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House to Vote on Measure to Repeal Obamacare; Trump's Cabinet Picks Keep Contradicting Him. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 13, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They say repeal and replace. Instead what they're doing is cut and run.
[05:58:41] REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The law is collapsing. We've got to rescue people.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: We're at a very fraught time. We have leaks on sensitive information for political purposes.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was their obligation to inform not only us but the president-elect this was out there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Policy is dictated by the president. Not by the people that he appoints.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we could have a good relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would consider the principle threat, to start with, Russia.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department investigating the FBI over its probe of Clinton's e-mails.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad that someone has finally spoken up and is looking into this.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The final time as president, I'm pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR; We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, January 13, 6 a.m. here in New York.
Up first, House Republicans pressing forward with plans to quickly dismantle Obamacare. A procedural vote in the House today, the first step to try to get rid of the law. House Speaker Paul Ryan vowing on CNN last night to repeal and replace the law simultaneously.
CUOMO: Replacement would require, or should require, a solution and help from a handful of Democrats to pass it. All this as President- elect Donald Trump is responding to criticism that his cabinet nominees are disagreeing with him on key issues.
We're just one week away from inauguration day. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, live in Washington -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.
The House Republican leadership expected to move quickly to take up the budget resolution that paves the way for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act; and they say they are cautiously optimistic that they have the votes to do it.
What continues to cause heartburn among legislators is the Republicans so far don't have a single go-to plan to replace Obamacare, though they say this is only the beginning of what is expected to be a long, challenging process.
JOHNS (voice-over): The House of Representatives is set to vote as early as today on a measure to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act, one day after the Senate approved the same measure. It would set into motion a complicated process to repeal and replace the president's signature law.
Much of the criticism has been on the lack of a replacement plan by Republicans.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We damn well are not going to see it repealed and have no replacement there at all.
JOHNS: But there are real consequences. The healthcare coverage for 20 million Americans is at stake.
RYAN: The law is collapsing, and so we've got to rescue people.
JOHNS: House Speaker Paul Ryan, pressed by one of those Americans last night at a CNN town hall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I'm standing here today alive. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?
JOHNS: We wouldn't do that. We want to replace it with something better. We want to do this at some time and, in some cases, in the same bill. So we want to advance repealing this law with its replacement at the same time. We're going to move on this as quickly as we can.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: First 100 days.
RYAN: Yes. Yes, it's something -- definitely it is a plan within the first 100 days.
JOHNS: Ryan also pressed on GOP plans to defund Planned Parenthood.
RYAN: We don't want to commit taxpayer funding for abortion. And Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider.
TAPPER: Tax rate dollars don't fund abortions right now. Right? Because of the Hyde Amendment?
RYAN: Right. Because of the Hyde Amendment.
But they get a lot of money, and money is fungible, and it effectively floats these organizations.
JOHNS: And breaking several times from the views of the president- elect, Ryan delivering tough talk on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
RYAN: Russia is a menace, a global menace led by a man who is menacing. Vladimir Putin does not share our interests.
JOHNS: And on Russia's election hacking.
RYAN: Donald Trump won it fair and square, clearly and convincingly, but the fact that a foreign government tried to meddle in another government's election is wrong. And so I do think sanctions are called for. I think we have to step up our game with respect to confronting Russia.
JOHNS: The House speaker vowing there won't be mass deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.
RYAN: I'm here to tell you in Congress it's not happening. Secure the border and the people who are violent criminals, repeat offenders who keep coming back in, we've got to focus on that.
JOHNS: You saw there the CNN town hall last night, Speaker Ryan saying the replacement measure, when it's all said and done, should be passed simultaneously with the repeal to Obamacare. Vice-President- elect Mike Pence has said a draft of the replacement would be available in 30 to 60 days. In talking with lawmakers, the possibility does exist. There could be a number of incremental replacement bills, not just one umbrella solution -- Chris and Alisyn, a work in progress.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. Thanks but let's discuss now this battle over Obamacare. We have CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman; CNN political commentator, political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis; and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker. Good to have you all here.
