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Source: Trump Fuming over Kelly's Comments; Trump: Leave Children's Health Care out of Stopgap; Report: Bannon said he Talked to WH Aides about Don Jr. Meeting. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 18, 2018 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.


New this morning, the president is undercutting the House and the White House on a plan to hold off a shutdown. And also, his own chief of staff, he shuts him down on whether or not his views on immigration have evolved, quite a morning.

BERMAN: Incredible. A source inside the White House tells us that the president hated General Kelly's comments in an interview where the general said that the president has changed his attitude on the Dreamer issue. He has evolved on the wall and that during the campaign the president was uninformed on border issues. Hated it, and is fuming.

CNN's Abby Phillip for us at the White House this morning. Not happy at all, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: More than a little pushback from the president this morning against his own chief of staff's comments, both publicly and privately. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was on the Hill yesterday meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus members and he made some comments to them about the wall, trying to show how the president has moved on the issue of the wall, talking about how the president now believes that the wall can't be from sea to shining sea. That there can't be walls in places where there are rivers and mountains and what not.

And then he went on Fox News and he reiterated some of the same comments. Take a listen to some of what John Kelly had to say and what prompted the president to say that he was or according to the source familiar that he was fuming about these comments. Take a listen.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He's a very definitely changed his attitudes toward the DACA issue. And even the wall. He has evolved in the way he's looked at things. Campaign to governing, two different things. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And according to this source, the president really hated that interview. He tweeted this morning about it, really contradicting John Kelly, almost point for point. He wrote that -- his views on the wall have never changed and he says it has not evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Trump then continued, it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection, and he said once more that he believes Mexico will pay for the wall, whether directly or indirectly, so John Kelly there, getting something very public pushback on this.

And also the president is facing this prospect, again, of a potential government shutdown. And he's been tweeting about that this morning and confusing some aides. I can tell you that the White House was caught by surprise by his comments about the CHIP bill and about funding for the government, which ends tomorrow. We'll see whether there is any effort to clarify what exactly the president means when he -- with those comments this morning, earlier. John and Poppy?

HARLOW: Abby Phillip at the White House. Thank you very much.

So one thing we thought we knew about the measure being pushed by House Republican leaders to keep the government funded passed tomorrow, with the White House supported this, but then came the pronouncement from the president this morning opposing an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program as part of a short-term deal. He says, no, no, no, it should be part of a longer term fix. Is that going to hurt the hopes of getting some of these Democrats on board because of CHIP?

BERMAN: Our Sunlen Serfaty up on Capitol Hill with the reactions. Sunlen and I have to imagine, part of the reaction is a sheer confusion right now.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, John and Poppy. You know this was already on some very shaky ground before the president's retreat and now it's much more so. You have a lot of people up here on Capitol Hill wondering is this the president just not understanding the plan that Republican leaders put forward or the policy of it, was this just a very poorly worded tweet of the president or is he actually really undermining the Republican strategy going forward to try to get this short-term spending bill through?

CHIP was put into this spending plan to entice many Democrats, and some Republicans to get on board. Get on board with the short-term plan and put some of those demands off until later. It was seen as a bargaining CHIP in these talks, so this certainly serves as an 11th hour monkey wrench that Republicans really did not need right now.

Up until this morning, you had Republican leaders still pushing towards potentially a holding a vote later today on this spending bill. They did not have the votes yet, but it was seen as throughout the day they might be able to twist some arms, get members of the reluctant House Freedom Caucus on board and they thought they had the Republican buy-in and the White House buy-in to this Republican plan.

So, clearly, with the president's tweet, there is not a lot of clarity where this goes next. We certainly do not know. We will hear from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the next hour. Of course, John and Poppy, top on the list is essentially to be a translator for the president. What does he mean by this? Is there a change in strategy? That is still to be determined this morning.

BERMAN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty for us up on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much, Sunlen.

[10:05:01] Joining us now is New York Republican Congressman Dan Donovan. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. We're going to try it approach this clinically in what has been a bit of a muddled morning here in terms of messaging at least. So, let's just talk about the idea of the continuing resolution. Short-term funding for the government, will you vote for a measure to fund the government temporarily if there is no deal on what to do about the Dreamers?

