MTP Daily, Transcript 12/22/2016

Guests: Jennifer Jacobs, Karine Jean-Pierre, Jennifer Roberts, Josh Lipton, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Sarah Fagen

Show: MTP DAILY Date: December 22, 2016 Guest: Jennifer Jacobs, Karine Jean-Pierre, Jennifer Roberts, Josh Lipton, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Sarah Fagen

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Good evening and welcome to MTP DAILY. I`m Chris Jansing in New York in for Chuck Todd.

We have a lot to get to this hour, including the very latest on the hunt for a suspected terrorist in Europe, the fallout from a House bill two in North Carolina, and an interview with outgoing HHS secretary, Sylvia Burwell, on why Republicans should think twice before repealing Obamacare.

But we begin with the first major public showdown between President Obama and President-elect Trump. Donald Trump, today, publicly broke with the Obama administration and decades of American foreign policy precedent over not just one, but two of the most hot-button international issues. The Israeli Palestinian conflict and nuclear proliferation.

Let`s get you caught up. First, on the Mideast. The U.N. Security Council was set to vote this afternoon on a resolution that would have declared Israel`s continued construction of settlements in Palestinian territory against international law.

But, overnight, Tel Aviv time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the U.S. should veto the security council resolution, calling it anti-Israel.

Now, Donald Trump agreed with Netanyahu and in an extraordinary break of tradition. The president-elect called on the sitting president to veto the U.N. resolution.

That set up a potential showdown at the U.N., placing the Obama administration at odds with both the president-elect and Israel, a key ally.

Several diplomatic sources tell NBC News that the Obama administration was planning to abstain on the vote, going against both Netanyahu and Trump. That vote has now been postponed.

A few hours later, Trump, again, broke with the current administration`s policy and decades of bipartisan agreement. This time, on nuclear weapons, tweeting this. The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.

These diplomatic desktops (ph) are happening while President Obama has been hesitant to speak out against Trump during his last weeks in office.

Usually, during a presidential transition, the incoming president defers to the west wing on matters of foreign policy. It`s something President Obama was mindful of during his own transition back in 2008.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president, and I won`t be until January 20.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: But when asked about it earlier today at Trump Tower, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted the president-elect is respecting the one president at a time mentality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP: President-elect Trump has been incredibly respectful toward President Obama and toward the fact that until January 20th, we have a sitting president.

At the same time, he`s asked his opinion on many different matters. And in most instances, this is not the first time he`s been asked or has provided his opinion. He`s done that all through the campaign.

So, it should really surprise very few people this his position. At the same time, he`s not going to act on it until he`s actually in the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Joining me now is NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, and host of Andrea Mitchell Reports, Andrea Mitchell. And NBC News political correspondent Hallie Jackson here with me in New York.

Andrea, big picture here. I`m trying to remember, when have we seen anything like this? I mean, two major issues here and a break with what`s been, what, decades of precedent?

ANDREA MITCHELL, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, the fact is that Donald Trump did campaign on different policies. The problem here is, and let`s say on the nuclear issue, is that it`s confusing.

He is talking about expanding the nuclear arsenal and we have treaties. We have treaties with Russia. He seems to be responding to what Vladimir Putin today -- said today about strengthening their nuclear arsenal, their nuclear capability. But Vladimir Putin says that about once a week.

Donald Trump, in responding on Twitter, seemed to be making new policy. The U.S. and Russia have treaties which the Stark Treaty. And they are limited to 1,550 deployed weapons by February of next year, February of 2018, I should say. A little more than a year from now.

So, this would be opening up a whole new -- whole new vista of a nuclear arms race. And that`s the concern of many, many experts.

On the -- on the Israeli issue, there seems to be a tightly coordinated nexus between Tel Aviv and Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago in that Donald Trump`s response came after maybe Netanyahu geared up and went into diplomatic mode.

And my information is that it was Israel pressuring Egypt, the sponsor on the Security Council of this resolution that pulled the plug on it. They were already to go.

[17:05:01] And according to the Egyptian diplomats, talking to our people at the U.N. in New York, they were lining up the votes today. And then, suddenly, everything was postponed which could mean cancelling.

JANSING: Yes. And, Hallie, you do wonder. Now, we`re getting so close to this new administration. I mean, are these tweets, like, the Trump equivalence of a policy paper? What`s --

HALLIE JACKSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: I think, maybe.

JANSING: -- the end game here?

JACKSON: You know, I don`t know. You can answer that question definitively, Chris. But I do think they are tea leaves but maybe something a little bit stronger than that. You know?

