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CNN Poll: Obama Leaves Office with 60 Percent Approval; Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Prison Sentence. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 18, 2017 - 06:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[06:30:06] SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Can you commit to us tonight that you will not work to privatize public schools or cut a single penny from public education?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Do you think if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family has not made hundreds of billions of contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: If President Trump moves forward with his plan to ban gun-free school zones, will you support that proposal?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, it is another critical day on Capitol Hill. The pressure is certainly mounting specifically on Tom Price, he is Donald Trump's pick to be health and human services secretary. He goes into this two-part hearing today with a slew of insider trading accusation at his back.

The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying Price may have broken the law and has called for an investigation and Democrats are calling for these hearings to be postponed until these ethics questions can be more thoroughly vetted. The ranking Democrat in the committee that he will face next week, accusing Republicans in his words of rushing to sneak this nomination through -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.

So much going on down there with those hearings. And guess what? We have another brand-new CNN poll. President Obama's final report card. What do you think the number is in terms of approval of him as the job the nation needed to him do? We got the new numbers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: A new CNN/ORC poll shows President Obama leaving office with most Americans viewing his presidency as a success. Barack Obama ends his eight-year presidency with a 60 percent approval rating. That is his highest since 2009, he ranked high among all of recent predecessors getting positive marks in his final days in the West Wing.

[06:35:03] Only President Clinton and President Reagan left office with a higher number as you can see there.

Later today, the president will hold his final press conference.

So, let's bring back our panel, Alex Burns, Errol Louis and David Drucker.

Alex, these are confusing times. So, President Obama who you could say the vote for Donald Trump was a repudiation of many of the things that President Obama stood for. Yet, he has much higher approval ratings than Donald Trump. Up is down?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, in some respects it is. Part of this, Alisyn, may actually be a reaction for Donald Trump that you saw over the course of the 2016 campaign you had two popular nominees on each side.

You saw Obama's numbers steadily climb. Some of it may be the economy. Some may be specific policies that he was working on. A more distant from those early controversies of his administration.

But, you know, having someone who you don't like to compare him to actually probably is advantageous to him. It does raised questions for the folks who are taking over in Washington about just what scale of change the American people are actually hoping for, right? You know, Trump was elected ostensibly to go in and just blow the place up. There is still a lot of dissatisfaction with Washington.

But I'm not sure how much dissatisfaction there's been. The poll raises questions about how much dissatisfaction there really is with the way the Obama administration itself has been handled.

CUOMO: You've got to look into the cross tabs to see where there is strength and where there's weakness.

But Drucker, what do you think the reaction to the right, with it being so high while their incoming president is so low?

DAVID DRUCKER, SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORR., WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, other than clamoring about fake news, which I am seeing on Twitter, the reaction of a new poll, I think what we're going to hear about a lot is the two mid-term elections, where Obama really got shellacked. I mean, 2010 and 2014 were direct repudiations to his leadership and his policy agenda. No doubt about it.

I don't think that we are where we are today without Obamacare and without a lot of foreign policy troubles, Islamic State and other things in 2014. And I think that when you look at the president's record, it clearly is mixed. I mean, clearly, Americans like him. And they always have liked him. And there are many things about his presidency they like.

Clearly, the economy is doing a lot better than it was when he came in. And they're giving him some credit for that. But his party is at one of his lowest points ever. He was never able to translate his success down ballot. And, in fact, down ballot, Democrats have suffered under President Obama like they haven't in many, many years.

And I think if you're going to give a president credit for what's gone right, you have to give them credit for what's gone wrong. I think that is going to be a part of Obama's record, what you will hear from Republicans as we make comparisons between Obama and Trump's low numbers coming in.

CAMEROTA: And yet, Errol, here's another nutty finding from a different poll. This is the "Wall Street Journal" and NBC. They find that the highest percentage of approval for Obamacare sense they began asking the question in 2009, today, 45 percent of Americans believe it was a good idea, 41 percent believe it was a bad idea. Now, obviously, that's divided. That's not a huge number for Obamacare. But, again, highest ever in its existence.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, it's interesting, because we're having conversations about Obamacare that we haven't had since the height of the fight to get it passed and I think people have seen it. They've kicked the tires a little bit.