REP. DAN DONOVAN (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Yes, absolutely, John. I think that we don't have a deadline yet for DACA. We have to fix DACA, but it doesn't have to be fixed by tomorrow. What we should do is test the short-term funding bill so that the government remains open, no one, no one, John, throughout this country, sent their representative to the House of Representatives to shut down their government. They sent us down here to make it work better for them. Maybe the idea of funding government in short increments isn't a good idea, but right now we have to make sure the government remains open.

HARLOW: Let me ask you about what sort of partner you think as a Republican in Congress. You have in the White House right now and I ask because that will keep "The Washington Post." Just tweeted the Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham said this to him this morning, quote, "We don't have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with."

Now, as you know, Lindsey Graham won't vote for a continuing resolution without DACA included. But despite that difference that you two have in ideology here, he says there is not a reliable partner for Republicans in the White House to negotiate with. Is he right?

DONOVAN: I don't know, Poppy. I'm not part of that negotiation process. Speaker Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, our majority leader, along with the leadership and the Democratic Party, are doing negotiations which -


HARLOW: So let me rephrase it. From your vantage point, does it appear that the Republicans doing the negotiating have a reliable partner in the White House, a consistent partner?

My understanding is that the speaker and the White House are in constant communications all the time, along with -- just the other day they had a bipartisan meeting about DACA where there were senators from both sides of the aisle. There were members of the House on both sides of the aisle. So I have no reason to believe there isn't communication going on.

BERMAN: So here is the thing though, right, the speaker supports this plan being put forward for the temporary funding and continuing resolution that does involve a six-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, correct, which is something that some Democrats might like, might actually be inclined to vote yes just to get that extension. I'm sure you support the extension as well. Well, moments ago, the president says, no, he doesn't want this. We think that's what's saying to be part of the deal. Does the president's statement that he put out this morning confuse things on Capitol Hill?

DONOVAN: I think the president is talking about shouldn't be part of a 30-day extension --

HARLOW: Right.

DONOVAN: It should be long-term. Well, what's in the CR is a long-term extension for CHIP, for Children's Health Program. It is there for six years. So if we get this passed today, and Senate passes it tomorrow, CHIP is funded for the next six years, we won't have to deal with it when we deal with the other issues that are in the budget that are more controversial.


BERMAN: Your interpretation is that he's saying support the plan that is on the floor. We're not sure. I mean, and there are a lot of people inside the White House and others we have spoken to who aren't sure.

HARLOW: I mean, it is pretty clear, he says CHIP should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30-day short-term extension. But I hear you on that. We're waiting for clarity for the White House.

Let me ask you about this, because you've applauded that the president for that meeting, that bipartisan meeting, and, look, almost an hour of it was on camera early last week. Let's play what the president said there about what he will and won't sign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When this group comes back, hopefully with an agreement, this group and others, from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I'm signing it. I mean, I will be signing it. I'm not going to say, oh, gee, I want this. I want that. I'll be signing it.


HARLOW: But this morning, he's saying, oh, gee, I want this and I want that, and that's what he's been doing the past few days. You say in that meeting the president in your words displayed remarkable political courage. What happened? What changed?

DONOVAN: Well I think in that meeting, some of the things that might have changed with participants in the meeting other than the president. In that meeting, they agreed they would fix DACA, we would do border security. We would end this lottery visa program and we would make a determination how far chain migration should go. Those are the four elements. Since that meeting, I have heard people putting other things into proposals to fix DACA and to fix immigration. Those weren't the things agreed on. Those four issues were agreed on. The president said you bring him a bill that addresses those four issues. He'll sign it.

BERMAN: Well, here's the thing, though, right? The bill -- the Gang of Six bill in the Senate right now includes protections for Dreamers and includes funding for border security that could be used for a wall, it includes altering essentially ending the visa lottery program. And it addresses, although I think not to a lot of Republican satisfaction, the issue of what you all call chain migration. So the game is Gang of Six bill as you know, this is the grand bill, the Dick Durbin bill. If that were to come to the House floor as is, could you support that?

