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NEW DAY

Paul Ryan Speaks about Repealing and Replacing Affordable Care Act; Trump Cabinet Members Answer Questions Before Senate; Interview with Representative Marsha Blackburn; Fbi Watchdog Investigation Of James Comey. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: -- it's a tough job.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Harry, I hear you. Dmitry, thank you. Appreciate the competing ideas from two people who served their communities.

We're following a lot of news. Let's get to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say the repeal and replace. I think what they are doing is cut and run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The law has collapsed. we've got to rescue people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're at a very fraught time. We have leaks on sensitive information for political purposes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 he appoints.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: 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.

CUOMO: The Justice Department and FBI are under investigation over their handling of Clinton's e-mail case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad that someone has finally looking into this.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: With distinction, and only several Americans have gotten the award with distinction.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He understood the significance. He was so touched by it. We'll have more on that.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, House Republicans pushing ahead to quickly dismantle Obamacare. A procedural vote expected today in the House, and that is the next step to try to get rid of it. House Speaker Paul Ryan vowing on CNN last night to repeal and replace the law simultaneously.

CUOMO: But replacing sounds good politically, but what will it mean practically? There is no known alternative, and what does that mean for Democrats who might be needed to pass any replacement? President- elect Donald Trump weighing in on that battle this morning. We're now just one week away from Trump's inauguration as president of the United States. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns in Washington. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. The campaign promise of Donald Trump getting rolling in the House exactly one week before the president-elect is sworn in. And he tweeted last night that, quote, "The unAffordable Care Act will soon be history." The House Republican leadership saying they are cautiously optimistic they do have votes to approve the budget resolution that gets the ball rolling on repeal. But what continues to cause heartburn among legislators is that the Republicans so far don't have a single go-to plan to replace Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: 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 health care coverage for 20 million Americans is at stake.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: 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?

RYAN: We wouldn't do that. We want to replace it with something better. We want to do this at the same time, and in some cases 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First 100 days.

RYAN: Oh, yes. Definitely it's 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taxpayers don't fund abortions right now, right, because of the Hyde Amendment.

RYAN: Because 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 elections 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 have got to focus on that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: And you saw right there Speaker Ryan says the replacement measure when it's all said and done should be passed simultaneously with the bill to repeal 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, though, the possibility exists there could be a number of incremental bills and not just one umbrella bill. Alisyn and Chris?

[08:05:12] CUOMO: All right, Joe, this is one of those things where people are going to have to do what they like to do the least, homework. You're going to have to read. This is so complex. If you care about this issue, you've got to research it.

More of Donald Trump's cabinet nominees will be in the confirmation hot seat next week, but many of the president-elect picks were contradicting his views in their hearings this week. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill with more. Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. The president-elect this morning is pushing back on all the daylight that emerged between him and his cabinet nominees at their confirmation hearings this week, trying to frame it as a good thing. The president-elect tweeting that he wants his nominees "to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine." And on Capitol Hill that is certainly what we saw many of these nominees do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: 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 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 threats to start with Russia.

REX TILLERSON, NOMINEE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE: We're not likely to ever be friends.

SERFATY: If confirmed Rex Tillerson would become America's top diplomat, but he says he hasn't even spoken with Trump about Russia.

ROBERT MENENDEZ, (D) NEW JERSEY: I would have thought Russia would be at the very top considering the actions that have taken place. Did that not happen?

TILLERSON: 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 Russian cyber hacker is going to need a robust response.

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: This was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russia, and America has an obligation and the CIA has a part of that obligation to protect that information.

SERFATY: Some appointees also breaking for Trump's call to bring back legal interrogation tactics.

TRUMP: Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I'd approve it.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Absolutely improper and illegal.

POMPEO: Absolutely not.

GEN. JOHN F. KELLY, NOMINEE FOR SECRETARY OF DHS: I don't think we should ever come close to crossing the line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogate techniques.

SERFATY: His promise to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border.

TRUMP: We're going to build a wall.

KELLY: A physical barrier in itself will not do the job. It has to really be a layered defense.

SERFATY: And Trump's vow during the campaign to temporarily ban all Muslims entering the U.S.

SESSION: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And next week will be another big week up here on Capitol Hill for the incoming Trump administration. Seven confirmation hearings at this time scheduled for Trump's pick for interior, education, commerce, EPA, health and human services, energy, and his pick for ambassador to the U.N. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, Sunlen, thank you for all of that.

