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Booker: Nielsen Denial Of Trump Slur Unacceptable To Me; Booker Won't Vote For Budget Bill Without DACA Fix; House Intel Subpoenas Bannon After He Declines Key Questions; House GOP Offers One-Month Spending Plan To Avoid Shutdown. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 16, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: [21:00:08] And somehow that's the perfect way to frame the times in which we live and the state of "The Ridiculist".
Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to my buddy Chris Cuomo for "Cuomo Prime Time". Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, you look good with imaginary glasses on, by the way. No surprise there. Don't driver with them though.
All right, so Senator Cory Booker says there is a conspiracy of lies coming out of the White House, and he's coming on to make that case. Wait until you hear what he is willing to do about it. I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time".
We're following breaking news tonight. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee accuses the White House of putting a gag order on Steve Bannon. Congressman Adam Schiff is the one making that accusation. We're going to talk to him in just a moment about what happened behind closed doors.
But first the mandate of this special series is to start with facts first. Here is the fact of the day. Someone is lying about what President Trump said during that immigration meeting. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin doubled down today, telling Jake Tapper that, yes, the president called certain nations "shithole countries." Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has all but confirmed it is true.
Here's a key fact. Their stories have never changed. That matters when you're assessing reliability and credibility. You cannot say the same for Senators Perdue and Cotton. Both started by saying they could not recall if the man who should have been the focus of their attention, the president of the United States, said a fairly unforgettable word. Then they both changed their story. Cotton saying he didn't hear the vulgar word. Perdue saying it was a gross misrepresentation. We invited both on the show. Both declined. For what it's worth, Cotton said he was a no for the entire run of this special. Ouch.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was also at the meeting and is also on team can't recall. But, boy, did she get tested today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Let's see. Strong language there was -- I -- apologies. I don't remember a specific word. What I was struck with frankly is I'm sure you were as well was just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: This was during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Senator Cory Booker is on that powerful committee. He's going to be on with us to go one-on-one in just a moment. He listened to Nielsen's testimony, and he was not having any of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: The commander in chief, in an Oval Office meeting, referring to people from African countries and Haitians with the most vile and vulgar language. That language festers when ignorance and bigotry is allied with power, it is a dangerous force in our country. Your silence and your amnesia is complicit. I hurt.
When Dick Durbin called me, I had tears of rage when I heard about his experience in that meeting. And for you not to feel that hurt and that pain and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues, saying I've already answered that line of questions when tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now because of what they're worried about what happened in the White House. That's unacceptable to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And if there were any doubt about the tension between the secretary and the senator, just watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: And that you could even say in your testimony that Norwegians were preference by him because they're so hard working.
NIELSEN: I didn't --
BOOKER: Excuse me. Let me finish.
NIELSEN: Happy to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Joining me now, Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a member of the Judiciary Committee. Senator, thank you for joining us.
BOOKER: Thanks for having me on, Chris. CUOMO: I'm just going to ask you straight. Do you believe the White House is lying to the American people about what happened in that meeting with the president and those lawmakers?
BOOKER: I don't believe it at all. Not only do I trust Dick Durbin, he's a man of immense character, but also Lindsey Graham, who has been a friend and a partner on many things, who has said everything -- nothing that's contrary to what has been reported by others that happened in that room. And that's the thing that is just so gut- churning to these kinds of words that can come out from the president. It's not the vulgarity. It's definitely not the vulgarity. It's the bigotry and the discrimination that comes from the mouth of the president that, in our climate today, causes damage. Those words just don't disappear. They fester. They poison, and they give license to a lot of people who are intent on doing bad things.
[21:05:03] CUOMO: We heard you obviously with the Homeland Secretary, but there's also Senators Cotton and Perdue. Do you believe that they're all part of a cover-up?
BOOKER: I believe that they're not fully and fairly representing what happened in that room, and I'm sure they have their own motivations and their own reasons. But this is a moral moment for our country, and we seem to continue to have what I think are just very profound moments, moral moments. And the politics of it, people who are choosing politics over morality, as it says from the words of scripture. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world to lose their soul?" And this has been an angering few days for me but also a sad few days, especially seeing Dick Durbin, who is one of the more beloved people on both sides of the aisles here, one of the more straight shooters here, to see him being questioned.
But even worse than that, when I was -- this weekend I was in Puerto Rico. I was in Atlanta. I was in Newark, New Jersey. And to hear how many people, Africans, who are now African-Americans here, Haitians to here, African-Americans, the hurtfulness of this moment and the knowledge that in American history since 9/11, we've had 85 major attacks in our country, 73 percent of them have been by white nationalist hate groups against minorities, against Muslims, against others.
And for us to be silent in the face of a president who utters reflective bigotry and not say anything, we know our history. We know what happens when people stand by and do nothing and say nothing. But then to help obscure it or try to minimize it, that does nothing more than contribute to it.
So we just had King Day, Chris, and King said it more eloquently than I do. What we'll have to repent for in this day and age is not just the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people, but the silence and inaction of the good people. And that's what worries me.
