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No Clear Path To Avoid Government Shutdown. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired January 18, 2018 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:10] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. Live with a breaking news for you. The federal government could shut down in less than 25 hours. That is after the house passed a short-term bill to avoid a shutdown. Picture live in the capitol in Washington, but now, it is really up to the senate, were Republican are desperately trying to find a way to get the 60 votes they need to pass a bill. To do it, they need to convince some Democrats to vote yes. If that doesn't happen, and it looks like it won't, the lights could go out tomorrow. Our congressional and White House reporters are here to break it down for us, what happened and what's going to happen tomorrow. CNN Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly he joins us first. Phil, give us the latest here. What's going on now?

PHIL MATTINGLY, NEW YORK BASED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don to set the stage right now, the senate has adjourned. The next time they'll gavel into session, there will only be 13 hours until the government shutdown, and the next thing on the agenda is a vote that everybody knows is going to fail. On top of that, they couldn't agree when that vote would actually take place tonight. In fact, they couldn't agree as to whether or not to adjourn tonight. Take a listen to Senator Angus King.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there objections?

ANGUS KING, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I object. I don't understand why we're adjourning when we're in this urgent situation. We could vote tonight on cloture and have an entire day tomorrow to work on this matter. This is irresponsible, and I just don't understand it. So I object to the motion.


MATTINGLY: So Don, what you saw there really underscores two key points. One, the frustration. There is palpable frustration not just with Senator King but Senator Democrats and Senator Republicans. Over in the house as well they passed their short-term funding bill earlier today. A grief moment of potential path forward that was shot down just a few minutes later, when that bill got over to the senate. But there is another issue that really underscores here. There is no clear path forward right now. They can't agree to vote on a vote that is when to fail. If they can't agree when to adjourn altogether or when to gavel back in, it just shows how divisive this issue has begun right now. The battle lines have been drawn for days. We know what they are. Senate Democrats are saying there is no trust with the White House, there is no trust with senate Republicans, that there will never be a DACA resolution if they don't stand and fight at this very moment. What senate Republicans are saying is, look, there is a short-term funding bill on the table. Keep the government open, we'll continue to negotiate. They are committed to finding that DACA resolution.

Here is the problem. Neither side is budging right now. Every side is digging in right now. Until they move out of those positions, there is no clear path forward. Once a Republican aide said Democrats need to find an off-ramp at this moment. They don't know if they have one. One Senate Democratic aide said Republicans don't care about anything right now, they just want a shutdown. That is where we are. We're at a point where people are throwing partisan talking points, not actually trying to figure out what the path forward is. It's retractable, and it's more of a sense that this is absolutely heading toward a shutdown, not the pervasive sense that everyone wants to get in the room and figure it out.

LEMON: I am afraid to ask you a question, because you said I just said I don't know Don. What will it take? Is it possible at all? What will it take to get 60 votes in the senate to keep the government open?

MATTINGLY: Here's the interesting thing about the situation, having covered this institution for a long time, it's a great institution despite maybe what the public approval numbers would show. When these type of scenarios happen, usually you know what the deal is, right? It's going to take some fighting, it's going to take some yelling back and forth. But everybody kind of know at the end this is where or around where everybody is going to be to agree on. That is the issue right now. That deal that in game that everybody knows is eventually going to happen when everybody bludgeons each other for a couple days isn't currently in the picture.

Right now there is no sense that people will get in a room and figure something out, Democrats don't know where the White House is on anything. Republican feel like Democrats are just trying to do this because they want to have the political moment. At some the Dems are going to burst and some point people are going to punch themselves out. I think the reality, right now is when you talk to senate Democratic aides, when you talk to senate Republican aides, they're saying this is going to happen, not a deal, the shutdown.

How long the shutdown is going to be is going to be the big question. Will it only be a couple days over the weekend until somebody figures out a path forward? Nobody knows at this point and that is the risk everyone is trying to get their heads around. The potential what happens next just isn't there, and when that is not there, there is a real sense inside both caucuses, both conferences right now of just kind of, ok. And then what? And I think the resolution to all that, Don, the response is, dig in, you have your partisan points, and you have your current positions. Moving off of those isn't considered a tangible options at this moment, so we wait.

