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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin; Wall Battle; Trump and Russia; Republicans on Track to Repeal Obamacare. Aired 4- 4:30p ET
Aired January 13, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: the House of Representatives taking the first steps to dismantle Obamacare.
THE LEAD starts right now.
House Republicans voting to begin the repeal of President Obama's health care law. What comes next? What will a replacement look like? Has one even been written?
What was Donald Trump's national security adviser doing calling the Russian ambassador on the very same day President Obama booted Russian diplomats out of the country? The Trump transition team explains.
Plus, Mexico's president saying there's no way they're going to pay for Donald Trump's wall. Will Trump's biggest campaign promise ever be built and paid for?
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the lead. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're going to begin with some breaking news in our politics lead.
Moments ago, Republicans in the House of Representatives followed their colleagues in the U.S. Senate and passed that budget resolution that will begin the process of repealing Obamacare. This comes after House Speaker Paul Ryan told me at a CNN town hall last night that the GOP will introduce a replacement plan simultaneously to the repealing and that they hope to accomplish all of this within the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.
Manu, what does this vote today actually accomplish? And what are the next steps?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, what this bill does, it actually instructs Congress, both the House and the Senate, to develop legislation that would repeal much of Obamacare.
That legislation cannot be filibustered under the rules in the United States Senate. But there is one problem. The party has not yet settled on what to replace the law with.
RAJU (voice-over): Republicans in Congress are moving quickly to repeal Obamacare, hoping to gut major sections of the law in a matter of weeks.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This law is collapsing while we speak.
RAJU: On Friday, the House approved a budget that will give Congress the authority to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act on a party- line vote, to fulfill one of the main campaign promises of president- elect Donald Trump, who wants to replace the law at the same time as repealing it.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day. Could be the same hour. So, we're going to do repeal and replace.
RAJU: Trump's comments undercut the plans of GOP leaders, who want to take their time developing a new health care law. House Speaker Paul Ryan even said last month that a replacement would not be ready by the next football season. In a shift, Ryan now promises to move quickly.
RYAN: So, we want to advance repealing this law with its replacement at the same time along the lines of what I just described, something definitely is a plan within the first 100 days to get moving on this legislation.
RAJU: But they are already running into problems. The party is divided over how to replace the law, and some influential voices are asking party leaders to hit the brakes.
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, I think the repeal plan needs to be fully developed and better articulated prior to moving forward. I have some reservations about moving as quickly as we are.
RAJU (on camera): Do you have concerns at all about the timetable, then?
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: Well, I think it's going to be a very -- I think this is going to be a very long process.
RAJU: You don't think it's going to happen right away?
RAJU (voice-over): But some conservatives are demanding quick action on plans allowing individuals to buy insurance across state lines and to receive tax breaks for getting coverage.
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: Why don't we do replace and repeal? You know, we could do those things. We could be putting those things on the floor this week.
RAJU: Democrats are warning that the GOP will pay a political price for scrapping the law that's helped insure an additional 20 million people.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: What are they doing in this bill? Overturning the Affordable Care Act, undermining the health security and financial stability of America's working families, and defunding Planned Parenthood. That's their manhood thing now.
RAJU: And, Jake, Republicans will have a chance to get on the same page when they huddle behind closed doors the week after inauguration week for a retreat from the House and Senate Republicans. We will see if they are able to decide on at least some principles to agree on, because right now the party is not yet settled on what exactly to replace the law with.
TAPPER: Fascinating. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.
At least one Democrat in the U.S. Senate is reaching out a hand to the Republicans as they try to change the health care law. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he is willing to try to help Republican fix Obamacare.
He joins me now.
Senator, as always, thanks for joining us. We appreciate t.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good being with you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, senator, President Obama has said that Democrats, you, should make Republicans own this. Call it Trumpcare, don't have anything to do with it. You disagree.
MANCHIN: I disagree with both sides wanting to play politics.
The Republican side saying we have to repeal because it's a political promise they made. And if my side, the Democrats are saying from President Obama down, make them own it, don't fix anything, well, what happens for us, our purpose of being in Washington, is to basically serve the American people.
I just don't understand where they're coming from. We think that basically you cannot go back to what we have had before, which was nothing. You are one illness away from catastrophic death, one illness. So, that can't happen.
