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Trump Promises Health Insurance For All; Trump and Russia; More Democrats Boycotting Inauguration. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[15:00:03]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We begin on Capitol Hill, where, right now, president-elect Donald Trump's nominee for interior secretary is facing his confirmation hearing. Ryan Zinke is a Republican congressman from Montana who just began answer questions just this past hour.

And in fewer than two hours, Trump's nominee for education secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos will start her confirmation hearing. As they sit there in the hot seat, Donald Trump facing historically low approval ratings here as he enters his first few days.

This is according to our new CNN poll and an increasing number of absences to his inauguration now just three days away. So, right now, this number keeps changing. You have nearly 50 House Democrats saying they plan on not showing up. They're boycotting. Senate Democrats may soon follow.

Here is Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I respect where they're coming from. There have been so irregularities in this, most of all Russian interference. So, I respect where they're coming from. I think each person has to make his or her choice on his own. But I don't begrudge those who have said they're going to boycott.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Would you urge Senate Democrats to attend?

SCHUMER: I'm going to let each person make his or her own decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Joining me now is CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, in a rainy Washington, D.C.

Let's start with these numbers. I know that sometimes people from the troops party -- it's cold. They don't always show up, but 50?

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: That's a lot.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a lot. And 49 is the number of people who have said publicly or told CNN that they are not just not showing up. It's that they are actively boycotting.

It's a lot. It's a statement. They're making a statement. It's controversial. It definitely is. Chuck Schumer, as you just heard in his great interview with our Manu Raju, is trying to make clear to the base that is very restive, that is very upset, not to mention the Congressional Black Caucus, about what Donald Trump has in recent days tweeted about John Lewis, make clear that he is their leader.

But, at the end of the day, once we get past the questions about who is attending and who is not, what message are they sending, the real question is do they want to get stuff done or not?

And if you take Donald Trump and even Chuck Schumer and the House Republicans at their word, they do say -- and if you look at the substance, there are areas where they can work together. It makes it hard when you make these public displays of protest.

That might be fine. It is their right to do that, just as it is part of democracy as it is swearing in a new president in a peaceful transition of power, but the question going forward is how is this going to affect getting business done for the American people? We don't know the answer.

BALDWIN: Right. Right. And on that, when you look at these approval ratings, as we do with any incoming president...

BASH: Just pulling them up here, yes.

BALDWIN: Yes. Well, let's pull them up you talk us through them because I want historical context, especially when you look back to post-recount and you look at Bush 43, how does all this compare?

BASH: Well, just look at now, the CNN/ORC poll that came out today, 40 percent. That means four in 10 Americans say they approve of Donald Trump. Not very high.

President Obama, he came in with very high approval ratings, 84 percent. But, to your point, President Bush, this was an incredibly contentious campaign.

BALDWIN: You talk about a country divided.

BASH: Exactly, when the Supreme Court has to decide who is going to be the president of the United States. And there were lots of people who thought George W. Bush wasn't legitimate for that reason, including John Lewis, by the way.

But if we look at the comparison, I don't know if we can put it quickly back up on the screen, the context of that is really striking and that does go to what we were just talking about before with regard to people not going is the question of, how does Donald Trump govern?

You know, he is a strong personality. He certainly knows how to use the bully pulpit or the bully Twitter, but, as we go forward, usually what happens in a president's honeymoon period is he has a Congress, whether or not he has majorities or not, who want to work with him because they realize that the American people spoke and they elected this particular person.

That is true, no question at this point, but the fact that he's coming in with such low approval ratings puts into question whether or not even his fellow Republicans, never mind Democrats, feel compelled to work with him if people in the American -- the American public don't have that kind of approval for him.

[15:05:00]

It might not matter. Nothing else that is conventional has mattered in the way things work, so maybe this is just added to the long list.

BALDWIN: Yes, but normally there's a little bit of a honeymoon period, right, and burden is on the president-elect, soon to be president, to -- we just talked a Trump supporter. And he just has to prove. He has to follow through on what he has promised.

Dana Bash, thank you so much. I will see you in D.C.

BASH: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Russian President Vladimir Putin coming to the defense of Donald Trump and using pretty stunning words for those behind that unverified dossier, warning that Russia may have compromising material on Trump, those allegations totally unsubstantiated.

But they were published in full by BuzzFeed a week ago. And CNN reported that a summary of the some of the allegations was provided to Trump and Obama. As for Putin, he calls the allegations complete garbage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The people who order false information and spread this information against the elected president, who fabricate it and use it in a political fight, they are worse than prostitutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: This comes after Trump did the joint interview between the German newspaper "Bild" and "The Times of London" that he might consider dropping U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia.