[23:05:15] LEMON: Let me ask you this. It's echoing there and it seems pretty empty. Is anyone at this point working to make a deal happen?

MATTINGLY: I think there is an understanding right now that this is going to have to play itself out. Look, you talk to senate Republican aides, their strategy going forward is very clear. Over the next couple of days, they're going to cue up as many damaging political votes as they possibly can to try to hurt Democrats from red states that are up for reelection in 2018 to basically try and make them pay for bringing this moment to the forefront. When you talk to Democrats, I think the interesting element is, it's one thing to say you're going to walk up to the cliff, it's another thing to jump off it. Look, we're going to have this fight, we're willing to have a shutdown, because they think politically it will work for them. They're past that moment right now, and the fact they need to get unified at this point, when you expect to take that jump, you expect to get something from it and something for it. Right now Republicans aren't willing to offer anything. Because of that, Democrats aren't willing to move.

LEMON: Thank you. Appreciate that. Our senior White House correspondent is Jeff Zeleny. He joins us with the latest. How are they feeling at the White House about a possible government shutdown?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Apprehensive is one word. The President thought perhaps a shutdown would be good for the government. He tweeted that last year. But as it gets closer to reality, as Phil just breaking down why, I think there is more apprehension here. This is already going to be a complicated midterm election year for the President's Party, no question about it. So the reality is no one knows exactly how the politics would play out if a shutdown happened, if a protracted shutdown happened. But the White House, despite the President blaming Democrats throughout the day, saying the military would not be funded, et cetera, the reality is Republicans do control the levers of power here. And yes, they do need Democratic votes in the senate, no question. But they are beginning this evening with, you know, wondering what can change tomorrow. Now, there is not much trust and credibility left between the President if there was much to begin with, and the Democratic leaders or the Democratic Senators.

He has a few relationships like Joe Mansion of West Virginia. He is going to vote for this. But beyond that, it's hard to see what the President himself can do on this. Don, you get the sense, and I've covered a lot of these potential shutdowns and a few actual shutdowns, the one back in 2013. That was devastating to the Party in power here, so you have to wonder when the sun comes up tomorrow here in Washington, presuming that it does, if cooler heads will prevail and they will find an off-ramp for this. Right now there is no obvious path for that. That is certainly always a possibility, and I would say still a reasonable one.

LEMON: Phil said it just seems like from his point of view, people are just willing -- right now they're just sort of sitting back and letting this play out, because there are no more moves. At least, that is what they feel right now. What about the President? You talked about strategy there. Does the President have any strategy here to personally get involved in trying to keep the government open?

ZELENY: At this point, don, he is more of a bystander than I think a President who controls the house and senate would like to be. He is not been an active player in this negotiation. This is not something that can be fixed by sending out a tweet. This is not something that can be fixed by blaming the Democrats. We will know, I think, early tomorrow morning, probably in a number of hours when he wakes up, what his posture is going to be on this. Quite frankly, the White House advisers aren't sure what he is going to do. Is he going to go after the Democrats aggressively and double down and blame them, or will there be a conciliatory approach in tone? That is certainly a change. I don't necessarily don't expect that, but again, the politics of a shutdown are not necessarily good for anyone. So the White House hopes that the hill can work this out amongst themselves. I still think a short-term solution here, to give people time to work on a long-term one is the most realistic scenario here, but the reality is there is no (inaudible) for this and certainly for the President who is unpredictability, there is no telling exactly what he'll do when he wakes up tomorrow, Don.

LEMON: Oh boy. Thank you Jeff Zeleny, I appreciate it. Government shutdown looms ahead of the country and world while everyone is watching. Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN "Fareed Zakaria GPS" joins me now. Why is everything have to be so dramatic with this administration? Is the government going to shut down? Are they going to get the tax bill? Are they going to get health care? What's going on here?

FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS SHOW HOST: It's not going to stop. One of the things your two earlier guests didn't point out, this is just a temporary period to patch through before we get to the debt ceiling.

