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Poll: Confidence in Trump Transition Drops; Polls Show Skepticism Trump Will Keep Promises; Interview with Rand Paul; Raul Joins Democrats Not Attending Trump's Inauguration. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think you can assume that it is because he seems to want to engage with every windmill that he can find rather than focus on the large aspect of assuming the most important position on earth, and obviously - apparently, according to the polls, many Americans are not happy with that approach when he has not even assumed the presidency.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I suspect he is complaining that Trump seems to respond angrily to every bit of criticism that's levelled against him, whereas, he should be stepping back taking the high road.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. As we know, we've seen this behavior throughout the whole campaign. Even looking at Donald Trump prior to being a candidate, he just can't let something go. He doesn't seem to have any desire or ability to let a pitch go by, let a critique go by, and what we've seen throughout this transition period is a lot of contention, chaos, consternation, and I think that that is, you know, the cause of seeing these depressed numbers.

BLITZER: The -- our new poll also shows that a lot of Americans are skeptical that he can actually keep some of his major commitments to the American people. Will Trump defeat ISIS? 42 percent said likely. 57 percent said not likely. Only 44 percent believe he will build a wall along the border with Mexico. 55 percent not likely. Just 29 percent say he will get Mexico to reimburse the United States for the cost. 71 percent say not likely. What do you make of those numbers?

CHALIAN: Well, I mean, think about all those rallies where he would say to his crowd, who says going to pay for the wall? His die-hard supporters no doubt believe he can get Mexico to pay for it. Those numbers are troubling. When we tested economic figures, Wolf, on the economy, the country actually has very high expectations that he is going to accomplish his goal. Some 61 percent of Americans say that he can get jobs, especially create jobs in those economically depressed areas. When you ask about renegotiating NAFTA, says when you ask about tariffs, these are issues when it's the issue number one, the economy, that there are high expectations and so if Donald Trump can meet them where a majority of the country thinks he will, perhaps his overall numbers will go up as well.

BLITZER: That's an encouraging number for him. 61 percent think he can create those high paying, good jobs for Americans.

David, thanks for the latest numbers.

CHALIAN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, Senator Rand Paul. I'll ask him about the Democrats' boycott of the inauguration on Friday. Also, we'll talk about Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, and whether ethics questions aimed at some of Trump's cabinet choices could hurt those efforts. Senator Rand Paul standing by live. We'll discuss right after this.


[13:36:52] BLITZER: The first of this week's eight cabinet confirmation hearings starts in about a half hour or so. But one of the most watched hearings will be tomorrow with Congressman Tom Price, President-elect Trump's choice for Health and Human Services Secretary.

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will handle that hearing for Congressman Price.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R), KENTUCKY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: So are you concerned about these questions that have been raised about the ethics -- the ethics qualifications for Congressman Price that presumably not everything has been presented to the ethics committee yet?

PAUL: You know, I'm pretty excited about Congressman Price's nomination. He has been one of the innovative thinkers, one of the people putting out, you know, great ideas for trying to let individuals pool together to buy insurance at cheaper Prices. I think he has a lot of great ideas, and he will be great at HHS, bit I think he will be more than just the secretary of HHS. He is going to be also involved with bringing forward some of the innovative market solutions to try to help people get insurance at a cheaper cost.

BLITZER: As you know, CNN has been reporting that Congressman Price bought stock in a medical device manufacturer just days before pushing legislation that likely would have benefitted that company. Will you be asking him about that tomorrow?

PAUL: I guess the question I would ask is when did he become in favor of not having taxes on medical devices? My guess is probably he has a 20-year record of being exposed to that. I think that every Republican up here was against the medical devices tax. I think it's probably an overstatement to say somehow his buying and selling had to do with a position that probably he has had his whole entire public career.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, thinks he could have some trouble getting confirmed, do you agree with him?

PAUL: No. I think the Democrats have assured that all of the nominees will win because the Democrats have said that we don't need 60 votes anymore, and so I think -- I haven't seen any rebellion on the Republican side, and so I think Republicans are going to vote to let President Trump have his picks. This is the way historically it had been done anyway. For the most part, you know, George W. Bush was in, he got most of his nominees, President Obama got most of his nominees. I don't know. I think there's still some sour grapes over the election, but we're going to work through this nomination process, whatever it takes. But I don't see any of the nominees probably being defeated.