I know people who have benefitted from it. They say even with a double digit percentage increase, it's from a very low base and we're at least in the system and we have some hope and we can get a little health care. I mean, having coverage for even a year, if you had to go four or five years without seeing a doctor because you couldn't afford it, that's a really, really big change. It looks like he gets the credit for it.

CUOMO: It looks like a part has been highly politicized. You know, as you say, we start talking about it in a new way, it's being attacked. It's become somewhat of a mantra now for the Democratic Party. Could that account for some of the --

LOUIS: Well, yes, sure. Look, it's basic politics. Now, you're going to take something away from people. The big fight over the reason it was so ferocious back at the start in 2009, 2010 was that everybody understood once it's in place, people are not going to want to see this taken away from them. So, now, we have some talk about it getting taken away, people say, wait a minute, not so fast.

BURNS: It is remarkable you have we heard from Democrats in D.C. and elsewhere looking at the veracity with which the White House and Democrats in Congress are now putting out this message about the consequences of repeal and asking, you know, where are you guys in 2010, in 2011, right, the law hadn't fully kicked in at that point. So, it might have been harder to talk about people having their health care taken away.

CAMEROTA: Well, also, I mean, the most famous line was Nancy Pelosi's, that we have to pass it before we can know what's in it. That's one that got stuck and trashed and that was the wrong message.

(CROSSTALK)

DRUCKER: I mean, guys, let's not --

BURNS: They didn't do a whole lot of explaining, the benefits that people were getting immediately and they're doing that really belatedly now.

CUOMO: David?

[06:40:00] DRUCKER: Guys, let's not forget healthcare.gov, the website, the rollout, was a disaster. Hundreds of thousands of Americans got letters saying, you can no longer go to the doctor you like, the plan you like has been discontinued. There are reasons to dislike the law. The rollout was choppy. A lot of things haven't gone right.

Just leading up to the election, we saw a lot of rise in premiums for Obamacare plans. There is plenty wrong with Republicans hoping to replace it as long as they come up with something people like.

CAMEROTA: It will be very interesting to see what President Obama says in his final press conference of his presidency, which will be happening today.

Gentleman, thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up in our next hour, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest joins us live to talk about this new approval number, the controversial commutation of Chelsea Manning and what it's been like to be a lifer with Obama. Few in the administration have made it as long as Josh Earnest has.

CAMEROTA: Also, a programming note for you. Be sure to watch "The End: Inside the Last Days of the Obama White House." That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

CUOMO: President Obama getting plenty of push back from Republicans for computing the sentence of Chelsea Manning after being convicted of leaking sensitive government documents.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to talk to one of Manning's supporters and a retired general. They're going to debate this next controversial move, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The last thing a team wants to do the week of the AFC championship game is deal with a controversy. But that's exactly what the Steelers are going through this week.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report".

What is plaguing them?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Oh, yeah, you know, I'll tell you, Chris, the bad timing for all of this, right? Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin clearly not happy with his star wide receiver Antonio Brown for posting video from their locker room after their win over the Chiefs.

[06:45:01] And Tomlin, he says Brown is going to be punished.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TOMLIN, STEELERS HEAD COACH: It was foolish for him to do that. It was selfish for him to do, and it was inconsiderate for him to do. We will punish him, we won't punish us. I think that's oftentimes why you see great players move around from team to team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And Antonio Brown has apologized for posting this video that shows Tomlin calling the Patriots, well, a bad name in the locker room. Pittsburgh, they play at New England Sunday in the AFC championship game.

All right. Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will be announced. The great Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines are expected to make the cut this year. Ivan Rodriguez and Trevor Hoffman also have a great chance. The Hall of Fame is voted on by baseball writers, you need to be on 75 percent of ballots to gain induction.

And this is actually the last year writers can keep their ballots anonymous. And based on the ballots made public, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, they're not going to be getting in once again due to their ties to steroids. But they did see an increase in votes. So, Alisyn, Bond and Clemens getting into the Hall of Fame next year is not be out of the question.

CAMEROTA: Hmm, interesting, Andy.

Thank you very much for that "Bleacher Report".

