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Trump Allegedly Paid Porn Star Secret Hush Money Before Election; Interview With Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy; Can Republicans Avert Shutdown?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 19, 2018 - 3:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And for about an hour today, the president did meet with the leader of the Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer. There's the senator just leaving the meeting moments ago.
And this is what he had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: OK, I'm going to be brief. I'm not going to answer any questions. OK?
We had a long and detailed meeting. We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress. But we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue. Thank you.
QUESTION: Sir, are you going to shut down tonight?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: If the government does run out of money at midnight tonight, it will fall on the one-year anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. So, what's the chance of that?
We will give you the shruggy emoji, because we don't know. Nobody knows what's going to happen next. But, right now, the blame game is at fever pitch.
Let's get right to our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, who has been in the thick of all of it.
So, we got like a 20-second sound bite from the Democratic leader there, Senator Schumer. Do we know anything more?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, that's a very strong full-screen emoji game there, Brooke.
BALDWIN: You like that?
MATTINGLY: Well done. Well done on your part.
Look, here is what we know right now. In the Senate, there are not the votes to move forward on the bill passed last night to fund the government for another four weeks. They need 60 votes. They very clearly don't have them.
The major shift, as you noted, was the president's 90-minute meeting with Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Now, you heard what he had to say. Here is what's happening behind the scenes right now.
Senator Schumer is meeting in his office behind closed doors with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and with his top deputy, Senator Dick Durbin. They're briefing on how the meeting went. As you noted -- or as you heard from Senator Schumer, there are still several outstanding issues, but all of those issues were discussed.
How things stand right now in terms of the state of play will turn largely on where the president is. And here is why. Republicans, they are dug in. Brooke, they have made very clear, leadership aides I have been talking to over the course of the last 24 hours or so, there is a House-passed bill. That's the option that is on the table.
There's no negotiating. There's no plan to bridge any divide that currently exists with Democrats. There's no plan to take up any type of not fully formed DACA resolution at this point. That's what they want to move forward with.
I'm told that before the meeting with Senator Schumer, the White House told Republican leaders that the meeting was going to happen. During the meeting with Senator Schumer, White House officials reached out to Capitol Hill officials, Capitol Hill Republicans and their allies, and made sure that they knew that no deal would be cut.
After the meeting with Senator Schumer, they reached out to their Republican allies again and informed them that no deal had been cut. Now, why would they be doing all this? Look, to be honest, I spoke with a number of Republican senators who were a little bit worried about Senator Schumer meeting one on one with the president, worried that a deal might be cut, worried that things might head more towards the Democratic direction.
MATTINGLY: What we know right now is Republicans up here still say that they are very in line with the White House, everybody is still on the same page, and that the short-term spending bill is the plan going forward.
That said, we know they don't have the votes. Obviously, something needs to change in the dynamic. The real question right now on Capitol Hill, as Senator Schumer briefs his top leaders behind closed doors, is, how does that dynamic shift?
Is there an ask that Democrats have put on the table the president is willing to accept and then go back to Republican leaders? And if not, we are very clearly headed for a protracted shutdown moment. So, right now, that's what we're waiting to see. That's what we're
waiting to hear about. And I think the big question on everybody's mind right now is, can President Trump jar something loose that at this point on Capitol Hill simply doesn't exist?
The answer to that question, Brooke, will determine whether or not the government shuts down at midnight tonight or not.
BALDWIN: Phil Mattingly, thank you. You could have a long night ahead of you, as will these members of Congress. We will -- you keep us posted.
In the meantime, I have Republican Senator from Louisiana Bill Cassidy with me now.
Senator Cassidy, a pleasure.
You have got a lot going on, sir. Thanks for taking a minute with us.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: Hey, Brooke. Thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: Let's just begin with this Senator Schumer-President Trump meeting. Senator, what do you know about that meeting?
CASSIDY: Only what I just heard from your clip, that they met.
I think it's pretty straightforward. If -- there's a deal to be had, and the deal is fund the government until February 16 and reauthorize CHIP for six years, fund the military, et cetera. So, there's a deal to be had.