BLITZER: The president-elect, in that interview with "The Washington Post," says he wants health insurance for everyone. Some senior Republicans working on the replacement legislation say they don't know exactly what he means by that. Do you know what he means? This is his plan, replacement plan, going to be covering everyone in America with affordable health care insurance?

[13:39:54] PAUL: I think that's a goal of everybody's plan. It's the goal of my replacement plan, is to have most amount of insurance at the least amount of cost. Even a governmental system is not 100 percent. I agree with Donald Trump, the goal should be to insure everybody. We should have the goal of being 100 percent access. It's not really that we have a difference of opinion on that. Democrats want the same thing. I think we all have the same motives. It's really the debate is about how you practically get to that goal.

BLITZER: So if someone -- if people can't afford any health insurance, the government will give them the health insurance? Is that what you want?

PAUL: Well, we already have that. Basically, if you can't afford medical care in our country, we have Medicaid. So, we already have a government system that supports those who don't have an income. What we're trying to figure out is for those who do have an income, for those that do work, how do we find out -- how do we get insurance at a reasonable cost? The failure of Obamacare was that it made the cost higher, so if you are a working individual and you're working class and you are struggling to get ahead, Obamacare made your insurance too expensive to be able to afford. They said they would subsidize it, but where does the money come from? You need a thriving economy. The more people working, the less people have to be on government assistance and the less people have government assisted insurance. You need a thriving economy. You also need a marketplace where insurance marketplace allows inexpensive insurance. You need to let individuals band together so they can buy it as a group. Then you need to help them through health savings accounts so they can safe for their family's insurance.

BLITZER: The Russian President Vladimir Putin today weighed in on the transition of power here in the United States, saying he thought the Obama administration was actually trying to undermine the incoming president. Putin also said allegations that Russia monitored Trump during a trip to Russia a few years ago, in his words, "was rubbish." PAUL: I don't have any control over the Russian president, but I

think it's unseemly that people in our intelligence community, the CIA director, is out there giving press conferences, criticizing the incoming president. I think that's inexcusable. I would not have anybody in the CIA that is publicly criticizing the president. It's not their job. It's not their role. It's, frankly, unseemly, and it takes away from the credibility. The intelligence community has had a great loss of credibility in the last couple of years. James Clapper came to the Senate and lied under oath. Now we have the head of the CIA publicly criticizing the incoming president. I think that's not the role of the CIA. The CIA should be in the background trying to protect our country and not out there trying to score political points. I think it's a terrible and tragic day. And it hurts all of our intelligence gathering and their credibility to have the head of the CIA out there doing this.

BLITZER: "The CIA is behaving as if they were in Nazi Germany," is what the president-elect said. Doesn't the CIA director have the right to defend the men and women in the intelligence community?

PAUL: I think it's very important that private information that's discussed in private intelligence briefings be private. Classified information should not be leaked to the press. I don't know who did this, but I can tell you in all likelihood, it wasn't a Republican. It wasn't Donald Trump. It wasn't his people. This was either leaked to networks and other organizations by intelligence officials or by Democrats that are part of the elite eight that get these briefings. There's only a few people who could have leaked this information. The reason why this is important is that you don't want public officials who are being blackmailed to be afraid to go to the FBI and say here's this information. If a public official takes private information that you are being blackmailed with to the FBI and then it leaks into the public domain, that is inexcusable. And really somebody should go to jail and we have not talked about this enough. A leak like that is so significant if it came from the intelligence community, they should go to jail. If it came from the Obama administration, they should go to jail. You cannot allow the leaking of classified documents, particularly when it goes to someone's character. So, I think this is a tragedy.


PAUL: Donald Trump is right to be made.

BLITZER: But you agree with Donald Trump that the CIA is like Nazi Germany?

PAUL: I don't know who leaked this. I'm telling you what my position is, that it's inexcusable, and someone should be prosecuted for the leaks.

BLITZER: You disagree with him making a comparison to Nazi Germany?

PAUL: I can only do my -- I can only vouch for what I'm for and for my statements. I would spend too much time if I had to defend everybody else's statements. But I would say my position is that it's inexcusable and someone should be prosecuted. And it's not just about this instance. It's about how we move forward as a country. Are we going to make it so public officials are not going to report blackmail because they're afraid that either the FBI or the CIA is going to leak this to the press? I don't know if they did it, but it was either them or President Obama's administration or lead Democrats in Congress. It's a very narrow window. There's about 10 people that were aware of this briefing, and it became public. Now, I'm not blaming the news for reporting it. What I'm blaming is the government officials who leaked this broke the law, and they ought to be prosecuted.

