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GOP's Graham Refutes GOP's Flake on DREAMER Deal; Adam Schiff Says More People New About Trump Tower Meeting but Investigation Is Thwarted; Bannon Retains Lawyer for Questioning in Russia Probe; Trump Is Going to Have a Physical on Friday. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired January 11, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We are sharing it with our colleagues that deals with all the four areas that Kevin McCarthy outlined. Border security. DACA. Chain migration and diversity lottery. The president challenged that group that he met with a couple of days ago to come up with an idea. We have an idea. It's bipartisan. There is no deal. I want to shop around my colleagues and see what their appetite is. And the president was very gracious. And I think he appreciated the fact that people are putting ideas forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the president support the deal? It sounds like you have an agreement but he's not on board.
GRAHAM: We have no agreement with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Phil Mattingly, like you said to me last hour, it's clear as mud, my friend.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, something like that. Look, the beauty of extra hour of reporting I can add some details what's going on. If you listen to those two statements, the nuance is really important. Actually, Brooke, very emblematic what lawmakers in both parties, almost all of which said they want a solution are facing. The difficulty they are facing.
There's a gang of six, three Democrats and Republicans in the senate working on this for months. That gang of six has agreement on the broad principles for a DACA solution. This morning or early this afternoon they brought that agreement to the White House, presented that to the White House, other bipartisan lawmakers were there as well. That agreement as it stood was not accepted by the White House or several other lawmakers in the room. That is why there is no deal.
And to just kind of explain this point here. Those six senators, and Senator Flake is correct, that is kind of the only game in town, in the sense it is a bipartisan proposal but that is not a bipartisan proposal when you talk to Republican aides in the both the house and senate that they agree with, or they necessarily want to take up or the broader kind of picture of their conference agrees with as well. And therein lies the problem right now.
Senator Flake making the point you have to get 60 votes in the senate, 218 votes in the house. Nothing is a deal per se until you can reach the threshold. As it currently stands the agreement in principle does not meet the thresholds. What happens now? Those senators are working behind the scenes. They are trying to sell
this agreement to their colleagues right now, trying to raise that support. Gain that support.
I will note that is a heavy lift. Not just because Republicans are opposed to it in large part, depending which section of the conference you talk to but also Democrats have problems with some of the Democratic compromises in there. Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, the key player here is the president. If the president gets behind something and says I want this to pass, Republican leadership has said they will put that on the floor.
That did not happen today with this agreement in principles. And that's why there is more work to do. And frankly, Brooke, as it currently stands in talking to people involved with all sorts of negotiations going on, why they don't necessarily know what the actual pathway is yet. This is something it's on table. It's live. It's in play and they are working on it. But as it currently stands the White House has not signed off on it. Says it needs more work. That means in general there is no DACA solution. There is no DACA deal. More work to do, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK. As we have been talking, my executive producer just got in my ear and told me to check my email. Because I'm now being told that there is now a deal. Here we go. It's gang of six released the following statement after reaching bipartisan agreement on immigration. Let me read it for everyone, President Trump called on congress to solve the DACA challenge. We have been working for four months and reached agreement in principle, that's what Phil was saying, addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration and reunification in the D.R.E.A.M. Act. The areas outlined by the principles.
We are now working to build support for that deal from congress. Which is exactly what Phil was saying, they have to go sell it to their colleagues, but ultimately the person is the president. Let me bring in, thank you, Phil Mattingly, Rich Lowry, editor of the "The National Review" here with me, this is all happening in real time. This is live television. So, an agreement in principle. You hear all the words. It's not a definite yes. It's a deal. You heard Flake, you heard Graham, how are you reading these tea leaves?
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": There is no deal. In dealing principle among six senators is not a deal unless, I'll underline the point Phil made and you just made, unless the president is on board. And the president is not going to be on board unless there is going to be a physical structure in some place on the border. Bricks, concrete, something solid that he can go home, go to his voters and say that's a wall. This is where I think the deal is not growing to happen. I think Democrats are going to be very loathing to give him anything
that can be called a wall. Because their voters hate the idea. So that's why ultimately, I think we'll get close several times, they'll be moments like this, but probably not going to happen.
