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Senate GOP Lack Votes to Avoid Government Shutdown; Testimony Postponed for Trump Communications Director; Speier: 'Plenty of Evidence' Money Laundering Possible in Trump Org; WSJ: Trump Lawyer Paid Porn Star Weeks Before Election. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 19, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are absolutely at this point headed to a government shutdown. There is no resolution currently in sight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Schumer, do not shut down the federal government.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We have to sit down together and solve this with the president or without.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: They're prepared to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mitch McConnell would have wanted budget we would have had a budget. At some point in time, we have to do our job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a completely dysfunctional, broken appropriations process. I don't like playing shutdown politics. I don't like playing this gamesmanship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to confess that I don't know what the White House's position is, with respect to this continuing resolution to fund the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, Mr. President, get off the campaign trail, come back and be the leader, and we will negotiate with you.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Friday, January 19, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with breaking news.
Less than 18 hours, according to the countdown clock, until the U.S. government will shut down if the Senate doesn't pass a short-term spending bill today.
Republicans are in control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. This would be the first shutdown ever when one party was in control. But they don't have control of their entire caucus in that Senate, so they really need Democrats. At least a dozen votes to keep the government open. Most Democrats say they won't support the GOP plan without protections for hundreds of thousands of DREAMers. So as of now, Democrats have enough votes to block it.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: If the Senate fails to fund the government by tonight, we will, as Chris says first shut down one party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress.
President Trump is set to leave Washington this afternoon, heading to Mar-a-Lago for a party as this showdown plays out. So what will happen in the next 17 hours and 58 minutes?
Let's begin our coverage with Ryan Nobles. He is live on Capitol Hill with all of the breaking details. How's it going, Ryan?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning from Capitol Hill, where Senate Republicans are scrambling to pick up those 60 votes that they need to pass a short-term spending bill that was passed by the House yesterday.
But at this late hour, as you mentioned, less than 18 hours to go before the government shuts down. The votes just simply aren't there.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), VERMONT: I object. I object.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection heard.
KING: We are in an urgent situation. This is irresponsible and I just don't understand it. So I object to the motion.
NOBLES (voice-over): Tensions rising on the Senate floor as the government barrels towards a shutdown with a deadline at midnight tonight.
A 60-vote majority is needed in the Senate to pass the proposed short- term spending bill that Republicans passed in the House. The future of the bill is uncertain. More than a dozen Democrats are ready to vote "no," because the bill does not protect DREAMers.
Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul also saying they'll vote "no." And Senator John McCain will be absent for the vote due to his cancer treatments.
But it's not all bad news for Republican leadership. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin will break with his party and vote "yes." And Republican Senator Mike Rounds changing his vote to support the bill after a late-night deal on defense appropriations.
SCHUMER: We could get this done in a few short days and not kick the can down the road. This is the fourth C.R. that we have done and accomplished nothing.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to push for a vote last night but failed. Republican senators heckling Schumer as he pitched a much shorter continuing resolution to allow the Senate to continue debate over the next few days.
However, aides to Senate Majority Leader McConnell are skeptical of this proposal. With just hours left before the shutdown deadline, the blame game is in full force.
MCCONNELL: Democratic senators' fixation on illegal immigration has already blocked us from making progress on long-term spending talks. That same fixation has been threatening to filibuster funding for the whole government.
NOBLES: Two Republican aides telling CNN Senator McConnell is already drawing up plans to bring forward a series of votes that could be uncomfortable for Democrats leading into midterm elections, especially for the 10 Democrats up for reelection in the states President Trump won. Democrats are holding their ground.
SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: I think we need to force the leadership on the other side of the aisle to take this issue seriously. And they haven't for 110 days. If Mitch McConnell would have wanted a budget, we'd have had a budget.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: This is like giving you a bowl of doggie doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae.
NOBLES: A new national poll captures how deeply entrenched both sides are in their positions. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats believe it's worth shutting down the government over DREAMers. Fifty-one percent of Republicans feel it's worth a shutdown for the border wall.
NOBLES: And the Senate is set to reconvene at 11 a.m. this morning Eastern Time, which means they'll only have about 13 hours to hash out a deal. And it's important to keep in mind, this is the one real opportunity that Senate Democrats have when it comes to leverage.
And while protection for the DREAMers is high on their list of priorities, they also want to see more funding for disaster relief. And they want to see more done to fight the opioid crisis. And while there are plenty of Democrats with problems with the bill that's currently in front of them, there are Republicans that want to see changes, as well, including more funding for the military.
A long day here on Capitol Hill, Chris, and not much time left before the government shuts down.
CUOMO: Ryan Nobles, appreciate it.
And in politics, perception is often reality. And President Trump is leaving Washington this afternoon to head to his Florida resort hours before the midnight deadline to avoid a shutdown.
This comes amid reports that the president has not been very involved in negotiations. CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House with more.
Last night when we were reporting this out, it was striking that you weren't hearing the GOP leadership out loud, asking the president to stay.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's really extraordinary that, in just a couple of hours, the president is planning to leave the White House, leave Washington on the cusp of a shutdown and head to his Florida resort at Mar-a-Lago.