Listen to what Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said about that just a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Easing punitive measures on the Russian government, when they haven't changed their behavior, will only embolden Russia, sending the message that the best way to gain international acceptance of its destabilizing actions is simply to wait us out.

And that will not only encourage more dangerous actions by Russia, but also by other rule-breakers like Iran and North Korea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to Moscow to our Matthew Chance, our CNN senior international correspondent there, Jim Sciutto, CNN's chief security national correspondent there in Washington.

But in Moscow first, Matthew to you, Putin coming out in defense of Trump. He used some pretty extraordinary language.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did.

And he may not be getting very good approval ratings in the United States, but in Russia, the president of Russia is making these unprecedented statements in support of Donald Trump.

It's really quite exceptional to see a Russian president defend an incoming American president in such a bold and colorful way. He said that all of these scandals, all of this dossier that was dumped onto the Internet by BuzzFeed, it is an attempt to delegitimize, to undermine the president-elect, Donald Trump, saying that the methods that he had seen used, he had seen them used before in Ukraine in 2014 during the Maidan uprising which many Russians believe was orchestrated by the United States and by the State Department under Hillary Clinton in particular.

And Putin also rejected these allegations that the Russian secret services had been for years collecting compromising information, or kompromat, on Donald Trump. This is what he said. He said we didn't know about his political ambitions years ago. Putin said he was just a rich businessman. Our security services don't simply chase after every U.S. billionaire, he said.

He also spoke about these allegations carried in that dossier that was again dumped on the Internet of compromising sexual material on Trump. Putin said Trump was a man who had spent much of his life surrounded by the most beautiful women in the world and why, he said, would he need to socialize with girls of low social responsibility, prostitutes, he said, even though -- and he made a sort of off-color joke, even though Russian prostitutes, he said, are clearly the best in the world.

So, it's quite an astonishing defense by Vladimir Putin and of course it comes just a few days before Donald Trump becomes president of the United States.

BALDWIN: Right. You have what you just referenced with Putin. But then you have this

whole long list, this cloud of controversy, who Trump has ticked off, right, Jim, the Germans, Chinese, NATO leaders, E.U. Are we getting any indication that Trump plans to smooth these relationships over after he places that hand on the Bible on Friday?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The fact is we don't really know, right, because you have Trump's public comments and then you have the comments of his senior national security appointees, the Mattises of the world, Tillerson, et cetera, who have contradicted the president-elect, particularly on the threat from Russia.

They identify it uniformly as a threat, a principal threat. General Mattis described Russia, as is the view of the U.S. intelligence community. Donald Trump in his public comments has talked about a friendlier relationship, so it's difficult to know at this point who wins out in those conversations.

Are the president-elect's public comments just putting out a -- sort of placing a marker on the table, right, for a negotiation? We just don't know yet and it's not just confusing. It's actually contradictory. You're getting contradictory messages, which is frustrating, probably confusing for adversaries, but frustrating for allies as well. Right?

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Also, on China, like the Trump team says they don't want a trade war on China, but his remarks don't line up with that.

[15:10:05]

SCIUTTO: That's true.

Well, listen, on China, Donald Trump has been pretty consistent both during the campaign and since his election, saying he wants to get tougher on China. He views the trading relationship as unfair to the U.S. and he's a negotiator. He's going to push them.

On Russia, it's been more difficult, because you have his own Cabinet appointees giving a different description of Russia as a threat. He talks about potential there. That's one thing. But also then you have this subtext of a continuing investigation of Russian interference in the election which is going to be bipartisan now.

It's going to be not just Democrats, but Republicans and Democrats looking into this, and, interestingly, Brooke, considering stiffer sanctions. Forget about what Democrats say. This is what many senior Republicans say, considering stiffer sanctions against Russia at a time when the president-elect is talking about rolling back existing sanctions for Russian military activity in Ukraine.

So there's contradictory messages on Russia policy coming from within Donald Trump's own party.

BALDWIN: Maybe you're right. Maybe this is a marker for beginning negotiations. We will see.

Jim, thank you. And, Matthew Chance, thank you so much in Moscow.

President-elect Trump promises health insurance for everybody, but there is one big problem. Some Republican lawmakers say they're in the dark and have no idea what Trump is talking about or what is even in that bill.

Also, Wal-Mart and General Motors, they say they're adding thousands of jobs to the U.S., great news,. Does Trump deserve credit? Let's talk about that.

And we will talk live with a survivor of that Pulse nightclub shooting about what the FBI just told him about the wife of the killer and her arrest this week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:32]

BALDWIN: All right. We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

This new government report on Obamacare has some bleak news. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, says repealing major Obamacare provision without a replacement plan would quickly strip some 18 million Americans of their insurance and cause premiums to skyrocket.