I hope Senator Schumer takes it.
BALDWIN: Was it worrisome at all to you, as a Republican, that there was not a Republican in that room?
CASSIDY: There was a Republican, President Trump. But more importantly...
BALDWIN: Well, Senator, we remember that bipartisan meeting last week, when the president said, OK, DACA first, and Kevin McCarthy had to say, hang on, Mr. President. You want that full-throttle border security as well.
CASSIDY: So, as long as you mention that, there is the presence of both the Republican House and the Republican Senate. They are in the room knowing that whatever is struck has to be approved by them.
Frankly, I'm concerned more right now about not DACA, which is important, but not due until March 5. I'm more concerns about Children's Health Insurance Program not running out this weekend.
In my state, I'm told, they're beginning to shut the program down, and so that those children who depend upon CHIP will have it on Monday. Now, that's what I'm concerned about.
The DACA deal can be worked out. What's important right now is keeping the government open, keeping CHIP going. That theoretically is common ground between Republicans and Democrats. That's the deal to be had.
BALDWIN: OK. So, Senator Cassidy, you're a yes? Is that correct? You're a yes on this stopgap bill?
So, given that fact, I know that you're colleague Lindsey Graham, he is the no vote, as the Republican, because he's essentially saying this extends the chaos. And so, with voting yes, Senator, and I hear you on the CHIP and the nine million kids, but then aren't you also complicit on prolonging this notion of kicking the can down the road for another 30 days?
CASSIDY: So, CHIP would be authorized for six years. That is not kicking the can down the road. That is a long-term reauthorization.
BALDWIN: Sure, but you will be back in discussions in another 30 days with your friends there on Capitol Hill.
CASSIDY: Politics is about the art of the possible.
The reality is that there's not a final deal that will be available by midnight tonight. There's just not. On the other hand...
BALDWIN: But who is to blame for that?
CASSIDY: We can actually -- we can talk about who is to blame and who is not.
But I'm a physician. If I know that someone is having a problem, I don't say oh, my gosh, you should have done this, you should have done that. I say, what is possible?
We can accomplish this. And we're going to accomplish it because that gets us to the next step. That's what we have before us. Are we going to reauthorize CHIP, so that kids don't start losing insurance Monday or Sunday even, and are we going to keep the government open? That is before us. We can talk about theatrical possibilities, but that's not the deal before us.
BALDWIN: I'm not talking theatrical. I'm just saying 87 percent of Americans believe that these dreamers should be protected, and a lot of Americans are wondering if you all will be doing the right thing.
CASSIDY: That's a very important issue.
And it's due on March the 5th. If you want to move it up now, when it actually will end up causing American kids from losing their insurance, you mentioned the number nine million, in my state, I'm told they're already shutting the program down because they're out of money.
If you want to say, OK, it has to be done, even though the deadline is March 5, we're going to shut the government down now, and in the meantime nine million kids lose insurance.
CASSIDY: I would say, Brooke, let's do the art of the possible.
BALDWIN: I appreciate that. And I hear you on CHIP.
But the issue of dreamers is an issue that, as I said, millions of Americans care about, I'm sure, including yourself. And there are a number of Republicans, like a Lindsey Graham or a Mitch McConnell, who say, I have no idea where the president stands on DACA.
Do you know where the president stands on DACA?
CASSIDY: The president and -- clearly, if the Democrats gave the president get border security, there would be a deal to be had upon DACA. But I will come back to this, Brooke.
BALDWIN: But, Senator...
CASSIDY: My concern is nine million kids losing insurance on Monday.
BALDWIN: Do you even know where the president stands on DACA?
BALDWIN: Senator, I hear you on the nine million kids. But the question is about DACA.
CASSIDY: And that's due March 5.
BALDWIN: And it's about, do you know where the leader of your party stands on dreamers? But I'm asking the question right now.
BALDWIN: Can we ask the question right now, and you can deal with it in March?