DONOVAN: I will support something that I agree with. I don't know where they are on the chain migration. You know right now it is extended families and there is debate, that's the thing that has to be debated, John.

[10:05:04] And that's why you couldn't put that in this CR, this spending bill that we have to pass by tomorrow. Because there is still debate on whether that should go to immediate family, what is the definition of an immediate family, is it moms and dads, is it brothers and sisters, is it second aunts? I think that's the thing that's being discussed now and debated. We could agree on that, we could get all four elements of the immigration reform done.

HARLOW: Are you concerned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially says he has no idea what the president wants, no idea what the president will sign and that Republicans are, in his words, quote, "spinning their wheels" until the president makes that clear. I mean, do you think the president has made clear what he wants, what he will sign?

DONOVAN: Again, I'm not part of those discussions, Poppy, so I don't know what Mitch McConnell and the speaker -


HARLOW: But you're very well read as you just -- hold on. But you're very well informed on even one part of the Gang of Six bill as you just elaborated for us. So you know what is going on here. You know what's being debated and what we're asking is it clear to you what the president will sign?

DONOVAN: What I'm not clear about is the communication between Mitch McConnell and the White House. I don't know. If Mitch is saying that he's confused about what's coming out, that's a communication issue between Mitch's office and the White House. I'm not privy to that. All I know is what you've reported, what we've been told in conference of what came out of that meeting with the senators from the Democratic Party, the senators from the Republican Party, and both aisles in the House and that meeting with the president on how we can fix DACA and those four elements that have to be addressed. BERMAN: Very quickly, Congressman, you know the statue of liberty you can see probably from your House on Staten Island. The president's reported language inside that meeting, you know, calling African nations blank hole, blank House nations, the words he used on Haiti and El Salvador, make you uncomfortable?

DONOVAN: Listen, my mom suffered from dementia for the last four years of her life, a woman from Trinidad and a woman from Ghana took care of my mother and treated my mother as if she were her own mother. I believe that everybody from all nations contribute to the fabric of this nation. We have just got to figure out how we repair a broken immigration system that allows people who deserve to be in our country to get here.

HARLOW: We appreciate you being with us today, Congressman Dan Donovan.

DONOVAN: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thank you very much.

So, just in to CNN, the House Intelligence Committee says they now have given Steve Bannon a little bit more time, until the end of the month, that's 13 more days, to sort out what he can and can't say to Hill investigators.

BERMAN: This, after he refused to answer a lot of questions about his time, not just in the White House, but after he was in the White House, also during the transition period.

CNN's Manu Raju, live on Capitol Hill with the very latest. Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, two bits of news out of the House Intelligence Committee this morning. One, that news about Bannon, him giving more time to come back to the committee before -- by the end of the month. This after he was subpoenaed to reappear today, this afternoon, to answer the questions the committee wanted answered about his time during the transition and in the White House, things that he would not discuss.

And also, the other news, the committee voted unanimously, I'm told, to release the transcript of that Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson whose firm was behind the Trump Russia dossier, Simpson testified for several hours last year and behind closed doors, but the committee now agreeing to release that publicly. We expect it to happen fairly soon.

But on Bannon, very significant, that he's given more time. Also significant was a letter that we have obtained from Stephen Bannon's attorney to the committee that talks about his decision not to widen -- why he didn't want to come today and also communications that they had with the White House in advance of his appearance earlier this week when he did not answer those questions.

Now, this letter calls into question what John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, said last night on Fox News, when he said that there was -- the White House was not in communication with Bannon and did not ask him to invoke executive privilege and not responding to these questions. Now, according to this letter, guys, from Bannon's attorney, it says the White House had informed me that he is -- that Bannon is not authorized to discuss his time during the transition or in the White House until the committee and the White House reach an accommodation on the appropriate scope of information that Mr. Bannon would be free to share without implicating executive privilege concerns.

