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HHS Nominee Introduced Bill to Help Company He Invested In; Sources: Trump Labor Pick Voices Second Thoughts About Job; Controversy Surrounds Trump as Inauguration Nears; Report: Trump Vows "Insurance for Everybody"; Trump Team Considers Moving WH Press Corps; Trump: I'll Keep Tweeting Because the Press Is Dishonest; Who Has Trump's Ear?. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 16, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much.

Good evening from Washington. Thanks for joining us.

In just four days, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States. Tonight, fallout from his final days as citizen Trump and there's a lot of it in just the last couple of days. He's promised health insurance for everyone and sent some mixed messages on NATO. He's saying he'll trust ally Angela Merkel and adversary Vladimir Putin equally, at least to begin with.

He led his feud with a civil rights pioneer continue. He is facing low job approval numbers, as low as 37 percent.

And now, two fresh challenges both breaking tonight, his labor secretary reportedly having some second thoughts about taking the job. And serious ethical questions surrounding his pick for Health and Human Services, Georgia Congressman Tom Price.

That is where we begin tonight. CNN's Manu Raju broke the story, joins us.

So, Manu, what have you learned?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, last March, Congressman Price purchased as much as $15,000 in stock in one major medical device maker, that Zimmer Biomet. And that company would have been hurt by a federal Medicare rule affecting hip and knee implant manufacturers. And those implants account for a majority of the revenue for Zimmer Biomet. Now, less than a week after purchasing those shares, Price offered legislation that would have directly helped Zimmer Biomet by delaying that federal Medicare rule until 2018. The company also donated repeatedly to Price's campaign.

Now, ethics experts I speak to, Anderson, are alarmed by this revelation, especially since Congress passed legislation into 2012 to stop lawmakers from trading based on any sort of inside information they may have gleaned through the legislative process. Now, in a new statement tonight, Anderson, Price's spokesman said it's demonstrably false to connect this bill to a campaign contribution. And an aide tonight says Price did not know about the stock purchase because it was done through a broker.

But, Anderson, before this story published, Price's office declined to respond to questions initially about whether those stocks were indeed purchased through a broker.

COOPER: So, is this the first time the congressman has raised eyebrows after trading stock in the health care firm?

RAJU: No, actually, Anderson, Price has been under scrutiny on this topic for the past month. This after "The Wall Street Journal" reported that Price traded more than $300,000 worth of stock. Since then Democrats have been calling for an investigation. That's something that Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, once again called for tonight in the wake of our latest report.

But Democrats don't have the votes to stop Price from getting confirmed as health and human services secretary at the moment. But they want this issue of potential insider trading to be a major focal point in the confirmation hearings. And they hope that could put Republicans in an uncomfortable spot, especially, Anderson, as Trump has called for draining the swamp in Washington -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Manu Raju, appreciate that reporting.

Coming up, we're going to have a lot more.

Let's bring in the panel which we are supersizing all week. CNN "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor, John King, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, and Gloria Borger, who is hosting a special look at Ivanka Trump at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight on CNN. Also, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, conservative Trump critic Tara Setmayer joins us tonight, so does Trump supporter and "American Spectator" contributing editor Jeffrey Lord. With us as well, former Congressional Black Caucus executive director Angela Rye, and "The Daily Caller's", Matt Lewis.

Dana, I mean, you heard the reporting from Manu Raju. How big a deal is this?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on how it shakes out. I was texting back and forth with the transition source who said that from what they have found, this was a broker directed account. Meaning, he tried to shield himself by telling his broker, do what you want to do.

COOPER: Just a coincidence they are saying?

BASH: Correct. But this is the tip of the iceberg or I should say this is just the beginning of the reporting. And you can be sure that the committee that is going to be in charge of his confirmation, particularly the Democrats, are going to ask for and demand more information to be sure of that. Now --

COOPER: If it turns --

BASH: It's possible. If it turns out that is true that he didn't want to have information, here, Mr. Broker, here's this pile of money, do with it what you want, I don't want to know if it's going to help or not, there shouldn't be a problem.

COOPER: There shouldn't be a problem.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. But wouldn't there be any ground rules where you say to your broker, wait a minute, I deal with health care matters all the time? Therefore, stay away from this segment of investment?

BASH: You would think.

BORGER: Because even the appearance of a conflict could be bad for me. Wouldn't you think he would do that?

MATT LEWIS, THE DAILY CALLER: But I think that's what it is, the appearance, I think, because -- look, this is a guy -- I think his net worth is $13 million. This is bad, the timing is horrible. It looks bad. But it could be $1,000 to $15,000. The notion that he would jeopardize his career --

COOPER: That seems insane to me.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It would be another thing if it were the only instance. There was another instance that he talked about and we have seen of upwards of $300,000.

[20:05:03] And I think that the real issue for me as a Democrat watching this is what a difference a transition makes. I remember Senator Daschle having to take his name out of the running because of potential issues with his taxes and because of the appearance of --

BASH: But they said he didn't pay taxes.

