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Clock Ticks Toward Shutdown, Negotiations Heat Up; Trump: Russia Helping North Korea Skirt Sanctions. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 17, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So it's not at all atypical, but it's clearly heart disease. He has heart disease based on that test. That's the reason you order the test to try to figure out if heart disease is present.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, he's taking a statin Crestor, although they're increasing the dosage, right, Sanjay?

GUPTA: They are. Dr. Jackson talked about a few things yesterday. Increasing the dosage of the medication, saying that he's on the low dose of the statins medication now. Also talking about lifestyle changes, you know, specifically in terms of diet, focusing on a low carbohydrate, low fat diet and starting some sort of exercise regiment. Dr. Jackson saying that there really wasn't an exercise plan in place as of yet but he was -- he certainly wanted to encourage that.

But yes, increase that medication which is probably one of the biggest components in terms of protecting the president's heart down the road.

BLITZER: Sanjay, thanks very much. Sanjay Gupta, always providing us excellent, excellent information on these kinds of procedures.

That's it for me. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

In the meantime, the news continues right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. Here we go, top of the show. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The government runs out of money in two days time and the usual quick fix may not get the support it so desperately needs. You heard me. It's gotten to the point on Capitol Hill, that even kicking the can down the road is a tough sell.

We're talking about this short-term stopgap of the continuing resolution, or you heard people refer to it as a C.R., right? So Republicans, they got one together and these are some of the details to keep the wheels running at least until the 16th of February. But some factions may get in the way, mainly the conservative House Freedom Caucus, they want more money dedicated to defense spending while Democrats are feeling pressure from the Hispanic caucus who, by the way, met with the White House chief of staff John Kelly today. And we're talking to one of the members in just a bit here. Its

members, along with some Democratic leaders insist any funding bill must help Dreamers, those young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as kids trying to avoid deportation. But Democrats votes won't even matter if Republicans can't manage to get enough votes in their own party to pass this C.R. which is why the Freedom Caucus is so critical.

So, can Republicans, who, keep in mind, control the White House and the House and the Senate, avoid a shutdown all together?

Here's how House Speaker Paul Ryan.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think cool heads will hopefully prevail in this thing.

REPORTER: Do you have the Republican votes?

RYAN: We haven't even whipped it yet.


BALDWIN: Let's start at the White House. We know that briefing just wrapped.

Jim Acosta is our chief White House correspondent.

So, Jim, what will President Trump do? We heard Sarah Sanders, we want to avoid a government shutdown, you know? But we also heard her say, if the government shuts down, Democrats get the blame.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What will President Trump do, Brooke? That's the question I ask myself every morning when I open my eyes, but I think we're going to have to wait and see over the next 48 hours. You heard the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders say that they still want a clean two year spending bill to prevent the government from shutting down. They may have no choice but to sign a continuing resolution that keeps the government running and the question is, at this point, how many strings are attached and what are those strings?


ACOSTA: And do they have enough strings there to lure enough Democrats over to get this thing over the hump?

Because at this point, you have a number of Democrats and I think Lindsey Graham may have indicated in the last several minutes that he may not be keen on another C.R., that if they do not solve this DACA issue, this Dreamer issue, they may not just have enough Democrats to push this over the line.

Now, you heard Sarah Sanders preview what the White House is going to say if the government shuts down on Friday, a reminder, one day before the one-year anniversary of President Trump being sworn into office and when he's supposed to go to Mar-a-Lago, you heard Sarah Sanders saying, well, it will be Democrats to blame if that happens.

I think it has to be spoken after this briefing, Brooke, because it was extraordinary, that speech that Senator Jeff Flake gave earlier this morning in the way that Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary responded to that. You heard Senator Jeff Flake issued this warning to the country, to the Congress, that it has to stand up against a president who continues to go after the press, to denigrate free press in this country and all you really heard in terms of response from the White House to that is a personal attack on Senator Jeff Flake. That, of course, he's criticizing the president because of his poll numbers.

I thought that was worth underlining as well and the specter of Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon has left the White House but he's never really left the White House. It was interesting to note that Sarah Sanders said during the briefing that yes, the White House was in communication with Bannon's team yesterday to make sure that Bannon knew what the White House essentially wanted him to say or not to say while he was talking to investigators yesterday.

I thought that was very interesting because it seems even though Steve Bannon has left this White House, he has not truly left the scene and the White House saying during the briefing, Brooke, that they're not afraid of what Steve Bannon has to say.

