law, he said he's open to working with Republicans on a replacement.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I have to -- I'm still going to work. Heck yes, you've got to work no matter what they do.


RAJU: Now, Manchin actually skipped today's meeting with President Obama, Wolf. But he's not the only problem for each party's leadership. Actually on the Republican side, Republican Rand Paul voted against the budget measure today to open up debate on the process to actually repeal the healthcare law. The reason why he voted against that, Wolf, was because it would increase the deficit.

So both sides having to deal with squeamishness in the rank-and-file right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right, thanks very much. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

Let's get back to Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. You were there at the meeting with the president, President Obama, today up on Capitol Hill, where he urged the Democrats to use Tea Party tactics, if you will, and not rescue Republicans. Where do you stand? Do you think the Democrats should work with the Republican majority to come up with something good or simply stand back?

WARNER: Well, Wolf, what we've got to see is what they're going to do. President-elect Trump said repeal and replace. We see a strategy about repeal. We see no strategy in terms of what they'll replace it with.

How are you going to keep the 20 million people who've got health insurance now that didn't have it before covered? How are we going to make sure that people with preexisting conditions can still get access to health insurance? How can my kids who are still under 26 stay on my plan until they hit 26?

And at the same time take away the funding source for a lot of this that was the high-income tax on folks who make over a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. There was about 3.8 percent that was added on.

Now if -- I'd like to see -- I remember voodoo math. And I was a numbers guy before I went into politics. I want to see their plan. If it's a reasonable plan, yes, there might be ways to improve upon it.

But I just don't see, in the real world, if you're going to use real numbers, how you can guarantee coverage, guarantee the good things and somehow then still pay for that in a way that's going to lower costs.

And honestly, this kind of period between when you repeal and they come up with replace, they're not even lending any credence to when they'll replace. You will see a number of insurance companies and others, frankly, pull out of the market, because that level of uncertainty in terms of what replacement would look like will be something that, unfortunately, I think will wreak some chaos in the marketplace.

At the end of the day, no matter what Mr. Trump says, he's going to own the fact that millions of Americans are losing health care and millions of Americans who have nothing to do with Obamacare but have private insurance would now have prohibitions on things like preexisting conditions are going to lose those capabilities.

BLITZER: We'll see what their plan is, what they come up with specific...

WARNER: Wolf, they've had seven years. They've had seven years. We've heard this. We've heard this line before.

BLITZER: The pressure is -- the pressure is on them now. They've got the majority in the House and the Senate and the White House. Let's see what they come up with.

Senator Warner, thanks so much for joining us.

WARNER: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up we'll be joined by the head of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. He was arrested during a sit-in to protest Donald Trump's choice for attorney general.


BLITZER: Donald Trump is once again tweeting his doubts about the U.S. intelligence community's assessment on Russian election hacking. Instead Trump seems to be siding with the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who says Russia was not involved.

[17:33:59] Our political experts are here to discuss. And David Chalian, what's really behind Donald Trump's skepticism of what the U.S. intelligence community has been saying?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, Wolf, this all started questioning whether or not Russia was getting involved in order to support Donald Trump in the election. And so, once it was immediately injected into questioning the legitimacy of his election, he got his back up against the wall on this. And really dug himself a hole here, because then he was so dug in, ruling out Russia, because how could someone think that this is how he won when he created this big movement?

He couldn't separate out the threat to U.S. national security of a foreign actor playing in our election from somebody questioning whether he was rightly elected. That, I think, is why he's gone all- in on this issue.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But there's the "why" and then there's the "what," right? Because this is what he's done and why he's done it, I should say. But the fact that he is so far down the hole, as you say, to the point where he's using intelligence with quotes around it in an early morning tweet, and then seeming to side with Julian Assange over the intelligence agencies which he is going to rely on.

[17:35:11] And that's the key here. Is that as commander in chief, it's not like being the chairman of a company with a few hundred employees. He is going to be commander in chief of a huge government; and the intelligence agencies are at his disposal and are very important for him. Not just to -- to have clandestine events, but also to explain to him whether or not North Korea is going to launch a missile or whether or not there is a potential terrorist who they should send a drone after, and on and on and on and on. If he says publicly he can't trust them, then how is this going to work?

BLITZER: It is a pretty extraordinary development.

Ron Brownstein, a former spokesman for the CIA, George Little, tweeted this. "Let's stare this reality square in the face. PEOTUS" -- President-elect of the United States -- "is pro-Putin and believes Julian Assange over the CIA. On January 20 we will be less safe."

That's a strong statement. What's the impact of something like that, especially for the men and women, the career professionals in the intelligence community, some of whom risk their lives?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's no question about the impact of all of this on the intelligence community, the -- kind of the concern that you will have, in Trump, a president who will accept intelligence when it fits his agenda and his predilections, and will resist it when it doesn't.

And, you know, the real -- the real issue is how -- how far does that concern that you heard there extend among Republicans in the Senate?

Because I completely agree with David that the primary motivation here for Trump is retrospective, that he views acknowledging the Russian hack as a kind of an undercutting of his win.