RYE: But he was arranging back payment. The other issue is, he also was perceived as lobbying. We are talking about, again, the narrative of draining the swamp which is similar. But, of course, Barack Obama didn't use the same terminology. It was the same.

This is not just the stock trading but it's also the regulation -- the deregulation of the industry of this particular company and the contribution.

COOPER: Jeffrey?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to say, I'm not a fan of the way Washington does business. This is one of the ways they do business.

You have a policy disagreement with nominee X. And what you do instead of talking about the policy difference, you find something like this exactly to get them all hung up, to disgrace them to do whatever to get them out. And to be perfectly candid, this applies to both parties. I'm not thrilled with doing that.

But the second thing, one of the things that's going to happen with Donald Trump is we're going to have a lot of different discussions in this town. Things are going to be turned upside down. And one of the things we're going to start talking about I think is what about political conflicts of interest? What about when you are president of the United States and your re-election depends on your home state of Illinois and you personally leave the Oval Office to get on a plane to Chicago, to go pump for the Olympics to come to your hometown?

There's a conflict of interest. But it's all political. And nobody takes this stuff seriously. That happens in this town 1,000 times a day in both parties.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's why this is problematic and I happen to like Tom Price. He has come up with Obamacare replacement ideas. He is one of the few members of Congress had that substance behind the ideas during the time when Republicans dozens of times voted to repeal Obamacare. He actually has substantive replacement ideas.

But when you are a member of Congress, you have to file a financial disclosure every year where you have to list your investments, you have to list any potential conflicts of interest. So, it seems to me it would be silly to do something as blatant as this, knowing he has to report this. Maybe he did. It wouldn't be the first time. But that's what the financial disclosures are for.

That's also what nomination processes are for and confirmation hearings. He will have to explain this. I think he is behind the curve on this. If the Trump transition team had vetted him properly, they should have known ahead of time that this was a potential conflict of interest a month ago when he was nominated. Then they would have an answer now and it wouldn't be breaking news the week of the inauguration.

COOPER: I want to bring in John King.

John, you have been reporting on another nominee, potentially -- what have you learned?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Voicing some second thoughts. Andy Puzder is the nominee for labor secretary and that he tweeted earlier today, I'm looking forward to my hearing. That was after we reported. But over the weekend, he had voiced some second thoughts.

So, the Trump transition, including Andy Puzder himself pushing back aggressively now just before we came on air. I got communication from several senior Trump transition officials, some of whom often don't return my messages, suddenly very happy to be speaking with me. So, this is a good thing. And they are pushing back aggressively.

Here is what I'm told from a very close business associate and two Republicans who are plugged into the transition, that coming into the weekend, he started just to raise questions, is this worth it? Andy Puzder has been under aggressive attack from Democrats. His company, he's the CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. They've been attacking him for opposing the minimum wage. They have

been attacking him for promoting his companies by what they call sexist TV ads, women in bikini selling hamburgers. Some have been saying at the hearings they might raise domestic abuse allegations by an ex-wife from years ago.

And he's also, his ethic and legal and financial disclosure paperwork has not been filed yet. That's a sign you are going back and forth with the Office of Government Ethics trying to figure out what you have to divest, what do you need to disclose.

I'm told he was like, is this worth it? Is it worth the fight? Which is not unusual for something from the private sector. Let's be fair to Andy Puzder, you're committed from the private sector into the swamp here.

LORD: Why is that? I mean, that's the problem.

KING: Well, part of it is you want to serve in the cabinet. Part of it, it's a tough town. Part of it is, look, tensions are raw right now.


KING: Tonight, I'm told that he says, I want my hearing. His hearing is not scheduled because his paperwork is not done. It was supposed to be tomorrow, and because they pushed it to let the education secretary take the slot.

Let's see how it plays out. I know for a fact from very good sources coming into the weekend, he was asking some questions about this. I'm told very high level at Trump Tower, they reassured him, we want you in this team. Stay in the fight.

POWERS: I was going to say, part of it is I think that when you are a business person, you don't -- you are used to doing everything on your own terms. You don't really have anybody holding you accountable, making you explain.

BASH: Paging, Donald Trump.

POWERS: For example, Donald Trump.

COOPER: That's what's so fascinating. For everybody who wants Donald Trump to succeed and some at this table who don't want some of his policies to succeed, how he adapts or how Washington adapts to him.

BORGER: Well, and he wants to be the chairman of the board, not just the CEO.

[20:10:00] And he's got all these CEOs that he has appointed who are going to report to him. And as CEOs, they expect people to come to them and salute, and say, OK, this is the way you want it, boss, this is the way it's going to get done. Well, that doesn't happen in Washington and start with extreme vetting.

COOPER: Well, you also have Monica Crowley stepping away from taking a position in the Trump White House.