Friday the 13th. Very scary, Errol. Maybe appropriate for this, because the notion is scary, that the ACA is collapsing is what they're being told right now by their -- to their constituents from the Republicans. Is that true and repeal and replace at the same time in a tight time frame? Can they do that?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Collapse is not the right word and you have to keep in mind, when you see premium percentages spiking, you're going from a very low base in some cases. So if what had been, you know, $600 a month premium has gone down to 150; and now there's a 20 percent increase. Well, yes, it's that, but it's still affordable.
So it's not really collapsing in the way it's been said. There are problems. No question about it.
I think the real issue here is when they talk about repeal and this quick repeal, they're really talking about a quick defunding, because that's only the thing they can do quickly, is to knock the props out of a lot of the subsidies and support. If they do that, yes, the whole thing will fall apart.
And the notion that they can go from that to reinstituting statewide sort of high-cost premium special pools is not true. So they are going to have to figure out how to do this. They could knock the props out from him, under it, redo or sort of undo the Medicaid expansion but essentially, a lot of people off the rolls very quickly or take away a lot of the subsidies that make it happen.
But if they do that, then there will be a collapse. And we're already starting to see if that happens, who are we going to blame that on? And nobody wants to take that blame.
[06:05:24] CAMEROTA: Maggie, I don't want to get too far in the weeds. But let's just show viewers what the suggested GOP plans are for changing the things they don't like about Obamacare. Let's put up this graphic; it's our cheat sheet. So -- OK, this is what their ideas are. I guess we can start there. Federally funded high-risk pools, no mandated benefit requirements, tax credits for those with no employer coverage, roll back extensions.
Here's the cheat sheet. We would go from universal coverage to universal access. OK? Comprehensive benefits to bare-bones coverage, meaning a more piecemeal approach. If you don't want maternity coverage, you don't need to get maternity coverage.
Premium subsidies. You would get tax credits for the lowest income earners. Pre-existing conditions ban, as you know, exists currently. People seem to like that a lot. They would also have that if you maintained continuous coverage and didn't have a break in your coverage. Taxing high-end employer plans, the Cadillac plan; capping tax deductions. Which of these would be most problematic?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think not to get too in the leaves I'm not going to be able to weigh which one is going to be most problematic. I do think that, when you put them all together, I think that is when you have the problem. You're going to -- you're going to be able to rip apart Obamacare and then install smaller pieces. There are going to be new problems that crop up with that, regardless.
For a lot of Americans, you're talking about 20 million people who now have coverage. There's also a divide among the House Republicans about exactly what they want to do, both in terms of the speed of this and in terms of what the replacement looks like.
I think that the preexisting condition issue is going to be one of the biggest sources of tension, because that is one of the most popular aspects, as you said. Again, we don't know what exactly House Republicans are going to do. We don't know what the president-elect wants. I mean, he has been very clear that he wants a quick, almost simultaneous replacement. But we don't know what he prefers, and I think that, until we get to that point, this is all very amorphous.
CUOMO: This is a tough one to play with in terms of make it sound good, get it done quickly, we'll figure it out later. Because health care is so central. You cover Congress in a very intimate way.
What are you hearing about their concerns about what they can do here without making this situation go from, you know, bad for some to worse for all.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Right. So they're concerned that they're going to make the same I mean, we forget the Democrats didn't start to ruin health care. They didn't start out to try and get people to be angry at them for messing with 1/6th of the economy. They thought they were doing something good. They thought they were going to finally reform healthcare, which people did want. They wanted reform, generically speaking.
And, at least among Democrats, there was a desire to extend health coverage to people that did not have it. So those were the goals. Everybody comes to this with pure motives, and so the question for Republicans is can they once again overhaul one-sixth of the U.S. economy without the kind of disruptions that are going to get people angry at them the same way they were angry at Democrats.
Donald Trump at his news conference said this tongue in cheek: "I'm doing the Democrats a favor. We're going to let them off the hook for this healthcare stuff." You know, but he's right. Because Republicans are now going to own this, and there's a tension here. Because Republican voters want this done, and they don't want any idea that this is being delayed or pushed off, and that would be a political nightmare for them.