We have a plan that's in place, whether you like it or not. Can it be repaired? Absolutely. And I appreciate president-elect Trump saying, I'm not going to let you throw the baby out with the bath water until you let me see something different. My problem is, Jake, I'm having to understand, I want to make sure I
understand the process we have. But if you wrap it in one, I thought it took 60 votes from the Senate, anyway, in policy. I know because of the budget process, they are able on a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate.
So, I don't know how you wrap them both together. Does that give you a 51 vote to replace or repeal and replace? And those are the things we have to work through. I just truly...
TAPPER: Let me ask you...
MANCHIN: I am totally concerned about this. Yes. Go ahead.
TAPPER: Let me just ask you, give me an example of one specific fix that you would like to make to Obamacare.
MANCHIN: Well, we said the market, the product. Jake, you can't have a product and ask for a 26-year-old to buy a product, and then you have a fine of $750 and say, OK, what are you going to do? You're going to pay $1,500, $2,000, $2,500 or $750? They're paying the fine.
You have to have a product and the market has to match up. We have had three or four good pieces of legislation we thought that we could repair this and make it to where you don't have winners and losers.
Right now, I can't look at 172,000 West Virginians getting health care for the first time, I can't look at people that are getting help for treatment for opiate addiction and getting treatment for the first time, I can't look at coal miners that are getting black lung that they didn't have before, that you're going to throw all of that away.
Now, with that being said, also, I'm having a hard time looking at people like my son and different people in the work force that are paying extremely high premiums. So, we have got to be able to bring that down to where it's more affordable.
I'm willing to look at things. They have even talked about cross- state buying the purchasing of health care, medical savings accounts. All of these things could work to a certain extent, but you can't do it if no one is sitting at the table. And you just can't do it by trying to keep a political promise intact, no matter heck or high water, throw it out and say, hey, we have got to fulfill this promise.
Let's make sure we do it right if we're going to fix it.
TAPPER: You just expressed, it seemed to me, a willingness to do one thing that a lot of policy-makers say could help fix it, which is actually raise the fine for people who don't buy health insurance, so that you increase the pool and people's premiums are at least contained with more added to the contributor level in terms of insurance.
Something that I think was a big disappointment for a lot of people in the health care advocacy world is that there really haven't been a lot of measures to try to contain health care costs, not as much as had been promised I think in a lot of ways.
But those are going to be very tough decisions. In a lot of ways, controlling costs means reducing options for individuals that are available through insurance. Are you willing to bite the bullet and suggest that Democrats and Republicans go in that direction?
MANCHIN: Well, Jake, there's different things they look at.
We had a couple votes -- this whole vote-a-rama thing. Nothing comes out of that, except just division, if you will, or somebody getting a sound bite for the next election.
But, Jake, we had an amendment, OK, that said you could buy pharmaceutical drugs from just Canada, nowhere else in the world, just Canada, at lower prices. Anything we can do to reduce prices, we should be doing and looking at it. President Trump said he's going to basically come in there and revamp the whole process and reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals. That would be great.
On the other hand, we have done nothing to educate people on how to use their health care delivery system. We put a lot of people in the system that's never had it, but we have never basically explained to them how to use it more effectively and efficiently.
TAPPER: Fascinating stuff.
I do want to get your views on a couple other issues.
TAPPER: Congressman John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, said that he did not consider president-elect Trump a legitimate president. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": You do not consider him a legitimate president? Why is that?
LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they have destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you make of that, sir? Is president-elect Trump a legitimate president?
Now, let me just say it this way. John Lewis is a fine, unbelievable, fine man. I think the world of him and I really consider him to be a legend basically in America. And I consider John my friend.
With that being said, there is no doubt the Russians were involved in hacking. They were responsible for the hacking. But there is no credible evidence showing that that intervened and had one iota to do with the outcome of the election.
Donald Trump won West Virginia by over 42 percent. I can assure you the Russians had nothing to do with him winning by 42. Now, with that being said, we have got to move on. We have got to come together as a country.
TAPPER: Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, thank you so much. Hope to see you again soon, sir.
MANCHIN: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Can he move on before being sworn in as the next president of the United States, or will Donald Trump still be feuding with the leaders of the intelligence community over Russia and that leaked information? That's next.
[16:15:54] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
More in politics now. The House vote to move forward on repealing Obamacare no doubt comes as welcome news to President-elect Trump who this morning one week before his inauguration woke up to issue a string of grievances against Hillary Clinton, against political partisans, and not surprisingly, against the U.S. intelligence community.