KING: She finally did the transition a favor in the sense that --


KING: After CNN's file reported on the book in 2012, plagiarism, then other instances of plagiarism. At first, I'm told quietly, some transition people said -- she was hanging in there. But then she stepped aside today, which is the right thing to do. It's the right thing.

If she wants to serve in the later date, if she can clean this up, that's another issue. But when you have a new president who's going to be inaugurated in four days, if this happens to you and you're in a ditch, it's best to step aside. And she did the right thing.

COOPER: We're going to take a break. When we come back, focus on the president-elect's battle on this holiday with the congressman who marched with Dr. King, nearly lost his life doing so.

Later, who is the president-elect's ear exactly and who will have the most influence on him as president? It's the big question in Washington. New reporting on that tonight on 360.


COOPER: Well, as we said at the top of the broadcast, in addition to breaking news on his labor and HHS picks, President-elect Trump was already making headlines for statements on health care, Russia, NATO and more.

[20:15:01] All of this as he prepares for his swearing in on Friday.

Back home over the weekend, he fired a string of attack tweets at Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis. Congressman Lewis, you'll remember, said that he did not consider Mr. Trump to be a legitimately elected president. A war of words between the two men played all through the weekend. And today, four days before the inauguration, there's no end in sight.

More on all of that now from our Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On this MLK Day, Donald Trump met behind closed doors with Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights icon.

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, SON OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: Certainly, he said that, that he is going to represent America. He said that over and over again.

ACOSTA: But it was only a brief reprieve from the controversy swirling around his inauguration. The incoming 45th president is slamming German Chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing Syrian refugees into her country. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I have great respect for her. I

felt she was a great, great leader. I think she made one very catastrophic mistake. That was taking all of these illegals -- you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody really knows where they come from. You'll find out.

ACOSTA: That drew a sharp response from Secretary of State John Kerry to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I thought, frankly, it was inappropriate for a president-elect of the United States to be stepping into the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner. He will have to speak to that as of Friday. You know, he is responsible for that relationship.

ACOSTA: Trump appears to be placing Merkel in the same category as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: Well, I'll start off trusting both. But let's see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.

ACOSTA: Trump is once again signaling a new softer policy on Russia, hinting in a published interview that he wants to work out a deal with Putin. "Russia is hurting badly because of sanctions. But I think something can happen that a lot of people are going to benefit."

And Trump sounds like he is not sold on the NATO alliance.

TRUMP: I said a long time ago that NATO had problems. Number one, it was obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago. Number two, the countries weren't paying what they are supposed to pay.

ACOSTA: The president-elect is still fuming over the disclosure that U.S. intelligence officials briefed him on unsubstantiated allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising information on him. Trump is slapping back at outgoing CIA Director John Brennan who said the incoming president should treat Russia with caution.

Trump tweeted, "Oh, really? Couldn't do much worse. Just look at Syria, red line, Crimea, Ukraine and the buildup of Russian nukes. Not good. Was this the leaker of fake news?"

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was John Brennan, someone who the president-elect is supposed to be trusting that came out and attacked him on his breadth and depth of understanding of Russia, which is unbelievable.

ACOSTA: Trump is again raising questions about how he will repeal and replace Obamacare, telling "The Washington Post" his plan is insurance for everybody. But the transition is offering few details.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: President-elect made it clear to the leadership in the Congress that he wants to do repeal and simultaneously. And we're working earnestly to do that.

ACOSTA: Despite the firestorms whipped up by his Twitter tirades, Trump is vowing to keep tweeting.

TRUMP: I'd rather just let that build up and just keep it @RealClearTrump, it's working --and the tweeting, I thought I'd do less of it, but I'm covered so dishonestly by the press -- so dishonestly.


COOPER: And Jim Acosta joins us now from Trump tower.

So, Jim, the feud that President-elect Trump has been having with Congressman John Lewis, has that simmered down at all?

ACOSTA: It has not, Anderson. As a matter of fact, there are Democratic congressmen coming out of the woodwork announcing they are not going to be attending Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday. We're up to more than two dozen Democratic members of Congress showing their solidarity to Congressman John Lewis.

Anderson, we should point out, most of the members come from the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But, nevertheless, it does in the minds of Democrats and Republicans contribute to this cycle of incivility we have been seeing over the last two terms of Barack Obama's presidency. Things aren't changing on that front.

And for all of those Americans out there who are wondering, well, is Donald Trump going to change his ways, as you heard on that comment there at the end of the piece, he is planning to keep right on tweeting as president of the United States when he is no longer the president-elect. He's going to hang on to that real Donald Trump Twitter handle and do exactly what he has been doing all along -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Back now with the panel.

John King, I mean, you know, obviously, when Congressman Lewis says something, a lot of people listen and when Donald Trump says something, a lot of people listen. Both knew -- I mean, Congressman Lewis knew that it was going to make headlines. And Donald Trump obviously knew that when he punched back, it was going to make headlines.

