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Interview with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin; President Obama Offers Obamacare Fix; "I Was Not Informed Directly"; Newly Found Papers from Day JFK Died

Aired November 14, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I know you will.

Mr. President, as long as you're bringing back things that were canceled, can you also maybe bring back the TV show "Freaks and Geeks"? That was gone way too soon.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The national lead. Were you told that your insurance would be canceled due to changes from Obamacare? Well, now President Obama says he's changing the rules to allow, allow, not require, your plan to be extended for another year. Will that satisfy our guest, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the Democrat who wanted to delay the individual mandate for a full year?

The buried lead. It happened 50 years ago this month. An assassin's bullet claimed the life of our 35th president in Dallas. Now newly discovered tapes are filling in the blanks from that day and you will hear them right here.

And the pop culture lead. Andy, did you hear about this one? If you believe, Andy Kaufman's brother joins us to address the fresh rumors sweeping the comedy world that the mad comic genius faked his own death and is still alive with a grown daughter.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We will begin with the national lead. If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan, for real this time, says the president. But here comes the asterisk. It's only for a year, assuming the insurance companies cooperate.

President Obama today acting under enormous pressure even from within his own party to address policy cancellation notices which millions of Americans have received as a result of changes from his signature affordable health care act. The president acknowledged that the rollout of Obamacare has been, what's the word I'm looking for, it starts with an F?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We fumbled the rollout on this health care law. Fumbled the ball. We did fumble the ball. These are two fumbles. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Fumbled. Yes, thank you. Fumble, like a Tony Romo-botched snap. It was a recurring theme throughout the president's remarks, which came a day after the country learned that only about 106,000 people had enrolled in Obamacare in the first month, only 26,000 or so of them through the federal Web site, far, far below projections. The president today admitting his own fallibility.


OBAMA: There are going to be ups and downs during the course of my presidency. And I think I said early on when I was running, I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president.


TAPPER: Today, the president once again amended his vow that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.


OBAMA: Insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014 and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.


TAPPER: In a way, the president had to act now. House Republicans are set to vote on a bill tomorrow with this self-explanatory name, the Keep Your Health Plan Act. Democrats in both the House and Senate each have their own bills to address the cancellations. The president's rule change will allow, not require, allow insurance companies to extend plans that would otherwise have been canceled in 2014.

Will the insurance companies go along with that? Maybe, maybe not. The CEO of the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, which represents more than 1,000 insurance companies, released a statement. It reads in part: "Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers"

Let's bring in Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He has supported a delay on the individual mandate. He's also signed on to a bill that would allow those Americans to keep their plans, but permanently, not just a year.

Senator, good to see you.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: So is this fix enough?

MANCHIN: Well, it's a step in the right direction. We had a nice meeting today. And Denis came over, Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, and really took time and went through the whole thing and where they're coming from.

And it is a step. And it is an acknowledgment that we're moving in the right direction and we need to move in the right direction. The bill that I signed on with Mary Landrieu basically says this. If you had insurance when the bill went into effect, you can keep that insurance indefinitely. Now, if you want to change your plans later, then they will have to meet the certain requirements.

The House bill basically says they open up anybody to go buy any insurance, even if it doesn't meet the intent. That's just gutting it. And that's not what we intend to do. We want to fix things. We're trying to fix it.

I don't want West Virginians to go back or have any West Virginian in jeopardy that if they get sick, a catastrophic illness, they could be bankrupt and lose everything. I don't want a child who had a defect not being able to be insured or someone who might have had cancer, preexisting condition, not -- we don't want to go back there.

But can we fix it? We have got to be compassionate about this, but this is -- my bill basically, the bill I put in with Mark Kirk, the Republican, my friend from Illinois, simply said this.

There's no crime and no fine for this one-year period until January 1, 2015. There's more problems -- and we have acknowledged them -- and we are all acknowledging and seeing them -- than just the rollout as far as the computer glitches.

TAPPER: Right.

MANCHIN: There are some product problems and there's some marketability that needs to be done here, and the insurance industry is going to have to get real also, and come to the table and work through this.