[23:10:05] Remember the debt ceiling? We hit the debt ceiling sometime at the end of February. So we're going to go through -- first of all, this is probably going to be a temporary stopgap measure, then we'll hit the debt ceiling at the same time, and you'll have all these negotiations again. Look, the most important thing here is Donald Trump sold himself as the great dealmaker. He was the great dealmaker. He wrote the art of the deal. He is got 24 hours to make a deal, and he doesn't seem to have much of a grip on how he is going to do that. This is classic legislative bargaining. You've got to give something substantial to get something substantial. It seems as though the Republicans, who control the White House, both houses of congress, you know, basically control Washington simply haven't figured out a path forward to make a deal which is, frankly, incomprehensible. With that much power, they have a lot of things they can get.

LEMON: Americans sometimes only think about America, but down to the wire on this, but what kind of message is this sending to the rest of the world? Because the rest of the world is watching. ZAKARIA: This becomes a very subjective conversation with people.

People respect us more now. We now have two polls. Gallup actually released a huge poll, 130 countries that came up today. The approval of the United States is now down to a record low. It has never been that low since Gallup did polling. It has dropped about 20, 25 points depending on what country you look at. It's down 18 percent on average. You know, if you look at a country like Canada, a majority of Canadians approved of American leadership and approved of the United States at the end of the Obama presidency. Now a majority disapprove, a 40 percent drop in approval rating from Canada. This is true of several countries in Europe. There is no doubt here these are facts that the world's respect for the United States, the reputation for the United States, has cratered, has collapsed. We can get into an argument of why, but I think it's because Donald Trump has outlined a very selfish and self-interesting view of America's place in the world, America first. The attacks on democracy and free press institutions, but also, frankly, the dysfunction, the circus that is the American government right now which you have just been reporting on.

LEMON: So what is most important? Is it policy, personality, both?

ZAKARIA: It's everything, but as I said, probably more than anything else, they look at Trump as somebody who is essentially walking away from 75 years of America leading the world, helping to sustain the international order, keeping an open world. So they look at that kind of selfishness and say, that is not the America we believed in or expected, but I do think the circus is also part of it. When we look at other countries, we call them banana republics. We have all these disparaging terms. What do you say about a government that cannot literally fund itself?

LEMON: Yes. Let's put those numbers up again, because Germany -- this is the Gallup poll. Germany has replaced the U.S. as the top rated global power in the world. There it is at 41 percent and now we're at 30 percent. Global approval for the U.S. leadership has dropped 18 points in one year. The new low is 48 percent to 30 percent as a result of the Trump presidency.

ZAKARIA: It's never been this low. At the end of the Bush presidency, the end of the Iraq war, that number was 34 percent. This is four points lower. The bizarre thing that at a time of relative peace, prosperity, stability, it tells you that the way Donald Trump is dealing with the world -- really, that is why I say with Bush you could say it was the Iraq war, it's gone badly. With this administration, it really is Donald Trump's world view, how he has outlined the way he wants to deal with the rest of the world. The rest of the world looks at that and says, this is not the America we expected. If that is America, they like Germany, they like China. We're only three points higher than Putin's Russia.

LEMON: As negotiations to keep the government open were going on in Washington, he was making this campaign-style stop and speech in Pennsylvania today. Here's some of what he said.


that is what I talked about. Make America great again. America first. We put America first now, we're doing trade deals, we're doing a lot of things that I said we're going to be doing. It's not easy. These other countries have become very, very spoiled with taking advantage of us. But take advantage of us no longer.


[23:15:12] LEMON: Countries have become spoil and we are taking advantage of us, have become spoiled with taking advantage of us, of the United States?

ZAKARIA: Well, the odd thing is we haven't done any trade deals. Again, it's all talk. There are no new trade deals, remember? We're still in NAFTA, we're still in the WTO. There was some talk about China. He hasn't labeled it a currency manipulator. So as far as one can tell, this is, you know, kind of campaign rhetoric, but it hasn't resulted in anything. In some ways, thank goodness, because if Donald Trump were to start a trade war, I think that would suddenly have more negative consequences than almost anything he could do. But the likelihood is I think we'll find some modest renegotiations here and there. For the most part, what I'm struck by with Trump is most of these kinds of things don't happen. The wall hasn't happened. There are so many great --

LEMON: Now he says he doesn't need it on rivers and mountains.