CUOMO: Do you believe that the president of the United States is one of the reasons for the attacks that you were just mentioning?
BOOKER: Sir, I've seen since this election, since this president came into office, I've seen incidents in my state of bigotry, hate crimes go up. I've talked to folks from the ADL, to law enforcement and seeing how these things seem to be going up. How people seem to have -- and again, this is not a broad brush. This is a very narrow element of American society. But there seems to be a license out there that people have.
And when the president won't condemn it, when you have things like the marchers in Virginia with tiki torches and the president of the United States can't condemn it, when his very words are being used by supremacists on their websites, in their communications as justifications of their actions, the president of the United States is our commander in chief, has constitutional responsibilities, but they're also a moral voice in this country.
CUOMO: So you put this at his feet, senator.
BOOKER: No, I'm not putting it at his feet. I'm saying he has a responsibility of his office. He has been give power by the people and I believe that power comes with responsibility. And so, he is not calling to the best of our angels as a country. He is not calling to the heart and spirit and the greatness of our country. He's going to the lowest common denominators or worse. He's getting into the gutter. He's demeaning and degrading people consistently from his campaign to his time in presidency, attacking Gold Star families, telling -- saying a judge can't do his job just because of his ancestry, saying ignorance of history, not even knowing if people like Frederick Douglass are alive or not. That kind of ignorance and bigotry allied with power is indeed a very dangerous thing in our country.
CUOMO: When you were -- I can understand why you would direct that kind of talk to the president based on what you're saying right now. But what was it in that interview today, that questioning with the Homeland Secretary, that got you so angry?
BOOKER: She didn't understand -- seem to understand the connection and the worry and the fear that exists in our country. There's definitely fear of terrorism from abroad or terrorist inspired jihadist terrors who are inspired at home. But when I go to churches from Alabama, churches in Atlanta, churches in Camden and Newark, when I talk to communities of color, when I talk to Sikh communities, when I talk to Muslim communities, there is also a fear of hate groups. There's a fear of white nationalist groups, people and children in my community who watch what happened in Virginia.
And so for her not to understand, not to answer a direct question, this is when I really got set off from Connecticut Senator Blumenthal. For her not to answer a direct question and dismiss it, and saying I'm here to talk about things to keep American safe and not to understand that her complicitness (ph), her failure to call out bigotry, her silence, and for her not to understand the connection and the threat in this country, the urgency we all have to standing up and speaking out against hate, that got me angry.
I am here right now, Chris. I can show you time and time again in my personal history and in my family history where great Americans, white folks, Jewish folks, people who are different than me in color and creed stood up for my family, called out bigotry, called out hate, fought against injustice. Even the house my family brought I grew up in, it took great white people, Americans who believe in our values, standing up for my family to even buy the house and the home I grew up in.
[21:10:21] For me not to get angry to see someone right now in modern American history, in 2018, to witness bigotry and hate and not call it out? Well, guess who did? Lindsey Graham did. Lindsey Graham went right back at the president of the United States and reminded him that people come to this country escaping famine, escaping war, and it hasn't just been countries in Africa or South America. It was countries in Europe as well. And those countries in Europe, the violence they escaped from, there are lessons there. When people started talking about social engineering, about how certain races are more preferable than other races, we saw what happened with that in Europe when people didn't check that kind of hate and check that kind of violence. And what happened as a result of it. So I cannot be silent. And she definitely hit a nerve in me because I know the debt I owe to great Americans who stood up against bigotry. That's why I'm here, and I will never, ever stop trying to pay that debt forward by speaking out against what I think is injustice, bigotry, and hate.
CUOMO: So when she says -- the Homeland Secretary -- I didn't hear him say that. I heard what Lindsey Graham said, and I heard other people cursing at the president, but I didn't hear that, you don't accept it?
BOOKER: Chris, I imagine you've been in the Oval Office. I've had the privilege of going into that space, which is one of the most sacred spaces in our civic life, the Oval Office of the United States of America. It's a small office. I've been there with good groups, large groups of senators, 10 of us or so. I've been there in individual meetings.
When the commander in chief -- it's an advantage as a president when people walk in that office, even as a senator, even when it becomes -- some people might think it becomes routine, you're still in awe when you walk into that environment. And for her to say she did not hear the words of the commander in chief, could not hear Lindsey Graham stand up against the rhetoric, the vile rhetoric of the commander in chief, for her to say, I missed that, I don't recall that, that is unacceptable to me and patently false. Not only is he the commander in chief, not only is he the president, not only is he's at the Oval Office, that's her boss. When he speaks, I'm sure she listened.
And what she's doing right now it was cowardice. What she's doing right now is what King would call sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity and meaningfully not representing what happened in that room. She should stand up and speak out and tell the truth. Tell the truth about what happened. It's not -- it's the most honorable thing you can do, but you are under oath today and you danced and you dodged and you half-stepped and you allowed those kinds of words to go unchecked in the American public.
