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White House Pushes Back on Trump Physical Showing Heart Disease; Steve Bannon Cuts Deal with Mueller on Interview. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired January 17, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:00] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Dr. Jackson has been a White House physician for the last 12 years, trusts 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, and so I think a doctor that has spent the amount of time with the president as Dr. Jackson has, is not only the most qualified, but the only credible source when it comes to diagnosing any health concerns. And we support what he said yesterday 100 percent that the president is in excellent health.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Gupta just responded to the White House a moment ago on CNN, standing by what the numbers show.

So I want to talk about the other part of the physical, this cognitive test, the one the president requested.

With me now, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the chair of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

And nice to have you on, sir.

Thank you.

BALDWIN: Just focusing on cognitive -- we'll get into neurological and mental health in just a second -- but when we hear Dr. Jackson saying the president scored a 30 out of 30 on this cognitive test, give me an example of what a cognitive test is.

DR. JEFFREY LIEBERMAN, CHAIR OF PSYCHIATRY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: This assessment was added to what would be the routine battery of assessments that presidents go through annually, and this was added presumably to quell or address the concern raised by the president's behavior and his mental competence. And --


BALDWIN: What kind of questions are on the test. Give me an example.

LIEBERMAN: This is a very cursory, simple assessment of a person's cognitive function, meaning, the ability to pay attention and ability to concentrate, ability to remember things and the ability to make decisions about the similarities between objects. It's very routine.

BALDWIN: What would it be something as simple as two plus two equals four or --


LIEBERMAN: Yes, or what do an apple and orange have in common? Can you remember these five words? Give me 10 words that begin with the letter "F." So these are simple things that are reasonable but relatively superficial about cognition. But the president passed and has a clean bill of health. What I would have liked to have seen, if there's any suspicion, as I'm sure there is, about his mental status, is to go a little bit further, which could have easily been done. That could have been done with an MRI. If you look at the report of the exam, the president had five different procedures in the physical exam. He had a chest C.T., a CAT scan, an EKG, and stress echo cardiogram, and then he had also exercise stress echo cardiogram on his heart. And then colonoscopy. All this emphasis on the heart, what about the brain?

BALDWIN: What about the brain, that's what you said. There should be more. Not just this president but other presidents, once a year, the president should go in and have not just a physical, but the brain neuro be tested.

LIEBERMAN: To change the goalposts in the middle of his presidential term is a little unfair. On the other hand, he's calling the questions with his behavior. But it could be used constructively to develop a procedure in which there is a comprehensive evaluation of presidents coming into office and annually.

BALDWIN: Dr. Lieberman, when you wrote in "The New York Times," maybe Trump is not mentally ill, maybe he's just a jerk, you were calling out some members in the field and saying let's not armchair diagnose him because none of us have actually treated him, so stop doing that. But in the meantime, you're saying, maybe he's just a jerk.

LIEBERMAN: That's my right as a citizen. The First Amendment, I can express my opinions about somebody. But I'm not doing it as a doctor saying there's no medical diagnose of jerk and that jerk is a condition that disqualifies you from holding office. The problem is that there's not a procedure that's in place to evaluate not just the body from the neck down, but also from the neck up in our president's. And the 25th Amendment hasn't been developed in a way that allows it to be called or invoked if there's a serious concern. But it also reflects one other thing, which is the reason why I've gotten involved in this, because I'm just a scientist/clinician. I'm not the journalist or politician. Psychiatry historically has had a checkered history. It's had a number of problems in which it's been exploited by governments for political purposes. The Soviet Union repressing dissidents were giving mental diagnoses. Peoples Republic of China, religious groups, like Felon Gong (ph). And also, in this country, until the 1970s, a relative could have their family member committed because they say they're crazy and the doctor agrees with them. In the 1970s, it became a different standard and psychiatry is at risk for being exploited and we can't allow that to happen. BALDWIN: OK. Hopefully, other people are listening to you.

Dr. Lieberman, thank you so much. Appreciate you.

[14:35:05] LIEBERMAN: Pleasure.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, on Steve Bannon, he struck a deal on the Russia investigation, agreeing to sit down face-to-face with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. We'll talk to a member of the House Intel Committee who grilled Bannon for more than 10 hours. Did they learn anything new? That's what we're asking, next.


BALDWIN: Steve Bannon is ready to talk openly with special counsel Robert Mueller's team. Sources tell CNN that President Trump's former chief strategist has struck a deal to keep from testifying before a grand jury. This is happening as we are learning Bannon came face-to- face with FBI agents last week who tried to serve him with the subpoena to testify. Multiple sources say he referred the agents to the attorney and Bannon faced questions from congressional investigators.

