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Trump Repeats False Claim about Voter Fraud; Interview with Sen. Tammy Baldwin; CIA Director Sworn In, Secretary of State Awaits Vote; U.S. Investigating Flynn Calls with Russian Diplomat; Interview with Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Bill Cassidy on Obamacare. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired January 24, 2017 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Up first, President Trump again peddling his false claim that voter fraud cost him the popular vote.

[07:00:09] The president blamed vast illegal voting in a meeting with top congressional leaders. He also claimed again that the size of the crowd at his inauguration was bigger than reported.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That's not even what they were there to talk about. The president has been trying to motivate his early agenda. He just delivered on a key campaign promise, signing an executive order to withdraw from the TPP, the transpacific partnership, all while his CIA director finally got confirmed, Mike Pompeo. There are also several more nominees preparing for a Senate grilling.

There's a lot going on. We have it all covered. Let's begin with Athena Jones, live at the White House. What will see today?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Well, a lot more meetings on the schedule today. But this is very interesting, the fact that yesterday during a jam-packed day at the White House, during which the president was making good on several campaign promises, as you mentioned, he still took the time to complain to members of Congress about losing the popular vote.


JONES (voice-over): President Trump again falsely claiming he lost the popular vote because of voter fraud. Sources tell CNN during a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, the president reiterated the unsubstantiated claim that 3 to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote. It's a claim Mr. Trump has made before on Twitter, and it's been repeatedly debunked. The president also using the meeting to dwell on the size of his inauguration crowds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was, from his perspective, a very, very large crowd, and we didn't -- we didn't push it beyond that, but it was clear that this was still in his mind.

JONES: In his first official briefing as White House press secretary, Sean Spicer defending the president. SPICER: It's about sitting here every time and being told, "No, the

crowds aren't that big. He's not that successful." The narrative and the default narrative is always negative, and it's demoralizing.

JONES: Spicer on the defensive after falsely claiming the 2017 inauguration had the largest audience of any swearing in.

SPICER: I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. Our intention is never to lie to you.

JONES: But beyond his continued obsession with votes and crowd size, Trump spent most of his first Monday in office on repealing Obama's policies.

TRUMP: Great thing for the American worker, what we just did.

JONES: The president signing an executive action to withdraw the U.S. from the Transpacific Partnership.

TRUMP: We're going to have trade, but we're going to have one-on-one.

JONES: Casting the free trade agreement between 12 nations as bad for American business.

TRUMP: Companies that left are going to come back to our country. They're going to hire a lot of people.

JONES: The president also signing two other executive actions, imposing a hiring freeze on most federal workers, and reinstating a ban on funding for international groups who provide or counsel women on abortion.

His policy moves coming on the same day he met with corporate and union leaders, warning U.S. companies against manufacturing overseas.

TRUMP: A company that wants to fire all of its people in the United States and build some factory someplace else, and then thinks that that product is just going to flow across the border into the United States, that's not going to happen. They're going to have a tax to pay, a border tax. A substantial border tax.

JONES: And offering an incentive to stay in the U.S.

TRUMP: We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more.


JONES: Another busy day ahead for the president. He has another breakfast and listening session, this time with auto industry leaders. He'll be signing more executive orders and then later meeting with Senate leaders.

One thing not on his public schedule, the presidential daily briefing. That's the intelligence briefing that's gotten so much attention over the last several months -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Athena, thanks so much for that.

Vice President Mike Pence swearing in Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director last night. The president's pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, advances to a full vote next week. And there's a full plate of hearings today. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more from Capitol Hill.


The Senate is inching along here, Mike Pompeo becoming the third cabinet official in place, sworn in overnight very swiftly by Vice President Pence, and things are now lining up for Trump's fourth cabinet official to potentially be put in place very soon. Rex Tillerson, Trump's controversial secretary of state, approved by the Foreign Relations Committee yesterday with some last-minute support from Senator Marco Rubio. Tillerson now heads to the full Senate, and he's all but guaranteed to pass through easily; but that vote will likely not happen immediately.

Democrats up here on the Hill have already indicated that they will likely filibuster this nomination, pushing Tillerson's final vote into next week. Now, today on Capitol Hill another slew of potentially contentious confirmation hearings, including from Tom Price, and facing his second round of questioning, Mick Mulvaney.

