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Trump's "Excellent" Health: Heart Disease, Nearly Obese; Flake Compares Trump to Stalin on Media Treatment; Threat of Government Shutdown Grows; Deep Freeze Causing Flight Delays, Cancellations. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 17, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The heart looks to be fine right now. There is some evidence of disease though, and that means there's disease in the blood vessels that feed the heart. If that disease or that narrowing gets worse over time, that's when you start to worry about some heart problem down the line. They can categorize this by the amount of plaque he has in his blood vessels. He has a moderate chance of having heart problems over next several years, if he doesn't do anything about it, if he doesn't correct the diet and increase exercise --


GUPTA: -- and take medications and do those things that Dr. Jackson, I think, any doctor would recommend for him.

KEILAR: And we know, Sanjay, that his life -- if you want to call it a lifestyle profile in terms of his exercise, what he eats -- he has a Diet Coke addiction. He has several of them per day. Knowing that, what would the recommendation be to a patient like that?

GUPTA: Well, you know, what Dr. Jackson said he's recommended is to go on a low-carb, low-fat diet, which makes a lot of people's eyes glaze over when they hear that, but that is going to be the standard recommendation, a heart healthy diet. He said he would talk to the White House chefs about that and engage the help of the first family to make that more of a reality. And start some sort of exercise program. He doesn't really have an exercise program right now. So starting anything would be an improvement in terms of exercise. But that's, again, what Dr. Jackson is talking about. And I think any doctor would recommend for a patient like President Trump, 71 years old, with what is a fairly average sort of amount of heart disease. He also is increasing the dosage of that medication, that cholesterol- lowering medication, which I think is very important here, given his cholesterol has continued to go up, the bad type of cholesterol has continued to go up, and the amount of heart disease he has continued to go up. Some numbers over the past year have increased pretty significantly.

KEILAR: Thank you so much for explaining that to us. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, live for us at the White House today.

Now I want to talk about Senator Jeff Flake. He delivered a scathing speech on the Senate floor a short time ago and compared President Trump to Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin. The Arizona Republican criticized Mr. Trump for his attacks on the media.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R), ARIZONA: Despotism is the enemy of the people. A free press is the despot's enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflectively calls any press that doesn't suit him fake news, it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press. We know well that no matter how powerful, no president will ever have dominion over objective reality.

An American president who cannot take criticism who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame is charting a very dangerous path.

Simply put, it's the press's obligation to uncover the truth about power. It is the people's right to criticize their government, and it is our job to take it.


KEILAR: So what is Jeff Flake's objective and do his words even matter? He is, after all, going to leave the Senate.

Joining me to talk about this is CNN political commentator, Paul Begala, and Jason Miller, a CNN political commentator and former communications adviser for Trump campaign.

Jason, when you listened to Jeff Flake's comments, and a lot of it he was talking about a need for shared truth, and he was really saying there shouldn't be an attack on truth that Donald Trump has executed in his belief. What did you make of the comments.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was watching his speech earlier and found it pretty ridiculous. This is what the swamp does. Today, we're talking about the potential government shutdown this coming Friday unless Hill leaders from both sides can come together and put together a plan. The president is trying to get a deal done on DACA, which I think --


KEILAR: Republicans are going it alone, right now, it looks like.

MILLER: Democrats need to get with it. We need to keep government open. I think that will really bite Democrats if they don't come on board and do something here.

But we have a president willing to come up with a solution on DACA and something to reform our broken immigration system. This is something that Senator Flake has been championing for the last 18 years he's been in Washington. He's been in Washington for a long time. But rather than go to the Senate floor and do something about keeping the government open and making sure the military is funded or coming up with a deal on DACA, his signature issue, I think when folks look back, he'll be known for two things, one, trying to take on Trump and, number two, his position for open borders. Instead, he's attacking President Trump. Today, it sounded like a Jefferson-Jackson Day stump speech like he's going to run for president as a Democrat than trying to solve any problems.

KEILAR: What do you think, Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Senator Flake is one of the most conservative members of the Republican Party. And that speech, he gave it on the Senate floor. That will be an important part of the history of this era. President Trump is only one year into a four- year contract, but I think he's already distinguished himself as a liar. Remember, Shakespeare said Macbeth doth murder truth, Donald Trump murders -- Macbeth murders sleep, Donald Trump murders truth. Two-thirds of the American people think he's not honest in this week's Quinnipiac poll. Leading members of his own party point that out. His first real act was to lie to the American people, about something stupid, as Senator Flake said in his speech today, the size of his crowd. But he has been actually counted by fact-checkers. The "Washington Post's" Glenn Kessler has counted 2,000 lies in less than a year. He is an extravagant, extraordinary liar who has brought this morale rot to the American presidency. And a member of his own party calling him out on that is historically significant. Not politically. It won't help to get a budget passed. But it's terribly important because it's part of a larger picture. When you compare our president, my president to Josef Stalin to Rodrigo Duterte, the dictator in the Philippines, to Bashar al Assad, the dictator in Syria. that's extraordinary. I never even heard a Democrat --


[11:36:04] KEILAR: Do you think that's a fair comparison?


