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How Can Schumer Help Dems Save Obamacare?; Donald Trump Continues Questioning Intelligence on Russian Interference in U.S. Election; Interview with Congressman Dennis Ross. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 4, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So the question about the president-elect is what is motivating his resistance just 16 days from inauguration day? Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jason Carroll live at the White House annex, Trump Tower in New York.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. It's very obvious that at least so far the president-elect is not convinced that Russia is behind the hacking, not convinced that the U.S. intelligence community knows what it's talking about, and he's taking what he feels straight to Twitter.
CARROLL: President-elect Donald Trump striking a conspiratorial tone yet again against U.S. intelligence. In a new cryptic tweet Trump writes "Intelligence briefing on so-called Russian hacking was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange." But U.S. intelligence officials say there's no delay. They say the meeting was always set to take place later this week, adding "President Obama has yet to receive the full briefing on Russian hacking."
Trump vowed to reveal inside information he says he has about the hacks by today. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff responding to Trump's claim, tweeting, "This week real Donald Trump promises new info about Russian hacking only he knows. Next week what really happened at Roswell."
One U.S. intelligence official telling CNN the director of national intelligence James Clapper was not scheduled to be in New York City where Trump is until later in the week.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Later this week they will -- once the final report on the current situation in Russia is made final by the intelligence community, they will ask for -- they have asked for a briefing from senior members of the intelligence community.
CARROLL: Officials noting that until now Trump's team has not scheduled a meeting with the heads of top intelligence agencies. By contrast, President Obama met with the intelligence leaders shortly after being elected in 2008. For months Trump has continued to cast doubts over the conclusion
reached by 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the election cyber-attacks.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: It could be somebody else.
It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could be lots of other people. It could also be somebody sitting on their bed that ways 400 pounds, OK. Maybe there is no hacking.
CARROLL: A conclusion the CIA director says is ironclad.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: I would suggest to individuals who have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it, that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments.
CARROLL: And Russia says it is not behind the hacking. WikiLeakss founder Julian Assange says, once again, Russia is not behind the hacking. And Alisyn, Donald Trump weighed in on that part of the issue again this morning again on Twitter, saying the following, "Julian Assange said a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta. Why was DNC so careless? Also said Russia did not give him the info," referring to Podesta, of course, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. Alisyn?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Jason, maybe that was the information that Mr. Trump said he had that other people didn't know. But we will see perhaps at the press conference. Thank you very much for all of that, Jason.
So there's this big battle brewing on Capitol Hill today with President Obama and vice president elect Mike Pence rallying each of their parties on the future of Obamacare. CNN's Phil Mattingly is live on the Hill with more. What do we expect, Phil?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. I want to fill you in on an interesting conversation. I just had a couple minutes ago talked to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. He is a Democrat from a state that Donald Trump won by 41 points. He is going to be skipping the meeting with President Obama today, the meeting that was designed to rally Democrats in support of defending Obamacare. Really kind of showing, guys, there are no clean lines here, clean battle lines. But there is definitely a fight looming.
MATTINGLY: Today President Obama and vice president elect Mike Pence heading to Capitol Hill. It's an effort, aides say, to prepare their parties for the looming battle over Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will come to order.
MATTINGLY: The high-profile visits coming as a group of conservative lawmakers are set to unveil the first concrete plan to replace Obama's signature achievement, this coming just a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a proposal to start the process of repealing the law. McConnell wasting zero time, his proposal coming within hours of the ceremonial swearing in of the new Congress.
The new session getting off to a rocky start. House Republicans forced to back down from a proposal to gut an independent ethics committee after major backlashes from Democrats and some members of their own party, including a scolding from the president-elect himself on Twitter, tweeting, "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the independent ethics watch dog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority? Focus on tax reform, health care and so many other things of far greater importance."
[08:05:20] House Speaker Paul Ryan challenging the new Congress led once again by Republicans to make things happen when Trump takes office.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The people have given us unified government, and it wasn't because they were feeling generous. It was because they want results. How could we live with ourselves if we let them down?
