Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Congress Takes First Step To Repeal Obamacare; Cancer Survivor Talked To Speaker Ryan At Town Hall; Trump Wants to Repeal And Replace Obamacare; Trump vs. Intel Community; Flynn Calls Russian Ambassador Same Day Sanctions Announced; Senate To Investigate Russian Meddling In Election; Donald Trump's Positive View of Russia; House Takes First Step Towards Repealing Obamacare; Bush Sisters' Letter To Obama Girls. Aired 11p-Midnight ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: Is this the beginning of the end for Obamacare? This is CNN TONIGHT, I'm Don Lemon. The house joining the Senate today in taking the first steps to repeal Obamacare, the vote 227 to 198 pretty much along party lines, but this is about much more than politics. Exhibit A, a man who told his story during last night's Town Hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Jeff Jeans, a life-long Republican who was so strongly opposed to Obamacare, he told his wife that he would close their business rather than comply with the law. But that was before he was diagnosed with cancer and given just six weeks to live. Now, he says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF JEANS, CANCER SURVIVOR: I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart because I would be dead, if it weren't for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It was a very powerful moment, a very powerful exchange with the Speaker of the House. And now, Jeff Jeans joins me now. Good evening, Sir, thank you so much for joining us. Are you doing OK?

JEANS: Yes, thanks for having me Don.

LEMON: As you told the Speaker of the House, that you were dyed-in- the-wool Republican, opposed to Obamacare, then you got sick. What happened next?

JEANS: My wife, you know, secured the pre-existing condition insurance and my policy took effect April 1st, 2012. And that's when my chemo and radiation started. And it saved my life. Then after that - go ahead, Don.

LEMON: No, go ahead. Continue on.

JEANS: So anyway, after that, you know, I cried in my hospital bed because I had been wrong so long. And I thought what can I do to tell other people what I went through, and, you know, that's when I started my Facebook page: Obamacare saved my life. And it just kind of snowballed from there. Now I'm here talking to you. LEMON: Why were you so - and we're glad you're here. Why were so

opposed to Obamacare, what in particular about it bothered you?

JEANS: I don't think I really understood it. And, you know, until you're really sick and ready to die, I -- you know, it just - it changed me. I'm a completely different person today than I was then. You know that experience is just - unless you've been through something like that, you just don't understand.

LEMON: Do you think that people - most people who oppose the Affordable Care Act, do you think they understand that?

JEANS: No, no, I really don't. I don't.

LEMON: Why not?

JEANS: Because I didn't - I didn't understand it. You know, that's a good question. You know, lack of compassion. You know, I wasn't a very compassionate person. I mean, what else can I say? You know, I was wrong. I wasn't - I wasn't - I wasn't a person I would be proud of today.

LEMON: Why do you say that?

JEANS: It's a good question. I -- you know, I met my wife, this experience just changed me, it made me cherish life, you know?

LEMON: Do you think that -

JEANS: You know, I didn't do that - I didn't - I didn't do that before. I always took things for granted. It was the material things that were important to me. And it's not that way anymore.

LEMON: Do you think you view things through a partisan perspective when you really didn't have to, and now, you realize that most things are, you know, since this is a life or death decision that you did - this is something you didn't view through partisan eyes anymore?

[23:04:43] JEANS: Yes, yes, you could say that. And you know, when I talked to other people and they have different viewpoints than me, you know, I can relate to that. I was that person. At one time, I was that guy. You know, I was - I was Paul Ryan talking about repealing it before I got sick. I was Paul Ryan, but not anymore. Paul's a nice guy, Speaker Ryan is a very nice man. As a matter of fact, after I went to break last night, I went up and visited with him. He called me up to the stage, he's a very personable guy.

You know, I understand why he's in the position he's in, and why he's as popular as he is. And he was interested in what I had to say, and we exchanged contact information, you know? And I hope they come back and maybe ask my opinion. I'd be happy, you know, any way I can.

LEMON: I'm going to add. I've got a couple of things I want to ask you about Paul Ryan. But anyway, what didn't you like specifically about Obamacare? What didn't you like about it?

JEANS: That it was a government program. Anything that involved government, I was opposed to. I was a libertarian-leaning Republican.

LEMON: And -

JEANS: So if government was involved, I didn't like it.

LEMON: Were you wrong about that?

JEANS: You can ask all my - I was definitely wrong. I was definitely wrong.