BALDWIN: So, then what happens when they come up against this January 19th deadline? I guess the question would be would Democrats be willing to shut down the government?
LOWRY: I can't see that shutting down the government over this particular issue over an amnesty for legal immigrants. Very sympathetic population of illegal immigrants.
[15:35:00] Maybe Trump extends it somehow on his own unilaterally, although I don't think you have the authority to do that. I think it would expire and be kicked down the road.
BALDWIN: And on your point of bricks or concrete or fencing, to that point I want all of you to hear Kellyanne Conway on with Chris Cuomo last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president has discovered that he knows part of it will be the physical wall. Part of it is better technology. Part of it is also fencing. There are rivers involved I'm told. There are mountains I'm told. There is terrain that isn't conducive to building an actual physical structure in some places.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: In some places. There are rivers, terrain is kind of tricky. Are they loosening up?
BALDWIN: Watering down this version of the wall?
LOWRY: Yes. But this is has been a process going on for a long time. Very early in the campaign Trump went down to Texas and says there has to be a wall in some places. And we have just seen a new iteration of that. But I do think he needs some physical solid structure, somewhere, that he can call a wall.
BALDWIN: So, he can say to his voters I built you a wall.
LOWRY: Yes, signature promise. Promise that ginned up his voters the most, the chanted back to him at rallies, and he wants to deliver that in some form. Now, look, he's a great booster, give him five miles and he can make it look like the greatest structure in the history of all mankind, but he needs the five miles.
BALDWIN: Stay with me. I have more for you. Just in to us at CNN former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon lawyering up the head of his big interview with the House Intelligence Committee next week. We'll talk about the significance of that move. Also, more breaking news, one Democrat is now telling us more people knew about that Trump Tower meeting than previously known. But Republicans aren't allowing them to be interviewed. That's a big, big deal. Stand by for that.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Breaking news on the Russia investigation. The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee now saying Republicans are blocking dozens of witnesses from being interviewed, including some who were aware of that now Trump Tower meeting where Don Junior was promised dirt on the Hillary Clinton. This is all coming from capitol hill from Manu Raju. Tell me more.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Adam Schiff ranking Democrat on the committee just held a briefing with reporters where he has expressed concerns he's been leveling for several weeks, his concerns that he believes Republicans are trying to wind down this investigation into Russian meddling, any collusion with the Trump campaign, in his view prematurely. He tried to layout number of areas in which the committee has not investigated yet that needs to be fully explored to learn the extent of the Russian meddling and whether or not there was any collusion with the Trump campaign.
Now one of the points that he made was that there were 56 witnesses who have been interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee, that's less than half of the people interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a number of key areas that he says Republicans are blocking subpoenas and blocking scheduling witnesses and not able to learn more information because of it. One key area is to learn about the infamous Trump Tower meeting that occurred in June 2016 where Don Junior was promised Russian dirt on the Clinton campaign.
And what Schiff said there were additional people who knew about the subject of that meeting before the meeting and that they want to interview these witnesses, but he said the Republicans who run the committee are not agreeing for these witnesses to come forward. Now, he would not say who these people were. I asked him that. I tried to press him on that. He would not reveal that. One person he did say they do want to talk to, the Democrats do, is Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter.
He says she can provide, quote, valuable information to the committee. Said Republicans have not agreed to that. Now in addition to things that he said that have been left unanswered, circumstances around James Comey firing, how in a number of questions they have released sent to the White House about that. They said the White House has ignored the committee's bipartisan request, but the Republicans are not pursuing this any further. In addition to that, issue about the late Republican operative Peter Smith who investigating the hacked Clinton emails trying to get them. He said there has been little investigation into that.
In addition to a number of other areas like subpoenaing Twitter for records of direct messages that may have occurred with the Russian cutouts that occurred during the campaign season. But, Brooke, just underscores the partisan impasse that has plagued this committee. Devon Nunes who Schiff is blaming for blocking all the of these subpoenas and witness requests for being scheduled did not respond to request for comment.
