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23 House Democrats Boycotting Trump's Inauguration; Jennifer Holiday Backs Out of Performing at the Inauguration; CIA Director Imploring that Trump should Trust Intelligence Community; Democrats Rally to Oppose Obamacare Repeal; Bishop Eddie Long Dies. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 15, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: I'm Poppy Harlow in New York, and you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We begin tonight of course in Washington with presidential politics. In just five days, people around the world will pause and will be transfixed right here as Donald Trump take the oath of office. It is time for the country to come together but right now, 23 House Democrats say they will not be there. They are boycotting Trump's inauguration.

And the list that you see right here, this is the list that is growing by the hour. Some are skipping because of the president-elect's tweets to their fellow congressman, civil rights leader, John Lewis. Trump accused Lewis of being all talk and no action. This is after Lewis said that he did see Trump as a "legitimate president." Our Suzanne Malveaux begins our coverage tonight in Washington with the latest. Good to have you on Suzanne and what is the Trump team saying about this back and forth between the president-elect and Congressman Lewis?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Poppy, Trump's war of words with Congressman Lewis, especially coming during MLK weekend is deeply troubling to many African-American, but Lewis is getting some strong pushback today from both the RNC head soon to be chief of staff, Reince Preibus as well as the vice president-elect Mike Pence.

Now, some Republicans, they're clearly trying to give Congressman Lewis his props regarding his stature in the Civil Rights Movement but at the same time, they're coming to Trump's defense, because they vehemently are opposed to any notion that Trump is not the legitimate winner of this controversial election despite Trump's own admission that Russia had a role in hacking it.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Look, Donald Trump won this election fair and square. Thirty out of 50 states, including Georgia, more counties than any Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan. And to hear John Lewis, a man that I served with, that I respect, to question the legitimacy of the election and to say that Donald Trump will not be a legitimate president was deeply disappointing to me nd also to hear that he was not going to attend the inauguration this Friday. I hope he reconsiders both statements.


MALVEAUX: Well Poppy, so far there's really no indication that Congressman Lewis would reconsider. In fact, he joins at least 22 other of his colleague, House Democrats, who have now announced so far that they're not going to be attending the inauguration and this all comes on the day when Washington is preparing for this inaugural events.

We've see dress rehearsals, band practice taking place at the Capitol. And it comes amid more controversy over some A-list performers who are also refusing to participate in Trump's big roll out. We're talking about Broadway superstar from "Deamgirls" fame, Jennifer Holiday, announcing that she's no longer going to be singing at Trump's pre- inaugural concert that on Thursday after many of her fans complained and she wrote an open letter to them saying that her performance was really meant to heal the country, but she has now reconsidered.

And Trump for his part, he has chosen not to respond directly to Holiday, but instead he did tweet out this saying, "For many years our country has been divided, angry and untrusting. Many say it will never change, the hatred is too deep." He goes on to say it will change so, we'll see.

HARLOW: We will see. And this list of democrats not attending has grown as you know Suzanne from about 13, 48 hours ago to 23 now. We'll see where it goes from here. Is there a precedent for this many members of Congress not attending?

MALVEAUX: Well we've seen these protests before particularly from the Congressional Black Caucus. So, if you look back in 2001, there were members of the CBC who skipped George W. Bush's first inauguration to protest the Supreme Court's ruling on the outcome of that election which they believe delegitimize Bush's presidency.

But Poppy, the number of members protesting back then doesn't come anywhere near close to what we're seeing, about two dozen who are going to be sitting out this one, and that number as you mentioned grew hour by hour today as people were reacting to Trump's criticism of Lewis.

HARLOW: Suzanne Malveaux, live for us in Washington. Thank you very much for that. There's obviously a lot to debate here. When president- elect Trump fired back at Congressman Lewis, he also took aim at the district that Lewis represents. Trump accused it of being in "horrible shape" and called it crime infested.

Of course Lewis's district includes Atlanta. Here is the front page of the city's paper today. It reads the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Atlanta To Trump: Wrong." Atlanta is the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Of course tomorrow is the day that we celebrate all that he did for this country. Our Paulo Sandoval talked to the pastor of King's hime church about Trump's comments, Paulo.

PAULO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ebenezer Baptist Church here in Georgia is not only deep rooted in history but it also happens to be a place where Representative John Lewis is a member of the congregation. We attended Sunday's service, no sign of Representative Lewis, but there was plenty of politics being discussed during today's sermon, particularly from the senior pastor of the church, Raphael Warnock, who called out the incoming president by name. He was criticizing his twitter tirade and his specific targeting of this civil rights icon. Take a listen.