I'm telling you right now, I've traveled all throughout this weekend and heard from so many people, from legends from the civil rights movement when I was at the King center for their King center awards to folks in my community and my neighborhood. We're so hurt, so distressed that the president of the United States would utter these words and that there would be a conspiracy of silence around them that ultimately is complicit in those sent feelings of bigotry and the sentiments of hate.
CUOMO: How deep does your reservation go about the secretary? Do you know now have a no confidence vote in you about her ability to run the agency, or is this just an isolated incident?
BOOKER: First of all I don't think it's isolated. We're all the totality of things that happen to us, but again, my heroes in this place are people like John Lewis. There's got to be a degree of grace that you extend to people. I don't want to judge her sole incompetence based upon this. All human beings, including myself, we're all mountain ranges. As we all have peaks and we all have valleys. But dear God, today I saw not just a valley but a grand canyon that is hurtful and deeply unfortunate.
CUOMO: Now, answer your critics. You know, whether it was Nielsen's eye roll when you were talking to her today, at a certain point she obviously thought that you just wanted to go on a riff, that you wanted to grandstand. Then you had people start making up memes about you on the political right. I'm sure you've heard about them. What do you say to those people who say, well, there's Cory Booker. He just announced he's running for president. That's what's going on. He's using this moment. He's trying to elevate himself. What do you say to that?
BOOKER: You know, as a great New Jersey leader once said, before I got into politics, I would help somebody cross the street. Now it is just a good person. Now that I'm in politics, I help somebody cross the street. I'm just looking for a vote. I can't spend myself, my life, and you know this because you get it too, answering all my critics. I can't worry about what other people say.
I'm here in this position by the grace of the people of New Jersey who didn't look to my color of my skin, who didn't look to my religion but just thought I could do a good job for Jersey. So, I owe them just my focus on my purpose and not to worry about popularity. I owe them my focus on what's significant and not worry about what other people say.
[21:15:01] And so, I'm just going to continue to do my job here. I've been consistent since I've gotten to the United States Senate. I've stood up and spoken out against other things that I thought were morally wrong, violative (ph) of our values as a nation and hurtful to people, and I'm going to continue to do that. Nothing is going to silence me, especially not memes on the internet or critics across the aisle.
CUOMO: So now the tough part, senator. I understand where your head is. I understand where you're saying your heart is. What are you going to do about it? You have a big decision to make about these upcoming votes. There's a division in your party about what to do with this Friday's budget deadline. Some of the Democrats are saying let's do a clean bill. Let's be fiscally responsible, and let's do DACA separately. Others are saying, no, I want DACA, or I'm not going to vote for a clean bill on the budget this Friday. Where are you, sir?
BOOKER: I respect all my colleagues' decisions, but this is where I am. People talk about DACA or draw (ph) a policy names. These are people. Thousands and thousands of them live in my state. These are fellow Americans in every single way except for a piece of paper. These are kids that don't even -- some of them don't even remember their home countries, that speak our language. These are folks that have served in the military. Hundreds of them do. These are people that are teachers and first responders. They are Americans.
And, again, this is a moral moment. I cannot leave those people behind. We are a nation where we know we're all in this together. If you've been willing to bleed for this country, if you've gone to our public schools and benefited from our education, if you're willing to serve others, if you're willing to show up in storms and hurricanes and put your life at risk to save your neighbor, they've shown a level of patriotism which is not about the piece of paper you have. Patriotism, love of country, and loving others. And love is sacrifice. Love is work. These DACA kids have shown this. These Dreamers have shown this. In my heart, I cannot leave them behind.
CUOMO: But why do you have to leave them behind? I mean, let's just talk some political strategy here for a moment. There's no question that you've got leverage, but I don't know why the Democrats believe that the leverage ends on Friday. You're going to want to shoehorn something for the Dreamers or something into this budget resolution. You're going to have to give something to get that.
But on the flip side, if you do a clean bill on the budget, you still have the deadline that the president set. There's still pressure to make a determination. Why give up your leverage to be fiscally responsible and pass a budget bill and shoehorn DACA into it? Why not do them separately?
BOOKER: Listen, I don't speak for all my --
CUOMO: No, just you, senator. Where you're headed?
BOOKER: Oh, just me?
CUOMO: Yes, just you.
BOOKER: So my head is very simple. This is an artificial deadline that was set up by the president. He didn't have to inject this into this. He could have said let's work on a bill. But he created this artificial deadline.
CUOMO: So let him back off it. Play by his rules and then he'll have to back off.
BOOKER: Well, again, my second point, Chris, is simply this. There's a deal to be made. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin showed up with a deal that I'm telling you right now, we would get 70, 80 votes for on the floor of the Senate. This is already done. We have a president who controls obviously the White House. The Republicans have a majority in the House. The Republicans have a majority in the Senate, and he claims to be a great deal maker. There are elements of that deal that don't sit right with me but heck, he could have won battles, gotten billions of dollars for his border protection, which is something I believe we should protect our borders. But the billions of dollars extra he would have gotten, he would have gotten an end to the diversity lottery. There was many things he could have celebrated, doing a great deal that was brought to him on a silver platter by Lindsey Graham and other Republicans who worked hard to find a bipartisan measure.
