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Schumer: Trump's HHS Pick May Have Broken Law on Stock; Warren Slams DeVos for Lack of Public School Experience; Rep Duffy to Democrats: Put Your Big-Boy Pants On. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] CHARLIE SPIES, ELECTION LAW & FIRST AMENDMENT ATTORNEY: But I do think that Dr. Price is the perfect person to be secretary of HHS, and work with the Trump administration to bridge the gap with Congress and come up with the solution that both sides can live with.


SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would just say that Congressman Price doesn't even know what the president-elect's team's plan is for Obamacare. House Republicans don't know. Senate Republicans don't know and the proposed pick for health and human services secretary doesn't know either. I think there are real questions. I don't think we'll get many answers during this confirmation hearing because there are so many outside factors, so much unknown information. And lastly, I'll note that Price isn't divulging anything up front. This was an investigation that happened, an investigative report that came out that that's how we know that Tom Price has definitely some questionable ethics things going on in his office.

BERMAN: Alice Stewart -


BERMAN: Go ahead, Charlie.

SPIES: That's simply not true. We know about this because on his Congressional personal financial disclosure form, Dr. Price listed this. Nothing was hidden. It was all publicly disclosed.

SANDERS: We had to connect the dots. When the dots are connected, it's definitely a questionable pattern. It wasn't until the report came out that, all of a sudden, Price didn't know about the purchase. It was a broker. So again, I definitely think this begs an in-depth look. We definitely need more answers. And I hope we get some answers during this hearing but I definitely think we need some outside folks to look in. The Congressional office of ethics has to do their part.

BERMAN: He'll be asked about this at his confirmation hearing by the Democratic Senators.

Alice Stewart, I want to throw up on the screen the approval ratings for the Trump transition compares to past presidential transitions because it's an historic low right there. You can see. Just 40 percent approval rate for the Trump transition. And the question is why? I'm not sure that, oh, it's a divided country suffices. George W. Bush had a 61 percent approval after a recount. The country couldn't have been more divided in 2001 yet he's at 61 percent and Donald Trump at 40 percent. What happened?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTTOR: I think, look, this has been a very contentious campaign throughout the primary as well as --


BERMAN: But even with the contentious campaign, other people recovered. This is now the transition. No one is running against you during the transition. Why -- things got worse for him during the transition? Has he done something wrong the last two and a half months?

STEWART: I think moving forward, it's no mistake and no surprise that Donald Trump is a man who speaks his mind. He also gets things done. I for one speak for a lot of people that I would rather have someone that is not afraid to speak their mind and will accomplish what they promised the American people than tries to be everyone's friend and fails to accomplish what they set out to do. People will be pleasantly surprised he plans to hit the ground running when he's sworn in on Friday. As Mike Pence said on the Hill last week and is going up there again in the next few days, they plan to be promise keepers. They promise to do to the American people with regards to Obamacare, repeal and replay, they'll take steps to do that. They'll have to ruffle a few feathers, bump elbows to get things done but that's the bottom line. The key to the success is not about how many friends they have but how many things they accomplish. I think they are on the road to doing just that.

BERMAN: Charlie, Donald Trump is already taking credit for a number of things even before he takes office, jobs, creating jobs, the Carrier deal, various automaker deals. And now Walmart today is saying it's going to add 10,000 jobs next year over the next year. Largely, credited to, they say, the economic environment created by -- who will be, President Trump. Do you think he deserves credit for this?

SPIES: I think the American people are giving him credit and they feel very good about his ability to create jobs and turn around the economy. The contrast with President Obama is pretty stark. His policies were --


BERMAN: You had eight years of job growth under President Obama. What happened --


BERMAN: OK, go ahead.

SPIES: Yeah, well, but there's two points. President Obama is likable. So, his personal approval ratings are high but his policies were rejected. And people are excited about Donald Trump's ability to turn around the economy and create jobs, even though his personal approval numbers aren't at the level that they would have been. If you look to performance and hopefully in the future that will drive approval.

BERMAN: Any job is a good thing, so kudos to Walmart, Carrier. And some of these automakers, too.

But, Symone Sanders, if the president-elect is going to take credit for that, should he also take the blame for the announcements about jobs leaving? American Apparel, Macy's cutting jobs. The Barnum & Bailey Circus is cutting jobs.


Should the president-elect be blamed for that, Symone?

[11:34:55] SANDERS: If he wants to claim the successes, he also has to claim the failures. I want to note the facts are climate that folks are so excited about is the work of President Obama. 75 months of private sector job growth. The economy was in the ditch before President Obama came into the White House. So, look, if Donald Trump wants to ride the wave of Obama's success, more power to him. But he definitely has to own the failures and he definitely has to put out work product. We know that he'll be inaugurated on Friday but he's not doing any work until Monday. I wish the president-elect success but we have yet to see any real action on Donald Trump's part.

BERMAN: I won't be surprised if he surprises us and he's busy this weekend.

Guys, we've got to run. Thank you so much. Great discussion. I appreciate it.


BERMAN: Very soon, Donald Trump's education nominee, Betsy DeVos, will face tough questions during her confirmation hearing. Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed DeVos for her lack of, quote, "public school experience." Details ahead.