I mean, this is an opportunity. The president-elect is now the president- elect. He`s no longer a candidate tweeting about various things. He is going to be, in 29 days, in the White House.

And so, as we have talked about with -- on this program, on other programs, the words, the things that he says via Twitter have meaning.

Now, of course, what has more meaning? His actions as president. And I think that`s what a lot of folks are waiting to see and watching to see.

I would say, with this particular tweet, it seemed to come -- I`m talking about the nuclear tweet, the idea that the U.S. needs to fortify, in fact, its nuclear capabilities. It came from a little bit of nowhere, right?

It seemed as though it was coming out of the blue. This is not a topic that had been percolating in any sort of significant or particular sense in media over the last 24 hours or so.

But what was notable is that, also today, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly also said the same thing. He talked about fortifying Russia`s nuclear capabilities. And there, obviously, has been a lot of discussion about the future ties between the United States and Russia under a president Trump in 2017.

JANSING: So, you have that. You have the whole nuclear question which you laid out so clearly, Andrea. Then, you have this longstanding policy. And you`re absolutely right.

Look, there`s no surprise to anybody that Donald Trump feels differently than the president does or that the president has had this ongoing dispute with Bibi Netanyahu. That`s not the question here.

But the question here is, what is U.S. policy? And I think also for a lot of people, who`s going to speak for U.S. foreign policy? You know, Trump discussed with "The New York Times" that his son in law, Jared Kushner, could play an important role.

As we look at something, we know what Donald Trump wants to do which is to be the one who finds the path to Middle East peace.

Let me just remind folks what President-elect Trump had to say and get your thoughts on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jared is a very smart guy. He`s a very good guy. The people that know him, he`s a quality person and I think he could be very helpful.

I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. I would love that. That would be such a great achievement because nobody`s been able to do it successfully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you thinking he`d be part of that?

TRUMP: I think he would be very good at it. I mean, he knows it so well. He knows the region. He knows the people. He knows the players.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Andrea, isn`t one of the keys to a strong foreign policy clarity? Clarity on message and clarity on who speaks for the administration?

MITCHELL: Well, you could argue that you could keep people off balance. I mean, there`s the clarity and consistency approach to foreign policy, and there`s the other let`s keep them guessing.

Jared Kushner`s father, Charles Kushner, with David Friedman, the designated U.S. ambassador to Israel under Donald Trump, created this very radical support group for settlements. They`ve been raising money, a foundation for Beit El, the most radical of the settlements to the right of Netanyahu.

So, there is history here and it is a different policy. And it is also an abandonment of decades of policy, going back to 1979 to Camp David. So, we`re talking about Republican and Democratic administrations.

On the nuclear front, we should point out that Jason Miller, the spokesman, said, trying to clarify, apparently, this tweet on nuclear issues. Said that he is against proliferation. He wants to combat proliferation and he also wants to strengthen deterrence.

So, those two things could be inconsistent. It`s not clear. And he didn`t answer further questions as to what he really meant.

The fact is that Putin says this all the time. But for Donald Trump to put it out there was surprising. And it does seem to be a casual approach.

Some people are suggesting that it`s because he met with nuclear and defense contractors yesterday, including Lockheed Martin, that are trying to justify the F-35 fighter jet, because it could carry a nuclear armed cruise missile, a new weapon system. We don`t know. We weren`t part of that conversation. That would be interesting to see.

The heritage foundation, which has influenced some of the transition foreign policy debate, has written about expanding the nuclear weapons.

So, there`s a lot of stuff out there. Whom he`s listening to and whether or not it`s part of the confusion of some of the things he`s said about arming South Korea and arming Japan with nuclear weapons and Saudi Arabia during the campaign, remains to be seen.

JANSING: Andrea Mitchell, Hallie Jackson, thanks to you both.

And let me bring in tonight`s panel. Sara Fagen, a former aide to George W. Bush and a CNBC Contributor. Jennifer Jacobs, National Political Reporter for Bloomberg. And Karine Jean-Pierre, a Senior Advisor for MoveOn.org.

Let`s just say, I`m going to guess, none of you are surprised that Donald Trump is tweeting some of the things that he`s tweeting. There`s nothing in the Twitter world that could surprise us.

[17:10:02] And certainly, Sara, you know, Twitter didn`t exist when you were working for a president. But what, if any, concerns do you have as you observe what`s going on, as somebody who has been on the inside of this?