ZAKARIA: He just discover there are natural barriers. The Rio Grande is a river.

LEMON: Can I ask you something. You think at the last minute they'll probably avoid a shutdown, right?

ZAKARIA: I think at the end of the day they will. There is a very easy deal. It's DACA in return for some funding for border security which Donald Trump will call it a wall, the Democrats will say that is nonsense, it is an extension of a fence that Obama is doing, and they are going to have that debate. That is a deal. Just keep the government going, for god's sakes?

LEMON: Listen. So much happened that was unpredicted. What happens if there is a government shutdown? One year anniversary of his term in office, the government is shut down. And then he has to give a state of the union if that goes that long and the government is shut down. How will this President react to that?

ZAKARIA: I think he will try to blame it all on the Democrats, but the Republicans are more in control of Washington than at any point since the 1920s. The fact they can't come to a deal on just actually letting the government run, it seems to me a pretty bloody nose for them.

LEMON: Do you remember anyone giving a state of the union when the government shut down? ZAKARIA: No, the whole idea is preposterous. All these conversation,

the government has already spent most of the money. Like the debt ceiling, these are senseless arguments. By enacting the legislation, they're spending the money. Now they're having this conversation about whether or not we should keep doing it. It's like you've charged the credit card and you get the bill and you're suddenly having second thoughts.

LEMON: Should we pay this bill? Thank you, Fareed Zakaria. Don't miss CNN Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and when we come back, it taking more and more like the government will shut down tomorrow night on the eve of President Trump first anniversary in office. So much for the deal maker and chief.


[23:21:33] LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. A government shutdown looming as Senate Republican desperately try to find a way to get the 60 votes they need to pass a short term spending bill. Joining me now is Jonathan Wachtel he is a former director of communications for the U.S. mission to the U.N. and Max Boot, senior fellow on the council of foreign relations and author of "The road not taken." Gentlemen, good evening to both of you. Thank you for joining us. One year in, Jonathan, of the Trump administration and a government shutdown looms. What happened to all the winning? What happened to the deal maker?

JONATHAN WACHTEL, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, U.S. MISSION TO THE U.N.: There have been other government shutdown threats before, so here we are again. We remember them from the Newt Gingrich era period and the debates and that kind of thing. It's a tough game. Different sides, different opinions. These things happen.

LEMON: These things happen? Max?

MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think these things are much more prone to happen when you have a President like Donald Trump whose word is utterly meaningless. Last week he uttered his 2,000th fly of his presidency, according to the "Washington Post," and not only is he an inveterate liar, but also incredibly ignorant about policy. You can't really for those reason trust anything that he has to say, because he is liable to change his mind five minutes later. You saw this last week when he almost blew up authorization of the foreign intelligence surveillance act, because he tweeted against it in the morning until being told by congressional leaders and his own aides that his administration position are actually in favor of it. Then of course, he blew up the deal on immigration with his appalling and abhorring racist comments at the White House, and this week he seems to be blowing up chances of ending - preventing a government shutdown by not understanding what the child health insurance program is all about in its role in the resolution that congress is passing. I think this is par for the course for the most unqualified and most ignorant chief executive in the long history of our glorious republic.

LEMON: Do you want to respond to that, Jonathan? He did say on the tweet this morning that it was the opposite of the position the White House and Republican -- or that the Republicans had, but then he had to be school by the Speaker of the House to what was actually happening with the legislation they want.

WACHTEL: A government shut down is a very complicated thing. What's happening now, the worry over this thing? There is a lot of negotiations. Max, that was quite a litany you just laid out there. Let's see what happens over the course --

BOOT: It's pretty accurate of the Trump presidency, I'm afraid, after a year.

WACHTEL: Your opinion. Very good.

LEMON: Do you want to finish your thought?

WACHTEL: No, I think it's early to be at a place where we're trying to figure out how this is going to resolve itself, and in the past we've seen these things do pan out just fine. Let's play it out. There is a learning curve for both sides of the aisle. Let's hope minds come together and we can find a right way out of this impasse right now.