KING: Certainly did. And, look, Congressman Lewis is a historic figure in America. He is revered figure in the African-American community. He's a hero of the civil rights movement.

He's also a partisan Democratic politician. And let's be honest here, heading into inauguration week, he chose this moment to use a word he knew would infuriate Donald, illegitimate.

[20:20:06] That was not an accident. And now, we are talking, Dana and I were emailing about this earlier, he is sort of setting a litmus test for other Democrats heading into inauguration, that some Democrats might regret actually down the road. But he has decided to do this. He didn't say it again today on Martin

Luther King Day. He gave a big speech. Everyone was watching to see if he would add fuel to the fire. He did not.

I would say, President-elect Trump sort of backed -- tried to turn the temperature down a little bit today. He didn't back off. He hasn't reached to John Lewis.

So, the Trump campaign, they think Lewis owes the president-elect an apology. In the Lewis campaign says, do you remember delegitimized Barack Obama, do you remember the birther movement? Lewis says this is about -- the more he learned about the Russia hacking, the more he can't view Donald Trump as legitimate. It is giving other Democrats the courage or the cover, pick your word, to say I'm not coming to the inauguration either.

And it creates a toxic tone, a partisan tone, in what is usually a week where everybody just -- even if you don't like the president, you just turn off for a few days and let him have a celebration.

LEWIS: It's really -- we talked about the cycle of incivility. That's what this is.

And, look, I think you're probably right, they set a trap. It was bait. Donald Trump fell for it. It's probably bad politics.

But I think what the congressman is doing is really bad for America. You know, I criticized Donald Trump not that long ago when he was sort of preemptively questioning whether or not this election would be legitimate, because we have enough problems right now with people not trusting institutions, not trusting the media, not trusting politicians, not trusting elections.

And for a congressman as revered as he is, though, to question the legitimacy of this election, I think he is actually very irresponsible.

COOPER: Angela, I asked this question on -- I guess it was on Friday on the broadcast, which is, you know, had Hillary Clinton won and a Republican congressman done this, said she's not legitimate, Democrats would be up in arms.

RYE: Well, and I think we saw what happened when Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of Obama's even citizenship, forget the election. So for me, you know, the one thing that I have to say about Congressman Lewis that's so important is he talks often about this concept called good trouble.

And this is one of those instances where he believes that I'm standing up for what I believe is right. This is where the conscience of many Americans are, including the overwhelming amount who did not vote for Donald Trump. This is an issue where we're talking about someone who from his -- the very beginning -- I'm not talking about the beginning of him running for president.

The very beginning of his professional career is riddled with challenges with race relations in this country. And so, I think whether we're talking about the Central Park Five or him trivializing all of Atlanta which isn't just a slap in the face to John Lewis, it's a slap in the face of --

COOPER: But, Tara, is this good trouble?

SETMAYER: I don't think so. And I respect John Lewis. Everybody does.

But I think to Matt's point, you can have all of those grievances. I agree with a lot of what Angela said concerning Donald Trump's past.

But when you start delegitimizing institutions, that's where you run into problems. It almost gives the Russians a win. That's what they are trying to do. It's part of their reflexive control strategy to get us to bicker amongst each other about the legitimacy of our election process.

You know, something similar happened in 2001 where Representative Lewis decided that George Bush wasn't a legitimate president. He was boycotting the inauguration.

BORGER: And he did.

SETMAYER: That's correct. And then, he also went after John McCain unfairly in 2008. I think we would all agree that John McCain is an American hero who suffered --

BASH: He said he was like George Wallace.

SETMAYER: And he compared him to George Wallace. Where was the outrage there?

So, with all due respect to Representative Lewis, he has a tendency to be very hyperbolic with things sometimes. And he thinks because he's an icon, he is beyond reproach.


SETMAYER: He is not beyond reproach. In this week (ph), he deserves to be criticized.

LORD: Let me pick up with Tara's point there. Rush Limbaugh said something today, that particularly resonated with me. President Reagan was shot in the chest and almost killed with an attempted assassination. When he came back from this, everybody cheered him and went on. For the rest of his term -- I mean, there were people who wanted to impeach him, the whole Iran Contra thing. He was subjected to regular political attack. I'm not beating about him, I'm just saying that's fine.

John Lewis had an enormously historical role in the early 1960s. This is -- for which I admire him. This has long since gone by. We have to get back to the notion that just because you have done something way back in your history or you were --

BORGER: But I don't think --

LORD: That you are -- that this carries throughout. It certainly didn't carry out for President Reagan. It shouldn't carry out for Congressman Lewis.

RYE: I'm sorry. It would be one thing if Mr. Lewis continued to just tweet out pictures of himself crossing the bridge nearly dying for us to vote in the 1960s. We're talking about a man who still very much is committed to ensuring parity and equality in the country.