SARA FAGEN, CONTRIBUTOR, CNBC: Well, I think, you know, Donald Trump is used to being able to use his Twitter account in the -- as he was in the campaign, where there are few ramifications to a tweet.

Now, as he`s the president-elect, soon to be president, the whole world is paying attention to everything he says. So, when he goes out and makes a statement about nuclear weapons, as he just did, you know, the world will react to that.

And I think it`s going -- there`s going to be a learning curve by the Trump administration that a casual comment by him, which may be -- he means it casually. The rest of the world doesn`t take it casually.

He`s simply saying we need to modernize which, frankly, Republicans and Democrats agree. But, yet, you know, these are things that can cause shifts in other country`s policies.

And I think there`s a learning curve. And, ultimately, I think Donald Trump will rein his Twitter in. Eventually, he`ll be forced to.

JANSING: Well, Jennifer, I think part of it, too, is, then, how do you report something like this? You report it very straight and you say, this is what he said. And, you know, take it for whatever analysis you want to give it.

Or, I mean, there are -- there are inherent challenges for reporters, for people in the foreign policy realm, for folks who run other countries. I mean, this lack of clarity that Andrea Mitchell was talking about does raise a lot of questions.

JENNIFER JACOBS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Well, Sara is exactly right. This did affect the world and the Trump team knew that. They actually let us know at about 8:00 this morning to expect some, quote, unquote, "big news" on the U.N. resolution. And so, they knew that this was going to be a big deal as soon as it hit.

And, you know, interestingly enough, I think that Donald Trump has a like- minded friend in -- you know, the Twitter world with, you know, the Israeli prime minister who, actually, was tweeting against this resolution at 3:00 in the morning his time. Trump waited until about 8:30 this morning, actually Florida time, in order to echo what Netanyahu had said.

But they both are like-minded about getting their opinions out there no matter what hour of the day. But Trump is just reiterating what Netanyahu was saying. And this makes it very clearly that he very much supports what Netanyahu wants to do.

JANSING: And, Karine, it`s going to be interesting to see that once he actually is president and Congress is back in session, how do the Democrats respond to this?

Do they have somebody who -- and I don`t mean this as a joke, either, and I`m not meaning it to be facetious. You know, do you have somebody who`s up overnight monitoring the president`s Twitter feed and doing strategic work, you know, until people wake up the next morning?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG: No, I totally get it, Chris. I mean, his Twitter account has become a threat to our national security. I mean, foreign policy is incredibly complex. And you can`t boil it down to 140 characters.

And what he -- you know, what he tweeted today about our -- the nuclear power, it goes pretty much against that bipartisan consensus that kept -- that kept us safe for generations upon generations.

And also, he`s undermining that balance, right, where there`s one president at a time. And, look, you know, the SNL tweets are funny. We can laugh at them. But tweeting about national security and foreign policy, that`s -- that gets pretty dangerous.

JANSING: Speaking about national security, he actually spoke about it. And it almost sounds like a Muslim ban could be coming back. Let me play that for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has it caused you to rethink or reevaluate your plans to create a Muslim registry or ban Muslim immigration in the United States?

TRUMP: Hey, you know my plans all along and it`s proven to be right, 100 percent correct. What`s happening is disgraceful. Anyway, make sure everything`s fine folks. Nice to have you here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Sara, where do you see this going?

FAGEN: Well, we`ll have to wait and see. You know, he has backtracked on this previously. Certainly, that statement implied that he may go forward with that policy. One of the things that we know from Donald Trump, which he said directly in his very first foreign policy speech, was that the United States was too predictable.

And what we`ve seen from him, whether it`s taking the call from the South Korean leader to these tweets today to perhaps this ban on Muslims which he`s talked about during the campaign, is that he is -- he is reacting to his own comments which is that the United States is too predictable.

And he has been very unpredictable, as it relates to foreign policy. Whether that puts people off, throws them off their game, makes the United States have more negotiating power in these transactions around the world, I think remains to be seen. But he is true to his word so far.

JANSING: Sara, Jennifer, Karine, stick around. We will be talking in a bit.

[17:15:01] But coming up, what`s next for North Carolina`s bathroom bill sight (ph)? After a wild night at the State House, we`ll be talking with the mayor of Charlotte, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Law enforcement around the globe searching for the suspect of the berlin Christmas market attack. The market did reopen this morning, just three days after a truck plowed into a crowd of shoppers, leaving 12 dead, dozens more injured.