LEMON: Why?

JEANS: Yes. Why was I wrong? Well, because there's certain sectors that, you know, need a little push from the government.

LEMON: Yes. So - go on, go on. Sorry about the delay. I'm sorry, Jeff.

JEANS: You know, DOT, at the times you wonder whether, you know, for- profit healthcare is the best thing, you know?

LEMON: So, you asked the House Speaker -

JEANS: Now, I would -

LEMON: Now, you would what?

JEANS: Now, I would probably say for-profit healthcare isn't that great. Before I got sick, it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

LEMON: Yes. Yes.

JEANS: I used to debate the other side. And I even had a friend of mine that had all kinds of heart complications and we used to get into heated debates, and she was a really lovely woman, and I just never understood it and she died before this happened to me, and now I wish I could go back and say hey Cindy, you were right, you know?

LEMON: Yes. Yes. Maybe - I'm sure she's watching and understands now. Many times - most times you don't understand until you have go through it yourself. But I want to know, you asked Speaker Ryan why repeal without a replacement, and he said that repeal and replacement will coincide with each other. How do you feel about his answer?

JEANS: Right. Well, you know, I just think no American should be segregated because of a pre-existing condition or anything for that matter, and thrown into a separate group for that reason. You know, and when you rely on having that safety net, being a cancer survivor, I rely on that safety net. If that's yanked out from under me, you know, how am I going to plan my life? How are we going to buy a house, buy a car, buy the groceries, you know, pay for health care? You know, what if I get sick again? You know. And I'm a lucky one. I don't have an ongoing health issue, you know? Everybody deserves to be treated the same when it comes to healthcare.

LEMON: Why do you think Republicans are so opposed to Obamacare?

JEANS: Because it involves government.

LEMON: How is your health now?

JEANS: I've been cancer free for almost five years now.

LEMON: And we're very happy about that. I have to ask you about what happened today -

JEANS: Well, Thanks. Thanks.

LEMON: The House joined the Senate in taking the first steps to repeal Obamacare. What's your reaction?

[23:09:40] JEANS: You know, I'm sad. I'm sad for the millions of people that have pre-existing conditions and need healthcare. You know, I - the people that I've met that have pre-existing conditions, they're just terrified. You know, they don't know what to think. They don't know what they're going to do. We've gotten no guidance on where we're going to get help.

LEMON: What do you say to -

JEANS: You know, and that's a life or death issue.

LEMON: What do you say to the incoming President?

JEANS: Be the President for every American. For every American, even if they've had cancer, if they're a breast cancer survivor, if they've got a leukemia, if it's a child born with a deformed heart, treat everybody the same. Give everybody the same opportunity. Don't discriminate because people don't have money or are sick.

LEMON: All right. Well, Jeff, we hope your health continues to go in the positive direction and we thank you for joining us here on CNN. Thank you so much.

JEANS: OK. Thanks, Don, for having me. Sorry about my voice, but I've been talking a lot so.

LEMON: That's OK. Your voice is very strong, and the nation and world are both listening. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. I want to bring in now, CNN political --

JEANS: Thank you, Don. I like your show.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I'm glad you liked it.

Now, I want to bring CNN Political Analyst, John Avlon, author of "Washington's Farewell: The Founding Fathers Warning to Future Generations"; and CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover. Thank you so much. Margaret first of all, what did you think of this?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, what a compelling and compassionate personal testimony to the power of a Federal Program, which again, Republicans didn't support but that helped save his life. And, I think Jeff and I -- you know, I'm a republican and I don't like Obamacare, but nobody, including Paul Ryan by the way, is going to say that this law hasn't saved lives and hasn't been important to American's lives. And that's why it's fundamental that, as we look for what the Obamacare replacement is going to be, that nobody is left hanging.

And by -- I mean, just to be clear, Paul Ryan said in the Town Hall -- in case you didn't see the Town Hall and you're just tuning in now, and you heard Jeff speak -- Paul Ryan, said pre-existing conditions are going to be kept in the Obamacare replacement. I mean, that is something that Republicans acknowledge, that was one of the first things that President Obama spoke to Donald Trump about when they first spoke on that issues. President Obama made the appeal, please there are some elements of the healthcare law that ought to be kept and pre-existing conditions is one of them. Paul Ryan said this multiple times -

LEMON: How do you do that without a mandate though?