[17:05:00] RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: Rather than sending nasty tweets, he really ought to sit at John Lewis's feet and learn what service, sacrifice and integrity look like.


SANDOVAL: Warnock stepping in to defend not just Representative Lewis, but also his community as well specifically after one tweet was posted by the incoming president Donald Trump, a portion of it reading, "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested" that the president-elect referring to Representative Lewis' district in Georgia. As a result, many people in the community now are speaking out against the president-elect.


WARNOCK: This district is obviously more complicated than that. The world's busiest airport is in this district. Ebenezer Baptist Church sits in this district, and the people of this district deserve more than to be insulted by an incoming president.


SANDOVAL: And there was perhaps some mixed reaction though among members of the congregation. Most did step up and defend Representative John Lewis but there were a few that felt that perhaps politics had no place during Sunday service. Paolo Sandoval, CNN, Atlanta.

HARLOW: Paolo, thank you very much. Let's talk over all of this with our panel. Joining me now, Keith Boykin, Democratic strategist and former White House aid of President Bill Clinton, Clarence Henderson is joining us, civil rights activist and now a conservative who callis himself an unknown freedom fighter, Republican Paris Dennard, member of the National Diversity Coalition for Donald Trump and Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist and former communications director for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Thank you all for being here. Obviously a lot to get to. Clarence, welcome to the program. Let me ask you this --


HARLOW: -- as a civil rights activist who participated in the sit in back in Greebsboro, North Carolina back in the 60s, as a man who is also a conservative who supported and voted for Donald Trump in this election, do you support the president-elect's response to Congressman Lewis on twitter?

HENDERSON: Yes, I support his response in reference to what John Lewis's job is as far as being a congressman and the fact that he -- John Lewis initially had said that he was illegitimate to be the president which as of January 20th we will see that to be different.

HARLOW: So, you're okay with him punching back at the congressman and saying he's a man of all talk and no action because as you well know as someone who fought for civil rights, many take issue with that and they see that as an attack on someone who did so much, not only for African-Americans in this country, but for this country as a whole, someone who risked his life, beaten bloodily in 1965 in Selma?

HENDERSON: Well we're talking about two different things. We're talking about an era of time when John Lewis did what he did just as I did. And John Lewis initiated this by saying that he didn't see president-elect Trump to be a legitimate president so.

Donald Trump did not say anything about him about as far as a civil rights leader, he responded back and said that you need to look at your district to see what's happening there. So John Lewis, he is an icon and he is to be recognizable fir what he is but in this particular situation, my sentiment is if you can't stand the heat, you ought to get out of the kitchen.

HARLOW: Keith, John Lewis will give a speech tomorrow in Miami of course being Martin Luther King Day, what do you want to hear from him? Do you think he should punch back at the president-elect? Should he say anything? Should he not? Should he move on?

KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't expect him to focus on Donald Trump. I think Martin Luther King's vision is bigger than that. Dr. King said, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," John Lewis' life reflects that. I expect him to talk about that tomorrow, but the reality is that Donald Trump was wrong when he put that tweet out yesterday.

He put this tweet out saying that John Lewis' district is crime infested. I'm here in Atlanta right now. I walked through John Lewis' district just today. It is not a crime infested neighborhood. And the problem is that Donald Trump has a tendency to equate blackness with pathology. It's a very racially troubling pattern in his part which is the reason why he picks people like Steve Harvey and Ben Carson to lead his urban affairs councils, but he has really not counseled or consulted with people who actually have experience in urban affairs.

HARLOW: But as you know, Keith, he didn't bring up race at all in any of these tweets.

BOYKIN: You know, he did not explicitly bring up race in these tweets but there is a clear racial animus in the tone. He only mentions urban issues when he's talking about African-Americans. John Lewis is an African-American who represents a majority black district. A district by the way where 80 percent of the people are high school graduates and 41 percent are also -- have college degrees. [17:10:00] So, Trump has this troubling notion that somehow black

people are only associated with pathology and I think that that needs to be challenged every way possible. And what Trump is trying to do is he's trying to elevate black leaders like I said, people like Steve Harvey and Kanye West, but to de-elevate people like Barack Obama and John Lewis who are actually respected in the African-American community. And he doesn't get to pick who our leaders are.