But there's also a perspective element in this. Which is he has signaled, as repeatedly as he can, that he wants to pursue a very different relationship with Vladimir Putin than almost any political figure in either party at this point considers in American interests. And he also considers acknowledging the Russian role as an impediment to that.

So, in some ways this is just the warm-up for a bigger conflict that is coming over the overall orientation of American policy toward Russia.

BLITZER: I assume, Jackie, that on Friday when he gets this high- level briefing -- the CIA director; the NSA director, the National Security Agency; the FBI director; the head of the national intelligence, General Clapper, all of them going to New York, all of them presenting their best evidence to the president-elect -- he will emerge with a different tone. I'm assuming that. I'm not guaranteeing it.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I've learned to not assume anything when it comes to Donald Trump, because it depends on what they say. If they tell him he's absolutely wrong, have we ever seen Donald Trump come out of a meeting and say, "I was completely wrong, everyone. I was -- I made the wrong assumptions."

He's going to find a way so that this is a win for Donald Trump. Be it he blames Obama for how bad things were, he didn't know, or I just -- I can't see him doing a total mea culpa after getting this briefing.

BLITZER: I will point out, though, that when General Mattis told him...

KUCINICH: That is true. Yes.

BLITZER: ... you can get more out of a terrorist who's being questioned with a pack of Marlboroughs than you can through water boarding, Trump seemed to have changed his mind. Because he was a strong supporter.

KUCINICH: But he wasn't as far down the hole.

BLITZER: Yes. That's a good point, as well.

Everybody stand by. Much more coming up. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:43:11] BLITZER: President Obama met with Democrats up on Capitol Hill today. They scramble for a strategy to try to save his signature health care law.

Meanwhile, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence said Trump could repeal parts of the law through executive orders on his very first day in office.

Let's get some more from our political experts.

So David Chalian, the Vice-President-elect, Mike Pence, said the first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare. The president- elect tweeted saying, in part the deductibles are too high and, quote, "massive increases of Obamacare will take place this year, and Dems are to blame for the mess. It will fall on its own weight. Be careful."

What does it tell you about his strategy, that he wants to repeal and effectively wait?

CHALIAN: Well, he wants to repeal. And if you listen to what he said in that tweet and what Kellyanne Conway said, I think -- she went the farthest that I've heard so far of anyone say, anybody that got insurance under Obamacare, Donald Trump still wants to have insurance. She said that yesterday. That -- is a whole new ball game. BLITZER: Twenty million people.

CHALIAN: So now it clearly means that Donald Trump is seeking a way to bridge from Obamacare to Trumpcare in a way that is not politically perilous to him by ripping something away from people they already have, as you said 20 million. So that tweet to me is warning Republicans, do not just take this away and leave me hanging with "Donald Trump took way your health care."

KUCINICH: And Pence today on the Hill, it should be noted, after Kellyanne Conway said that, he was asked about that at -- during the Senate press conference this afternoon; and he sort of did a "look over there" and didn't answer the question. So, the -- you're not hearing it from the principals, but no one is going to lose any health care.

And on the flip side, the Democrats, what they are engaged in and they're starting this Saturday to have -- the caucus chair is sending all members out to have advance town halls, whatever they can to try to galvanize their constituents. They're going to do the same thing on January 15 with the Senate and even outside groups to try to make sure that what you just described, that Donald Trump is trying to avoid, doesn't happen.

[17:45:07] Meaning, they're trying to actually -- I mean, I hate to say it but it's true -- to rattle Americans to think and understand that the system itself might be rattled.

CHALIAN: You mean the politics of fear?

BASH: Yes.


BLITZER: Some of the --

BASH: Yes. Or they would say the politics of reality.


BASH: Because it probably will happen. I'm sure the market will be around.

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, some of the criticism the Republicans are getting is they've been railing against Obamacare for seven years, they're going to repeal and replace. But now they're in a majority, the White House, the House, the Senate, they're going to repeal it, but where is the plan? Where is the legislative plan to put forward and vote on a replacement right away?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, there has never been, you know, a full-scale plan that would cover anything like the 20 million people covered under Obamacare. There are some hints of a plan and the better way document that Paul Ryan put out, that Tom Price -- who will be the HHS Secretary -- has put out, but none of them are scored as covering anywhere near the people who have gained coverage under Obamacare. And it's important to note that not all of those 20 million are

Democrats. In my column tomorrow morning, I point out that if you look at the five Rust Belt states that tipped the election -- Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania -- in all of those states, a majority of the people who gained coverage under Obamacare were non-college Whites, the same voters at the absolute core of the Trump coalition.

And if you look further, not only at the coverage issues but at some of the more subtle questions about insurance reform that Obamacare pursued, that the Republicans are talking about undoing, those tend to shift costs, make coverage more affordable for older people, sicker people, more expensive for younger and healthier people. If you undo those as well, you would be adding more cost to the very same voters who are at the center of the Trump coalition.

The majority of his votes came from Whites over 45, and they would lose out under many of the insurance changes that are being envisioned in the repeal of Obamacare.

BASH: And Democrats are well aware of that, even speaking with Chuck Schumer in his new office yesterday. It is one of the first things he said when I asked about Obamacare, which is, you're talking about rural America and rural America in this election and Rust Belt America was Trump America.