So, praise and outrage about President Obama's decision to commute Chelsea Manning's prison sentence. We will hear both sides when Glenn Greenwald and General Mark Hertling join us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:23] CUOMO: The man suspected of killing his pregnant girlfriend and an Orlando police officer is now in custody after a week long manhunt, police capturing Markeith Lloyd at an abandoned house. Police say the suspect carrying two guns and dressed in body armor did try to escape. Officers say Lloyd suffered facial injuries when he resisted arrest.

CAMEROTA: Texas law enforcement mourning the loss of one of their own who is shot and killed after a suspect barricaded himself inside a home and began firing at police. Forty-eight-year-old detective Jerry Walker was killed in this standoff Tuesday. Walker and other officers responded to a 9/11 call about an armed man in the backyard. The suspected gunman was later found dead inside the home.

CUOMO: All right. Take a look at your screen. Two University of Florida students competing in a fishing tournament in Georgia, going 50, 55. All of a sudden, boat suddenly veers to the right. The two were sent into the water.

What was the problem? Maybe malfunction in the boat's steering system. The passengers banged up but okay. Thankfully, both were wearing life jackets.

You fishermen out there, you hear that? Wearing their lifejackets.

CAMEROTA: All you boaters. I mean, this is actually a great video to see, to see how quickly something can happen where your --

CUOMO: Those boats go very fast, that means bad things happen very fast.

CAMEROTA: OK, meanwhile, President Obama commuting the sentence of former Army soldier Chelsea Manning from 35 years down to seven. A court convicted Manning of stealing troves of secret government documents and providing them to WikiLeaks.

Joining us this morning from both sides of the debate, we have investigative journalists and a co-founding editor of "The Intercept", Glenn Greenwald, and CNN military analyst and former commander general for Europe in the Seventh Army, Retired Lt. General Mark Hertling.

Gentleman, thanks to both of you for being here.

Glenn, I know you have called for this, for the release of Chelsea Manning. For years, you have been lobbying for this. What was your reaction when you heard the news?

GLENN GREENWALD, CO-FOUNDING EDITOR, THE INTERCEPT: Well, I was thrilled. Remember, she received by far the largest sentence in the history of the United States for somebody who leaked the documents not to a foreign adversary or sold them to spy agencies but leaked them to the public.

She was kept in very harsh conditions for several years. The U.N. found her treatment was abusive and inhumane.

And what she leaked to the public the U.S. military admits harmed nobody. But it constitutes probably the most journalistic archive, or one of them, that we have as reporters to tell the American people of what's taking place. So, I think it's an obviously just outcome.

CAMEROTA: General Hertling, you have a different take. What was your reaction?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I do, Alisyn, and I have to first say that I'm extremely conflicted about this commutation for three different reasons. It's because I'm looking at it from three different perspectives: one as a soldier, one as a former commander, and one as a human being.

I'm not sure Mr. Greenwald is correct saying that it harmed no one. Private Manning released three-quarters of a million documents which was a crime. It hurt the standing in the international community. It affected other soldiers and intelligence officials and it was disrupted to good order and discipline in the military.

Now, Private Manning is an extremely troubled young person. He has been all of his life. So, from a soldier and a commander perspective, I want to see Private Manning locked away for a very long time.

But from a human being perspective, I can understand he has, she has served seven years of her sentence and she again was very troubled and has a torture us personal life and has actually admitted to the crime and served seven years.

So, I'm not sure how I fall out on this, quite frankly. It's very troubling.

CAMEROTA: Glenn, what about that? We have we heard from other military members they believe the information released by Private Manning did compromise national security and, in fact, could have gotten people killed. Maybe even did because there were sources that were then identifiable?

GREENWALD: First, it's totally reckless for you to suggest that it's a possibility that people got killed when even the U.S. military --

CAMEROTA: This is what other military members had said, Glenn.

GREENWALD: No, you are absolutely wrong. The U.S. military testified at her court martial hearing that they have searched and investigated and not a single person was harmed as a result of the release of this material.

(CROSSTALK)

HERTLING: It has a direct result, Mr. Greenwald. It has a direct result. We don't know about indirect results in military operations.

(CROSSTALK)

GREENWALD: That's not possible. So, that's what the U.S. military says. Actual journalists who investigated things rather than repeat what military officials say such as McClatchy, says there is zero evidence that anybody was harmed.