HARLOW: Paris, no doubt you take issue with that assessment. I also want you to respond to this, what the president-elect just tweeted this afternoon quote, "For many years our country has been divided, angry and untrusting, many say it will never change, the hatred is too deep, it will change." He's saying we won't be as divisive a nation under his presidency. His response to the Congressman John Lewis was divisive, is there a hypocrisy here?

PARIS DENNARD, MEMBER, NATIONAL COALITION FOR DONALD TRUMP: You know, with all due respect to Congressman John Lewis who is a civil rights icon, who is someone who is highly respected on both sides of the aisle and all communities of this nation, I think he was wrong in calling president-elect Donald Trump's presidency and candidacy illegitimate. You don't have to take my word for it. You can look at Democratic senator Manchin who said that it was uncalled for. And so --

HARLOW: But I'm asking you about the president-elect's response just now saying we won't be divided, this tweet and many of his other tweets are divisive, are they not?

DENNARD: And Poppy, what I'm saying is I believe that with all due respect to Congressman Lewis, his tweet was divisive and his comments saying that he wouldn't even invite president-elect Donald Trump when he's the president to Selma is to me divisive. What we need to do is follow in the footsteps of someone like Dr. Martin Luther King who did not say, you know what, I don't like President Kennedy so I'm not going to the White House. I'm not going to meet with him.

He said, I don't care who's president, he would work with President Nixon, he would work with President Johnson, he would work President Kennedy, he would work with whomever he was in the White House to get the job done because at the end of the day, we have to accept the fact that the president of the United States is the president, legitimate, and we have to work with him to get the agenda that we want to have done. The problem is that black community has too many bad eggs in basket and we put everything in the Democrats basket.

BOYKIN: Why wouldn't Donald Trump accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama instead of questioning his birth for five years though? The hypocrisy of this man calling for people to be united when he's the most divisive political figure in my lifetime. That's a shocking error on his part even and think that he can bring us together until he apologizes for what he did to Presidency Obama.


DENNARD: If you want the country to come together, these Democrat congress people should stay, you know what, for the good of the country, for healing or moving forward. We would want (ph) to come and support not as the president of the United States but the institution --

HARLOW: So into that point -- to that point, I got to get Adrienne in here. Adrienne, jump in here because the point of Paris brings out based to these 23 House Democrats who have said they won't attend. Here is what the president, the sitting president, Barack Obama had to say about this issue of helping the next president, listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.


HARLOW: That's the sitting president, Adrienne. How does it benefit the American people for Democrats to carry on the division?

ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think if you're talking about deciding whether or not to attend the inauguration, that is a personal decision. You know, I'm certainly not going to judge what 23 Democrats and counting their decision whether or not to attend the inauguration.

But what I will say is that Donald Trump has a history and a pattern of becoming unhinged when it comes to powerful and conventional figures such as in this case, Congressman John Lewis, one of the greatest heroes of our lifetime, criticizing him. He cannot handle it. And what I would also say to Donald Trump is you've got five days until you're going to become president of the United States, please come together, try to unify our country because we need that unity right now.

HARLOW: So my question to you is about Democrats, right, your team in all of these, should Democrats play more of a hand in that? Should these Democrats be going to the inauguration, and saying, you know, Mr. President-elect, we disagree wholeheartedly with this and how you responded but we're hear and let's sit down at the table and talk and get on with American business .

ELROD: Well, you know, again this is a personal decision that many members of congress will be making and have decided to make in terms of what they will do for the inauguration. You know, there was a lot of criticism of African-Americans, Muslims, and Latinos in this election by Donald Trump. So, I can certainly understand the decision that many people have not to attend, but again, that is a personal decision and it certainly not my place to make that sort of judgment.

HARLOW: I want you all --

[17:15:00] DENNARD: If Secretary Clinton can attend the inauguration -- HARLOW: Hold on. I want you all to listen to what Senator Rand Paul, Republican senator said today on "State of the Union."


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: And I do appreciate what him being a civil rights icon, but I would also say that that doesn't make us immune from criticism or debate. So John Lewis isn't in a position where there can't be a healthy debate back and forth because he's a civil rights icon it shouldn't make him immune.


HARLOW: Clarence, final thoughts on all that. Do you agree that his status of a civil rights icon shouldn't make him immune as the senator said there to this criticism?