FBI Director James Comey under new scrutiny this morning for his handling of Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation. The Justice Department internal watch dog launching an investigation into the Clinton e-mail probe. This morning, the "Wall Street Journal" is calling for Director Comey to resign. CNN's justice correspondent Evan Perez is live in Washington with more. What have you learned, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The FBI director's job is designed to remain above the political fray but Jim Comey in his fourth year of a 10-year term is taking a lot of political fire. And now he's also facing a new Justice inspector general inquiry for his handling of the investigation of the Hillary Clinton e-mail server.

Now, this morning the "Wall Street Journal" in an editorial says it is time for Comey to go. The paper says, quote, "The best service Mr. Comey can render his country now is to resign. Failing that, Jeff Sessions should invite him for a meeting after he's confirmed as attorney general and ask for him to resign."

Among the things the inspector general is investigating is that extraordinary July press conference in which Comey said he would recommend no charges against Clinton, but no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against her. And then breaking with protocol, Comey went into a great detail about all of the things he thought that Clinton did wrong, including calling her extremely careless in her handling of classified information.

The inspector general also is going to look into Comey's October surprise letter to Congress a few days before the election in which he announced that the new e-mails had turned up and the FBI essentially was reopening its investigation of Clinton.

[08:10:03] Comey says that he welcomes this new investigation by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. He says, "He is professional and independent and the FBI will cooperate fully with him and his office." And meanwhile, we know that president-elect Donald Trump has already suggested that he's not sure Comey should stay on in his administration. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Evan, perfect question for our next guest. Thank you very much. Joining us is Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She's a Republican from Tennessee and the vice chair of the Trump transition team. Good to see you, Congresswoman.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE: Good to see you.

CUOMO: Should Jim Comey resign from the FBI?

BLACKBURN: I think that that is a discussion that he and Jeff Sessions after he is confirmed should have. And I think it's inappropriate for anyone right now to say you have to do this or you have to do that. We are one week away from president-elect Trump taking the oath of office and being sworn in. We are just a little bit further than that from people taking these positions as the secretaries and the head of agencies.

And Chris, I think that we leave this for now Senator Sessions who will be the A.G. at that point to sit down with Mr. Comey and begin to unravel what it is that has transpired over these last several months. We have seen these leaks. We have seen leaked information. We have seen the federal government agencies used against citizens whether it was IRS or DOJ. And I think what people want is the facts.

CUOMO: Sessions.

BLACKBURN: They want to know exactly what has happened.

CUOMO: Sessions, if he gets confirmed and becomes the next attorney general of the United States, can only advise, right, and recommend and discuss with the FBI director. But the president can remove him for cause. Do you think our next president, Donald Trump, would consider that?

BLACKBURN: I think that the appropriate thing at this point in time is to set aside conjecture and to allow the proper process to take place. What people want this country to return to is orderly process. Whether it is the chambers of Congress and the execution of our article one powers or article two, which is the executive branch. So let's set this aside and let them handle it in the appropriate way.

CUOMO: And under article two, actually, Congress would have authority to remove a civil servant after a process. So we'll see what plays out.

In terms of conjecture and people wanting things done the right way, the president-elect once again tweeted today, I believe, about the intelligence community, accused them of leaking, and put "intelligence" in quotes. This is after he said he has tremendous respect for the intelligence community, putting "intelligence" in quotes and accusing them of leaks when there is no proof as such is not respectful. How do you reconcile the two?

BLACKBURN: You know, I think what you have to do is look at the quotes that you've got James Clapper, who's the director of national intelligence, and the things that he has had to say --

CUOMO: Like?

BLACKBURN: About this and the leaks and how offended he is with those leaks --

CUOMO: But he does not say any leaks came from his agency. That's the point of this letter.

BLACKBURN: That's right, but he knows that they have come and trying to figure it out, the offensiveness of the leaks and the lack of trust or Mike Morell with his comments.

And you know, I think, Chris, that that is why people are saying, wait a minute, you know, why is it that these federal agencies are not playing by the rules of the game? Why is it they are putting this information out there?

CUOMO: Well, where's the proof that a federal agency put out this intelligence that CNN has been reporting on?

BLACKBURN: -- about Chuck Schumer's comments, Chuck Schumer saying if you cross the intel guys, they have six ways from Sunday from coming after you. Really? I mean, these --

CUOMO: Is that news to you, that the intelligence community --

BLACKBURN: It is inappropriate. It is inappropriate.

CUOMO: That's Chuck Schumer making a suggestion. That's not a truism. We don't know that that's a threat.

