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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Four Dead, 15 Wounded in Vehicle Attack in Jerusalem; Ft. Lauderdale Airport Shooting: Suspect to Face Federal Charges Monday; Ethics Office: Trump Nominees Still Not Properly Vetted; Four Dead, 15 Wounded in Vehicle Attack in Jerusalem; Staunch Republican Hopes Trump Softens Stance; Interview with Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Hollywood Honoring Best in TV, Film. Aired 7-80a ET

Aired January 8, 2017 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good luck to all of those folks there.

And thank you so much for starting your morning with us. We've got some news to tell you about coming up here.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a planned attack. The suspected gunman is now facing federal charges and potentially the death penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Santiago walked into the Anchorage FBI office to report that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He himself asked for help and they did nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There seems to be a host of mental health issues.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: I don't think we should vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee who is well outside the mainstream.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Apparently, there's yet a new standard to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: You are waking up to Sunday, and we are so grateful to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: There's some breaking news we want to talk to you about, and these pictures just come into CNN. At least ten people are hurt after a vehicle rammed into pedestrians. This is in Jerusalem. We know police units and you can see them, are already on that scene.

Israeli officials say this could be a, quote, "possible terrorist attack". That is the verbiage, of possible terrorist attack. But you can see where things are roped off, we see there are bullet holes in the windshield of one of those cars, and we're going to bring you details live as soon as we get.

But that is the breaking news this hour. Ten people hurt in the vehicle attack there in Jerusalem.

The man accused of killing five people, meanwhile, in the Ft. Lauderdale airport Friday is going to be facing federal charges, that happens tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: Now, the death penalty is possible for each of those charges. Investigators say Esteban Santiago confessed to planning the assault and the murder weapon allegedly used in the shooting taken away after he admitted to hearing voices and have been given back to him by police after he passed a mental evaluation. We know that police say he then killed five people.

His brother tells CNN he never should have been released from the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYAN SANTIAGO, ACCUSED GUNMAN'S BROTHER (through translator): He himself went after them to ask for help, and they did nothing. They had him hospitalized for four days and then they let him go. How are you going to let somebody leave a psychological center after four days, when he's saying that he's hearing voices, that the CIA is telling him to join certain groups?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, we're learning more about what was happening in Alaska before Santiago bought that one way ticket to Florida.

Here's CNN correspondent Dan Simon in Anchorage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, I'm standing in front of a motel for transients in Anchorage. This is one of the last known addresses for Santiago. We know that investigators were here for several hours, removing evidence, talking to people who work here, as well as some of the other residents. This place could be important in terms of determining Santiago's last few days, what he did in the days prior to this shooting.

Now, as far as authorities are concerned, the posture they seem to be taking is that they did everything according to protocol, that when Santiago came to the FBI office in November, said he was hearing voices, that they did everything by the book. First, by referring him to the local police department and ultimately getting him a mental health evaluation. This is what authorities had to say. MARLIN RITZMAN, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI ANCHORAGE: In November

of 2016, Mr. Santiago walked into the Anchorage FBI office to report that he's mind was being controlled by U.S. intelligence agency. During the interview, Mr. Santiago appeared agitated, incoherent, and made disjointed statements.

CHIEF CHRISTOPHER TOLLEY, ANCHORAGE POLICE: The APD was contacted by the anchorage FBI requesting assistance with a mentally ill person. When APD arrived on scene, they were informed by the investigative agents, Mr. Santiago had arrived at the FBI building asking for help. Santiago was having terroristic thoughts and believed he was being influenced by ISIS. Santiago had a loaded magazine on him, but had left his firearm in his vehicle prior to contacting agents.

SIMON: We also know that Santiago had multiple interactions with police over the past 12 months. One of those interactions resulted in a pair of charges, a criminal mischief charge where Santiago allegedly broke down a bathroom door at his girlfriend's house, as well as an assault charge on his girlfriend. Those charges were set to be dismissed in March assuming Santiago lived up to the court's conditions.

The bottom line here, there seems to be a host of mental health issues and investigators are going back and looking at the whole history of their interactions with him to see if anything was missed -- Victor and Christi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: All right. Thank you so much, Dan.

Let's talk about this with Tom Fuentes, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, also a former assistant director of the FBI.

Tom, let's listen together here. He visited the FBI in Anchorage as we know. The agent in charge there said they did what they could.