CASSIDY: If you want to say, right now, we're going to decide where the party is on DACA, we don't know that. We don't know what Democrats are willing to give on border security.
BALDWIN: Shouldn't you know? Isn't that a problem if you don't where the party is on DACA, if you don't know where the president is on DACA? CASSIDY: No.
I don't know what the Democrats are and what they will give for border security. And that's what I will come back to. Politics is the art of the possible.
We can speak about the theoretical. And until we know what Democrats will give on border security, then we will see what Republicans will do elsewhere.
But what is most important right now is nine million kids losing their insurance. And Democrats are going to vote that they lose their insurance. DACA is due March the 5th. The deadline for CHIP is today.
BALDWIN: I know, Senator.
CASSIDY: Let's care of take that which is before us.
BALDWIN: I know, Senator I can just -- I can feel the collective American consciousness wanting to pull their hair out over all of this.
And I'm sure you all do as well. And I don't want to talk any more about the blame game, because everyone is doing this.
Let me ask you this. If the government does shut down for some time, you know how this plays out, right? There are people who won't get paid, military, Border Patrol agents, 850,000 federal workers.
But it is written into law that you and your colleagues on the Hill will collect a paycheck. Senator Cassidy, is that fair? Do you think you should be paid?
CASSIDY: You know, first, I'm not familiar with that. But, secondly, let me just say that the military...
BALDWIN: Hang on a second. How are you not familiar with this law that says you guys get paid, when all these other folks don't?
CASSIDY: I don't care. That goes with the territory. That doesn't bother me at all.
But let me reassure the American people...
BALDWIN: It doesn't bother you getting paid? I just want to make sure I'm clear.
CASSIDY: If the government shuts down, and the American -- the federal workers aren't paid, that will be the Democrats' choice.
And if it turns out that senators don't get paid, I don't get paid. By the way, let me also correct, the military and TSA will stay on
duty. But you do point out the importance of this. Shutting the government down is not something idle.
CASSIDY: It's something which does affect services rendered. That's why I think Democrats should support keeping the government open, saying that as a Republican.
BALDWIN: Senator Bill Cassidy from the great state of Louisiana, I appreciate the healthy conversation. Good luck. Good luck today.
CASSIDY: Thank you, Brooke. Thank you.
BALDWIN: We have some news just in from the counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: We certainly hope they can work to getting and keep the government together. Our military deserves it. Our government workers deserve it. Our military spouses and certainly those CHIP recipients.
And this is what leadership looks like, the president inviting people from both parties again and from both chambers again and again to this White House to discuss the matters of the day with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Gloria, what are you thinking?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I have to say that there's an awful lot of talk about the Children's Health Insurance Program.
And this is a program that could have been reauthorized any time. And I spoke with a Senate Democratic leadership aide who said to me this morning -- and I think it's a legitimate point -- it's nice the Republicans have discovered CHIP.
They could have reauthorized it. They let it expire under their watch. Now, the Republicans will say, well, it passed the House, but it didn't go anywhere in the Senate.
Yes, it did not get reauthorized. So, what we are seeing here is CHIP being used as a chip, as a bargaining chip.
BORGER: This is children's health. This could have been reauthorized at any time.
BORGER: Not just now, not just in the 11th hour.
BALDWIN: But now that's the issue for Republicans, as we just heard from Senator Cassidy, and it's about Democrats holding the sup.
BORGER: Now the Republicans have made it a part of this continuing resolution as a way to get Democrats to do this, because they know how important this is to Democrats.
And, you know, it's a little bit cynical, as is all of this, I would argue. And so that's my first point, because now suddenly everybody is concerned about CHIP. Oh, my God, CHIP.
Well, people have been talking about CHIP for quite some time. It's not a shock that it was up for renewal.
BALDWIN: Right. Yes.
BORGER: So, now you have the six-year renewal in this.
And the question from the Democratic side is, well, I know they want to keep the pressure on. I have spoken with someone in leadership in Schumer's circle who said to me, look, if we just passed a month-long thing, the air would go out of the balloon. We have got to keep the pressure on here. And we know what we have to do on DACA. We can work it out.