HOOVER: You know what, I mean, it's tricky. And I don't have the answer yet, we don't know what the Republicans - Tom Price or Republicans are going to do. But what we do know is there's a commitment on behalf of republicans not to leave anybody stranded. And let me just remind you, it was Paul Ryan in those political ads who's being - who's pushing grandma off of --

LEMON: Hold on. Hold on.

HOOVER: He knows better than anybody.

LEMON: So, is someone again, who is not a Democrat or Republican, and I sit back and I watch everybody fight. What does it matter if it's Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or whatever -

HOOVER: Or Trumpcare.

LEMON: Or Trumpcare, or whatever it is, why do Republicans have to say, we have to repeal Obamacare. Why can't they say, we have National Healthcare now? So, let's take the good parts of it, and make it better; and the bad parts of it, and make those better, than seeing it through, and ideological eyes, and going, "Oh, it's Obamacare, we got to get rid of it." When this guy is telling you, "this saved my life." Take the parts that saved his life and the other parts, and just call it the Affordable Care Act. Who cares what it is, and build upon what Barack Obama has left, instead of tearing it down and starting over. It's like, why start from square one? Why start from square one?

HOOVER: Well, then, you're - OK.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You're thinking too rationally for politics, Don. I mean, look let's not forget a couple of things here, what we call Obamacare was originally a Republican plan, put forward as alternative to Hillary Clinton's plans in 1990s. It was first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney, in his state and then -

LEMON: Romneycare.

AVLON: Romneycare. And then adopted by President Obama under the idea that if he picked a Republican plan, implemented by Republican Governor that he might be able to form a bipartisan coalition.

LEMON: So, are you telling me it's all bull. This whole thing about --

HOOVER: No.

AVLON: Yes.

HOOVER: You guys are making -

AVLON: No, no. A lot of this is bull, it's what people say, I love the Affordable Care Act, but boy, I hate Obamacare. It's because this bill has been demonized.

LEMON: I saw - I watched a fight on social media with someone saying, I hate Obamacare, it's terrible, but Affordable Care Act is great.

AVLON: Yes.

LEMON: And they were trying to get them to understand that it's the exact same thing.

HOOVER: Please guys, can we just go back and answer your question, Don? Because what you're saying, why does it have to be politicized? Why does it have to be illogical? Look, I don't think it's just political partisanship and brinksmanship at play here. I think there are fundamental organizing principles behind how the Democrats have reorganized the healthcare system, and how they did through Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?

AVLON: Because the Republicans -

HOOVER: And now, it's - no, no. I'm going to finish. And, how Republicans would do it? I mean Republicans want universal coverage, but not by a mandate.

[23:14:58] LEMON: Why can't it just be the American Care Act then?

HOOVER: Fine, call whatever you want to do. But, how Republicans would do it if left to their own devices, and Democrats would do it if left with their own devices, are fundamentally different and would be -

AVLON: No.

HOOVER: Yes, it would be -- absolutely, it would be the (INAUDIBLE) to recognize others. Look -

AVLON: Honey -- HOOVER: Look. No, no, no. We want lower -- we want -- we want competition, we want transparency in the marketplace, we want to bend the cost curve --

AVLON: No, no, no. And--

HOOVER: We want people to get coverage not because the government tells you to but because it's affordable and you can afford it and anybody can get it that wants to be able to get it.

AVLON: Look, (INAUDIBLE) said last night a couple of things that, you know, risk pulls an individual states. You have other ideas like buying a, you know, insurance across state lines. Here's the thing, again, what we call Obamacare today was originally a Republican proposal.

HOOVER: In the context of Hillarycare--

AVLON: Right, no. But that is awfully important.

HOOVER: -- which would have been universal healthcare in the 1990s.

AVLON: Awfully important. And second -- no --

HOOVER: You cannot forget the historical context of that heritage plan in 1990s.

AVLON: And we're done by the Heritage Foundation, thank you for reminding me. And the second point, of course, is that when Republicans had unified control of government, they did not put forward an alternative healthcare plan. So -- and that is a real problem when it comes to credibility. They've been totally focused on repeal and not so focused on replacement. --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm just saying, I'm trying to save you from the -- from the dog house or the couch.

HOOVER: No, no, no. We don't do that. We don't do that, we don't do that.

LEMON: I don't understand why it has to be politicized.

AVLON: I agree.