So, clearly, the White House is raising executive privilege concerns with Bannon's attorney ahead of that hearing earlier this week when he did not disclose communications that he had and the transition and during the White House and that is clearly going to be a focus going forward as a committee and the White House try to reach a deal with Bannon's attorney about what he can share with the committee going forward, guys.

BERMAN: All right, Manu Raju with the breaking news, we expect to see the glen Simpson transcript in the next few hours that will be fascinating. The Senate version of it raised a whole lot of eyebrows. Thanks Manu.

[10:15:00] All right, the breaking news this morning, the president fuming after his chief of staff said that the president's views on immigration have evolved, much more on these new tensions inside the White House.

HARLOW: It was a pretty rare move by the president. He's slamming Russia. You heard it right, slamming Russia. Why? Over North Korea. Stay with us.


[10:19:22] HARLOW: There is some news this morning -

BERMAN: Indeed.

HARLOW: There's a little bit of news this morning. There's a lot of news this morning. Let's get to it with our panel. CNN political analyst, Jackie Kucinich is here, CNN political commentator, Symone Sanders and Margaret Hoover, ladies nice to have you here. I don't know, Margaret, let's begin with you as a Republican who worked in the White House before. So, there is a West Wing verbal brawl going on between the president and his chief of staff, John Kelly. Two that don't usually go at it, we're told, from our Kaitlan Collins, the president is fuming this morning. He hated Kelly's comments saying that he was uninformed on the wall during the campaign and that he's evolved on immigration. How do you see it?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, what we know about President Trump is he doesn't like to be told or undermined by anyone and that - those off record comments that Chief of Staff Kelly, made clearly, felt - made President Trump feel that his chief of staff is getting a better of him and perhaps, potentially embarrass him.

[10:20:15] We all know nobody can speak for Donald Trump the way Donald Trump can speak for Donald Trump. So you can understand what we know about the president. He will be upset about that.

You know, hopefully, they're able to navigate their way through this. We have seen glorious blowups between the president and his top aides and we've also seen some -- disruptions being navigated successfully like what Jeff Sessions who continues to be the attorney general of the United States even though for some time it was well reported that Donald Trump was displeased with him. So, it is the very high hope of -- for all of us who have confidence in the ability that John Kelly has instilled in being able to make the White House a more manageable and operational place that this will just be a bump in the road.

BERMAN: You know, Jackie, it is interesting, right, because the president coming out here and refuting, directly contradicting what John Kelly says, right? John Kelly is saying the president evolved on the wall since the campaign. The president now saying, no, it is not that I still want the 2,000 mile wall, which he said, by the way, during the campaign, you know, wall all across the border. Now, he's saying what I wanted all along is this partial border. Not the lakes, not the mountains.

HARLOW: Like a little see through.

BERMAN: See through and some places a virtual thing. He's trying to rewrite history here.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That looks like an evolution to me. Doesn't seem like John Kelly was speaking out of turn here, but as Margaret said, the president doesn't like to be wrong. He doesn't like to be contradicted. And let's not forget, this was one of the biggest campaign promises that the president made. You know, a call response including Mexico paying for it, which I don't think anyone thinks is still going to happen despite what the president tweeted this morning. I think he looks at this as a promise that he absolutely politically has to keep and anything that erodes that, he's going to hit back hard on.

HARLOW: Symone, to you, Lindsey Graham, who has known to golf one or two or three or four times with the president and criticize the president and also being effusive in his praise for the president, here is what he just told "The Washington Post," let's bring it up. This is as he walked into the U.S. Capitol this morning and as Trump sort of -- the president sort of blew things up potentially with this tweet about CHIP. Lindsey Graham said we don't have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with. You know, that - I mean that's how he sees it. That's how a Republican who is very important in the immigration negotiations sees it this morning.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, I think -- so the White House has a really important role to play here, but Congress also has to remember that they're a co-equal branch of government. You hear Lindsey Graham saying right there in those comments is that, look, we, in Congress, could probably come to a, you know, a great consensus. There has been folks that have signed on to the Graham/Durbin bill, the folks that have negotiated this good faith bill in the Senate. And then Democrats and Republicans, I believe, in the House want to and can come to a consensus. The only person here that -- the only entity here that has not been able to in good faith come to the table is the White House, so if the government were to shut down, it would absolutely be at the hands and the fault of this White House, not Democrats in Congress as the Republicans would like for you to think.