And that's why I think you hear the president saying, OK, you guys go work that out.
However, we have heard that before from the president. He said, I will take the heat. You work it out. Whatever you bring me, I will sign.
Not so much.
BALDWIN: Well, that was two Tuesdays ago, which feels like a forever ago, because we're in such a different space right now.
BORGER: Yes. Yes. Yes.
BALDWIN: And just the fact that, to the president's credit, asking his old friend Chuck Schumer from New York, who he's come up nicknames for him and whatnot since then, to come to the...
BORGER: Crying Chuck, yes.
BALDWIN: Crying Chuck or Chuck Schumer clown, whatever it was, comes to the White House. And they have this conversation.
You saw the quick clip from Schumer essentially saying, we talked about everything. Some progress was made, but we have still quite a bit of a ways to go -- paraphrasing. What's your read on all of that?
BORGER: My read on all of that is that Chuck Schumer came in with a bill of particulars, went over it chapter and verse with the president. I guarantee you Kelly was there.
BALDWIN: General Kelly.
BORGER: General Kelly was there, who doesn't agree with Schumer on a lot of stuff regarding borders and DACA.
And I guarantee you that the White House did not allow the president to agree to anything until taking it back to Republicans. But I think Schumer made his points and said, this is what we're going to do, and tried to get some indication, I would think, from the president about what he would agree to.
Doesn't sound like he got that.
BALDWIN: Yes, no deal was made, according to...
BORGER: And if I were Mitch McConnell, I would be happy about that, because he doesn't want the president negotiating for him, although Mitch McConnell, you recall, when was that, a day or so, did say...
BALDWIN: Said, I don't know where the president is on dreamers.
BALDWIN: Which Mr. Trump wouldn't like very much.
So, it would be useful, actually, if the president did become a negotiator and did say, this is what I will accept and this is what I won't accept, and figure out where they can -- lead the negotiation, because, as Lindsey Graham has said to Trump, you have got to close the deal here.
BALDWIN: Right. Do the deal, Mr. President.
BALDWIN: Do the deal.
Gloria Borger, thank you very much.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Next here, this looming government shutdown could impact the fight against this year's deadly flu crisis. And that is certainly frightening news for one California county, where 142 people have already died from the flu.
Also ahead, a new report details the lengths the president's lawyer apparently went through, allegedly went through, to pay this former porn star to be quiet weeks before the 2016 election concerning an alleged affair.
Stay with me.
BALDWIN: We are back here live in Washington, D.C., today. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
This new explosive new report out claims the president's personal lawyer used a fake name and a private company to essentially pay hush money to a porn star to keep quiet about her alleged affair with then private citizen Donald Trump.
Then, just weeks before the election, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that this actress who calls herself Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 as part of this nondisclosure agreement concerning her relationship with Donald Trump.
The affair is alleged to have happened back in 2006. Trump has been married -- at that time, he had been married to the now first lady, Melania Trump, for a year.
So, with me now, one of the authors of this piece, Michael Rothfeld, a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal."
So, Michael, good to see you.
And let's just -- let's peel back some of the layers here. Talk to me about a little bit this LLC in Delaware, of all places, where Michael Cohen, the president's private lawyer, apparently used to make said payments to a woman, and using pseudonyms.
MICHAEL ROTHFELD, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Mr. Cohen created a company called Essential Consultants LLC.
He typically in the past has named companies, like with his taxi companies, he has called them Mad Dog Cab Company and things like that. That was an essential matter apparently right before the election.
And it was meant, in part, presumably to keep this distant from him, so his name wouldn't be on the payment. So, he created this company and then used a bank company linked to that company to send money to Stephanie Clifford's attorney in Los Angeles.
BALDWIN: And why is Delaware significant here? Tell me about the state's laws.
ROTHFELD: Well, Delaware is a very easy place to set up a company for kind of a one-time deal. You're not doing ongoing business and you don't have to -- the state doesn't require you to name the owner or the manager of the company.