[20:25:00] LORD: That's fine. That's a legit argument.

RYE: We're not just reflecting on the has-beens. We are reflecting on what he continues to do.

Congressman Cummings in a conversation with me today talked about him being mortified and not -- and in his 35 years of public service, in the Congress, having been so shocked by what he learned in the classified briefings that the least that people could do in some instances is boycotting. This is something that a lot of the CBC members are really wrestling with. They want to do the right thing. They want to continue to be known as the conscience --

COOPER: John and we've got to go.

KING: I don't really think there's a disagreement here, though. There's no question Congressman Lewis is a revered figure. But he did this as a partisan Democrat. So, if you want to fire back at him, fine. Let's have a political debate. What did he mean? Why is he boycotting? How many other Democrats who might have --

RYE: Attacking (INAUDIBLE)

KING: Well, I'm not saying Donald Trump chose the right words fighting back.


COOPER: We're going to have more with the panel ahead.

As you heard in Jim Acosta's report, President Trump's plan to replace Obamacare as according to Trump, insurance for everybody. That's what he is saying. That's what he told "The Washington Post". The question is, do the details support an assessment? What details there are? We'll get into that next.


[20:30:06] COOPER: Well, as we've been discussing, four days until the inauguration. A controversy is swirling around Mr. Trump's incoming administration, some of it from comments he made this weekend.

The president-elect's rhetoric on ObamaCare is burned into the minds of anyone who followed the campaign, repeal and replace, repeal and replace. The details though of the replace part were harder to come by, which hasn't changed with the inauguration just days away.

Trump told "The Washington Post", the replacement plan will give, "insurance for everybody." What that will look like though is still an open question.

Back now with the panel. I mean Jeffrey, when President-elect Trump promises insurance for everybody, how does that square with longstanding Republican opposition to universal health care measures?

LORD: Well --

SETMAYER: It doesn't.

LORD: Sure it does, sure it does. Because when you're saying insurance for everybody you're talking about access to Affordable Health Care. You're not saying -- I mean this is the translation that goes on in this town all the time. This means --

COOPER: You're not saying insurance for everybody. You're saying chance of insurance.

LORD: Right, the chance of insurance for everybody. And what you hear in this town is, that means the government is going to give it to everybody.


LORD: Not so. That is not what he's saying.

SETMAYER: But he said the government will pay for it. That's what Donald Trump said.

LORD: What's going to happen here Tara is -- as we move through this debate, which we all acknowledge is complex, we're going to get into these debates endlessly, endlessly as he says, a, and some congressional subcommittee over here is dealing with subsection c.

SETMAYER: That knows what's going on and corrects him.

LORD: And doesn't jive and how we -- right, but the goal is to get affordable access for everybody.

BORGER: But Jeffrey since that they don't have the time. Donald Trump has said -- and I think rightly so, actually, that you can't just repeal without replacing quickly, because --

LORD: Paul Ryan says he wants some of the stuff in the bill that -- the repeal bill.

BORGER: Maybe pre-existing conditions et cetera. But if, you know, you have 20 million people who depend on ObamaCare. So, if you're going to replace it quickly so those people don't fall through the cracks and so provisions don't fall through the cracks, you know, the question is, how do you do that? And people are going to quibble over access to care or getting their care.

LORD: Of course --


LORD: There seems not be a lot of care when it was the reverse when there was 16 or 19 million people whatever it was, who lost the plans that they had --

BORGER: Right.

LORD: -- because we were shifting to ObamaCare and they were upset.


BASH: This is going to be the first test of whether what President- Elect Trump said that he wanted during the campaign and still is saying today that he wants, which is -- may I remember, I interviewed him in July of 2015, I think he said this to you one of the early interviews? I'm not going to just let people go out there in the streets and die in the streets.

I know I'm going to be criticized by Republicans, but I'm not going to let that happen. I think he generally does want to do what he said.


BASH: He wants to get everybody -- but doing that versus the Republicans who run this place behind us who maybe want that but can't do that with the legislation the bill is often is that they support. That's going to be a clash.

POWERS: That was -- because he expressed support for a single part system --

BASH: Sure, that's true.


POWERS: So I think he is not an orthodox Republican. And when he thinks about this I think, you know, an idea that when he says insurance for all. That the government is going to pay for, that isn't universal health care. I mean, that is universal health care.

And that, he even said at one point, you know, we're not going to have people dying on the streets. I mean he's alluding to a time when we didn't have a social safety net. And so, there's some sort of disconnect. And I maybe --

KING: The problem is --

POWERS: -- understand whether he is, you know, what is happening on the hill and exactly --

SETMAYER: The disconnect is that he intellectually incurious about the policies that are there. The under city everyone says, oh, he's a big picture guy.