HENDERSON: No one should be immune. The Democratic Party, this party is being divisive -- those that are not going to come together, they're doing exactly what they're accusing Donald Trump of in order for them to know where he stands and need to go to the table with him and in order they can sit down and negotiate and come together and represent (ph) this because we're talking about our country as a whole, not one individual.

As I said before, John Lewis is a tremendous icon as far as civil rights is concerned and he should do the same thing that he did back then, is to come to the table and go ahead and see what Donald Trump has to say.

BOYKIN: Clarence, please tell Donald Trump to stop tweeting and attacking people and maybe then we can come together.

HENDERSON: Donald Trump has the right to treat this just like you and I do --

BOYKIN: It's not very presidential. You want to come together you --

HENDERSON: But I'm looking for a leader. You're talking about the president. I want a leader.

BOYKIN: Well, that's not presidential --

DENNARD: At the end of the day, as Secretary Clinton --

HENDERSON: You' talking about politics. This is not a about politics. It's about people.

DENNARD: If Secretary Clinton can come to the inauguration for the good of the country, the 23, including Congressman Lewis should come to the inauguration. .

BOYKIN: And Donald Trump just two days ago was attacking Secretary Clinton on his Twitter feed, re-litigating the election --

(CROSSTALK) HARLOW: You guys have a moment to go. You will all do that with me. Keith, Clarence, Paris, Adrienne, thank you all.

We have a lot to get to this hour. Republican reaction as we just said, nearly two dozen Democrats skipping the inauguration (inaudible) here of Donald Trump's transition team, Congressman Marsha Blackburn for her response. Also, final shot, Democrats rallying around the country today trying to make the case to save Obamacare. We will take you live to Warren, Michigan where Bernie Sanders made a passionate plea.

And later transition of power, in just days, the Obamas move out, the Trump family moves in. So what is that going to look like behind the scenes? We will be joined by the former chief of staff for the former First Lady Laura Bush who was there to see that transition. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: A growing list of Democrats making a pretty strong statement against the president-elect declining to attend the inauguration. Nearly two dozen members of the House of Representatives now say no to Friday's inauguration. They will not be there. So far, everyone on that list is a Democrat. One congressman who will be there on Friday, in fact she's the vice chair of the transition team is Tennessee Republican, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. Thank you for being with us.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Good to be with you. Thank you.

HARLOW: So let's address that issue first. Some of the people on this list are boycotting the inauguration as you know because of the way that the president-elect responded on twitter to Congressman John Lewis saying that he does not think that Trump is the legitimate president. He said Congressman Lewis is a man of no action, all talk. He said his district is crime infested. Do you agree with the way that he responded to Congressman Lewis?

BLACKBURN: Poppy, I have to tell you, I wish that Congressman Lewis had not made the comments that he made and I would have preferred that the president not respond in that manner, but I think we all know that Donald Trump had an amazing victory. He won 30 of 50 states. He won more counties than have been won since any -- since Ronald Reagan.

He certainly had the majority and the electoral votes, 306 votes. And we all know that, and I think there are so many issues that we have to deal with -- our nation's security, dealing with the health care issues, tax reform. I would love to see everyone come together and support president --

HARLOW: I think everyone wants to see that unity --


HARLOW: -- and I think everyone wants to see those issues that affect main street America dealt with. And the reason I ask you that is because you're a powerful voice in his ear in this transition and this comes at a time when the president-elect is writing an inaugural address that is focused on unity, according to his own team. So how do his tweets reflect that? How do they unify our country? Can we tweet like that, congresswoman, in five days?

BLACKBURN: I don't know how he's going to handle -- I think that you will probably see him continue talking directly with the American people on twitter and continuing to get his message out, kind of going over the media if you will.

Okay, but lashing back at something that obviously really got to him and hurt him, right, and saying that he's not legitimate, look, this is, even a president, president Obama, Hillary Clinton, they say this is the president-elect, right, she will be, for example, Clinton at the inauguration. But the question becomes, can he react like that, going after everyone who insults him or questions him?

Well, yes, and utilization of social media. I think that you will probably see him continue talking directly with the American people on twitter and continuing to get his message out kind of going over the media if you will and that is --

HARLOW: OK, but lashing back -- lashing back at something that obviously really got to him and hurt him, right, and saying that he's not legitimate. Look, even the president, President Obama, Hillary Clinton they say, you know, this is the president-elect, right. She will be, for example Clinton, at the inauguration. But the question becomes, can he react like that going after everyone who insults him or questions him.

