tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC January 18, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PST
what i'm finding now is that cms frequently does not pay for services that helps to keep people well. there is a large practice -- >> we've been listening to the hearing for congressman tom price all morning long. we've been monitoring, actually, four hearings for president-elect trump's nominees for his cabinet. thank you so much for watching this hour of msnbc live. i'm tamron hall. we'll be back tomorrow. right the now, we're turning things over to msnbc's "andrea mitchell reports." >> and thanks to tamron hall and good day. i'm andrea mitchell here on capitol hill, where as tamron reported, senators are jumping from one hearing to another, to take their turn questioning donald trump's cabinet nominees. let's bring you up to date on what's happened so far today. most of the attention is on georgia congressman tom price. the president-elect's health and human services secretary designate, and a fierce opponent of obamacare. under fire for reported investments in health care companies before introducing legislation to benefit them. >> congressman chris collins, who sits on president-elect trump's transition team, is both
an investor and a board member of the company. he was repeated -- or reportedly overheard just last week off the house floor bragging about how he had made people millionaires from a stock tip. congressman price, in our meeting, you informed me that you made these purchases based on conversations with representative collins. is that correct? >> no. what i -- >> well, that is what you said to me in my office. >> well, what i believe i said to you was that i learned of the company from congressman collins. >> what i recall our conversation was, that you had a conversation with collins and then decided to purchase the stock. >> no, that's not correct. >> well, that is what i remember you saying in my office. in that conversation, did representative collins tell you anything that could be considered, quote, a stock tip? yes or no? >> i don't believe so, no. >> well, if you're telling me he gave you information about a company, you were offered shares in the company at prices not
available to the public, you bought those shares, is that not a stock tip? >> that's not what happened. >> congressman, do you believe it is appropriate for a senior member of congress actively involved in policy making in the health sector to repeatedly, personally invest in a drug company that could benefit from those actions? yes or no? >> well, that's not what happened. >> joining me now, msnbc political correspondent, kasie hunt, at that price hearing. nbc capitol hill correspondent, kelly o'donnell, and nbc chief environmental affairs correspondent, anne thompson, all watching the separate hearings on tap right now. kasie, first to you. that exchange was critical, because there are policy differences and democrats do not have the votes to outnumber republicans when it comes to confirming a lot of these nominees. but tom price is now the subject of a request by minority leader chuck schumer to have an ethics investigation into whether there was, in fact, insider trading. that kicks off a series of
consequences that could have legal ramifications. kasie? >> reporter: that's right, andrea, as you heard there, there's a fundamental disagreement around the facts of what happened, between democrats and republicans on this question. this is something that was wildly known, has been wildly known for months. these trades took place in march of last year, and they're part of public disclosure documents that are available online, anyone can go take a look at them. but combined with the legislation that then moved through the senate and contributions from the pac for this company to tom price has raised these concerns. and now democrats are demanding that there be an investigation and delay here as you point out. at this point, there's no sign that republicans are going to cave to that pressure. the trump transition team adamantly insists that there was nothing that was done wrong here, that all of it was disclosed, all of it was aboveboard, and none of it
causes a problem. and of cose, you heard the congressman tom price, disputing what he had said to patty murray in her office. so at this point, it really almost feels like democrats have mounted something of a political style campaign against price with this kind of information. it's opposition-style research. that's what they're pushing on here. and of course, it's all aimed at the delaying his confirmation, because he is such an important part of republican plans to dismantle the aca and replace it with something else. they're really relying on him being put in that position, and then, of course, on whatever legislation and you've heard him questioned about that, as well. his plans for a replacement could form part of the blueprint for republicans going forward, andrea. >> and as we see behind you there, in a five-minute recess there in the price hearing, we should also note before we move on to anne thompson and the scott pruitt epa hearing, that bernie sanders went after price for having, in the past, having
held tobacco stocks at the same time he was voting against regulation by the fdi of tobacco. that's more of a policy difference, not the legal question that is being explored by at least chuck schumer's challenge, that we've noted of these -- this small, small medical technology company that he had invested in. and the advice, allegedly, of chris collins, a congressional colleague. congressman from buffalo. so there were a lot of ins and outs here, but that is an issue that they have raised. anne thompson, our environmental expert here, looking at scott pruitt. he's wanted to do away with the epa, and here, just play a little bit of him today, acknowledging that he does believe in climate change. let's play that. >> donald trump has called global warming a hoax caused by the chinese. do you agree that global warming is a hoax? >> i do not, senator. >> so donald trump is wrong? >> i do not believe that climate change is a hoax. >> so, anne, what is the main
brief that the environmental activists, a number of mainstream groups, in fact, have against scott pruitt? >> they say, simply, andrea, that he is unfit to lead the environmental protection agency, because they say his record as attorney general for the state of oklahoma is that of a man who protects energy companies, particularly fossil fuel companies, oil and gas companies, more than he's ever protected the environment. and they point to the 14 times that he has sued the epa and in 13 of those lawsuits, his co-parties in those lawsuits have been companies that have donated to his campaigns. so a lot of what you've seen today is sort of drilling down, if you will, on to -- into scott pruitt's ties to the oil and gas industry. his defenders say, look, that would not be unusual for an attorney general from oklahoma, where one out of five jobs is tied to the oil and gas industry. so, of course, he is very