Fingerprints of 24-year-old Anis Amri were found in the driver`s cab of the truck that rammed into the market. He was born in Tunisia but entered Europe in 2011 through Italy, where he spent time in prison. Two U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News that Amri was known to counterterrorism agencies as having ISIS sympathies and links. And that he was listed on at least one terrorism watch list.

German authorities are conducting raids throughout Germany today which include one mosque. Chancellor Angela Merkel was briefed on the investigation today, and says Germany has repeatedly been the target of international terrorism but their strong efforts to counter threats will continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: This afternoon, the blame game is being played as blood sport in North Carolina after that rancorous scene we just showed you at the State House last night. After days of wrangling, a deal to repeal the so-called transgender bathroom law collapsed yesterday, spectacularly. LGBT advocates say that law is discriminatory.

Now, Governor Roy Cooper organized the deal and said the failure to repeal was a broken promise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV.-ELECT ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I`m disappointed for the people of North Carolina for the jobs that people won`t have.

[17:20:03] I`m disappointed that we have yet to remove the stain on the reputation of our great state that is around this country and around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Meanwhile, the resulting boycotts from bill are escalating. It`s cost the state millions. Take a look at just some examples. PayPal pulled out, estimated cost 24 million; Deutsche Bank more than 30 million; convention cancellations 110 million; the NBA All Star Game about 100 million; the NCAAs, their associated games 20 million; the ACC, their games 54 million.

So, just there, that`s an estimated total of 338 million. So how does North Carolina plan to remove the stigma and stop the bleeding? Jennifer Roberts is the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. Thanks so much for being with us.

A lot of this has to do with the back and forth of what the council did in Charlotte. We know what Republicans are saying. They say this is no more than a power play by the new governor. What do you say about what happened last night?

JENNIFER ROBERTS, MAYOR, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, we were extremely disappointed in Charlotte to see this whole agreement break apart. We acted in good faith in Charlotte. We actually tried to do the reset they asked for to take us back to February 21st. We took all of our ordinance off our books. And we didn`t have a time limit.

We were under the understanding that they were going to uphold their end of that promise. And they were going to repeal HB-2 and lift the cloud over our state.

We are extremely disappointed.

JANSING: These numbers we showed, the financial losses are absolutely staggering. I spent a lot of time in North Carolina over the course of the -- you know, the primary and the general election. You look at that number, almost $340 million.

And there are plenty of Republicans, plenty of people in the business community who have been, obviously, pushing hard for this to go away. What`s your next step?

ROBERTS: Well, I tell you, I remind folks that, you know, the people who really suffer the most in these economic challenges are ally workers or small businesses. This is really hard for Charlotte.

And we hope that people are calling our legislators. We hope that people realize the power has been in the hands of the legislature the whole time. Charlotte`s done everything we possibly could. We`ve done everything they`ve asked us to do. And they still can`t come through on their promise.

So, we`re urging people to call your legislators and tell them that HB-2 continues to harm our entire state.

JANSING: You know, we saw this at that the governor elect who wasn`t even officially declared for a while after the election. The governor-elect, you know, stepped to the podium. He`s upset about this.

But what does it say, from your perspective, about the ability to get anything done in North Carolina, with the division between the governor`s office and your legislature?

ROBERTS: Well, you know, we`re a state with a lot of different, diverse viewpoints. We have some rural areas. We have big cities. You know, Charlotte is a big, diverse, growing city. One of the fastest growing cities in the country. We need to be able to compete in the 21st century in a global economy.

And we have to figure out a way to understand there are differences and to live with those differences. And to recognize there`s a lot to celebrate and in a city that has all the great assets and the great people that Charlotte has.

JANSING: There are people who say that the -- part of the problem with this is actually, in many ways, it`s a very simple bill. I mean, it has been, sort of, simplified in the media, to be honest. We call it the transgender bathroom bill. But it does impact a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.

If this bill stands, what do you see, beyond the obvious, beyond talking about the concerns in the LGBT community and the pullouts by businesses, by the NCAAs, by all the -- you know, all of the different monetary losses. What do you see as the biggest concern?

ROBERTS: Well, I think that the fact that it preempts local governments. And so, our cities, again, they`re growing. They`re diverse. Our cities are not allowed to pass ordinances that merely want people to be treated equally.

We want everyone to feel welcome. You know, we have a great tourism industry in the state of North Carolina. In Charlotte, one of nine of our jobs are from tourism. We want every visitor, we want every resident to feel welcomed, included and valued.

And with this bill in place, there are people who recognize that we don`t have protections for the LGBT community and remind folks that the other thing the HBC (ph) did was prevent any city putting a minimum wage. And there were other things that were added in as well.