SETMAYER: Well that's great if you're big picture guy and you're consistent philosophically where Republicans are and what the American people who voted you into office have said that they want. They don't necessarily want government fill in their health care. Businesses are explained how ObamaCare has hurt them and hurt the American people. But here's Trump --

LEWIS: But if you get rid --


LEWIS: As he says he wants to. Then people -- it's not just people who don't have access. People may opt not to get it, right? And so, then also if there's no pre-existing condition, people could wait until they get sick and then decide to get it. So, all of a sudden you could have a system that doesn't sustain itself. And --

SETMAYER: But Republicans have a -- they have had a plan. I brought it up earlier. Tom Price's plan, he has the ways to address that with grants to states to make up for the subsidy in high risk pools and, you know, looking the way to keep people because, you know, he comes from medical background. Republicans aren't looking to kick people off insurance --


SETMAYER: But Donald Trump has to be --

BORGER: But then you're going to end up --

SETMAYER: And then he can't sit there and say, oh, well, you know, you'll find out later. That's where he's going to run into problems when it comes time to govern.

BORGER: Here's the question. If you get rid of the risk pools, don't you end up having to subsidize the insurance companies?

BASH: Yes.

BORGER: If you subsidize the insurance companies, that's not going to be politically popular. Let me just go out on a limb and say that right now. So, what do you do if insurance companies start pulling out?

[20:35:00] LEWIS: Which is what they're doing right now.

BORGER: Well, even more so -- even more so because they can't sustain it. And then does the federal government come in and say, we're going to pay you to be a part of this?

KING: Well, God forbid Washington actually had a policy debate.

BORGER: Right. Exactly.

KING: In which both parties -- LORD: Excellent point.

KING: -- formed their ideas, and there are eight or 10 or 12 different Republican plans by the time he get to the details because there's so many disagreements. Tea Party conservatives say this is not the federal government's job. It should be all market based. Other people say, no, for some people the government should get in and help. Let's have the debate.

POWERS: We're going to.

KING: The question in this debate though, is will the Democrats participate with their ideas and will we have a fully open debate? Then it cast votes, will the Democrats say, sorry, you weren't with us in ObamaCare, it's all yours baby.

RYE: Well, even if they follow the mode of what the president has said in interview after interview at this point is if you have a better plan, I will support it. I will help you push it. If the bottom line is that Americans need access to health care, not just when they're sick but period and it needs to be affordable, then we should push be pushing for a plan that works and it should be bipartisan plan. Dana) talked about this place behind us. That's what it was created to do. And for some reason, we continue --

LEWIS: And that shows you how Barack Obama really did achieve a big legacy no matter what happens to ObamaCare, because the very fact that now we are assuming that government is somehow responsible for ObamaCare -- or for health care, whether it's Donald Trump --


LEWIS: -- no that's a paradigm shift.

SETMAYER: But they did that without the support of any Republican. They did that completely down a party line and changed the entire health care system --


KING: Republicans wanted to get out from under that but their president-elect is boxed them?

COOPER: Let's take a break now. Much more with the panel in a moment. To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question during the campaign. Mr. Trump said he would dial back his Twitter habit when and if he were elected. He was, of course, let's just say he's rethinking that talk of pulling back on Twitter. We'll look at why and what that may mean. That's next.


[20:40:47] COOPER: Well, throughout the campaign, bashing the so- called dishonest media was a frequent rallying cry for the now president-elect. As we reported earlier Donald Trump says he's going to keep on tweeting because he does not like the way he's being covered.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'd rather just let that build up and just keep it at real Donald Trump, I swear. And the Tweeting I thought I'd do less of it. But I'm covered so dishonestly by the press, so dishonestly.


COOPER: All right, Trump warned the press is nothing new. Now, a senior official for the Trump transition team says that the media, "They are the opposition party. I want them out of the building. We are taking back the press room." That's a quote from a report in "Esquire" magazine which did not name the official.

The report also says that three other senior officials on the transition team say a plan is under consideration to evict the president corps from the White House. Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, says they are just looking for space with more room to accommodate, "talk radio, bloggers and others."

Back with the panel, and joining us CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley.

John, you are a White House correspondent for a number of years, covering a number of -- two different administrations. How critical is it to have the press in close proximity to the president?

KING: I think the access to not -- not just the president, because you don't walk in and talk to the president but to the president senior staff is absolutely critical.

There was a day that I covered the White House, of Bill Clinton administration and then George W. Bush's administration. In the Clinton administration, pre-9/11, you could walk though the building if you have a pass and if the secret service knew you, then you could walk past the Oval Office.

And sometimes the president's door is open and he'd yell out your name or he'd scream about something you had you written or said on television. It happens. That's gone. That's gone. But it still nice to be -- you know, it's important. And the American people, it is important, whether you trust us or you don't trust us to be able to when something happens walk up to the press secretary's office.

BORGER: Right.

KING: To walk to the chief of staff's office or make an appointment to go up the hall. Security is a little different. Every administration has the right do it their way and to change it.