And so right now we could get this done, I mean, he could call people back to the Senate and I'm telling you right now, 70-plus votes in support of it. And so I don't understand why we're using American citizens in every way except for a piece of paper as pawns in a political game. And you've talked to Dreamers. What's their life like right now?
CUOMO: Scared, anxious. But that's all the more reason to make sure you do it right. If you shoehorn it into the budget resolution and it's left with any open ends, there could be jeopardy that way as well, senator.
BOOKER: If you take the deal that Lindsey and Dick -- Senator Durbin and Senator Graham put together, which was a well thought out deal -- again, I don't agree with every part of it. But if you just take that deal which has been well thought out, we would have a way to move forward for this country.
And you know this, 70 percent, 80 percent of Americans agree with where Durbin and Lindsey Graham are. Get something done in this. Stop kicking the can down the road and putting these fellow Americans into incredible anguish and anxiety as they're trying to do their jobs as ambulance drivers, military personnel, or teachers.
CUOMO: I hear where you are. One more quick question. Some of this talk about how to respond to the president's rhetoric includes, by some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, that they may boycott the State of the Union. Do you endorse that kind of move?
BOOKER: I respect my colleagues, but I will be there because I respect the office of the presidency. I respect our traditions, and I will be there. And I've watched awful things happen during that, that I think are disrespectful, like someone screaming and heckling the president, like a Republican Congress person did. We need to respect that office because that speech, while I may not agree with a word he says, that word is not only an internal speech for our country, but it actually shows the country to the world. Hundreds of thousands expect -- millions of people will probably be watching that speech. I will be in my seat. I will be respectful to the office. I will respectful of our traditions even if I don't agree with what he has to say.
[21:20:23] CUOMO: Some big days between now and Friday. We'll keep checking with the office to see where your head is on this. Your vote is going to be an important one to sure. Senator Cory Booker, thank you for joining us.
BOOKER: Thank you for having me.
CUOMO: All right, we're testing the senator there, but what the Democrats are going to do because this is a big decision for them too. I mean, they're not used to having this kind of leverage. How are they going to use it? Which way will the Democratic divide break? Will senators like Booker sway others to hold out for Dreamers being added to the funding bill or not vote for on Friday? It's a big deal. We're going to stay on it.
We're also following breaking news tonight. Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, is accusing the White House of putting a gag order on Steve Bannon. Bannon went willingly to testify. What happened? Next.
CUOMO: All right, breaking news tonight. President Trump's Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon hit with not one but two subpoenas related to the Russia investigation. One is from the Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller, but the other came while sitting with the House Intelligence Committee when Bannon refused to answer key questions. What does this mean?
[21:25:09] All right, let's go one-on-one with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
Congressman, always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks, Chris. It's good to be with you.
CUOMO: So what happened with Steve Bannon today? He was invited to come and speak to the committee. He says yes. He comes, and then what happens?
SCHIFF: Well, and then he refused to answer a broad range of questions concerning any meeting, conversation, or discussion that took place either during the transition or while he was with the White House, and a significant set of conversations that may have taken place even after he left the White House. So we served him with a subpoena during the hearing to convert it from a volunteer appearance to a mandatory one. His counsel then went back to the White House and came back to us with essentially the same gag rule from the White House, which is they've been instructed not to answer anything during those time periods.
So we asked questions about the campaign, and then we laid a record by asking him all the questions that we had during transition and thereafter if it's necessary to go to court to enforce this.
CUOMO: So it was from the White House. It wasn't Steve Bannon saying, no, I don't want to talk to you because that would have been odd. He accepted the invitation. So something happened between the time he accepted the invitation and he came into your -- into the meeting today from the White House. What do you make of that?
SCHIFF: Well, apparently Mr. Bannon was willing to testify before the committee. That was the representation of counsel, that he was not choosing to decline answering these questions on his own accord, but rather because he was acting under the instructions of White House. Counsel did make it clear that he had informed a lawyer for the majority. Now, that came as news to, I think, all of the rest of us in the room. But nonetheless, they insisted on following the advice of the White House and refused to answer this very broad set of questions.
Now, I have to say, Chris, this was unprecedented in all the interviews that we have done, there have been times where we have take a strong issue with a witness refusing to answer a specific question. When the attorney general was in the committee, I asked him whether he had ever been instructed to take any step that he believed might interfere or hinder the Russia investigation. He refused to answer that question. But here was an entire time period that was essentially made off limits by the White House.
CUOMO: And what is that time period again?