LEMON: Jonathan, you said something before you said it's a complicated issue, but it's not complicated to know where you stand on the legislation and to hit -- the White House has said his twitter account that is official word from the White House when he says it, from that account. He is sending something that is antithetical or exactly opposite of the way his Party wants him to respond to this.

[23:25:05] WACHTEL: Don, this is the first time the President of the United States has necessarily not agreed with the Republican Party establishment.

LEMON: This is not agreeing with it, this is not knowing what's going on?

BOOT: Please do not make this into a principal disagreement. This is a President who does not understand the basic of legislation, he doesn't know what he is commenting on and he leaves his own Party leaders on Capitol Hill scratching their heads, because they can't understand the President's position, because he doesn't understand it. He does not read his briefing papers. He gets his information from "Fox & Friends." This is not normal. There has been no President like this. Please do not attempt to normalize this kind of behavior.

LEMON: Mr. McConnell said he didn't know what the President wanted. Please respond.

WACHTEL: Max, first of all, the President is not alone in this impasse that we're in. They're advisers, they're perfectly capable people working within the administration who are working on this type of thing. The President can have his opinion. Our President happens to be a person who has reversed decisions in the past. How he decides to finalize this situation, let's see where it all plays out. You know, I hear your attacks. You know, you're coming from a place of your belief and that is fine. But we're not there yet. LEMON: Let's move on, because I want to play this for you, Max. It's

Senator Marco Rubio, what he said today about the chaos in Washington and a possible shutdown.


MARCO RUBIO, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: When you're a broad watching all this in a moment like this, you start to think -- and maybe even miscalculate about the true state of affairs in the United States. We really can't be projecting an image of chaos and there are a lot of other things already doing that, but this would add to it.


LEMON: Max, fair concerns?

BOOT: That is absolutely a concern, but what is projecting a negative image abroad is our President. Donald Trump often talks about how previous Presidents supposedly made the United States a laughingstock. The only laughingstock here is him. He is a figure of derision around the world, but he is also someone feared and hated. He has insulted the entire continent of Africa. He is so unpopular that he can't even visit our closest ally, Great Britain. Thanks to Donald Trump we are less popular around the world than China, if you can believe that, the people's republic of China. Donald Trump has been a disaster for America's perception abroad. He has done tremendous damage to our soft power. In fact, he is basically engaged in unilateral disbarment of our soft power, and that damage will be very, very, very hard to reverse and it will take many years if in fact, it is reversible.

LEMON: If you look at that, you see that is a global U.S. approval in 2016, 48 percent and in 2017, 30 percent. What do you say about that poll?

WACHTEL: A couple things. What Max was talking about in terms of Marco Rubio, I don't disagree with him on a need for United States to take a position that the rest of the world can understand and work with and feel at ease with. It's been a very divisive political world we've been living in in this country, from the media to Washington in every way. Don, you know this. You see it. It's trench warfare.

LEMON: I live it every night.

WACHTEL: You do. You live it every night. You go to a different channel, it's a different story altogether. You know, the media is part of the problem. It's a very difficult time in this country. What Marco Rubio is saying is true. You know, it would be nice to have some sort of consistency so the rest of the world can understand what's going on. It's such a big story even the election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was so intense, it was the top news story. We've been in this intense cycle for the better part of two years now. You know, more, actually.

LEMON: So you said media is part of the problem. There's a lot to unpack there but I don't have time. What about the President, because the media is just reflecting out to the world what this administration and President are doing.

WACHTEL: Regardless of who is sitting in the White House, they turn to friendly media who they feel they can resonate with.

LEMON: We're talking around the world. That wasn't Marco Rubio's comments.

BOOT: Stop pretending what's happening now is normal. Stop pretending this has happened with previous Presidents. There is no previous President of the United States who has branded the media as the enemy of the American people, who has attacked the media incessantly as he has, that language that Senator Jeff Flake has noted, repeats the language used by dictators like Joseph Stalin. This is unprecedented and this is damaging to American democracy and damaging to democracy around the world, because we are basically advocating are our traditional role.