[07:05:08] And a scheduled committee vote for Senator Sessions in the Judiciary Committee. Democrats on that committee, as if their right, have already indicated they will delay that vote, pushing Sessions into next week, and right now Senator Sessions is at least facing, at the earliest, a final confirmation in early February.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: All right, Sunlen. Thank you very much.

Lots to discuss. Let's bring in Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat from Wisconsin. Senator, thank you for being on NEW DAY.


CUOMO: All right. Let's start with the criticism coming at your party for not having more nominees voted on and confirmed yet, that this is about delay. Fair criticism?

BALDWIN: It's not. What has happened is we've had hearings with nominees who haven't even completed their paperwork. This is particularly important, especially with the particular nominees that Donald Trump has put forward, because we have seen financial entanglements, conflicts of interest, things that raise concerns among the American people that these nominees are going to be feathering their own nests rather than working for the American people.

And if anything, the American people need to know that people who join public service are fighting for them, and not for their former bosses or on behalf of investments that they have made, and several of these nominees have presented these conflicts that we have to resolve before we vote.

CUOMO: OK. I want to talk to you about a couple in particular. Price and Devos. I know they're specific to you, as well. But one other thing: Is complexion relevant? That this is too white, too male, this group of nominees? Is that relevant or is that just P.C.?

BALDWIN: What I would say is my duty as a senator and under the Constitution, our duty is to advise and consent. We're not reviewing nominees that aren't before us. We are reviewing the nominees that Trump has made, and that's the set of facts and the set of issues that we have before us.

So Betsy Devos, Tom Price both came before the health, education, labor, and pensions committee in the Senate. We will have other nominees come in the future, but I have been looking at their records, and -- and their financial entanglements, frankly.

CUOMO: Let's talk about them specifically. Tom Price says, HHS nominee, says, "What I did with my stocks was above board, transparent, ethical, and legal."

And listening to your arguments, you seem to say that he's right, at best, about two of those. That maybe it was legal, because the laws are not that exacting. And maybe it was transparent, because it did come out in his recording that he has to do every year in Congress. But do you believe that his stock trades were ethical and were above board?

BALDWIN: Well, he came to our committee. We asked him a lot of questions about particular investments that he directed. I think we have to have great pause when we hear that a nominee for HHS secretary has invested in specific companies and then advanced policies that could advantage those companies.

And we have asked for both an Office of Government Ethics review, as well as a Securities and Exchange Commission review, because I think this raises some red flags that ought to be examined very closely. Again, the American people deserve to have cabinet secretaries fighting for them, thinking about them at every turn.

CUOMO: His defense...

BALDWIN: Not thinking about how they can advance their own financial interests or those of others in the Trump administration.

CUOMO: His defense, Senator, offered in part by fellow Congressman Chris Collins, who supposedly gave him the inclination to want to invest in one of these companies is, one, it was all legal.

Two, he never had legislation that directly affected that company. They're not in the U.S. market.

So is that about, well, it could have affected someone, but it didn't. And if it didn't affect anything that he was legislating on, is that good enough? BALDWIN: Well, first of all, Chris, I would say that there were a

number of different investments that have raised some concern. Not just the one that he got on a tip from his colleague, Representative Collins.

But he is a representative who advances health policy, and when you look at the medical device companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and other companies that he's invested in. I think it draws some very serious questions about his discretion, frankly, as a representative that he's doing that.

And we need to have cabinet secretaries who are focused squarely on the well-being of the American people. And if you look at the policies that he has advanced, being against women's reproductive freedom, charging ahead with an idea to end the guarantee of Medicare and increase costs for seniors, refusing under examination in our health committee to agree to what Donald Trump says he supports: Medicare negotiating better prices for prescription drugs so our seniors aren't so burdened with those costs. These -- his substantive record also raises concern, not just his messy entanglements financially.

CUOMO: Betsy Devos, the -- those who support her within the president's administration say you guys don't like that she's so wealthy and that the conflicts -- questions that you guys have aren't made for people who have her family's net worth. And that you don't like that she's about alternative tools for school, like choice and charter schools. And that's why you're holding us up.

What's your answer?