BLACKBURN: Well, yes, and utilization of social media I think will continue. I think that possibly you may see a change in approach or tone or tenor a little bit and I certainly would hope so. You know, as we have as today and it's a Sunday and it is the day that many of our congregations have celebrated MLK day. And I think that's such a good reminder to us about unity and many churches including my own are having unity services today.

And that is very appropriate and I hope that it helps us turn our attention away from things that divide us and towards things that unite us and --

HARLOW: And so to that point --

BLACKBURN: And the point that we -- yes.

HARLOW: To that point of unity, I want to talk about the intelligence community and the president-elect because CIA director John Brennan was on Fox News Sunday this morning and he spoke -- it' a pretty strong words for the president-elect when it comes to what the president-elect has said about the intelligence community, tweeting about them, tweeting intelligence in quotes, really questioning the veracity of their findings, here's what Brennan said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: If he doesn't have confidence in the intelligence community, what signal does that send to our partners and allies as well as our adversaries? So, I think Mr. Trump has to be very disciplined in terms of what it is that he says publicly.

He is going to be in a few days time the most powerful person in the world in terms of sitting on top of the United States government and I think he has to recognize that his words do have impact. They can have very positive impact or they can be undercutting of a national security.


[17:25:03] HARLOW: The undercutting of our national security. Would you like to see the president-elect stop disparaging the intelligence community?

BLACKBURN: I have a lot of trust in Mike Pompeo who is going to be the CIA director and others --

HARLOW: I understand that congresswoman but that was not my question. My question was would you like to see the president-elect stop disparaging the intelligence community?

BLACKBURN: He is going to have his team in place that will be advising him and I certainly think that you're going to see a more unified approach to the intelligence gathering and the briefings and the components that are presented to the president. I watched that interview with Mr. Brennan after I got in from church today.

And you know Poppy, I think that what we have to realize is that the entire conversation, when you look at it in total, dealt with the dossier, that with the information that was there on the gathering from Fusion GPS. And it was something that was oppo research. And then it goes into the hands of the intel community and somehow it ends up in the press. So there's a lot of back and forth on that.

HARLOW: Well, as you know Clapper -- as you know, the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper --


HARLOW: -- wrote a memo publicly saying this was not leaked from the intelligence community. So, let's listen to what Donald Trump --

BLACKBURN: I'm aware of that and I read that memo.

HARLOW: Let's listen to what Donald Trump said this week in his press conference about the intelligence community. Play it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think it's a disgrace and I say that -- and I say that. And that's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.


HARLOW: Is that language appropriate?

BLACKBURN: You can talk a lot about if language is appropriate or not and utilization of words and approaches to things, but what we have seen via the intel community, the conduct of Jim Comey, then Senator Schumer's words this week when Donald Trump has --

HARLOW: But congresswoman, words matter --

BLACKBURN: No, let me finish this.

HARLOW: -- and words matter especially --

BLACKBURN: Yes, they do because --

HARLOW: But please answer the question because they really matter when they're coming from the president-elect. Are those words comparing our intelligence community to someone operating within Nazi Germany, are they appropriate?

BLACKBURN: Poppy, Senator Schumer's comment that if he challenged the intel community, they had six ways from Sunday to come back at you --

HARLOW: We can actually talk about Senator Schumer's comment after you address my question which was about the president-elect --

BLACKBURN: To come back at you.

HARLOW: Do you think that what the president-elect said was appropriate?

BLACKBURN: I'm trying to answer your question. I'm saying what Senator Schumer said about the intel community having the ability to come back at you, six ways from Sunday, the inappropriate nature of the fact that our government would use our agencies to get back at people -- the inappropriate nature of that.

The handling of information via the FBI. The leaking of an oppo research memo and dossier, and whomever did this, it is the clouding and the confusion around that and, yes, it needs to be cleaned up. Is it going to require leadership? Absolutely, it is going to require leadership.

I think that when you see the president-elect sworn in on Friday and his people move into the positions that are there, individuals that he knows, he has trust in, he has confidence in, and you see that these agencies are not going to be politicized agencies. Yes, I think at that point, you're going to see a different approach.

HARLOW: So to that poin then, do you believe, are you inferring that you believe for example that director Comey of the FBI should be fired?