concerned with those industries, as a representative of his state. the question is, once he gets to the federal level, what will he do? will he be an instrument of fossil fuel industries? or will he be somebody who truly protects the environment? and i think one of the most interesting things he has said today, andrea, is that when he was talking about how the epa would be different under himself, he said, his goal would be to restore the confidence and certainly in those that are regulated. in other words, the very companies the oil and gas and coal companies that he would be responsible for regulating. so that's one thing that you could imagine that environmental groups are very concerned with. and it's been an unusual kind of opposition. we've seen his hearing disrupted twice today, by demonstrators and then beyond that, you've seen the environmental defense fund for the first time in its history, actually oppose a presidential nominee for the
environmental protection agency, going as far as to run ads against him. and also, next gen climate has done the same thing. andrea. >> thanks to you for that. kelly o'donnell, finally, wilbur ross, the commerce nominee, another fellow billionaire from new york, big investor, but he, unlike donald trump, has disclosed his tax returns, am i correct on that? >> he has -- they didn't discuss his tax returns. they talked about his divestment of 40 companies to start, an additional 40 within the next six months. and this hearing, unlike some of the ones you've just been discussing, was not a place for real hot spots. this bilonaire investor is much more inine with donald trump on issues that relate to the department of commerce, and not someone with a history of sort of being at war with the bureaucracy of the department of commerce. so, that's a real stark difference than some of the other nominees who were being considered today. he did talk about nafta and saying that is a logical place
for him to begin along with the president-elect, on trying to deal with trade, trade falls under his purview. he also said the auto industry has been unfairly disadvantaged by the tpp, the transpacific partnership, that's why being after being an initial supporter of that, he now believes that deal is not the right thing for the united states. he talked about the fact that there is divesting. and he was drawn out by connecticut democrat, richard blumenthal, who noted that the president-elect has donot done e same, and asking ross if he believes he must do this in order to comply with the rules and not be subject to any ethics conflicts, why shouldn't the president. and he said, ethics rules do not apply to the president in the same way. this is a friendlier environment, but the issues will be very prominent in the new administration. andrea? >> kelly o'donnell and anne thompson, and of course, cakasi hunt, thank you all so much. joining me now is gene shaheen,
a lot to dig into here. fit of all, theonfirmation hearing today for what would be governor hailey as the -- nikki haley as the new ambassador to the united nations. i wanted to play one of your exchanges with her. >> how will you avoid the conflict between your efforts at the u.n. and the security council and the president-elect's tweets, his -- the positions that he's taken on many of the issues that will come before the security -- the united nations? >> you know, i think that what the president-elect has put out there are his opinions as they stand now. nato, obviously, has been an alliance that we value, an alliance that we need to keep. and i think that as we continue to talk to him about these alliances and how they can be helpful and strategic in the way that we move forward, i do anticipate that he will listen to all of us and hopefully, that we can get him to see it the way
we see it. >> her lack of experience or lack of diplomatic experience going into this post, does that give you any cause, or is it a positive that someone who was critical during the primaries of donald trump and is a woman and is a person of color, from an immigrant background, brings at least some diversity to this cabinet, despite the criticism that it is all white male billionaires? >> well, it does. and i actually appreciated her responses to my questions. i wish it was her positions that we were voting on and not donald trump's, because i think she's certainly got much more understanding about the importance of nato, about our partnerships, our alliances around the world, and what that means to national security. so, i think she did very -- she's done very well, so far, at the hearing. and, you know, i hope she's right. i hope they can persuade the president-elect that he has been wrong on some of these issues. >> and the whole question of rex
tillerson, obviously, you've cited that you had a nine-hour hearing at foreign relations. he got mixed reviews, as to how he handled some of the tougher questions from a republican, marco rubio, others from tim kaine. what is your decision so far as to whether you'll support him? >> well, i have very mixed feelings about how he did at that hearing. i was very concerned about his failure to condemn russia, to recognize human rights violations in the philippines, with extra judicial killings, his unwillingness to condemn russian actions in syria. with his unwillingness to take responsibility and acknowledge decisions that he had made as ceo of exxon, when it comes to lobbying, to climate change. i thought all of those raised real questions about -- >> will you be able to vote for him? >> i haven't decided that. i think that's still something that i'm working on. >> and i wanted to ask you about some decisions by the president, president obama, in his last two to three days. the commutation of the sentence
for chelsea manning, the reasons given by the white house are that it was a very severe sentence for leaks, the leaks were not that damaging, he had expressed contrition, had gone through the judicial criminal process, unlike edward snowden, who had fled to russia. that said, there's a lot of opposition, including from ash carter, and a lot of military people i speak to and our colleagues speak to, are very much against this. >> i think it raises some very troubling issues. the humanitarian side, i understand the reasons that the white house and the president have given. on the other hand, we don't have a consistent policy, when it comes to how we've handled leaks or people who have divulged classified information. and i think it raises that in a way that is very troubling and we need a consistent policy. on the one hand, david petraeus didn't get that kind of sanctions and neither did some other folks.
