Return to Transcripts main page


Shutdown Looms on Capitol Hill as Dems and Republicans Blame Each Other; 13 California Siblings Face Severe Prolonged Abuse; How Government Shutdown Could Affect the Military; Iowa Town Gives Mixes Reviews on Trump's First Year; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 19, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Marc Short has not spoken to the president this morning about this.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. He -- he spoke to him last night. You know, Marc Short runs the Legislative Affairs for the White House. He hasn't spoken to him yet.

HARLOW: Yes. He knows where his head is on this.

BERMAN: You know, I'm not sure that a lot changed overnight between the last vote and where it is this morning, but Marc Short hasn't checked in with the president yet today.

You know, Scott Jennings, again as we look at the live pictures right now, from the briefing room, we're about to get the message from Marc Short and Mick Mulvaney about where they think they're headed, how they want to portray this going forward.

We also know that White House canceled the president's trip, at least until a deal is made, to Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, you know, someone got to him and said this would be awful. This would be an awful picture. They have a sense of how that would be bad messaging.

You know, we have, Scott, though, some previous statements from the president on issues of a shutdown. There was a tweet that he sent out in 2013, the last time it was shut down when President Obama was president and he said here is the truth, the government doesn't shut down, all essential services continue, don't believe the lies, Donald Trump said.

And then of course there were some sound of the president, which I think we have, talking about how the president ultimately gets the blame for a shutdown. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the president, in all fairness, he's the leader. He's the one that has to get everybody in a room and get it done. They're not going to be talking about Boehner and Reid and all, they're going to be talking about President Obama and what a disaster the administration was. So he does have a lot of pressure to get this problem solved. He's got a big problem.


BERMAN: So what specific pressure, Scott, and I know you said Republicans feel better than they had before, but what specific pressure do you think is on the president right now?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the pressure is, of course, to convince voters that unifying control of government under the Republican Party leads to functionality and not dysfunction. We had a lot of dysfunction the last six years of the Obama administration and I think frankly that's why we got some of the results we did last November. So it is in everyone's best interest for the government not to shut down and for these problems to get solved.

I think for the Democrats, I saw earlier you all were interviewing Tina Smith, the new senator from Minnesota.


JENNINGS: The interview you did with her shows just what a problem they have on messaging. Her talking points were as follows. I will absolutely not vote to fund the government, but I sure hope it doesn't shut down. That is going to sound crazy to average voters out in middle America who are trying to figure out, wait a minute, if you don't want the government to shut down, why won't you vote to fund it? So --

HARLOW: So you left out part of her talking points.

JENNINGS: I think the Republicans right now and the president have to be disciplined on this.

HARLOW: All right. So you --

JENNINGS: They have to be disciplined on this and not deviate.

HARLOW: You left out part of what she said. Matt Viser, Tina Smith also went on, the new senator from Minnesota, also went on to say, it is the definition of insanity to keep kicking something down the road and hoping for a different result, to keep doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result. Point?

MATT VISER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And I think to the degree that it is the DACA issue that holds this up, President Trump had a big meeting. I mean, the last time he gathered everybody together was around DACA and trying to solve some of the immigration issues, so I think for Democrats, they do feel like they keep kicking the can down the road on an issue that President Trump has said that he wants to solve. So -- and President Trump has not done much to develop consensus around that issue, he's quite frankly done the opposite.

So I think that Democrats feel like they have the upper hand in that respect, that DACA is something that the American public wants. Whether they want a government shutdown as a -- you know, in order to push DACA forward is a different sort of argument and that's what Democrats are testing right now.

BERMAN: Guys, stick around, we keep looking at the bottom of the screen right here to see when they will start inside the White House. We're going to sneak in a quick break before we hear from these White House officials explaining what the president is doing this morning and how he will try to avoid a government shutdown. Stay with us.


[10:37:52] HARLOW: We're just moments away from a White House briefing from the director of Legislative Affairs on the shutdown. What are they going to do? What are negotiations? What is in the president's mind as he canceled his trip to Mar-a-Lago hoping to get a deal down in Washington? We will bring that to you as soon as it begins. I promise.

But also this horrifying news story out of California. We're getting more details on these 13 siblings that police say were starved, beaten, neglected by their own parents for years.