LEMON: Because when this guy is laying there on his -- virtually on his death bed, he doesn't care whether it's Trumpcare, Romneycare, Hillarycare --

HOOVER: You're right, you're right.

LEMON: Obamacare or whatever. He just wants some healthcare.

HOOVER: And we do want to save lives.

AVLON: That's right.

HOOVER: And we do -- it is about saving lives.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:20:03] LEMON: President-elect Trump not letting go of his beef with the Intelligence Community and you know what happens when Donald Trump has a beef, he tweets. Back with me now, John Avlon and Margaret Hoover. Margaret, so let's talk about this. President Trump stated -- this is what he said about Russia, "It now turns out that the phony allegations against me were put together by my political opponents and a failed spy afraid of being sued. Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both democrats and Republicans -- fake news. Russia says nothing exists. Probably released by intelligence, even knowing there is no proof, and never will be. My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days." I can't believe that.

AVLON: Yes.

LEMON: The President. That's -- anyways. He's still putting the world and -- the word intelligence in quotes, right? So, sort of saying, maybe, it's not as I look at this, probably in quotes as well, released fake news. Why does he continue to alienate himself from the Intelligence Community?

HOOVER: Well, to be fair, I mean, even James Clapper, I mean, many people in the Intelligence Community have -- nobody would have printed this, right? CNN didn't print this. This was one blog who, you know, who's -- we've all know that BuzzFeed put this out, not CNN, not any reputable, respectable journalist. And so, to the substance and of the critique of that tweet right there, I think we would all agree. One can understand why he would be upset, and any would be upset, about these salacious not --

LEMON: Doesn't it draw more attention to it?

HOOVER: You know, I -- clearly he feels the need to refute it. It's --

LEMON: We put on a statement saying -- listen. This is uncorroborated, it's unsubstantiated, it's --

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: All of that is true. Look, all of that is true. And by the way, we're talking about -- we're talking about something that continues to get focus, I think, because it's a bright, shiny object. Whereas, really, I mean, I think, if one were going to really take a shoe with any of the material there, it would be the potential or supposed collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia.

LEMON: Which is what we're going to talk about.

HOOVER: Right. So, that -- I don't understand why we're not talking about that.

AVLON: We are.

HOOVER: But I can understand --

LEMON: That's the next question --

HOOVER: -- why Donald Trump is upset about this uncorroborated material. That's really this character --

AVLON: You know, he got a taste of his own medicine which is part of the problem here. But again, I mean -- a lot of news organizations have looked into this, BuzzFeed has done some good work. They've made a decision to put this (INAUDIBLE).

HOOVER: Not in this case, not in this case.

AVLON: And I think in this case, they ended up feeding a lot of Trump's attacks on the press, and that's a very dangerous thing. When he starts using the cudgel in this whole campaign team does a fake which tried to blur the distinction between propaganda networks and legitimate news organizations whose independence is a core to their integrity. But he did get a touch for the bit of his own medicine, still.

LEMON: But fake news is not -- listen, I'm not taking up for BuzzFeed or whatever. Again, they put something out there that was unsubstantiated, but that's not necessarily fake news. If you put something out there that you know is not true, that's fake news. That may not be good journalism or good reporting. But there's a distinction --

AVLON: There's a distinction. No, absolutely. Absolutely.

LEMON: -- between fake news and real. So, let's talk about what she -- what this young lady, your wife wants to talk about. And let's do it through the lens of General Flynn.

AVLON: Alright.

LEMON: His national security pick, speaking with the Russian Ambassador, Christmas week, right? The same time that they're supposedly, the Obama Administration announcing sanctions against Russia. What's your reaction to that?

AVLON: Look, I think the people -- floating the Logan Act and all that sort of stuff. I think that the main issue here is that the Trump transition has given every indication that they will lift the sanctions. They have left that door wide open. And if there's a coordination where the administration's trying to increase sanctions and there's back channeling by the incoming administration, basically saying, you know, "Don't worry about it, we're going to move in a different direction." If that is true, and it's not just a coincidence on the day we talked, that's very disturbing. Because again, you know, Vladimir Putin's had a -- had a very good 2016. And if he gets the Secretary of State he knows and a removal of sanctions for invading Crimea as part of a reset with Russia, that -- on top of all the allegations of trying to influence the election in Donald Trump's direction, that is very disturbing from any perspective.

HOOVER: Are you looking at me? I mean, look -- I mean, honestly. Look --

AVLON: Really?