MATTINGLY: Paul Ryan not exactly hedging there. Republicans hold all of the power up here, but they don't hold unlimited power basically. And that was kind of Manchin's point when we spoke. They need Democrats to move forward on any replacement plan for Obamacare. He said what Mike Pence and what President Obama are doing today might actually poison the well for bipartisan support. Chris?
CUOMO: All right, Phil, thank you very much.
Lots to discuss. Let's bring in Republican congressman Dennis Ross of Florida, also on the executive committee for the president- elect's transition. Long time no see, congressman. Good to have you on NEW DAY.
REP. DENNIS ROSS, (R) FLORIDA: Thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right, so let's talk about what's in the news this morning. On the intelligence side, do you have any basis of knowledge to justify the president-elect's resistance to what the intelligence community has been putting out about Russia's responsibility for the hacks? Not their motives, we know that gets a little sloppy, but their involvement in the motivation of the hacks. Do you know why the president-elect has reason to question it?
ROSS: Well, I think we go back to the current administration and their questioning of it. On October 18th the current president, President Obama, stated there's no evidence of any Russian hacking and in fact told then Donald Trump that he needs to quit his whining and go out and get votes. So you see there's been this history of, not that there's been
hacking. There's been hacking by the Russians, by the North Koreans, by the Chinese, but as to how much and to what extent, that what still remains out there that we don't know. I would love to see our intelligence community have a handle on this. But right now we haven't seen that evidence, the president-elect hasn't seen that evidence. And so this all really developed over a couple years of not having a very good cyber security policy to protect our national interest.
CUOMO: The policy of keeping us safe is certainly a concern, but I think separate. As you know, Clapper came out in October and said the intelligence community is, you know, concerned about Russia's involvement. He was straight about it. Since then, while they're not anxious to reveal their methods and sources, and you know why. You know why the intelligence community doesn't want to do that. You know why Russia would love to have them do that because it gives them a better blueprint for the next time they want to hack. But there has been no inconsistency by the intel community on this. There's only been a constant negation of the intel by Trump. But what does he know that the intel community has not told us?
ROSS: I don't have that knowledge either. But there's apparently something out there. And to be quite frank with you, I think again it has a result of the history that's led up to this. Even Clapper said he didn't have direct evidence. We haven't seen it given to the intelligence communities both in the House and Senate yet. The president has yet to be briefed. I think he should be briefed first, hopefully by Friday. After Donald Trump is briefed, next week we should know what sources are out there of intelligence that have given rise to this discrepancy.
CUOMO: But again, I think Clapper was pretty clear about how they do this. As you know, in all due respect to you, I know you understand intelligence work very well. But for the audience, this is not like making a case by the FBI where they say, Cuomo did it with a hammer in the closet. This is intelligence work. There's an alchemy to it. It's often circumstantial. It's often indirect. They came out and said they have the fingerprints. I don't think you can make the case that the intel community isn't sure that it's Russia. And that's why I'm asking, why do we have a president-elect who wants to quote Julian Assange as his basis for questioning the intelligence community?
ROSS: This president-elect has done a tremendous job in raising awareness to the American people of the vulnerability of national security. And he's done so of course by Twitter and by certain sources including Julian Assange. Julian Assange is not my source and I wouldn't a want to rest on him a as a source at all when you're dealing with the intelligence community. What we have to do is we have to make sure our intelligence community is the strongest and best it's ever been and that it has the right people in charge. We're going to see that transition happen. I think we're going to see what the sources are within the next week. Again, this is the intelligence community. But it's not done in full media. A lot of it is secure and confidential and won't be --
CUOMO: As it should be.
ROSS: As it should be, you're right. But again, I think the president-elect is showing how vulnerable we've been from cyber security attacks for years and also showing our standing in the international community has fallen.
[08:10:01] We've got to take direct action to not only secure our borders but to secure cyber security and again be the leader that the rest of the world is seeing us to be.