BLACKBURN: No, I think that right now, you leave that until we have our attorney general in place, we have our new team in place, allow them to get in and have those properly --

HARLOW: But I'm asking you what do you think because you're clearly questioning the intelligence community. Do you think he should be replaced?

BLACKBURN: And I think that it is inappropriate at this point in time. We are five days away from having a new president sworn in and there is amount of confusion about the cleanup that needs to be done. Let's allow them the opportunity to have those conversations and to make some changes or movements or decisions or whatever they feel that they need to do.

[17:30:00] There has been some right and wrong that has been done by different agencies. There has been right and wrong that has been said by different individuals, and Poppy, I have to tell you, I think at this time -- at this point in time as we are in, we are entering into inaugural week. What we all need to do is allow this transition of government to take place, the new team to take their spot.

HARLOW: Does that mean we should not talk about what is happening and what the president-elect is saying? Is that what you're inferring?

BLACKBURN: No, not at all.

HARLOW: That because it's inauguration week that we should not address these issues?

BLACKBURN: No, not at all. That is not what I said. In my position as an elected official, I think it is inappropriate to say, well, I think they need to be doing this, that or the other, today, tomorrow or the next day. I'm going to show them the respect of getting sworn in, getting their team in place, and then we in the House will move forward with our agenda. The Senate will move forward with their agenda.

We will exercise our Article I powers. We will turn to the administration with their Article II powers and look for opportunities to work with them and you know, we'll celebrate the fact that it is the judiciary, the third branch of government that actually swears in the president and the vice president. And we will look forward to having that peaceful transition on Friday.

HARLOW: Congresswoman, thank you for your time.

BLACKBURN: Absolutely. Good to be with you. Thank you.

HARLOW: Good to be with you as well. Coming up, president-elect Donald Trump at odds with Mexico and China. More political rhetoric or the first shock in a coming trade war. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: In just five days, Republicans will control both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government with the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Last week GOP lawmakers passed budget resolutions in the Senate and the House to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the healthcare law was in death spiral at a CNN town hall and promised Republicans would repeal and replace it at the same time.


[17:35:00] PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let me say this. I believe we can ensure to have a system in this country where everybody can have access to affordable health care including people with pre- exiting conditions no matter how much money they make.


HARLOW: Democrats are wasting no time staging their resistance trying to save Obamacare or at least the most popular parts of the law as they see it. Jessica Schneider joins us now from Warren, Michigan where thousands of people were out braving some pretty cold temperatures. They were there to hear Bernie Sanders speak, and I know you spoke one-on-one with him. What did he say?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know Poppy, Senator Sanders told me that he does believe that these rallies that happened here in Michigan and all throughout the country, he thinks they will make a difference in getting that message to Republicans, that Republicans shouldn't repeal the Affordable Care Act before they come out with an adequate replacement.

There was thousands of people here in Michigan, also tens or hundreds of thousands of people all throughout the country. This happened nationwide and many of the people got up on stage in addition to the politicians and lawmakers. Those people sharing their stories about how the Affordable Care Act literally saved their lives in many cases and definitely saved them in their words, you know, a lot of money in health care costs.

And I did talk to Senator Sanders about why he decided to come here to Michigan -- of course this is a state that Democrats haven't lost since 1988. This is typically a blue state that this year of course went for Donald Trump. I asked Senator Sanders why come here to Michigan? Why refocus you efforts on this state when he could have been in Vermont at a rally there in his home state. Take a listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Mr. Trump when he ran for president promised the people of Michigan and the people of America that he was a different type of Republican. He was not going to cut social security, Medicare or Medicaid. So part of what today is about is reminding Mr. Trump that he better keep his promises because we're watching.


SCHNEIDER: And Michigan, just one of the places around the country that Democrats believe they need to regain their footing and reconnect with working class voters. Of course places like Michigan, and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the Democrats expected to win and they typically have won, this year did go for Donald Trump so that reconnection process in the works. I also asked Senator Sanders if he has spoken with Hillary Clinton about the health care issue or anything else. Senator Sanders said he does plan to meet with her very soon. Poppy.

HARLOW: And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was also at that rally in Michigan. What did he say about all of these and frankly what he believes they can do at this point and what Republicans are planning?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's right. Senator Schumer, just one of the many fiery and passionate speakers who are out here in Michigan and all throughout the country. Senator Schumer actually said that the Affordable Care Act has done wonderful things that the health care system was a mess before the Affordable Care Act. And of course he was very fiery in his language saying that the Republicans should absolutely not go forward with a repeal in what he said, they have nothing to replace it with. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We're willing to look at making it better, but we sure as hell ain't going to repeal it. And we're certainly not going to repeal it when our friends there don't even have a plan to replace it with.