WACHTEL: Max, I totally agree with you about the importance of having a freedom of the press, to have press safeguard our Democratic principles in our country. It's absolutely essential. But we do have, in the news media this complete circus in which utterly partisan it is not journalism as you and I grew up. It's a different landscape altogether.

MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: There are a lot of great journalism being done by mainstream outlets to CNN to media outlets to the "Washington Post." This is coming from the extreme right including your former employers at the Fox News channel.

LEMON: That is got to be the last word. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

When we come back, a government shutdown is all but inevitable tomorrow night. Capping the chaotic first year in office for the President of the United States. What do voters think about all this? We'll talk about that next.


LEMON: In a little over 24 hours, the federal government is like to shut down. Not exactly the way President Trump wanted to celebrate his first year in office. Here to weigh in now, CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzalez. Hi Nathan, how are you?

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening. That clock is making me a little nervous in the corner.

LEMON: I know. It's going to be 13 hours, and you know it takes him forever to do anything, so we shall see. How would a shutdown play out in the 2018 midterms?

[23:35:09] GONZALES: I think a couple things are important to remember. The 2018 elections are still 10-plus months away, so there will able lot of twists and turns and issues and breaking news that happens between now and then. I also think there is a temptation to try and say there's going to be a universal response to a potential government shutdown, that everyone is going to blame one thing, and I think it's going to be a mixture. I think Democrats are already blaming Republicans. I think Republicans are going to blame Democrats if it happens.

I think one of the most important things when it comes to the midterms is that we still have these 10 Democratic Senators running for reelection in states that Donald Trump won. So if Donald Trump and Republican leadership can convince Republican voters that Democrats are to blame for a shutdown that could have an impact on those Democratic Senators up for reelection. Some of their colleagues don't care that represent New York and California, they're not even up for reelection this cycle. But I think they're in the hot seat right now because the house passed the bill and now it's on the senate.

LEMON: So President Obama has kept a low profile since leaving the White House, but he is expected to play a larger role in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. Should the Trump administration be concerned about that?

GONZALES: I think President Obama wants to be a team player, because I think one of the arguments from Democrats throughout his time in office was he wasn't as helpful to Democratic candidate as he could have been when he wasn't on the ballot. I think there is a potential that he could energize a Democratic Party, although the person who has energized the Democrats right now is President Donald Trump. Republican are actually, they could use it to their benefit in that it could help bring one of the key bogeymen of the Republican Party, bring him back into the headlines, back into the spotlight, and they could try to divert attention from things not going quite as well in the country and the congress and point to President Obama and blame him for everything.

LEMON: Two new polls released today, Trump's global approval rating 37 percent. Who is with the President and who isn't here? It's gone from 34 to 37 and gone back around that number, right?

GONZALES: It might creep up to 40 depending on how the average works out in the poll that is involved at the time. I think the Republicans in large part are still with him. Some are with him for different reasons. There are people I would call the President's loyal supporters who believe in everything he does and shaking things up, and there are some who are reluctantly with him, because they don't like the Democratic alternatives. But I think it is Republicans. There was a poll in Arizona that came out this week with Republican primary voters in the senate race, and it tested President Trump's favorability rating and it was 75 percent among Republican primary voters. I think it's important to remember that a lot of these Republicans aren't in love with the President. They don't love the tweets and all of this. But he is still often the most popular politician within the Republican Party. So they're feeling that from their voters.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Nathan Gonzalez, appreciate it.

When we come back, if the government shuts down, President Trump will more than likely blame Democrats. But what happened to Trump the deal maker? Shouldn't he have been able to make a deal?


[23:42:35] LEMON: Federal government set to shut down in about 24 hours and it doesn't look like the senate can muster enough votes to stop it. Let's discuss now CNN political commentator Matt Lewis, Scott Jennings, Maria Cardona and Bakari Sellers. There we are. I feel at home tonight. All these other folks tonight, it's like, who are you people? You're my people.