BERMAN: All right, Margaret Hoover, Paul Ryan, House leadership has put together this CR, this temporary funding bill that includes a long-term extension for the Children's Health Insurance Program. Correct? Well, the president this morning goes on Twitter and says this -- seems to indicate that he's against this bill. He says, "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30-day or short term extension."

Poppy who has parsed the language correctly informs me it is hard to read this as the president doing anything other than coming out and saying this shouldn't be part of a temporary fix. This should be part of a bigger fix here. What is Paul Ryan's thought bubble on this right now, saying, you know, he's trying to get something passed here and the president came out against it?

HOOVER: Well, after the White House issued a statement yesterday saying that they would be in favor of the funding for CHIP and this is quite difficult. As we all know, the Republican caucus is not unified on this. The Republican caucus has many different factions in it, Freedom Caucus factions that are not in favor of funding CHIP at all. So, by hearing the White House say the White House was in favor of it yesterday helped Paul Ryan get his caucus together.

If Paul Ryan can't prevent a government shutdown, this -- politics of -- Republican -- shutdown politics 101 is that Republicans get blamed for it. But when Republicans have unified control of Congress, of course this is going to hurt Republicans and the president is the one who just threw this in disarray after contradicting his own White House statement yesterday. It has made it enormously more difficult for Paul Ryan to pull his caucus together and prevent a shutdown.

[10:25:00] HARLOW: So, Jackie, Paul Ryan has this CHIP problem now that the president has sort of thrown this bomb this morning and Senator Mitch McConnell has the bomb of we don't know what the heck the president wants. Listen to the Senate majority leader.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm looking for something that President Trump supports. And he's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he's for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels.


HARLOW: This is a Republican majority leader saying we're spinning our wheels because of the Republican president. Extraordinary?

KUCINICH: Extraordinary, but, a continuation of what we have seen in the past. Listen, people like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan can't twist arms if they're going to be undermined by the White House, by a tweet. And let's also not forget on the Republican side they were about to jam the Democrats and get them to vote potentially vote against children's health care. I mean, just looking at the raw politics here, what the president did is he also undermined them politically and not only in order to keep the government open. But at the same time, he's also saying he doesn't want a shutdown. So you can forgive Mitch McConnell for being confused and kind of throwing up his hands in that clip there.

BERMAN: So Symone Sanders, who used to work for Bernie Sanders, who by the way I think is opposed to any kind of continuing resolution that doesn't include a deal for Dreamers, where does this leave Democrats today? Are they more likely to be OK with the idea of a shutdown?

SANDERS: Look, Democrats have said -- first of all, there is -- these are bipartisan priorities that Democrats are asking to be funded and included in this continuing resolution. The Dreamers, there is bipartisan support. Over like 81 percent of folks out there in the country want to see protections for the Dreamers. And 57 percent of folks in these battleground states that were polled say they don't want this funding for the wall. So whether it is CHIP, whether it's the Dreamers, whether we're talking about Americans' pensions, whether we're talking about funding for veterans and the military, these are all things that are bipartisan priorities.

And so, again, if the government shuts down, it is not on the fault of Democrats. So I think Democrats should not be concerned if you will about what kind of blame might come their way if the government shuts down. They should continue to negotiate in good faith. But if a bill comes to the floor that does not include protections for Dreamers, I, myself and lots of other progressive folks on the left and activists believe that Democrats should not vote for it. Democrats have been saying they stay with Dreamers for a really long time. Now is where they have to, whether the rubber meets the road and they have to put the money where their mouth is. If Democrats, again, vote for a bill that does not include protections for Dreamers, I believe they should all have to answer for it.

BERMAN: Symone Sanders, Jackie Kucinich, Margaret Hoover thank you so much for being with us.

Any moment, the president will head to the Pentagon where he's expected to attack the Democrats over military funding. He says he will blame them if they shut down the government and say it will hurt the military. Stick around.