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Report: Killer Sentenced to Death for Killing 9 Worshippers; GOP Lawmakers Pass First Step in Obamacare Repeal; House Votes on Waiver for Mattis; Calls for Comey of The FBI to Resign. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: 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 Tywanza Sanders were killed in that bible study. Reverend, thank you so much for taking the time.


BALDWIN: I cannot begin to imagine what this process has been like for you, this trial, but let me just begin with asking, how do you feel about the outcome, that the man who killed your family has been sentenced to die?

RISHER: You know, right now, I feel, Brooke, I feel good. It really is well with my soul right now. I feel like the judicial system did everything they could to make sure that everything was going to be just and fair and that these jurors would have everything they needed to make a fair decision. So, the verdict just gave me a sense of now, maybe all of us could breathe a sigh of relief that this segment of it is over and now we start to think about where do we go from here.

BALDWIN: Finally breathe. You know, I talked to you just shortly after the shooting. This is what you shared with me then.


RISHER: Two days, I wandered around in my pajamas, watching the news because I couldn't take missing anything, because I was hoping beyond hope that somehow they got it wrong. But I knew it wasn't wrong. I knew that she was gone.


BALDWIN: We just learned last week the prosecutor is indeed going to seek the death penalty.


BALDWIN: I would be remiss not to ask you, do you forgive him and how do you feel about that?

RISHER: I don't forgive him yet. Being a pastor and a reverend, I know that forgiveness is a part of life and what we do as a world to get past, but I'm not there. I don't want to forgive him. I don't want to have to say, I forgive you for killing my mother. I don't want to have to say that.

BALDWIN: I remember that moment, Reverend Risher. Are you there yet? Or is it still too soon?

RISHER: You know what? I am not where I used to be. I'm going to be honest about that. I really don't have any bitter feelings, but I'm just going to continue to work on that, and I'll hold that whether I forgive or not. Close to my heart and keep that personal, but I know within my soul that I'm not that same person I was 19 months ago. The journey has carried me further along than I thought I could ever get to.

BALDWIN: You were in that court. Was it almost -- every day for almost 20 days. What was that like? And did you ever even try to lock eyes with him?

RISHER: It was surreal to be in that courtroom for that many days. You almost kind of felt like it was a job. That your job was to be there on time and to take notes and to listen carefully because you didn't want to miss anything, and knowing that you was just that close to this person that did not respond, did not make eye contact, you just realized that this is the way this was going to be. And you just tried to keep your mind focused on what was ahead and what it is that you need to do.

BALDWIN: If you ever had a moment -- have you ever thought in your head, if I could say this one thing to him, it would be what?

RISHER: Well, I actually had that opportunity to say that one thing, and I said to him, I hope that those nine angels visit you every night, that you would have an opportunity to hear their voices, knowing that they will continually forgive you and that one day, one day, one day, maybe you'll believe like they believed.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Reverend Sharon Risher, bless you and your family and this amazing village of families that you all have built, these relationships and I'm sure that will endure a lifetime. Thank you so much.

RISHER: Thank you. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Got to pull away from that because we do have some breaking news we need to turn to. The U.S. House has passed a measure to repeal Obamacare. This is the steps to dismantle it. Manu Raju has been watching on The Hill. What's the vote?

MANU RAJU. CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The vote concluded by 227-198 vote passing the house, just moments ago, nine Republicans voting against that measure. They only needed 218 to pass it. Now, what happens next is this. This budget proposal, essentially, instructs the Congressional committees to develop legislation that would repeal major portions of the Obamacare law. The affordable care act. Now, it's not clear exactly what parts of the Obamacare law will be included in that repeal legislation.

That is going to be a debate that's going to start to happen behind closed doors as Republicans start to grapple with that key issue. And the bigger question, also, what to do about replacing the law. The Republican leadership now in line with Donald Trump, saying that they want to replace the law at the same time as repealing it. That means that in that repeal legislation, if they're going to start to draft, they're going to have to include some provisions that will replace aspects of Obamacare, and this is all complicated by two things. One, the rules of the United States Senate prohibit what exactly they can include in that repeal legislation, so they may not be able to get everything that they want in that. And also, the policy.

There's no agreement among Republicans yet about what provisions to include as part of a new health care law. So, a lot of internal debate about to take place after this vote, but this vote critical because it sets the stage to begin that repeal process and also to be able to do that under the rules by avoiding a Democratic filibuster by using this budget process. So, a significant vote today, beginning that debate but also just the very, very beginning, because a very contentious debate to take place just soon here in the coming weeks.