LEMON: You looking at me?

HOOVER: What does Russia have -- what does Russia have to respect in the strength of president Obama's presidency. I mean, you draw a red line and in the sand and you say you're not -- you're going to -- there are going to be consequences if you just have a (INAUDIBLE) or not.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What does this have to do with Donald Trump? --

HOOVER: And so, do you know what it is? So on the day, the last day of his presidency, when he, you know, expels diplomats and he's trying to be a tough guy. Look, he is -- I mean, look. I appreciate what is appropriate, right? There is one president at a time, we know that. But let's not jump to conclusions that -- everything here is nefarious and everything here is undermined.

AVLON: I just -- earlier, you know, our friend Andre was on. He's talking about how great it is that Donald Trump wants to reach out to hostile powers.

LEMON: You heard my response.

[23:25:02] AVLON: Yes. And remember, that's what everybody, you know -- you know, Republicans tried to attack President Obama for trying to do with other nations. The situational ethics in this aren't simply political hypocrisy. It's dangerous geopolitically, what's game we're playing right now. With people playing footsie with Russia, a hostile power for political reasons that are more than an inch deep.

HOOVER: And actually, and I do agree. I mean, the coziness with Russia is deeply concerning to me. I don't think it's nearly as closely as you think. I mean, some people say, "Oh, Rex Tillerson, you know, toasting with Putin means that we're going to be in bed with Russia." I mean, guess who also toasts with the KG -- the head of the KGB as Bob Gates? You would never think that Bob Gates, the former Secretary of Defense, former Head of the CIA is close with Russia. So, I mean, I think there's a little bit of political situational ethics going on here as well. So, we have to be careful. You know, we're going to see. He's going to be president in a week and then you're going to have (INAUDIBLE) --

LEMON: Look, if they get rid of sanctions at the outset as they have indicated in the (INAUDIBLE), that will send a terrible signal to the country.

HOOVER: I agree with that. I agree with that.

LEMON: I hope you have a big, comfy couch. Get a big blanket when you're sleeping on that couch. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.

AVLON: Have a great weekend.

HOOVER: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Coming back, General Flynn and Russia's Ambassador to the U.S.- what did they talk about and what does all this say about America's relationship with Russia after Donald Trump takes seat of office?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight, the Senate Intelligence Committee opening an investigation of Russia's meddling in the election. It will include a review of possible links between Russia and the political campaigns. Also today, the Trump transition team saying that a top aide to Donald Trump has been in touch with a Russian official. Here's CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, confirmation that president-elect Trump's National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn was in contact with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. the very same day the Obama administration announced retaliation for Russia's unprecedented cyber-attack of the 2016 election. In late December, the Trump transition team says that Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak exchanged a series of text messages and a phone call.

On Christmas Day, December 25th, Flynn texted the Russian Ambassador, "I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I look forward to touching base with you and working with you, and I wish you all the best." The Ambassador texted him back, wishing him merry Christmas in return. Then on December 28th, the Russian Ambassador texted Flynn again and said, "I'd like to give you a call. May I?"

That phone call happened on December 29th, the same day the White House announced sanctions on Russia and ordered some 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country immediately. Trump's transition team said the man did not discuss sanctions on Russia. Instead, their conversation was focused on arranging a call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Trump after the inauguration. Today the White House says, "Its reaction depends."

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You can imagine why these kinds of - what these kinds of interactions may take place, why the incoming National Security Adviser may have the need to contact the representative of a foreign government that's based here in Washington D.C., depends on what they've discussed. It depends on what he said in terms of whether or not we could have significant objections about those conversations.

SCIUTTO: Flynn's ties to Russia have been scrutinized since the moment Trump tapped him to be his closest adviser on national security. Flynn was seated right next to President Putin at a Russian media gala in December of 2015 and previously had a paid speaking gig with "Russian Today" the Kremlin's T.V. network, but before he took on a formal campaign role. Today, Trump again, denied claims that Russia has compromising information on him and continued to accuse the intelligence chiefs of leaking the allegations. He tweeted, "It was probably released by 'intelligence' even knowing there is no proof and never will be."

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. I want to bring in now Nada Bakos, who's a former CIA Analyst, and Steve Hall, Retired Chief of CIA Russian Operations. I'm so glad to have you both on. Steve, you think these texts and the phone call on the day that President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia for their alleged interference in the 2016 election could be must ado about nothing. Why is that?