TAPPER: But wouldn't what you and Senator Landrieu are proposing, allowing anybody to keep their plan in perpetuity...


TAPPER: ... wouldn't that damage the architecture of Obamacare, the fact that you need these healthy people to sign on to this and in order for women to not be discriminated against, then men who take out these individual plans also need to sign on to maternity coverage?

MANCHIN: Let's first look at when we were told there were so many uninsured Americans, and from a back-door approach, we're paying anyway.

TAPPER: Right. We're paying through emergency rooms.


MANCHIN: I was governor, and basically we had emergency rooms and we had workers comp claims and things of this sort that was basically the only line of defense that a person had to get insurance or get coverage.

TAPPER: Right, to get health care, right.

MANCHIN: And that was the costliest portion of getting it.

If we can have a more -- more people involved into health care, more people with healthier lifestyles -- the thing I have concerns with is this. The personal accountability and responsibility -- we take in Medicaid most states with less than 50 percent coverage. We have gone from 50 percent to 133 percent. There has to be personal accountability and responsibility.

Now, a person that is just above that, you want to make sure that everyone is getting the adequate care.

TAPPER: Right.

MANCHIN: But if we're paying and giving somebody, there has to be quid pro quo, responsibility, accountability, not over-abuse or use to the point and live a healthy lifestyle.


TAPPER: But aren't you worried that what you're talking about doing, allowing people, even people who have junk plans that are really cheap, but don't really offer anything, and, in fact, health care experts would say that they're worthless, it's just -- it's sneaky business by some insurance companies, some unsavory actors by allowing them to keep this because it's cheaper than what they would pay for actual insurance, you are undermining this goal that you share with the president?

MANCHIN: Well, I think the American people or a person that might have the so-called junk -- junk plan, at least they made a concerted effort to get something. They thought they needed something. They thought it was adequate or what they could afford, even though we might think that, well, the insurance industry took advantage of them.

They are going to be able to have more options and shop as we go along and we get further down the road. And what we're saying is, if you think you can keep it and you want to keep it and you're happy with it, why not.

Now, on the other hand, they're saying, wait a minute, we will give you one-year extension because then you're really going to find out it's not the right thing. Well, the market's got to move in then. The market's got to attract me from a junk plan to one that's maybe the same price or not much different that gives me a lot more protection and coverage.

TAPPER: Did you ever promise anyone, Senator, that if they liked their plan, they can keep their plan?

MANCHIN: Let me just say...

TAPPER: Did you ever? Did you ever promise... (CROSSTALK)

MANCHIN: You mean me personally?

TAPPER: Yes, you personally.


MANCHIN: No. But I said -- I repeated what I heard, the same as the president was saying.

TAPPER: Yes. You thought it was true?

MANCHIN: Sure, I thought it was true.

And you know what? If a mistake has been made, the president is going to correct that and he should correct it. And I think he has. If that's what he thinks the correction is, one year, and let's say that the Senate, some of us, believe it should be in perpetuity, but then the market will basically bring those people back in, is that another way of being able to make sure we have everybody with adequate insurance?

You have got to give the American people some choices here. You have got to give them some benefit of the doubt. They can make some decisions, too.

TAPPER: Right.

Do you -- you said -- you came in, in 2010. You voted for Obamacare.

MANCHIN: No, I never -- I never -- it was already passed.


TAPPER: It was already passed here.

So, in 2010, when you said that you would have voted against it, when you told that to Chris Wallace..


MANCHIN: What I had said, Jake, I would have voted against the plan the way the plan came out.

TAPPER: Right.

MANCHIN: I didn't think they should go -- I mean, I know the strain that the states have on them. States have a balanced budget amendment, 49 states. We have to live within certain guidelines.

TAPPER: So, you stand by that? You still...


MANCHIN: Well, there have been some changes. I really believe the changes -- I say -- it went from less than 50 percent to 133 percent. Don't you believe 100 percent would have been a lofty goal?