And so, it`s really the preemption, not allowing cities to be the laboratories of innovation, creativity and growth that we need to be if our state is going to continue to compete.

JANSING: Mayor Jennifer Roberts, thanks so much for the time.

ROBERTS: Thanks for having me.

JANSING: And still ahead, the future of President Obama`s signature legislation. We`ll talk about the Affordable Care Act and more with outgoing HHS Secretary, Sylvia Burwell.

[17:25:07] Keep it right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Coming up here on MTP DAILY, what`s ahead for Obamacare? Don`t miss Chuck`s one on one with HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell after the break.

And Kellyanne Conway will join Rachel Maddow tonight to discuss the Trump transition, and her own newly announced role in the Trump White House. That`s tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" right here on MSNBC.

But first, Josh Lipton has the CNBC market rap. Hey, Josh.

JOSH LIPTON, CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks, Chris.

Another day of modest declines for stocks. The Dow slips 23 points. The S&P is off four. The Nasdaq sheds 24. The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, that compares to a previous estimate of 3.2 percent growth.

Orders for long-lasting, durable goods dial (ph) less than expected last month. Demand for items from appliances to aircraft dropped 4.6 percent.

And a tough session for retailers after a report showed consumer spending slowed in November.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC SHOW HOST: President-Elect Donald Trump campaigned on the full repeal of the affordable care act in his first 100 days in office. That hasn`t stopped Americans for signing up for 2017 coverage, though. New numbers out just yesterday show nearly 6.4 million people registered for coverage through healthcare.gov so far, about 400,000 more that a similar point last year. Opening moment continues through January 31. Now earlier this week, Chuck Todd sat down with Health and Human Services Secretary Cynthia Burwell and ask her why American should sign up for coverage when the President-Elect Trump is promising to get rid of the system. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST: Let`s start some simple question here, since its enrollment time, why should anybody enroll if the next president of the United States is promising to repeal and replace it within weeks of taking office?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: So, people right now are signing up for coverage in the year 2017, and we`ve seen we had a record day last week with 670,000 people signing up in one single day, and they should sign up, because I think we have heard both from the insurance companies who consider it a contract if you enter in and you make your premium payments. We`ve heard from the President-Elect that he doesn`t want to disrupt coverage in that way, and we`ve heard from The Hill as well, that they don`t want disruption of coverage in `17. Now beyond that, it is a different concern. But for those people who want and need coverage should come in and get it for 2017.

TODD: Are you concerned, though, that some people aren`t signing up, because they`re figured it`s not going to be there?

BURWELL: We had a, as I said, we have a record day and our enrollments have been growing and so even from last year`s point of time. But you`re very right to reflect it as a headwind. We`ve already had 30,000 calls to our call center expressing that concern. When you`re trying to communicate with people, the most important thing which is affordability and helping people know that there is financial assistance, it is a big headwind.

TODD: Why do you think this was the year that the explosion on the premiums happened? Why was this year -- look, I know that the overall average, if you spread it out, it doesn`t feel so bad, this hike, but in some states it was massive.

BURWELL: You know, I think when you talk about premiums, though. We have to talk about the whole picture for the nation. And there are 150 million Americans who get their insurance through their job, probably like most people here, and for those Americans in the last six years. We`ve had five of the slowest years of premium growth that had occurred. So for them, while you don`t want any premium growth at all, it`s been slowing from before the affordable care act. For people in the marketplace, what we know is 85 percent of those folks are basically insulated, because what happens is your financial assistance moves as premium moves. And for the 15 percent, it is an issue. And it`s one that we think is the place. Those are the places we need to focus to improve the affordable care act. And it`s in particular states. There`s been a lot of focus on states like Arizona where it was extreme, but not a lot of focus on.

TODD: It is kind of extreme now.

BURWELL: Well, if you look at Indiana, negative 2 percent, if you look at Ohio, 2 percent.

TODD: So what do you know about what kind of -- did President Obama make progress on President-Elect Trump on the health care issue? It sounded from rhetoric from President-Elect Trump that he did. What do you know about this?

BURWELL: You know, I would just say, I know what is the public statement, and the public statement is the President-Elect has said preserving the ability to have your child on your policy until 26 is something that he believes is important and important to maintain and preserving preexisting conditions so that you can`t not get health insurance, if you have a preexisting condition, something like cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart disease.

TODD: So you buy the idea that you think he is at least convinced, the new congress, that whatever the replacement deal it to be a simultaneous deal.