But a critically important note, this report is not based on the current plans for replacement that president-elect Donald Trump is now working on. In fact, the CBO isn't the only one sort of clueless on Trump's health plan, because it turns out a number of Republicans up on Capitol Hill were actually surprised to hear that interview with "The Washington Post," right, when he recently told them he vowed -- quote, unquote -- "insurance for everybody."

Let's go to CNN national politics reporter M.J. Lee.

And talk to me about some of these Republicans that said, hang on a second, what is this insurance for everyone thing?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing right now is Republicans growing frustrated by what Donald Trump said over the weekend.

And just to recap, Donald Trump said that he is close to finishing his own bill or his own plan to repeal and replace Obamacare and he said this plan would provide insurance for everyone and that he would lower deductibles.

Now, the problem here, Brooke, is that he didn't actually offer very many specifics, not specifics at all actually. And the reason that this puts Republicans in a very uncomfortable position is that it is very difficult to know how you can provide insurance for everybody while lowering deductibles, while also lowering spending, which is the key thing that Republicans are focused on. And because there's so little clarity right now on what Republicans want to do in terms of replacing Obamacare, they do not want the incoming president to get ahead of them. But Trump did that over the weekend.

And now we're also learning that Republican sources -- from Republican sources on the Hill, rather, that they're really in the dark when it comes to what it is Trump is working on. They don't know what he means by insurance for everyone. They don't know exactly how he plans to fulfill this promise of lowering deductibles while not increasing spending.

And they would really rather be talking about lowering costs, so, again, an awkward for the Republican Party to be put in as they get to work on this replacement bill. We also learned yesterday that Donald Trump's HHS secretary nominee, Tom Price, he is also in the dark on what exactly Donald Trump is working on.

So that hearing tomorrow in the Senate will be very interesting. Repealing and replacing Obamacare is going to be very difficult for the Republican Party as it is. And so far, Donald Trump is not doing the party any favors by getting ahead of them on the script in exactly what he should be talking about in terms of talking points on Obamacare.

BALDWIN: We will listen in on the HHS hearing, nomination hearing tomorrow. M.J., thank you very much.

By the way, Trump is tweeting out some big thanks to some big businesses. His message this afternoon says -- quote -- "Thank you to General Motors and Wal-Mart for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S."

The gratitude comes after Wal-Mart announced it's going to add 10,000 new U.S. jobs this year and GM said it would invest at least a billion dollars into the U.S., either keeping or creating about 7,000 jobs in the coming years.

Joining me now, finance expert and the founder of poverty-fighting Helical Holdings, Dylan Ratigan, is back, ladies and gentlemen.

DYLAN RATIGAN, FINANCE EXPERT: It's been too long. Nice to see you.

BALDWIN: Welcome back. Good to see you.

RATIGAN: It's pretty exciting. You have got a whole setup here.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: We got a lot to talk about. You like our digs.

RATIGAN: I'm here for some -- yes, some de-Trumping.

BALDWIN: OK. So, you say you're a so-called de-Trumper.

RATIGAN: My new self-appointed title, de-Trumper. BALDWIN: So it's great news from Wal-Mart and the U.S. auto companies, but I hear some skepticism in sort of some of what you have told our producers, that you feel like, yes, some of the job numbers were on the docket to create, this was all creatively timed around inauguration and Trump. How do you mean?

RATIGAN: Of course.

Well, there's no question Wal-Mart had already planned to hire these 10,000 people. This is not a new piece of information. This is a new press release.

BALDWIN: What is this, creative P.R.?

RATIGAN: Yes, it is exactly that.

If you're going to take the most beneficial view of the incoming president, which there's a case to be made that you might as well do that, you can choose a point of view, you can argue that Donald Trump's public humiliation and public rewarding of companies that -- public humiliation of those who remove jobs and public rewarding of those who create jobs in America is creating an incentive for companies at the very least to do more publicity about the jobs that they're creating.

[15:20:00]

BALDWIN: But they're delivering jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: But what about the notion then, even though you're saying this is theater...

RATIGAN: Job creation theater.

BALDWIN: There are other -- then American businesses are saying, hang on a second, Wal-Mart is getting all these headlines, GM is getting all these headlines, this guy is tweeting about to his 20 million followers, I want in on the deal, which benefits Americans.

RATIGAN: Which again -- if there is a merit in this, it's that it creates a self-fulfilling prophesy, which is, I want to get a tweet from the president, let's create some jobs.

At the end of the day, job creation is not a function of a press release or a presidential tweet. It's a function of whether there's demand in the economy for products and services.

BALDWIN: And you say new business.

RATIGAN: Well, that is new business, right?

New business responds to new product, demand for new products and new services. And what we just don't know is whether this president is going to do that or not. Hopefully, he will. We have never actually had a legitimate or semi-legitimate, anyway, businessman as president of the United States. If anything, Donald Trump understands that there are markets and that markets need stimulation for demand in a way that many previous presidents may not have actually understood.