CNN political reporter Sara Murray joins me now.
Sara, the president-elect has apparently been watching a lot of TV news this week.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Apparently, Jake. And, look, a week from today, he's going to be taking the oath of office. You might think he would be hunkering down, working on that inauguration speech. And sure, he's doing that, but he's spending time picking fights on Twitter.
MURRAY (voice-over): Today, Donald Trump is capping off a fiery week with an early morning Twitter tirade.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.
MURRAY: The president-elect still stewing over allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising information on him. CNN isn't reporting the details of those allegations because it is not
independently confirmed them. But Trump took to Twitter to call the allegations "totally made-up facts by sleaze bag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans, fake news. Russia says nothing exists. Probably released by, quote, 'intelligence,' even knowing there is no proof and never will be."
Trump's latest swipe at U.S. intelligence agencies coming after the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he assured Trump the intelligence community wasn't the source for the dossier outlining unsubstantiated allegations against the president-elect.
As Trump publicly feuds with the intelligence community, privately, his top advisors have done their own Russian outreach. Trump team confirming today that Michael Flynn, Trump's pick for national security advisor, recently exchanged calls and texts with the Russian ambassador. Their goal, according to the Trump transition, was simply to arrange a chat between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump once he's in the White House.
Meanwhile, the Twitter aficionado is aiming his fire at Hillary Clinton. Trump tweeting, "What are Hillary Clinton's people complaining about with respect to the FBI? Based on the information they had, she should never have been allowed to run. Guilty as hell."
That's as Clinton allies applauded the decision by the Justice Department's inspector general to launch a probe into the way the department and the FBI handled the investigation into Clinton's private e-mail server.
BRIAN FALLON, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: I think those tweets are just the latest indication that Donald Trump is someone who is very insecure in his victory and I understand why. Every day, there are new developments, new shoes dropping, so to speak, that call into question the legitimacy of his win.
MURRAY: As Trump airs his grievances on Twitter, at least some are being spared. His cabinet picks, who are starting to express disagreement between Trump's views and theirs.
TRUMP: We want them to be themselves. And I told them, be yourselves and say what you want to say. Don't worry about me.
MURRAY: Another potential area of disagreement may be emerging. House Speaker Paul Ryan told an undocumented immigrant at CNN's town hall that he hopes her future is in America. She was brought to the U.S. by her parents as a child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you that I should be deported?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: Angelica, first of all, I can see that you love your daughter and you're a nice person who has a great future ahead of you. And I hope your future is here.
MURRAY: And he insisted the deportation force Trump once promised won't become a reality. RYAN: And I'm here to tell you --
MURRAY: Now, in addition to the inauguration next week, there is also going to be a jam-packed schedule of confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's cabinet picks and he is beginning to layout just what he wants to be at the top of his agenda when he does settle into the White House. They're already making calls on the Hill to make one thing clear -- Ivanka Trump's child care overhaul goes to the top of that list. That includes provisions for maternity leave as well as a new child care tax credit -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.
First, Republicans attacked him for his handling of the Hillary Clinton private e-mail server probe. Then, Democrats blamed him for hurting Clinton right before Election Day. And now, there are new calls for FBI Director James Comey to resign. But they're coming from a surprising source.
[16:20:02] Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Sticking with politics, in one week, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our nation's 45th commander in chief. That's if you count Grover Cleveland twice, of course. What will that mean for you?
I want to bring in the political panel to talk about it all. Carol Lee, White House correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal", Zeke Miller, political reporter at "TIME", and Mary Katharine Ham, who's a senior writer at "The Federalist" and CNN political commentator.
Thanks for joining me.
In a lot of ways, this was like the first week of the Trump presidency, even though he's not president because his cabinet nominees were on the Hill.
[16:25:01] There was this big dust up with the intelligence community, his first press conference since the election.
How did it go?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there is a lot of sound and fury. I think that one thing I'm learning is that Trump is going to have his disagreements publicly, whether it's about -- whether Mitt Romney will be the secretary of state or with the press or with the intel community. He's just going to have it out in public. So, we're going to see that happening, continue to see it happen.
And then you see these things where some of these nomination fights will be very bizarre where Rubio gets very -- is very contentious with Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Others, you'll get an easy win like Mattis, where you get the waiver and he moves on. So, I think it's going to be hot and cold through here.