BURWELL: You know that is what we believe is essential, the idea of repealing and delaying a replacement and what that creates in the market, so insurance companies make their decisions in the first half of the year. And with that kind of uncertainty, there are two things that many of them will decide to do. One is to pull out. Just as you say, we want more protection, not less.

TODD: But right now if you`re an insurance company, what incentive is it to stay in the marketplace right now?

BURWELL: In its current form, what you`ve just seen is we`ve had very strong open enrollment, so it`s a product that people want and need. And that part is working. So in a world where you can move through this uncertainty, the market is maturing. It`s only in its third year right now and we see in states like North Carolina where there were some real issues before and there were concerns about could insurers be profitable, we see that starting to happen already in 2016.

TODD: Certainly it is your home state, West Virginia. A lot of poor, white rural counties have benefited a great deal from the affordable care act. Politically, the Democratic Party has not benefited. The two don`t seem to go together, and I`ve heard this compliant from some Democrat complaining to us, the media going, why can Donald Trump get a lot of credit for saving a thousand jobs for Carrier but President Obama can`t get credit for providing insurance for 20 million people? Is it just a communications problem?

BURWELL: You know I think it`s a problem of connecting with the substance. And I think that is where we`re moving now. And that what I think what we started to see, in the past weeks, it`s moving from the rhetoric to the reality, what this means to real people`s lives. It`s not a word, it`s not a symbol. We know that the polling that is now being done that doesn`t just test, are you for or against Obamacare, but instead talks about what it really is, but you see very different results.

TODD: Sylvia Matthews Burwell, thanks for your public service, by the way, serving is a difficult thing. It can be a big grind but it is a big honor as well.

BURWELL: It is an honor.

TODD: Madam Secretary, thanks for your time.

BURWELL: Thank you for having me. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: And we`ll have more from Chuck`s interview with Secretary Burwell on our website meetthepress.com.

Now let`s bring back the panel, Sarah Fagen, Jennifer Jacobs, Karine Jean- Pierre, Jennifer let`s look at this in the big picture. So you have clearly, as Chuck just pointed out, and as the secretary just pointed out, you have a product that people want. You have a lot of people who have signed up. Does that give those who don`t want to repeal Obamacare any ammunition realistically to fight what clearly has been stated by the President-Elect of the United States that he wants to get rid of Obamacare as we know it?

JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG: Well, you know, she was exactly right when she said that people really have nothing to lose by signing up right now and they`re encouraging people to do that. That benefits the Obama administration by reinforcing that they were right and this law was beneficial, but people really do have nothing to lose if they do sign up right now. You know best case scenario, they get another year`s worth of subsidized health care and they don`t have to pay that penalty for being uninsured. The worst case scenario, and this is pretty unlikely, is that congress moves so quickly and repeals Obamacare that all those insurance policies are canceled, but that is so unlikely just because, you know the government has signed a contracts for all of those 2017 contracts with all those private insurers, and they can`t just really set those all on fire without, you know a big fat court lawsuit.

JANSING: Having said that, I think there is clarity -- isn`t there, Karine, about what this president intends to do. When you look at who he has nominated, for Secretary Tom Price, is somebody who has said that Obamacare has had disastrous effects. We know what he said about some other programs like Planned Parenthood, which he said has barbaric practices. What do you do if you`re a progressive organization, what do you do if you are a Democrat and you see this writing on the wall?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, FORMER OBAMA AIDE: I think you have to be very vigilant about this one and many other members of his cabinet picks. I mean, look, Republicans are like the dog that caught the car on this one. For six years they had the same rhetoric of repeal it, replace it. But they never worked with Democrats for those six years on even small tweaks to Obamacare at all, and they continue to throw road blocks. Now what they`re learning is that it`s very difficult to just repeal it and replace it, because they don`t have anything right now. So yes, we should be vigilant, we should be really concerned. It`s not just Obamacare, it`s also Medicare that is at stake, and so we have to basically stay on top of this.

JANSING: It`s interesting when you look at it, Sarah, the states where Obamacare is most popular. Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, places where there are people in high political places that they`ve called for the repeal of Obamacare. Susannah Martinez, the Republican governor of New Mexico, politico has published a letter that she wrote that said in part, we want to make it clear that the ACA has provided significant benefit to Mexico. Where do you see this going?

SARAH FAGEN, CNBC: Well, I think the ACA has provided benefits for some provisions for some people. You know, Jennifer pointed out there`s been a lot of talk about this rush to signing up, but let`s not forget that you have to pay a tax if you don`t.