The individual mandate, I believe there's a market. I believe that the market will be able to attract a young person 26, 27, 28.

TAPPER: So you like it now? You like the health care bill now?

MANCHIN: What do you mean? No, no, I said, we have to work it.


TAPPER: Right. You obviously want to change it.


MANCHIN: We did the 1099 change.

TAPPER: Yes. In October 2010, you said that you wouldn't have voted for it. I'm saying now, 2013, seeing everything...

MANCHIN: We made the 1099 change. There's other changes we put in there. The 40-hour workweek, we don't have that in there yet. That needs to be in there. The 30-hour -- I have never heard of a 30-hour workweek. I have been working all my life. That's two days.

TAPPER: So, do you like it or no? Would you vote for it if it came up tomorrow?

MANCHIN: No, we have to change it. If we get the changes -- if we get the changes, yes.

TAPPER: Last question. We are one month away today from the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the school shooting. You and your Republican colleague Pat Toomey worked very hard on a background check bill. It did not pass the Senate. I understand it still is not making any progress. What's the problem? What's the difficulty you're having convincing your colleagues to support background checks on gun purchasers?

MANCHIN: Let me just say first I'm a law-abiding gun owner. I love to go hunting and sport shooting and have all my friends in West Virginia. It's our culture.

TAPPER: I remember your ad. You shot a gun, a bullet through an EPA bill or something like that. Cap and trade, yes.


TAPPER: That's it.

And the bottom line is, I'm a staunch defender of the Second Amendment rights, but, also, I'm a responsible, law-abiding gun owner. I'm not going to sell my gun to a stranger or to someone who is mentally impaired or give it to a family member that's not responsible.

Responsible gun owners don't do that, law-abiding gun owners. So, don't look at me like I have done something wrong or committed a crime because I own a gun.

TAPPER: Right. Right. I'm certainly not looking at you like that.

MANCHIN: I know. I know, Jake.


MANCHIN: So, what I'm saying is, now, let's look. As a law-abiding gun owner, I want to know that person who wants to buy my gun, or if I'm going to buy a gun, they should want to know who I am.

So, I thought it was very reasonable and sensible to say, a commercial transaction, when there's no personal acknowledgement or no personal interaction, that have a background check.

TAPPER: Right. And polls indicated Americans agreed with you.

MANCHIN: Sure they do.

TAPPER: What's the difficulty?

MANCHIN: People do not trust government now.

We have lost the trust of government to where the government will just stop there. The people that I go hunting with and shooting with said, Joe, we like your bill, your bill's good, there's no problem. We just don't trust government will stop there.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Joe Manchin, West Virginia, thank you so much. Always a pleasure. Appreciate it.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Jake. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: Coming up next; President Obama says he's sorry, but will Americans accept that excuse, that he was kept in the dark about the Web site problems before the rollout?

Plus, he was tasked with investigating the Secret Service sex scandal in Cartagena, Colombia. Now he's at the center of an investigation of his own after an alleged incident involving a woman and a missing bullet in a high-end hotel room. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The politics lead now. So what's worse, the president fumbling the ball or being left in the dark about the potential problems of the rough, rough Obamacare rollout?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was not informed directly that the Web site would not be working the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, "Boy, this is going to be great." You know, I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying, "This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity."


TAPPER: Let's bring in our panel: Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina.

Thank you so much for being here.

Dee Dee, explain this from a crisis communication standpoint and also from somebody who was in that building. The president saying, "I didn't know that the Web site was going to be such a disaster. If I had known, I wouldn't have been out there saying it's going to be like Travelocity."

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's a great unanswered question, who knew, you know, what did they know, and when did they know it, and why didn't it get communicated up to the top of the chain of command?

You know, the White House was doing briefings in the days and weeks just before the rollout, before October 1st and saying, yes, there are glitches, those are being fixed, we are putting the information in the computer at night, each evening as we get this information back, and it will be ready to go on D-Day, on October 1st. And clearly, it wasn't.

Why wasn't it is a question that I think will continue to be asked, as it was repeatedly in the briefing room today.

