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Charleston Shooting Victims Remembered; Steve Harvey Visits Trump Tower; Republicans on Track to Repeal Obamacare. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 15:00   ET



NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Clayton died on a Monday morning, outside this Wal-Mart, shot and killed by a murder suspect fugitive, a man who robbed Orlando of a woman her friends called super cop.

JACK WILLIAMS, FRIEND OF CLAYTON: Just -- just thinking about her, I'm going to miss her. I'm going to miss her.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Orlando, Florida.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

This hour, we are waiting for this key vote on Capitol Hill to effectively begin paving the way to dismantle Obamacare. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives set to vote today on this resolution that will begin the process to repeal President Obama's signature piece of legislation.

It will advance a measure that has already passed the Senate, but the big question, how will Republicans replace this plan they have promised to repeal for seven or so years, considering the fact that some 20 million Americans depend on it?

Let's go first to Manu Raju, who is our go-to guy on Capitol Hill.

We know, as we have been talking, you know, even among House Republicans, Manu, before this vote, they too have hesitations because they don't know yet what the replacement plan is.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The party has yet to coalesce behind a single replacement plan.

And right now it doesn't sound like they actually want to move forward with a comprehensive replacement plan, maybe replace part of the law piece by piece and pass some things in Congress and do things administratively, assuming that Tom Price is confirmed as health and human services secretary.

Maybe he can issue some regulations dealing with right then. But that's just the policy side. On the process side, on the tactics, the party's divided on that as well. Right now, House Speaker Paul Ryan has changed his position and says that he wants to move very quickly, simultaneously, to replace the law at the same time as repealing it.

But that has caused some concerns on Capitol Hill. A cross-section of lawmakers are divided about exactly how to move forward. Take a listen.


REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: Why don't we do replace and repeal? You know, we could do those things. We could be putting those things on the floor this week.

RAJU: Do you have concerns at all about the timetable then?

REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: Well, I think it's going to be a very -- I think this is going to be a very long process.

RAJU: You don't think it's going to happen right away?


REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think the repeal plan needs to be fully developed and better articulated prior to moving forward. I have some reservations about moving as quickly as we are.


RAJU: Now, the reason why they're even having this debate is because of the procedures and the rules of the United States Senate that allows them to actually avoid a filibuster by moving through the budget process to repeal much of the law.

But because the rules are so restrictive, you can't replace a lot of the key policy measures under those same rules. They have to get Democratic support to overcome a filibuster, so that is the tactics and the challenges that the Republicans have in gauging exactly how to move forward.

So Paul Ryan last night, Brooke, promising Jake Tapper in that CNN town hall that they were going to move within a hundred days to replace the law and repeal it, but without a plan to get behind right now, there's a question of whether or not they can fulfill that campaign promise.

BALDWIN: We will watch for the vote. You will watch for it on the House side. Manu, thank you so much.

Manu mentioned the top Republican in the House, Paul Ryan, vowing to repeal and replace simultaneously, he said it, in the first 100 days. Speaker Ryan said he wants to prevent millions of people from losing their coverage altogether.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Because we see this law collapsing even faster this year, because we see more insurance companies pulling out, people with little or no choices, and another round of double-digit premium increases, we really feel we need to step in and provide better choices and better options as fast as possible.

So we're going to move on this as quickly as we can.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: First 100 days?

RYAN: Oh, yes. It's something definitely is a plan within the first 100 days to get moving on this legislation.


BALDWIN: All right, let's talk about this.

I have Democratic strategist Bill Press and Lanhee Chen. Lanhee is a former public policy director for Mitt Romney.

So, guys, great to see both of you.


BALDWIN: And, Bill Press, Mr. Buyer's Remorse, I'm coming to you in just a second here.

But, Lanhee, to you first. You know the deal. You know how, as Manu perfectly outlined, the hesitations even in this first initial procedural vote with regard to either hesitation because there's no specific replacement plan or, you know, let's face it, 20 million people would be affected. This could be a major political liability if their coverage is disrupted.

You know Speaker Ryan well. How will he handle this?

LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, look, I think Paul Ryan has been at the forefront of talking about what that replace plan will look like, so he's got a lot of great ideas. I think he's going to take a leadership perspective and say, look, here's the policy we have got to move forward with.