[07:05:02] Let's listen together to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RITZMAN: He broke no laws when he came into our office making disjointed comments about mind control. There have been concerns raised about why Mr. Santiago was placed on a no-fly list. I want to be clear: during our initial investigation, we found no ties to terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Tom, do you get the sense that there's some frustration amongst the ranks of the FBI to not be able to do more, especially in a situation like this, where somebody voluntarily walks in and says, "I'm not right"?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Christi, I don't know how much more the FBI feels like they'd like to be able to do in a situation like that. You know, the FBI is going to go by more than just protocols, but the law. And in this situation, he hadn't broken the law, and he hadn't crossed the line to indicate that he had been truly radicalized and was going to attempt to do something as a terrorists act.

They heard all of the delusional statements that he made and they did the right thing for their rules, and that was call the police and let the police deal with it, and the police have access to the mental health system, medical care, that he may have needed. So, let the police do it.

The police did it. They took him into custody. They took his weapon into custody, his baby was in the car, and they took care of the baby, and made sure it was taken to the girlfriend's house, the mother's house, and they put him in the hospital.

He was there four days, as the brother had mentioned, but the police have no authority to keep somebody in a hospital and to what extent the hospital wouldn't be able to keep him is up to their rules and their laws and mental health professionals working at that hospital.

Now, the frustration for family members and law enforcement is due to medical privacy laws, nobody else has a right to really know what treatment he got and what his condition is or any details. Parents aren't allowed to know. Siblings aren't allowed to know. If he is 18 years old, he has the right to privacy and he can take advantage of that.

So, when he was released from the hospital, he was not judged mentally ill, he had not yet been convicted of a felony, and therefore, that firearm that the police were holding was his property and he was entitled to recovery his property and did.

PAUL: Well, and this also brings to light, though, the strong debate that has been had as of late about veterans care, and the military's role here, because as his brother pointed out, he did seek help from army and federal agencies. What rule did the military play here in trying to take care of a man who served our country?

FUENTES: Well, the Department of Veteran's Affairs has received massive amounts of criticism, you know, in the last five, ten years, over their failure to provide enough adequate treatment, at a timely basis to veterans that need it, for physical conditions, as well as mental, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

And in this situation, I don't know what exactly happened as far as his attempt to get V.A. care, but we have 22 veterans a day committing suicide in this country, and in most cases, they don't take anybody with them, they don't kill others, and, you know, they quietly and nobody talks about it.

PAUL: OK.

FUENTES: Some people talk about it, but it doesn't -- it hasn't been addressed even to this day.

PAUL: Yes.

FUENTES: So, the fact that he did not commit suicide but decided to shoot a dozen other people and surrender is unusual in that sense, that he didn't commit suicide but caused other people to die.

PAUL: But sad, too, that he knew something was wrong and tried to get help.

Tom Fuentes, thank you so much for your perspective as always.

FUENTES: You're welcome, Christi.

BLACKWELL: New warning from the Office of Government Ethics over some of Donald Trump's top cabinet picks. The office's director is expressing concern that some nominees have not yet completed the ethics review process which includes financial reports.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins us now from New York.

And, Sunlen, this comes as the Senate is set to hold confirmation hearings on a whole slate of nominees starting on Tuesday.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's starting up to be a very busy week on Capitol Hill with just a slew of confirmation hearings and something that Democrats had already been complaining about, the fact that this is such a break-neck pace of the schedule. On Wednesday alone, five confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's nominees alone.

And this new warning by the Office of Government Ethics basically accuses the Trump transition team of trying to rush the vetting of cabinet nominees for things like tax returns, financial disclosures, haven't been turned over yet. Now, you're looking at nominees in question here -- the Department of Homeland Security, education secretary, commerce secretary nominee, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

[07:10:00] And Democrats, of course, have been very quick to highlight this. This is already setting up, Victor, to be a very contentious week on Capitol Hill. But this, adding more fuel to that fire.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty for us there in New York -- Sunlen, thanks so much.

PAUL: I want to get back to our breaking news out of Israel this hour. At least ten people hurt after a vehicle ram into pedestrians. This happened in Jerusalem. There is one of the latest pictures we're getting. You see the bullet holes there in the windshield of that truck.

We're going to be right back as we are hearing more about what is happening there. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Thirteen minutes past the hour with this breaking news out Israel and an update for you.

We now know at least four people have died and 15 are hurt after a vehicle rammed into the pedestrians in Jerusalem. I want to show you video of the truck here, those are bullet holes on the windshield. Police units are at the scene, and Israeli officials say this could be a, quote, "possible terrorists attack."

