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Dems, GOP Maneuver On Government Funding Deal; Kelly: Trump Was Uninformed; Steve Bannon's House Intel Committee Slip-Up. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired January 18, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: There's bipartisan agreement on one thing. No one wants to give any ground. Under 48 hours rather to a potential government shutdown, will one party blink or will the lights go out?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He has evolved. Campaign to governing are two different things.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Apparently, campaign promises are made to be broken. The chief of staff says candidate Trump was misinformed.

ROMANS: And new signs the White House tried to limit testimony with Steve Bannon this week. But he did reveal one detail critical about the Russia probe.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUARDT: And I'm Alex Marquardt, in for Dave Briggs. It is Thursday, January 18. It's 4:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

The federal government's authority to spend money runs out tomorrow night. Two groups of lawmakers to watch today, House conservatives and Senate Democrats. The House is expected to vote on a continuing to fund the government through February 16th. But GOP defense hawks in the House say the party's short-term bill does not meet their campaign promises.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Are you in a position to vote on what is out there for a budget resolution on Friday?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: No. Here's what I want -- I want us to do what we told the American people we were going to do. What they elected us to do. Fund defense. Hold the line on non-defense. And do what the election was about on immigration. If the Democrats want to shutdown the government because they want to

give amnesty to people who came here illegally, then you can have them on your show and they can explain why that's the appropriate thing to do.


ROMANS: Senate Democrats are under heavy pressure from administration activists. They want renewed protections for Dreamers, those are people who were brought here illegally as children. Many of those Democrats leaning against a stop-gap bill.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I know how my colleague can look the Dreamers in the eye and say we're going to engage in breaking America's promise and violating our trust. At some point, standing on moral principle is why we're here. And we made a promise to the Dreamers.


MARQUARDT: Now, Senate Democrats have at least one Republican ally, that is Senator Lindsey Graham. He is saying putting off a deal on DACA will not just hurt Democrats, but Republicans as well.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Those who think that we are going to get away as Republicans, we're getting all we want on the fence now and we'll deal with the kids later, the DREAM Act population, closer to March 5th when their backs are against the wall, that is -- that is nuts.


ROMANS: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell trying to corral Democratic votes. McConnell says the president's waffling on immigration is not helping.

But a White House spokesman says the president's priorities are clear.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), 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 is for, then I would be convinced that we would not just spinning our wheels.

RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our priorities are clear. We cannot get into a situation where we have -- where we have a temporary stop-gap fix and then a few years down the road, we have hundreds of thousands of new illegal immigrants in this country. That is not a fix. And that's inhumane and that is not a bill of love.


MARQUARDT: And President Trump telling "Reuters" that a government, quote, could happen. He insists Democrats, however, will take the blame.

So, 48 hours from the possible government shutdown. What is the state of play on Capitol Hill?

Here is CNN's Phil Mattingly.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Alex, for the state of the government shutdown or potential government shutdown, there's no question about it. Thursday is going to be a very big day. You are going to get the first concrete evidence whether or not things are heading on a good pathway in terms of whether or not there actually be a government shutdown, or whether or not there are significant problems.

Here's why: this is a multistep process. First, the House needs to pass a short-term spending bill to be kicked to the Senate. There are major issues in both of those chambers.

When you look at the House, House Republicans basically have to pass the short term funding bill on their own.

Democrats have already made very clear, they are opposed to it. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi whipping against the bill entirely. That means Speaker Paul Ryan needs to find 216 of his own votes to ensure this moves to the Senate.

And that has been problematic, there's no question about it. Conservatives are very frustrated with the process, not necessarily happy with the content of the bill, are threatening to hold out. Defense hawks are also uneasy about the fact that they are moving forward and just kicking the can down the road.

Can they actually get there? Well, top Republican aides say that they feel like they are on a good path. They've been whipping the bill hard. They feel they can eventually get there.

There's no question about it. It's not been an easy task.

[04:05:02] If Republicans are able to get the bill through the House, it kicks it over to the Senate. And the spotlight shines directly on Democrats.

Obviously, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can't pass any without short term government funding bill without Democratic support. They need 60 votes. Republicans only had 51 seats.

If you want to know where Democrats stand on this, stand on this short-term funding bill -- well, take a listen to Senator Chuck Schumer. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The overwhelming number

in our caucus have said they don't like this deal and they believe if we kick the can down the road this time, we'll be back where we started from next time. So, there is very, very strong support not to go along with their deal.

MATTINGLY: Now, obviously, Democrats very unhappy about the current direction of things. Democrats making very clear they don't want to vote on any government funding bill if there is no DACA resolution attached to it or at least close to a deal.

But will they actually withhold their votes? Will they push the government to, you know, the brink of or right into a shutdown?

