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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Promises Health Insurance For All; Trump's Cloud of Controversy; Trump's NATO Comments "Astonish" European Allies; Istanbul Nightclub Terror Suspect Caught; $100k Reward Offered For Murder Suspect. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired January 16, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: What measures are they talking about China taking?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no one really knows exactly what they're going to do, but they do have a lot of options at their disposal.
I can give you a couple examples. For starters, you could talk about China making conditions tougher for U.S. firms to operate in China. They could do things like devaluing their currency here, making Chinese exports more competitive internationally.
And then, if you move to the U.N., China is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. They could make the U.S. agenda in the U.N. that much more difficult on things like Iran and North Korea.
And maybe, finally, you're looking at -- and this is probably the most extreme option -- China has always said that it reserves the right to take the island of Taiwan back by force. That would then lead to a confrontation that, given U.S. defense commitments to Taiwan, could very easily drag the U.S. into a conflict.
So, that's really an extreme example. And all of these, frankly, are hypotheticals, given a post-one-China policy situation, but these are all things the diplomatic community has to be talking about, given what we have heard from the president-elect since he was elected, Jim.
SCIUTTO: And, of course, the danger of escalation from each of those options.
Matt Rivers, thanks very much.
Donald Trump says that once Obamacare is repealed, he wants to make sure that everyone has health insurance. But isn't that the same thing as the Affordable Care Act? We're going to talk about that next.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
As the nation pauses today to remember civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we look at how far race relations have come in this country.
Today's reflection is arguably more distinct as the first black president prepares to leave office. Key moments under Barack Obama's leadership show some of that progress, and stagnation in this country nearly half-a-century after King gave his fight for his life, fight for equality.
CNN's Athena Jones gives us a snapshot of where we are now.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation's first black president, some hoped he would usher in a new post-racial era in America. After all, having a black family living in the White House for the first time was hugely symbolic. But as the president said in his farewell address:
OBAMA: Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.
JONES: It soon became clear that the old wounds and old conflicts remained, and that talking about them would be tough territory, even for a black man.
Just months into office, the president sparking controversy after a police officer in Cambridge arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates on his front porch.
OBAMA: The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
JONES: A poor choice of words, he later acknowledged, one that hurt his standing with white voters and drove home for him how much a leader's words matter.
Amid the uproar that followed, the president invited both men to the White House, an event the pressed dubbed the beer summit. It was the beginning of a much larger conversation about race and policing that would last throughout his presidency, as police shootings of unarmed black men repeatedly sent protesters into the streets.
But it was the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer and its aftermath that prompted an unusually personal response from the president.
OBAMA: When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son.
VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: And he thought by personalizing it in those terms it would help people have a better understanding of what it's like for young African-American men.
JONES: The president also striking a powerful chord after the June 2015 killing of nine worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, when he praised the amazing grace of the families of the victims.
OBAMA (singing): Amazing grace.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: And, before that, when he hailed civil rights icons in Selma, Alabama.
OBAMA: All that history met on this bridge.
JONES: But he has also faced criticism from some in the black community, including for his tough love message to black college graduates.
OBAMA: Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. Whatever you have gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured, and they overcame them.
JONES: In his second term, Obama has pushed for criminal justice reform and launched a mentorship program, My Brother's Keeper, aimed at improving the lives and economic prospects of young minority men.
And while he says progress is never a straight line, it's a record that has made him and his team proud.
OBAMA: Yes, we did. Yes, we can.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: Athena Jones, CNN, the White House.
SCIUTTO: Athena Jones, thanks very much.
A quick programming note. Don't miss the CNN film called "The End: Inside the Last Days of the Obama White House." It is going to air Wednesday night at 9:00 Eastern time right here on CNN.
And so much to talk about with our panel now, CNN political analysts Jackie Kucinich and Kirsten Powers and Republican strategist and pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson.
Jackie, if I could begin with you. We have this controversy over this weekend, this public spat with John Lewis over the weekend. Then we have this tweet today, which I will read for our viewers: "Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!"
Does that put an end to this public spat?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so.
You know, this -- while John Lewis has been given credit for starting this, you have to remember that this started a long time ago. This has to do with Donald Trump being the guy who decided to delegitimize the first black president by buying into birtherism and really making it mainstream.
So the wounds here are very deep, particularly for the African- American community. And I think that's what you're seeing from John Lewis, and, you know, he gave his reasons of why he believes this. But, you know, Donald Trump could have risen above this, but he is so easily baited that he couldn't let this go, and instead maligned not only a civil rights icon, but his district in Atlanta.
You saw "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" this weekend responding to that by saying, you're wrong.
SCIUTTO: Right. The district is doing just fine.
Kristen, how concerned are Republicans about this, being associated with this battle, with an African-American icon?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, on the one hand, Donald Trump has picked toxic battle after toxic battle after toxic battle after toxic battle. He's already alienated any of those he was going to alienate.
He's got supporters who he don't care when he picks these toxic battles. So, in that sense, I don't know that this battle does change much. But I do think that it's a little troubling. Folks have waited so long. Is Donald Trump going to pivot? Is he going to change?