CNN's Oren Liebermann is following the story for us.

Oren, when you see the bullet holes in the windshield, obviously, this was a very swift response to what was happening there, yes?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was. It seems an almost immediate response.

Here's what we know about what happened so far. This coming at about 1:30 p.m. local time. So, about 6:30 in the morning your time.

Police say a truck driver came in to the Armon Hanetsiv walkway -- that's a popular tourist area, we can talk more about that in a bit -- and rammed, drove the truck into soldiers getting off a bus.

Now, we know from Magen David Adom, which is Israel's emergency services, that four were killed in this attack, and three women and one man, all in their 20s, as you pointed out, also 15 were injured, lightly to moderately. What's unclear at this point, and we expect clarification on this soon, perhaps even in the next few minutes, is whether the attacker in this case was also among those four dead.

All police have said at this point is that the terrorists was neutralized, they have not yet said if that means the terrorist, the attacker here was shot or killed. Again, that remains to be seen. So, what we have now from a truck ramming attack at quite a popular area, a walkway right on the line between Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, right in the green line there, we know from emergency services four people are dead in their 20s, that is three women and one man, along with more than a dozen injured lightly to moderately here.

[07:15:03] PAUL: Oren, as you mentioned, we're looking at the video or some of the pictures coming in from that area. Help us understand this tourist area, how crowded it would be at this time of day?

LIEBERMANN: Well, on a nice day like today, it could be quite crowded. Police have closed off all the roads in the area, but it is quite a popular tourist walkway, and it's because of the view. It has a beautiful view overlooking the old city of Jerusalem. It's one of the best places to see the old city of Jerusalem. That's why you'd have a mix of people there, not only security and soldiers but also people just going for a stroll, the U.N. compound, one of the main U.N. compounds is right around there as well.

It is a popular area. It is a busy area. And certainly, on a nice day like today, it would have been perhaps even very busy in this attack. Police again calling this or saying this is a possible terrorists attack and we'll wait for the latest from them. PAUL: All right. Oren Liebermann, we appreciate the update on this

breaking news for us here. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: A big political fight is brewing this week for the incoming Trump administration, while a top ethics official is raising new questions over some cabinet nominees. The Senate committees are holding hearings for several of the president-elect's selection starting Tuesday. You've got five on Wednesday alone, that's when Trump's pick for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, will be on the hill on Tuesday with the Senate Judiciary Committee, and you can see all of the nominees coming on the very next day.

Joining me now, CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott, and White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner", Sarah Westwood.

Good morning.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Eugene, I'm gong to start with you and this tweet from Senator Elizabeth Warren. Let's put it up on the screen, accusing the Trump team of rushing these nominations through. And she writes, "This is ridiculous. Donald Trump's nominees can't drag their feet on ethics paperwork while their Senate friends try to run out the clock."

And in this letter from the head of the Office of Government Ethics, the director say it has left the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues.

Can you tell what's going on here?

SCOTT: Warren's colleague, Chuck Schumer, has called this approach currently, unprecedented. The Government Ethics Office sent out a letter on Friday, saying they usually have weeks in advance to go through a nominee's financial disclosures. There are a few nominees, including Betsy DeVos, who will be having their hearing on Wednesday, who the Government Ethics Office says still have not completed their initial financial disclosure work.

The reason why this is so important is because the office wants to do everything it can to make sure it can avoid conflicts of interest, and that's something very important with these nominees considering many of their business backgrounds.

BLACKWELL: You know, the director says that he is not aware on any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established that a Senate held a confirmation hearing before a nominee completed the ethics review process. Is this indeed unprecedented, Sara?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It's unique but it's not totally unprecedented. We saw in the Bush administration Rod Paige's education secretary, actually had a hearing a full week before he turned his paperwork in and the Senate Labor Committee made that clear to reports after this ethics letter went out. It's still important for this paperwork to go through and particularly for Democrats who don't have a lot of tools to oppose these nominees. Thanks to Harry Reid, Republicans only need 51 votes to confirm these nominees. So, Democrats don't have a lot of tools at their disposal.

These ethics papers are particularly important and they've tanked nominees in the past. If you remember, President Obama had to let go of Tom Daschle for HHS in 2009 because his paperwork reveals he hadn't paid some of his taxes and he had to back out of the process.

So, this is an important step. It has failed nominees in the past and it's something that Democrats are obviously concerned about given that they're powerless to stop these nominees otherwise.