CHALIAN: But, Wolf, I just want to make clear, though, this is not a battle about, will they repeal Obamacare or not? They're going to repeal Obamacare.

BASH: Exactly, they didn't care.

CHALIAN: This is what they promised --

BLITZER: They're going to definitely repeal it. The question is, what is going to replace it?

BASH: Right.

CHALIAN: This is what Republicans promised to the voters for six years, so this really is about finding the pieces of the replace.

BLITZER: And they got to come up with --

BROWNSTEIN: Although --

BLITZER: -- a specific plan and put it into legislation. Very quickly, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Although the only possible rankle would be whether there are three Republican Senators who are not willing to repeal without having a clear idea what would replace it, and that would prevent them from using the reconciliation tool to undo the law.

KUCINICH: I don't see that happening.

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: That's a good point. All right, guys.


BLITZER: Stand by. There is more coming up. We're also getting new details about the $5.5 million house that Ivanka Trump and her family soon may be calling their home right here in Washington, D.C., only blocks from the Obamas' new home.


[17:51:03] BLITZER: Tonight, we have new details about the $5.5- million house that apparently will be the home to one of Washington's newest power couples, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd.

Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is the place, the house that's all the buzz in D.C. tonight. Six bedrooms, six and a half baths, a lot of staircases, we're told, which could present a challenge for Ivanka Trump and her three young children. Now, with the news tonight that this powerful, young couple we'll be living here, you'll soon have a scenario where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton will all have houses within a few blocks of each other.


TODD (voice-over): For Washington's new power elite, a fitting address. It's just two miles from the White House, and it will soon be the home of Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three young children. They're expected to move into this house in the upscale Kalorama neighborhood according to "Washingtonian" magazine. Records show the Brit colonial was purchased about two weeks ago for $5.5 million. It's not clear if Ivanka Trump and Kushner bought the house or are renting.

The six bedroom home has imposing twin stone staircases in front, a grand entry foyer, a posh living room with a marble fireplace, and a long dining room that can host large dinners. "Washingtonian's" CEO, Cathy Merrill Williams, lives in the neighborhood and has been in the house dozens of times.

CATHY MERRILL WILLIAMS, CEO, WASHINGTONIAN: -- the house very special is it has a very open floor plan, so when you have parties or entertaining there, people can walk through the rooms in a circular fashion or if you have little kids as she does, and as my kids did, you can ride scooters around through the rooms in the house.

TODD (voice-over): The newly renovated gourmet chef's kitchen has a sleek character with an island. The stairwell has a modern glass look. It's as upscale as Ivanka Trump's New York City apartment with its custom furnishings and high-end decor. WILLIAMS: It's a very modern interior of the house. It's been modern

for years. The latest renovation made it even more modern, if that seems to be her aesthetic and her style.

TODD (voice-over): A corner house with almost no backyard, it's near the residences of ambassadors, CEOs, lobbyists. Ivanka Trump is already protected by the Secret Service. And former Secret Service officers tell us, the doors of the home may have to be made bulletproof, the windows reinforced with ballistic panes, maybe even officers posted on site 24/7. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are expected to take up roles as two of President Trump's closest advisers in Washington but they're also likely to make a splash at the dinner parties of Washington's top social circles.

MONICA LANGLEY, SENIOR SPECIAL WRITER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will be the "It" couple of Washington, D.C., no doubt about it.

TODD (voice-over): Just two blocks away is the house the Obamas are moving into. After such a bitter campaign, are Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner walking into a lion's den in D.C.? How does that work?

SALLY QUINN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it used to be that way all the time because people would fight it out on Capitol Hill during the day, and then these Senators would join each other in their offices for a bourbon after hours. And people had dinner parties where there were Republicans and Democrats. That doesn't happen very much anymore. But the fact is that, you have to work with these people.


TODD: Now, neither Ivanka Trump's and Jared Kushner's staffs nor the Trump transition team would comment on the move. The Secret Service would not give details on potential security measures here, other than to say that Ivanka Trump will continue to receive the same protection from them, no matter where she lives. But neighbors and veteran Washingtonians tell us that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will be welcomed as neighbors here, even if they're not exactly soulmates with some of the local residents on a political basis, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd in northwest Washington for us. Thanks, Brian, very much.

Coming up, inside sources tell CNN there's increasing dismay and confusion among U.S. intelligence professionals as Donald Trump tweets support for the founder of WikiLeaks.

[17:55:04] We'll also ask the NAACP President, Cornell William Brooks, about his arrest in Mobile, Alabama during a sit-in to protest Donald Trump's choice for Attorney General.


BLITZER: Happening now, Wiki-tweets. Donald Trump takes to Twitter deriding the U.S. intelligence community and backing the founder of WikiLeaks who denies Russia provided stolen Democratic e-mails. Will Trump feel differently after his private intelligence briefing on Friday?

Trumpcare. President Obama rallies the Democrats on Capitol Hill as Republicans make their first move toward repealing Obamacare. He urges the use of tea party tactics and says his party should label whatever Republicans come up with, quote, "Trumpcare."