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House GOP Secretly Vote to Curtail Congressional Oversight; Trump Lashes Out at North Korea & China in Tweets. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 3, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MATTINGLY: ... House members.
The proposal would place the Office of Congressional Ethics under the oversight of the very lawmakers it oversees. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slamming the move in a statement, saying, "Republicans claim they want to drain the swamp. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress."
[07:00:22] The Republicans went against their own leadership, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, did not back the move. Today, the full House of Representatives is set to vote on the proposal. It should last for at least two years if passed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House will be in order.
MATTINGLY: Republicans this week also expected to cast their first votes on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year.
MATTINGLY: With a major fight over Obamacare brewing, top Democrats launching a preemptive strike, calling Republicans' rapid push to dismantle the president's signature healthcare law without a clear agreed-upon plan to replace it a, quote, "act of cowardice." Pelosi urging the American people to, quote, "take a second look."
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: Just repealing Obamacare, even though they have nothing to put in its place, and saying they'll do it sometime down the road, will cause huge calamity.
MATTINGLY: There's also another battle developing. Senate Democrats vowing to delay confirming Trump's cabinet nominees, possibly for months.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The idea that the Democrats' choice is to figure out how from day one how to oppose every one of these individuals is just -- is frankly sad.
MATTINGLY: Democrats complain that at least eight of Trump's nominees have not submitted required materials, including financial information, as materials they need to review before the hearings. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, warning, quote, "Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they're sorely mistaken."
MATTINGLY: And Alisyn, the reality here is Democrats don't actually have a lot of recourse to block the president-elect's cabinet picks. Most of them are very likely to be confirmed just because of the Republican majorities on Capitol Hill. It's something that really underscores the power Republicans really have now in Washington. Obviously, they hold the Senate; they hold the House. Those will be sworn in a couple hours. In just 17 days, they hole the White House, as well. That is why they believe they can push forward on probably the most conservative agenda we've seen in decades -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Yes. It will be a challenging time for Democrats. Phil, thank you very much for that reporting.
President-elect Donald Trump taking on North Korea's nuclear threat and slamming China for not doing more to stop Kim Jong-un. This happened in a series of tweets last night.
This as we wait for Mr. Trump to reveal whatever inside information he promised on the alleged Russian hacking. CNN's Jessica Schneider is live at Trump Tower in New York with more.
What have you learned, Jessica?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn.
Donald Trump still not clarifying his comments that he knows more than others when it comes to the hacking that U.S. intelligence officials have blamed on Russia. That is Donald Trump overnight took to Twitter on a multitude of topics, including North Korea and China.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President-elect Donald Trump airing his diplomatic grievances on Twitter yet again, targeting the leaders of North Korea and China.
Trump taunting Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, who threatened over the weekend that his reclusive country was close to test- launching a missile that could reach the U.S. Trump tweeting, "It won't happen." Even though China supported new sanctions against North Korea. Trump continued, "China has been taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won't help with North Korea. Nice."
This as new video obtained by CNN shows Trump from his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago speaking to the crowd of 800 wealthy revelers.
TRUMP: The ones I really care about are the members. I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about their guests.
SCHNEIDER: Trump lavishing praise upon his Dubai billionaire business partner, Hussain Sajwani. TRUMP: Hussain and the whole family, the most beautiful people from Dubai are here tonight.
SCHNEIDER: Despite pledging to step away from his business, and address glaring conflicts of interest. A top adviser is springing to Trump's defense.
CONWAY: This man is allowed to have a New Year's celebration with his friends and his business partners, the idea that he's giving a speech recognizing a friend and his beautiful wife. And people are just going to twist that around to somehow it's a business favor. I mean, we've got to get ahold of ourselves here.
SCHNEIDER: All the while, Trump continuing to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence communities conclusions on Russian hacking. The president-elect critically promising to reveal inside information on Russia's alleged election cyber meddling today or tomorrow.
CONWAY: It can come in a tweet. It can come in a press conference. It can come in a statement.
SCHNEIDER: And new this morning, Donald Trump announcing the nomination of Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, the chief negotiator for U.S. trade deals. Lighthizer does have extensive experience serving in the Reagan administration as deputy U.S. trade representative. He's also worked for the past few decades as a law partner at Skadden-Arps in their international trade law practice -- Alisyn.
CUOMO: Jessica, thank you very much.
Joining us now is one of the new members of Congress, who's going to be sworn in in just a couple of hours. Congressman-elect Brian Mast representing Florida.