so, i think that's what we need to do. we need to go back and see if we can have a consistent policy for how we deal with people in this situation. >> was it the right decision, given the fact that she has tried twice to commit suicide, is incarcerated in a male institution, a military institution, that the military, frankly, doesn't want to have to deal with her medical situation, sex change operation to come? >> well, as i said, i think it is a humanitarian decision. but it raises questions about what is our policy going to be, how with we going to handle whistle-blowers in the future. maybe there's a better way to deal with whistle-blowers so they can provide information that's important for the public and for the government to know, but at the same time, doesn't create these vast inconsistencies in how we handle people. >> and speaking of inconsistency, general haass cart wright, former vice president of the joint chiefs, he was pardoned and he was pardoned for a lot of reasons.
one is that "the new york times" reporter that he pleaded guilty to leaking to, david sanger, pleaded with the judge for leniency, saying that he knew the information about the joint israeli/u.s. cyber attack on iran's nuclear program, before talking to general cartwright. there's a lot of information to me that general cartwright was actually under direction from administration officials to talk to sanger, to try to persuade "the new york times" to withhold some sensitive details and that the newspaper did. this is done all the time, and that he was really the fall guy here, but he did confess to lying to the fbi in a leak investigation. he's lost his career and he's lost his professional life. >> well, that's right. and that really speaks to the issue that i'm raising, that what we need is some more consistency. because we can't on the one hand tell somebody that they need to go and provide this information to a media outlet and then on the other hand say that somebody who provides information is
going to be sentenced to years in prison. >> and finally, the president has one more day, and we hear that there are going to be more commutations tomorrow, maybe a pardon, but that they are more likely to be drug offenders, people who are not well known. should david petraeus be pardoned? >> i would be reluctant to agree that that's something that makes sense. because given his rank, given his experience and his knowledge, he had full understanding of what he was doing. but i do think it's important to recognize that a commutation is different than a pardon. when you commute someone's sentence, you change the sentence. when you pardon someone, it wipes that crime off their record. and i think that's where the real question comes with general petraeus. >> senator shaheen, thank you so much. thanks for being with us. we return to tom price hearing right now, sheldon whitehouse,
the senator from rhode island, democrat, is questioning him. >> -- scientific standpoint is what effect does human behavior and human activity have on that and what we can do to mitigate that. and i believe that's a question that needs to be studied and evaluate and get the best minds avaible -- >> srt by finding a university that thinks the way you do. one. >> okay, we're running out of time. >> thank you, senator whitehouse. senator young, i believe, is next. i don't see him. senator roberts? >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this anger management hearing. i truly hope my colleagues feel better for at least one day after purging themselves of their concern, their frustration, and their anger. i would like to note they ask the technician here that is
running the sound system, the audio system the working. i thought maybe senator bennett didn't know that and he reminded me of my marine di back in the good days, where the di would shout, i can't hear you! so i just thought i would bring that up, the audio system is working. take care of yourselves. dr. price, congratulations on your nomination. thank you for being here today. >> thank you. >> as many of our colleagues have already noted, you will play a most important role if confirmed in helping to stabilize the individual market while congress does repeal the law and repair the damage it has caused. and enacts the reforms we believe, i believe, will put our is health care system back on track. now, my home state of kansas, we have three insurance carriers left, we feel very fortunate we have three.
with each individual only have access to two of those, and our premiums rose this past year over 30%. down the road, it's going to be more difficult if we don't do something. there's no doubt with regard to uncertainty and angst among consumers, i think it's important to make clear that even if congress and the incoming administration were to do nothing, let it go. just like in "frozen," let it go. and amending or repealing parts of the affordable health care act, the law's not working. and we have to do something to meet that obligation. the market's nearly nonexistent, with few or no options in several counties. we're not as rural as wyoming, but we are rural, in my state of kansas. i have a concern, back in the day, when we sat on this
committee and relative first version of the affordable care act, i don't know where that mark is today. it's sitting on a shelf somewhere. but we went day and night and day and night. and i was worried about something i called the rashners. i'm talking about the independent payment advisory board, i pab, semi, that's a wonderful acronym, and the new coverage authorities given to the u.s. preventing services task force and i would also mention patient center outcome research institute. not many people are aware of these. i haven't went to the floor of the senate and had four people riding a horse and called them the four horses of regulatory apocalypse. but i am worried about and the provisions which could interrupt the doctor/patient relationship allowing the government to dictate what coverage you can receive. can you share some of any
concerns that you have with regards to these forerashners, with all due respect of what they're trying to do with good intent? >> i appreciate that, senator. i think it's imperative that as we move forward, that we recognize again that the patient ought to be at the center of this, and anything that gets in the way of the patient and their families and physicians making the decisions about what kind of health care they desire is -- we ought not go down that road. and so, for example, the ccmi, the center for medicare, and medicaid innovation, i'm a strong proponent and advocate for innovation, but i've seen in certain instances what's coming out of krrvegs cmmi is a desire to require certain kinds of treatments for certain disease entities that may or may not be in the best interest of the patient. and because it carries the full force of the federal government
