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White House to Propose Infrastructure Plan; President Trump Criticizes FBI and Russia Probe; Prince Harry Interviews Former President Barack Obama. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, we are following a lot of news this morning, so let's get to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will see the president roll out an infrastructure plan in January.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'll work with him on infrastructure if he'll work with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And any work on health going forward will have to be bipartisan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still have the fundamental tenets of Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president tries to discredit an FBI investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These tweets directed at them are really a distraction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We share the same kind of mindset.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama sitting down for a rare interview with Prince Harry.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the dangers of the Internet is people can have entirely different reactions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, December 27th, 8:00 here in the east. Chris is off. Bill Weir joins me. We'll play more of that Prince Harry, President Obama interview for everybody. Great to have you.

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: Up first, President Trump will kick off the new year with a big push on infrastructure. The president is expected to hit the road to sell the plan to the American people, but will Democrats help him deliver on it?

WEIR: And President Trump says Republicans and Democrats will come together on a deal for health care after falsely claiming again that Obamacare is effectively repealed.

And in a revealing new interview President Obama talks with Prince Harry as mentioned, about politics and life after the White House. We have it all covered this Wednesday morning, but let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip live in West Palm Beach, Florida. Good morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill. Come January, the White House is moving on to the next big promise that President Trump made on the campaign trail, infrastructure. Right after this tax bill, the White House wants to do a really big infrastructure package they're hoping Democrats will get on board with. They're planning to roll it out in mid-January, making it a big part of the president's state of the union address towards Congress toward the end of the month.

The plan will is going to be about $200 billion of federal spending over the course of 10 years. Although the president promised about $1 trillion on the campaign trail, this $200 billion investment the White House says is going to be a floor. Democrats, on the other hand, even though they are overall supportive of infrastructure spending, say the $200 billion simply is not enough.

The president also talking about bipartisanship when it comes to health care, as you mentioned sending out that tweet earlier this week talking about the possibility that Democrats might come to the table with Republicans on an overall health care plan. However there's really no evidence right now that any such effort is under way by this administration, although Republicans do have to deal with shoring up some of these Obamacare exchanges in January. A bipartisan effort to overhaul the healthcare plant is apparently not on the table at this moment, Bill and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Abby, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Joining us to discuss it are David Drucker, CNN political analyst, and A.B. Stoddard, associate editor for "Real Clear Politics." Great to see both of you. So A.B., let's just talk about what we think is going to happen in a few days, the start of the New York. The president sounds like he is going to be focused on infrastructure. He thinks that that's a winning agenda item that might even get Democrats on board. He's scaled down his ambitious financial plan for it from $1 trillion on the campaign trail to now $200 billion over 10 years. What do you think the chances are for that?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, infrastructure is one of those things like motherhood and apple pie that everybody wants and we all desperately need, but it really is going to come down to several factors. There is to begin, without even talking about the Democrats, a serious rift right now within the Republican party that's longstanding over whether you go for the Donald Trump expensive budget-busting populism and you build a wall, and you do tax cuts and you never touch entitlement spending, and you go on to fund these roads and bridges and transportation projects, or you actually pay down the debt. And so there's a real problem moving fiscal conservatives after this tax cut that was deficit funded on to another spending project.

The next step of course is instead of a private/public partnership, the principles the administration is going to release have moved towards this state-focused goal where states and localities are going to have to pitch that they have the money for the projects, and then they will get a part of that $200 billion federal kitty. So that's going to be up to different states and localities, who can find their way to afford this by raising taxes or other things.

When you get to the Democrats, they're going to say we'll be with you after you fund the children's health insurance program, legalize the DREAMers, figure out a way to increase the debt ceiling again and fund the government, and then we'll talk. So if you look at the next couple weeks leading up to the January 30th state of the union, the president wants to be totally focused on infrastructure.

[08:05:05] And his principles he's going to be sending to Capitol Hill, but there's going to be these entirely different other urgent deadline matters that are going to consume all the time. And so the question of when Democrats come on board this negotiation is going to be something we hear about probably later in the winter or early spring.

WEIR: Let's pivot over to the Russia investigation and continued knick and punches and jabs at the FBI. This is a new line, a new talking point we heard yesterday from defenders of the president who think that the FBI, Mueller investigation is tainted somehow. This is Representative Francis Rooney, a Republican from Florida. Take a listen.


REP. FRANCIS ROONEY, (R) FLORIDA: I'm very concerned that the DOJ and the FBI, whether you want to call it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails. So I don't want to discredit them. I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it and say we have a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people I want the American people to see and know the good works being done, not these people who are kind of a deep state.