CUOMO: Right, but I'm just saying, when they come to him and meet with him, and as you know, it's on the president-elect to meet with the heads of the intel communities. He's chosen not to do it. He's suggested in a tweet that they were delaying the meeting. They say saying that's not true. I don't understand why he would want to alienate the men and women that keep us safe.
Let me ask you something else. This ethics turnaround with the OCE yesterday, you were in that conference meeting where they voted 119-74 or something to pass it. What made you guys turn around on this? Was it the pressure from constituents saying don't do this? I know you're very responsive to your constituents.
ROSS: Thank you, Chris. That was a great deal of it. I think also the president-elect in saying, look, there may be problems with the Office of Congressional Ethics, but don't make it your first order of business. Let's look at the politics here. What do the American people want to see us do? And I think we kind of saw the errors of our ways, and quite frankly, the president-elect helped save us from ourselves on that.
CUOMO: Let me ask you about that for a second, because we have history. I know you to be a straight shooter. You fight hard for people in Florida and beyond and beyond. What were you guys thinking gutting the investigative mechanism for people in the House to keep them honest? Why would you even consider doing that?
ROSS: Chris, just a mischaracterize that. It wasn't gutting. It was putting oversight on the House Ethics Committee is what we were doing.
CUOMO: But you took away the ability of the OCE to start investigations of potential criminal violations and you gave the ethics committee the ability to stop any investigation by the OCE. That is gutting.
ROSS: And I'll tell you, those are the concerns that were expressed in the conference because this is an independent agency that essentially has no oversight and they wanted to put it under oversight. It's something that's been debated since 2008, since the OCE came into effect. It will probably be something if it's ever going to be changed, it has to be done in transparent fashion and with bipartisan support. Those are my concerns, I'm glad we took it out. I'm glad we're going to forward and going to address our other issues which you talked about already, which of course is health care, which is tax reform, and which is border security. CUOMO: Do you think the GOP will find it within themselves to work
with the Democrats to find a way to improve the ACA? I had Saxby Chambliss on earlier. I know you have for respect for him, no longer in the Senate. He said it only happens if you get Democrats and Republicans on board. You can't do it unilaterally. That was the problem the first tie.
ROSS: Chris, no one party has a monopoly on good ideas. We have to be able to work together on this. The American people have spoken this time. They didn't elect us because we are Republicans. They wanted to see a leader, they wanted to see results, they wanted to see change. If we're going to fix the Affordable Care Act and do it the way the American people, we have to reach across the aisle. There's no question about that. But we have to lead with a plan. I believe we have a good plan in place. We of course have to do the repeal first, and it's going to take some effort.
But also we not only do we have to reach across the aisle for the Democrats, but they have to reach across the aisle for us. This can't be the partisan battle that it's been for the last eight years. The American people want to see results and they'll remind us in two years whether we've done a good job or not.
CUOMO: And we always say, it takes two to tango. We'll see how it goes from here. We'll be following this closely. Congressman Ross, always a pleasure to see you. Look forward to having you ban on NEW DAY.
ROSS: Thank you very much.
CUOMO: Programming note, as I'm saying, it takes two sides to tango. And next Monday we're going to have a special primetime town hall with a former presidential candidate and Vermont senator and leading voice of the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders. How is he going to help his party reach across that aisle? How is he going to help his party to deal with Donald Trump? What is the Democrats' plan? You're going to get answers to those important questions next Monday at 9:00 p.m. for the one-hour town hall. Remember, that's where folks like you get to speak truth to power right here on CNN.
CAMEROTA: A couple of headlines. Black leaders are expected to meet today with members of Mr. Trump's transition team in Washington. This comes a day after six NAACP members were arrested for staging a sit-in at Senator Jeff Sessions' office in Alabama. They are protesting his nomination to be the next attorney general. Before their arrest they vowed to stay there until Sessions withdrew his name from consideration. The activists say Sessions has not acknowledged voter suppression, but targeted black voters and falsely accused them of voter fraud.