BERMAN: The details of this obviously so deeply troubling, children given one meal a day, one shower a year, no trips to doctors or dentists. Prosecutors say the parents starved their children to the point of stunting growth. The oldest, a 29-year-old woman, weighed just 82 pounds when she was found.


MIKE HESTRIN, RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is severe, emotional, physical abuse. There is no way around that. This is depraved conduct. They're relieved, I will say that. They're in good hands. They're being cared for. They're all in the hospital. Their well-being is being looked at. Their health is being looked at. They're in good hands. As far as where they're going to end up, I don't know.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is Dr. Nadine Kaslow. She's the chief psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Doctor, thank you so much for being with us. And we're sorry it's under these circumstances. These children allegedly abused for years -- you know, starved, beaten, chained. What are the first steps now to try to bring these kids back to health?

DR. NADINE KASLOW, CHIEF PSYCHOLOGIST, GRADY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Well, I think the first steps are actually to listen to them, to be kind and caring to them. One of the things that is going to be really important is they have been taken out of an environment familiar to them, even though it is horrific there. And to be sure that they can stay connected to each other so that they don't lose contact with each other.

But they need to be listened to, they need to be tended to and they're all going to have very different reactions to this tragic situation. HARLOW: It is telling that two of them escaped, and one, the 17-year-

old, ran for safety and called police. The other one ran home. And that tells us, right, about this conflict that they were battling internally. Psychologically the impact on them and how -- I mean, how reversible is it and isn't it?

[10:40:03] KASLOW: Well, it's never totally reversible. They can never forget what happened. It will always be a part of them and their life and their story. Each one of them will be very different in how much they can move forward in their lives. A lot of that will have to do with how much impairment they have and their own temperament.

BERMAN: Never been to a doctor or a dentist. So what kind of problems does that pose?

KASLOW: So, you know, we have this situation where it sounds like they're extremely malnourished. And that causes all sorts of difficulties, cognitive difficulties, physical difficulties, puts them at risk for many problems. And then they never got those issues paid attention to. We don't even know if they got the normal shots that you need to have and well checks that you need to have. Nonetheless any serious problems that are being tended to. So at least some of them are likely to have significant medical problems.

HARLOW: You know, we just heard the D.A. there in California saying, I don't know where they're going to end up. I mean, are these children that can go to, do you believe, foster families may eventually adopt them or are these children who frankly need to be taken care of in -- in a facility for a while where they have this around-the-clock expert care?

KASLOW: So that is a difficult to determine, it may be different for each of the children. But I think the extent to which they can have sort of more normal family life, the better that's going to be for them.


KASLOW: But as I said, I'm very worried about them being separated from each other. That will be even more of a loss. Some of them may need traditional in-patient psychiatric care. But ultimately they're going to need loving families.

BERMAN: You know, we're hearing some of the older kids were given gaming systems, electronics, at the hospital, as part of their recovery. How would they be useful?

KASLOW: Well, I think part of what happens is these kids missed out on a lot of normal things in life. This begins to help them to engage in what typical people their age do. Gaming systems also can be really good for social contact and for cognitive improvements.

BERMAN: All right. Dr. Nadine Kaslow, thank you again so much for being with us, helping us understand what has frankly, you know, unimaginable and beyond comprehension. Thank you. HARLOW: So at any moment, the president's top aides will face

reporters as this government shutdown is 13 hours and 17 minutes away. We will hear from them, the head of the OMB Mick Mulvaney tells Kaitlan Collins the president is working the phones right now but there is a 50-50 chance they think that the government will shut down. Stay with us for live coverage.


[10:45:47] BERMAN: All right. Live pictures right now from the White House briefing room. We are expecting to hear from key White House officials, really any second right now on the status of negotiations over this government shutdown, which is now just 13 hours and 14 minutes away.

This could have a wide-ranging impact on a lot of different parts of the country right now. One of the questions is, what would the impact be on the military? Well, as we speak, Defense Secretary James Mattis is giving a talk. And moments ago, he addressed this issue of these budget stalemates, not so much the shutdown per se, but these temporary measures that Congress keeps on using to fund the government. Listen to the Defense secretary.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Even with storm clouds gathering, America's military, as I speak, is operating under yet another continuing resolution. For too long we have asked our military to stoically carry success at any cost attitude as they work tirelessly to accomplish the mission that is now inadequate and misaligned resources simply because the Congress could not maintain regular order.