BALDWIN: So, while I know your eyes have been focused on this house vote, let me break some news to you and then you can expand upon it. We've been talking about this Mattis waiver vote. It has now officially passed, time remaining 22 seconds here. So, it has passed. This, of course, is about, you know, retired General Mattis up for secretary of defense under a Trump administration, remind us why this was necessary, Manu.

RAJU: That's because he has been a former military commander, someone who worked in the military, and now he's going to be the top civilian -- have this top civilian post at the pentagon and there's a law that actually prohibits people who are in the military from being -- running the top civilian post. So, this actually grants a waiver, so to general James Mattis to allow him to become the defense secretary, taking that top civilian job. They needed to do that because of the fact that he used to be, just more recently, serving in the armed services. Now, he has not been confirmed yet by the United States Senate.

That's a separate vote that will take place in the coming days. We are expecting him likely to be confirmed as soon as January 20, the day that Donald Trump's sworn into office. So, that is one nominee, Brooke, that has got bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much. Let me read this for all of you on the house side regarding the initial steps to dismantling Obamacare, just got this statement from speaker of the house Paul Ryan saying, by taking this first step toward repealing Obamacare, we are closer to giving Americans relief from the problems this law has caused. He goes on. Too many families have seen costs soar, quality drop and choices reduced to one which just isn't a choice at all. This resolution gives us the tools we need for a step by step approach to fix these problems and put Americans back in control of their health care. From speaker Ryan. We'll be right back. [15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: James Comey, the chief of the FBI, facing increasing pressure to step down after it was announced a review is underway into his handling, the bureau's handling of the information into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server. Democrats are furious at Comey for reopening the investigation 11 days before an election, and Republicans are furious with Comey that he cleared her for the second time just days later. Today, an opinion piece written by the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board reads as follows, "the best advice Mr. Comey can render his country now is to resign. If Comey declines, Donald Trump can and should fire him in the best interest of the nation's most important law enforcement agency." So, John Rizzo is back with us today, general counsel for the CIA, 34 years with the agency. John Rizzo, you know Jim Comey. I imagine he is taking a good long think about his job now. Do you think he should resign?

[15:45:00] JOHN RIZZO, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, CIA: No. Not yet. I met and dealt with Jim Comey back in the -- around 2004, 2005 when I was CIA General Counsel and he was deputy attorney general, and he is a -- I always found him to be a straight shooter, and so no, I think it would be premature now for him to step down.

BALDWIN: How does he square, though, if you put yourself in his shoes? You know, the frustration from both parties as we're hearing from these members coming out of closed door meetings with him, you know, compared to, I understand, you know, the rank and file within the bureau still really have a tremendous amount of respect for him, even though they don't necessarily approve of what he did some months ago. How does he weigh that?

RIZZO: Well, I mean, it's important to get -- have the rank and file behind you, believe me, I've had a lot of experience with that in my three decades at CIA. If you lose your work force, then you're gone. But this being Washington and this being politics, it's, you know, he's managed -- as you say, Brooke, managed to anger both across the political spectrum. One note. He did duly release a statement yesterday after the IG investigation was announced, Jim was saying he welcomed the investigation. I will tell you from experience, you never welcome an IG investigation if you're the target of that investigation.

BALDWIN: Why do you think he did that?

RIZZO: Well, I mean, I think, first of all, what else could he say?

BALDWIN: Sure. Nothing.

RIZZO: Perhaps. Perhaps. I mean, yes, I think honestly, as I say, I like and respect him, but you know, he has -- he maybe should have toned down his public statements altogether, because they have not done him any good or any service up to this point.

BALDWIN: Let me just play this one exchange. This was the independent senator in Maine questioning him, this is Angus King, and I want you to listen more and to Comey's response and then the senator's injected comment.


ANGUS KING, SENATOR, MAINE: Mr. Comey, did you answer the question that there is an investigation underway as to connections between either the political campaigns and the Russians?

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I didn't say one way or another.

KING: You didn't say that there were --

COMEY: That was my intention at least.

KING: You didn't say whether or not there's an investigation underway.

COMEY: Correct. I don't -- especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation.

KING: The irony of your making that statement here, I cannot avoid. But I'll move on.


BALDWIN: So, you see the irony as well?

RIZZO: Oh, yes. Yes. Senator king, I think, used some down-home Maine understatement. Yes. I mean, that's the -- you know, that's the problem he's in, Brooke. He's painted himself into a corner by, you know, making his past public statements about the Clinton e-mail investigation, whether it was open or closed, back open again. You know, he sets this precedent now where, you know, frankly, it looks awkward to watch something like this where, you know, he reverts to the normal established FBI practice of not confirming or denying any investigation. And then gets -- and then gets, you know, gets hung out to dry like the way Senator King did.

BALDWIN: He's in a tough spot at the moment.