Plus, a really difficult day for the families and friends who lost loved ones in the crash of Malaysia Airlines 370. Officials say the search for the missing plane is over, at a minimum suspended, so why? That's coming up.


[11:40:33] BERMAN: In a last-minute move, the Obama administration is moving to increase funding at schools attended by low-income schools. It would move nearly a billion dollars to schools of families of low-income families and increase federal control of spending. The money could be diverted from budgets of more-affluent schools. The policy has its critics, including some Republicans. It appears the Education Department is pushing to get it through before noon on Friday before Donald Trump is sworn in.

The woman chosen by the president-elect to take over the Department of Education is set to appear at her confirmation hearing this afternoon. Betsy DeVos is seen, by some, as a controversial choice. Critics are concerned about her lack of experience in public schools and her support for voucher and charter school programs. She has supported charter schools for a long time, charter public schools.

In her opening public statement, she'll give, she says, "If confirmed I'll be a strong advocate for great public schools. But if a school is troubled or unsafe or not a good fit for a child, we should support a parents' right to enroll their child in a high-quality alternative."

Joining me is a supporter of Betsy DeVos, Eva Moskowitz, the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and a former New York City councilwoman. A very active person in this field.

Thanks for being with us.


BERMAN: You voted for Hillary Clinton.


BERMAN: Let's say that right now.


BERMAN: You are supporting Betsy DeVos to be education secretary.



MOSKOWITZ: Because she is a leader. And we need transformational change. Two-thirds of our eighth graders cannot perform at the basic level in math and reading. Two-thirds of our eighth graders. We have a national crisis on our hands, and we need leadership, talent, ability to attract talent, to rethink our way out of this crisis.

BERMAN: Now critics say this. Critics say that Betsy DeVos is being appointed to run the agency which oversees public education. Yes, critics say, she wants to demolish public education in some ways. Take money away from traditional public schools. Provide vouchers, which would allow, in theory, people to spend public money, taxpayer money on private schools. What's your answer to that?

MOSKOWITZ: I think whenever there's a nomination who has a strong ideas and viewpoints, a lot of scare tactics are used. The truth of the matter is that Betsy, like many Democrats, are supporters of charters and choice. And my belief and Betsy's life is just like more affluent parents or religious parents have a choice, why shouldn't every parent get to choose what is best for their children? I have three children. My husband and I want to make those choices for our children. Every parent in America wants to make those choices.

BERMAN: Do you see any limits to vouchers? Obviously, you support charter schools. There's a different between charter schools and vouchers.

MOSKOWITZ: There is. And I believe we don't know what exactly is going to work for parents. I have three children. One school wouldn't work for all three of my children. So, we've got to have more great options, including improving district schools. In some communities, the district schools are great. And that's great. But in many communities, the district schools are not delivering for children, academically, they're also not safe places for children. And I think Betsy is going to be a strong advocate for quality.

BERMAN: Look, I think across political spectrums, people want to see safe schools. There's not much of a debate in terms of safety. The debate --


MOSKOWITZ: Except they've gone on and on and on being unsafe. And people have kind of turned a blind eye to those schools. I think she's going to shape things up. She's going to take her passion for schooling and parent choice and make a really significant difference for the country that's behind --


BERMAN: The Michigan experiment. Many say that what happened in Michigan with charter schools she supported hasn't worked out all that well.

MOSKOWITZ: You could take the schools right here in New York City. They're not doing so great. We have 90 percent of the schools not succeeding. Whose fault is that? I don't think you can blame one individual for the poor quality of schooling. This is a national problem. It cuts across socio economic lines, and we have to fix it fast.

BERMAN: Eva Moskowitz, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate your insight on this discussion.

MOSKOWITZ: Thanks for having me.

[11:45:05] BERMAN: All right. According to the hour, right now, "put your big-boy pants on." That's a quote from the Republican lawmaker, Shawn Duffy to Democrats who are boycotting the inauguration. You are looking at live pictures of where that inauguration will be. One of the Democrats, who will not be there, will not be sitting on those steps on Friday, joins us live next.


BERMAN: To the more than 40 Democrats now in Congress, who are skipping the inauguration of Donald Trump, Congressman Shawn Duffy says "put your big boy-pants on" and show up. This is the Wisconsin Republican this morning on CNN.


REP. SHAWN DUFFY, (R), WISCONSIN: Democrats lost. Donald Trump won. You may not like him or agree with his agenda, just like we didn't agree with President Obama's agenda, but show up and be part of it. Put your big-boy pants on and let's start working together.


There with the pants.

My next guest is one of the 40-plus not planning to attend the inauguration, Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

Thanks so much for being with us.

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D), NEW YORK: Pleasure. Thank you.

You responded to your friend from Wisconsin?

[11:50:01] NADLER: I didn't even know what "put your big-boy pants on" means. The fact of the matter is I'm not attending. I can't speak for anybody else. Because I don't want to normalize this president. The election -- he is an illegitimate president. That doesn't mean illegal. It's a difference. He attained his office by racist and inflammatory rhetoric, by intimidating the press and by the Russians putting a finger on the scale, and I don't want to dignify that.