So, generally speaking, it's hard to find out who is behind a company. In this case, if had you done an online search on this company, you would not have seen Michael Cohen's name. Because we were reported it out and found this company, we were able to get the formation papers, and we saw his name on the formation papers, which he chose to put on there.
BALDWIN: So, what is interesting, in reading your latest piece, the back and forth that you guys have had with Michael Cohen, the president, vis-a-vis Michael Cohen, vehemently denying this affair ever took place.
She says absolutely nothing ever happened. Yet, when you guys asked about this LLC, from what I could read, he didn't deny, he didn't say no.
ROTHFELD: No. He didn't really address it at all.
We sent him a list of questions and spoke to him on the phone, and he didn't really deny that at all, nor has he confirmed it.
BALDWIN: Might there be other LLCs? Last question.
ROTHFELD: There might be. We actually found another LLC that he had created originally to do this payment. And then he ended up canceling that and using this one instead. So, there very well might be more out there.
BALDWIN: Michael Rothfeld with "The Wall Street Journal," thank you so much for coming on.
ROTHFELD: Thanks a lot, Brooke. Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next here, reaction from conservatives over this story here on this porn star, this alleged affair, it's actually pretty tough to find. So, why are they shrugging it off? We will discuss.
BALDWIN: We're back with this story, this new reporting on the lengths taken to keep this porn start's alleged 2006 affair with Donald Trump quiet.
The president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, reportedly used a private company, used this LLC, created this LLC, and used a pseudonym to pay this hush money.
With me now, Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator, and Jason Kander, CNN contributor and former Missouri secretary of state.
Gentlemen, thanks for being with me.
And, Ben Ferguson, from what we can tell, conservatives are kind of meh over this whole thing. What's the collective shrug-off?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know actually if it's a shrug- off as in the sense that people are saying they don't care.
I think a lot of people say, he's the president of the United States of America. I didn't know this information before I voted for him. He's the president now. I think he's doing a good job, so, yes, move on. Now, there are a lot of other conservatives...
BALDWIN: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Where are the folks in the evangelical community, the family rights community?
FERGUSON: Sure. Let me finish.
There's a lot of others that have called into my show yesterday, and we talked about this, saying, this does matter to me. This is a big deal.
This is exactly what conservatives are supposed to be standing against and saying no. Some said that they felt like they had been clearly misled or even lied to about this issue, and it would have changed their vote, certainly in a primary, if this information would have been in there.
Some even said it would have changed their opinion in a general election. But, overall, there was a lot of people were saying, look, we just don't know what the real facts are here yet. There are a lot of people saying a lot of things. Let's see how it plays out and I care more about the government shutdown than I do about this issue with Stormy Daniels today.
BALDWIN: OK, Jason, what do you think of Ben's point? Government shutdown is priority numero uno and the fact that the president is doing a good job?
JASON KANDER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think I could agree halfway. Don't think the president is doing a good job, and think that that's largely why we're facing a government shutdown.
And when it comes to the topic we're on here to discuss, I guess what I would say is, I would prefer not to have to care about this. Frankly, in any other environment, I would just say, look, this is between the president and his family. It's a private matter.
And that's pretty much how I feel. What bothers me about this is how consistent this is with the way he's governed. And here is what I mean. His whole pattern that we have seen over the last year is this. It's something happens, and the first thing he does is, he lies about it.
And then, after that, he blames somebody else. And the entire M.O. of the Trump administration so far has been get to tomorrow. That seems to be their operating slogan. Get to tomorrow.
And what we're seeing with the shutdown is what happens when you actually run out of those tomorrows.
BALDWIN: It's all about today.
KANDER: And that's what bothers me is how consistent this is.
BALDWIN: It's all about today.
Go ahead, Ben, you want to respond to that? All about tomorrow?
No, I mean, look, I -- I think them getting to tomorrow is absurd. Look, the government shutdown, a lot of people knew that this was going to be an issue all year long, when we kept having these C.R.s.