and the payment for those services, it means that we're answering the question, who decides about what kind of care patients receive by saying that the answer to that ought to be washington, d.c., and i simply reject that's where those decisions ought to be made. >> i appreciate that answer. i have the privilege of being a member of this committee, the finance committee, and the always powerful senate agricultural committee. i'm particularly interested in hhs and the fda's work on food and nutrition policy. during the previous administration, the fda issued numerous regulations that would limit or delay guidance in nonrealistic compliance states. this was the case of the implication of the food safety modernization act and more recently with the nutrition facts panel revision. i know we all share the goal of a safe food supply and
availability of accurate information for consumers, but i'm concerned that the administration is not clearly or consistently communicated with the food and agriculture industry regarding new or changing requirements. will you commit to working with the secretary of agriculture and other relevant agencies, not to mention the committee i serve on and similar in the house that your deptment is issuing science-based guidance when established in compliance engaging other regulatory actions. >> yes, i believe that's not only comparative, but the science it's relied upon ought to be transparent and available to the public, so that people can see exactly what was the basis for the decisions that were being made. >> we have seen regulatory action on the attrition policy, such as issuing voluntary guidance, yet the same administration continued to request additional resources
from congress to comply with statutory requirements under the food safety modernization act. i'm concerned that the administration did not prioritize fda's mission to protect our nation's food supply, instead focusing on nutrition policies, if confirmed how you would focus on the core duties such as implementing the law passed, rather than agenda-driven nutrition policy guidelines. >> this is really important, senator. and if i'm confirmed and given the privilege of leading, i would work specifically with the fda commissioner and make certain that we are relying on science. that it's science that is guiding the decisions that we're making and again, that the transparency is available for folks so they can see what kind of decisions they're made and how they're being made, in addition to working with policy makers, you know best what's going on in your state and how it's being affected by the rules and regulations coming down from
washington in so many areas, but especially in the agricultural arena. so we ought to be having a dialogue with every single individual who has an interest, to make sure we're addressing the needs appropriately. >> i thank you for your response. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator roberts. senator baldwin? >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome. >> thank you. >> congressman. you've already been asked about your investments in medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies as part of the prior questioning, but for the record, have you also received campaign contributions over the years from political action committees associated with many of these same companies? >> i don't know, but i assume so, just as many of us do. >> okay. so, in terms of -- i mean, what the american people want to know, of course, when you get reviewed for potential conflicts of interest, and, you know, procedures with the office of
government ethics is that in your role, you're fighting for them, and not biased towards the powerful companies that you've invested and have invested in you. and you've taken some questions on that, but let me follow up a little bit to ask, first, do you think drug price increases that we're seeing right now, for example, the six-fold increase in the cost of an epipen, is a problem right now for americans? >> oh, as i've mentioned, i think there are certain areas where drug pricing increases seem to have little basis in rational findings. i do think, however, as i mentioned again, i think i did, that it's important to say we've done good things. whether it's in the generic -- >> since my time is limited, let me continue down this track.
you've been asked already, but trump supports medicare drug negotiation negotiations. will you work to repeal the prohibition on medicare negotiating for better drug prices, on behalf of the american people, if confirmed for this position? >> i understand that if i'm confirmed and if i have the privilege of serving as secretary, that the boss that i have will be the president of the united states. >> so will you work to repeal the prohibition on medicare negotiating drug prices? >> following discussion and being informed by the individuals within the department and working with the president and then carrying out his wishes. >> was that a yes? or was that a no? >> well, it depends on that activity. i would -- >> but he's stated his position very recently, in fact, that he supports price negotiation, so
that people on medicare can have the benefit of that. is that sething that you would press congress to do? in other rd repeal the prohibition on that negotiation? >> i think we need to find solutions to the challenges of folks gaining access to needed medication. >> i'm not -- >> and it may be that one of those is changing the way that the negotiations -- as you know, the negotiations right now occur for seniors with -- >> since i have limited time, and you haven't said yes or no, look, you just talked about transparency. would you support drug price transparency mandating that any drug company that wants to increase prices on their drugs release public information on how they set their prices? because so many of these appear to be without justification, as you just mentioned. >> yeah, i think there's a lot of merit in transparency in every area, certainly in this area. and i would look forward to
exploring, if i'm confirmed, with you, the ways to be able to make that work. >> thank you. so i wanted to go back to the first round of questioning with the chairman who showed a chart. and it seemed like what was implicit in the back and forth was that the act of repealing the affordable care act would only impact, perhaps, a very small part of the health care industry you talked about 6% being covered on the individual market. the protections, like coverage on your parent's health insurance until you're 26 and mandating that people be covered, even if they have a pre-existing health condition, things like eliminating caps
that led so many into political bankruptcy, those apply across the health care system. so repeal in no way limits us to a conversation just about a small percentage of our population. this is about serious impacts for all of america. would you agree? >> i think that the discussion about what our health policy, for financing a delivery of health care to the american people, is a very, very broad subject. >> and if you repeal the affordable care act, the impact is not narrowly confined to medicaid and the individual market. it has impact on every american. medicare, too. think of accountable care organizations, where we're driving so much of our innovation. that's not confined to the individual market. in fact, it impacts medicare, very, very significantly. so let me give one example.