LEMON: Yes. Welcome to the program. Matt, this could be the first shut down in history when the White House and the congress are controlled by the same Party. What does that tell you about the state of the Republican Party right now, or maybe it is state of the administration? What is going on?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not good. I don't think a shutdown is good for anybody. It doesn't make Republicans look competent. I would say this. Now, normally I've always been in the camp. I was a big critic of Republicans in 2013 during the shutdown where Ted Cruz tried to defund Obamacare and I thought it was a fool's error. I always thought Republicans get blamed for it. I actually think this one works out a bit different for a whole bunch of reasons, one of which being that in the senate it would likely be a Democratic filibuster that would lead to it. So again, it doesn't make the Republicans look good, but I think this could shake out if we do get a shutdown. It might play out differently --

LEMON: Meaning the Democrats would get blamed? Is that what you're saying?

LEWIS: I think they'll get more of the blame. Normally Republicans get all of the blame. I think there will be blame to go around this time.

LEMON: All right. I understand all of this. Fine. I remember, I covered that shutdown as well. But does anybody remember at election time, and especially now, because the Democratic base, they pretty much want the lawmakers in Washington, their Democratic lawmakers in Washington to resist the administration, not to normalize it. Will Democrats care?

LEWIS: I will say this, Don. If you go back and look at the polling in 2013, Republicans lost about 10 points within a month. October of 2013. And it really hurt them. Ken Cuccinelli, the gubernatorial nominee in the state of Virginia commonwealth --

LEMON: Was it in October?

LEWIS: It was in October. He believes and a lot of people believe that it cost him the election. Now, they had a whole year until the midterms, and of course Republicans did well, but they had a year to recover. LEMON: OK. So listen, Scott, President Trump likes to call himself

the deal maker. How much do voters hang this on him if the government does shut down?

[23:45:05] SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Matt's right. There will be blame to go around for everybody. He needs to pay attention to the messaging coming out of the senate Republicans tonight. For the first time than I can ever remember, Republicans actually have a good argument on the shutdown. Tonight the Democrats showed us their hand, they showed us their priorities. We have 9 million kids on chip. They voted to abandon them tonight in favor of 800,000 people who are not citizens on DACA. And there's no deadline on DACA. So the Democrats have a clear messaging portal here than they've had on previous shutdowns. Whether the President gets blamed or not is highly depend whether he stays on message if the government does shut down.

CARDONA: Yes. Good luck with that.

JENNINGS: I would not want to be a red state Democrat going home and explaining why I voted against chip and I'm holding chip hostage over 800,000 non-U.S. citizens.

LEMON: Maria what would you want to say?

CARDONA: First of all, good luck with Trump staying on any message other than his own, whatever that might be at whatever moment in time. And so we know that he is completely incompetent in terms of staying on any message. In fact, we saw McConnell practically beg him publicly to let him know, to let him and the Republicans know where he stood on any deal. And that right there, I think, speaks volumes about why we are where we are at the moment. And it's because President Trump is clueless when it comes to understanding policy, when it comes to understanding even where he stands on something. He promised he was at a certain place in public with the media, with the cameras in the room. He promised he would sign a bipartisan deal if it was brought to him in a bipartisan way. That was done two days later instead of bipartisan legislation -- instead of bipartisan legislature, we got shithole countries. That is why where we are.

LEMON: Bakari, you are shaking your head. He did send out a tweet that is completing opposite of what his Party wants.

CARDONA: Exactly.

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: There are a couple of things, I don't think the Republican Party will ever get credit of CHIP. Their efforts today of trying to pitch CHIP against DACA is elementary, and I don't think the American public is going to fall for it. There are a few other glaring things we have to discuss. There is a piece of legislation or a C.R. that is been worked together in bipartisan fashion, which the American people want to see, Democrats and Republicans alike. It's Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham. They're 56 votes in support of that. You only have 46 votes. You don't even have the entire Republican caucus on board with what is happening right now in the United States senate. I think the American public can see through that. But even more importantly, when you just want to talk about the messaging in this and you want to talk about the President and the Vice President, well, tomorrow during the first fiscal crisis of this administration, the Vice President is going to Cairo and the President of the United States is going to Mar-a-Lago to host a $100,000-a-couple, a one year anniversary since his inauguration. $250,000 if you want to participate in the round table. If you want to juxtapose that with what's going on, I think we can pick and choose whether Democrats or Republicans lose, but this entire debate is where people have a problem with the United States congress.