[13:45:35] BLITZER: Before I let you go, Senator, I want to get your quick reaction to more than, what, three dozen Democratic members of the House boycotting Friday's inauguration. We're showing some pictures of some of them. Not all of them, but go ahead and give me your reaction.

PAUL: You know, before the election there was a lot of talk. Everybody was saying Trump is not going to, you know, consider the election legitimate if he loses. Then it turns out it's completely the opposite. Hillary Clinton lost, says and her supporters are trying to say it's not legitimate. I think that is not a good idea because it's not good -- you know, even President Obama realizes this that when an election happens, we should have a smooth transition even if our candidate didn't win. We should acknowledge that the elections are legitimate. We probably have more legitimate elections in our country than any other country on the planet, so I think to de- legitimize our licks a mi elections is a mistake.

BLITZER: Senator Rand Paul, thank you for joining us.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLITZER: One of the lawmakers boycotting the inauguration is the Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva. We're going to speak with him about his decision to skip the event right after this. There he is. He is standing by live.


[13:50:41] BLITZER: At last count, 47 House Democrats are boycotting President-elect Trump's inauguration on Friday. They're skipping the ceremony because of the president-elect and his agenda. Three others won't be attending and citing other reasons.

Congressman Raul Grijalva is one of those Democrats boycotting the inauguration. He's joining us now live from Tucson.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, (D), ARIZONA: You're welcome.

BLITZER: The critics point out the inauguration isn't a victory party. It's honoring the tradition of a smooth transition of power between presidents of the United States. Why have you decided you can't attend and in affect honor this principal American democracy? GRIJALVA: Well, the principal of American democracy is not in

question. The president-elect will be taking the office and will be the 45th president of the United States. The issue here is with that mantle with the president of the United States, the most powerful position in the world, with that mantle comes a great deal of responsibility. With it comes a -- it's a solemn responsibility, it is a difficult responsibility. And quite frankly, the comportment and the thin-skinned response to everything by Trump since the election and before the election leads one to conclusion that that mantle -- that he's not ready for that mantle. But beyond that, questioning the smooth transition or form of government that we had you know, Clinton, Carter, Bush one, Bush two, Obama, they understood this transition period was about talking about unification, about making sure and the majority of Americans don't feel there's a place at the table. That they can dialogue, that there are issues and concerns that might have lost in the presidential election are still valid a valid and real in this divided country of ours.

BLITZER: Do you believe that Donald Trump will be a legitimate president?

GRIJALVA: He will be the president of the United States, the legitimacy question, and thank you for that, Wolf. It has to do with his open comportment and how he accepts the responsibility of president. The legitimacy questions come up when cyberattacks by Russia that have been validated and verified by every, every intelligence agency that we have he dismisses them in a cavalier way, those are serious intrusion into our democracy, any conclusion needs to be investigated but that's conflict of interest, draining the swamp. The swamp is becoming murkier, so the American people with trust it is in good hands and I think what this president-elect has failed to do is provide any real assurance to the Americans that after the election there is a place in this government, this representative government of ours, for them and that there are concerns and issues will be heard. That has not happened. The attack on John Lewis was not only an affront to him but to many who believe that the civil rights era, voting rights act that allowed people like myself to be in Congress were legitimate, good changes for this nation and the list goes on.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise, Congressman, you say he will be president of the unite, but you're at least reluctant to say he will be the legitimate president of the United States, is that right?

GRIJALVA: Figuratively, he is going to be president and as a consequence of an election. The legitimacy issue that you asked me about, I define it as capacity. And he has not shown the capacity at this point to accept that enormous responsibility and the unseemly behavior to Senator Rand's word regarding how he responds to any criticism, to any news conference, to accept and be president of all Americans is not there yet, so that legitimacy is in question, yes.

[13:55:38] BLITZER: So you will not be here, but boycotting with many of your Democratic colleagues of the inauguration --

GRIJALVA: Correct. BLITZER: -- of the 45th president of the United States.

Congressman Grijalva, thank you so much for joining us.

GRIJALVA: Thank you.

BLITZER: And that's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

In the meantime, the news will continue right here on CNN, right after a quick break.