JANSING: Nobody has ever paid that tax.

FAGEN: No, they haven`t, but they are, according to the law that was signed by the president, they will owe a tax if they don`t have coverage. So they`re incentivized to sign up.

JANSING: So you think most people are signing up, because they`re afraid they`ll be taxed as opposed to actually needing health insurance?

FAGEN: I didn`t - that is not what I said. People who don`t have health coverage need health coverage. They have an opportunity to get it, and if they don`t get it, they have to pay tax. It is a no brainer all around. However I don`t think Republicans are going to, well they may be quick to repeal it. I don`t think that they are going to put in place provisions that kick people off the system immediately. Let`s not forget, you pointed out some states where it`s popular, and there are people who are clearly benefiting from it, and there are provisions in it that are very good, that Donald Trump believes are good. But I believe one of the reasons Donald Trump was elected is not just because of the Comey letter and Hillary Clinton`s failure to have a coherent message, it`s because in many of these states, premiums were going up as much as 25 percent. And right as people, late deciders were thinking about this election, perhaps for the first time or perhaps most intently, they were getting provisions about their health care premiums going up. And I think it had a very devastating impact. So politically, Republicans won in part, because this law was not properly thought out and has not been executed.

(CROSSTALK)

JANSING: So Jennifer, our closing seconds and we only have a few seconds left, but you know how things are on Capitol Hill. But there is always this feeling with a new congress, after a new administration comes in that maybe compromise is actually possible. Could there be some changes that even the Democrats admit need to be made in the ACA and basically, though, what it is and the people who are covered stay in place?

JACOBS: Yeah, it`s definitely possible. The Trump`s policy is in full motion. I expect him to have something, you know presented as soon as possible, and if probably there will be parts of it, at least, that the Democrats do not find all that repulsive.

JANSING: Jennifer, Sarah, Karine, thank you so much. And still to come, we check on the Trump transition with Kellyanne Conway taking on a new role. Keep it right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back. Remember the letter that Donald Trump`s doctor wrote about his health during the campaign, the one that said then- candidate Trump`s medical tests were quote, astonishingly excellent and that he would be the healthiest individual ever elected. Now Trump`s long- time doctor is commenting again on the President-Elect`s health, and wait. Dr. Harold Bornstein spoke with the Health publications staff recently, his first interview since the election. Bornstein said, quote, there is nothing seriously wrong with him. He is a few pounds overweight, which everyone can see, and that is it. He also said it never occurred to me he is the oldest president, not for a second. Ronald Reagan had pre-senile dementia. I mean seriously, did they share that one with you or did Nancy just cover that up? And then there is this jam, if something happens to him, then it happens to him, it is like, all the rest of us know, that is why we have a Vice President and the Speaker of the House and a whole line of people they can just keep dying. Well that is of course actually accurate. Also kind of one of those things you maybe just don`t say aloud.

And Bornstein also referred to Hillary Clinton as, quote, an old lady in that interview. He is not the only member of Trump`s inner circle who needled Clinton today. We`ll tell you about that in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back in time for "The Lid," President-Elect Donald Trump meeting more members of his west wing staff today including announcing his communications team. After weeks of speculation, we learn today that Trump`s final campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, will be working at the White House. Conway will be counselor to the president. According to a press release this morning that was one part announcement, one part dig to Hillary Clinton. It read, President-Elect Trump`s victory on November 8 also shattered the glass ceiling for women, Conway is the first female campaign manager of either major party to win a presidential general election. Let`s bring back the panel, Sarah, Jennifer, Karine, Sarah, good choice?

FAGEN: I think it is a good choice. I mean first of all, Donald Trump has confidence in her clearly and she demonstrated during the campaign, I think, an ability to speak to him in a way that allowed him to communicate better. We saw that after she took over the campaign. I also think it`s an important choice, because if you believe the gossip, which of course, is gossip, Bannon, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus may be don`t always see eye to eye, and sometimes maybe don`t even get along. So if you have that dynamic in a White House, it`s very important there be a tiebreaker. So she could play a very important role in making sure that policy decisions and announcements and other important government matters don`t get deadlocked between two strong personalities at the staff level.

JANSING: And we saw it to some extent, at least from what we`ve heard before, Jennifer, that that is kind of a role she played a little bit when she came into the campaign itself. And we should also say, this should not be the first place where somebody like, Reince Priebus or a Steve Bannon were locking heads, you know trying to get the ear of the president. That is what everybody tries to do when you`re that close to the west wing. But what world is Kellyanne Conway is going to play in all of this? And I find it interesting, because she told a lot of us over the course of several months that she was going to go home and she was going to spend time with her kids.