I'm finding myself more beneficial to Donald Trump, and I wasn't planning to being. And I'm blaming you for it.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: No, you're welcome. I would like to push you, Dylan Ratigan. That's my job.

RATIGAN: All right.

BALDWIN: Do you think then it's appropriate for him to take credit, just a quick yes or no?

RATIGAN: Of course.

If you're Donald Trump, it's always appropriate to take credit.

BALDWIN: But then on the flip side, what about...

RATIGAN: But does he actually -- did he do anything? No. But does he take credit for everything? Yes. That's Donald Trump 101.

BALDWIN: But then what about if there are losses economically, right? We read about BMW, Mercedes.

RATIGAN: Not his problem. Not his problem.

BALDWIN: Shouldn't he -- should he take credit for the losses?

RATIGAN: Definitely not.

Donald Trump takes credit for everything, responsibility for nothing.

BALDWIN: But should he take credit? Should he say my bad, I will fix it?

(CROSSTALK)

RATIGAN: At the end of the day, the president is much less responsible for either job creation or job destruction than people want to believe, including the president.

BALDWIN: The Boeing CEO was at Trump Tower today. Let's listen to what the Boeing CEO told the cameras in the lobby.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: We talked about a couple of topics.

We discussed Air Force One. We discussed fighter aircraft. We made some great progress on simplifying requirements for Air Force One, streamlining the process, streamlining certification by using commercial practices.

All of that is going to provide a better airplane at a lower cost. So I'm pleased with the progress there. And, similarly, on fighters, we're able to talk about options for the country and capabilities that will again provide the best capability for our war fighters, most important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Once upon a time, Trump had taken Boeing to task, saying Air Force One is too expensive.

Do you see that as a legitimate -- that's a good thing for the American taxpayer?

RATIGAN: I would say kudos to Donald Trump.

On an anecdotal basis, Donald Trump has set the agenda when it comes to expectations from the leaders of the biggest companies in America, which is that they're going to be expected publicly to be held to task for how they relate to domestic job creation and, in the case of the Boeing and the defense companies, and I suspect, I hope -- this is maybe just my hope -- the drug companies as well, the prices that they charge the U.S. government for services.

One of the most powerful things that Donald Trump could do very quickly in a way that we have not seen done by either George W. Bush during his entire tenure or Barack Obama in his tenure, is to see somebody with the guts to negotiate back against the defense companies and the drug companies.

BALDWIN: Do you think he has the guts?

RATIGAN: I think he has the opportunity to show the guts. We are going to find out. Donald Trump is a man of many words. We're going to find out what sort of actions.

BALDWIN: As I keep saying, we will wait and see. We will wait and see.

RATIGAN: Well, the problem with Donald Trump is, you can't really believe his words, because he uses words to generate emotions to create attention. They don't really mean anything.

And so when you're dealing with somebody whose words are a mechanism to generate an emotional experience, to generate attention for himself, you can't then assign meaning to those words. You have to just look at those words as what they are, which is an emotional generation machine.

And so we all have to wait and see, because I don't actually believe that Donald Trump fundamentally believes anything. He's ultimately going to do what his gut tells him is the best thing to do from one moment to the next. And we are going to all have to find out how that plays out. It will be good for CNN.

BALDWIN: I don't care about it being good for CNN. It should be good for the country.

Dylan Ratigan on all things economy, psychology and...

(CROSSTALK)

RATIGAN: And emotional manipulation with words.

BALDWIN: We will continue. Good to see you.

RATIGAN: Thanks for having me on.

BALDWIN: You're a text away. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, the wife, the widow of the Orlando nightclub shooter in court today for the very first time accused of helping her husband murder 49 people in Orlando last summer. And we will get reaction for one man who was actually shot five times, why the FBI called him personally, how he feels about her arrest coming up here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:29:15]

BALDWIN: A first court appearance today for the widow of the Orlando nightclub shooter.

A federal indictment revealed for the first time today says Noor Salman, his widow, knowingly engaged in misleading conduct that led to the deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub last June. The Orlando police chief telling CNN he's confident in the evidence against her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MINA, ORLANDO, FLORIDA, POLICE CHIEF: There's no doubt in my mind, based on the information that I knew and I have received from the FBI over the past seven months, that she knew, that he aided and that she could have prevented this tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Her family had argued that she was abused by her husband, and her uncle passionately defended her outside the courtroom just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL SALMAN, UNCLE OF SUSPECT: Well, I hope she saw me, because I want to tell her that we're here, we believe in her.

QUESTION: Al, can you explain just how you're feeling right now? Can you -- can you explain with these charges?

SALMAN: Devastated. Devastated. This is -- this is a poor girl who lost her