STEVE HALL, RETIRED CHIEF OF CIA RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: Well, as Jim Sciutto reported, it does depend a lot on simply what was said. You could also make an argument that perhaps, this is, you know, a mild breach of protocol -- best to wait until you actually get in to the Oval Office and to the actual national - the National Security Adviser. But context is important here. Let's remember that Flynn did, you know, take money from R.T., which is a Russian propaganda mechanism that he did sit directly, you know, next to Vladimir Putin, these things don't happen by accident. So when you put all of it together, perhaps it tells a little bit of a different story than just an exchange of Christmas greetings.

LEMON: Nada, do you agree with that?

NADA BAKOS, FORMER CIA ANALYST: I do, somewhat, it depends on what transpired in their conversations. But at the same time, I think it would behove the incoming administration to come out with a very explicit recount of why Flynn is talking to the Russian Ambassador during that time period beyond just "Merry Christmas".

LEMON: Yes. Steve, the reports on Trump and Russia have caused an uproar here, how do other countries see it? Do you think that Trump surrounding himself with pro-Russia figures like Tillerson, Flynn earlier in the campaign. Paul Manafort is going to influence how other countries work with us?

HALL: You know, I think it could very well. And it's something that we sort of, perhaps, lose in the, you know, in these more salacious pieces of this report and some of the allegations that were made. But I think some of our liaison partners are going to wonder, they're going to say, "OK, if it is the case that the incoming Trump administration and the inside members of the Trump team, have a very close relationship with Putin and with the Kremlin, how much information, how much intelligence do we want to share?" [23:34:56] And I can tell you from my experience, there are some very, very capable European services that -- and others services as well that share some, you know, some very good information with us on Russia and other things, and I think they probably have to kind of sit back and say, "OK, what is the likelihood that this somehow could - this information could somehow make it back to Russia and compromise, you know, some of the operations that we're running? So, I think it's something that needs to be thought about a lot.

LEMON: And Nada, the president-elect criticized the Intelligence Community again this morning, by - he said, "by putting 'intelligence', right? And then accusing the Intelligence Community of releasing a quote again, "fake news", you don't think this is demoralizing the CIA, why?

BAKOS: Well, I'm not sure it's not demoralizing the CIA, but I do know that from my experience, they aren't snowflakes, they're very professional in their position, and they will continue to do their job regardless of what the incoming administration would be saying about them publicly. I mean, I worked with an administration who was disagreeing most of the time with our bottom line analysis going up to the Iraq war, but at the same time, we held our - held our own and remained professional. I have every faith that people who are still there will do the same thing.

LEMON: Nada, what do you think about the number of leaks that are coming out?

BAKOS: Well, I think it's hugely problematic, because I think it undermines legitimate investigation. What it does is it turns it into the rumor mill. Instead of FBI or this - or a special committee being able to investigate to see what actually has transpired.

LEMON: And what about you, Steve?

HALL: You know, I'd like to - I'd like to get back to the - to the - to the morale issue if I could for just a second, because I agree entirely. I mean, these are very resilient people that are - that are in the CIA, but by the same token, it's really unprecedented some of the things that have been said. I mean, we've had, you know, aspersions that have been cast, Nazi Germany, in comparisons, it's difficult to imagine any organization that could somehow make it through those types of comments by an incoming boss, an incoming commander in chief, who, you know, who says those types of things, so very resilient group of people but nevertheless, it's got to have - it's got to have some impact. The leaks, it's problematic.

LEMON: Aren't these people who put their lives on the line to do what they do to serve their country as well?

HALL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, and it's - and it's not just these individual officers. I know a lot of times we think about people in so-called war zones that are, you know, that are - that are, you know, operating beside our troops, that's certainly very dangerous work and - but even in some of the more traditional areas of espionage and even people, you know, analysts and others who are - who are perhaps not as -- in the field as much as operations officers are, the sacrifices to those individuals and their families in terms of the time and some of the difficult stuff, it just makes it that much harder, and people question why exactly am I doing this if the incoming boss is making these horrible comments about not only in my work but the organization that I've sort of dedicated my working life to.

LEMON: Nada, does this compromise the security of average Americans?