BLACKWELL: Let's read the Trump team's response here from the transition. "In a midst of an historic election where Americans voted to drain the swamp, it's disappointing some have chosen to politicize the process in order to distract from important issues facing the country."

And, Eugene, it's important to remind people that the Office of Government Ethics is nonpartisan.

SCOTT: Yes, I think it's a bit unfair to assume that the Government Ethics Office wants to politicize this. I think many Americans we have seen throughout this campaign are genuinely concerned about conflicts of interest and we saw it just very recently, Donald Trump make move to shut down his own foundation because he said that is something that he is going to focus on more despite constantly being criticized for not providing his own tax returns and avoiding conflicts of interest with the Trump organization as a whole.

I think many people just want to know who it is that they are going to be intrusting their government to.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And it's important to say that there are Republicans who have some serious questions about the nominees that Donald Trump has put up, namely Rex Tillerson --

[07:20:02] SCOTT: Rex Tillerson, yes.

BLACKWELL: -- as we discussed on this show, and his work and his ties potentially to Russia.

Let's move on to another topic. Donald Trump's tweeting this week. He's tweeted about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the new "Celebrity Apprentice". He's tweeted about Toyota. He's tweeted about his connection to Russia, and the future of the U.S. and Russian relationship.

I want you to listen to what the former secretary of defense, former CIA director as well, Leon Panetta, said about Trump, the Twitter account and the presidency. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: As a former chief of staff, I just can't imagine how you deal with a president who feels free to tweet every day about his own emotions and personal feelings. It is very disruptive and it creates tremendous problems in terms of the ability for a president to be able to guide policy in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: And, Sarah, it appears we're going to get the first news conference since July coming up this week on Wednesday, but it appears this is the president-elect's preferred vehicle to get a message out, 140 characters at a time.

WESTWOOD: It's the fear or the hope depending on where you sit. I mean, in a lot of ways Donald Trump has been able to control the conversation by sending out tweets. He has strategically done that early in the morning, and it drives the conversation of what the news is talking about all day, and therefore, congressional leadership is taking their queues from that. In a lot of ways, he is using the Twitter at the medium to set the agenda.

Now, you can make an argument that is an unorthodox and potentially reckless way to approach it. You could also make the argument that it's a little innovative and that he is used the medium in a way that a lot of politicians have avoided, because social media is so froth with risks from the standpoint of a politician. But Donald Trump has clearly mastered it to his favor, he used it throughout the election, and you don't expect to see him stop as president.

BLACKWELL: He once said that he would not tweet as president, because it was not presidential. He's now changed his mind on that and we'll see what he tweets next.

Sarah Westwood, Eugene Scott, thank you both.

SCOTT: Thank you.

PAUL: All right. Still to come on your NEW DAY, the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show wrapping up. Let's talk about self driving vehicles. They are all the rage. How one automaker is using NASA technology to try to improve it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:25:36] PAUL: Well, today is the last day of the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, of course. Innovations in car technology were unveiled during the show, and, you know, we've seen the idea of self-driving cars, right? Go from concept to reality. There are new obstacles now apparently that the industry needs to address.

CNN tech correspondent Samuel Burke walks us through it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi.

Sometimes, I think that C in CES stands for the Car Electronics Show. So much technology is packed into cars these days that we have so many of the big names here like Nissan. But they had an interesting announcement about self-driving cars because it looks like they think self-driving cars can do everything themselves for now.

Nissan is saying that it's starting to invest in a service where humans will weigh in when an autonomous car doesn't exactly know what to do. They get into a sticky situation. Maybe there's a road barrier up all of a sudden and it needs to cross the double yellow line and is trained not to do that, well, then the cameras on a self- driving car would be able to use by humans, imagine that, humans looking at the road and telling the self-driving car, hey, here is actually what you need to do, Nissan not saying when that's coming out.

But I think it shows that there's a gray zone between having drivers and one day having fully autonomous vehicles all over our roads.

One place where it's really cool to be a tech reporter is to see how technology might actually change peoples' lives. This is an interesting spoon called Gyenno. You know just turn it on, and it's meant for people who are suffering from Parkinson's.

Often times, they have those tremors, and the food doesn't stay on their spoon. So, somebody invented, I just put a coin here to show. No matter how much I shake, I'm really trying to shake here, the food basically will stay on that spoon as best as possible so they can try and maintain the same quality of life. And it's really interesting to see that intersection of health and technology, Victor and Christie.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: I love that.