TAPPER: So as a former CEO, if you had gone out there and said a product, the Hewlett-Packard product, was going to be outstanding and it came out and it was not outstanding, let's just put it that way, and there were top aides of yours, the COO or CFO, and they knew but they didn't tell you, would you fire them?

CARLY FIORINA, FORMER CHAIRMAN AND CEO, HEWLETT-PACKARD: Yes, but it wouldn't have happened. The reason I say that is because it is a chief executive's job to fight the isolation that surrounds every chief executive. It is the chief executive's job to make sure that they are informed.

The problem I think with this line of "I didn't know," one, it's a continuation of a pattern. I didn't know about the IRS targeting conservatives. I didn't know about the Justice Department targeting journalists. I didn't know the Web site was a problem.

So, you're left with only a couple explanations. Either he did know and he is not telling the truth, or he didn't bother to ask the right questions, which I believe is his job, or his staff knew and didn't tell him. That's not very heart-warming. Or nobody knew and they're all incompetent.

I mean, I just think it's a terrible explanation and it has been a pattern of his to say when anything goes wrong, I didn't know. It's his job to know. He's accountable.

TAPPER: Dee Dee, do you think what he did today, extending for one year all these potential cancellations, allowing them to be extended, rather, and saying he didn't know and speaking more as Van Jones put it earlier today, more as a person who cares about these individuals as opposed to a lawyer looking for wiggle room as to his previous promise, do you think this puts this to bed? Is it over now?

MYERS: No, but I do think it was a step in the right direction. I think it's better than it was. I think -- we'll see whether this fix will resolve the problem for enough people, how Congress will react to it, whether they will seek to make the changes permanent through either the House or Senate legislation and whether either of those can pass and be signed. Then we'll look at whether this will help the problem.

I think if there's a way to allow people -- unclear whether the insurance companies can make this work -- to stay on their policies if they like them for a limited period of time is probably a doable thing and it does help. It doesn't answer all the questions. It doesn't answer the questions about who know what and when, but it begins -- but I think the president showed today that he is deeply concerned about this. He understands that they dropped the ball. He said multiple times we fumbled it, it's on us, and it's on them to fix it.

TAPPER: Carly, you and I have spoken before about the Republican obligation to come up with an alternative and you have spoken strongly about it's not enough to tear something down, you have to have your own alternative.

Republicans right now, what would you advise them to be doing?

FIORINA: Well, first, I would advise them to stay in the game of fixing it. I think that's what they're trying to do. I think Fred Upton's bill is a way of trying to fix it. I think and I hope that they will continue down the path, the Senate and the House saying here are some things we can do to address the concerns of these millions of Americans who are losing their policy as an example.

But I also think they need now to put forward a broader blueprint that says you know what, let's actually have a competitive marketplace. Today, what we have are 50 states and there's not sufficient competition. Let's restore real competition, which is the only force that works to lower costs and increase quality over time and it doesn't exist in the insurance marketplace.

TAPPER: Carly Fiorina, Dee Dee Myers, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, chilling recordings from Air Force One made moments after President Kennedy was assassinated. Now, the man who restored those tapes is questioning whether Americans were ever told the whole story.

Plus, it's the story that has the Internet abuzz. Could comedian Andy Kaufman still be alive? His own brother is the one asking the question and he joins me live in a few minutes.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In the buried lead now, what we call stories we think should be getting more attention. It's a walk of shame that ended up being another shameful moment for the agency in charge of protecting the president. First, there was the Secret Service scandal in April 2012 involving prostitution and drinking before presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia.

Now, a supervisor tasked with getting to the bottom of that scandal is involved in one of his own. A federal law enforcement source tells two Secret Service agents on President Obama's protective detail are under investigation for possible misconduct.

One of them was allegedly busted after an incident at the Hay-Adams Hotel, a D.C. landmark right next to the White House, in which he allegedly met a woman at the hotel bar, took her upstairs, left a few hours later and then went back to retrieve a bullet he accidentally left in her room. The investigation into that incident reportedly uncovered sexually suggestive e-mails that he and another agent sent to a female Secret Service employee.