SCHIFF: No questions essentially about anything that took place during the transition. No questions about anything that took place during the administration. And with respect to even after he left the White House, conversations that he had with the president when he's no longer an administration official. They also claimed that the White House could exercise some restriction on their freedom of speech. So --
CUOMO: And nobody else has done this before? You've never had the White House shut down any other interview?
SCHIFF: No, nothing of this magnitude. There have been times where specific conversations between an administration official, a cabinet secretary, and the president, they've declined to answer on the basis that maybe at some later point the White House would invoke executive privilege. Now, we don't recognize that, and we believe we should have insisted and should insist on answers to those questions or insist the White House invoke privilege. But that was as to a specific conversation with the president. This was as to any conversation with anyone in the White House or out of the White House, in the transition team or out of the transition team during those entire periods of time. We've seen nothing at all like that.
CUOMO: You don't have to evacuate or something right now? Do you congressman? All right, good, that sound went away. Safety first. Safety first.
So this is a little bit of a bizarre development because you've had other interviews with individuals where this time period would have been considered sensitive by the White House for the same reasons, no?
SCHIFF: Yes, that's certainly true, and we have other witnesses that are scheduled to come before our committee in which the White House may seek to impose a similar gag rule. If they do, obviously that's going to only escalate the problem.
CUOMO: So then what happens? If this becomes the new pattern, that as you get towards the inner circle of people around the president, the White House restricts their ability to answer, what happens next and on what grounds? Are they exerting executive immunity on this, I guess?
SCHIFF: Well, I think the next steps are I assume that Mr. Bannon's counsel is going to go back to the White House and say, OK, this is not sustainable. What are we going to do? And the White House may seek to provide a narrower ban on what this witness can testify to. But if they don't invoke executive privilege, there's no basis for this witness or any other to say, we're not going to answer on the basis of the fact the White House doesn't want us to.
[21:30:02] CUOMO: What can you do about it if that's what -- if that's the stalemate, what can you do about it.
SCHIFF: Well, we can go to court, as indeed the majority have shown a willingness to do when they wanted to get the bank records for Fusion GPS or they want to compel someone else's testimony. They have been willing to go to court, and that's what would be required here. We would have to go to court to enforce the subpoena. So that would be the next step, and it will be necessary not only with this witness but others if the White House maintains this unprecedented and untenable position.
CUOMO: Well, it is an odd twist, that's for sure, especially when the main line out of the White House has been there's no collusion. There's nothing to see here. Now they're instructing Steve Bannon not to speak. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for giving us this development.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, did not see that coming, so you know what? It's a great topic for debate. Let's bring in Senior Political Commentators, Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and Former Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, a Republican.
You heard Adam Schiff there, governor. There has not been this in the past. They've had other interviews with this sensitive -- same sensitivities for the White House. Why Steve Bannon, and what does it mean to you?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think first of all, Steve Bannon is way out of the graces of the president. And so he's got to demonstrate that he is not going to throw the president under the bus. And so whatever way he can do that initially that will not jeopardize him, he is going to do. And that was part, I'm sure, of what his very strong position was today. But you know that Bannon also got a subpoena today from Mueller.
GRANHOLM: And that's a slightly different thing. And so, you know, what is the extent of executive privilege? Over what period of time does it cover? Those are all things, as Adam Schiff suggested, that might have to end up being litigated in court if Mueller really needs his testimony in order to establish what he needs to establish.
CUOMO: Rick, are you surprised by this?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I'm surprised by the broadness of the, "gag order." I would have expected Steve to answer, you know, questions that were not sensitive in nature. Obviously conversations with the president, other things certainly can be -- can be held for executive privilege. But to answer no questions about anything during the time particularly of the transition, I don't -- I frankly don't understand it, and I suspect this is not the end of the trail.
CUOMO: Well, tactically it winds up smelling a little bit, Jennifer. I mean that's the problem is that their posture politically has been there's nothing here. There's nothing to hide. You want to talk, we'll fully cooperate. Is this full cooperation?
GRANHOLM: Well, I mean it's very funny you say that because internally they have been saying or at least they've been trying to express that they are fully cooperating on the one hand. But on the other hand, they're doing everything they can, of course, to smear the integrity both of the committees, who may be doing this work, as well as Mueller. It's in Donald Trump's interest to disparage this investigation, and whether it's in Congress or in the Mueller special investigation, and so they're going to continue to do that. That's not cooperation.
And obviously issuing a blanket executive privilege claim over stuff that really, you know, shouldn't even be a problem answering -- I mean I can understand that it if it's something that's really a problem. But if it's just a general blanket thing, that's obviously not cooperation.
CUOMO: Pick up on that detail, Rick, from Adam Schiff that the majority have been informed by Bannon's counsel that this was going to happen, but not the Democrats?
SANTORUM: Yes. Again, that doesn't necessarily surprise me. Sometimes the majority gets the heads up if you're chairing the committee before the minority does. That's not --
CUOMO: Why should we have confidence in what they're doing if that's the kind of politics that's being played within the committee?