As of now, most Democrats and top Democratic aides are telling me they're keeping their powder dry. They want to see what House Republicans are going to do first before they commit any one way. But it's worth noting, they are very frustrated.

They are hearing a lot from their advocates, from their base, saying that this is the moment to fight and this is the issue to fight on. Will they? Well, we're at least going to start getting some answers today -- Christine and Alex.


BURNETT: All right. That's the state of play with Phil Mattingly.

What happens if there's a government shutdown? It could cause the U.S. economy. The economy lost $24 billion during the last shutdown. That was in 2013, remember?

If negotiations collapse, most federal agencies will close. That means hundreds of thousands of workers will be furloughed or take leave without pay. That's not all federal workers. Essential workers will continue to work.

Who are those workers? Air traffic controllers and law enforcement and national security and federal courts. The paychecks will be delayed until a shutdown ends.

What about the U.S. military? The biggest loser according to the president. The troops have already been paid for January. So, it won't be a problem until February 1.

Who does get paid during a shutdown? Those who have constitutional duties like members of Congress. Oh, isn't that sweet? Members of Congress still get paid even though they can category had a spending plan. Supreme Court gets paid and so does the president.

What's it mean for you? Good news. You will still get your Social Security check. That program is mandatory. You can also get a new passport. That service is partly funded by fees. But bad news if you plan to vacation to a national park, a museum or a monument. Taxpayer funded sites would be closed. MARQUARDT: And the White House chief of staff John Kelly says the

positions on the border wall were uninformed when he was running for president. Kelly met Wednesday with Democrats in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. A source familiar with his comments tells CNN that Kelly told the group he has work to educate the president and move him away from some of those campaign promises.

ROMANS: Later, he offered up this explanation to Fox News.


KELLY: He's a very definitely changed his attitudes toward DACA issue and even the wall. He has evolved in the way he's looked at things. Campaign to governing are two different things. This president is very, very flexible in terms of what is within the realm of the possible.


ROMANS: Flexible. Kelly also acknowledging money to pay for a border wall will not come directly from the Mexican government. He claims the White House will secure funding from Mexico one way or another through visa fees or renegotiation of NAFTA or other methods.

MARQUARDT: The Trump administration is now barring Haitians from receiving temporary visas for seasonal and agricultural work. The decision removes Haiti from the list of around 80 eligible nations. Now, those visas will be banned for seasonal workers from Samoa and Belize. The administration recently ended the temporary productive status for nearly 60,000 Haitians here in this country.

ROMANS: Now, this latest move also on the heels of the president's vulgar remarks about African and Haitian immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security defending the decision on visas for Haitians, citing high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying visas.

MARQUARDT: And former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had what they are calling one major slip-up when he faced the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Despite refusing to answer questions about his time in the White House, "Axios" reports that Bannon did admit speaking with other senior White House staffers about a now infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

ROMANS: That's where senior aides, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner met a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. CNN has also learned Bannon's attorney took breaks during the session to call the White House to determine which questions his client could answer.

MARQUARDT: A source familiar with the proceeding says that all the shots were called by the White House. That's a quote. But Chief of Staff John Kelly claims that the White House never told Bannon to invoke executive privilege. Bannon has struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, agreeing to be interviewed by his team instead of testifying before a grand jury. [04:10:02] ROMANS: Meanwhile, former Trump campaign manager Corey

Lewandowski, he had his turn in front of congressional leaders on Wednesday. He left them frustrated, too.

We get more from Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.



And now yet another contentious day before the House Intelligence Committee after Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager, declined to discuss some key topics of the committee wanted to press him on, namely those topics that occurred after he left the Trump campaign back in 2016.

Now, Lewandowski said he was unprepared to discuss some of these issues. This is according to Adam Schiff, the top Democrat in the Committee, who raised concerns about the fact that Lewandowski would not discuss these matters and also will not discuss whether or not President Trump himself talked to him about the testimony that he delivered to the House Intelligence Committee yesterday.

Schiff said this is unacceptable.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Lewandowski said that he was not prepared to answer those questions today, but that he would return to the committee at some later date to answer questions. This, in my view, is completely unacceptable.

RAJU: Now, this all comes as part of an effort by the White House to limit congressional testimony and limit what these people who are tied to the administration can say behind closed doors, because they believe it is keeping with past precedent. But Democrats in particular see this as an effort to obstruct the investigation.


MARQUARDT: All right. Thanks to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to adopt so-called conscientious health care protections for health care workers. Under a new rule, the department's office for civil rights would stand by workers who refuse to provide certain medical services, like abortions, on moral or religious grounds. A source says that officials want the announcement to coincide with Friday's National March for Life.

President Trump will address the annual anti-abortion gathering on video. He will be the first president to do so. HHS has not responded to CNN's request for comment on this expected rule.