WEIR: David, certainly there are tens of thousands of federal workers who wake up every morning filled with just contempt of the president, but they try to go to work and do their job much the way so many did under the Obama administration. A purge of the FBI, is this something you think could catch fire? DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON

EXAMINER": Find me a person that works in Washington at the federal government without a political opinion about how the federal government is run, and, you know, I'll give you a prize. It's impossible to have a government made up of individual that have virtually no opinion. The question is whether or not they're doing their job.

And one of the things we've seen with this term "deep state" is it has comes from the farthest reaches on the right and from President Trump, especially during the campaign trail, casting aspersions on the intelligence community and law enforcement, and has now been adopted by many Republicans on Capitol Hill to signify this sort of entrenched bureaucracy that is doing things that are in secret and maybe illegal to thwart this president in a way that hasn't been done before.

The danger there is that you end up alienating people that you need to keep the country safe and that the president depends on for intelligence and information, that if you can step back from that, then what you have are in some ways something that's understandable, which is the president and his allies trying to discredit the special counsel investigation. That's not out of bounds necessarily and not unusual. I think what has made this a bit different is the fact that they have elevated and tried to create this sort of conspiratorial antigovernment cabal within the government that's thwarting democracy, and that is what kind of hurts faith in government and institutions that could far outlast this president and infect the country for years to country. And that is what is dangerous.

CAMEROTA: A.B., was it surprising that after the president's big legislative victory with the tax plan that he spent the better part of Christmas weekend talking about, you know, sort of undermining the FBI, calling them tainted, talking about the dossier. He is fixated on this in a way that actually eclipses his successes. He could have been touting his win all weekend, but he veered back to say, you know, the dossier is bogus, Clinton campaign, DNC funded dossier, the FBI is tainted. This is one of his sort of favorite things to talk about, which seems counterproductive.

STODDARD: Well, this is -- this is a pattern with this president. One of the best nights of the entire year for him was February 28th. It was the joint address to Congress. And a couple days later he started tweeting about Obama wiretapping him at Trump Tower. So he tends in moments of some kind of success and unity to throw a big ball of oil into the fire and start a new controversy.

If you look back over the year, and there's a lot to remember. It's easy to forget because we've been so inundated by them, but this is a pattern that continues. He is fixated on this investigation, no matter what -- if it's a busy days in the White House or not busy day on one of his golf resort properties, he is always fixated on this and wants to work hard to discredit it as a witch-hunt. He has been doing that all year.

But it's interesting because, as you said, not only could he be touting the tax reform benefits, but also he did tweet about health care, and he could be talking about how he wants to unify the country around something that's really important. But he doesn't use Twitter often for positive message. It's usually to air his grief usages.

[08:10:03] DRUCKER: And that's going to make 2018 very difficult given what's on their to-do list, given that he wants to do a couple more big things. With the pressure cooker of an election year and the president battling the Mueller investigation, it's going to make it that much harder for him to sell the tax cut bill which they need to get right side up, it passed unpopular, and in order to curry support for a lot of these other measures. It doesn't get easier when he's distracting from his own positive message that is available to him, especially coming out of the tax cut victory.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, A.B. Stoddard, thank you both very much for the perspective on all of this.

All right, on a lighter note, former President Barack Obama opening up about life after the White House. He did issue a warning about social media in this rare new interview with Prince Harry, and CNN's Anna Stewart is live in London with more. So what did these guys talk about, Anna?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a big warning, really, from President Obama about social media. That was the top line that came out. Although President Trump wasn't named in this, he is of course a prolific Twitter user. So have a little listen to what President Obama had to say about social media.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question I think really has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn't lead to a balkanization of our society, but rather continues to promote weighing of finding common ground.

And I'm not sure government can legislate that, but what I do believe is that all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet. One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.


CAMEROTA: OK, so that was obviously the serious stuff. Then the two guys also had some fun with a lightning round. Tell us about that.

STEWART: They had so much fun throughout the interview. They're really good friends. The chemistry was amazing. I would highly recommend watching the whole thing. Yes, President Obama said there were some things he does -- he misses the work. He misses the motorcade when he's in traffic. He does not miss early starts and having to get up and get straight into the office. But the lightning round was the best bit and they saved that for last. Take a listen.


PRINCE HARRY: Harry or William?

OBAMA: William right now.

PRINCE HARRY: "Titanic" or "The Body Guard"?

