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Texas Federal Judge Strikes Down Obamacare; "WSJ" Raises Red Flag on Obamacare Ruling; Gillibrand: A More Inclusive America Is a Stronger America; DNC Chair Threatens to Cut Off State Democrats over Database; A Look at Hezbollah Tunnels Israel Says Are "Helping Kill Jews." Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 17, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:31:39] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Millions of Americans who rely on Obamacare for health care coverage of in limbo after a federal judge in Texas struck down the law, calling it unconstitutional.

Supreme Court Reporter, Ariane De Vogue, is here with me now.

Take us through where this goes from here.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: On the surface, this was a clean win for the Trump administration. The president got more than he asked for. This judge said that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and he strikes down the whole law.

He said, look back at 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the law under the taxing power. In 2017, Congress got rid of the tax penalty and there's no more legal justification. He strikes down the individual mandate. But here's what's key. He goes much further and he strikes down the entire law.

What that means, when you look at it, it means Medicaid, Medicare, those provisions of protecting people with preexisting conditions, that's a really broad ruling. Now we are going to see it's going to go through the courts and the federal appeals and the Supreme Court and the judges may say, it's too sweeping, and pull back on it.

This is going to happen with all this conversation that is going to happen in the shadow of the next election. People will talk about, we lost preexisting conditions. And you may see Democrats capitalizing on this and see Republicans panicking a little bit.

KEILAR: We are almost a little bit already. When you heard this decision, you thought it was extraordinary?

DE VOGUE: I thought it was extraordinary, but I thought it is so sweeping. Are other judges are going go that far? That's what I thought.

KEILAR: All right, we'll have to wait and see.

Ariana, thanks so much. DE VOGUE: Thank you.

KEILAR: We appreciate it.

The "Wall Street Journal" is raising a red flag about this ruling. This is what it says in an editorial: "President Trump hailed the ruling in a tweet but he never understood the Affordable Care Act. The risk is this, ruling will cause Republicans in Congress to panic politically and strike a deal with Democrats that reinforce Obamacare."

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel was a health policy adviser in the Obama White House who helped draft the Affordable Care Act.

Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

When you saw this ruling --


KEILAR: -- we have a funny thing going on behind you but we'll get that fixed -- I wonder what your reaction was to the ruling?

EMANUEL: I think the judge -- it was a silly ruling by the judge. The fact of the matter is that there's no basis for striking down the Affordable Care Act in large measure because the mandate was toothless, and it can't be essential to the bill if it's toothless. It really made no sense.


EMANUEL: I'm not particularly worried.

KEILAR: You are not particularly worried.


KEILAR: If it goes to the appeals court and then to the Supreme Court, the expectation is?

EMANUEL: That they will uphold the Affordable Care Act. Remember, John Roberts ruled it was constitutional and when it came back, another court case came back, he was irritated they were proceeding through the courts on something he thought was settled law. He is still going to think it's settled law and the mandate may not have a way or have enforcement. That doesn't mean any part of the act is unconstitutional.


[13:35:18] EMANUEL: Clearly Congress can regulate how it expands Medicare and how it pays doctors. There's lot of thing in the Affordable Care Act that of no -- totally unrelated to the exchanges and the mandate.

KEILAR: Republicans in Congress, a lot of them don't want to revisit the topic the way the president is revisiting it. The "Wall Street Journal" brings up, what about a compromise between Democrats and Republicans to more or less keep the ACA in its current version. As an exercise, let's just say, what would that look like? What do you think that would look like?

EMANUEL: Let me raise another issue for you. Two of the most recent polls of Republican voters suggest half of them are for Medicare for All. That's how far things have gotten. It's not just that Democrats are for Medicare for All, but even Republican voters are like, they are threatening my health insurance and I may not be able to get coverage if I or a member of my family has a preexisting condition because it will be too expensive.