[06:55:08] And I think this idea of calling her troubled continually as though she were mentally completely distorts what happened. This is somebody who volunteered to go to the Iraq war believing her government's claims about what her government was doing there only to get there and find the reality was much different.

She saw atrocities and war crimes and believed that in good conscience, just like Daniel Ellsberg before her with the Vietnam War, like Edward Snowden with the surveillance age, she had to let the American public know, in a democracy that what the government and military were telling the public about the Iraq war was actually not -- an absolutely lie.

(CROSSTALK) CAMEROTA: Hold on, Glenn, for one second, because I want to get General Hertling to talk about this, because correct me if I'm wrong, you knew private manning, is that why you use the term troubled? Because you have insight into this, General?

HERTLING: I didn't know Private Manning personally. But Private Manning was one of the soldiers that replaced, was a part of the unit that replaced one of my units in Iraq.

Now, what I will tell you, all you have to do is understand Private Manning's history and you can say that she was tortured throughout her entire life in terms of her personal history. That's not inconclusive. I mean, there are -- the history of her life from birth until she joined the army was troubling, for anyone that takes a hard look at it.

And from the standpoint of whether or not someone was harmed, there were -- there was testimony that says there was no direct harming of an individual. But you can't talk about indirect because it did affect military operations. It did affect our standing in the world and agents were moved because the WikiLeaks documents identified people by name. And many people in the government were concerned about their well-being.

CAMEROTA: Glenn --

HERTLING: And it cost the government a great deal, too, by the way, too.

So, again, from a human being perspective, I can understand the president doing it. It was a compassioned move toward a troubled individual. I will say that again.

But from a military perspective, it is disheartening to see this. Seven years, is it enough? I don't know.

CAMEROTA: Glenn, what does this mean for other high profile people like Edward Snowden? Julian Assange had tweeted that if Chelsea Manning were -- the sentence were commuted, that he would come back and face justice?

GREENWALD: Well, the reality is that there is no justice here. It's a total double standard for like people who have no power, like Chelsea Manning. If you look at David Petraeus who actually leaked top secret information among government's most sensitive material unlike Chelsea Manning who released no top secret documents, he didn't spend a single day in prison.

And unlike Chelsea Manning who leaked in order to inform the public, David Petraeus leaked top secret sensitive material to his mistress so that she could write autobiography about him. But he has power in Washington. So, he doesn't go to jail for a single day.

Chelsea Manning goes to prison for seven years, like they want to put Edward Snowden in prison for decades as well because that's the double standard that the U.S. military and government uses for people who leak classified information. If are you powerful, you are permitted to do it. If you are not, you go to prison and are treated in a way the U.N. itself concludes constitutes torture. And I think that's the real issue here.

CAMEROTA: Generally, I'll give you the last word.

HERTLING: That's a lot of hyperbole. Private Manning leaked three- quarters of a million documents, more than just what would be considered whistleblower activity. There were cables directed at the entire world.

I'm not going to defend General Petraeus. I think what he did was also wrong. But I don't think you can conclude that one was like the other. It would be really spurious to do that. I think Mr. Greenwald has the wrong view of this entire thing.

It isn't about power versus non-power. It's about the vast extent of documents that were leaked, how they were leaked and what it did. And again, I would suggest Private Manning probably has served the right amount of time and because of her past, she needs to be released.

But that shouldn't be compared with General Petraeus or anybody else.

CAMEROTA: General Hertling, Glenn Greenwald, thank you very much for this debate that we will be having all day long. Thank you both.

Thanks also to our international viewers for watching. CNN "NEWSROOM" will begin for you in moments.

And for our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Things will be done beautifully but they'll be done differently.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: When the elections are, we all serve people.

TRUMP: We have to have a smooth transition. President Obama understands that very well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't be there to celebrate his inauguration.

TRUMP: We have a divided country and it's not divided because --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have serious concerns about equivocating sentences when national security is at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chelsea Manning was found guilty. She acknowledged wrong doing. Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Do you think if your family has not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today? BETSY DEVOS, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION NOMINEE: As a matter of fact, I

do.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: No wonder they want to rush it through. They don't want people to get a good look at this people.