[14:05:04] My sense of it, Brooke, from talking to a number of people, they are concerned about what Steve Bannon has to say and partly because the president has attacked him so much, they are worried that Bannon is feeling emboldened to say basically whatever he feels he needs to say, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jim Acosta, thank you with all of the headlines. We're going to go deeper into them now. Thank you, my friend.

We have Sabrina Siddiqui here, politics reporter for "The Guardian", Rob Astorino, long time friend of President Trump, who is the Republican nominee for New York governor, and Jon Selib, former tax and investigative counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

So, good to have all of you here.

Sabrina, just starting with you. Just for people wrapping their heads around this sort of this state of play, right? I think we can agree that people don't want the government to shut down, right? Republicans want some things, Democrats want other things. But now you have, it's worth talking about CHIP, which is Children's Health Insurance Program.

So, it's not -- DACA is something separate, Dreamers are something separate, but the Republicans have now said, OK, we'll extend funding for CHIP, which is something very enticing for a lot of these Democrats and we'll extend that funding for six years, daring Democrats to vote no. SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Absolutely. I

think part of the calculation there is that there are a number of red state Democrats who are up for reelection in 2018, and they do not believe it's good politics to potentially be blamed for a government shutdown over specifically the issue of Dreamers. So, the Republicans kind of extend this olive branch on Children's Health Insurance Program is to put those senators in a tough spot and dare them to vote against a bill that includes it.

Having said that, there's never been a government shutdown when one party has controlled both chambers of Congress as well as the White House. I also think that there is a lot of pressure on Republicans to corral votes within their own party. It's not clear that the Republican-led House can pass another short-term continuing resolution. A lot of their members express frustration with the stopgap measures that kick the can down the road and impose yet another arbitrary deadline for them to have to resolve in the coming weeks and months.

BALDWIN: As we pointed out a second ago, this could sort of be moot in a sense, Rob, because Republicans could have enough votes to get this through and kick it down the road a little bit farther, but then you have more hard-line conservatives, you know, Mark Meadows, House Freedom Caucus and they have their own issues with some of what's in this.

So, how do you see it playing out?

ROB ASTORINO (R), FORMER CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Well, I think the Democrats have more to lose here than Republicans, believe it or not.


ASTORINO: Because -- well, if it is seen as being held up because of immigration and DACA, then the Democrats will have drifted so far from where they were five or 10 years ago where they have a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. That distinction will be lost now, because what will happen -- you'll have big rallies, protests in cities like New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, and what we'll be there? You'll have Mexican flags and other flags. That will be the vision that Americans are going to see that, wait a minute, this party shut the government down for people who do not live here, hurting people who do live here and our citizens. I think that could become the narrative.

So, I think the Democrats are playing a little fire here. I think the Republicans have to offer an olive branch, maybe CHIP is it, but I think the Republicans might be more -- I think they would rather wait to get a good deal than a bad deal.

BALDWIN: Is your party playing with fire?

JON SELIB, FORMER TAX & INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: No, this is government 101, right? Keep the government open. Republicans control the White House, they control Congress. You know, it's incumbent on them to work with Democrats if they want their votes.

You know, Democrats have been very clear from the beginning that they want to protect these Dreamers. These are children that were brought to the United States by their parents through no decision of their own and are now being threatened to be kicked out. So, Trump created this problem because he ended this program.

ASTORINO: Obama started the problem.


SELIB: Excuse me, he then offered a deal to Senator Schumer and Pelosi to fix the Dreamers program and to extend it. He then asked for a bipartisan solution which was delivered to his doorstep and he blew up. And now, he's threatening to shut down the government unless he doesn't get everything he wants in this spending bill.

BALDWIN: Accepting this olive branch that you mentioned which -- isn't it just a sad state of affairs if we're talking children's health care as an olive branch?

ASTORINO: Yes. But it's an emotional argument that's being used to get what they want. I think everyone can get something in this. No one is going to get 100 percent. That's just not how it works.

But I think the real issue is, is it over illegal immigration? And yes, there are a lot of kids who were here and we all want them to be able to stay. I think most people, many Republicans, too, want them to be able to stay.

But it's a sticking point in a bigger argument. And if the Democrats are willing to say, you know what, we're going to shut down essential services, we're going to shut down the government because of people who are here illegally, that's a problem that needs to be dealt with and hurt our own citizens. I think that's a distinction that people are going to say, excuse me. Really?

