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Trump Promises Health Insurance For All; Wife of Pulse Nightclub Shooter Arrested; Trump's Cloud of Controversy. Aired 3- 3:30p ET
Aired January 16, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for being with me.
This is the start the most important week of Donald Trump's life, starting in a bit of a cloud of controversy, the president-elect now in a standoff with the head of the CIA, the leader of one of America's most critical allies, NATO, and also civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman from Georgia John Lewis.
Moments ago, a major development on that front, the president-elect emerging from a meeting with the son of Martin Luther King Jr., his son, Martin Luther King III, weighing in on this latest war of words between Mr. Trump and Congressman Lewis, who once marched with Dr. King himself.
Mr. Donald Trump has attacked Congressman Lewis saying he was -- quote, unquote -- "all talk," after Congressman Lewis said he did not think Trump's presidency was legitimate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING III, PRESIDENT & CEO, REALIZING THE DREAM: We did have a very constructive meeting.
The seminal right of the modern civil rights movement was the right to vote. My father fought so diligently for it. Certainly Congressman John Lewis and many others, Hosea Williams, fought for it as well.
It is very clear that the system is not working at its maximum. And through an op-ed that you may have seen, we provided at least a solution to begin to address a broken voting system. That was the dialogue, most of the dialogue that we talked about constructively. We believe we provided a solution that at least will give everyone an I.D.
QUESTION: Representative Lewis still has the scars from the march on Selma. Were you offended by president-elect Trump's tweet that Representative Lewis is all talk and no action?
KING: Well, first of all, I think that, in the heat of emotion, a lot of things get said on both sides.
And I think that, at some point, I am, as John Lewis and many others, are a bridge-builder. The goal is to bring America together and Americans. We are a great nation. But we must become a greater nation.
And what my father represented, my mother represented through her life, what I hope that I'm always trying to do is always bring people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to Jeff Zeleny, our senior Washington correspondent.
And, Jeff, what more do we know about the meeting? What was discussed? Was it more than a photo-op?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, I think it was more than a photo-op, because Donald Trump, of course, did not come out with Martin Luther King III, as you saw there.
We saw him getting out of the elevator, but then not taking questions. Donald Trump, clearly, I think did not want this moment to escalate into more questions about John Lewis and things.
But you heard the topics there addressed in the meeting, voting rights first and foremost. I think you also heard Mr. King saying that, look, he pledged to be a president for all Americans, Donald Trump did, but he said we are going to have to evaluate that.
So we know more about the meeting right now from what Mr. King said. Donald Trump, of course, didn't talk about it. His aides so far have not give a readout of the meeting. But I think it is clear that Donald Trump is aware of the fact that he is entering his presidency here with an issue with African-American voters by and large.
And it's something that he wants to be liked. That is something I think we have to keep in mind here as we analyze his presidency. I think this is something he will work on. But the reality is picking a fight with John Lewis is not a very good way to start.
BALDWIN: We will have a conversation about that in a second, but onto the outgoing CIA chief John Brennan and this back and forth, the standoff. Trump is now suggesting it may have been Brennan who leaked that unverified dossier via a tweet. What did Brennan say in response?
ZELENY: Brooke, so extraordinary here. We have seen this ongoing fight with the president-elect and all the intelligence leaders of this community.
And John Brennan pushed back quite hard about what Donald Trump knows and doesn't know and about the fact, this suggestion he is the leaker. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: But what I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany. I do take great umbrage at that. And there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: John Brennan is clearly firing back at this, Brooke. The question here is four days from now, when Donald Trump inherits this intelligence community, John Brennan will be gone, of course. But the community still exists. So that is what is a potentially worrisome prospect here, when the new leader, the new president is really at war, at odds with his intelligence officials.
It's something we have never seen before, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
Let's talk about that.
Joining me now, former longtime CIA Russian operations officer Steve Hall, David Andelman, editor emeritus at "The World Policy Journal," CNN opinion contributor and columnist at "USA Today."
Great to have both of you on.
And, David, let me actually just begin with you, just on the fact that the tweets from Mr. Trump implying that John Brennan may have been the one behind the leak. How dangerous is that? Certainly, as Jeff pointed out, it's unprecedented.
DAVID ANDELMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is unprecedented.