Thank you for your service. We know you're a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Lost both legs and a finger in 2010 when a bomb exploded.
Thank you for your service, sir, and congratulations on your newest tour of duty to the public as a congressman.
REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: Well, thank you, Chris.
I enjoyed most of that service, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to serve again.
CUOMO: Well, people of your character and your experience are always needed. Again, thank you for bringing your skills to the service of the rest of us.
And you got thrown a little bit of a curveball by your new colleagues last night. The Republican Congress -- conference doing something that's certainly controversial. Apparently gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics, saying that they can no longer investigate things. They have to turn over every complaint to the House Ethics Committee.
And that was the problem in the first place, as you know, Congressman. It was that Congress didn't seem that willing to want to investigate its members, so they created the OCE. How do you feel about this move in light of all the pledges to drain the swamp?
MAST: You know, I don't have the vantage point of having been investigated by the OCE, but what I can tell you when it pertains to draining the swamp is you come up here and you make decisions based on whether those decisions are right or wrong, not whether those decisions are politically expedient.
And I think it is very haunting to many of the members that they have an office that's going out on political witchhunts after them, and I think that's why you saw this move largely.
CUOMO: It plays as what do you have to hide? Why would members of the Republican Congress not want to have an entity that takes a look at Congress with fresh eyes without any politics as part of that practice?
MAST: Well, I'm sure it's being confused a little bit. You know, there are certainly members on both sides of the aisle that want to see this entity go away because of the very farfetched investigations that have gone on that they have had to spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars as individuals to get rid of these investigations, that had no merit whatsoever.
But you know, beyond that, as you talked about it, it's about draining the swamp. That's the mandate that we're trying to fulfill. And in the end I think, you know, this move to send a number of incredible veterans up to Washington, D.C., I get the opportunity to serve alongside a Navy SEAL, a three-star general, a one-star general, a couple of other military officers, all sworn into this freshman class. It's an incredible opportunity.
CUOMO: And you know what? In fairness, you weren't part of that vote last night. You get sworn in today. So we'll see how you do once you get started.
Veterans affairs obviously very important to you. Part of the criticism from your brothers and sisters of the incoming administration is for all the meetings that President-elect Donald Trump has had, either down in Florida or at his offices here in New York, he has not met with a lot of veterans groups about what to do about the V.A. What's your take on that?
MAST: I had very specific conversations with President-elect Trump about the V.A., about, you know, some of the choices, are those being considered to head up the V.A. I know that he is taking it very seriously. I'm not here to defend him on that point, but I do like some of the picks that he has out there. I've been a proponent for Representative Jeff Miller to fill that -- to fill that hole. I think there's probably very few people out there that have had as
much experience as he has on literally hearing firsthand those grievances that veterans have.
CUOMO: What do you know that lawmakers often don't because of your experience of having not been in Congress and having had a lot of experience personally with the V.A.? What needs to be done?
MAST: Well, you know, for every veteran that walks into the V.A., they need to be treated as though they're the most important veteran to ever walk inside of that door.
When you consider what the commitment is of somebody that goes out there, puts on body armor, carries a rifle out there on the battlefield, that willingness to give the last beat of their heart in service to this country, they deserve the best possible care every time they walk into that door. And that's quite frankly not what they've been getting for decades. To be placed on wait lists, to have, you know, their claims to go on lists that take them years to get off. This is not the treatment that they deserve.
And whether you're talking about them waiting in line simply to get a blood draw or waiting for something more serious, they need to receive the best care that exists out there, the most cutting-edge care. And it's something that, unfortunately, they haven't seen in decades; and we have to fix it. It's going to be one of my top priorities.
CUOMO: I know that you're not just someone who's experienced the service. You're also a student of the service there, and you're making that a big part of your agenda as an incoming congressman.
Part of the quick fix mentality when it comes to the V.A. -- we've seen it in different iterations over the last six to 10 years -- is privatize, privatize. Let these men and women get different services and different aspects of their care in the private sector, and we'll do it through some type of funding mechanism.
[07:10:13] Are you worried about taking anything away from the V.A.? Do you think the fix is to make the V.A. better as it is or to do a public-private deal?
MAST: I think that's exactly how you make the V.A. better is to make the V.A. compete for the care that they want to provide.
I think both of us know there's no government entity out there that inherently says they want to shrink in size or they want to lose funding. You have to make the V.A. compete for the dollars. Those dollars that follow each veteran as it pertains to their care. Make them compete for that. Give every veteran the choice to go be seen, whether they want to be seen at the V.A. or go be seen at some private entity, because they feel that they'll get better care there. Give them that option, and the V.A. will be made better, because they're going to have to fight and provide a better service in order to have that veteran stay at the V.A.