But the house speaker's office in the past has said Democrats are trying to investigate to no end reaching no conclusion on the issue of collusion. But Democrats are saying, look, we have a lot more to investigate and just not getting the support, we need to do just that, Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right. Manu Raju with all the reporting. Let's analyze, Rich Lowry good enough to be with me and joining us CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd, former CIA and FBI. From an intelligence perspective, first of all to you, the notion of blocking subpoenas, how significant?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Let me give you the wrong answer. I don't care.
[15:45:00] From day one the partisanship on the house side, not talking about the senate side, house side has been so significant that we could judge when they come out with a report it's going to be partisan. Can we believe the Republicans don't have a partisan view? The Democrats don't have a partisan view? The answer is no. I'm not going to believe whatever they write. What it's telling me is that it reinforces the significance of the continuation of the Mueller investigation. The part of this that we can't see. Because he will have access to these guys and I think he is nonpartisan.
BALDWIN: What about the fact so many more people who knew about this meeting?
MUDD: Well, again if they can't get access to them in the oversight committee, how will we have any confidence that the report they publish is a full rendering of what happened during the election? I'll go back to say only one person who can get them to speak and I think that's Robert Mueller.
BALDWIN: What do you think?
LOWRY: I would want to hear from Devin Nunes reasons why they are blocking these witnesses. I find it hard to believe Ivanka Trump is the keystone to unlocking the collusion.
BALDWIN: I don't think they are saying keystone. But her name is not one we have been hearing when it comes to any sort of Russian investigation. I do think that's interesting.
LOWRY: I agree with Phil, there is a lot of partisan acrimony around this now on both sides, to be fair and everyone is just going to wait thumbs up or thumbs down if we are getting from Robert Mueller on what the various collusion. I tend to believe, I will go where the evidence takes us, but I tend to believe if there were smoking guns, we would have seen or heard about them by now. Because it's such a leaky investigation, and this investigation in various forms has been going on for a very long time. BALDWIN: We are also turning the page, Steve Bannon former White House chief strategist, we are learning he's got a lawyer to represent him in a closed-door meeting, is closed-door next week with speaking of the House Intelligence Committee. This is a lawyer, this is a man by the name of William Burke, former special counsel Bush 43. So, lawyering up. Helping him prep for questions. Par for the course. Do you read anything more into it? Significance?
LOWRY: A big mistake people make, I don't know if the testimony will be sworn or not, but you should never just wander into an off-the-cuff in any sensitive interview. So yes, if you are going to be smart get a lawyer.
MUDD: Dead on. If you are going to walk into that session, I couldn't agree more, I don't care if you are guilty as homemade sin, or whether you never did anything wrong, do not walk in there without someone charging you $900 an hour to be
at your side.
BALDWIN: Was it last week when he's quoted in "The Guardian" talking about that infamous Trump Tower meeting, right, this is all Michael Wolff's reporting in the book calling it treasonous. So, we have some of this color that's come out from Steve Bannon himself, now he has this big lawyer.
LOWRY: That was an opinion about a meeting he probably didn't know a lot about directly. And one thing about the whole collusion story, really hasn't touched three people who were key to his victory and stabilizing the campaign. Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Dave Bossie.
BALDWIN: What about on President Trump, we saw him this time yesterday during the news conference with the Norwegian prime minister, reversal, evolution, on the notion that he would sit down with Special Counsel Bob Mueller, right. It was a couple months ago when he had said in response to a reporter's question, I'll 100 percent, actually I'm being told we have sound of this evolution. Good timing, guys. Here you go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When they have no collusion, and nobody has found any collusion, at any level, it seems unlikely that you would even have an interview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of these events?
TRUMP: 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: But, again, you know, Sarah Sanders listening to her in the briefing saying we are 100 percent cooperating with the special counsel. And the lawyers today had to clean up a bit of some of what Trump said yesterday. But, still, is it confusing to you? MUDD: Not confusing to me. If I'm the president of the United
States, look at the variety of issues he would have to answer during a conversation with the special counsel, not just what happened with Russia, it's about what we saw on the Manafort issue, financial interactions with Russians or Russian intermediaries, then there is more difficult people that people haven't talked about. Not just about the substance of money or Russia, it's about whether you contradict somebody else among the many dozens or more been interviewed already, in the federal government.