We are on the verge of his inauguration. It's clear that that's not going to happen. One thing that's unfortunate is, while certainly I don't like the idea that we're calling our president-elect illegitimate, I didn't like the idea that anybody called Barack Obama an illegitimate president, it still doesn't mean you have to hit back.
Every time somebody picks a fight with you, you don't have to hit back. And I think Vice President Pence had a much more measured response, calling it disappointing, but acknowledging the important role that John Lewis has had in the civil rights movement. I think that's the much better approach, rather than sort of picking a fight over Twitter.
SCIUTTO: Kirsten, did John Lewis go too far using that term?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think that he did, mostly because I don't think there is enough evidence to back it up.
If it was a true statement, there would be nothing wrong with saying it. But most of the analysis that has been done by nonpartisan people has found that that probably wasn't a major factor in why Hillary Clinton lost the race. Did it help her? Probably not. But it really wasn't what caused her to lose.
And so for him to call him illegitimate over that, I don't think that was the right thing for him to do. But it's a little hard to take, I think, from Donald Trump, considering what Jackie was talking about, considering what he did to Barack Obama.
SCIUTTO: For a number of years, too.
POWERS: Yes, which was really made up from whole cloth. It wasn't even something where there was some -- where we actually had people coming out and saying there was some serious concern over his birth certificate.
I think that John Lewis maybe shouldn't have said it, but the reaction is a little much, and also considering where we are here with the Martin Luther King Jr.'s -- you know, Memorial Day and the civil rights icon being attacked by the president-elect of the United States.
SCIUTTO: I wonder just -- clearly, the Trump team and the president himself feels embattled, right?
They feel like they are this target for, from their point of view, illegitimate, to borrow a word, criticism. And yet you have others on the other side who are -- feel that they're taking, from their point of view, reasonable shots.
I mean, this is a dangerous cycle, isn't it, Jackie? I mean, we're just -- the inauguration hasn't even happened, right?
KUCINICH: Are they ever not embattled, though?
KUCINICH: It seems like Donald Trump really does have a very high tolerance for lots and lots of conflict. He doesn't even need -- he didn't even need to continue this rift with John Lewis.
He could have just let it go and said exactly what Kristen said, that he -- what Mike Pence said. That's what he could have done, but he didn't. He just has -- he likes all the conflict. And so is this going to go, continue into the administration? It seems like this is going to be the new normal, just basing on what we have seen in the weeks since the election ended, and, you know, in a couple of days, when the presidency actually begins.
SCIUTTO: And whether it's John Lewis or "Saturday Night Live," right, which was another target of his criticism this weekend.
Let's talk about a conflict that really matters, right? And it's the comments about NATO, Donald Trump saying NATO was obsolete. The conflict I'm describing here is within his own administration, because we spent last week listening to confirmation hearings for all the senior national security picks, Mattis included, but also Tillerson and others, saying, no, no, NATO is very important, Russia is a big threat.
Forget what adversaries think for a moment. Talk about what U.S. allies think and the confusing signals. What is U.S. policy?
POWERS: Well, that is the problem, is how the allies are already reacting to this, whether it's Germany or him attacking Angela Merkel and then France having to come in and defend her.
And it's -- these are our allies. We have a -- the United States has a lot of enemies in the world. And to be making people angry who are supposed to be on your side, you have to wonder, what's the endgame here? What is he trying to accomplish.
And if he believes NATO is obsolete, there is another way to handle that, I think, probably vs. just announcing it to the world and not working with your allies and letting them know what you feel.
[16:45:03] And so this is very scattershot and it feels, I think, very alarming to a lot of people.
SCIUTTO: Kristen, there is -- there is a argument out there that this is Donald Trump the negotiator. Right? That he said whether it's with the One-China Policy with China or NATO, you know, that he's laying out these sort of, you know, walking out on a limb positions, I might -- I might call them, as the beginning of a negotiation. And then you got people -- and I think pulls him back and that just shows how serious he is. I mean, is that a reasonable interpretation (INAUDIBLE)
ANDERSON: I think he is persuadable on many of these fronts. So take for instance that example where he took one position on torture and then he spoke with General Mattis and said, "Hey, this was a new way of thinking about this issue." I think on a whole host of things he's going to face as President, he hasn't dug deeply into them over the course of his career and he's going to have an opportunity to do so and surround himself with people who will give him advice. It sounds like he's surrounding himself with people who are going to give him very differing advice. And so, he'll have a lot different opinions from which he can form his own.
But I think on something like NATO, you know, if one or two really bright voices that he trusts come into the room and say, "Mr. President, NATO is one of the best defense bargains we can strike. It keeps Europe from going to war." There's a chance he can be persuaded. But I think when it comes to things that, it's unclear to me which positions he has -- he's very dug in on, and which are the ones that he'll be open to listening to a diverse team of advisers on.
SCIUTTO: Are there consequences already to those kinds of comments? You heard Barbara Starr there in the Pentagon. They're talking to serious people in the Pentagon about, you know, miscalculation. That Russia may take that as an invitation to roll tanks into the Baltics, right? I mean, you know there's precedent for this in history, that words have consequences.