Joining me from Capitol Hill, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congresswoman, always a pleasure. Welcome back.


[14:40:02] BALDWIN: I want to begin with Steve Bannon. You heard from Mr. Bannon yesterday. He kept citing executive privilege, so many times that your committee, with a Republican chair, had to subpoena him to compel him to answer. What was it that he was refusing to answer?

SPEIER: It wasn't him as much as his attorney in consultation with the White House general counsel who was calling the shots, frankly. It was the White House who was playing a dance, frankly, to try and invoke executive privilege without invoking it. We have to call Mr. Bannon back because he was unable to answer any questions about the transition or term of strategist with the White House from January 20th to when he was terminated.

BALDWIN: So just so I'm clear, during the questioning, Bannon's attorney was communicated with the White House during the questions?

SPEIER: No, not actually during the questions. Before he came to testify and then we took a recess and then he communicated with the White House during that recess to get instructions as to what Mr. Bannon going to be able to respond to.

BALDWIN: So on the instructions, do you feel like the White House forced the lawyer and then Steve Bannon to keep quiet?

SPEIER: Oh, I think there's no question about that. Our ranking member referred to it as a gag order imposed by the White House, and for all intents and purposes, that's what it was. The extent to which they continue to do that with other personnel, be it Mr. Dirdon (ph) or Hope Hicks, we'll have a challenge for us because the executive privilege can only be invoked with a national security issue or when it's the best interest of the public to keep something private. And those presidents who have tried to invoke this privilege in the past, when it's gone to court, they have failed.


SPEIER: -- Clinton, Obama. So I think this is a stall tactic by the president.

BALDWIN: So what did he say? What did he say of substance that was news to you?

SPEIER: I'm not at liberty to tell you what he said of substance because these are classified interviews. But I can tell you that there was some information that was new to us that we had not heard before but again, it was only information we were able to gleam during the transition, not when the president took office.

BALDWIN: What do you think of Steve Bannon striking this deal with the special prosecutor to avoid testifying in front of a grand jury?

SPEIER: I think he's going to do what's in his best interest, as would any witness. And in the end, he will comply with the subpoena or negotiate an interview independent of the subpoena.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about this. Friday is a big day. The government shutdown. You voted for a continuing resolution in early December, and then voted against the last one in late December. How will you vote now?

SPEIER: I'll vote no on this continuing resolution, if it's not a clean C.R. If it is clean, I'll certainly vote for it. But the Republicans are, you know, trying to play games, frankly, with shutting down the government. I don't think that makes a lot of sense. I don't want to see the government shut down, so a clean C.R. makes sense. But to --

BALDWIN: What about CHIP and those nine million new children in this country and how they've thrown that in. And so if you would be voting no, you vote no to the nine million kids as well. Are you willing to do that?

SPEIER: So it's not just the nine million kids. They are excluding all the qualified clinics, which is a huge component of the health care these children receive. And the efforts to unwind the Affordable Care Act are transparent. Getting rid of funding sources so there will no longer be subsidies to low-income people who are paying for their insurance but have a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, it's an effort to kill the Affordable Care Act by a thousand cuts.

BALDWIN: I understand what you're saying. A lot of people listening would absolutely agree with you. But just so I'm clear, since you wouldn't be getting all that you wish for, you would be willing to shut the government down or be one vote towards shutting the government down because of it?

[14:45:12] SPEIER: So I don't think the government will be shut down. I don't think they have the votes in the House for what they're proposing and certainly, in the Senate. Neither the House nor the Senate. The dance will probably turn into a clean C.R. that will continue the government operations for another month.

BALDWIN: We'll have this conversation then.

Lastly, but so importantly, Congresswoman, your sexual harassment legislation is being unveiled today. This is a big day for you. You had mentioned recently that there were at least two current lawmakers accused of these things. Can you share any sort of update on them and are they still walking those hallowed halls of Congress?

SPEIER: I can tell you one of them still is. There was a settlement under the old rules that presently exist that created a settlement. The victim has declined to come forward. And I have said from the outset that I was going to protect the victims. I'm not so interested in the harassment, certainly, but I don't want the victim to be harmed further than they already have been.

But moving forward, the bill that will be dropped today is a bipartisan measure. I'm thrilled to be introducing it along with the chair of the Committee, Greg Harper (ph), and Bradley Burn (ph). And it's a measure that includes all of the elements of the "Me Too" legislation that I originally introduced, plus a little bit more. So we have just a very strong piece of legislation that is going to protect staff members on Capitol Hill forever more. And it will also be a model that I think the private sector will look at.

BALDWIN: Hopefully.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you very much.