CUOMO: Investigators reviewing shocking video from a North Carolina high school. The video shows an officer picking up a student, slamming her to the ground. He then pulls her up by her arm, escorts her out of the cafeteria. Police say the officer Ruben Delos Santos was breaking up a fight between two students. The officer now on administrative leave pending the review. The issue, excessive force. CAMEROTA: That's a pretty damning video. Vice president Joe Biden,
here's a nice video for you -- he tried to steal a kiss while swearing in lawmakers yesterday. But one baby was not having it. Watch this. Oh, no. Oh, no, you don't.
[08:15:00] CUOMO: Ain't that easy, Joe. It ain't that easy.
CAMEROTA: Oh, no, Mr. Biden tried to kiss. This is the granddaughter of Senator Richard Burr Tuesday.
CUOMO: Slow that down.
CAMEROTA: You're familiar with this move, Chris, from college. Biden laughed it off, much like you probably tried to. He attempted to talk to her --
CUOMO: I don't like that you slowed it down. When you slow it down, you make it look much, much more shady.
It's tough kissing babies. People take it for granted.
CAMEROTA: Oh, yes --
CUOMO: That's why I don't. I haven't kissed any of my kids since they were born. Won't give them the chance to reject me.
CAMEROTA: You also probably remember this viral video we first showed you yesterday. Two-year-old twins, Bowdy and Brock Shaff, they were climbing on their bedroom dresser --
CUOMO: He's OK.
CAMEROTA: -- when it suddenly toppled over and pinned little Brock, as you can see.
CUOMO: Watch Bowdy.
Lift with the legs.
CAMEROTA: Lifted it off of him, but when that doesn't work, he pushed with all of his might until Brock could wiggle out. Those bionic boys and their parents are here in our studio exclusively --
CUOMO: There they are. That's Bowdy, by the way.
CAMEROTA: Yes, they're having their way in the green room and having a lot of fun with it. Wait until you hear their story on our program.
He's going to walk on the table.
CUOMO: A glass table. After a dresser falls on you, you fear nothing.
CAMEROTA: Yes, you're bullet proof.
CUOMO: All right. Other news: Senator Chuck Schumer making one thing clear in his first week as Senate Democratic leader. He is prepared to hold Donald Trump's feet to the fire. CNN's Dana Bash had a very, very interesting interview with Chuck Schumer, next.
CAMEROTA: Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer delivered his first speech as minority leader, making it clear he intends to hold President-elect Trump and the GOP accountable.
CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash joins us now with her sit-down interview with Schumer.
[08:20:02] Hi, Dana. Tell us about it.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, accountability is certainly what -- was not what Chuck Schumer wanted to be doing in his new role as Democratic leader. He wanted to be helping a Democratic president get an agenda passed, but instead, he says it might not be as much fun, but his job now is more important.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Hi, everybody.
BASH (voice-over): Chuck Schumer arriving for his first day as Senate Democratic leader. His new large suite still strewn with unpacked boxes.
(on camera): You guys have some decorating to do here.
SCHUMER: Yes, a lot. It's not my forte.
BASH (voice-over): Schumer was hoping to be the new Democratic majority leader, working with Hillary Clinton in the White House. Instead, he's leading the Trump opposition.
He proudly described a recent conversation with Trump.
SCHUMER: I said, "Mr. President-elect, you went after both the Democratic and Republican establishments when you ran. You were an anti-establishment change candidate. But by your cabinet picks and your early pronouncements, you seem to be embracing your time warn, shopworn hard right."
BASH (on camera): You said that to him?
SCHUMER: I did.
BASH: What did he say?
But I said to him, if you do that, your presidency will not come close to being a success.
BASH (voice-over): For Schumer success will be even more complicated, a fine line between when to work with Trump and when not to.
SCHUMER: The only way we're going to work with him is if he moves completely in our direction and abandoned his Republican colleagues. Ninety, 95 percent of the time, we'll be holding his feet to the fire and holding him accountable. But we're not Democrats. We're not going to just oppose things to oppose them.
BASH: Schumer climbed the Democratic ranks as a fierce partisan and prolific fund-raiser. But in recent years, work to become a successful legislator.