BLACKWELL: That's amazing, isn't it?

PAUL: I love that people are thinking that way.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come, he is a staunch Republican and always has been, but he supports Obamacare. Why one Trump voter hopes President-elect Trump will protect what he says works.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:32] PAUL: Well, thank you for keeping us company here at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Yes, we want to get right to our breaking news this morning out of Israel. At least four people are dead and another 15 hurt after a vehicle rammed into pedestrians in Jerusalem.

BLACKWELL: You are looking at pictures of the truck and what you see are bullet holes on the windshield. Police units are at the scene we know. Israeli officials say this could be a possible terror attack.

We have our Oren Liebermann there gathering information and we'll talk more to him in just a moment.

PAUL: Meanwhile, a life-long conservative that voted for Trump is worried about the GOP's mission to repeal Obamacare. He says he benefited from the health care in that system and the threat of losing it may put his life in jeopardy.

So, CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta looked into this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB RUSCOE, TRUMP VOTER WHO NEEDS OBAMACARE: They wouldn't sell it to me at any price. It was just not -- but I was overweight. So I was a risk.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back in 2013, Bob Ruscoe, then-53 years old, was a familiar story in America. Too familiar. He was more than 100 pounds overweight, at risk of heart disease and diabetes. He was also self-employed and no company wanted to offer him health care insurance. He was considered too big a risk.

(on camera): Was that tough to go uninsured?

RUSCOE: Well, it doesn't make you warm and fuzzy. But I didn't like it, but it was the reality of the situation.

GUPTA: When did you first hear about the Affordable Care Act?

RUSCOE: It was all over the news.

GUPTA: What did you think?

RUSCOE: I thought it was a good idea, even though I'm conservative.

GUPTA: So when did you first sign up for Obamacare?

RUSCOE: When it was first available. It was October, I remember, and I wanted to be covered because it's important.

GUPTA (voice-over): And as a result, starting in 2014, Bob was able to get insurance after subsidies. It was finally within reach and a big relief.

RUSCOE: September was -- I can't wait until October, it's the feeling of coming out of the rain, if you will. You know, you're out there to the breezes. You know, you can do all you can, get healthy, try to be safe, but there's a certain amount of fate that's just out there. So to have coverage was, phew.

GUPTA: Which makes what happened next all the more surprising.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Repeal and replace. GUPTA (on camera): You voted for Donald Trump who promised to repeal

something that you're very much benefiting from. Again, how do you explain that to people?

RUSCOE: I did what I thought was correct for the overall good of the country. I think economic strength cures a lot of things. People working, making decent money, that's certainly -- helps out. I'd rather not need the subsidies. I'd rather be working.

TRUMP: We are repealing and replacing Obamacare. We can reverse the stagnation and usher in a period of true opportunity and growth.

GUPTA (voice-over): That repealing Obamacare would be good for the economy. It's a common refrain.

But the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget suggests the opposite. They say fully repealing Obamacare would cost roughly $350 billion over ten years and would also increase the number of uninsured by 23 million.

(on camera) If he does repeal Obamacare as he's promised to do, what is that going to mean for you?

RUSCOE: No insurance.

GUPTA: No insurance. That was a big problem for you before.

RUSCOE: I wasn't happy about it.

GUPTA (voice-over): Truth is, some of the states that most benefited from Obamacare had a majority who voted for Trump. Like Ruscoe's home state of Florida. In fact, Florida has the highest percentage of enrollees in the nation. One in 10 from Floridians under 65 signed on for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh.

GUPTA: Ruscoe credits Obamacare with profoundly changing his health. And because of that, this lifelong conservative wrestled for the first time with the idea of voting Democrat.

RUSCOE: If I'd have voted for what I thought was strictly best more me, I would have voted for her, because the health care plan gives us peace of mind. Medical screening to stop something before it gets worse.

Look at how many things have gotten better.

GUPTA: Ruscoe says he has no regrets voting for President-elect Trump but would tell him this.

[07:35:06] RUSCOE: Each day we face the possibility of losing our home, going into bankruptcy. One thing to come in. The health care act has taken that worry away.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PAUL: And our thanks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting there.

Victor?

BLACKWELL: Well, the question now is, how and when will Republicans replace that law and with what?

So, joining me now, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley.

Senator, good morning to you.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Good to be with you.