But, politically, I do think it's important for them to have replace following very quickly behind repeal, if not at the same time, just to allay concerns that people have about disruption, but also politically the power of Republicans is going to be at its apex during that first 100 days, so they have got to take advantage of that period of time and get this done.

BALDWIN: It's not that they don't have ideas. They have ideas. It's just having one great idea that they can coalesce behind.

Bill Press, you wrote the book "Buyer's Remorse" and how Obama fell short on a number of issues like health care. Can you see it as a possibility there is indeed room for improvement? PRESS: Absolutely.

The point in my book about Obamacare is that single-payer is the best way to go and Obamacare is a poor substitute. Having said that, however, I think Republicans are playing political suicide right now with this.


PRESS: I think it's a classic case to me of they're drunk with power and they're losing their common sense, and they tend to lose track of the people.

I mean, you pointed out, there are 20 million Americans who have health insurance for the first time ever. There are fewer Americans who are uninsured than there have been ever; 80 percent of Americans who get their insurance through the marketplace are getting a federal subsidy. That's the only way they can afford it.

These are real people. What's going to happen to those people? And I think it's striking that the Republicans, even Paul Ryan, who does have a lot of ideas, they have had seven years, Brooke, and they have not come up with a replacement plan. How are they going to do it in 100 days?

I'm sorry, but I'm skeptical.

BALDWIN: Well, seven years ago, they didn't have, you know, the House and the Senate and the White House, so...

PRESS: No, but they could have come up with a better plan at the time, even, when Obamacare was going through, and they did not.


BALDWIN: And we will get to this, because I know Lanhee helped co- author some potential plans. And Tom Price, the HHS secretary nominee, he has plans.

But hang on a second, because to the point about, you know, President Obama, and we got a preview of what he said to Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" is that he said part of his job, of course, is shaping public opinion and he said there were times during his presidency where he lost the P.R. battle. Here he was.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of the job description is also shaping public opinion. And we were very effective, and I was very effective, in shaping public opinion around my campaigns, but there were big stretches while governing where, even though we were doing the right thing, we weren't able to mobilize public opinion firmly enough behind us to weaken the resolve of the Republicans to stop opposing us or to cooperate with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: So, Bill, is it possible that, you know, the P.R. fight applies to Obamacare, that the Republicans, for six or seven years, have been saying it's a disaster, and despite the coverage of 20 million people, people have started believing that?

PRESS: I thought that was a very insightful remark by the president, a very candid remark. I think he's absolutely true, that the Obama campaign, which we remember had an incredible message machine, flawless, during the 2008 campaign, crushed Hillary Clinton with that message machine, once it got to the White House, they foundered in a lot of ways.

And one of the ways is in selling Obamacare. And the more that Republicans went out and said, over and over again, Lanhee, right, it's a disaster, it's a disaster, this is falling apart, Americans are being hurt, blah, blah, blah, the White House nor the Democratic Party were there saying, hey, this is working, and here's how it's working.

No, they lost the message battle, and that's where the fix we're in today.

BALDWIN: Lanhee, what do you think?

CHEN: Yes, look, Brooke, I think it's right.

I think that Obama did lose the messaging battle, but that almost ignores the fact that there is some underlying policy here that's bad. I mean, to Bill's point about single-payer, if you think that this system we have now is unsustainable, wait until you go to the system that Bill's proposing.

The reality of where we are now is you have got almost two times as many people under Obamacare who are voluntarily saying, I don't want the insurance, it's too expensive. Two times as many people have that than have actually been covered through Obamacare's exchanges.

So there are some fundamental policy defects that Republicans are trying to cure here, and I think it makes a lot of sense for them to move forward with a more market-based replacement. The issue is going to be, yes, they have got to agree on a single replacement package, which they haven't been able to do yet.

Hopefully, they can do that soon, because that will be a political liability if they can't.

BALDWIN: Paul Ryan says in the first 100 days.

Quickly, Bill, quickly.

PRESS: So, now, I was just going to say, the fact is, again, I just repeat, they don't have a plan yet.

And maybe that says that there's not a better plan, unless you go to single-payer, than Obamacare, which, remember, was a Republican plan borrowed from Mitt Romney and the American Heritage Foundation.

BALDWIN: OK. Just to be clear, they do have plans. They just need one plan.


Bill Press, nice Democratic talking point. Bill Press, Lanhee Chen, thank you. Just had to call you on it. They just need one.

PRESS: All right.