SCHNEIDER: And after the rally, I did speak with one of Michigan's senators here, Debbie Stabenow. She tells me that this rally here in Michigan and the ones that we saw throughout the country today, this could be just the beginning. Of course we saw those rallies during the campaign season, but this could be just the beginning in rallies that will continue throughout the Trump administration as Democrats look to rally their base and get back in their messaging to those working class voters. Poppy.

HARLOW: Of course Chuck Schumer said they don't have a plan, the Republicans, as we know on this network this morning, Republican Senator Rand Paul put forth some key elements of a plan that he would like to see through and he would take issue with those comments or hear that a little bit later. Jessica Schneider in Michigan, thank you.

Still to come, president-elect Donald Trump taking his message of trust for Putin to worldwide audience. This is a brand new interview. We'll let you listen to what he said here, next.


HARLOW: President-elect Donald Trump giving an extensive interview not to an American media news outlet but to a tag team of British and German newspaper outlet. You're about to hear what he said. He talked to them about many, many things, about how the Trump administration will approach American trade with Europe, which leaders he says are making big mistakes, and who he trust more, the leader of Germany or the leader of Russia.

Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is with us in London, and Nic, this is the "Times" of London and Germany's "Bild" newspaper just releasing part of this joint interview that they did with the president-elect. Let's take a moment and listen to what Trump said when he was asked who he trusts more, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you trust more if you would talk to them, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: We'll I started off trusting both, but let's see how long they last. It may not last long at all.


HARLOW: So putting the two of them on a same page in terms of trust. What else stood out to you?

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he talked abour Angela Merkel saying that she had made huge mistakes letting in so many illegals into Germany. We think hear that he means refugees into Germany -- more than a million. He talked as well about the possibility of doing a deal with Vladimir Putin, that he was open to try to get a deal done, that he believed that the number of nuclear weapons should be reduced, and he said, you know, let's see if that's possible.

And perhaps that was the caveat there between the Angela Merkel -- do you like Angela Merkel more or Putin, or can you trust Merkel or Putin? Which one better? So the indication there, one would assume from what he's saying here is that if Putin doesn't come good on making deals. And he talked about how important it is for the two countries, United States and Russia to get along and the Russian people are suffering on the sanctions and that perhaps the outcome of those meetings, the (INAUDIBLE) talks -- that would perhaps change his mind about who he could trust more Merkel or Putin.

HARLOW: Although Nic he didn't seem to support Russia's actions in Syria.

ROBERTSON: No, he didn't. He said that was a big mistake but yet he also said that he NATO was obsolete and that is something that General Mathis has said is not his view and something that Vladimir Putin very much hopes is correct. You know, there was another thing here that he talked about, the Brexit, the Brexit vote in Britain.

He said that this would be great for Britain in the future event though the value of sterling has gone down. He talked about the possibility of a trade deal soon with Britain, that that was important, meaning the British prime minister was important. But one point to note here, this was a very friendly interviewer if you will for the "Times" newspaper.

[17:45:00] HARLOW: Right, because the man who interviewed Trump for the "Times" of London, right, is someone that was in contact for our viewers here who was fired from the Theresa May cabinet, right. A pro- Brexit, former justice minister.

ROBERTSON: Yes. He was education minister as well and one of the leaders of the Brexit campaign, which Theresa May was opposed to initially. So, rather than, you know, a journalist working at the Times newspaper, they brought in a current politician who is a pro- Brexit figure and very, if you will, affable towards Donald Trump, Poppy

HARLOW: Nic Robertson in London with all the headlines. A lot there certainly. Thank you, Nic.

Coming up next, the touching letter from the First Daughters to Jenna and Barbara Bush, to Sasha and Malia Obama. I will speak about it all on the transition for the children with the former chief of staff for the First Lady Laura Bush. You're live at the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: First daughters Sasha and Malia are getting advice from the daughters of the Republican leader their father succeeded. In an open letter, Jenna Bush Hagger and her sister, Barbara Bush welcomes the Obama girls as they prepare to join the former first children's club. The Bush twins offering tips for handling college and how to make positive change when you're constantly in the spotlight. Anita McBride is with me. She is the former chief of staff for First Lady Laura Bush. So nice to have you on.