OBAMA: Titanic.

PRINCE HARRY: "Suits" or "The Good Wife"?

OBAMA: "Suits" obviously.

PRINCE HARRY: Great. Great answer. Cigarettes or gum?

OBAMA: Gum now, baby.

PRINCE HARRY: White House or Buckingham Palace?

OBAMA: White house just because Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a long time to mow.

PRINCE HARRY: Fair enough.

OBAMA: A lot of upkeep.

PRINCE HARRY: Queen or the queen?

OBAMA: The queen.


STEWART: Clearly I wish every interview was like that. But they're such good friends. They have actually developed a real friendship over the years. And that means that lots of people are asking whether or not Obama will be invited to the wedding. And thankfully today someone finally got to ask that to Prince Harry once they rolled out this interview. Take a listen to that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well enough to invite him to your wedding?

PRINCE HARRY: I don't know about that. That's -- we haven't put out the invites or the guest list together yet, so who knows whether he's going to be invited or not. I would not be surprised.


STEWART: And still don't have an answer on that.

CAMEROTA: But you're so right, Anna, I too wish that every interview could be a lightning round. Why don't we do that with our guests coming up this hour? The whole thing is just a lightning round.

WEIR: More answers. CAMEROTA: That's right.

WEIR: But it's interesting to note that President Trump still hasn't had any interaction with the royals. A lot of debate in the U.K. about whether to invite him or not.

CAMEROTA: He hasn't met Prince Harry that we know of, right, Anna?

STEWART: That we know of, not at all. And we're wondering, President Trump is due to come to the U.K. at some stage for a statement but there's no date for that, and obviously the wedding is happening in May, so the way it looks would be that Prince Harry won't be meeting President Trump before the wedding unless something happening in his agenda.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

WEIR: Fun to think about for all those wedding fans out there and royal watchers.

Coming up here, can Republicans strike a deal with Democrats on infrastructure in the new year? We'll ask a Republican congressman, coming up next.


[08:18:04] BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: After the tax cut, President Trump is looking for his next big legislative victory. The president set to unveil an infrastructure proposal next month we have learned. Will this plan have any bipartisan support?

Let's discuss with Republican Congressman Mark Walker of North Carolina, chair of the Republican Study Committee, largest conservative caucus, a bunch of fiscal hawks.

Good to see you, sir. Merry Christmas, belatedly.

REP. MARK WALKER (R-NC), CHAIR, REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Bill. Same to you. Thanks for letting me be here today.

WEIR: No, our pleasure.

So, let me get your take on the next big item to tackle, infrastructure. Over the campaign, he was promising a trillion dollar spending on highways and bridges, all of that in the first 100 days. This one much more modest, $200 billion. They're going to focus this during the State of the Union address, at least roll it out. And then a lot of the rest of the money sort of public partnership, push it down to the states.

As a proclaim fiscal hawk, I'm sure you would like to see that sign that says this highway, you know, pothole project brought to you by President Trump. But how do you pay for it?

WALKER: That's the $200 million question, or in the former case, a billion dollar question. We do have 146 members. We're the largest caucus in all of Congress, the Republican Study Committee, and these are valid concerns.

We can't be going across criticizing the Obama administration for doubling our national debt in eight years, yet at the same time just continue to pass blank checks.

Now, do we need infrastructure? It is a problem. What we have done over the last several years, the last few decades is we keep driving the majority of the revenue and money toward mandatory spending, instead of taking care of our discretionary spending, which is education, infrastructure, military, defense. We have to have a change of culture to get this on the right track.

WEIR: But -- so how much would you say -- put a number out there. What would you like to start with as a floor of negotiations for infrastructure?

WALKER: I think the number is in the ballpark.

[08:20:00] The bigger question is what are the pay-fors? What kind of reforms do we need to be able to pay for something that doesn't increase additional tax burden or increases the deficit or over the long term the national debt.

This is what Republicans go and promise to Washington, is that we'll be responsible with the people's money, the taxpayers' dollars, and I think we have to be consistent under a Republican administration, just like we clamored about it during a Democrat administration.

WEIR: Interesting.

What about a full repeal of Obamacare. Now, the president is hunting that losing the mandate really does that, but that doesn't hold up to scrutiny right now? Is there still an app to revisit a full repeal?

WALKER: I think there is, Bill, especially on the house side. There are several plans that are floating about, forms of legislation. The Brady-Hatch is one of those.