SCHUMER: This bipartisan blue print is a major break through.
BASH: Playing key role crafting Senate immigration reform, though it stalled in the House.
(on camera): I've known you for a long time. You love a deal. Not unlike the president-elect. I find that hard to believe that you don't want to make deals.
SCHUMER: Here's the problem: the Republicans and Senate and the House have been run by a hard right group, an almost Tea Party group, and they are so far away --
BASH: But now, they've got a deal maker in the White House just like you.
SCHUMER: We're going to look at the specifics of what it opposed. Of course, I'd like to make a deal.
BASH (voice-over): That makes progressives and Schumer's own party nervous.
(on camera): Democracy for America, leading progressive group, said, Democratic leaders from Chuck Schumer down need to stop playing footsie with Trump and pretending we can fine common ground.
SCHUMER: We're playing no footsie. My views are the same as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
BASH: Since when.
SCHUMER: Both of them said the same exact thing. If we can work with him and be true to our principles, we're not going to reject it. But overall, we're sticking to our principles.
BASH (voice-over): The two New Yorkers have a history. Schumer says he doesn't know Donald Trump well, but he was one of the senator's early political donors. Schumer confirmed the president-elect told him he likes him better than GOP leaders.
SCHUMER: He said something close to it.
BASH (on camera): Were you surprised to hear a Republican president Democratic leader be like he likes you more than the Republicans?
SCHUMER: When you get in my position people want to flatter you and you have to take it with a grain of salt.
BASH (voice-over): Trump is hardly Schumer's only concern. He is also in charge of fixing his defeated Democratic Party. His prescription?
SCHUMER: A sharp edged economic message that talks about helping the middle class and people who want to get to the middle class, get there more easily. We didn't have that in this election.
BASH: Just the task for the man that put himself on the map in the 1980s by being media savvy.
(on camera): You know, the famous line the most dangerous place in Washington is between a camera and Chuck Schumer.
SCHUMER: Said by Bob Dole after he was mad that I passed the Brady Law which I'm proud I did.
BASH: Now, our viewers should know that when we try to talk to you in the hallway, you pretend like you're on the cell phone, which you know you do. So, that hasn't changed a lot.
SCHUMER: In the early days, the press was a very good way to bring out problems that need to be fixed. Now I have other leaders of power, so I'm hardly inaccessible and sitting here with you and you can say a lot of bad things about Chuck Schumer and accessibility is never going to be one of them.
BASH (voice-over): Same goes for authenticity.
SCHUMER: There's no balcony.
BASH (on camera): No.
SCHUMER: Try to find out.
BASH: That sounds fun.
BASH (voice-over): Leader or not, refined he will never be.
BASH (on camera): Just put a fire escape down there and it will be like Brooklyn.
SCHUMER: That's right.
BASH: And, Alisyn, before he has a clans to unpack the boxes, he is going to have a very important meeting today on Capitol Hill. President Obama is coming up and his fellow Democrats on both sides of the Capitol all in the minority are going to try to figure out a way to stop Republicans from completely dismantling Obamacare. But again, Phil Mattingly this morning reporting that he spoke to Joe Manchin, conservative Democrat from West Virginia up for re-election in two years, he's not even going to show up here.
[08:25:07] And that is a case-in-point example of how difficult Chuck Schumer's job is going to be keeping those Democrats in line, especially since Joe Manchin is one of ten up for re-election in states that Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: Dana, great interview. Really fascinating to see how he's evolved and what he plans for the future. Thanks so much for sharing that with us.
BASH: Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, House Speaker Paul Ryan will take part in a CNN town hall hosted by Jake Tapper, that's next Thursday, January 12th, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
CUOMO: President-elect Trump is quoting Julian Assange and antagonizing U.S. intelligence agencies over the Russian hacks. Why would he choose Assange over his own intelligence agencies? We get the bottom line with David Gregory, next.
CAMEROTA: President-elect Trump tweeting more about the alleged Russian hacks this morning, saying, quote, "Julian Assange said a 14- year-old could have hacked Podesta. Why was the DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info."