SANTORUM: I don't think that's necessarily true. The White House or any would contact the majority staff and let them know that and it would be up to the majority staff to be able to communicate that. So, I think --
CUOMO: -- they didn't.
SANTORUM: -- between the staff -- I don't think that's a White House problem. CUOMO: No, no, no. I'm not suggesting it is. I'm saying it's within the committee but it winds up being partisan just the same, Rick.
SANTORUM: Yes, this committee has not necessarily been a showcase for bipartisanship. I mean the Senate Committee has done a really good job of keeping it, you know, above board and keeping the partisanship level down.
SANTORUM: But, you know, look, I mean Adam Schiff is on television every single day on this investigation. So this goes both ways. I mean if you're going to go out there and publicize everything that goes on within the committee and try to make political gain from it, which Adam Schiff has done for the past year or so, then you're going to expect probably not the best treatment on the other side.
CUOMO: Jennifer, quick response, and then I want to go to break.
[21:34:58] GRANHOLM: Yes, I just want to say Adam Schiff is -- there are very few people that have the respect that Adam Schiff does. He is a total straight shooter. He's on TV because I'm sure CNN called him and said come on and explain what's going on. He is a great translator of what is actually happening behind the scenes. And if we don't have that transparency, what are we as a democracy? So I mean bravo to Adam Schiff for at least being out there and his willingness to explain.
CUOMO: Agree to disagree. Governor, senator, stick around. We're going to debate what happens after I talk one-on-one with Republican Congressman Chris Collins because there's more news. There's word out about what kind of continuing resolution, how to fund the government, what the proposal is from the Republicans. We'll test it with Chris Collins from Western New York, next.
CUOMO: More breaking news tonight. House Republicans moving to pass a short-term spending bill to fund the government through February 16th. It's going to avoid a government shutdown but they're kicking the can down the road the can (ph) down the road just a short time once again.
But for Democrats, they do sweeten the pot. In there, the funding for chip, the children's health insurance program, and it's a long one -- it goes for about six years of funding as well as some delays on some of the Obamacare taxes that aren't that popular. We're lucky. We have Republican Congressman Chris Collins of Western New York with us tonight, first member of Congress to back Trump for president, very clued in to the White House thinking. Chris, thank you for joining us.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So it is good that something's happening in Washington, D.C. that gives us some type of window into action for Friday. But why go with one month again, February 16th being this funding date? Why kick the can down the road?
[21:40:06] COLLINS: Well, I know everyone in America asks the same questions, but we need 60 votes in the Senate, Chris. There's still a filibuster, and we still have to do something on DACA/Dreamers, the 800,000 young adults now who were brought into this country as young children. You know, they've been here a long, long time, gone to our schools. They're fighting in the military. I think all of us are generous. We are compassionate. It's something we need to deal with as part of a broader border security issue, and that's what's going to take some time. There's a lot of disagreement on what border security means whether it's chain migration, whether it's the lottery system we have, what's included.
COLLINS: Let's face it. There's a million Dreamers that have come in since the DACA went into place. So we talk about 800,000 DACA young adults, but then in the same sentence, we talk about 1.8 million Dreamers. So a million other kids were brought here since Obama did what he did with DACA. And so, you know, the thought is we can't strand them either, but where do we draw the line? So all of this is going to take time if they can come to a fundamental, if you will, outline of an agreement on immigration, on DACA, on Dreamers, on border security with the lottery and with chain migration --
CUOMO: So you're saying we have to do it separately? You can't get it done by Friday.
COLLINS: We can't get it done by Friday.
CUOMO: But you have Democrats like Senator Cory Booker who was just on the show says, I'm not voting if there's nothing in there for Dreamers. What do you do?
COLLINS: Well, shame on Cory Booker, you know, to vote to shut the government down. I would remind the senator that in 2009 and 2010, where was he? When president Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and leader Harry Reid with 60 votes in the Senate could have fixed everything about immigration, DACA, Dreamers, they could have fixed it once and for all in 2009 or 2010, and you know what, Chris? They did nothing. Where was Cory Booker's voice in 2009 and 2010? By the way, what did they do on minimum wage in 2009 and 2010? Nothing. So for them the hypocrisy of all of them to now be pointing fingers at the House, the Senate, and President Trump and saying fix DACA, that was a problem created by Obama who bypassed the legislative process.
CUOMO: But remember why he did it, right? And again, we don't have to go too far into the pass except to give Booker a little bit of a nod. He wasn't in the Senate then. So, you know, it's hard to blame him --
COLLINS: And he was a national voice. He's been a national voice --
CUOMO: He was a mayor.
COLLINS: -- for 15 years. CUOMO: He was a mayor. I'm just saying, you know. Now you can go after him. He's in there. That's fine. But he wasn't even in there, Congressman, just to be fair.