CUOMO: How does your experience as one of the men who had to carry out the words of politicians abroad inform your feelings about our president-elect going at North Korea or in China in tweets, making provocative statements? How do you feel about that method of foreign affairs?
MAST: Well, I can tell you this much. You know, when we go out there on the battlefield, we -- what allows us to do what we do, what makes it possible is that we're serving the greater good of the United States of America. We look at the world through the lens of do our decisions make the United States of America stronger or the United States of America weaker.
And it's what allows us to go out there without any regret. And I think it's important that we have a president that recognizes there are world leaders out there in Russia, in Iran, in North Korea and China that are looking at their countries through that same lens. We need an American leader who's going to look at America through the same lens. Does his decision make America stronger. And that's what I think we're seeing by Donald Trump.
CUOMO: What did you make of Donald Trump's tweet that "It won't happen" when it comes to North Korea's ability to have a warhead that would reach the U.S.? When you hear it won't happen, one of problems with the tweet is very often, you know, they can be nuances lost. Do you think that means that he thinks that they don't have a missile like that or that the United States would do something to stop North Korea?
MAST: I don't want to get into the minutia of nuclear defense, but I can tell you the best way to defend against any nuclear attack, whether it be from an ICBM or whether it be from sort of radiological device, is to make sure that it never gets off the ground.
So when I see a statement like this from President-elect Trump, I think it's the right line. You want to make sure that an attack like this never has the ability to get off the ground. He's fulfilling his responsibility to protect the American people, to make America strong, and that's what I want to see out of my president-elect.
CUOMO: Especially with Twitter. Talking the talk is easy. Walking the walk like that one can get very complex. One of things you're going to have to deal with when you are in there as a freshman will be the hacks that we saw during the campaign. At this point, do you have a question as to whether or not Russia was involved? Not their motives for being involved but their actual involvement and something that has to be dealt with on an intel basis of how to deal with these cyberattacks?
MAST: You know, I've worked with a number of our intelligence agencies. There's great men and women there. I give them, you know, the utmost trust, having worked alongside them. I think it would be very naive to think that -- you know, I don't necessarily call Russia an enemy. But I certainly think it would be naive to think that they are not an aggressor. They are certainly an aggressor. We need to treat them as such.
I think we can certainly vouch for the fact that they will do what they can in order to meddle in American business, whether it be in terms of cyber-technique or anything else. That's been their M.O.
CUOMO: Brian -- Brian Mast, congratulations on being sworn in, in just a couple of hours. Please know that NEW DAY is a forum to discuss what matters to the American people.
MAST: I look forward to joining you again.
CUOMO: Good luck to you, sir.
CAMEROTA: All right. As we've been discussing Republicans plan to repeal Obamacare, so what happens to the millions of Americans who use it? One of the architects of the Affordable Care Act joins us next with what he'd do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:18:05] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I can tell you is we're going to do what we can. It's coming down. Regulations are coming off. We're going to get rid of Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. That was President-elect Donald Trump addressing guests at his New Year's party, saying he is ready to replace or repeal Obamacare.
So what would the repeal of the Affordable Care Act mean for millions of Americans? Let's bring in Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. He is chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act.
Doctor, thank you for joining us this morning.
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL ETHICS, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Happy new year. Good to be with you.
CAMEROTA: Happy new year to you, as well. This must be a disheartening start to your new year, knowing that the first priority of the new Republican-led Congress is to repeal the measure that that you spent so much time working on.
EMANUEL: Well, they've claimed that they want to repeal and replace, I think, everything in here, saying what are they going to replace it with. And is that replacement going to be a bipartisan replacement? I think that there's going to have a hard time replacing it, unless they do a bipartisan replacement. And so I'm not actually not as disheartened as many people might think.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this. We've spoken on this program to many Republicans who say that there are some good measures in it. The preexisting conditions being covered, the children being allowed to stay on their parents' plan through 26. So it sounds like what they plan to do is to do it more piecemeal, so is that a good compromise?
EMANUEL: Piecemeal replacement without a -- I mean, piecemeal repeal without a replacement is not a good deal. That will create havoc in the insurance markets.
The question is what does the replacement look like, and if you're going to have a replacement in America, you do have to have some mechanism of covering people. Typically, they propose a tax credit, a refundable tax credit so people can buy private insurance. Then you need a way for people to actually go and buy private insurance, which looks a lot like an exchange or a health insurance pool.