BEGALA: In the sense they lie, yes. He is a liar.


KEILAR: They are known for other things too, Paul.


BEGALA: This was a speech about attacking the press. This president attacks the press. I would extend that. He doesn't only attack the press. He calls judges so-called judges and attacks them because they are a check on his power. He said the FBI is in tatters because they are investigating. He said the CIA is like the Gestapo. He attacks the press. He attacks any check on his power because he would to be like Duterte, Assad, Putin, Stalin. That's his goal. He's an autocrat.

KEILAR: I have to let you respond to that.

MILLER: I think it's completely out of bounds to compare the president of United States to Stalin, who killed millions of people. It shows how personal it's become for the creatures of the swamp, those in Washington that, if they can't get it their way, then they'll go to attacks like this. It goes back to my earlier point, that what did Senator Flake think he was going to accomplish by this? It's pretty clear the Republican Party has shifted a lot since he got here 18 years ago. He's no longer relevant. He'll lose his primary if he tried to run for re-election this go around. So he's bitter.

KEILAR: I've even heard Democratic observers, Paul, say, I don't know if he should be compared to Stalin, and they have raised that question.

However, John McCain takes a more nuanced approach. In an op-ed he wrote, also from Arizona, he says in this "Washington Post" op-ed, "Whether President Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shudder one of the key pillars of democracy.

BEGALA: The point, Jason, is, all right, so Donald Trump, you know, if you don't lump him in, as you say, and many others say, with Stalin, there are other leaders who have at their disposal harsh measures that are not acceptable here in the U.S. and they use Donald Trump for cover.

MILLER: None of that is happening here in the United States. Obviously --


KEILAR: No, no. I'm talking -- that's not the question. Donald Trump talking about foreign leader who look to what he says and use that for cover in what they are -- in what they are doing, which is even taking out individuals in their country.


KEILAR: What do you say to that?

MILLER: Respectfully speaking, I think that's plain silly.


MILLER: To think that a dictator in another country will use -- it's at all believable that they could use President Trump as an excuse for their behavior. There's no place for violence and no place for treating journalists like that, which they do in some these dictatorship countries. And trying to pull President Trump in on that is out of bounds. But, again, I think Senator Flake and even Senator McCain, they really lose the moral high ground they might have with their argument when they get in and going into the name calling and throwing attacks like that. To attack -- to compare someone to --


KEILAR: John McCain didn't call him a name. He didn't call him a name here.

MILLER: He's saying -- comparing him to -- pulling in dictators from other countries. I mean, it's the juxtaposition of the two that they are trying --


BEGALA: He plainly admires these dictators. There's an important difference. Stalin had around him an evil machine. This president has around him a virtuous machine of democracy. But that's the test. This will be the test of the Trump era. Those that believe in democracy, freedom and truth and justice, and Donald Trump who attacks all of those things including truth every single day.

[11:39:20] KEILAR: Paul Begala and Jason Miller, I'm out of time. Thank you, gentlemen, so much. I appreciate it.

Coming up, the prospects of a government shutdown, they are looking more likely by the second, in fact. Are lawmakers just going to kick the can down the road or can they reach a deal that funds the government, strengthens the border, and helps hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who fear being deported? We'll ask a lawmaker in the thick of this fight, next.


KEILAR: With every passing second, a government shutdown is drawing closer, and House Republicans are pushing a one-month stop-gap plan to keep the lights on. Can the majority party get the deal done without Democrat support? That is looking unlikely. Conservatives are not on board with the rest of their party. House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows says between the no's and undecideds, there's not enough support to pass the plan with Republican-only votes.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Scott Taylor, of Virginia.

Congressman, thank you for taking the time today.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR, (R), VIRGINIA: Good afternoon. Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: I want to know what you think, because there really seem to be a couple of camps here and I'm wondering which one you're a member of. There is this plan that the leadership, your leadership is proposing, a 28-day extension to fund the government. It has some sweeteners in there for Democrats, like an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years, or on the other side, you have conservatives who are saying we want a full year of defense funding with a short-term funding extension. Where do you fall?

[11:45:09] TAYLOR: Well, at the moment, I'm undecided on the whole thing. Obviously, I serve and have the honor of serving a district that has more military and veterans than anyone in the nation. It's a big deal for me to make sure we get rid of these caps because we have a huge problem of military readiness and maintenance. Deployment schedules have been extended. That's really bad for our military. We had almost 80 deaths, if I'm not mistaken, over training last year. It's important that we deal with that issue.

At the same time, shutting down the government is not good for anybody. It's truly not. I'm been on this program before and speaking about the DACA population. Republicans want more security. We want disincentives that have the problem happening again, in exchange, of course, for dealing with this population, which I think we should do.