So, I think access is critical especially in this age of instant information. I would say this, I covered the White House for 9 1/2 years. They should fight the, White House correspondents association, they should fight for access. What they should not do is whine. The people out in America when they hear them say they're going to take our seats, they're going to take away this, we sound like self- important, self-righteous prompt as jerks. This is about the American people. It's not about John King or Anderson Cooper or Doug Brinkley or Jeff Lord, anybody else. It's about getting access to public officials so we can ask them legitimate questions.

BASH: And can I just say to somebody who's covered Capitol Hill, both of us, and the White House, people might not realize is that -- but to John's point, already in the White House, I mean, you know, when I was covering it, you could walk through the briefing room and into the press office and you can even go into what's called the upper press office and you could sort of have -- it near around the corner at the Oval Office. You kind of got a sense of what was happening. That is invaluable.

The difference between that though and covering Capitol Hill, you can walk around the halls --


BASH: -- and talk to members of Congress. You have total access here. And that is amazing to have. And it does help our reporting which helps --


POWERS: Right? I mean, the press is supposed to be the fourth estate. They're supposed to be -- you know, so there is this idea that Donald Trump doesn't seem to like, if there is a really serious role for the media to play. And it's very symbolic to be attacking the media the way that he is and sort of treating them as not being legitimate. If they want to have -- open up press conferences to more people, the people in the press room can walk across the street, that's fine. But this idea that we're supposed to believe that that's why they're doing it, I'm sorry, I'm just not buying it.

BORGER: And, you know, sometimes it serves the administration's purpose to have you there. Because they want to run out and announce something or they want to bring somebody in because they have something that they want to get out.

COOPER: But now Donald Trump -- I mean let's talk about Twitter. Donald Trump now has Twitter. And, you know, Jeffrey Lord has made this point numerous times. He is able to reach, you know, his people --

BORGER: Twenty million.

COOER: -- very fast and directly for better or worse.

LORD: Right.

COOPER: I mean it is -- the negative side, that the side that he comes under criticism for is, whatever thoughts pop into his head or emotion, it's an immediate outlet. LORD: I wrote a piece at news press this weekend about the history of the White House press room. You know, it used to be for those in our audience who don't know Franklin Roosevelt's swimming pool. And by the time JFK got there his father put up this lovely mural of the Caribbean and peaceful sailboats and all these. It's Richard Nixon of all who people who thought, you know, we need to modernize this. And then Reagan, the old actor who said let's make it like a theater and put in this theater-style seats et cetera.

[20:45:02] It's progressed today where I think a lot of members of the press are perceived as thinking this is ours. What happens, for instance, if Sean Spicer comes out one day and says not only he's got a Twitter but we're giving the first six seats in here to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Lord (ph), Laura Ingram et cetera, et cetera. And then we're giving the rest to the next five to various bloggers et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

My point is that I think these people are thinking that technology has changed, Donald Trump has the views that he does and this is going to change and we're going to change it.

COOPER: Doug, I mean, as a presidential historian, what is the impact of Twitter for, I mean, on Donald Trump's presidency and having a president who does --

BRINKLEY: It's changed everything. There is no Donald Trump presidency without Twitter.

LORD: Right.

BRINKLEY: It's -- he's using that technology. He's going to continue to use it. But I don't believe the "Esquire" story that they're going to shut down the press corps or something. I think what they'll do is expand it. They'll find ways to have a lot more Breitbart News type reporter's bloggers and all. Blow it up, and then not call on people he doesn't like. It's going to be very Nixonian. What Trump is to me, the ghost of Richard Nixon except he's acting like Spiro Agnew. He's going to feed and kill the press.


BORGER: But if he gets mad about -- oh, sorry.

BRINKLEY: But he's made the press his enemy. And I think he wants to also divide and conquer.

Now, with Twitter, he also has Fox News, he's got the "New York Post," he's got Talk Radio. And then he -- it's just to browbeat the --

KING: But in this --

BRINKLEY: -- so called local media.

LORD: Agnew and there's nothing new, I mean I have to say, listen to that clip that we just heard, he said that to me personally in that office three years ago, before he was running for president. He said almost exactly that same thing which I have on tape.

BORGER: And he became president of the United States.

LORD: And he became president of the United States, despite of it.

BORGER: Right.

KING: There's nothing new about this dynamic. What's new is we live in the world of social media. We -- the technology has advanced exponentially.

LORD: Yes.

KING: But, look, this has happened before. For Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because he loved the media. He was on T.V. all the time, all his rivals complained, you couldn't get him off television.

I remember when Bill Clinton would talk to us all the time, and then when he was mad at us he would disappear forever. George W. Bush, people always say Republicans deny access. He was -- his White House, not just the president, his White House was much more open than the Obama White House has been.

COOPER: Right.