And there's no question any time Donald Trump tries to drive a wedge between himself and the CIA and his intelligence officials, that's really bad. But that's only one of a series, Brooke, as I'm sure you aware, this weekend of tweets and interviews that he did that really have suddenly distanced Trump and potentially the United States from alliances and friends in Europe and all over the world that have gone back generations.
So, it really is -- he is isolating himself, not only in the United States within his intelligence and national security community, but also with people who should be his friends, Angela Merkel, the Western alliance, the NATO alliance, and so on.
This is a precedent that is very, very dangerous.
BALDWIN: No, I want to totally jump on how the public perception of his conversation with "Bild" and "The Times of London" could impact, right, Angela Merkel's standing.
But, before I do, Steve, to you, still on this -- on Brennan and Trump. And we know Bob Woodward. He was on "FOX News Sunday." And he said, you know, Trump has every reason to be upset for the release of this dossier. He said: "I have lived in this world for 45 years where you get things and people make allegations." He said, "This is a garbage document."
And then he goes on, "When people make mistakes, they should apologize."
Bob Woodward is a very well-respected journalist. Does his point have merit, in your opinion?
STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, there is a lot of questions obviously about this particular 35-page document, but it seems to me the response is not to make the kind of -- and, again, words begin to escape me in terms of outrageous, crazy, wacko comment about the CIA being somehow Nazi Germany or John Brennan.
Look, I have worked with John Brennan for a number of years. I think he is an honorable guy. I doubt quite seriously that there is any leaking coming from him or the CIA. But, again, it is the reaction perhaps of a bully with a black eye.
We know that Trump's sensitivity here is primarily with regard to the legitimacy of his election. So, when you poke at that, that's the kind of response that you are going to get. Interestingly, you don't get a response like that when you start talking about the comments he made with regard to NATO and that whole situation, the illegitimacy or the obsolescence of NATO.
Why would he make comments like that? Again, the mind begins to boggle as to why these comments are coming out of our future president's mouth, at least in my view.
BALDWIN: That interview was rich, right? He talked about NATO. he talked about Russian sanctions and he talked, David, to your point, about Germany, our longtime friend, key figure in the Western allegiance.
Let me just play some of this. This is what Mr. Trump said when asked who he trusts more, Putin or Merkel. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Who do you trust more if you talk to them, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, I will start off trusting both. But let's see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: David, before I even move on, just let's just marinate for a second on response. What did you make of that, Putin and Merkel?
ANDELMAN: Right. Well, first of all, it's extraordinary that he puts Angela Merkel and
Putin kind of in the same basket, on an even keel. How is that even possible?
BALDWIN: He was asked the question, to be fair. They were put into the same sentence in the question, but still I hear you.
ANDELMAN: Right. Right.
Merkel is the foundation of the Western alliance and one of -- America's great supporter on the continent of Europe. And she's facing a very difficult election coming up this year for her future.
If she goes down, the stability of all of Western Europe could certainly be affected. So, for him to equate and say maybe I will prefer Putin, maybe I will prefer Merkel, we will see, that is just an extraordinary statement to put the two of them in any sense on the same level, in the same playing field, strategically or even personally.
BALDWIN: She -- you know, she has had this open-door policy with refugees. Trump has taken her to task on that, calling her policy a catastrophe. But now we have some sound.
Christiane Amanpour interviewed Secretary of State John Kerry. Here's his response to what we just played for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, 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.
And he will have to speak to that. As of Friday, you know, he's responsible for that relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Steve, how would you see this, you know, interfering in that election? David pointed out she has a fight to fight. She is standing. She wants to hold onto her job. But in terms of the U.S. relationship with Germany and also just public perception on this election, thoughts?
HALL: Yes, that the part about the relationship with the United States and Germany, and indeed all of Europe, is absolutely the most important thing.
I mean, this is nothing short of crazy talk, all right? You have got a relationship that has lasted over decades and decades, and I'm talking about -- I'm thinking, from my background, an intelligence relationship that has basically thwarted time and time again terrorist attacks against this country.
You have nothing like that. As a matter of fact, arguably, you have got quite the opposite with Russia. And yet you have got the president-elect of the United States saying, yes, let me think about this, maybe NATO is obsolete, maybe that entire structure with our European allies, with whom we have done so much, not only on counterterrorism, but on a number of other different topics, to protect this homeland, and instead look at somebody like Vladimir Putin.
I mean, it's just -- I am at a loss for words.