we in our office, when you visited, and thank you for your visit, we talked about the opioid epidemic. one of the significant issues is access to treatment to overcome an addiction. if the affordable care act is repealedthere will no lger be a mandate for substance ase treatment being covered. is that something you agree with? >> look, the opioid epidemic is rampant and is harming families and communities all across this nation. >> but do you assure that treatment -- substance abuse treatment would be covered under a replacement plan that you would propose? >> i think it's absolutely vital that substance abuse and other kinds of things -- >> so you would keep that protection of the affordable care act? >> that's a legislative decision, but i look forward to working with you to make sure that we're ensuring that individuals get the care they need. >> and a 26-year-old on coverage, i want to make sure i heard the exchange. because it sounded to me like
you're saying you think insurers are just going to continue to do it, so that there's no need for there to be an actual mandate saying they must. and remind you, with 5.7 million young people between the ages of 18 and 26 on their parent's health insurance, that's 5.7 million people who aren't in the individual narcotic because they're in their first job after high school that doesn't have health insurance or in school without -- so, is it just a wink and a promise or do you support having in law a mandate that 18 to 25-year-olds be able to stay on their parent's health insurance? >> what i have -- as i said, i think it's been baked into the insurance programs the that are out there right now. what i absolutely -- >> but they could change their mind at any time. >> what i'm absolutely committed to is making sure that every single american has access to the kind of coverage that they want and has the financial
feasibility to be able to purchase that coverage. >> thank you, senator baldwin. senator young. >> dr. price, good to see you. >> thank you. >> we are watching tom price, congressman from germaorgia, th nominee to be health and human services secretary, getting a fairly tough grilling from the committee, the house committee on health and education and labor, but they are not the confirming committee. the confirming committee, the senate committee, is going to be the senate finance committee. joining me now is a member of that committee, senator warner, senator mark warner from virginia. senator, first of all, in watching this hearing, and he's going to have a real confirmation hearing in finance. the issues that have been raised include some of his investments and whether or not there is the equivalent of insider trading, because of the time he purchased a particular small company
whereby a medical technology company, and then may have made money on it, by, or helped increase the stock by votes that he then took. you need to get more into that. senator schumer has asked for an ethics investigation. but what about the bigger issue? he's being questioned about obamacare, the affordable care act, the bigger implications of whether replace is simultaneous with repeal. where do you stand so far on tom price? >> well, i think you're seeing a challenging hearing today. i think you'll see a challenging hearing tomorrow in finance, because this notion that they're going to radically alter the health care system, and potentially put 18 million people, get them off health care, which will undermine the syst femorolks who don't get their health care at all through obame, because these are all interconnected, the fact that they have no plan to follow up afterwards, is really pretty staggering. and i think, you know, i've got real questions about that. i've got real questions about
some of the positions that congressman price took when he was in the house, that were even to the more extreme than, say, speaker ryan's positions. so i've got a serious of questions. that i'll be pressing him on tomorrow about these health care issues, because this idea of repeal and then punt, as opposed to repeal and actually have a replacement plan, and they've had seven years to come up with that plan. i'm surprised they don't have one in place. >> congressman price is a doctor, he's a surgeon. so he's advocated for doctors, which puts him on one side of regulations. there's a whole question about that. senator sander went after him today on tobacco. the fact that he held tobacco stocks statement he was opposing fda regulation of tobacco, back decades ago. is that a fair question for him? his stand on tobacco? >> every senator has the right to ask whatever kind of question they want. i do think that the goal of our health care, any reform effort,
ought to be focusing more on the patient. the docs, the hospital companies, prescription drug companies, play a role, but we've got to, at the end oth day, advocate for the patient and the folks who receive health care coverage. and we've got to take on, i think it's a very legitimate question to ask about, how are you going to get that balance right. how are you going to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, where basically americans subsidize the r&d for the global pharma market, because we pay such higher prices. those are very relevant questions to ask the nominee. >> now, you've held a hearing as the ranking democrat on intelligence, for mike pompeo, another member of the house. he's up for cia. have you decided how you're going to vote on mike pompeo? >> i was very impressed with the frankness that congressman pompeo had in both his hearing and in my private sessions with me. and i thought the most important thing, there was a variety of issues we talked about, but the most important issue, and i was just at cia, for example, yesterday, is making sure, and i'm going to support him, making
sure that the cia, under his leadership, will continue to speak truth to power, even if the white house doesn't want to hear that truth. that intelligence has to be unvarnished, it has to be clear, and i think he'll do that. >> we've had the extraordinary experience yesterday of john brennan, the outgoing, the departing cia director, a 30-year intelligence veteran, blasting back at donald trump, the president-elect. that relationship is pretty poisonous. does that reflect the workforce and is mike pompeo prepared to defend the workforce, the career men and women? >> well, that was -- he made those assurances to me. he did that both privately and publicly, during his hearing. i was out there yesterday, sat with a lot of the workforce, and these are folks who serve democrats and republicans alike, and they feel under assault. and that is, i think, a huge mistake the president-elect has made. at this moment in time, when
there's so much, theorld is so dangerous, i think the president-elect's comments about russia has been frankly stunning in many ways, but that workforce, their product needs to be protected. not only is that important for american safety, but it's important in terms of how our intelligence agencies are viewed by our allies' intelligence communities. the president-elect has not made america safer by making these comments. >> vladimir putin was the target of a speech, a speech by joe biden in davos in the world economic forum today, saying that russia is the biggest threat now facing the united states. do you agree with that, and should donald trump donald trump take that to heart? >> i believe it is right up there, one, two, or three on anybody's calculation. and what we've seen already from the intelligence community, not just brennan, but clapper and comey and rogers, a couple hundred years worth of experience there, that they have never seen this level of action by a foreign state trying to
interfere and affect our elections. and that -- the intelligence community, in a bipartisan way, needs to get to the bottom of that. and that investigation has to go wherever the intelligence leads us. because we're talking about a very underpinning of our democratic process. i can't think of anything i've seen in my public life that has concerned me as much in this job and getting this investigation right is going to be maybe the most important thing i do in this job. >> the republican chairman, and you're the vice chair of intelligence, changed course, actuallythe othe day, and decided to launch a bipartisan investigation of what happened before the election with russia. what led him and you to agree on that? >> i know at the end of the day, we came out with a joint statement that said, we're going to look at what already took place in terms of the focus of the report that's come out. we want to make sure of any contact between any campaigns and russians prior to the election. we want to make sure we've got