HARLOW: Let's bring in our military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

What's interesting as John rightly points out is that Mattis isn't saying a few days or a few weeks, a government shutdown will be devastating to the military. He's saying you keep kicking the can down the road, you keep giving us these temporary funding measures and that really hurts.

Talk about why it hurts.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Poppy, I got to tell you over the last couple of days, while I've watched Democrats and Republicans on both sides blame each other for the shutdown, this is only one part that every military commander in the world is just furious about because it is the continuing resolution.

You can't -- as a military commander, I was responsible in various jobs to create my own budget. When the Congress doesn't allocate funds to the military, then as a guy who has to create a budget for training and operations and taking care of soldiers and their families, it just throws you way out of whack.

It is not just the shut down, although there is a lot of myths that have been perpetrated over the last couple of days about what happens to soldiers, and how we take away all their pay and some are saying, no, no, soldiers do get paid, there is no requirement for the Defense Department to pay soldiers during a government shutdown. There is usually a bill that provides for that, and they will eventually receive the pay, but there are some cases where we have soldiers in harm's way, are just doing their daily job at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, where they won't -- they may not get paid unless the government acts.

And the key piece is, and I'm sorry for going on a rant on this, the key piece of this is it is the Congress' J-O-B to do this. This is one of their prime requirements is to approve a budget and they haven't done it in a very long time. And it isn't just the military that suffers for this, although national security is critically important, it is all government agencies. Yet the Democrats and the Republicans both tend to use the military as a shield, proving that they're patriotic and they want to pay their military.

But what about all the other services that are a part of government? It just is infuriating to anyone who has ever worn the uniform and now I will stop my rant.

BERMAN: No, no, no.

HARLOW: Right. We get it.

BERMAN: We enjoy you for your rants, General. Look, and again, it's a separate thing. The idea of governing and funding the military based on these continuing resolutions versus the immediate impact of a shutdown, you have been a commander during a government shutdown.


BERMAN: So what happens to you? What happens to the troops?

HERTLING: So I mean, there's --

BERMAN: What do you see?

HERTLING: There is manipulation by the commanders who control the budgets. And they will do the best that they can just like any -- let's equate it to a businessman who has a fluctuating budget or debts and credits, or whatever. But the problem is when you're dealing with the number of people within your organization, not just your, quote, "employees," the soldiers, but in the case of the military, the soldier's families and the communities which they run, there are second and third order effects that are phenomenal, John.

Let me give you an example. Soldiers might get paid, there might be a counteract that will say even though we're shutting down the government, we are going to continue to pay soldiers. That's great. But all the so-called nonessential personnel and what I mean by that are maybe civilian nurses at the medical clinic, or the child care providers or the teachers at the schools or the people that run the commissaries of the PXs, none of them will be paid because they are considered, quote-unquote, and I hate this term, "nonessentials" to security.

[10:50:15] But they affect the community and it is critically important because what you then have is a sort of an uprising of military families when you have a dual military family or when you have dual couples who one of them works and they can't drop their kid off at child care, it affects them. And it's horrible.

HARLOW: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, let's hope they were listening, all of them, who are charged with this J-O-B --

HERTLING: I hope so, too.

HARLOW: -- as you say to keep the government running.

HERTLING: Congress has to do their job, Poppy. That's the key point and quit using the military as a shield.

HARLOW: We appreciate it. Have a good weekend. Shutdown-free, we hope.

BERMAN: I think that will happen, by the way.

HERTLING: You too. Thank you.

BERMAN: Ever. On a range of issues. General, thank you very, very much.

As we wait for this briefing to start, and it will any minute, again, tomorrow is the one year mark for President Trump in office. And whether or not you think he's doing well depends very much on where you live and whether you are a supporter.

HARLOW: Sure, whether you live in a big city, a small town, it is divided country when it comes to the president's job performance.

Our Bill Weir went to Monticello, Iowa, to see how residents there feel about the president one year in.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Monticello, they still wind the clock tower by hand. And still mix politics into their coffee down at Darryl's.

(On camera): It is so great to sit at the table of knowledge in Monticello, Iowa.

(Voice-over): It's a tradition that goes back to Truman. But no president has ever tested the limits of Midwestern politeness like number 45.

(On camera): So this county went for Obama. And then swung over to Trump. Why? MEL MARTEMACH, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: Trump pulled the wool over

their eyes and they have most in his base has not recognized it yet.