BALDWIN: I want to play some sound and I want to get reaction to this, just in this whole conversation, but also turning the page.

[14:10:02] A member of the president's own party, Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor this morning. We know he's been extraordinarily critical of the president right in the past. That's not the news. And he also, by the way, not running for reelection, so he can speak freely. But not only did he take on the president, he took on the president attacking the truth. Here he is.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: No longer can we compound the attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence. No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those assaults on our institutions, and, Mr. President, 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. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to that danger. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's not

criticizing the president because he's against oppression. He's criticizing the president because he has terrible poll numbers. And he is I think looking for some attention.

I think it's unfortunate and, certainly, I think our position here at the White House is that we welcome access to the media everyday.


BALDWIN: So, just going back to Senator Flake, you know, he's not only calling out the president. He's calling out members of Congress for standing behind the president and saying, you need to call out his lies.

SIDDIQUI: Well, I think that you've heard many criticisms from Senator Jeff Flake when it comes to this president and the ways in which Flake believes that he's undermining U.S. democracy or threatening a lot of the traditional norms that uphold this government and its system, but he also has said time and again, that he thinks Republicans are somewhat complicit in not speaking out enough and not using the authority that they have as members of Congress to act as that check and balance that they campaigned and said they would be if Trump was in fact elected.

I do think there's some critics of Flakes who say, at the same time, he's largely voted in line with this president's agenda, although, he differs on some key issues like immigration. And also that he has significant oversight powers as a senator.

So, I do think there's a question to where this is going. Does he plan to use this authority more in the coming year now that he has nothing left to lose? Is he going to mount an independent challenge against this president come 2020? That all remains to be seen. But it's still remarkable to see a sitting senator of the president's own party attack him in this way.

BALDWIN: Rob, is he wrong? When it come to this?

ASTORINO: Well, I think he was gutsy to do that. I also think he was over the top. I think that fundamentally, this country needs a very strong fourth estate, it needs a very strong media. But let's face it, the media has had a lot of oops moments too. And you can see in the Gallup poll, since 2004, steadily declining the trust that the American people has in the media. And that's a big problem in and of itself.

BALDWIN: Can we talk about the trust of the president?

ASTORINO: No, no, but it didn't start -- what I'm saying is it didn't start with President Trump in the last year. It started 15 years ago and it's eroding, and that in and of itself is very problematic.

There's a lot of blame to go around. I think President Trump is silly when he starts going on the tangents. I think it does not make it easier for him to get his agenda passed. BALDWIN: Not just silly, but it's lying.

ASTORINO: Sometimes it's totally wrong. I agree with that. But I also think the blame is not just one person or one party. There's a lot of blame to go around, and that is being seen and felt by the American people as a whole.

BALDWIN: How do you see it?

SELIB: Well, look, I started my career in Washington as a lawyer doing oversight work in Congress. So, I'm a big believer in Congress serving as the oversight branch. I -- you know, I started my career working with Republicans hand in hand doing oversight on the Bush administration and they were willing to hold them to account back then on a whole host of issues.

You know, that's something that Washington needs again, and particularly with this administration who have, you know, attacked the media and made all of these misleading claims. You know, you need another branch of government to hold them to account, and that's the role of Congress. So, I agree with Flake 100 percent here.

ASTORINO: Well, the one thing with Jeff Flake is, please, don't start saying any U.S. president is anywhere near a Joseph Stalin. Can we all agree on that one?

BALDWIN: I think there was much to do about comparisons and, right, I hear you. I think it was about the truth and less about obviously, with the atrocities that are being committed that's entirely not comparable.

Thank you all so much for the conversation here.

Coming up next here on CNN, despite a glowing review by the White House doctor, there are new questions today that are being asked about the president's health reports. Specifically, does the president have heart disease?

And Steve Bannon strikes a deal in this Russia investigation. He agrees to sit down face-to-face with a special counsel Bob Mueller and his team. We'll talk with a member of the House Intelligence Committee who grilled Steve Bannon for more than 10 hours.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:19:20] BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN.

We've got some breaking news here just coming in. As a result of the conversation "Reuters" has been having with the president of the United States, a couple of headlines out of it so far. The fact that President Trump says that Russia is helping North Korea get supplies and in violation, he says, of international sanctions. So, that's point number one. And point number two, North Korea is getting closer every day to developing long range missiles to hit the United States. So, let's begin with that first point.