BALDWIN: Coming up, we also know how many Republicans feel about Obamacare, but what about the millions of medical professionals out there? Let's talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who goes to these doctors and they give their perspectives on this key health care vote happening today.

Also just in, some strong words from Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, civil rights icon, why he says he does not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president.

Also ahead, comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey takes a meeting at Trump Tower today.


STEVE HARVEY, COMEDIAN: The Trumps being on "Family Feud," yes, against the Obamas, that'll be good. Or how about the Clintons? If I could set it up, it would be skyrocketing for the ratings.


BALDWIN: Lighthearted with the cameras there, yes, but Steve was there to talk about serious issues with the president-elect, and why he was called too by the Obama administration. What he plans to do to help -- coming up.



BALDWIN: All right, welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We have just gotten some absolutely stunning sound from a sitting member of Congress, a civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who has been in office since 1987. He has just talked to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press."

I just wanted to tee up the clip where he calls the president-elect -- he says he doesn't see him as a legitimate president. Roll the clip.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It's going to be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": You do not consider him a legitimate president? Why is that?

LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they have destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.



David Chalian is with me. CNN political director Jeff Zeleny is with us, CNN senior Washington correspondent.

This, I think, is an absolute bombshell to hear Congressman Lewis, David, saying he doesn't see him as a legitimate president. I'm just wondering how many Democrats he's speaking for who are just too afraid to say it.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's exactly right, Brooke.

I was thinking the same thing about how John Lewis is really giving voice to what a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters certainly feel, which is something, remember, as we head into this inaugural week, I think it is something that the Trump team is keenly aware of as well, which is why I think they're putting forth this whole theme of unity that Donald Trump has been hitting as a big theme around the inaugural to try and heal some of that, because, obviously, he wants as much of a unified front to kick off the beginning of his presidency.

But hearing John Lewis say that, I agree, it is kind of stunning, because the way he started that sound bite that you played, he is a person who has preached about forgiveness and reconciliation and coming together. He acknowledges how hard that can be, and then delivers this line.

It makes you think, well, is he really going to be able to get to the forgiveness stage and work with someone he thinks is illegitimate?

BALDWIN: And let me add to this. And, Brian Stelter, thank you for texting me, hat tip to you. The question which we didn't play, the question leading into that answer from Chuck Todd was -- it wasn't, do you see the president-elect as legitimate? The question was, you forged relationships with many presidents. Do you plan on forging a relationship with Donald Trump?

And then Congressman Lewis took it there, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He did indeed, and obviously, he is expressing the, you know, the deep dissatisfaction, the anger that really has just gotten even more raw, really, in the last couple months, with the -- you know, all these new -- all the new information that has come out from the intelligence community and things.

So he did take it in that direction. Certainly, there are people who agree with him. But I think there will also be many Democrats who will and have said, look, a week from today, Donald Trump is and will be the 45th president of the United States. So I think the majority of them certainly will work with him.

A few, a handful of people, a handful of members of Congress have said that they are not going to go to the inauguration. They simply want to protest it, but the reality here is Donald Trump is going to be the president. So it will be fascinating, I think, now, to see if Donald Trump chooses to accept any of this burden on his own when he becomes the president to try and win some of these people over.

Of course, it was Donald Trump who led the charge in questioning the origins of Barack Obama, which raised questions of his own heritage. And John Lewis, I remember talking to him at the time, really throughout these last several years. He was very angry about that and thought that, you know, there was a reason he was doing that.

So this is a lot of pent-up frustration, history, and emotion from Mr. Lewis today.

CHALIAN: Hey, Brooke, we should just add, just to remember, though, that the new world order in Washington is one that is in full Republican control, and so John Lewis' participation and whether or not a relationship is forged actually, in practical terms, may have very little impact on the actual agenda-setting and forward movement of policy, because Republicans are in control of the House and the Senate and the presidency as of next Friday.

And so I do think Jeff's question is a good one. How much does Donald Trump see a minority party that he actually doesn't need, necessarily, for the bulk of things he wants to accomplish? He may need them where he bucks his own party on the Hill, but for the bulk of stuff he wants to accomplish that he doesn't need, how much does he see it as a necessity to forge a relationship nonetheless?

BALDWIN: True, but, again, it's not some freshman, you know, member of Congress.


CHALIAN: Without a doubt.

BALDWIN: This is John Lewis we're talking about. And I would be curious to keep an eye on somebody's Twitter page to potentially react to that.