WEIR: You think Virgil has been conned. You think Jerry has been bamboozled.

MARTEMACH: They're so engrained with the crotch, grab and wire.

GERALD RETZKAFF, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: Trump wasn't my first choice. However he's doing a hell of a good job. He's playing three level chess versus everybody else playing checkers.

GARY FISHER, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: The ones that support him are either greedy or bigots or they just don't see it yet. If the vote were taken today, I think it would be different.

WEIR: You think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wouldn't be for the electoral college, he wouldn't have won.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you sing too?

RENEE ADAMS, HOG FARMER: We run 800 acres of corn and beans and then we do bale some hay. Our kids actually buy their own 4-H animals, they do the chores for them.

WEIR: That will teach you, right?

ADAMS: That teaches you, yes. Yes.

WEIR (voice-over): At the Adams farm --

(On camera): Did you all vote for President Trump?



WEIR (voice-over): The family Republican shows little voters remorse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's doing a decent job. I think we need to give him a chance.

ADAMS: He went to the American Farm Bureau Federation meeting, you know. I haven't seen that from other presidents.

TRUMP: Throughout our history, farmers have always, always, always led the way.

WEIR: Those words played really well around here. But his actions could end up hurting these folks. His nominee for chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture wasn't a scientist and then got tangled in the Mueller investigation. He scrapped an Obama rule that would have protected small family farms against big corporate meat packers and he is threatening to tear up the trade agreement that keeps a lot of these farms alive.

ADAMS: Now it's NAFTA, that's another story. You know, that does scare us pretty bad.

WEIR: You guys would go bankrupt?

ADAMS: We would go bankrupt, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure he has a plan. You know, if he does pull out, I don't know what that plan is.

WEIR: Somebody was telling me this town used to be called the Pittsburgh of the Prairie, because there are so many factories.


WEIR (voice-over): And there are worries that Oak Street Manufacturing, a mom and pop maker of restaurant furnishings.

BAGGE: We're hopeful as far as the tax reform. We're positive about that. We have grave concerns about his actions verbally.

WEIR (on camera): Like what?

BAGGE: Some of the statements that he makes. There's just a lot of disrespect for a large number of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a Republican, he was worried about his grandchildren paying the national debt. It doesn't seem to make a bit of difference anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to have another Obama come and clean it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then we can double or debt again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got into the prosperity you're having now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. We'll give him all the credit for the stock market going up, yes, you bet. You betcha. Get your head out of your butt, man.


[10:55:09] WEIR: Is there a safe word when things get too heated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's a good time to cut your rose bushes?

WEIR: And that's the safe word?


JERRY HAHN, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: One day I realized and I was worried. That's the safe word. WEIR (voice-over): So one year into Trump, the state he won by almost

10 points, is producing a bumper crop of worry, even among those who love him most.

Bill Weir, CNN, Monticello, Iowa.


HARLOW: Well, fascinating piece, beautifully shot. Also, watch the special report, "TRUMP'S FIRST YEAR, REIGN OF CHAOS," that's hosted by Jake Tapper. That's tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here.

BERMAN: All right. You know, his first year in office, punctuated by perhaps a government shutdown. The clock is ticking. You can see it ticking right there. 13 hours, 4 minutes to go.

Up next, you can see live pictures right now from inside the White House. We're waiting to be briefed by senior administration officials on what they're doing, if anything, frankly, to try to fend this off. Stick around. A lot more to come.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan.

The breaking news this hour, you are looking at live pictures coming to us from the White House briefing room. Two top Trump aides expected to speak with just hours to go until the government runs out of money. And right now on Capitol Hill, the Senate gavels into session, facing long odds and little time.

Lawmakers have just 13 hours to fund the government or face a shutdown at midnight. With Democrats and Republicans already blaming each other, it is clear that optimism is fading. And one big reason is simple math. Republican leaders in the Senate need 60 votes, meaning they need support from Democrats.

President Trump acknowledging that those crossover votes aren't likely and laying blame, tweeting this, "Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate, but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming, question mark. We need more Republican victories in 2018."

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill live for us with the very latest on this.

So, Sunlen, Republican senators met last hour behind closed doors. What were the marching orders?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Brianna, very much the phase that many members are here right now at this moment is in the phase of waiting. Waiting for some direction from their leadership. What's the plan forward? What the path forward is?