TAPPER: What do you think, Zeke?
ZEKE MILLER, POLITICAL REPORTER, TIME: I mean, I think the most interesting thing this week was the divisions between -- within the Trump administration, the new Trump administration with some of those confirmation hearings.
TAPPER: Yeah, contradictions.
MILLER: Contradictions coming along on Russia, on the deportation force with Speaker Ryan from your town hall last night. But also, on whether or not there'd be a Muslim registry that General Kelly had to talk about earlier in the week. And how the various elements of the Trump administration will work with the White House is something that, you know, is going to be a constant theme of the next four years.
TAPPER: And, of course, this big dust up with the intelligence community.
CAROL LEE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, that was the thing that really dominated the week. You know, this is the week that started out with President-elect Trump hitting back at Meryl Streep, right? And then --
TAPPER: That seems like ten years ago.
LEE: Doesn't it? And then, he ended with hitting Hillary Clinton.
And so, all that happened in between was, you know, CNN had the report of the president getting briefed on this dossier, that dominated. That dominated his press conference. Then we had the FBI, you know, the inspector general doing this investigation. And I think, though, of all of those things that's most consequential for the country and for this president is the -- his relationship with the intelligence officials.
And it's not clear that -- it seems like after Director Clapper had called him on Wednesday night that they patched things up a little bit but then you have President-elect Trump again tweeting this morning, you know, blaming the intelligence for these leaks of this dossier. And so, how that relationship goes.
LEE: But broadly, I think usually in transitions you have the chaos of the campaign and it kind of -- there are walls that get put around things and it comes together a little bit. And we just haven't seen that in this transition at all.
TAPPER: You know what's fascinating in the handling of the intel stuff, they came after us, they came after the press. They told a number of lies, just demonstrable ones. Kellyanne Conway saying the CNN.com leaked to BuzzFeed, false, never did, et cetera. I would have thought that if there was any sort of communication strategy on this, it's just go after the intelligence community, say they're politicizing, political witch hunt thing.
It doesn't -- it didn't seem like all that well thought out as strategy in terms of -- I mean, everything we reported was true. "The Wall Street Journal" backed us up, "The New York Times".
LEE: Joe Biden, I had an interview with him and a couple of other reporters.
LEE: He said, he told us what the intelligence officials said.
TAPPER: We never said -- we emphasized over and over, nothing in this is corroborated. We don't know, but they briefed him on what was in it. I don't -- I don't get the lying.
HAM: I don't think there is a strategy. And when you can go after three people instead of one, you have lots of targets.
But I think he does have a bit of a bone to pick with the leaks.
HAM: And that party thought him and Clapper having that discussion was actually very productive, then classic Trump, he sort of overblows the conversation they have and tweets it incorrectly and, you know, changes the story. But --
TAPPER: Although we have to say, Zeke, I mean, one of the reasons Clapper issued the statement and Biden was as forthcoming as he was, I can't get into their motivations and their minds, but they seem to be out there saying -- correcting the record because the Trump team was saying things that weren't true and Biden and DNI Clapper were saying, well, this is actually what happened, this is what I said, we did get this dossier, et cetera, we did get the synopsis, et cetera.
MILLER: Yes. I mean, but they're having those conversations on Donald Trump's terms. That is in a way the media mastery that he's been able to demonstrate throughout his candidacy. And we'll see throughout the presidency, that he will just pick these fights and, by and large, if you're engaging him, he's winning because he's directing -- misdirecting you from something else that he doesn't want to talk about or moving thing to his own turf.
And he's -- you know, this fight with the intelligence community gives him cover to slow walk everything, takes the pressure off him. You know, if something happens in the world, he'll now go and say I need to get independently verify this, work around the intelligence community. It takes the pressure off of him in every one -- you know, in every future crisis -- at least, that's how I think he thinks about it.
TAPPER: Carol, let me just change topics for one second because this afternoon, Congressman John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, revered member of the civil rights community, told NBC News because of the Russian hacks, he does not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president. I don't know that Democrats, we already had Joe Manchin disagreeing with him. I don't know that Democrats think that is the right message.
What's your take?
LEE: Well, I think when that is going to move anything else, really provoke Trump. You know, part of the reason why he has picked this fight with the intelligence community is because he feels under siege that all of this is designed to undermine what he feels was a very legitimate movement that he had and it let him to win the White House.