Let's move on. You know, we know the president-elect's controversial choice for national security adviser contacted the Russian ambassador to the United States, apparently multiple times, late last month. This happened just before the Obama administration had announced that it would be imposing new sanctions against the Kremlin for interfering in the presidential election.

We have now heard from Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary, saying the first communication was simply a merry Christmas text followed by a routine phone call. Here he was. OK, we don't have the sound, but, again, it was apparently -- let me

just paraphrase -- that it was apparently communication to get put Putin in touch with Trump once he's inaugurated.

So the question is, David Chalian, how much will this stir the pot among Trump critics and how justified is it?

CHALIAN: Well, you know, we don't know the full content, necessarily. You're right. That is the readout from the Trump transition team, it was just this Christmas sort of message and then setting up a future phone call.


CHALIAN: You would think, though, just as a blind spot, a political blind spot, that with all the heat around the Trump-Russia relationship right now, that the Trump team would just stay away from any possible appearance of being in touch with them before some -- the formal Trump administration begins.

It's so white hot right now, its just seems odd that Michael Flynn would even engage in that in this transition period.

BALDWIN: OK. All right. David Chalian, I appreciate it. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much for what's happening in Washington.

But coming up next, let's talk about Charleston, South Carolina. The racist murderer who was convicted of killing nine worshipers inside that Charleston church two summers ago has been sentenced to death. We will talk live to a woman who lost her mother and two cousins. She has been in that courtroom each and every day -- what she thinks of the outcome coming up.



BALDWIN: This week, a racist killer was sentenced to death.

A young man intent on starting a race war was invited into a Bible study at Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church a couple summers ago after a dozen people were gathering. And when they closed their eyes in prayer, the man pulled out a gun and started shooting.

And now, after weeks of this trial, nearly two years after this heinous act, he became the first person convicted of a federal hate crime to receive the death penalty.

And in his closing statement before the sentencing, he talked about how he felt like he had to do it, not because he was full of hatred, he said, but because he didn't like what black people do.

A couple months ago, I was given a rare access into that very Bible study room and I talked exclusively to those left behind about who they had lost.


BALDWIN: So this is the room.


BALDWIN: This is sacred space.

GOFF: It is.

BALDWIN: Where would they have been seated?

GOFF: In this particular area right here, everyone seated around, so it was about 12 of them, plus.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Five people survived.

The wife and daughter of church Pastor Clementa Pinckney were two of them.

GOFF: This is Pinckney and the youngest daughter was in the office, hidden under the desk.

BALDWIN (on camera): They heard it all?

GOFF: They heard it and then the intruder left.

BALDWIN: And it was locked?

GOFF: It was locked.

BALDWIN (voice-over): The Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, church pastor, husband, father, was killed.

JOSEPH RILEY, FORMER MAYOR OF CHARLESTON: If you did a movie of a distinguished pastor, you know, you would have cast Clementa Pinckney. He had a voice that was like from God.

REV. CLEMENTA PINCKNEY, PASTOR: Because we believe all lives in South Carolina matter.

RILEY: A strong, powerful voice, but he carried it so gently.

BALDWIN: Then Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley knew many who lost their lives that night.

RILEY: This awful man took the finest people. Every time I come in this church, I -- oh, boy, the -- it just hits you. I wept at the ninth funeral. I guess I knew it was over.

POLLY SHEPPARD, SURVIVOR: These were close friends of mine.

BALDWIN (on camera): What was the most difficult moment of any of those funerals for you?

ESTHER LANCE, DAUGHTER OF VICTIM: All of them were difficult. I can walk through there and it don't really bother me. I know that's what she would want me to do, not stay away from the church. Come on back in there.

BALDWIN (voice-over): The Bible study room is where Esther Lance goes to remember her mother.

LANCE: I'm still trying to deal with it, and it's so hard for me that I knew I would...

BALDWIN (on camera): Can you tell me a little bit about some of these folks?

GOFF: Yes. And I knew them all. You go from Cynthia Hurd to Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance.

Every time the doors of the church were open, sister Lance was here.

It's going to take even more time to go through all of this, but, like I say, some days are better than others.



My next guest, a former trauma chaplain, in fact, Reverend Sharon Risher, was in court for almost the entirety of this trial over the past month-and-a-half. Her mother, Ethel Lance, and cousin Susie Jackson and