Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Administration Favoring Republican States on Drilling?; Interview With Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez; DACA Confusion. Aired 4:30-4:45p ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 4:30   ET

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


[16:30:02]

MELODY, DACA RECIPIENT: We felt like we actually mattered. Like, I could actually go get a library card. I wasn't able to do that before DACA. I couldn't even rent a book from the L.A. County Library.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two years later, the Trump administration announced it was ending the policy, affecting about 700,000 dreamers.

MELODY: I remember every single second of the announcement at 8:00 a.m., clearly.

SIDNER: Then confusion after this bipartisan meeting where the president seemed willing to consider a path to legal status for dreamers. The latest CNN poll says 83 percent of Americans support allowing dreamers to stay in the U.S.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This should be a bipartisan bill. This should be a bill of love.

SIDNER: But some conservatives say this is the opposite of being tough on illegal immigration. Ann Coulter tweeting, "Nothing Michael Wolff could say about Donald Trump has hurt him as much as the DACA lovefest right now."

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: These people are spitting mad. They are all-or-nothing people. And they thought in Trump on the issue of immigration that they had somebody who was not just going to talk tough, but actually walk the walk. But I think at the end of the day here, Trump is looking for a win.

SIDNER: Republican strategist John Thomas says that means a wall and ending chain migration would have to be part of the deal. Then, hours after this meeting, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration's attempt to shut DACA down.

MELODY: This administration has been a roller coaster, and it will continue to be a roller coaster until actual legislation is passed.

SIDNER: In the meantime, Itayu is in college. Melody graduated earlier with a master's degree from USC and now works CHIRLA, an immigration rights group. MELODY: I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I

could have never imagined that would be my life coming from such humble backgrounds.

SIDNER: Now they try to imagine what comes next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Now, these two young ladies say, look, they believe in policy, they believe in legislation, they believe in court decisions, but they do not necessarily believe the words coming out of politicians' mouths, including the president of the United States.

But they do realize that they have to convince legislators to make laws so that they can come out of this legal limbo that they're living in.

And I do want to mention this. They have been coming to Washington with another group of people regularly knocking on doors physically trying to talk to legislators to get them to see it their way -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

Stick around. We're going to talk to a congressman what has been working on immigration legislation for years. Congressman Luis Gutierrez joins me next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:32]

TAPPER: And we're back with the politics lead and the uncertain path forward on immigration, with President Trump now pushing for funding for his border wall as any possible deal with the dreamers.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. He's worked on legislation involving immigration policy for the last 25 years in Congress. He's retiring from Congress at the end of this term.

Congressman, it sounds like there is a deal possible. Dreamers get some sort of protected status, as long as there is funding for border security, border wall, whether it's fencing or whatever. What's wrong with that deal? Why are Democrats insisting on purity, just dreamers?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: That's actually not true, Jake. I'm ready.

TAPPER: You're ready to go with border security?

GUTIERREZ: Look, I have been reluctant, but I am ready. And my Democratic colleagues know I just want -- so, when Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi walked out of the meeting with the president in September after Labor Day, and then they had Chinese food a week later, the deal was more border security, we would get a DREAM Act. In other words, the ransom for taking the dream kids hostage was more

border security. OK, we're there. You guys reported yesterday that there are Democrats and Republicans working, and they have a deal for more border security, Hurd, Republican from Texas, and one of my colleagues in the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Applause.

But then they changed the goalposts and they say, no, no, no, there is more ransom. Now we want to take family reunification, which is what it really is.

TAPPER: That's what chain migration is.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, Chain migration is a term which has been coined by extremists, anti-immigrants.

TAPPER: It's bringing people in from your family who are not immediate family, brothers and sisters. Yes.

GUTIERREZ: Here is what it is. I come to the United States, and I petition for my wife. I come to the United States, I petition. It's about family.

You would think that Donald Trump of any president would understand that since, his father was in charge of the real estate company, he became in charge of the real estate company, and now his children are in charge of the real estate company. That's the way we think immigration really works in America.

That is, if I come to America, who is going to make me stronger and more prosperous than my dad, than my wife, than my children?

TAPPER: So, here's my question. Democrats don't control anything. You don't control the House, you don't control the Senate, you don't control the White House.

If the president is saying, I'm willing to do something for the dreamers, but we need a border wall, and we need to at least make some changes -- and he said yesterday, I'm willing to compromise, but we need to make some changes at least when it comes to the immigration system. Maybe we have more people who come here on merit-based visas, as opposed to diversity visas or family visas.

GUTIERREZ: Yes.

TAPPER: Why not make that compromise, given that you don't have any leverage here?

GUTIERREZ: So, here's what they said. We're holding the kids ransom. We're taking them. We're going to -- March the 3rd, it's over.

Let me just say, it's important we deal with this immediately. Today, 300 of them lost -- and I just want you think that you lost your ability to come here to CNN because you don't have a work permit.

TAPPER: Right. Right.

GUTIERREZ: It's destructive in terms of your life.

So, I understand that. And they understand that they hold that over our head. That is that we have this very extreme love and caring and commitment to this group of young people in America. You put them on the news every day.