BLACKBURN: OK, let's see. Let's see. Intel officials have six ways from Sunday --

CUOMO: I know how to read also, congresswoman. I'm saying that's a politician making a statement.

BLACKBURN: Well, the fact that there would be retribution put on a citizen by a federal agency, whether it is an intel agency, whether it is the IRS, whether it is DOJ --

CUOMO: Is wrong.

BLACKBURN: It is wrong.

CUOMO: You need proof of it.

BLACKBURN: It doesn't matter if it's the EPA. Look at the number of small business manufacturers they shut down in the past 10 years.

CUOMO: I understand, I'm just saying we have no proof -- maybe you do and I'm happy to hear the offer of it, that the intelligence agencies leaked.

BLACKBURN: We're going to have our classified briefing in about an hour.

CUOMO: Because the president-elect is putting "intelligence" in quotes and accusing them of having leaked even though Clapper just told him he does not believe there are any leaks from the agencies.

BLACKBURN: But Clapper admits that there are leaks and they're trying to figure out where they're coming from because you --

CUOMO: But that he that he thinks they weren't from the agencies (ph) --

BLACKBURN: -- had a opposition research report --

CUOMO: Right.

[8:15:00] BLACKBURN: -- that ended up getting into the (ph) -- submitted to the FBI unverified. Then it's all made public and then you have all of these other stories about the leaking and the hacking --

CUOMO: Right.

BLACKBURN: And what people want at this point in time is some clarity.

CUOMO: Right.

BLACKBURN: And they want the conversations of conjecture. And they want the rumor mill to stop. And --

CUOMO: Right, but clarity doesn't come from calling --

BLACKBURN: -- I think that's where we need to leave this. CUOMO: But clarity doesn't come from calling reporting that you don't like fake. When all of it, all of it; ends up being corroborated by multiple sources from the government.

BLACKBURN: Chris -- Chris, clarity will come when mutual respect is shown and when there is responsibility taken. So let's get back to an orderly process and let's this country back on track.

And let's have people start acting like adults and show respect and agree to -- disagree agreeably and to act as if they are adults. And that they put the country first and they stop the pettiness. That is what the American people want. They are sick of this mess. They --

CUOMO: I agree with you --

BLACKBURN: -- sick of it.

CUOMO: -- about that.

BLACKBURN: Yes.

CUOMO: We can -- I think everyone agrees on that, Congressman Blackburn. And that's why we're going to do our job as best we can. Be well to you and see you soon.

BLACKBURN: Absolutely. See you soon, take care.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Were any of FBI director James Comey's decisions on Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation politically motivated? There's now an investigation and we're going to speak to Clinton's former press secretary about this next.

[8:20:00](COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The Justice Department's internal watchdog is launching an investigation into how the FBI and the DOJ conducted the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. Well (ph), President-Elect Donald Trump is tweeting about this this morning.

He says, "What are the Hillary Clinton people complaining about with respect to the F.B.I. Based on the information they had she should never have been allowed to run - guilty as hell. They were very nice to her. She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states - no enthusiasm!"

Here to discuss this and more, Hillary Clinton's former press secretary, Brian Fallon. Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Do you want to respond to Mr. Trump's tweets?

FALLON: Well, I think those tweets are just the latest indication that Donald Trump is someone who's very insecure in his victory and I understand why. Every day there are new developments -- new shoes dropping, so to speak, that call into question the legitimacy of his win.

First it was with respect to Russian interference. They tried to deny, the Trump folks did, that Russia was behind this. Now they've been forced to admit that. Then they tried to say it was not for the purposes of trying to help Donald Trump, they were just trying to sew confusion and they were targeting both sides.

And now folks in the government have concluded it was actually to try to tip the election Donald Trump's way. And now on -- with respect to the FBI, we see that Jim Comey's actions are sufficiently questionable that the internal watchdog at (ph) DOJ thinks that they merit an independent review.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

FALLON: So I think Donald Trump is just trying to cling to whatever legitimacy still is in effect here. But I think the only thing that will (ph) get to the bottom of these two issues are independent investigations.

We need the DOJ investigation into Russia to proceed in an independent manner. I'm not confident that the incoming attorney general, Jeff Sessions could lead it; probably needs a special prosecutor.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

FALLON: And (ph) Congress needs a select committee. And with respect to DOJ, we need this independent watchdog investigation to proceed unimpeded. Donald Trump can not get in, become president and fire this (ph) I.G. That cannot happen.