BAKOS: I think it actually could. If you have a CIA who is not willing to be able to continue to push back against the administration or feel like they can't. I think it could compromise. I agree with Steven, where I do think that overall, the criticism is problematic and I would say it's problematic for people who are looking to join the agency. I think that would be a deterrent as well.

LEMON: Yes, fascinating conversations. Steve and Nada, will you please come back. I really enjoyed this. Thank you so much.

BAKOS: Thank you.

LEMON: Up next, the republican's dilemma, they promised to repeal Obamacare, but do they have a plan to replace it, and what about the millions of Americans who could lose their health insurance?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00] LEMON: Key vote in the house today to begin the process of repealing Obamacare. Let's discuss now Lanhee Chen, a fellow at Hoover Institution who was policy director for Mitt Romney in 2012, in the 2012 campaign, CNN Political Contributor Maria Cardona, Democratic Strategist, and Political Commentator Andre Bauer, a republican who's a former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. Welcome back. You guys were on the earlier show. Thank you for coming back.

So Andre, I don't know if you got to see the gentleman who was on earlier, Jeff Jeans, who was a cancer survivor, he said he's a diehard republican, he changed his mind about the Affordable Care Act once he -- because of the pre-existing conditions. Did you see the interview?

ANDRE BAUER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I did not see it.

LEMON: You didn't. OK. So he talked about how he changed his mind about the Affordable Care Act, and he hoped that those who are - as they did in the House of Representatives, so they're starting the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act that they would not rush it through prematurely, and if they're going to replace it, they should have something to replace it with before they dismantle it.

BAUER: And I totally agree with him. Look, the tooth paste is out of the tube on this. And so, there are so many people now - that actually there are people that had benefitted, the people with pre- existing conditions, the folks who couldn't get coverage before, and so there are some things in there that need to be kept. But also, there are a lot of things that need to be changed, but I think he's right. The republicans should not, right out of the gate, chop it and then try to immediately -

This is a very complex bill. There's a lot of junk thrown in this bill. It's so big that nobody really read the bill in the first place. And Nancy Pelosi kind of joked about it. But we need to go back to and really have people work this bill down, get it to where it's digestible, look about market-based solutions, look at competition, look and how we can bring drug prices down, which is going to be tough when you've got so many lobbyists in Washington pushing to protect their interests. We've got to have it so people don't abuse the E.R. system. There are multitude of way you can go about trending it in different ways, but it's a - it's a complex thing, and it scares me that republicans that quickly, want to - want to fix it or try to change it without a little more time put in. A hundred days seems very fast to me.

LEMON: Lanhee, what do you think?

LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think it's important for republicans to have the replacement ready to go as soon as possible, actually, because if you're going to repeal the law, it seems pretty clear to me that there are some key issues that need to be addressed.

[23:45:00] One is the issue around pre-existing conditions, which actually a number of republican plans do address. They talk about ways to do that in a way that is far less disruptive than the ACA did it. You also need to ask what you're going to do with Medicaid, which is the program that helps to cover low income Americans that's a state-federal partnership. How are you going to change that? Republicans propose to do it by giving states greater flexibility to innovate --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But, some of those -- many of those people are Trump voters in those rural areas.

CHEN: Right and absolutely, and that's the point. A lot of folks are going to be affected, so I think republicans do need to be strategic about how they do this. In the rush to repeal it, what they can't do, is leave themselves with a gaping hole and so they've got to be able to have that replace come in very soon behind. In that sense, I agree with both Paul Ryan and Trump.

LEMON: Do you think Ryan and republicans realize this that many the people -- maybe the people who would be affected by it most, are the people who voted for Donald Trump, Maria?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, I don't think that, because I think that republicans were so quick from the moment the ACA passed, to politicize it because President Obama had done it, to try to get rid of it regardless of how good it has been for the country and, you know, upwards of 20 million people have gotten health care coverage that didn't have it before. They have played politics with this from day one. If they had done as Andre just described, have taken the time in the last six years to go through the bill and frankly work with democrats, democrats, you know, starting from the president on down, have said this is not a perfect bill. If republicans will step forward and help us with ideas on how to make it better, we are open to doing that, not one idea came forward to do that and this is why the pickle -- this is why they are in the pickle that they're in.

LEMON: You don't see democrats doing the same thing now as republicans did and not coming forward to help with a way to present, you know, whatever it is, whatever is going to replace it to the American people?