BALDWIN: Well, first of all, she appeared before the committee not even having filed her Office of Government Ethics paperwork, so we were hampered in being able to have a full exchange. Knowing nonetheless that she had direct or indirect investments in firms that would be advantaged by certain policies she could pursue as education secretary.

Again, the president promised to drain the swamp, and instead we have these individuals with financial entanglements that could be directly benefited by the decisions they would make.

Now a week after our hearing, we have finally seen some of the paperwork, indicating that she needs to disentangle herself in over 100 investments that have something to do with education. Her portfolio.

The other thing about Betsy Devos is how little experience she has with public education. She's never been to a public school. She admits readily. But frankly, when you have a potentially incoming education secretary who has such little knowledge about the K-12 system, about public higher education, technical colleges and universities, who couldn't answer some of the simplest questions in the hearing, that gives me pause.

CUOMO: The ACA quickly, two Republican senators have brought up a plan for replacement of the ACA, Obamacare, as it is known. A curious component of it, almost an ironic one, as well, as they say states who want to can opt it, which obviously smacks of one of the big Republican criticisms of Obamacare, about when he failed to deliver on being able to keep your own doctor.

With your understanding of the ACA, how can a state opt in if everybody's not in, because what are they going to do with the mandate and the subsidy structure and the pool structure? Would that work?

BALDWIN: Chris, I don't think it would, and what we see is a proposal and Tom Price in talking about how he would replace, if the Affordable Care Act is ultimately repealed. He would not guarantee that people with preexisting health conditions could even get insurance.

I can tell you that the people of Wisconsin did not send me to the United States Senate to take their healthcare away, and we have to proceed right now in either strengthening the health reforms that were passed under the Affordable Care Act or resisting this effort to strip health insurance away from literally tens of millions of Americans, which is what they have on the table right now.

And I can tell you, when I go home, I'm hearing the stories of what people would face if this actually goes through.

CUOMO: Senator, thank you for being on NEW DAY to make the case. As we get more meat on the bones of these proposals, please come back so we can debate it. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: U.S. investigators are scrutinizing phone calls between President Trump's national security adviser, Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador. These calls rising concerns with counterterrorism investigators. So CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez live in Washington. I think I should have said counterintelligence investigators there, Evan. Tell us the latest.

[07:14:38] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn.

Calls between Mike Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser, and Russia's ambassador to the United States are being scrutinized as part of a broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian activities in the United States.

Law enforcement and intelligence officials say that the calls were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats. But officials say that some of the content of conversation drew enough potential concerns that the investigators are still looking into the discussions.

The officials all stressed that so far there's been no determination of wrongdoing. We know that the FBI and intelligence officials briefed the Obama White House about the phone discussions before President Obama left office. And at least one of calls came on the same day that the Obama administration announced sanctions on Russia and expelled 35 diplomats.

Now the White House says it has, quote, absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even the basis of such an investigation. Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, told reporters that there were two calls, that the men discussed four subjects. That includes setting up a conference on ISIS and a phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much. Stay on that for us.

Repeal and replace Obamacare. That was the rallying crying during this election. Two GOP senators have put forward an alternative.

Up next, we're going to talk to them about their plan, and we're going to put it to the test.


CAMEROTA: Republicans in Congress beginning the process of repealing Obamacare. The party has yet to coalesce around an alternative plan. But on Monday, two GOP senators, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine unveiled their idea for how to replace Obamacare, and they join us now.

[07:20:16] Good morning, senators.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Senator Collins, let me start with you and just see if I can get my mind around your plan, at least the main tenets of your plan without getting too far in the weeds.

As I understand it, you would leave it up to the states. The states for which the Affordable Care Act is working well, they get to keep it. The states who want to scrap it can scrap it. And at the same time, you would do away with the mandate that, you know, forces Americans to have to pay for it. But just explain to us how, if you make it optional, how do you pay for it?

COLLINS: Well, first of all, it's important to understand that it isn't simply a matter of the states scrapping the ACA. We do want to return power to the states to design their health insurance plans, because what works in one state may not work well in another state.

What we do know, that in states across the country, the Obamacare exchanges are on the verge of collapse in many places. So doing nothing is not an option. What we do is set up an alternative choice, a better choice for states where they could use a combination of health savings accounts to expand health insurance to the uninsured.