BLACKWELL: So, you heard Bob Ruscoe's story there, and there's a growing number of Senate Republicans who do not want to simply repeal the law without an immediate replacement.

Do you believe that there will be a replacement paired with the repeal?

MERKLEY: I don't think there will be at this point because there's not a strategy put forward. There's a couple of ideas that have been talked about, but they're ideas that don't work in the real world. This is commentary about, well, let's open health care across state lines. Well, actually, Obamacare opened up health care across state lines by making it easy for health insurance companies to access consumers, but this is not -- you are not selling life insurance, and you can't just send an envelope in the mail in some kind of magical way, or they've talked about health savings account.

But you know what? People don't have extra money to put into health savings accounts, unless they're middle or upper middle class, and that is only a small portion of Americans and those folks generally have health insurance already. So, there's no vision about what we are going to do about a repeal plan that would cost 3 million jobs, and 23 million people with uncompensated care and or lack insurance, and then a trillion dollars of uncompensated care, which would have a huge impact on real hospitals.

BLACKWELL: So, what should be the Democrats' role in crafting that vision, even after the repeal and determining or being part of the conversation about what to replace the law with? Reportedly, President Obama when he was on the Hill, speaking with congressional Democrats, saying, do not rescue the Republicans in their attempt to create this next plan. What should the Democrats' role be post- repeal?

MERKLEY: Well, we're not conceding the repeal at all, because it's a terrible impact on millions of Americans, and a terrible impact on the economy. And now that Republicans are going out of the role of saying we're in the minority and we're throwing bricks on having to govern, they are coming around to the fact that actually Obamacare was a very good, cost-affective strategy that worked for providing health care to millions of Americans and they are wrestling with the fact that now they have to be a bit more responsible.

BLACKWELL: But you would not concede the repeal, but do you think it would be repealed? Let's start with that as a baseline.

MERKLEY: I think there's a good chance that we defeat it in the Senate.

BLACKWELL: Really? You think you will be able to stop the repeal? How so?

MERKLEY: I think there's at least a 50/50 chance, because you start with a Senate that is divided 52-48, and they need at least 51 or 50 votes plus a vice president. But there's a number of Republicans who already said, Lamar Alexander has expressed his concern, Rand Paul has expressed this concern, John McCain has expressed this concern.

So, there's a lot of concerns as people say, what is this going to do to my constituents back home? And there's a number of senators from states that voted for Trump but have huge reliance upon both the Medicaid expansion and the exchange to provide affordable health insurance.

BLACKWELL: So, your -- go ahead.

MERKLEY: You know, what Bob said, he talked about peace of mind, that is really the difference. I mean, so many people don't have to worry about bankruptcy now. They know that if they get sick, they will have the care they need, and that's something they didn't have a few years ago.

BLACKWELL: Let me talk about two other issues while I have you here. The confirmation hearings coming up this week for Donald Trump's nominees for members of his cabinet. There has been this letter that we talked about this morning from the director of the Office of Government Ethics, saying that there has not been enough time, there have not been enough submission of information to go through that vetting process.

Do you believe you will have all the information you need and the time you need, you and your colleagues in the Senate, to properly vet these nominees?

MERKLEY: No, absolutely not. Under the effort the Republicans are making, of course, they control the Senate and the hearings, but they are saying we are going to have the hearings without ethics report, without FBI reports, without all the information questionnaires being completed. They are trying to ram these folks through, in part because they have enormously controversial backgrounds without appropriate vetting and it's an irresponsible thing to do.

BLACKWELL: So, is there a maneuver that could slow this down?

MERKLEY: Well, we can slow it down a little and that you don't have to waive through on the floor. You can require a vote closed debate, that only requires a simple majority but it does take an intervening day, and then 30 additional hours of debate.

[07:40:00] So, that tool can be used to spread things out somewhat, but still in the end, the Republicans control the Senate. BLACKWELL: Let me talk to you about a confirmation fight that's

slightly coming down the pike soon -- the nominee for the Supreme Court. It has not yet been named, but I want you listen, first, to what we heard from the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and then what heard from Delaware Senator Chris Coons just yesterday with Michael Smerconish about that fight that's coming. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It's hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support. So, you are right.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And so, you will do your best to hold the seat open?

SCHUMER: Absolutely.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The Republicans held this seat open for nearly a year, by refusing to not have a hearing and not have a vote. I think we should have a hearing and I think we should have a vote, because I don't think it's fair and responsible for us to do the same thing to them that they've done to us and continue to grind further downward any possibility of our respect and support of the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So, which side of the line do you fall on, Senator?