Everybody knows. You can hear them speak English. There is really no difference between them and my own children. And I say that very, very clearly.

[16:40:01]

So why change the goalposts? So, now they want to take the diversity...

TAPPER: Because they control everything.

GUTIERREZ: I get that. But tell me what the ransom is.

Stop changing the terms of it every time your anti-immigrant core of your Republican Party that surrounds you and influences you tells you to change it.

TAPPER: Is there a deal to be made, even if it includes some changes to the immigration system, what you call family reunification? Is there a deal to be made?

GUTIERREZ: Here is where I think the constructs of the deal can be made.

You want more border security? When I introduced the bill in 2005 with Jeff Flake, we were in the House, and McCain and Kennedy, the first chapter of 800 pages of comprehensive immigration reform, 150 pages, you can go and check it, Jake, were all about border security.

When we did the immigration bill in 2013, I don't know if you remember. The Democrats and the Republicans got together at the very end. In order to get three or four more Republicans, they threw I think 40 billion more dollars.

So, look, we all believe in border security. Can I tell you what kind of border security I really think? Let's do an E-Verify system, so that everybody in America in order to get a job has to be qualified by the federal government and verified.

That's going to stop people, because today they don't care about the border at JFK, nor the border here at Dulles, right, or LAX.

They only care about one border, because they want to politicize that border.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: And, as you note, more people -- or I believe more undocumented immigrants come in through airports...

GUTIERREZ: Today, they are because..

TAPPER: ... than the border.

GUTIERREZ: ... they have -- they will tell you.

So, look what they're doing to TPS. They're saying to Salvadorans, 200,000, you have got 18 months to leave the country.

TAPPER: Yes.

GUTIERREZ: But, today, please read -- I hope the public reads -- State Department-issued guidance to Americans. Do not go. It is too dangerous.

How does the richest country in the world send 200,000 people to a place that we're saying to Americans do not travel to?

TAPPER: Congressman, good luck to you.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

TAPPER: I hope that there is a deal. I hope that this problem gets resolved.

GUTIERREZ: And I want to tell the American people we are ready to pay the ransom, and if that is more border security now -- and I want to do comprehensive immigration reform.

TAPPER: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, thanks so much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: The White House just announced a big plan to allow offshore drilling, but why could the Sunshine State be exempt? Things that make you go hmm.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with our "POLITICS LEAD." Republicans today are crying foul over Department of Interior reversal on offshore drilling that exempts Florida from the plan. A decision made after Governor Rick Scott of Florida, a close ally of President Trump, expressed opposition. Republican Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina today saying that the exemption reeks of politics as usual and does even self-serving, Sanford said since it allows the President at Mar-a-Lago to avoid looking out the window to seeing oil rigs that South Carolinians will be forced to see. CNN's Rene Marsh brings us this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration has unveiled a plan to open up virtually every coast along the United States to oil and gas drilling. Florida was on the list but is now off limits. Republican Governor Rick Scott rejected the plan. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with him and a deal was struck. Zinke giving Scott the credit, saying as a result of discussions with Governor Scott and his leadership, I'm removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If this is not a sign of politics, as usual, I don't know what is.

MARSH: Scott is the only governor whose state is exempt from drilling so far.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate.

MARSH: The White House hopes Scott will unseat Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, and sparing Florida's coastline just served Scott a political win.

NAT MUND, DIRECTOR OF FEDERAL AFFAIRS, SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CENTER WASHINGTON OFFICE: Bipartisan governors from New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, now South Carolina, have all expressed concerns, very much the same ones that Governor Scott expressed and they're not taken out. So we're really flummoxed as to why the administration has taken Florida out.

MARSH: The deal Florida brokered triggered tweets from lawmakers from coastline states who want the same thing. Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins opposes offshore drilling there. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asks where to sign up for a waiver and California's Attorney General weighed in.

XAVIER BECERRA, ATTORNEY GENERAL, CALIFORNIA: Unless Donald Trump is again ignoring the law and playing favorites, he should treat California the way he's treating Florida.

MARSH: Environmental concerns, memories of oil spills like the 2010 deepwater horizon oil spill and its devastating impact on local economies is what's behind the opposition. Nearly every governor with a coastline opposes it, including several Republicans. Maine's Governor the lone one to show some support. An Interior Department spokeswoman said there is no politics behind the Florida waiver. If other governors would like to request meetings with the Secretary, they're absolutely welcome to do so. Zinke has pitched the plan as a step towards energy independence and potential $15 billion in federal revenue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Well, this dramatic drilling plan is a proposal for now and has yet to be finalized, but this could open the administration to legal challenges. Some states could argue that these decisions are being made arbitrarily. Legal challenges and congressional action could also throw a wrench in the president's plans. Several Republican lawmakers from coastal districts, Jake, they are opposed to this. TAPPER: All right, Rene Marsh, thanks so much. I want to bring back

my panel. Let show the difference in this plan. Here is the original proposal, as you can see. It hits most of the coastal states allowing offshore drilling. And here's the updated version with Florida now excluded. The Interior Secretary said this is related to the unique tourism in Florida. But to be honest, I mean, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, California, all of these states have a huge tourism industry. Jackie, let me start with you. I mean, doesn't the administration have a real credibility problem when it comes to exempting one state run by one of the President's closest gubernatorial allies?