SPEIER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here, with the government shutdown looming, as we were just discussing, go behind the scene of an intense meeting today between the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, and Democrats who say no deal without a plan for the so-called DREAMers. We'll talk to someone in the room, who ended up apologizing to the chief of staff. That's next.


[14:51:44] BALDWIN: With only three days to go, with hopes of avoiding a government shutdown, Republicans are losing support within their own party for a temporary deal to keep the government funded. And some Democrats say, bottom line, there will be no deal without a plan for DREAMers, the nearly 700,000 undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children. Today, some of their biggest advocates met with chief of staff, John Kelly, to send his message straight to the top. My next guest is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was

in that very meeting. He is Congressman Luis Gutierrez, back with us on the program.

Congressman, nice to see you again.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D), ILLINOIS: Good to be with you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: How did the meeting go?

GUTIERREZ: Here's where I believe it was productive. It was very clear that every woman and every man that's a Congressperson that was there and committed in saying that chief of staff, we are ready to give you more border enforcement and enhancements on the border in exchange for a deal for our DREAMers. And that they are our priorities and I think that was important because I think that's the way, Democrats, Brooke, if we blink or hesitate or don't stand by our values, and our commitment, then I think the DREAMers lose and I think fairness and justice lose. So I think that was a good part of the meeting and I think it was a very important one, now, General Kelly, I thought was coming to the meeting to show us the path forward and coming simply to listen to us. We've had two meetings in the past and I think he knew our opinion very early on. So in that sense, I didn't think the meeting was productive, but it was good to get together to hear him and the point of view from the White House.

BALDWIN: The meeting was productive. Were there moments, Congressman, when it got a little testy?

GUTIERREZ: That's one of the things we committed not to doing and that is inviting the secretary, I'm sorry, the chief of staff and like to come down and meet with you. It's not every day the chief of staff of the president says that or offers at the meeting. We have to put the DREAMers ahead of everything else with the cause and the wellbeing and their safety. And because that's really, every day, Brooke, 121 of them lose their work permit. That's somebody who can't be a doctor or a nurse. A teacher who has to leave their classroom. They have lives. They registered with the government. They want to continue to have prosperous lives here in the United States of America. They're a priority for us and what we said to the secretary, look, you can have that border security that the president so much wants. We're ready to give and in lieu of giving us the visas and he said the path to citizenship, they can stay in the country, but we want more. I don't know if you remember, Brooke, when they came out of the meeting, Nancy Pelosi and Senator from New York, they came up --

BALDWIN: Schumer.

GUTIERREZ: -- in the meeting -- Schumer. They came out of the meeting, they ate Chinese food and had a Chinese dinner, more border security and we can have, we do the dream act. But they keep changing the stakes. Look, they're holding the DREAMers hostage. We're ready to reciprocate and pay the ransom but they keep changing the terms. We want to go back to the original framework and say, we're willing to sit down in a bipartisan manner and --


[14:55:15] BALDWIN: It sounds like Republicans may not be willing to do that. They've added in this CHIP stopgap measure, which we continue for nine million kids. But Congresswoman Speier said that's not enough. In terms of, Congresswoman Gutierrez, and moments in the meeting, I did -- I understand that, did you apologize to the chief of staff because of something you said to him? Would you mind sharing that with me?

GUTIERREZ: Sure. I said some things publicly and I believe that if you say some things publicly and you regret them, then you think you shouldn't have said that, you should apologize but also publicly. There's a room with 50 people. After my made my intervention, I said, you know, Mr. Kelly, I want to say something. You served in the armed forces of the United States and you lost a son. And I should have never brought up your military service and I want to say to you how much I regret, and I want to apologize to you. He was very gracious at the end of the meeting, we shook hands again and said, thank you, Congressman, for saying that to me. It means the world. I'm happy too. And sometimes, you have to take a moment to breathe and if you say something that you think was wrong, that you think was hurtful, that you think was inappropriate, it's not about manning up. It's about showing your humanity and saying, let's do the right thing. That's the way my mom and dad taught me to do it.

BALDWIN: I just think with everything, the climate these days, people are quicker to maybe get upset because of everything happening. And it's stunning, just seeing pictures.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez, thank you so much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We've been looking to see if these members of Congress coming together for the next hour and honoring former a congressman and Senator, former Presidential Candidate Bob Dole, including the president and all of this happening in the backdrop. Will or will they not continue funding the government? Live pictures up there on Capitol Hill.

Coming up, we know the president has arrived there on Capitol Hill where he is expected to speak at a ceremony momentarily. So we'll bring that to you live here.

You're watching CNN. Back in a moment.