MERKLEY: Well, actually, there's not a complete conflict there, because the fact is that there will be a hearing, there will be a vote because Republicans control the Senate. So, that's a given.

But the question is, is it going to be an individual who supports the "We the People" vision of our Constitution, and the folks that we anticipate might come forward are folks who we think are not supporting that vision, they support government by and for the powerful.

BLACKWELL: Senator, we are running low on time. But when the Senate minority leader says he wants to hold that seat open absolutely, do you agree with that, the seat should be held open for the term if it can be?

MERKLEY: It's not something the Democrats have in their power, but we can fully vet the nominee and talk to grassroots Americans and say, isn't it time to have a Supreme Court nominee who actually believe in the vision of our Constitution?

BLACKWELL: All right. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, thanks so much.

MERKLEY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Christi? PAUL: It's one of the biggest, most glistening nights in Hollywood, the Golden Globes. We're going to talk about it, next, who's nominated, and what it means for the Oscar race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:45:25] BLACKWELL: Big night. Big night, in fact, one of the biggest nights in Hollywood. We're talking about the Golden Globes.

PAUL: The 74th no less as well, and Stephanie Elam is taking a look at what we're going to expect today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The glitz, the glamour, the Golden Globes.

Hollywood's annual kickoff to awards season looks to honor the best in film and television.

With seven nominations "La La Land" leads the pack on the motion picture front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes a very traditional medium, the Hollywood musical, which has been around for centuries, and it really does reinvent it for a modern audience.

ELAM: The Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling led movie is up for best motion picture musical or comedy alongside "20th Century Women," "Deadpool," "Florence Foster Jenkins," and "Sing Street."

"Moonlight," a gritty coming of age film, has six nominations, including one for best motion picture drama along with "Hacksaw Ridge," "Hell or High Water," "Lion," and "Manchester by the Sea."

With five nods, "The People Versus O.J. Simpson, American Crime Story," dominates the TV categories, including a nomination for best miniseries or television movie.

For the fourth year "Game of Thrones" is up for best drama series. The epic fantasy with face off with newcomers "The Crown," "Stranger Things," "This is Us," and "Westworld."

Taking a stab at the master of ceremonies duties this year, Jimmy Fallon.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I'm already practicing wearing it every single night and just handing out awards to random people.

ELAM: The late night host follows previous Golden Globe emcees Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes the Golden Globes fun is this sense that anything can happen, and that goes with the host as well.

ELAM: From first bottle to last trophy, the show should live up to its title as Hollywood's biggest party.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: All righty. And you know what? It's the Super Bowl of auto shows that opens today. We're going to take you live to look at some never-before-seen cars.

Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:50:10] PAUL: Oh, you know what time it is, the Super Bowl of auto shows. Right now, we're going to take a look at what is going on at the Detroit Auto Show. It opens today.

National auto expert Nik Miles is with us live from Detroit.

I know that you've got some things specifically you want to talk about. My husband is going to like this one. He's got a Ford F-150. You've got the newest and the greatest.

Really, what is the difference, Nik? What do you like about it?

NIK MILES, AUTO EXPERT: Well, you know, here's a great thing about this vehicle, first of all, you need to know that this is the best- selling vehicle in North America. It tops the charts every single year. It has done for a whole bunch of years and they are celebrating 40 years with the 2018 model and it's brand new.

I'll get out of the way so you can get a look here. It has a brand new front end and back end on the F-150 and redesigned. It's the only truck in its class which comes with all the safety features like pre- collision and pedestrian detection. It will help you avoid an accident. It also has Wi-Fi on the inside to keep the family happy and the stop/start technology which will save you up to 10 percent in fuel as well.

The great thing about Ford is they are also integrating those Amazon Alexa pieces into their cars as well, which really helps you do things like audio shopping while you're driving.

I want to talk a little bit about Nissan and Nissan have a concept car that they showed off. And it's going to be here at the show. The great thing about this vehicle is it was developed along -- the technology was developed along with NASA. It's a seamless integration of technologies to help you do things like drive faster and think faster.

It's going to be appearing on some Nissan Leafs in the future. It's called Sam, and it looks like they are getting ready to do the autonomous vehicles. Zero emissions and zero accidents is their goal in 2017.

One of the problems, Christi, is getting millennials into cars. We've had an issue with that. Chrysler has decided to move and put a car on the road which was designed for millennials by millennials. The cool thing about this, Christi, it really integrates the whole growing with your family. So, all those seats are in pedestal.