[16:50:36] JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, if I'm Chris Christie, I'm like, what the heck, I'm an ally. Why didn't I get that meeting? Yes, this is a huge credibility problem. Not to mention because Governor Scott is rumored to run for Senate. So this also, you know, would be a great thing for him to point to. It doesn't necessarily make it right.

TAPPER: Yes, and you have a job trying of help Republicans get elected to the Senate and you must admit that that's a nice ad. Rick Scott, he fought to keep -- he fought to, you know, to keep offshore drilling off of the, you know, away from Florida's coast. I mean, that's nice.

JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it has the added benefit of being true, right? I mean, look, don't hate the player, hate the game. This is a situation --

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wow.

HOLMES: This is a situation where Governor Scott lobbied against it, brought Zinke down there. He told him he didn't want it and they made a deal and Florida is not on the list. So if you're a Floridian, you got to feel pretty good about that.

TAPPER: Was there a deal? What's the deal? Was there a deal or just they made an agreement, OK, fine, I won't.

HOLMES: Well, your map showed Florida fall off the list. That looks like a deal to me.

TAPPER: OK, but he's not giving anything in return. I mean, that's what -- no --

HOLMES: Well, I don't know of any announcements, but my point is that this is effective representation.

KUCINICH: Not to mention this is a President who managed to -- was complaining about -- we talked about windmills earlier. And he has a special hate in his heart for windmills because he protested windmills going off the coast of his golf scores in Scotland.

TAPPER: Right.

KUCINICH: So, this isn't the first time this President have been involved in -- because Mar-a-Lago is in Florida.

TAPPER: Symone, Josh says don't hate the player, hate the game.

SANDERS: I mean, I don't think this is that type of situation. It would be different if the Trump administration had this broad sweeping policy and they were swayed by something that Governor Scott said and now they're changing their policy. No, they're giving Governor Scott one thing because they want him to run for Senate. Like, come on. This isn't hating the player, hating game, this is like the game not being fair. The game is rigged. The system is rigged.

KUCINICH: Symone, come on.

SANDERS: It's rigged.

TAPPER: But it seems a little swampy. I mean, you have to admit. Like it is --

SANDERS: Real swampy. It is Florida.

TAPPER: Nice. But if you're -- if you're a governor of -- I mean, you heard Mark Sanford in that. I mean, he was really upset. He obviously -- his congressional district is on the coast, I believe. I mean, you don't want this off your coast. You're a Republican. You're a loyal Republican. You're a Governor. You're a member of the House and you're like, wait a second, why is Rick Scott getting this just because they want him to run for Senate or just because he's actually closer to the President than my Governor is?

HOLMES: Well, sure. But also there is a history of this, too. Republicans have dealt with trying to open offshore drilling for as long as I've been active in politics. And every single proposal we ever put together in Congress always has exempted Florida.

TAPPER: Is that right?

HOLMES: And part of the reason for that is it really is a toxic issue in Florida. There are split differences in South Carolina. There are differences in Georgia. There really are in Florida. I mean, it is absolutely 100 percent of one mind. It is always fallen out of every energy plan. I'm not surprised that it fell out of this one.

TAPPER: All right, everyone stick around. We've got more to talk about. Another Republican's heading for the door. Who? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: We're back with my panel. California Republican Darrell Issa announced today that he's not going to run for re- election. He was expected today run for re-election. He had a tough race last time. That makes 32 Republicans who have said that they're not going to run for re-election to Congress, 15 Democrats. Is this because, Josh, a fear of a Democratic wave, which would not be abnormal in a midterm election?

HOLMES: Yes, I mean, look, if you look at historical standards, it's only really only twice in the last 100 years where a party with an incoming president hasn't lost seats in a prime -- or in a midterm rather. So I think There's some reactions to that. Clearly, Darrell Issa had an extremely tough -- actually it went overtime. It was so tough --

TAPPER: Yes, a recount.

HOLMES: -- last time around. So, sure, I think that's part of the reaction to it and I think we're maybe not done. I hope so. I hope we're done, but, yes, there is no question there's a reaction to that.

KUCINICH: One California Republican, he's the second one this week, right? Ed Royce who's also from California also announced that he was retiring. So that, there are parts in California where these Republicans are going to have who have probably haven't had a race with the exception of Issa in a while. I think Dana Rohrabacher also is someone who's in one of those marginal districts now. There's a whole -- I think there are five of them that are among some of the most vulnerable Republicans. So it's definitely a state to watch and see how some of these other Republicans, either, you know, mount a defense or decide this is the last --

TAPPER: And Symone, I think there about 23 House seats where there are Republicans in districts that Hillary Clinton won.

SANDERS: That Hillary Clinton won and Darrell Issa's seat is one of those seats. And if you remember, he had a very tough time during the health care fight and he was faced with different town halls and just a lot of pressures. So I think that we will see a number of other folks be challenged coming up for 2018.

TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all. I really, really appreciate it. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.