CAMEROTA: OK. Senator Cassidy, you are a doctor, so you have a very interesting perspective on all of this. Just explain to us how, if you -- the way the math worked, as we understood it, is that healthy people had to buy into the system through mandates, because that supported, financially, the sick people. If you take away the mandate, then how does that math work?

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: So I think that's the great thing about our plan. We give states the option of saying those who are eligible that you are enrolled unless you choose not to be, much like when folks turned 65, they're on Medicare. It's not a mandate. They're just on Medicare.

The tax credit someone receives would be adequate to pay for their premium. And so what you've just done is restored the law of big numbers. All these young healthy males who aren't going to pay through the nose to sign up for the exchange and are not under Obamacare are now enrolled unless they call up and say they don't want to be.

This by itself, according to one insurance company which has modeled our plan, would lower premiums by 20 percent, even while we maintain coverage for those few sick who now have their costs spread out over the many.

CAMEROTA: Senator Chuck Schumer doesn't see it your way. Let me read to you what he says about your plan. He says under their proposal, millions of Americans would be kicked off their plans; out-of-pocket costs and deductibles for consumers would skyrocket; employer-based coverage for working families would be disrupted; and protections for people with preexisting conditions, such as cancer, would be gutted, all while the wealthiest few get a tax cut. So what's your response?

COLLINS: Well, that's just not accurate. And I think that it's unfortunate that Senator Schumer did not even bother to read the bill. He made these comments before we even introduced the bill.

We have retained vital consumer protections, such as protections for people with preexisting conditions, as long as they have paid their premiums. We allow young people to stay on their parents' policies until age 26. We prohibit the imposition of lifetime or annual caps.

All of those consumer protections are in place regardless of what plan you choose and the fact is that under the Affordable Care Act, we have nearly 30 million people in this country who still lack insurance. So we hope that our approach will expand the number of people who are covered.

CASSIDY: We think that it's better that someone have their insurance, her insurance governed by her state capital, not by our nation's capital.

I understand that Mr. Schumer, who had not read the bill, because we'd not introduced it, is trying to kind of keep his party in line. He's trying to enforce party discipline. We're not about partisanship.

If Albany, New York, wishes to keep Obamacare for New York, he can. But we shouldn't enforce a plan that Mr. Schumer thinks will work -- is working for New York -- upon people in Montana, upon people in West Virginia or Indiana. Why should we? Because it's not working there.

[07:25:01] This is not a partisan plan. This is an American plan. This is not a Democrat or Republican. It's a patient plan.


CASSIDY: And I hope Mr. Schumer moves beyond partisanship.

CAMEROTA: Senators, very quickly, I want to ask you about Tom Price, Mr. Trump's nominee for HHS. Are either of you troubled by Mr. Price's history of trading in medical company stocks around the time or connected to legislation that he then introduced that would affect those medical companies?

COLLINS: Well, it's my understanding that he has complied with all the ethics regulations of the House of Representatives. It's something that the committee on which we serve has looked at very closely. And I believe that having someone who is a physician, who really understands providing Medicare, as head of HHS, is a plus.

CAMEROTA: I mean, but Senator Cassidy, he complied -- he didn't break the law, but he admits that he traded in those stocks. Are you comfortable with that?

CASSIDY: His -- his broker made trades for him. And his explanation -- I mean, at some point in this body, you vote on so many things that there are so many things that there's no way that there cannot be sometimes an appearance of impropriety.

As Johnny Isaacson, the senator from Georgia, said, we have two true facts, but they are unrelated. What I'm focused on is that Price understands that we can use advancible tax credits, giving them to Americans to allow Americans to choose the insurance they wish to buy without a Washington, D.C., prescribed solution. We like that. We think it works for everybody, whether they're in New York, Maine or Louisiana. That's where we're pointing.

CAMEROTA: Senators Cassidy and Collins, thanks so much for coming on NEW DAY to explain all of this. Nice to see you.

Let's get to Chris.

CUOMO: All right. The digging that needs to be done there is these were very discrete companies that did very specific things that may or may not have played into specific pieces of legislation. That's why there's some question.

President Trump dismissing an ethics lawsuit that claims he violated the Constitution from the moment he took the oath of office because of accepting foreign payments. We're going to speak with an ambassador who's part of the suit challenging the president. Will it stand? Next.