You can buy it with one seat and buy it with six seats, but as your family grows, you can add seats into the vehicle and it has cool technology on the inside like 360-degree cameras so you can do carpool karaoke while you're in the car and lots of cool technology.

And I like that idea, but I know autonomous stuff is coming. We have to be ready for autonomy, and in the Hyundai Ionic, they have now -- as you got rid of the big light that you see on Google cars and now, it's seamless going from the driving to car driving itself. They are testing this in Nevada right now on the streets. So, hopefully, it will be here soon.

Toyota showing off another vehicle as well. Their brand new Concept- i, which has artificial intelligence, really cool vehicle, has scissor doors on the side. The thing with this vehicle is, the more you drive it, the more the vehicle will understand you and start to respond to how you drive.

And let's check this out. This is a brand new tire, and this is a race-inspired tire. Now, tires can get really expensive but for under $300 you're getting race technology in a vehicle and you'll see this appearing, Christi, on a lot of high end cars. It helps you start faster and it has a 30,000 mile warranty as well, which is really cool when you get warranty on tires. They don't tend to last that long as well.

Now, auto mobility starts here today, the urban auto mobility. I want you to check this out. It's from Ishon (ph). This is ILIA (ph), I have to get the name right, but this is the sort of thing that's coming. It's a personal mobility vehicle. If you check this out, you can drive around the show in it and check it out.

The cool thing about this is it's for people who maybe have a hard time getting around, but you can ride it like a skateboard and it will follow you around so you can actually put your shopping on the back of it and it will come and follow you around as you walk.

PAUL: Who needs a car?

MILES: So, it's kind of cool futuristic stuff.

PAUL: Yes, don't need a car. Just get that.

MILES: It's like a small mobility vehicle.

PAUL: Nik Miles for us. Nik, it has been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

MILES: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: That's great.

I like that little personal mobility vehicle. That's nice.

PAUL: There you go, yes.

BLACKWELL: College football national championship set for tomorrow. Let's go to Tampa now and Coy Wire is live there. I know he's excited.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) my face.

Alabama has won four of the last seven national championships, but is head coach Nick Saban outsmarted himself this time? He got rid of his offensive coordinator six days before the game. We'll take a closer look at who is taking over the reins after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:57:48] BLACKWELL: So, after the unexpected departure of Alabama's offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin just six days ago for his new head coaching job at Florida Atlantic, a lot of people are wondering how Alabama's offense will be affected in the biggest game of the year.

PAUL: Coy Wire has more from outside the stadium in Tampa in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning, sir.

WIRE: Good morning to you, Christi and Victor.

A new offensive coordinator six days before the big game, Steve Sarkisian. He's one of the hottest coaches in the game before alcohol-related issues derailed his career last season and it costs him his job as the head coach of USC. But Alabama head coach Nick Saban gave him a job as offensive analyst and said, that just because someone had an issue in the past, that doesn't mean they shouldn't get another opportunity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK SABAN, ALABAMA HEAD COACH: If that's something that's manageable and you think that they can add value to your organization by what they bring, minus the issues, then I think it's worthwhile for -- to give him an opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: All right. Sarkisian now finds himself thrust into the role of Alabama's offensive coordinator but Bama fans, do not worry. Not only has Sarkisian been around this offense all season, he ran essentially the exact same offense at his other team. So, Saban knew that and he's absolutely brilliant for bringing this guy in, knowing that Kiffin would eventually leave for a head coaching gig.

I've been around Steve Sarkisian. I've spoken to him. He's got his life back on track. Not only does he know this offense inside now, the players love him. The Tide's offense will not skip a beat, because of Sarkisian at least. All right. Here we go, to the NFL, Detroit Lions, looking for their

first playoff win since 1991 last night, and this morning, they are still looking because of beast mode 2.0. Seahawks Running back Thomas Rawls was absolutely rolling, 161 yards, breaking Marshawn Lynch's Seahawks record for most rush yards in a playoff game. Seattle dominates at home, 26-6.

Now, they go to Atlanta next Saturday to play my former team, the Falcons. It will be a battle of the birds, one to watch. Might have to get you over to your first NFL game there, Victor. What do you think?

BLACKWELL: Not the first NFL game. Thank you, though, Coy.

PAUL: Thanks, Coy, and thank you so much for sharing your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" starts right now.