That's called 1001 violation. If you lie to federal officer whether under oath or not during that federal investigation. You are in trouble. So, if I'm his lawyer saying you better be darn careful because if someone else said something two months ago we have a problem.
LOWRY: I don't think a president will ever be eager to testify under oath. But this president, even his $900 lawyer could tell him whatever you do don't lie. He could go in thinking I am not going to lie, and just given the way he exaggerates, how loose he is with facts, he could really stumble into problems.
[15:50:00] Even if he gets an agreement from Mueller, these are the only topics we'll talk about it. No guarantee once an interview gets going they won't stray off those. So, I expect them to resist this with every fiber of their being going forward.
BALDWIN: OK. Rich and Phil, thank you very much. Tomorrow President Trump will get his first physical sense of taking office. It's not clear what details will be released to the public although, we did hear Sara Sanders say they would make the doctor available in the press briefing next Tuesday, answer a couple of questions. We'll talk to our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta next on what to listen out for.
BALDWIN: For the first time since becoming president, Donald Trump will have a physical exam. And interest in the results are pretty high. The president's health has garnered all kinds of interest since the new tell-all book raises questions about his stability. The only public information after about the president's health is from this report from 2016, it was released during the presidential campaign by the president, rather than candidate's long-time personal physician, the same doctor who examined President Obama will conduct tomorrow's exam. The White House said it will release the results and this is how the president expects it to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you think the physical will go tomorrow?
TRUMP: I think it's going to go very well. I'll be very surprised if it doesn't. It better go well otherwise the stock market will not be happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We've all had physicals, I mean, is this one more specific, more intense? The kind of thing a president would have to endure and what, what of that physical would be made public?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the second question first, I mean, they could make whatever public they want. There's no requirement that he even have the exam and certainly no requirement that he releases the results. That's just the case with President Trump and any president before him as well. So, we don't know what we're going to get exactly, but these tend to be thorough exams overall, Brooke, he's 71 years old. You're looking for risk factors for cardiac disease, risk factors for stroke, risk factors for cancer.
You saw the number that you put up there. He's on a medication to lower his cholesterol, pay attention to that number. We also have heard a lot about his lifestyle overall, his diet and his lack of exercise, what impact has that had on his health over the last year? What has the impact of being president in terms of stress had on his health overall? These questions we'll be asking.
They'll do tests to try and get more clarity around that. They will likely ask things about anxiety, depression, about stress. Those are standard questions that typically get asked in a primary physical exam. Again, to your first question, what of that we're going to actually know, we'll wait and see.
BALDWIN: There is though, I understand it's a fine line between the public and the public's right to know, you know, want to know if he's fit to lead versus, of course, the president's individual right to his privacy.
GUPTA: Well, if you had to sort of balance those two things, the public's right to know and the president's privacy, it's tilted towards the president's privacy just because of the confidential nature of this sort of information about, you know, one's health. If the doctor, you know, in this case, doctor -- the White House doctor thinks there's some sort of direct and immediate threat either to the president's health or to other's health because of what's happening with the president, there are some stipulations that may allow that information to get shared. It just doesn't happen, Brooke, it's very unlikely we're going to get any kind of information like that from the president, we just don't expect it.
BALDWIN: 30 seconds, what do we know about previous president's health?
[15:55:00] GUPTA: You know, it's interesting, there's been a lot of president's who've had significant medical conditions, you know, go back to Kennedy, for example, had all sorts of medical conditions. Half of the presidents up until the mid-70s had some form of mental illness, we know that, everything from depression, substance abuse disorders, anxiety, psychopathic behaviors, so there's an all sorts of different sort of illnesses, both physical and mental with presidents in the past that have come out later.
BALDWIN: We heard Sarah Sanders say in the briefing today, they're going to make that physician available on Tuesday at the briefing. We'll listen in for that. Sanjay Gupta, I know you will, thank you so much.
GUPTA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: In the meantime, coming up next here on CNN, a major development in the Russia investigation because one Democrat is now speaking up and saying that more people actually knew about that Trump Tower meeting than previously known, but that Republicans are trying to block them from being interviewed. We're back in just a moment.