A few hours ago, the president's acting Homeland Security secretary was grilled about the supposed boys' club mentality in the service.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We have, through whistleblower accounts, found out that similar instances occurred in 17 countries around the world. Again, that's just a limited snapshot. We've had very limited access to individuals that might know better.


TAPPER: Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, also just released a letter demanding that the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security release the report on the culture of the Secret Service, 18 months after the Colombia incident.

Next Friday will mark a full 50 years since one of the darkest hours in American history, the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Pretty much anyone who was alive on November 22nd, 1963 can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news.

For younger generations, there are myriad books, movies, TV documentaries and more that have painted the picture for them. But now, five decades later, newly discovered tapes are telling the story from a perspective you likely have not heard before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me all available information on the president, over. TAPPER (voice-over): As history and tragedy were unfolding at Dealey Plaza, radio and telephone communications squawked between the Air Force command center, the White House and Air Force One.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wayside, this is the Situation Room. I read from the "A.P." bulletin. Kennedy apparently shot in head, he fell face down in back seat of his car. Blood was on his head. Mrs. Kennedy cried 'Oh, no" and tried to hold up his head.

TAPPER: Earlier this year, these rare audio recordings were discovered in the personal effects of General Chester Clifton, Jr., a military aide to President John F. Kennedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Post-mortem has to be done by law under guard perform --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want a post-mortem that needs to be done under law at Walter Reed.

TAPPER: Forensic audio and video expert Ed Primeau was tasked with re-mastering and piecing together the new tape with older copies.

ED PRIMEAU, FORENSIC AUDIO AND VIDEO EXPERT: It's spine-tingling. It gives you goose bumps when you listen to it.

TAPPER: The result is an unflinching account of history unfolding in real time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is dead. Is that correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct. That is correct.

PRIMEAU: We're hearing several commanders communicating logistical information about interrupting everybody's plans because the president was assassinated and what it's going to take to get them to all come together and deal with this disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is on board, the body is on board, and Mrs. Kennedy is on board.

TAPPER: On the tapes, you can hear the military using code names. LBJ is "Volunteer".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are waiting for the swearing in at the plane before take off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the -- that's the Volunteer?


TAPPER: That swearing in aboard Air Force One produced this iconic image of LBJ with a shaken Jackie Kennedy by his side. And after Air Force One was in the air, crews could be heard scrambling to sort out logistics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The casket is in the rear compartment, and we suggest, because it is so heavy, that we have a fork lift, a fork lift back here to remove the casket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volunteer wants a patch with Mrs. Rose as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Rose Kennedy, roger.

TAPPER: You can even hear LBJ passing on condolences to JFK's mother, Rose Kennedy.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, THEN-PRESIDENT: I wish to God there was something that I could do. And I wanted to tell you that we are grieving with you.

ROSE KENNEDY: Yes, well, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

I know, I know that you loved Jack and that he loved you.

TAPPER: To Primeau, just as interesting as what is on the tapes is what is not. There are a number of obvious edits.

PRIMEAU: I think it's pretty simple -- whoever created the tapes had certain parts of the conversations they didn't want anybody to hear.

JOHN MCADAMS, MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY: It's good for people to listen for themselves and see how things developed, sometimes seeing the roughness of history.

TAPPER: John McAdams is a political science professor at Marquette University. He says these recordings are not likely to be the last pieces of history to surface, even 50 years after the assassination.

MCADAMS: The truth is, a lot of stuff fell between the cracks. This particular tape which was in the possession of General Clifton took almost half a century to show up. The historical record on all kinds of fronts is a bit more ragged than one might think.


TAPPER: As the nation prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination, you won't want to miss the premiere of "The Sixties: The Assassination of JFK". That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Coming up, a $3 billion offer from Mark Zuckerberg isn't cool. You know what's cool? Turning down $3 billion from Mark Zuckerberg.