RIZZO: He sure is.

BALDWIN: We'll be watching. John Rizzo as always, thank you, sir.

RIZZO: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Next, back to our breaking story on Capitol Hill. The house voting to move forward with this initial procedural step of potentially paving the way to dismantle Obamacare. We have heard a lot about, you know, what patients, what Americans are thinking about potential changes, but what about the medical profession? Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to doctors for their perspective.


BALDWIN: That's that breaking news on Capitol Hill that the house has taken its first vote as it begins the process of appealing Obamacare. It has just approved this budget resolution mostly along party lines. So, we know for the most part how Republicans feel about Obamacare. What about the millions of medical professionals? CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta went straight to them.


DR. BRIAN HILL, UROLOGIST: He's all yours.

I love medicine. Medicine is great. When you sit in the exam room, you interact with the patient, you operate. You do those things that we were trained to do. It's awesome. When I have to deal with all the bureaucracy and burden that's built around the system of health care, that makes medicine difficult.

GUPTA: On a typical 14-hour day, Doctor Brian Hill is constantly immersed in the realities of health care. His conclusion?

HILL: The affordable care act has to go away.

GUPTA: A year from now, 2018, what do you think it looks like?

HILL: I think it will be the same political morass it was today.

GUPTA: It's safe to say most doctors like Brian Hill are not shy when it comes to expressing their views on Obamacare.

And just like the rest of us, studies find doctors tend to like or dislike the law based on their existing political preference.

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Okay, any pain up here?

GUPTA: There are other factors. Your age, for example.

DR. BENJAMIN SOMMERS, HARVARD T. H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Younger physicians were generally more favorable towards the affordable care act and more supportive of the idea that the government has a role to play in helping citizens afford their access to health care.

GUPTA: So, how do doctors feel about Obamacare? Well, a little stuck because surveys show only 3.2 percent give Obamacare an A-grade. And yet most of the major-medical organizations are urging no repeal without replacement. Worried about the loss of coverage for millions of people.

SOMMERS: I think the AMA has it right. This is the biggest drop in the number of people without health insurance since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 50 years ago.

GUPTA: For people who are out there who have been beneficiaries, some 20 million of them, what would you say to them as a doctor?

HILL: Did we really solve the problem? Copays are going up. Deductibles are going up

[15:55:00] They are giving you insurance but are they really giving you access to health care?

GUPTA: As many see it, the same exact care now costs more than it should.

HILL: I look at my office and I've got a coder, a biller, I got someone who works on prior authorization, precertification, all of those things have raised

the cost of health care to the point where physicians went, I'm out.

GUPTA: Last year Hill got out. His practice swallowed by one of Atlanta's largest hospitals, a growing trend across the country. That did reduce his costs, but now he worries about his patients. Why? Because big hospitals can charge more money. For example, we decided to join Dr. Hill in the operating room. We understand that now that he's partners with the hospital, he could be doing the same type of operation on the same type of patient literally in the same operating room, except the costs will now be 20 to 30 percent higher. The hospital that's partnering with Hill refused to comment for the story. So, what is the solution? For Hill, it's about giving the market back to the consumer and letting doctors earn their trust.

HILL: When you have 35 people in Washington to fix thing, we're going to fix it. I have faith in that.

Got it and no catheter.

I think the solutions are going to come from us.


BALDWIN: All right, Sanjay, the public is split on this. Doctors are split on this. What did doctors who truly believe in the affordable care act think?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's sort of depends on what motivated their thinking in the first place. There's many doctors, a large percentage, who don't think this affordable care act should be repealed, maybe tweaked around the edges a bit, but not repealed. Many of them because they believe morally it's the right thing, 20 million people insured, there's no way you can create a system or change a system that might affect those people. There's also a lot of people who believe the affordable care act should not be repealed because it is now so entrenched. I think that's part of the reality, right, Brooke?

Maybe, we don't know how they felt about it five, six years ago, they didn't have a strong opinion. It is the way they do business. It is the way they interact with their patients. The way payments occur in hospitals. To go through a big transition again for them, that is a big concern, in addition obviously to the patients losing insurance. So, there's many, many different factors at play. As I pointed out in the piece, Brooke, this is their reality. This is their job. So, they are immersed in it all the time constantly thinking about this.

BALDWIN: 20 million Americans use this. So many people are clicking on your stories on We'll obviously stay all over this as now this is the beginning of the procedural vote underway to start the road to potentially dismantle, repeal or replace. Sanjay, as always, thank you so much. Still ahead here on CNN, President Obama sends thousands of troops to Poland in the largest U.S. military deployment in eastern Europe since the end of the cold war. CNN is there live as tensions with Russia escalate. We'll be right back.