BALDWIN: Another piece of it was he was saying Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, who we now know will have a West Wing post, could perhaps broker Middle East peace, certainly something he has had no experience in.
But, at the same time, as our smart CNN political director said, hey, he had no experience in helping his father-in-law win a presidential election. We see what happened.
We have to leave it. We will continue. This is a massively important conversation just globally, David and Steve. I appreciate both of you very much.
This coming Friday, of course, Donald Trump will become our 45th president. And CNN will have all-day live coverage from the swearing- in to the inaugural address, plus the parade, the balls, and the first couple's first dance. It all starts Friday morning at 9:00 Eastern.
Coming up here on CNN, a major development today involving the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. We have now learned that the wife of that attacker has been arrested today in California -- those details ahead.
Also -- quote -- "insurance for everyone," president-elect Trump says a plan to replace President Obama's signature health care law is nearly complete with the goal of insurance for all. Who pays for it? We will talk about that.
And a final chapter for the World Series champion team the Chicago Cubs, a visit to the White Sox -- to the White House with noted White Sox fan President Obama -- how a presidential pardon was involved here. We're back in a moment.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President-elect Donald Trump has said he is just about ready to reveal his plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with, to quote him, insurance for everybody.
Now, this is the same refrain he has campaigned on and pushed during this interview on CBS' "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Universal health care?
TRUMP: I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody is going to be taken care of much better than they are taken care of now.
QUESTION: The uninsured person?
QUESTION: Is going to be taken care of?
TRUMP: Going to be taken care of.
TRUMP: I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And you know what? This is probably...
QUESTION: Make a deal? Who pays for it?
TRUMP: The government is going to pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right, so, insurance for everybody, how will this happen, especially since his party opposes bigger government?
CNN politics reporter M.J. Lee joins me now with more.
As we know, we've seen Speaker Ryan and everyone saying, OK, it's got to be in the first 100 days, and here he says this. What does mean by insurance for everybody? Let's start there.
M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Well, the truth is that we don't actually know what he means by insurance for everybody. And I think more importantly we don't know how he intends to achieve that. I thought it was very telling about the second graph of "The Washington Post" story. "The Post" had an interview with him, rather.
The second graph of that story said Trump declined to reveal specifics. So, this is Trump, in very typical Trump fashion, making big, sweeping, very ambitious promises. He is first saying that more people are going to be covered under his plan. And, second, he is saying that it's going to be done with less money, that people will be paying less for their coverage.
But it's very difficult to imagine how you would achieve that, especially because when you keep in mind Republicans are opposed to basically bigger government and more government spending. Hard to see how they can achieve that without actually spending more money to do it.
But politically this just has huge political ramifications on Congress. Lawmakers are very busy trying to come up with a plan, but they don't actually have a plan right now in terms of how they are going to replace what they roll back.
So, now they face sort of the added pressure of making sure that whatever they come with up with is in line with what Trump is promising.
BALDWIN: But it seems like they have plans, it's just not one singular unified plan. And that's what...
LEE: That's right.
BALDWIN: I imagine that's a key piece in making this so difficult for Republicans on the Hill right now.
And I think the reality is that repeal and replace Obamacare has been a very snappy political slogan. It has worked very well for the Republican Party to run on the slogan for many, many years, getting their party base very revved up, saying this is a law that doesn't work and we are going to get rid of it as soon as possible.
And, you know, keep in mind that Republicans have actually moved very quickly during this new Congress to get that process started. We saw that procedural vote happen last week. And now they are getting started and writing the actual repeal bill.
But I think the big question is whatever they do with the replacement, they are going to need Democrats on board, some Democrats, because they will not have the filibuster-proof process once they actually move on to the replacement part. And so getting Democrats on board on top of getting, you know, Republicans on board, Republicans who are also feeling nervous right now, is going to be a very, very difficult thing to do.
BALDWIN: It was a fight for the Democrats. It will be a fight for Republicans. You will be in the weeds of it, I'm sure. M.J., thank you so much, because, you know, 20 million people are covered by it and it matters. Thank you.
Coming up next here, on this MLK Day, president-elect Trump meets with the son of the late civil rights leader, Dr. King's son Martin Luther King III there in the Trump Tower lobby. Hear what he had to say about the words back and forth between Mr. Trump and Congressman John Lewis.