POWERS: Absolutely. I mean, I think at a minimum, I think it's embarrassing. I mean, I really think that the President-elect behaves this way and that you have, you know, our allies sitting there having to like, slap back at the President-elect of the United States. That's sort of the minimum. And then the maximum is the kind of things that you're talking about. I mean, there are serious consequences of the things, things that the president says. The President-elect comparing Angela Merkel to Vladimir Putin in terms of trustworthiness suggests that he, you know, either doesn't understand who Putin is or he does and he doesn't care. Both situations are very troubling.
SCIUTTO: All right, well, Kristen, Kirsten, Jackie, thanks very much. Clearly, it's going to be a part of a continuing conversation.
For the first time in 18 years, she is reunited with her biological parents. But now this young woman, allegedly kidnapped at birth, must say good-bye to the only parents she's known. That's right after this.
SCIUTTO: "BREAKING NEWS" now here on THE LEAD. After a two-week manhunt, police in Istanbul have arrested the suspected terrorist who killed dozens of people at a packed nightclub on New Year's Eve -- that, according to Turkish media. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 39 people, injured some 70 more, including an American who was rushed out on a stretcher into an ambulance. You're seeing him there. He said that he was shot in the hip and played dead, fearing that the gunman might finish the job.
And now, back here in the U.S. today, we are learning how a young woman started to figure out that she was kidnapped at birth, some 18 years ago. This as the woman she always thought was her mother, sits in a South Carolina jail, waiting to be taken back to where it all started in Jacksonville, Florida. The Sheriff there tells CNN the big break came when Kamiyah Mobley started applying for jobs. CNN'S Polo Sandoval joins me now. So Polo, this young woman finding herself torn between her newly discovered biological parents, but also the only family she's ever known.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely Jim. This has been an emotional weekend for this young woman. She faces a slew of very difficult questions, some of which include exactly how will she get to know this new family and where will she live, and then -- well, what actual name will she use next?
CRAIG AIKEN, KAMIYAH MOBLEY'S BIOLOGICAL FATHER: First meeting was beautiful. It was wonderful. It couldn't went no better.
SANDOVAL: 18-year-old Kamiyah Mobley finally reunited with the birth parents. Investigators say she was stolen from in 1998.
AIKEN: We were trying to process it, man. 18 years. You know, it's going to be hard to make that up, know what I'm saying? I can't -- I can't -- like I said, I just can't describe it. SANDOVAL: Overjoyed that their child is alive and well after years of
uncertainty. But 18 years after Mobley's alleged kidnapping from one mother --
SHANARA MOBLEY, KAMIYAH MOBLEY'S BIOLOGICAL MOTHER: That would be -- that would be the happiest thing in the world to me right now is to hold my baby.
SANDOVAL: The teen could now be separated from the only mother she's ever known, her alleged abductor.
MELISSA NELSON, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: Kidnapping is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life. Interference with custody is a third degree felony with a maximum of five years.
SANDOVAL: Investigator say Gloria Williams posed as a nurse and stole the hours-old infant from this Florida hospital before raising her as her own in South Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She took the baby out of the room and disappeared.
MELISSA HIERS, FRIEND OF GLORIA WILLIAMS: They were always happy, always together. Never anything -- I mean, negative, at all from either one of them.
SANDOVAL: According to the Sheriff, Mobley only just began to discover her complicated past as she recently started applying for jobs.
MIKE WILLIAMS, JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF: She had fraudulent identification. So her Social Security card and her Birth Certificate were both, you know, fraudulent. And that began to raise questions.
SANDOVAL: Now, apart from the daughter she raised into adulthood, Williams is awaiting extradition to Florida on kidnapping charges.
WILLIAMS: As far as motive, I mean, that's something that we're still going to have to get into. This is still really in the early stages of this investigation. We have lots of questions left to be answered.
SANDOVAL: Well, the Jacksonville Sheriff expects that that extradition will likely happen sometime this week. She faces life in prison if convicted. Legal experts are going to be very closely watching the prosecution of Williams. As the Criminal Defense Attorney that I spoke to tells me that this could be a textbook case of jury nullification, which would allow a jury to acquit even if the evidence clearly shows guilt.
[16:55:03] Defense attorneys could argue that Williams gave this young woman a normal childhood after the alleged kidnapping, Jim. So this will be obviously an interesting to watch -- an interesting case to watch if it makes its way to trial.
SCIUTTO: No question. Remarkable argument there. Polo Sandoval, thanks very much.
More than 30 days on the run. The suspected cop killer, Markeith Loyd, is still at large after allegedly murdering his pregnant ex- girlfriend as well as an Orlando Police officer. Investigators say that 17-year-old Orlando Police veteran, Debra Clayton, was killed as she tried to apprehend Loyd. Over the weekend, Clayton was laid to rest in an emotional funeral service where she received the final honor from the Orlando Police Department, a promotion to Lieutenant.
Another funeral service was held yesterday for fallen Orange County Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, he was killed in a traffic accident while helping search for Clayton's killer as well. $100,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to Loyd's arrest.
Just four days left until the inauguration, and there's still a lot of work to do. We'll talk to a member of the Trump transition team, that's right after this.