We need safety and safety sounds like Medicare for All. They are not taking that away. I think the "Wall Street Journal," it seems right, that's lots of the new Senators ran on we are going to protect people with preexisting conditions and there's no way of protecting people with preexisting conditions unless they do something along the lines of shoring up Obamacare.

And if they don't, if they can't get something, it does seem like there might be a lot of pressure in 2020, especially if this case goes forward for doing something more like Medicare for All. Republicans understand that, in this election, health care was the number one issue and they did not trust Republicans. They trusted Democrats on health care. I think they can read the tea leaves going into 2020.

KEILAR: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, thank you for joining us from Philadelphia. Appreciate it.

EMANUEL: No problem. Thank you.

KEILAR: As Democrats look to see who will lead the fight to beat Donald Trump in 2020, the head of the DNC is picking a fight with members of his own party over voter data.

Plus, more on the Senate report detailing just how extensive Russia's online support of Trump was before and after the election.


[13:42:12] KEILAR: As 2018 comes to a close, candidates and voters started thinking about the race in 2020. A new CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll shows the top contender is former Vice President Joe Biden. He is ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders and Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

And Robby Mook is the former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton. He's now a CNN political commentator. And he's here to make sense of all of this with us.

This is so interesting to see where the voters in Iowa and the Democratic voters are on this this issue. You look at the three and they are the same top three nationally, according to the most recent polling, and they have something in common.

This is something that Kirsten Gillibrand commented on. Let's listen.


VAN JONES, CNN HOST: In a party as diverse as ours, does it worry you to see the top three being white guys?



JONES: Why? Why?

GILLIBRAND: I just -- I aspire for our country to recognize the beauty of our diversity in some point in the future. That's what makes America so extraordinary. We're all of that, we're everything. A more inclusive America is a stronger America.


KEILAR: She tweeted and caught flack for saying the future is female, intersection, her point being that it's not just about white guys. What do you think looking at the top three?

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is so early. I'm sympathetic to her point of view. I believe this is the first primary in either party where they are going to be the women candidates and not the women. That's really good.

And I'm proud that a lot of women candidates are being discussed and a lot of people of color as well. It's so early. I showed up in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 2004 for the Democratic primary and Joe Lieberman was the leading candidate. It all changes. I'm not worried.

Women candidates and candidates of color are going to rise up in the poll numbers as the field shakes up. Nobody declared they are in yet. Let's see who says they are running.

KEILAR: They are being less coy. They are all thinking about it.

MOOK: Yes. Yes. That's good. Authenticity matters a lot and I don't think voters have a lot of patience for people to be super shy and coy. Once people decide they're ready, they should say I'm in and get going.

KEILAR: What do you think it is? Do you think voters are looking at who can beat Donald Trump or maybe we need somebody who appeals to where was the problem for us in the Rustbelt? Let's go for someone who matches him on certain characteristics of gender and ethnicity.

MOOK: It's a great question. A lot of voters are saying anybody but Trump. The best possible person to take him on and win. I believe it's not who you are, but what you stand for that matters. Perfect example is this. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary was the champion of young people.

[13:45:09] KEILAR: He's not exactly a college student.


MOOK: He had been in Washington longer than the Clintons, but he was anti-establishment. It's what you say and express and stand for as a leader that's going to matter. I'm not obsessing over it needs to be this gender or color or this tall or whatever.

KEILAR: It's the message?

MOOK: It's what you have to say. It's the kind of leader people think you are going to be.

KEILAR: The DNC Chair, Tom Perez, he wants voter data from Democrats in the states. He is trying to build a big for-profit database. This is a big deal. He is trying to do this. But he kind of went bananas on the state Democrats, threatening to cut them off from using DNC resources that are just from the DNC like organizing tools and tools that are in the hands of state Democrats favor the party nationally. What do you make of this?

MOOK: It's complex. The data arrangement in our party is more complicated than the Republicans.


KEILAR: Yes. And he needs the data.

MOOK: Yes.

KEILAR: But he's not exactly -- they are saying he is being a jerk about it. It's not like he is appealing from them. He's threatening to rank stuff from them.