Plus, the FBI has arrested the wife of that Pulse nightclub shooter -- how they say she helped her killer husband commit mass murder.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Back to our news here, the president-elect, Donald Trump, just met with son of Dr. King. He met with Martin Luther King III there in Trump Tower, who, of course, timing here, you can't miss it, the birthday the nation is celebrating today.
And it comes as Trump is embroiled in this war of words with civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman from Georgia John Lewis.
Here's more first from what Martin Luther King III has just said after meeting with Mr. Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Absolutely, I would say John Lewis has demonstrated that he is action. As I said, things get said on both sides in the heat of emotion.
And at some point, this nation, we have got to move forward. We can't stay on -- people are literally probably dying. We need to be talking about, how do we feed people, how do we clothe people, how do we create the best education system? That's what we need to be focused on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's start the conversation there with Charles McKinney. He's with me, a civil rights historian who is the chairman of Africana studies and an associate professor of history at Rhodes College in Memphis. And also with me, CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott.
Welcome to both of you.
And, professor, let me begin with you here. Of course we would all agree with what Martin Luther King III just said to cameras there in Trump Tower. But you also have Congressman Lewis, right, who is at civil rights icon, but he is also a Democratic politician, and calling the president-elect illegitimate the week before the inauguration. Do you think he was looking to start something?
CHARLES MCKINNEY, CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORIAN: I think he was doing what John Lewis has been doing for the last 50 years, right, which is speaking truth to power.
When you go back to his speech on the March in Washington in 1963, he does the same thing. He says, where is the political party that will make marches on Washington unnecessary? He goes on to say that too often our political -- our politicians are morally compromised when they ally themselves with the forces of political, social, and economic exploitation.
And so John Lewis is a civil rights icon, but let's let's be specific about what that means. That means he cut his teeth and learned from people like Ella Baker, people Fannie Lou Hamer, people who taught him the essential -- the necessity of being able to speak truth to power. And so these comments come as no surprise to me.
BALDWIN: All of that to say that we know Mr. Trump was supposed to be I think at the African American Museum, the museum on the Mall in Washington today. Instead, we saw him meeting with Dr. King's son at Trump Tower.
But you see how both of them, Eugene, responded, both Mr. Trump -- we can throw the tweets up -- and also how the president-elect has responded. Let's play the sound from Mike Pence.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: For someone of John Lewis' stature to lend credibility to the baseless assertions of those who question the legitimacy of this election is deeply disappointing. I hope he reconsiders it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BALDWIN: What did you make of the two responses?
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think what was most interesting about this entire response is that the president-elect was planning to attend, as you mentioned earlier, the museum today after saying that John Lewis was all talk and no action.
BALDWIN: John Lewis is all over that museum.
SCOTT: Right. Not only is he all over the museum, inside of it. Many people don't understand and don't know that, in 1988, John Lewis is the lawmaker that introduced the bill for that museum to be built.
And so, I mean, you talk about the epic need for a fact-check, it will be really interesting to see what happens going forward after this talk with Martin Luther King III, when he talked about issues related to voting rights, something that John Lewis and other lawmakers have harped on for a while.
BALDWIN: I'm glad you brought that up. And Marc Morial brought up the voting rights as well last time we were talking.
Charles, I read you have called Trump's response historical amnesia. What do you mean?
MCKINNEY: Donald Trump is operating as if we all just got here, right?
He's -- it's stunning. The individual who fed us a year-and-a-half worth of virulently racist pabulum called birtherism, the person who wants to gut the -- Obamacare, the person who is clearly a proponent of slashing and burning the Voting Rights Act, the person who is on the exact opposite side of so many of those issues that Martin King III purports to be on, on the side of John Lewis, right, again, it is a little bit like this -- we are living in this unreality, right? And so one of the memes you see going around now that this is not
normal, right? And so, again, going back to John Lewis, right, Lewis' comments are a way of grounding us, are a way of anchoring us to say that, yes, this is not normal. Right?
We are in a very different political time now. We are in a time where we are having an open conversation about not whether or not a foreign nation tampered with our elections, but the extent to which they tampered with our elections.
And so, again, you know, Lewis' comments -- 50 years ago, people thought John Lewis was crazy. Fifty years later, we saw that John Lewis was basically trying to get the Constitution enforced, right? He was trying to bring African-Americans firmly into the mainstream of American life.
And so I think this