But in terms of where you are, there's a little bit of having it both ways. You have the president who said I want a "bill of love." We have to help. You have been openly compassionate about these people but the urgency isn't matching the compassion. Why wouldn't you do that first? Border security is going to be there. These other considerations are going to be there. Frankly, you know, the Democrats don't want to hear it, but the Cadillac tax and those things, those are going to be there. Why isn't the first order of business doing something to protect these hundreds of thousands of lives that are going to be thrown off balance?
COLLINS: Well, we've got until March 5th. But the reality, Chris, is we need votes coming from the left, the right, and the center, Republicans and Democrats because there's little pieces of this that all of us like, and there's little pieces of this that all of us don't like.
COLLINS: So if you try to start piecing it out and we do something on DACA without addressing border security, monies for the wall, chain migration and the like, well, then we may not get the votes at the end.
So the one thing -- you know, think about the farm bill that always has food stamps in it along with the agricultural piece, and that's to get Democrat votes on the food stamps, and it's to get Republican votes on the farm piece.
COLLINS: It's always bipartisan, and that's where we are on this. There is not unanimity within the Republican party of what we should and shouldn't be doing on Dreamers and DACA. Certainly the Democrats have disagreements. They'd just as soon not do anything with the chain migration and the lottery, and they want to go beyond the 800,000 DACA young adults and have 1.8 million Dreamers, including the 17-year-olds that may have snuck in last year.
CUOMO: Well, because it's not about numbers. It's about the lives. Either you want to protect the people who are here for the right reasons doing the right thing or you don't. But you're right, there are splits and we're going to have to see. And we'll know what you want by what you do.
One quick political question. The White House putting effectively, as Congressman Schiff calls it, a gag order on Steve Bannon. What seems to be a cover-up of what the president said in that immigration meeting. Do these moves give you any concern?
COLLINS: You know, I'm not in that inner circle at all, Chris. Whether it's with Steve Bannon or any of these discussions. So I cannot even comment on who said or did anything. I'm just not in a position to do it.
[21:45:02] CUOMO: Right. But do you think that Bannon going in there and saying, I'm not going to answer questions, is that fully cooperate? Is that the White House fully cooperating?
COLLINS: Well, frankly, I'm the kind of person as you know on your show, you ask me a question, I answer it.
COLLINS: And if I was called into a Senate Committee to answer questions, I would answer him.
CUOMO: You think the White House should be gagging him?
COLLINS: I'm not saying the White House did gagging him. I know nothing about.
CUOMO: That's what counsel says. Counsel went back to the White House to say can we answer these questions? They said no. Sounds like a gag.
COLLINS: Well, all I can say is the folks that are giving legal advice to the president and others have their reasons for doing what they are, and I'm certainly not in the inner circle discussing that.
CUOMO: Fine. What about the efforts to cover up what the president almost, you know, completely understandably said in that meeting? Having Senators Cotton and Perdue doing this dance from not recalling. You saw what Nielsen, happened to her today in that hearing. You think all of this is necessary?
COLLINS: Well, it's political, Chris. I mean when you have a private meeting and somebody like Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham at the end of a meeting can't go wait and grab a microphone, shame on them for that.
CUOMO: What about the truth, Congressman?
COLLINS: Well, what I've heard is there was a lot of harsh language in that meeting. I certainly was not there.
COLLINS: The main issues are the disagreements on DACA, the Dreamers, and certainly chain migration.
COLLINS: And the like. Those are where the disagreements are, and people do, in the heat of the discussion, as it was said, there was rough language by a lot of folks there. And it's disappointing that anyone would leave a private meeting and politicize that and certainly a lot of that language was denied. So who am I to sit there and say who said this or said that?
All I know is this is a president who is not a racist, who cares about the young adults who are here now that have lived here most of their life.
COLLINS: He will be generous and compassionate with them. But he needs what he needs on the wall and border security. That's a reasonable compromise, and all of us need to do what they do in Europe and other countries, which is question the folks that are coming in asking to stay. What skills are you bringing? How are you going to contribute to our economy? We don't want you just going on the dole (ph). You know, only in the U.S. do we bring folks in, again, using chain migration and the lottery who may not have the skills to contribute to our society.
CUOMO: Well, but remember, Congressman, look, you guys are going to make your choices. You're going to make your votes, and then you're going to be judged on them.
But, look, I'm no preacher, but you know what it says at the foots of the statue of liberty. It doesn't say show me your degree, your economic viability and your high skills. You know, there are many different ways and people that came in. And let's face it. That's how our people got here, Congressman. That's why the Collins and Cuomos are here today. If it was all about high skill and having a big bank account, you know, you and I would be back in the --
COLLINS: Well, those were also different times.
CUOMO: It's true. But you still got to remember who you are. But you'll be judged by what you do. Congressman, thank you for being with us.
COLLINS: All right, Chris. Get some sleep.
CUOMO: Appreciate as always. Someday.
COLLINS: All right.
CUOMO: So, you know what, there's a lot to chew on once again. So let's bring back our great debaters. We're going to have Granholm versus Santorum talking about the other "s" word, shutdown. Can it be avoided? Nothing? No laugh out of you guys? Let's go to break.