HARLOW: You were there in 2008. You were there 2009 I should say during the transition, and you saw Barbara and Jenna Bush along with Sasha and Malia. What a great picture here that you've sent us. What was that moment like for the children?

MCBRIDE: Well, I think that it was really -- you know, they were excited, they were a little nervous. Of course they came in through the Diplomatic Reception Room door, I would say late evening, so it was dark. Their grandmother was with them and their mother so, of course they had the comfort of family with them and it was a really wonderful gesture that Laura Bush had invited the girls to come and for Mrs. Obama to come back and let them see where they're going to live.

[17:50:08] She knew that it would mean a lot to them and make them feel more comfortable if they could see it through the eyes of Barbara and Jenna, her own girls who were, you know, Sasha's age when they first saw the White House with their grandfather.

HARLOW: You know, in a sense, I feel like the first children are more sort of protected not just by security, but from us, from the media, from the paparazzi when they are in the White House.


HARLOW: You know, when they are out of the White House, they are much more in the limelight, aren't they?

MCBRIDE: Of course. And of course they are more protected when they're young. And Sasha and Malia of course were young girls coming into the White House, 8 and 11 years old I think. So there is, you know, a protection and a respect for privacy that I think the press and the media and everyone has. Although Americans are fascinated with first families, they want to know what the children are doing. They want to know what life is like in the White House.

And I think that's what Barbara and Jenna tried to tell them. You can make a fun life here. You can have a great time ad showing them all the rooms and the theater and the bowling alley, and all the things that would be their life now for the past eight years.

HARLOW: As we see the Trump family comes into the White House, what are your thoughts on how Melania Trump will redefine the role of first lady?

MCBRIDE: Well, I think, you know, this is the wonderful thing about the role of first lady. Every occupant that comes in to it gets to do what they want to do with the job and make it something that's a reflection of them. So we start from that basis because there are no statutory responsibilities and obligations.

So that's a good thing. And I think she's already made, you know, a very bold decision to decide not to come down to Washington immediately. Obviously, she'll be here for the inauguration, I'm assuming a few days after that but -- and then we'll go back and let her son finish school. I think that sets the tone early but, you know, she is going to be focused on family first, which is something Mrs. Obama said right at the beginning too.

HARLOW: She did and Mrs. Obama also said before she became first lady, you know, I won't know what it will be like or how I will be until I get there. This fall, obviously Melania Trump stated publicly what one of her big missions would be as first lady. And that is to take on cyber bullying. Let's listen.


MELANIA TRUMP, INCOMING FIRST LADY: We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other. We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.


HARLOW: Obviously, a lot of people talked about that given the president-elect's twitter habits. What do you think? Is it going to be hard for her to take that on or have we seen in the past first ladies sort of going their own way despite, you know, perhaps what their spouse is focused on?

MCBRIDE: Well, I think what we have always seen with first ladies is the recognition that or the acceptance that they have an automatic powerful platform to do what they want to do with it. They can pick and choose issues. They don't have to deal with every problem that comes to the desk of the American president.

But, you know what, they will pick and choose and pull the resources together to work on things that they care about. And you know what, if this is what she chooses to do, is serious about it, puts the right people around her, she can make a difference.

I wouldn't see it as necessarily separate from what, you know, the administration is trying to do, but it's going to be a reflection of what had she personally cares about.

HARLOW: And certainly something that is needed I think for all American children.

MCBRIDE: Particularly for young people, and I think she's speaking to it as a mother of a young son.

HARLOW: No question. Thank you so much Anita. Nice to have you on --

MCBRIDE: Thank you.

HARLOW: -- and thank you for sharing that picture with us on display.

MCBRIDE: Of course, absolutely Poppy. Bye-bye.

HARLOW: Well, CNN explores First Lady Michelle Obama's journey from Chicago to the world stage. A CNN special report, "History Made: The Legacy of Michelle Obama" airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern, right here. Back in a moment.


HARLOW: The controversial leader of one of the nation's largest mega churches has died. Bishop Eddie Long presided over the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. He was a national figure who led an infamous march against same-sex marriage. He denounced homosexuality. In 2010, he settled a lawsuit by four young men who had said that he pressured them in a sexual relationship. Despite the settlement, Long denied the allegation. A statement from the church says Long died after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 63-years-old. We'll be right back.