CARDONA: Well, frankly, if republicans would approach this in a good faith manner, and frankly, we saw today, Joe Mansion actually said, "Yes, I would like to help republicans try to fix this law." But you - but you can't even do that when their first instinct is to repeal it before they even find a replacement. So, there's nothing there to help them do if they don't even want to try to find the right ways to fix it before they repeal it. It really makes no political sense. And the other thing that I think republicans are really facing, is the fact that what they have said during - in the campaign trail, is absolutely wrong. Americans have never clamoured for the ACA to be repealed. They have always wanted for this bill to work, they have wanted their leaders to get together and make it better. The polls that show that it was unpopular, included progressives that didn't like it, because they didn't think it went far enough.

LEMON: They didn't think it went far enough. They want it, right. They didn't want it single payer.

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: So Andre, if republicans approached it that way, do you think that would be acceptable to - let's - they will never say let's fix Obamacare or let's fix the current bill. I don't know if I should ask Andre that.

CARDONA: Yes, don't even call it Obamacare.

LEMON: Lanhee, that would never happen would it?

CHEN: Well, no. Because I think that the issue is that there's some underlying flaws in the policy that republicans want to fix. Look, I mean, the issue is, the Affordable Care Act was passed without a single republican vote. Republicans tried to work together with President Obama and the democrats in 2010, they weren't interested.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: Oh, come on, Lanhee. They did not.

CHEN: We're going to do it. We're going to do it our way. And as a result, it setup this partisan situation that we have. No, Maria, it's true. Look -

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: There was politics on both sides, frankly, because -- and you're right, you'd smirked when Andre said it, Nancy Pelosi did say, and I'm paraphrasing here. We have to pass it to find out what's in it. Something to that effect --

CARDONA: But let's remember it was a republican plan and during the whole negotiation, President Obama and the democrats accepted more than 200 republican amendments to it.

LEMON: Yes.

CARDONA: So, don't say we didn't try to work together, we did, republicans slapped Obama in the face time and time again.

LEMON: That's the last word. Thank you. Thank you all. We'll be right back.

CARDONA: Thanks, Don.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00] LEMON: Just one week to go until President Obama and the First family leave the White House. It's sure to be an emotional moment, especially for Malia and Sasha Obama who grew up there. But they are getting some advice from two people who know all about life in the First Family's spotlight. Randi Kaye has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Eight years ago, on a cold November day, we greeted you on the steps at the White House.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Barbara Bush on the Today Show, sharing the new letter she and her sister Jenna Bush have written to the Obama girls. A lot has changed in the eight years since the Bush twins first met Sasha and Malia. Back then, the Obama girls were just 7 and 10.

BUSH: The four of us wandered the majestic halls of the house you had no choice but to move into. When you slid down the banister of the solarium, just as we had done it as 8-year-olds and again, as 20-year- olds chasing our youth. Your joy and laughter were contagious.

JENNA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: In eight years, you have done so much. Seen so much. You stood at the gates of the Robben Island cell where South Africa's Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades, your arms around your father.

KAYE: The Bush twins had also penned a letter to Sasha and Malia back in 2009 titled, Playing House in the White House. Then 27, Jenna and Barbara Bush offered this advice, "Surround yourself with loyal friends. They will protect and calm you and join in on some of the fun and appreciate the history and this, cherish your animals because sometimes, you'll need the quiet comfort that only animals can provide." Their most important piece of advice years ago, "Our dad like yours, is a man of great integrity and love. Remember who your dad really is."

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR OF FIRST WOMEN: It's really an exclusive club among presidential children and they do keep in touch. There's an empathy there, because they have all been through it and no one knows what that's like to be in that kind of public spotlight when you're so young.

[23:55:06] KAYE: In their new letter, Jenna and Barbara Bush told Sasha and Malia how they watched them grow into impressive young women with grace and ease. They remarked how they were glad the Obama girls had each other, just as the Bush twins did.

Their letter encouraged the Obama girls to hold on to the memories, but also embolden them to chart their own path.

BUSH: Explore your passions, learn who you are, make mistakes, you're allowed to. Continue to surround yourself with loyal friends who know you, adore you and will fiercely protect you.

BUSH: Take all that you have seen, the people you have met, the lessons you have learned, and let those help guide you in making positive change.

KAYE: In closing, a sense of solidarity.

BUSH: You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House. You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who have never even met them.

BUSH: You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlights. Your parents who put you first and not only showed you, but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin this next chapter and so will we.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)