At the same time, I don't think it's appropriate to put that on a spending thing and hold up military spending -- I gave you a couple of reasons why military-wise -- with the DACA population on a spending bill. It's an abdication of duty to shut down the government based on that.

KEILAR: What is it going to take for you to come to a decision?

TAYLOR: So I think I'm going to have conversations back home with folks in the military and my constituents as well, too. I'm conflicted, of course, because I know that C.R.s, these continuing resolutions that happened, it's a bad way to run government. It's been happening for a while now. Again, it hurts our military. It hurts folks fighting every day and maintenance. And people have literally died because of training accidents and not being prepared. I'm conflicted about it but, at the same time, I know it's bad to shut down government. And it would hurt -- it would harm Virginia and my district, of course. But at some time, we need to stand up and we need to say that these C.R.s, that this sequestration that happened on the military are hurting men and women in uniform that are going forward and courageously fighting for us. So --


KEILAR: Do you like the idea theoretically of a full year --


KEILAR: Do you like the idea of a full year of defense funding attached to a temporary funding for the rest of the government? Are you comfortable with that, but you have reservations? If so, what are they?

TAYLOR: I am comfortable with that. My reservation, I don't think the Senate will take it up. For the first time in 10 years, the House has passed all 12 appropriations bills. I think it's the responsible thing to do to fund the military, of course. And I don't think it's a partisan thing. As Republicans and Democrats, we should come together as Americans and do that. But I'm not sure the Senate will take it up, that they have the 60 votes and playing politics to do it.


TAYLOR: And so that's my reservation --


KEILAR: I mean, it's widely seen as unrealistic for even getting through the House. That's really a problem.

(CROSSTALK) KEILAR: Even besides getting the ball in the Senate's court, I wonder then --


TAYLOR: If I may.


TAYLOR: I think it would get through the House pretty convincingly with the Senate. But I think why it's unrealistic, in leadership's mind, is the Senate won't take it up.


KEILAR: The Senate won't take it up.

TAYLOR: Yes. The Senate won't take it up, which is, again, in my opinion, irresponsible for our military --


KEILAR: Unrealistic it would get through Congress. It is not seen as a realistic vehicle. Then you have one option, right, this option that your leadership is proposing, unless there's some other option that you were in favor of.


KEILAR: Or are you just more willing to have Democrats in the House, instead, have to vote on it, and try to blame them even though you guys are in power and it seem you would be blamed for a shutdown?

TAYLOR: Look, I don't care about the blame. It's important we fund our military. I don't care about the politics when it comes to that. It's important. That to me, as an American, that's the first thing we should do. Again, I'm not blaming Democrats, but I do think it's irresponsible to try to put DACA on the spending thing when it should be alone and separate with the Republicans who want border security and more disincentives to have this happen again and --


TAYLOR: -- I don't think it's responsible to have that in a spending bill.

KEILAR: It's not -


KEILAR: This new proposal by your leadership, it's not on that proposal. It's -- it's not on that proposal.

TAYLOR: That's correct, but Democrats are trying to force it on the proposal. That's my point.

KEILAR: I will end by saying it seems possible that Senate Democrats would pass that. We will see.

Congressman Scott Taylor, of Virginia, we certainly appreciate you being on with us. Thank you.

TAYLOR: Thank you so much.

[11:49:30] KEILAR: Still ahead, a deep freeze hitting millions and causing misery at airports. This is a live look at security lines in Atlanta. We have the latest on the flight delays, next.


KEILAR: Millions of people are feeling the freeze this morning, and a lot of them are not used to feeling it. Overnight, there was a winter storm that dumped snow, ice, frigid air from the Florida panhandle all the way to New England. Officials are warning people to stay off the roads. Thinking about flying? That's not going to be a whole lot better than driving today. Over 1500 flights have been grounded so far. The worst of the cancellations are hitting Boston and Atlanta.

That's where we find CNN's Dianne Gallagher. She's live inside of Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson International Airport.

There are a lot of people moving pretty darn slowly behind you, Dianne.

[11:54:43] DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. I just want to illustrate here. All of these people, there are four lines just like this one that go all the way back to TSA security this way waiting to get in. This is, of course, the busiest airport in the world. You're talking a quarter of a million passengers who come through every single day. They had a lot of delays this morning. Some of the runways were shut down. Delta, which, of course, this is its hub, has canceled about 600 flights so far. That's not even counting all of those delays from the other airlines in Delta as well. There are people who sat on tarmacs waiting for their flights to de- ice. Then you've got the domino effect. Everybody who's come out to try and rebook, even if there are planes here, they may not have crews in Atlanta to get them to other places right now. And, Brianna, as you guys know, this storm is going up on the east coast and the mid- Atlantic. So some places aren't able to accept those flights as well.

A lot of people here say they're trying to be patient. They understand planes, snow, and ice don't mix very well. Still a lot of patience they'll need.

KEILAR: Certainly, will be.

Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much.

Up next, the clock is ticking towards a government shutdown. We'll have the latest from Capitol Hill after a quick break.