BERMAN: Let's break that down. You said normalize. You don't want to normalize --


NADLER: I don't want to behave as it if --


BERMAN: Hang on. Didn't the American people normalize him on November 8th? Didn't they vote him into office? Didn't they make a decision --

NADLER: First of all, three million more people voted for Hillary than --


NADLER: Second of all, second of all, yeah, I'm not denying that he is the legally elected president. He is, unfortunately, the legally elected president. But the election was tainted. The election was tainted by the Russians throwing their -- putting their finger -- their thumbs on the scale and by the FBI putting its finger on the scale. That was a tainted election. In that sense, it's illegitimate. BERMAN: We have a new poll out today, and, by the way, this poll is

not rosy for Donald Trump. However, on this question did the hacking change the outcome of the election, 58 percent say no.

NADLER: It's irrelevant. The question is not known. The question is not --


BERMAN: They say it's not tainted. They said it's not so tainted --


NADLER: No, they said the hacking didn't change the result of the election. We don't know if the hacking changed the result of the election. What we do know is the election, in that sense, was unfair because the Russians hacked and released the information in a very deliberate way to hurt Hillary's campaign. And we also know that the FBI unfairly -- Mr. Comey, head of the FBI, unfairly and against all the rules and regulations placed his thumb on the election. We can't tell -- you can't quantify whether it actually changed the result. I suspect it did, but that's a suspicion. You can't prove it.


BERMAN: The intelligence chiefs say --


BERMAN: I'll be clear about this. He this say they see no evidence that voting machines were tampered with.

NADLER: I'm not talking about that.

BERMAN: And they say they don't know what happened.

NADLER: Well, what was actually said is it was beyond their purview. They didn't look at that question. They didn't look at the question of whether the election outcome was changed. That's unknowable. All we know is two unfair and illegal things were -- two unfair things and probably illegal things were done.

BERMAN: If you're not going to the inauguration because you think he is tainted --


BERMAN: And you don't want to normalize him --


BERMAN: Hang on.

NADLER: And because what really decided me in the end was his personal attack on John Lewis, who is an icon and has given blood for this country.

BERMAN: Are you saying that then if you're not going to the inauguration for those reasons -- those reasons aren't going away -- does that mean for the next four years you're not going to work with him? You're just not going to show up when something that the president wants to push is being discussed?

NADLER: No. No, no. I'm going to do my job. I'm a Congressman. I'm going to do my job. It means it's an additional reason to look with great suspicion at what he proposes. I suspect most of what he proposes is going to be things I cannot support, and this is just another reason to look with suspicion at his proposals.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton, she's going to the inauguration. If it's good enough for her?

NADLER: Everybody has to make up their minds for themselves. I'm not urging people to go or not to go. I'm making my own decision.

BERMAN: I was talking to Bob Baer, our CIA operative, and he said Vladimir Putin -- if Vladimir Putin's goal was to sow discord in the American system, he won already. Just look, Bob Baer says, at the 40 people not showing up to the inauguration today.

NADLER: Putin's goal started that way, but it became to elect Donald Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton. That was very clear. That's what the intelligence agency said. That goal was also achieved, although whether it was achieved because he did what he did -- because the Russians did what they did or not, I suspect that's what happened, but that's not knowable.

BERMAN: What message do you think this sends to the world? You know, one of the things they look at with the American transition of power is --


NADLER: It is unquestioned. No one is saying he shouldn't take office. They're only saying it's illegal.

BERMAN: You're saying it's not legitimate. Is that a distinction without a difference?

NADLER: No. No, it's not a distinction -- it's a distinction with a big difference. We're not saying someone else should take office. We're not mounting a coup d'etat. We're saying he should take office. That's the law. He won that election.

BERMAN: Why should -- if you were the president of some European nation, why should you negotiate with a President Trump if 40-plus members of Congress say he is not a legitimate president.

NADLER: Because he is, in fact, the president, and you have to deal with the facts.

BERMAN: Are you dealing with the facts? NADLER: Yes, I'm dealing with the facts. I'm not denying he is the

president. I'm going to fulfill my functions as a member of Congress. I'm simply saying that there's a big taint to his election. There's a big taint to him. And he has to lean over backwards to overcome this. He has to behave to overcome this. By attacking everyone who criticizes him -- instead of his answering the criticism, he attacks them personally. He attacks John Lewis, not by saying my election was legitimate, I disagree with you because. He attacks them and says your district is terrible. It's not terrible, by the way. He assumes any black district is terrible.

[11:55:34] BERMAN: Congressman, you do note his approval during the transition has gone down? We have noted that.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, thanks so much for being with us.

NADLER: Thank you.

BERMAN: You won't get rained on Friday, that's for sure.

NADLER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin defending Donald Trump, sounding off on the president-elect's critics. Hear what he had to say.

Plus, just moments from now, President Obama's press secretary gives his final briefing. Live pictures. We will hear from Josh Earnest. And might we get some surprise appearance from his boss?

Stay with us.