JACOBS: Right. It was a little bit unexpected. We really expected her to just stay in New York City with her four children, but what she brings is she has a long history as a pollster. She understands the electorate really well, she understands women, and she has a specialty in advertising and polling women, in strategizing for a message to woman. She also just, you know, she is a trusted voice. Trump really rewards people who helped him win. And this little spot of communication staffers and his inner circle is not really unexpected. That there all people who were there with him on that night when he won this race.

JANSING: And Karine, understanding that someone like you, a lot of people around the Democratic side are not really happy with any of the picks from Donald Trump, what do you make of Kellyanne Conway?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well it`s not surprising at all. We knew she really is either going to be on the inside or the outside. And it sounded like for the past couple of weeks, she is been trying to figure out what her role would be in the west wing, and it`s hard to not, you know, take on the lure of being in the west wing. But look, like I said, it`s not surprising, he picks loyalists and he picks enablers. I think the thing to remember, though, especially with his comes tea, his press team, during the election, I mean this are the same folks who denied press to enter any, some of them, to enter any of event or be on the plane, because they weren`t happy with some journalist were saying. So I think it should send a bit of a chill down the spine of the media world, because it sends a bad message to what our freedom of speech might look like in this country.

JANSING: Well, Kellyanne Conway was on "Morning Joe." and here`s what she said, she sees her role as. Let me play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He probably would want my number one priority to be what it has been, which is to be a more discreet adviser and somebody who helps him to effectively -- support him in his effective connecting and communicating with America. I think nobody is the master of brilliant communicator and connector that he is. That is how he won his campaign and that is how he became president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: When you listen to that, Sarah, does that necessarily mean, let Donald be Donald, a phrase we heard a lot during the campaign?

FAGEN: Well I think we heard, look, Donald Trump is clearly always going to be Donald Trump. And there isn`t anyone who`s going to prevent him from being who he is. Clearly, he does keep his own counsel very close. But I think she has proven adept at appealing to his better angels and saying, ok, if you mean this, if you say it, you know, a slightly different way, you`re not changing the content, but you are appealing to a broader and wider audience. And that is very important. And that is the job of an effective staffer, is to let the principle make the policy, but to help him or her more effectively communicate it and, you know, appeal to the widest possible audience, understanding you`re not always going to make everyone happy. And she, I think, has proven an ability to help him do that effectively.

JANSING: Meantime, there`s been this other back and forth that a lot of people a lot of us have been following, and it`s between Newt Gingrich and what really the meaning of draining the swamp is, did the President-Elect mean to use that phrase, does he intend to continue to use that phrase? Let`s go back to Newt Gingrich on NPR and what he said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m told he now disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn`t want to use it anymore. Maybe he feels that as president, as the next president of the United States that he should be marginally more dignified in talking about alligators and swamps.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: And then later, Gingrich said, he made a big boo-boo, really quickly, Jennifer, where`s that all going?

JACOBS: Yeah, maybe Trump doesn`t use that exact phrase. He often said on the campaign trail, he didn`t like the phrase, and he said it kind of reluctantly at some of his rallies and people really responded to it. But he never really liked it. So if he turns away from it, it wouldn`t be surprising. But I do think he`ll stick to that same concept about cleaning up government and make radical change.

JANSING: And that is why people elected him. And Jennifer, Sarah, Karine, thanks to you all for being here. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: In case you missed it, politics here in the U.S., especially lately, is filled with mystifying, inscrutable, even perplexing intrigue. But have you heard what`s going on at the Vatican today? For the third year in a row, Pope Francis, yes, the same Pope Francis, who spent his recent 80th birthday with the homeless, bluntly reminded his critics who`s in charge. This is how my friend, Dave Dwyer, put it to me earlier. Pope Francis today reminded his administration that they elected him to drain the swamp. But the way the pope did it, you probably wouldn`t hear an American politician talking this way to congress. Speaking to a room full of cardinals, vaguely the equivalent of a pope`s cabinet, and congress Pope Francis denounced the quote, the malevolent resistance, he said he is encountering and in reforming that bureaucracy. Same those who are standing in the way of reform are being inspired by the devil and accusing them of a maliciousness sprouting from a distorted mind. The Pope went on to list 15 specific improvement he expects the Cardinals to make, calling them quote, "Spiritual ailments that must be addressed" - all of this, by the way, in his Christmas address.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow, with more MtP Daily.

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