The big question is, repealing the individual mandate did not repeal Obamacare. It did relieve the pressure for people in the individual market that for the first time in the federal legislative books was forced to buy a product from a private industry, but we also have an employer mandate component. We have the cost-sharing reduction payments. The CSRs that's going to be a factor.

All of those things have to be worked out. There's some debate between Republicans even on the House and certainly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as far as the expeditious manner on while we talk it up, but that's a promise that we've made is to continue to roll back that overbearing, reaching arm of the federal government.

WEIR: Mitch McConnell has said it's time to move on from repealing the law. And incredible sign-up numbers given the lack of push from the federal -- nearly 9 million people going up there. Should Obamacare be repealed in our latest CNN poll, 64 percent say no, but you want to still go after it? WALKER: I believe we have to continue to attack specific clauses. For

example, the employer mandate. There's a small (INAUDIBLE) here in North Carolina, they have 47 employees. They know that once these cross that 50 employees threshold, it's a whole different dynamic. They would like for us to repeal these elements of Obamacare, and I believe it's a promise that we've made.

We've had a great deal, if you will, as far as promises kept, Veterans Choice Act, repealing the Dodd-Frank, 21 Century Cures Act, giving a pay raise to military and defense, but there's more to do, and this is a promise yet to be fulfilled.

WEIR: Let's talk about midterm elections coming up in the New Year. On the other side of the aisle, a lot of folks chomping at the bit, saying this will be a sea change election. Listen to Bernie Sanders.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think what you are seeing is a referendum on Donald Trump. What we're seeing in Alabama, what we're seeing in Virginia, New Jersey, and in states all across this country, are large voter turnouts with people standing up, fighting back, and demanding that we have a government that represents all of us, not just the 1 percent. If I were the Republicans, I would worry very much about 2018.


WEIR: But it's not just Democrats, it's also Republicans like Jeff Flake and others who say that your party is just tearing apart at the seams. How would you characterize the mental state of the GOP going into an election year like this?

WEIR: Bill, that's a great and very fair question. I don't think the bulk of Republicans are represented by Senator Jeff Flake.

However, as a former pastor, I don't -- I don't shy away from the fact in believing that tone matters. I have the great privilege of representing the largest historical black college and university in the country, North Carolina A&T, that just won their national championship, I might add. That's important to me. In fact, in two weeks, Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and I are partnering together to write an op-ed on criminal justice reform and hopefully legislation that comes behind that.

We have to be consistent. Our tone in impacting different cultures and communities has to be one of heartfelt, not of judgment. I believe that's where Republicans have to continue to move forward. Historically, you are correct, an average of 32 seats and that's when the president popularity reaches at least 50 percent, only three times since 1900s have the majority stayed in place. Is that something we're concerned with? Yes.

But more than just being politically strategic, hopefully continue to do the right thing with the right heart ultimately will matter in next year's November election. WEIR: You're a Southern Baptist minister. I was raised in that

world. It always fascinates me that so many evangelicals went for a man who might answer the question, what would Jesus not do. How do you reconcile your faith with this president politically?

WALKER: Well, I will tell you this. After eight years of the Obama administration, there was legitimate direct lines of people who were social conservatives, things like the former president saying God bless Planned Parenthood, those kind of things riled up the evangelical base, you are correct, to the tone of 81 percent of electoral turnout.

[08:25:07] Now, that doesn't give anybody a pass, whether it's President Trump or anyone else. But that is something that I hope that we'll continue to see growth there when it comes to dealing with people, not just in our base. You know, probably shouldn't say this on CNN or even out loud, but I will tell you this. The Steve Bannons of the world, that kind of language and rhetoric, that's now who we are.

But Republicans have to be willing to call out when there's certain language is used with undertones to our friends and neighbors of all the communities that we serve. We have to have the boldness to be willing to say, you know what, that's not right. That's not the way we would share what it is that we believe. And I think ultimately, when you do that, when you have the right heart, I think people appreciate that.

And that's beyond. One of the things that I'm very proud of, Bill, is the Democrat support, especially for the minority communities right here in Greensboro, North Carolina. I cherish that. I hope that's in contribution to the right tone, right heart and right spirit, even when there's policies that we disagree on.

WEIR: Representative, thank you for your thoughts this morning. Have a great Wednesday.

WALKER: Thanks, Bill. Thanks for the opportunity. Thank you.

WEIR: You bet.


President Trump a spent a lot of time calling out President Obama for golfing on the job. But that has not stopped Mr. Trump from golfing on the job. A lot. How does he explain the flip-flop? That's next.