But what Republicans understand and everybody else does is actually putting healthcare reform into effect takes a lot of time and a lot of legislating. So I think what we're going to see is quick repeal in terms of we have passed the law, and we have coalesced around the plan. And now it's going to phase in. Everything's going to phase in. You're going to hear the term "orderly transition" a million times, because that's what Republicans plan to do to try and avoid the political pitfalls that be fell the Democrats.
CAMEROTA: And yet, Errol, do they have the votes today? Because there's, for instance, the House Freedom Caucus, is still on the fence about whether or not they're going to vote for this. Some GOP peers are not even prepared to take those first procedurals. LOUIS: Well, that's right. And if that's because, look, they have the votes to defund Obamacare. They have the votes to shrink the Medicaid expansion. They don't need -- it's filibuster-proof in the Senate. They can actually get it done. The control all three branches of government. There's no excuse. So if they want to charge ahead and there are some remembers who want to do that, mostly from very safe districts where they're not going to get a lot of heat, they can charge ahead and go ahead and do that.
The more cautious -- and we just heard some of this from Speaker Ryan. The more cautious members know that there will be hell to pay if they do that. If they simply wreck the system, and then continue to dither, and they have been. They have been trying to figure out -- get some kind of consensus. They've been trying for years now to get some kind of consensus about tax credits versus subsidies and so forth and so on. They are no closer to that than they were before.
CUOMO: And if you take the people who like the ACA and combine them with the people who wish it went further, you have more than half the country saying this is a good thing, should be even improved to make it more access. So they've got to be careful politically, as well.
CAMEROTA: OK. Panel, stick around. Many more questions. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden confirming that intelligence officials did brief he and the president -- and President Obama last week on the unsubstantiated claims that Russia may have some compromising information about President-elect Trump. This confirms CNN's reporting on the story, which Mr. Trump dismissed as so-called fake news.
CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez has been at the helm of this reporting. He is live in Washington with more. What's the latest, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Vice President Joe Biden says that intelligence officials briefed him and President Obama last week about unverified claims that Russia may have compromising information on President-elect Donald Trump. CNN first reported that the nation's top intelligence chiefs presented both the president and president-elect with a two-page written synopsis of the claims, which came from a 35-page opposition research dossier. It was compiled by a former British intelligence operative based on Russian sources.
The U.S. intelligence agencies haven't verified these allegations. But Biden said in an interview that intelligence officials felt compelled to share that information with Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Their argument was that this was something that this is something that the press already had, not just here in the United States but other places, that there would be -- there would be -- didn't use the word derelict, but it was their obligation to inform not only us but the president-elect that this was out there. (END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Now four of the top intelligence chiefs met last Friday with Trump to brief him on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Sources tell us that James Comey, the FBI director, briefed Trump on the Russian claims in a one-on-one conversation of the meeting. Now, it's the FBI's counterintelligence division that's leading the investigation into what the Russian spy agencies are up to. We're told the conversation was cordial. The FBI had declined to comment on this matter. And Trump has said that the allegations are all false, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Evan. Thank you very much. Donald Trump's cabinet picks, not exactly in lockstep on a lot of important issues with the man who nominated them. Is that going to help them in their nominating process? Maybe not. Is it going to help them get confirmed? Maybe so.
The president-elect is now responding. We're going to tell you what he's saying. Next on NEW DAY.
[06:16:34] CUOMO: Many of President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet nominees are contradicting their future boss's positions in their confirmation hearings this week. Trump responding just moments ago in a new tweet. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill with more.
This was a big question, Sunlen, right? What are they going to do? Are they going to have to answer for what Donald Trump has said, or will they own their own positions now? We're finding out.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Chris. And we see the president-elect really pushing back this morning on this daylight that has emerged in these cabinet hearings this week between his nominees and himself. Really trying to frame this as a good thing. He took to Twitter just a few minutes ago and said he wants them "to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine."
And on Capitol Hill this week many of the high-profile nominees did exactly that.
SERFATY (voice-over): In the first week of confirmation hearings for key members of Donald Trump's cabinet, his nominees breaking from some of his biggest campaign promises and policies. Like the president- elect's soft stance on Russia.
TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I'd consider that an asset.
SERFATY: Trump's nominees for defense secretary and secretary of state taking a more adversarial stance.
JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I would consider the principle threats to start with Russia. We're not likely to ever be friends.
SERFATY: If confirmed, Rex Tillerson would be America's top diplomat. But he says he hasn't even spoken to Trump about Russia.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: I would have thought Russia would be at the very top of that considering all the actions that have taken place. Did that not happen?
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: That has not occurred yet senator.
MENENDEZ: That's pretty amazing.
SERFATY: After months of doubting the conclusions of U.S. intelligence, Trump now believes Russia was the culprit.
TRUMP: I think it was Russia.
SERFATY: CIA director Mike Pompeo says Russia cyber hacking is going to need a robust response.
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: This was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside Russia. And America has an obligation. And the CIA has a part of that obligation to protect that information.
SERFATY: Fellow appointees also breaking from Trump's call to bring back illegal interrogations tactics.
TRUMP: Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I'd approve it.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Absolutely improper and illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.
GEN. JOHN F. KELLY, NOMINEE FOR SECRETARY OF DHS: I don't think we should ever come close to crossing a line that is beyond what Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques.
SERFATY: He's promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border?
TRUMP: We're going to build a wall.
KELLY: A physical barrier, in and of itself, will not do the job. It has to be, really, a layered defense.
SERFATY: Trump's vow during the campaign to temporarily ban all Muslims entering the U.S.
SESSIONS: I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States.
KELLY: I don't think it's ever appropriate to focus on something like religion as the only factor. TILLERSON: I do not support targeting any particular group.
SERFATY: And next week will be another big week up here on the Hill for the incoming Trump administration. Seven hearings at this time for Trump's nominees are scheduled for interior, education, commerce, EPA, health and human services, energy and his pick for U.N. ambassador -- Chris, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Sunlen, thank you very much for all that. Let's bring back our panel.
We have David Drucker, Maggie Haberman and Errol Louis -- Maggie.
So there's daylight, OK, between what the president-elect said on the campaign trail and his cabinet nominees. People are wondering how will this possibly work? I think it's quite clear how it will work from having been around Mr. Trump for many years and reporting on him. He will go with his cabinet nominees' vision. They have more experience. He -- as we know, he is sort of persuadable by whoever he has spoken to last.
And so the question isn't about the conflict between what he said, I think, on the campaign trail; and what they're saying is between what if Steve Bannon feels differently or Rupert Murdoch, who he talks to on the phone feels differently than Mattis feels or Flynn feels.
HABERMAN: Right. I think that's exactly right. I think that, in terms of the players, I actually don't think Steve Bannon is going to be the one advocating for creating sort of more chaos in the world, just based on the way those relationships work.
I do agree that he is very susceptible, whoever he likes to talk to. He does have a couple of very consistently-held hobby horses, as we know, over the last 30 years. You know, but they are basically root issues. Trade, people are ripping us off. And so forth and so on.
He doesn't have a lot of deeply held or deeply explored beliefs. I do think that it is unusual to see this much daylight in these confirmation hearings, but I agree with you that we don't really know what it means yet. It might mean a healthy disagreement and that he gets the last word or it might mean confusion, and we're going to see how it plays out.
On the issue of waterboarding, it is worth noting that, when he came to "The New York Times" for the interview with us pretty shortly after the election, I asked him about waterboarding and does he still support it. And he made clear that he had already been influenced by General Mattis on this.
He said he's asked Mattis about it in one of their interviews and that Mattis made clear that that is not the way he sees effective interrogation working, and Trump sounded like he was already changing his mind.
CAMEROTA: There you go. Today.
HABERMAN: Yes, yes, and so I think that -- but again, we're not going to know, because as you know, with Trump, he does also like to create sort of excitement and intrigue. And spark (ph). So after an aide will talk -- we saw this during the campaign -- he would then undercut it and say, "Don't believe them. Believe me. So we just have to see how this plays out."
CUOMO: OK. Why do we have confidence that, as president of the United States, Donald Trump will allow others to make decisions for him? We've certainly never seen that before.