MOOK: Yes.

KEILAR: He is to the point of -- he's not carrots. He's sticks right now.

MOOK: I think everyone will be shocked to hear there's politics in a political party. This has gotten very political. I think the most important thing is to take a deep breath, the chair and the state party and say, OK, our job is to help the next nominee.

What is best for that person? Him or her? That nominee doesn't exist yet. They are not there to advocate for themselves and provide leadership. Everybody is going to need to give up a little bit, put a little bit on the table so there our nominees --


KEILAR: But it's a guy leading your party apparatus is going in with this tone. His point is, in a way, I would think, he is in a position to say unify and not divide. This is the tone he's striking. Is that appropriate? MOOK: Yes. I think what's unfortunate is this is spelled out in the public. We have been behind the scenes and a lot of thing happens in the book room. Everybody gets angry. What I'm happy about is this debate is happening. It has been put off for years.


KEILAR: I'm skeptical.


MOOK: It has been deferred for a long time. But they do. But at some point, the yelling has to stop on both sides. The yelling has to stop and they have to say it is our job. We are entrusted by members of the party to get the right thing done. And they have to get something done. We can't wait.

KEILAR: Kumbaya, Robby Mook, kumbaya.

MOOK: A little fighting before that.

KEILAR: All right, thank you so much.

CNN gets exclusive access deep inside the sophisticated system of tunnels along the border of Israel and Lebanon. We will have details on who built these, next.


[13:52:28] KEILAR: Israel Defense Forces say they've uncovered a fourth tunnel leading under the border from Lebanon into Israel. They say these tunnels were built by the militant group Hezbollah for the express purpose of helping kill Israelis.

CNN's Ian Lee got an exclusive look inside one of these tunnels.


IAN LEE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a secret in this hole those responsible prefer you not to know. We drop a camera down, past tens of meters of hard limestone to reveal a sophisticated tunnel, complete with ventilation, lights. It's large enough for an NBA player to stand in.

Israel says it's the work of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group with ties to Iran.

(on camera): It was important for the Israeli military to drill as close to this wall as possible. And that's because on the other side of this wall is Lebanon. And what they wanted to show is how Hezbollah's tunnel began in Lebanon and entered Israel. Finding this tunnel, though, wasn't so much on what they saw but rather on what they heard.

(voice-over): Vibrations from drilling exposed the digging. This video shows when the Lebanese militants first discovered their tunnels were no longer a secret.

(on camera): In that video, we see an explosion. What can you tell me about that?

UNIDENTIFIED ISRAELI SOLDIER: The explosion, we decided not to kill those people walking in the tunnels. It was a warning for the other side to stay out of the tunnels.

LEE (voice-over): Four tunnels have been uncovered so far. The army expects to find more.

Israel says they violate a 12-year-old cease fire. U.N. peacekeepers who monitor the border are investigating.

Secret, sophisticated technology provides a location. Then they start to drill. There's little margin for error.

UNIDENTIFIED ISRAEL SOLDIER: Drill half a meter to the right or half a meter to the left, that's it. You're out. You're not in the tunnel and you didn't achieve your goal.

LEE (on camera): Kind of like finding a needle in the haystack.

UNIDENTIFIED ISRAEL SOLDIER: It's more complicated than that.

LEE (voice-over): The army says that uncovering the tunnels early has limited the threat but they have the potential to do Israel great harm. Thousands of civilians living near the border at risk of kidnapping or worse.

A senior Hezbollah official previously told CNN the group was surprised by Israel's operation, but neither confirmed nor denied they were digging tunnels.


[13:55:02] LEE: Meanwhile, Israel continues to dig down, to build up security

Ian Lee, CNN, on Israel's northern border with Lebanon.


KEILAR: Coming up, the family of the seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. custody is speaking out and they are demanding an investigation into little Jakelin's death. We'll have details, next.


[13:59:05] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN on this Monday. Thank you for being with me.

Let's jump to it.