definite policy proposals on how we prevent this from happening again in this country. and i think part of our job, as well, is to, one, make sure the american public knows, when you hear the kind of news that sometimes comes over the transom and you accept at face value that sometimes, in this case in particular, there may be a foreign agent behind some of that fake news. we've got to make sure americans are on guard, and frankly with elections coming in france, germany, and the netherlands this year, to make sure our european allies, they're already seeing some russian interference. and this is a global threat to democracies around the world. >> if donald trump reverses the russian sanctions that were imposed because of the election year hacking, what,, if anything, can congress do? >> well, with congress in the past, in a bipartisan way has said, before a president takes a unilateral action, that president ought to consult with congress. my hope is, i know all the
democrats would agree with that, i hope the republins would as well, that we would put the president-elect on notice, if he wants to take actions that would change course on russia, he owes it to confer with congress first. this is something, you have senator mccain, rubio, senator graham, this is something that crosses can both sides of the aisle. we know that mr. putin's activities in terms of interfering with our elections, his activities in terms of barbarism in syria, this is not something that should be rewarded, this kind of bad behavior. >> mark warner. just to reiterate, you are going to vote to support mike pompeo? >> i am. >> as the ranking democrat -- >> he's got to make sure he's got all his answers in, the written answers, all his paperwork in, but his written answers, as well, to members who have asked that question. >> that is a critical nomination that's going to fly through, all things being equal? >> yes. >> thank you very much, senator. back to the senate hearing for tom price. chris murphy from connecticut questioning him now. let's watch. >> to the extent you can give me
specifics as to how you're going to measure the success of this replacement, i appreciate it. >> thank you. and you identified some very specific areas that i think we need to be looking from a metric standpoint. what is the cost? is the out-of-pocket cost for individual individuals higher or lower than it was? right now i would suggest that the cost is higher than it was when it began for the individual and small group market. they were promised the premiums would go down, in fact, they've gone up. they were promises they would have access to their doctor, many have not had access. >> i'm talking about where we are today. >> if you look at where we are today, many of the things that have been harmed by the affordable care act, i hope we can turn that around and decrease the out-of-pocket costs for individuals, increase choice for individuals, increase access to the doctors and provides that the patients want, as opposed to what's happened over the past number of years. >> increase the people who have
insuran insurance? >> absolutely. we still have 20 million people without coverage. i think as policymakers, it's incumbent upon us to say, what can we do to increase that coverage? the goal is to make certain that every single american has that access to coverage that they want for themselves and for their family. >> i'll just note that those are two things. having coverage and having access to coverage. and i think we've gone around on that a number of times. i want to come back to some of the conflict of interest questions that have been raised. and i raise it, because i think there's a great concern on behalf of the american people that this whole administration is starting to la ing ting to l of a get-rich quick scheme. we have a president that won't divest himself from his businesses and could potentially get rich off of them. we have a secretary of education, last night, who has big investments in the education space, a secretary of labor, who could gut worker protections and make a lot of money for his industry. so i want to walk you through another set of facts, another timeline regarding some of your interactions with the health care industry and get your
reaction to it. on march 8th to have 2016, earlier last year, cms announced a demonstration project to lower medicare reimbursements for part "d" drugs. that would have decreased incentives for physicians to prescribe expensive brand-name medications and drug companies that were affected by this immediately organized a resistance campaign. two days later, you announced your opposition to this demonstration project. one week later, you invested as much as $90,000 in a total of six pharmaceutical companies, not five, not seven, six. all six, amazingly, made drugs that would have been impacted by this demonstration project. there are a lot of drug companies that wouldn't have been affected. but you didn't invest in any of those. you invested in six specific companies that would be harmed by the demonstration project. how submitted financial disclosures indicating you knew that you owned these stocks. and two weeks after that, you
became the leader in the united states congress in opposition to this demonstration project. you read a letter with 242 members of congress with that demo. i've lead those letters. that's not easy. that takes a lot of work to get 242 people to sign on. >> that's good staff work, senator. >> and within two weeks of you taking the lead on opposition to that demonstration project, the stock prices for four of those six companies went up. you didn't have to buy those stocks, knowing that you were going to take a leadership role in the effort to inflate their value. and so as the american public take a look at that sequence of events, tell me how it can possibly be okay that you are championing positions on health care issues that have the effect of increasing your own personal wealth? that's a damning timeline, representative price. >> well, my opposition to having the federal government dictate
what drugs are available to patient is long-standing. goes back years and years. the fact of the matter is, i don't know whether you were here before, but the fact of the matter is, i didn't know any of those trades were being made. i have a directed account, broker-directed account. all of those trades were made without my knowledge, as is set up, and individuals on this panel have the same kind of accounts. the reason that you know about them is because i appropriately reported them and above board and appropriate matter as directed by the house of representatives. >> but do you director your broker around ethical guidelines? do you tell him, for instance, not to invest in companies that are directly connected to your advocacy? >> because it seems like a great deal as a broker. he can just sit back, look at the positions you're taking -- >> she. >> she can sit back, in this case, look at the legislative positions you're taking, and invest in companies that she thinks are going to increase in
values based on your legislative activities. and you can claim separation from that, because you didn't have a conversation. >> that's a nefarious arrangement that i'm really astounded by. the fact of the matter is that i have had no conversations with my broker about any political activity at all, other than -- >> why would you tell her -- >> -- other than her congratulating me on my election. >> why wouldn't you at least tell her, hey, stay clear of any companies that are directly affected by my legislative work. >> because the agreement that we have is that she provided diversified portfolio, which is exactly what virtually every one of you have in your investment opportunities, and make certain that in order to protect one's assets, that there's a diversified arrangement for purchase of stocks. i knew nothing about those purchases. >> but you couldn't have a diversified portfolio while staying clear of the six companies that were directly affected by your work on the issue? >> as i said, i didn't have any knowledge of those purchases.
>> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, senator murphy. senator murkowski? >> thank you, mr. chairman. there is added benefit to being one of the -- >> and you're watching the tom price hearing, the congressman from georgia. the nominee to be the secretary health and human services up before the senate now, not for a confirmation hearing. this is an inquiry. tomorrow he will have his real confirmation hearing, before another senate committee, senate finance. joining me now, michael beschloss, nbc news presidential historian, and nooiblg gerson, "washington post" columnist and former speechwriter for george w. bush. gentleman, while we've been watching four separate hearings on capitol hill today, there was a hearing for scott pruitt. he is the epanonee. and here is one othe noteworthy exchanges before that hearing went into recess for a lunch break. this was the exchange with bernie sanders and scott pruitt up for epa. >> why is the climate changing? >> senator, in response to the
co2 issue, the epa administrator is constrained by statutes -- >> i'm asking you a personal opinion. >> my personal opinion is immaterial. >> oh, really? >> to the job of -- >> you are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial? >> and just for those of you at home keeping score, senator warner and i were talking about senate finance tomorrow and congressman price's senate finance confirmation hearing will be next week, but senate finance is meeting tomorrow on the treasury nominee, who is the -- the treasury nominee, mnuchin, who is another whole story. a lot of these hearings have been very lively with not only policy differences, but now you're seeing differences also on the holdings of congressman price and some of the stock trades hays mae's made.
and that's a request for an ethics investigation by democratic leader, senator schumer. to you, michael beschloss. we've seen contentious hearings before, and democrats don't have the votes, they don't have the majority. but so far what we've seen, tom price might be one of the more endangered species up here. >> from what was said this morning about the stock holdings, sure could be. and you know, andrea, this is the way the system is supposed to work. this is supposed to be a zealous vetting of these appointees. and if you look over history, some of the times in which the republican -- the republic has gotten in trouble has been when they were not investigated enough and did not give frank enough answers. >> and michaelg gerson, you worked in the bush white house and we want to talk to you about inaugural speeches, as well. today donald trump tweeted him a picture of him at mar-a-lago two weeks ago. he says he's working in this picture on his inaugural address. obviously, that's the moment, at
noon, on friday, when he will be taking the stage, right out front here on the west front, not far from where we're siting now, take the oath of office, being sworn in by clarence thomas and then give his speech. and all eyes on him. this is a man who's said that he is going to keep his twitter account, his personal twitter account, and has been making a lot of headlines with his tweets about everything from meryl streep to "snl" and alec baldwin. you heard the speechwriter, michael, as the historian, let's talk about the speeches. you wrote bush 43's speeches, both right after the most contested election in modern history, certainly the one decided by a supreme court decisi decision. what was your goal there, your favorite lines, what you were trying to achieve to bring the country together? >> it was about unity. some inaugural speeches are speeches about great purpose,
like kennedy's speech and the cold war speech. and others are speeches of healing. jefferson staed there, we're all republicans, we're all federalists. so i think it's a great tradition of inaugural speeches to write speeches of unity and that's what we attempted. he talked about building a single country of opportunity and justice. and that i think, i think, it helped the country after a very divisive election. >> and michael beschloss, historically, these are moments where people rise to the occasion or not. the moment calls for what from donald trump? >> the moment calls for him to let everyone know that he is president of all the people. and since election night, he has not said that very much. and i think that's reflected in those polls this week that show that he's the most unplaopular incoming president of recent times. he's got this magnificent opportunity, this enormous audience to say, i get it, i
understand that i've got to be the president of everyone. and i cannot particularly be divisive on that day. >> michael gerson, he has said that he's going to continue to use twitter. he has said, as recently as last night, in an interview on fox, that was played today, that he's doing it because he doesn't trust the news media. your relationship with the news media, back when you were a speechwriter, george w. bush, every president has his adversarial relationship with the news media. but the news media can also be a helpful to a president. >> yeah, presidents often talk about getting besides the news media or going around the news media to talk directly to the people. but we have methods now like twitter that are different than other presidents have had. this really is a chance for him to communicate directly. it's also an opportunity for abuse. if he were to target individual citizens, like he's done with his twitter account in the past,
as president of the united states, that would be a terrible abuse of power. we're going to have to be very watchful here, and the media has to play a role in making sure he doesn't cross boundaries. >> and michael beschloss, you've spent a lot of time talking to people, including the president. the mood of barack obama and his closest circle as they prepare to leave. he's going to take off on what was marine one. he's going to take off on that helicopter on the east front of the capitol, go to andrews air force base, make some remarks, get back on what was air force one, but will now just be another 747 with a call number, and fly to palm springs. what do you think will be going through his mind as he makes a very difficult transition for a relatively young president, ex-president. >> you know, whoever thought that the ex-president that barack obama would emulate would