DRUCKER: No. And I don't know why people seem to have so much confidence for him. People that run for the presidency and win usually do so because they want to be the top dog. They want to make decisions.
And even though Donald Trump, it's true, doesn't necessarily have deep principled beliefs on a wide range of issues the way another president would have, the way most presidents do. I don't see why he's going to say, "I think this is great. I'm going to a ribbon cutting. You guys make all the tough decisions."
CUOMO: The ACA. Look at the ACA. He doesn't know how the ACA works. He's never claimed to. They're saying they need time. They're saying the January 27 reconciliation point doesn't make sense. He says, "I hear you." Get it done and get it done at the same time and done right away.
CAMEROTA: It's not make decisions for him. It's that he's persuadable. I mean, it's actually one of, frankly, the things that I always reported was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) found endearing about him. He's open to your suggestion. When he meets with you, he's enthusiastic about your suggestions. He's persuadable.
DRUCKER: Right. And you're right about that. But the nature of the presidency, ultimately, is that in talking to people that have been in this position, is you come to the president with options. And unfortunately, when you're president of the United States, there actually are very few easy answers. There's always, well, this could work. Here are the upsides and downsides. This could work. Here are the upsides and downsides. He's going to have to make decisions.
So I suppose he could say to General Mattis, "You seem to know what you're doing. Cool, get it done."
But there is a tension here. The difference between General Mattis and others, with their new boss, helps them get confirmed. And so that politically is important, but there is going to be a tension at some point. Because they obviously wouldn't have taken the job if they didn't feel like Trump was going to listen to them, to some degree. They weren't going to have an impact.
On the other hand, if he sticks with campaign Trump, and that's usually what happens, you get what you see on the campaign trail. Going to see a lot of in-fighting. LOUIS: You couldn't expect General Kelly to sit there in Congress at
a hearing and say, "I'm going to disregard your 2015 law that bans torture." That's not going to happen.
Same thing with Senator Sessions. He's part of the body that passes the law. So you're going to see him do what they do in the hearings. Exactly right about that. But I would have to disagree a little bit on this. Nature and politics abhor a vacuum. And it's really what's going to happen in those spaces.
And there are many spaces where President-elect Trump, because he doesn't follow a defense doctrine or a foreign policy or a philosophy that we can sort of pull off a shelf and lead. He's leaving a lot of open spaces, and the default mode is the defense doctrine of the last 50 years, which is to support NATO, to oppose the Soviet Union and now Russia. That's what they're going to do. That's what they're trained to do.
That's what's going to happen over and over again, unless he creates an incredibly powerful White House apparatus to really crack down on every statement, every stray thought, every new policy that comes out of the Pentagon or out of the State Department that hasn't been previously approved by the Oval Office. And I don't get the feeling that he's getting ready to put together that kind of a structure. So we are going to see a lot of confusion.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Guess what's back in the news? Hillary Clinton's e-mails. But before you roll your eyes out there from the left, this time you may like the story. The Justice Department and the FBI are under investigation over their handling of Clinton's e-mail case. Were their investigations politically motivated? We're going to take a closer look. Next.
CUOMO: Hillary Clinton's email investigation is back in the spotlight, because the Justice Department's internal watchdog is launching a new probe. This one isn't into Hillary Clinton. It's into the Justice Department and the FBI for their handling of the issue at the height of the 2016 election.
CNN's justice correspondent, Evan Perez, live in Washington with more. What do you make of the substance and the timing?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A lot of timing. Chris, the Justice Department inspector general is investigating whether the FBI director, James Comey, and other officials of the Justice Department bureau followed the rules in their handling of the investigation of Clinton's private e-mail server.
At the top of the concerns is, I think, extraordinary July press conference in which Comey said he would recommend no charges against Clinton and found that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against her. But then breaking with protocol, Comey went into great detail about all the things that he thought Clinton did wrong, including calling her extremely careless in her handling of information.
But the inspector general's also going to look into Comey's October surprise letter to Congress a few days before the election, in which he announced that new e-mails had turned up and the FBI, essentially, was reopening an investigation of Clinton. And then, a week later, his announcement that the investigation was closed.