LEMON: Hold your thought Bakari, can you finish this after the break?

SELLERS: This was a profound point.

LEMON: Oh my god, go on, get your point, there you go.

SELLERS: No, I was saying when the government shuts down, essential employees are the United States congress so they'll get paid when everyone else will not.

LEMON: All right. We'll come back. We're going to talk censure when we come back.


[23:52:36] LEMON: All right, back now with Matt Lewis, Scott Jennings, Maria Cardona and Bakari Sellers. Can I call them the dream team? This is my dream team. Let's continue on, and talk more about shutdown and the blame game and all that. Honestly, I -- do you think it's going to make that big of a difference, if the government is shut down for a day or two in the midterms, Scott Jennings?

JENNINGS: I don't know that it will make a huge difference ten months from now. Where does it make a difference? If voters who unified control of government under one Party decide that it's no longer functioning, it could make a difference. But I ultimately believe they're going to get to a deal. Yes, there's going to be short-term consternation, but as long as they get to a deal, as long CHIP is funded and as long as the DACA deal is done, by the way I believe all of this is going to happen ultimately. I think this is a distant memory come Election Day. Where Republicans have to argue, you have unified control over us, we operated, we got things done, we checked off our promises, and please keep it going.

LEMON: So, Matt, let's say -- everyone, I guess, do you think there's going to be a deal? You think the government is going to shut down? Let me ask everybody. Matt, do you think it will shut down?

LEWIS: I think there will be a minor shutdown. I don't think we're going to have a, what is it, 1994 --

LEMON: Not like a minor traffic accident on the highway 45.

LEWIS: That was a big deal, the Gingrich thing.

LEMON: Scott, hold on, I want to get a consensus here. Scott, you said no, you think they'll come to a deal.

JENNINGS: Yeah, I think they will, yeah.

LEMON: Maria?

CARDONA: I hope they will, but I'm with Matt on this. If I were to put money on it, yeah, I think it probably will.

LEMON: Bakari?

SELLERS: I don't think it shuts down. I think they come up with a deal that kicks the can down the road, four or five more days, while they work out the things that Scott talked about.

LEMON: Yes. How do you -- how do you blame it -- I cut you off, Matt, how do you blame the Democrats when you're in control of both chambers of congress and the White House?

LEWIS: Well, it's hard, but I think there are three things that make this different. Number one, Republicans are trying to fund the, you know, the children's health insurance program --

LEMON: Would they have had to do that if they didn't -- if he didn't sort of blow up this DACA deal?

LEWIS: Republicans can say, politically Republican can say we're putting a C.R. forward that would fund this for six years and Democrats are walking away. So, that is number one. Number two is the fact that although DACA is very important, protecting dreamers is very important, it's not imminent.

[23:55:06] It's not -- it's not like it's going to start deporting people tomorrow if this doesn't happen. Especially since we have that court injunction of a week or so ago. And then lastly is, frankly, just the optics of the fact that most likely scenario where this would actually happen is if Democrats filibuster, that, I think, makes it very hard for the media to blame Republicans entirely. I think at the very least, it would be a lot of show.

LEMON: I want people, the media is not going to blame anybody. I guess people who come on the media.

LEWIS: One of the problems --

CARDONA: Can I give the counter to what Matt --

LEMON: You can have the counter, but you know Democrats sometimes have a propensity to choke at the end.

CARDONA: Well, here's my counter --

LEMON: True.

CARDONA: Here's my counter to what Matt said. Similar to what Bakari said earlier --

LEMON: How much time do we have, 15 seconds?

CARDONA: No one really believes that the Republicans are the champions of CHIP and of the health care for children, because they've been able to be able to fund it a long time ago and they didn't.

LEMON: All right, I have to go, Maria.

CARDONA: DACA is imminent because these kids can start getting deported in March and they need to start getting their permissions to stay like now.

LEMON: All of that is imminent.

LEWIS: The voting records don't not lie.

LEMON: Do you agree Bakari, sometimes, at the end --

SELLERS: No, we wet the bed traditionally. One question. Why don't the Republican Party, why don't they just pass a budget? They're in control. Pass a budget.

LEMON: We'll answer that tomorrow. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.