And I think how those things are structured is where the details are and, again, I think there could be areas of bipartisan compromise if they're structured in the right way.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, as you know, Republicans say, "Hey, give us a chance. We're just starting today." But they do have something of a vague blueprint for what they want to do. Some of it is what you just touched on. I'll pull it up in terms of a full screen for our viewers.
The Republican plan to replacement Obamacare, they say, tax credits instead of subsidies have a high risk pool for the sick. Medicaid block grants, bolstering the health savings accounts. They want people to be able to put more money into those and capping employer- sponsored plans. So what do you quibble with there?
EMANUEL: Well, the first thing is, if you block grant Medicaid, that creates a serious problem. That is really not a solution to anything. It's mostly just a way of cost shifting, taking off the federal expenditures and putting responsibility on the states and one of the serious problems of block granting is say the economy like in 2008 and 2009 goes into a tailspin, lots of people become unemployed, more people need Medicaid coverage. And yet the state has no more money to provide them with coverage, because the federal government has block granted it.
That creates a huge problem and a huge burden on states precisely when they cannot deficit finance. That is a terrible idea. Now, there are other ways of giving states more money and leeway that could be, again, bipartisan, but state block granting is not one.
Secondly, those refundable tax credits. Everything is in the details. What percentage of an insurance policy do they actually allow you to buy? Is it the $3,000 that many Republicans are talking about? That doesn't get you an insurance policy. That actually makes most Americans who need to buy insurance spend more than the Affordable Care Act. That is not more affordable than President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
So again a lot of this does depend upon the details and most of the details in like congressman Ryan's plan even by his own economists assessment throws poor people off of health insurance. That is not a step forward. CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. Because you know, most estimates
are there are somewhere between 22 million and 30 million people who if, if their first order of business was to repeal Obamacare, the Republican Congress, they would lose their coverage. So what happens to them?
EMANUEL: Well, if you don't fund the Medicaid expansion, the 10 plus million people who got Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act would lose that coverage. If you have no mandate and you eliminate the subsidies as part of this repeal, then you create havoc in the individual market, and that actually will mean millions of people, both people getting subsidies and people who use the individual market, with all of their own dollars, will not get insurance. Because insurance companies are going to withdraw.
They're not going to stay in a market that's ending in 2 or 3 years and a market that they are insure of who is going to be in that market. Insurance companies would withdraw and a lot of individuals would not have insurance.
The last point I would make is that Republicans want to repeal some of the taxes used to fund the Affordable Care Act. If that's true, how are they going to refund their replacement option? That is also very unclear.
EMANUEL: This whole idea of repeal and delay will repeal it today and tell you what we'll put in its place in three years is not a recipe for a terrific system that President-elect Trump claims he wants.
CAMEROTA: So Dr. Emanuel, I only have 30 seconds left, but if you were in charge right now still, what would you do to fix with Obamacare?
EMANUEL: Well, I do think we need to have some long-term cost control to make sure premiums don't rise. That's very, very important, and there are some very promising avenues out there to change how you pay doctors and hospitals.
Second of all, you can create better insurance exchanges. Some of the ideas out there of creating a national exchange, making insurance companies cover a wider swath of the country, I think that could be an area of bipartisan agreement.
But I think those are some of the places where we need to focus rather than, you know, we're just going to block grant it, take it off the federal government's ledgers and shift a lot of the financial responsibility to states or individual Americans. That is not a solution. That's simply a cost shift.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, no one knows more than you how complicated this will be. Thank you for helping us understand it.
EMANUEL: Pleasure to be here. Thank you and happy new year again.
CAMEROTA: You too. Let's get to Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Alisyn.
Why is President-elect Trump so slow to admit that Russia is behind the hacks that happened during the election. One of his key advisers when it comes to intelligence is actually taking a different stance than the president-elect. Why? Former CIA director James Woolsey joins us next.
[07:29:34] President-elect Donald Trump and his team are continuing to cast doubt about whether Russia is behind the election hacks in defiance of everything that the U.S. government intel agencies have put out on the issue. In fact, the intel community now says it has Russia's digital finger always over the cyberattacks.
Now one of Trump's key adviser is contradicting the president-elect. That adviser is former CIA director James Woolsey, and he joins us now, along with David Priess, former CIA intel officer and author of "The President's Book of Secrets." I think it is more fair to you, Mr. Woolsey, because we've discussed
this before on NEW DAY to say that you've never expressed...