Bob Baer, let me bring you in, our CNN and intelligence security analyst and former CIA operative.

One, the fact that the president is saying Russia is helping North Korea get supplies.

[14:20:02] What do you think about that?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Brooke, I think he's right. I mean, this missile technology, they're not making it from scratch in North Korea, anything from laser altimeters to guidance system, to reentry and the rest of it. They've moved too fast, too far in a short time. Undoubtedly, you know, I think there's probably good intelligence on this, they're getting it from Russia and that's not to mention violations on oil imports into North Korea and the rest of it.

The Russians are not our friends. And they are enjoying this, that North Korea is causing us so many problems. The president's right.

BALDWIN: Stand by, Bob. I've got Barbara Starr also joining us as another voice here, our correspondent over at the Pentagon.

We're just getting this information in and go ahead and tell us more because I understand one of the headlines, Barbara, on North Korea, the president won't say if he is considering or the U.S. will be considering a preemptive strike.

What do you know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, that's right. Of course, no president is going to talk about future military strikes. But what we do know is President Trump, like every president, has that full range of options for North Korea. We're in a period right now of a lot of contradictory language and it's hard to unpack what it all means.

Mr. Trump has been publicly very conciliatory towards Kim Jong-un, you know, saying he'd have a good relationship with him, however, you parse whether that language is a future relationship or an existing relationship. He's got that conciliatory language on the one hand, and on the other hand, he has the language, you know, his button to push nuclear weapons is bigger than Kim's button.

We're in a period right now going into the Olympics where everybody wants to have a peaceful Olympics, but I think everyone is also looking at what happens after that. What this story tells us is that nothing fundamentally has changed. Kim Jong-un, by all accounts from the U.S. intelligence community, has no interest, no inclination, no intention of giving up his nuclear and missile program.

That puts Mr. Trump in a very difficult position. The sanctions are one tool, diplomatic action, the threats of military action. But if Kim isn't going to give up his weapons, then what are you really going to do about it?

You know, you have Russia helping, you have China helping. You can't be in a constant state of unrest with these two major countries. You have to find a way to work with them. And they're inclined to back off helping North Korea at this point.

So, it's becoming a very big problem and I have to say that we have people, top officials telling us it could be the case that we're on the edge of the United States simply having to accept the reality that North Korea is a nuclear state. They will not be denuclearized and have to learn as a country, the United States, to live with a nuclear North Korea and that would be a really major change and something Mr. Trump would find very different than the policy he wants which is denuclearization.

China and Russia, he's making it clear, they are not helping with it and Kim is not about to give it up.

BALDWIN: Bob, I want you to jump in on this. This is -- as I have been listening to Barbara, you know, the other headline in the papers and out of CNN today is the fact that ahead next month, is you have the Olympics being held in South Korea. The news out today is that you have the North and the South apparently set to march together this year.

What do you -- you know, is this friendly behavior? And talking to other experts, they're saying, it's perfect especially from the Northern perspective of been placing this wedge, right, between the South and the U.S. in this relationship with the South and the North.

BAER: Yes, exactly, Brooke. They want to outmaneuver us, the North Koreans do.


BAER: And split off South Korea because we don't have a ready solution in what to do about the North's, what, nuclear weapons and missiles. So, they're trying to drive this wedge between us, combining the teams at the Olympics is symbolic. But on the other hand, they're offering olive branch to the South Koreans and they may take it up.

I mean, this is our worst foreign policy nightmare as North Korea getting a missile with nuclear weapons that could get New York City and we have no outs and we have no allies. And will the president launch a preemptive attack? Well, so far, there's no logistics in place to do that. Let's wait and see.

BALDWIN: Bob and Barbara, thank you. Stand by, everyone.

Coming up next here, a major development in the Russia investigation. Sources telling CNN that Steve Bannon has now struck a deal with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team. Next, we'll talk to a member of the House Intelligence Committee who spent more than 10 hours behind closed doors questioning Steve Bannon. What he revealed, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The White House physician gave President Trump a pretty clean bill of health. In fact, he called his overall condition excellent. But he did say the president needs to lose some weight either by better diet and exercise. And there is some debate on whether the president has heart disease.

So, our own chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explains the numbers flat out show that the president has heart disease and the White House today, though, standing by the doctor's report.


SANDERS: Dr. Jackson has been a White House physician for the last 12 years, trusted by President Bush, President Obama, and now, President Trump. He is the only doctor that has weighed in on this matter that has actually examined the president.