ROMANS: All right. Eleven minutes past the hour. The president heads to the Pentagon today with a new U.S. nuclear strategy on the way and now, he is accusing Russia of helping North Korea. We're live in Moscow.


[04:16:20] MARQUARDT: President Trump is using his score on a recent cognitive test, part of his medical checkup to take a swipe at his Oval Office predecessors over North Korea. In an interview with "Reuters", he blamed Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all for their approaches to the rogue regime and the growing nuclear threat.

ROMANS: He said, quote, I guess they realize they're going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests. The White House physician says Mr. Donald Trump scored 30 out of 30 on that cognitive test, remember, he requested, 30 out of 30 on that cognitive test.

MARQUARDT: And today, the president meets with senior leaders at the Pentagon with a U.S. nuclear strategy on the table. Officials say the Pentagon is discussing a possibility of a nuclear strike in response to a major non-nuclear attack on the U.S. In the meantime, the president is now accusing Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions aimed at curbing their nuclear and missile programs.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Moscow with the details.

Good morning, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, and good morning to you.

Yes, President Trump finally listening to his briefings. One of those briefings telling him, well, it has been months if not years that Russia had been in violations of those sanctions. It's something that's spelled out in the U.N. report. I first reported on this when I was here in April.

What is different now is that Donald Trump is actually zeroed in on the kind of damage that Russia can do in terms of negotiating with North Korea. If North Korea gets even one idea that it has an ally, even when China has been trying to put some pressure on it, especially when it comes to fuel, that may cause them to be much tougher at the table or perhaps not come at the table at all.

In terms of Russian reaction, I got the same reaction today. At least Russian news agencies did from the government, that these are baseless, absolutely accusations and they deny. They say they are in full compliance with U.N. sanctions.

That is exactly the same reaction that I got when we first did the story in April outlining exactly how they have migrant workers here in Russia. A lot of that money is sent back to North Korea as some kind of fuel sales. And also the fact that the North Korean embassy here in Moscow, the U.N. spells out quite clearly, has been used as a front for illicit activities.

Having said all this, here's the key thing: whether or not Donald Trump has any power to do anything about this with the Russia, we said it many times, Russia-U.S. relations at an all time low, it does not have -- Russia does not have the same leverage and, believe me, when it comes to the negotiations, they want that. It is unclear what the United States can do to make sure that Russia plays ball on sanctions with North Korea.

MARQUARDT: All right. Paula Newton in Moscow -- thanks very much.

ROMANS: All right. Snow and ice blanket the South. What is in store for the weekend? You won't be disappointed.


[04:23:32] ROMANS:: A freshman at the University of Alabama no longer enrolled at that school after posting two videos full of taunts and racial slurs on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


HARLEY BARBER: What is offensive? Because I said so. (EXPLETIVES DELETED). I don't care if it is Martin Luther King Day. (EXPLETIVES DELETED]. So everyone can (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I'm from New Jersey.


ROMANS: That student identified as 19-year-old Harley Barber from Marlton, New Jersey.

MARQUARDT: That vulgar video sparking protest on campus on Wednesday evening. Demonstrators saying this happens far too often.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the first time. Something like this dramatically happens every year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact she had friends encouraging this type of thing is just really shocking that nobody was in the back saying, hey, you know, that's not right.


MARQUARDT: The University of Alabama calls the video offensive and deeply hurtful. Barber apologized on Wednesday telling "The New York Post" she said something really bad, that there was no excuse and she feels horrible. Now, she plans to return home to New Jersey.

ROMANS: All right. Airports along the East Coast getting back to normal following Wednesday's winter storm. Airlines forced to ground more than 1,800 flights yesterday and about 700 so far today, mainly in Atlanta and North Carolina.

MARQUARDT: Today, the Deep South faces a deep freeze and much of the East Coast is looking forward to a much-needed January thaw by the weekend.

[04:25:07] CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam has the latest.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST : Good morning, Alex and Christine.

The storm system responsible for the snow across the Southeast yesterday has now exited the East Coast and has left frigid air in its wake. You won't believe how cold this air mass is. In fact, all the way to the Gulf Coast, we have hard freeze warnings in place this morning, including the Florida Panhandle. Just about 30 million Americans impacted by temperatures below 32 degrees.

This is what it feels like. Single digits this morning from Atlanta to Charlotte and Nashville at 13 degrees. That is your forecast wind chill again as you step outside.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We're going to replace this arctic blast with milder air, as a wind takes over from the Southwest. And that is going to replace our temperatures that have been sub-freezing over the past few days to above freezing for places like New York and D.C.

Look at the forecast for Thursday. Today, 33 degrees in the Big Apple, 50 by Saturday.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that.

The House is set to vote on a short-term package to fund the government, but hurdles remain in both chambers, folks. Neither side giving any ground. More from Capitol Hill, next.