[21:52:15] CUOMO: All right, time for round two of the great debate. Let's keep it light and tight. We have Jennifer Granholm and Rick Santorum back with us now.
One specific issue, OK? Here it is, Jennifer Granholm. The shutdown politics. Is it worth it to Democrats to vote to shut down the government by ignoring the continuing resolution to hold out for DACA reform?
GRANHOLM: Yes. And let me tell you quickly why. There were two polls out within the past four days, both of them said, number one, overwhelmingly independents by 77 to 80 percent support making the a DACA fix as part of this. Overwhelmingly, Democrats --
CUOMO: Nobody said as part of this. They said they want it.
GRANHOLM: -- only Republicans. But wait --
CUOMO: They said they want it, Jennifer. They didn't say shut down the government for it.
GRANHOLM: Yes, yes. No, no, but -- no they did. Well, here's the other poll that came out today, Chris, said that by 11 points, people will blame Republicans if there is a shutdown, because they see this as doable. I don't think this is over yet. I think that a crisis will exist up until the last minute. But for Republicans' sake, as well as Democratic sake, but really for the sake of those 800,000 people, this should be done this week.
SANTORUM: Well, it shouldn't be done this week. They should pass a clean cr. And the House is going to send them one, it's going to send them one, as you mentioned, with some very desirable things that the Democrats want and that the American public wants. And if the Democrats vote no and they kill it in the United States Senate, there's only one group that's going to be blamed for not getting CHIP extended, not getting the government not shut down, and it's going to be the Democrats.
Look, everybody time Democrats have lost this issue --
GRANHOLM: Not true.
SANTORUM: Every time they've lost, it's because Republicans were asking for something beyond a clean extension. They wanted more spending cuts, they wanted whatever. And as a result of that, they were targeted as the ones to be blamed for not getting it done. Republicans are putting up the votes --
GRANHOLM: Republicans are in control. They're in control.
SANTORUM: They're putting up the votes to pass this bill.
GRANHOLM: Then put them up and pass it.
SANTORUM: There are going to be Republican votes in the Senate to pass this. And if the Democrats decide not to do it, it is on their lap that this shutdown happens.
GRANHOLM: Democrats are fighting for those people that all -- that the vast majority of Americans want them to fight for.
SANTORUM: it has nothing to do with the budget extension --
GRANHOLM: Oh, absolutely it does.
SANTORUM: There's nothing to do -- no, it doesn't.
GRANHOLM: Stuff like this doesn't happen unless there s a crisis and a forcing mechanism.
SANTORUM: Stuff like this happens, Jennifer. It is reasonable people sit down --
GRANHOLM: -- 15,000 people have already lost their status, Rick. One hundred and twenty people per day are losing their status. This is not just about numbers. This is about people and it's got to be done this week.
SANTORUM: That's why reasonable people should sit down and work out a solution --
GRANHOLM: Totally agree.
SANTORUM: Based on what the president's doing. They haven't done that.
GRANHOLM: And there is one on the table. There is one on the table. Senator Graham, Senator Durbin, it's on the table.
[21:55:03] SANTORUM: I wouldn't vote for it. I don't know of any Republicans who would vote for it. The bottom line is, a compromise means both sides gets some of what they want, not all of what they want.
GRANHOLM: Yes, and both sides would get something on it. Both sides would get something on it. DACA would be repaired and the majority of people in both parties who want that to happen --
SANTORUM: Look, it's not like people -- you talk about people losing their status. It's not like people are being thrown out of this country and droves right now who are under DACA --
GRANHOLM: That is not true.
SANTORUM: That's just --
CUOMO: That is true.
GRANHOLM: That is not true.
CUOMO: All right.
GRANHOLM: People are being sent out -- yesterday, Chris, you interviewed a family --
CUOMO: All right, all right. I know, look, there's no question that we're seeing it happen in realtime. We covered it on the show.
GRANHOLM: In realtime.
CUOMO: Jorge Garcia sent away from his family. But can you get the fix done in time? And if it's not practical, is it worth disturbing the CR? I don't know. I'm of two minds about it because I've been listening to both you and it was fairly compelling.
GRANHOLM: Everybody has said you can get it done in time if the will is there.
CUOMO: Well, we will see. Rick, Jennifer, thank you, both.
SANTORUM: Thank you.
GRANHOLM: All right.
CUOMO: More "Cuomo Prime Time" right after this. I need time to think.
CUOMO: All right. I'll leave you with a good tip here. The reason that Durbin and Graham in the Senate and heard an (INAUDIBLE) in the House, that those two proposals are meeting resistance is because there are hardliners involved here, not just the moderates.
So tomorrow night on "Cuomo Prime Time", we have two of those hardliners. On the right, we have Congressman Jim Jordan. On the left, we have Congressman Keith Ellison, who's also deputy chair of the DNC. We will test them and see where it all comes out. Thanks for watching.
"CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon, the man, starts right now.