be jerogerald ford, in 1977, as remember, getting on the plane and flying off to golf in palm springs. but i think there's an inevitable underlying melon kany melancholy. you can see it in the way the president looks and what he says these days. we'll probably see it a little bit this afternoon, despite his efforts to say, i'm presiding over a smooth transition. one of the worst things for any president is to hand over the office to someone who disagrees with you as much as trump does. dwight eisenhower, after having nixon defeated by kennedy, says, i feel like i've been hit in the solar plexus by a baseball bat. >> and while i have you on this theme, while we're sitting out here, i'll be out there on the steps on friday, the fact that hillary and bill clinton will be here, jimmy carter will be here, all things, we hope being all right with president bush 41 in houston, hospitalized, as we learned today, for the last few
days, president bush and laura bush will be here. what is the importance and the history of former presidents coming at difficult times like this? is there a time that is analogous to hillary clinton watching the swearing in? i guess it would be al gore in 2001? >> al gore would be a great example. also, 1861. a lot of differences, but 1861, abraham lincoln defeated steven douglas. douglas came to the inauguration, when lincoln rose to give his speech on the capitol steps, he looked for a place to put his hat, and douglas sort of leaned forward and said, i'll take your hat, and everyone saw this gesture with douglas holding the president's hat throughout the speech. it was a message that everyone got, was heavily reported, that things were all right, and at least those two, or at least for that moment, were together. >> and michael gerson, we see the picture tweeted out of donald trump, quote, working on his inaugural address.
what is the process when you're working with george w. bush. i know you don't know donald trump's process. we know he can do 140 characters. but he's got well-known speechwriters and he'll take a draft, do an edit, they'll have a meeting, talk about themes? >> we did a lot of ours at blair house, because the president was staying there. so it's a little bit different. but usually he'll sit with a group of senior advisers and read it aloud. and then make changes and make direction in the process of going through the speech. that's a normal process for a presidential speech. >> michael gerson, michael beschloss, i can't think of two better people to team up with. and right now elizabeth warren questioning tom price at the hearing. let's go pack. >> $449 billion. your fy '17 budget proposal also would have cut medicare funding that goes to the state governments by more than $1 trillion. is that correct? >> i think, senator, the metrics
we use for the success of these programs -- >> yes or no, did you propose a cut of $1 trillion for medicare. >> what's appropriate is -- >> do you want me to read you the number out of this. >> i'm sure you're correct. what we believe is appropriate is make sure the individuals receiving the care are actually receiving care. >> i understand why you think you're right to cut it. i'm just asking the question, did you propose to cut more than $1 trillion out of medicaid over the next ten years? >> you have the numbers before you. >> is that a yes? >> you have the numbers before you. >> i'll take it as a yes. so as i'm sure you're aware, during his campaign for president, president-elect trump was very clear about his views on medicare and medicaid, as senator sanders has quoted extensively, president-elect trump has said, i'm not going to cut medicare or medicaid. now, when president-elect trump said, i am not going to cut medicare or medicaid, do you believe he was telling the truth? >> i believe so, yes. >> yeah, you -- okay. given your record of proposing
massive cuts to these programs, along with several other members of this committee, i sent the president-elect a letter in december, asking him to clarify his position. and he hasn't responded yet, so i was hoping you could clear this up. can you guarantee, to this committee, that you will safeguard president-elect trump's promise? and while you are hhs secretary, you will not use your administrative authority to carry out a single dollar of cuts to medicare or medicaid eligibility or benefits? >> what the question presume is that money is the metric. in my -- >> yes, i am asking -- >> -- belief, from a scientific standpoint, if patients aren't receiving care, even though we're providing the resources, then it doesn't work for patients. >> i'm sorry to interrupt, but we're very limited on time. the metric is money. and the quote from the president-elect of the united states was not a long discourse
on this. he said he would not cut dollars from this program. so that's the question i'm asking you. can you assure this committee that you will not cut $1 from either medicare or medicaid should you be confirmed to this position? >> senator, i believe the metric ought to be the care that the patient is receiving -- >> i'll take that as a ? >> it's that -- that's the wrong metric. we ought to be putting forth the resources -- >> i'm not asking you whether or not you think you have a better metric. i'm asking you a question about dollars. yes or no? >> what we ought to do is put forward the resources in order to take care of the patients. >> -- really simple questions. and frankly, the millions of americans who rely on medicare and medicaid today are not going to be very reassured by your notion that you have some metric other than the dollars that they need to provide these services. you know, you might want to print out president-elect trump's statement, "i am not going to cut medicare or medicaid" and pos