CAMEROTA: Brian, do you still think that James Comey had a significant effect on Hillary Clinton's loss?

FALLON: I do. And a number of us who worked on the campaign were in tough yesterday in light of this news. And all of us were appreciative of the fact that there's finally gonna be an authoritative statement for the historical record about the inappropriateness of what happened here.

But we wish that the action had been taken in July. And if it had -- if there had been a probe launched about Jim Comey's press conference in July, maybe it would have stopped him (ph) from sending that letter 11 days out from the election and history might have had a different course.

I think, if you look at all the empirical data, Hillary Clinton was winning this election going away in the final -- leading up into the final two weeks. She lost it unquestionably in the final week and in some states she lost it on the final day. If you look at a state like Florida, 70 percent of the vote was in before Election Day and she was up by 247,000 votes.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

FALLON: At that point she had a four point lead. She ended up losing Election Day by 13 points and lots the state --

CAMEROTA: But --

FALLON: -- by one point.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, how can you connect that to James Comey? We -- as we've all learned painfully, polls were wrong during this election. So how can you connect what happened 11 days beforehand to a poll the day of?

FALLON: I actually think the polls were right going into the last week (ph) and then there was an extreme tightening in the last week. But we have gone back and looked. And we've seen in our qualitative research and focus groups and what not, with respect to WikiLeaks, a lot of people -- average votes conflated (ph) that with the issue of her server.

And so it all combined for a perfect storm of a bad swirl of information where every story about WikiLeaks, which of course had to do with the Russian intrusion with respect to John Podesta's e-mails was being conflated as another story about her e-mail server. And Jim Comey's new reopening of the investigation, so to speak.

And we took a look at some of the news coverage in (ph) the final day -- the (ph) final days of the campaign. Roughly 40 percent of this (ph) -- of everything that was written about -- and said about Hillary Clinton in the final days of the campaign was about e-mails.

[8:25:00] And so, if you show me that there's a huge swing in the electorate's mood, we lost late deciders in Wisconsin just to take another state by 29 points. And she only lost it by a few thousand votes. And so if you tell me there's such a huge swing in the final week, compared to the mood of the electorate heading into that final week, given the saturation of coverage of Jim Comey's letter, you can't tell me that that didn't have that impact.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that as the Wall Street Journal says, in an editorial, that James Comey should resign?

FALLON: Well, look, I think that's a question he has to ask himself. I'm not going to join in with that call by the Wall Street Journal today. I think there are serious questions that need to be answered about the ability of Jim Comey to effectively lead that organization going forward.

When Jim Comey defends his actions, which unquestionably broke from DOJ protocol in speaking about a case in a public manner, and he justifies them by saying that he worried that if he didn't do that that there would be leaks coming out of his New York field office, that tells me he doesn't have enough confidence in his own ability to prevent his own rank and file agents from engaging in misconduct.

So, if he's willing to publically admit that he doesn't have a grip on his own bureau, how can he have confidence to lead this organization going forward and restore his reputation? So, that's a question he needs to ask himself. But, I'd be willing to say let's wait for this I.G. investigation to take place.

Let's let them reach a definitive conclusion about the appropriateness of Jim Comey's actions and then make a decision about a question like that.

CAMEROTA: Does Secretary Clinton believe James Comey should resign?

FALLON: Again, I think that she thinks that the -- I don't speak for her anymore, I should say and I'll let her speak for herself in due course when she deems it appropriate -- but I think that all of us involved in the campaign believe that this investigation is appropriate, should be allowed to proceed unimpeded.

You know, technically the Trump administration, when they come in, they could try to scotch this review if they want to. Historically, an incoming administration would allow the existing Inspector General to remain for, at least, some period of time.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

FALLON: I think one of the reasons why this review was announced with such fanfare yesterday was because it put some public pressure for it to not be staunched when the Trump administration comes in. I think it's very important, and we, as the public, should all be interested in holding the Trump administration's feet to the fire to not interfere with this review, let it go forward and then let's see what they have to say about the appropriateness of Jim Comey's actions.

CAMEROTA: Brian Fallon, thank you very much for being New Day.

FALLON: Thank you, Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right, it is easy to take a vote, it is hard to make a change. House Republicans moving ahead today in their efforts to dismantle Obamacare. Do they have a plan to replace the healthcare law? Not ideas, not concepts but ways to replace the coverage in a way that will be better?

We're going to talk to the architect of the Affordable Care Act to show you why it ain't as easy as it seems.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)