KING: So these ebbs and flows as you go. In this regard, Donald Trump is actually a pretty traditional politician. Sometimes he loves us. Sometimes he hates us. So be it, just do our jobs. It will be OK.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody.

Up next, a new insight on the people in Donald Trump's ultimate inner circle. Let me question, exactly who has Donald Trump's ear, who will he lean on most? We'll look at that ahead.


[20:51:34] COOPER: As we mentioned on Friday, Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. Since Election Day he's been busy building his team, those who will make up his cabinet and his key staffers.

There are selected few, of course, who will have Trump's ear on a daily basis, those who he'll listen to for advice. Dana Bash tonight is naming names.


BASH: Donald Trump's inner circle is so small it pretty much fit on his election night stage.

TRUMP: We have got tremendously talented people up here.

BASH: Now, a handful of senior advisers will follow him into the West Wing, helping make daily decisions, large and small.


BASH: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

TRUMP: Reince is really a star. And he is the hardest-working guy.

BASH: But the former RNC chair will now be both doorkeeper to the Oval Office and conductor, keeping White House trains running, though his biggest job is trying to keep Trump himself on track.

Priebus' partner, and that is Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor, the former head of Breitbart News. Sources familiar with their relationship say Trump respects the businessman as an equal. Bannon will focus on the big picture.

STEVE BANNON, TRUMP'S CHIEF STRATEGIST: The key is to hold the -- to hold people accountable. The hobbits or the deplorables had a good run in '16. Everybody mocked them and ridiculed them. And now they've spoken. And so I think '17 is going to be very, very exciting, a very exciting year.

BASH: Then there's Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner who will get an official title, White House senior adviser, so he can continue the integral role he played through Trump's campaign, organizing, advising and now, sources say, playing conduit to Trump's cabinet.

TRUMP: I'd love to have Jared helping us on deals with other nations and see if we can do peace in the Middle East and other things.

BASH: We saw it on T.V., ever, like you are, but he's really making a lot of things happen.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, INCOMING COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT: Well, anytime, (inaudible) Jared on T.V. sends me. Thanks, Jared.

BASH: The face of team Trump, Kellyanne Conway, still has a considerable amount of influence with him as does, it goes without saying, Trump's daughter Ivanka, whose official role is to be determined.

The small group is most similar to the big three Ronald Reagan began his presidency with, Ed Meese, James Baker and Michael Deaver. They call themselves the triumvirate because they worked together but infighting ended that.

George W. Bush took office with a large team of campaign advisers, but only a few really had swayed, from Karen Hughes to Dick Cheney to famous Bush Strategist Karl Rove.

Regardless of who is advising a president, a key question is how he makes decisions. David Urban worked closely with Trump running his campaign in Pennsylvania, the first time a Republican won there since 1988.

DAVID URBAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CONTINENTAL GROUP: President-Elect Trump was involved in a granular level. And he'd call frequently and ask how we're going, how's going in Pennsylvania.

BASH: How would you describe how Donald Trump makes decisions?

URBAN: I think the president-elect takes advice from a wide range of individuals, both on a formal and informal basis, you know, collects lots of data from different -- a wide range of people.

BASH: Sources familiar with how Trump operates say on issues he's comfortable with, he makes quick competent decisions. When he's unsure, like about Mitt Romney for secretary of state, he can be swayed by the last person he talked to. On issues he knows little about, like picks for top intelligence jobs he turns to those who do know, like Mike Pence.

[20:55:07] URBAN: He is not going to sit around and wait for things to happen. He's a doer.


COOPER: I'm so fascinated on how presidents make decisions and Donald Trump --

BASH: Yeah.

COOPER: -- in particular. Beyond the people you talked about there are quite a few other people whose counsel he seeks.

BASH: Absolutely. Look, there are a number of people who he has known for a very long time. There are couple of people in the real estate, construction business in New York who've made a lot of money like he has, who, I'm told, he seeks their counsel. Also people who is seen on T.V. who are now going into the White House like Anthony Scaramucci. I'm told that he has a bigger role and it's more plugged in with Trump than people realize. And his wife Melania, you know, people might not know this, and perhaps, I'm told she doesn't speak up regularly, but when she does, he listens.

So, and the other interesting thing, Anderson, is that he's got some numbers that he memorizes on his cellphone, those are the people he tends to call.

COOPER: All right. Dana Bash, thanks very much.

Trump's daughter, Ivanka, has no official role in the White House right now but she's still expected to make a big impact. So reminder, you know, just a few minutes at the top of the hour, don't miss the CNN Special Report, "First Daughter: Ivanka Trump". In fact, Mr. Trump just tweeted about the special report. What he said, next.


COOPER: Well, Donald Trump has just tweeted about our upcoming special report, "FIRST DAUGHTER: IVANKA TRUMP". "CNN, of all places, is doing a special report to my daughter Ivanka," he tweeted, "considering it is CNN, can't imagine it will be great." We beg to defer. See for yourself. Starts now.