And already the president has been spending the last couple of hours, 24 hours or so, talking about how he is going to frame a potential shutdown and blame it on Democrats. Take a listen to some of those -- that framing, that spin from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats want to see a shutdown to get off the subject. Because this subject is not working for them. The tax cuts and tax reform has not been working well for the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Now, the question of the president's involvement in this debate has been swirling here in Washington. He started the day on Thursday with a tweet that threw the GOP's well-laid plans into total chaos. He questioned the strategy of adding funding for that Children's Health Insurance Program to a short-term funding bill, even though Republicans had done that to get Democrats on board.
The president is also working the phones. But at the same time, we're hearing from a source close to the negotiations that the White House is a little bit frustrated with Speaker Paul Ryan about how he's been unable to potentially get some Republican votes on board yesterday before that House vote.
But at the same time, on the other side of this, a GOP source says that President Trump has been a little bit late on the game in his engagement on this issue. As the president prepares to leave this afternoon, it coincides with the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. He plans to celebrate at Mar-a-Lago with a big high- dollar fundraiser at his resort -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: Abby, appreciate it. Let's bring in CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein and David Gregory.
David, is a deal in the works? We heard rumors last night through Jack Kingston. We all know who he is, in good contacts to Congress. Maybe the Democrats will try to cut a deal not to give 60 votes to this continuing resolution, but like a Band-Aid to create a window for more negotiation. Maybe something like five days.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it would, I think, be a good idea for Democrats, who have to believe that there is still an opportunity here for the kind of deal that they want on immigration. There's a lot of pressure. You see it in the polling that was
referenced a moment ago among Democrats to keep up the resistance to Trump and to the Republicans to fight to use the leverage on DREAMers to drive a negotiation.
We have an unpredictable president who, you know, held himself out as the guy who knew the art of the deal better than anything else. And he's finding as president that pulling off these details is not like doing a big real-estate deal when you're dealing with government and different interests. But I think the thinking is nobody benefits from a shutdown.
Democrats can say the Republicans own it. And they'll have to eat it in an election year. And that would be bad for them. But again, if you're a Democrat, you think you have some leverage on this issue of immigration. I think they want to keep that conversation open. The president's been unpredictable, but I still think they think a bigger deal is possible.
CAMEROTA: Right. How about that, Ron? How about if the Democrats say, OK, you want our votes. We feel that we have leverage. We'll give you our votes. And before February 16, which is the kicking the can down the road there. It's only going to stay open another month. First order of business, DREAMers. I mean, isn't there that kind of deal to be had?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there's a lot. Well, first of all, I think it's unlikely that any kind of deal would go that far again.
I mean, the Democrats are under enormous pressure to respond to what the president set in motion in the first place. Right? I mean, you have, at the root of all of this, is a -- is a strategy of hostage taking from the administration, from the congressional Republicans. It extended not only to 700,000 or so recipients of DACA but also to the millions of kids on the Children's Health Insurance Program. And that is kind of at the root of where we are.
On the other hand, I covered the 1994, as David did, 1994, 1995 shutdown and the shutdown under Obama. And a government shutdown is just not as powerful a weapon as its advocates believe in terms of forcing an administration to do something they don't want to do. I mean, this may or this may not be the right hill on which to kind of wage this fight.
But the reality is -- is that we are here because the president, I think above all, is demanding significant changes in other aspects of the immigration law in -- not only on dealing with undocumented but reducing legal immigration as -- as the price of, essentially, taking away the gun he is holding to the head of the DACA recipients.
CUOMO: David, there are numbers, and there are numbers inside the numbers. There's a big number of 80-plus percent, something like 87 percent of Americans say DREAMers should stay.
But in each part, you have over half the people polled saying it's worth shutting down the government, on the Republican side over the wall and on the Democrat side over DACA, over the DREAMers. So what does it mean?
GREGORY: The irony is that President Trump is among the "S" in that big ember. You know? I mean, that's what you have to remember here. And at the same time, there's this nativist scare-mongering part of the president's brain on immigration, hardline advisors, a big part of his political base, both in Congress and in the country that says, "No, we've got to blame people for what's happening to our country."
It fuels the trade arguments, although in the first year he didn't do as he promised, which is to tear up NAFTA and renegotiate those conversations that are still going on.
So he's got these two parts of his brain. And what did Mitch McConnell say? We don't really know what the president is for on immigration ultimately and what he'll ultimately sign. So we're not going to debate this and negotiate it and spin our wheels. That's the issue. But you -- as mercurial as this president is, I still think that in all of that, there is a chance for a bigger deal. He's so unconventional that I think a bigger deal on immigration is possible.
BROWNSTEIN: You know, part of the problem, real quick, can I just jump in, is that you really see the extent to which the parties are representing two different Americas in this issue.
I mean, there are very few Republicans with constituencies that include not only a meaningful number of DACA recipients. But very few Republicans now represent states or districts with a large number of immigrants to begin with.
I mean, Donald Trump lost 16 of the 20 states with the highest share of immigrants in the population and won 26 of the 30 with the lowest. The same is true in the Senate. The vast majority of Republican -- and in the House, it's even more pronounced. It's like three to one, Republicans are in districts with fewer than -- fewer immigrants than the national average. Where for Democrats, it's largely the reverse.
They don't feel the immediate pressure, many of them, to deal with this issue that Democrats and some Republicans do who are aware. On the other hand, you know, people who are aware have those kids and those families, more broadly, in their districts.
But the reality, as Chris noted, is 90 percent of the country, roughly, wants the DREAMers to be allowed to stay. So to some extent, Democrats, I think, are willing to call the administration's bluff. If there is no deal, are Republicans willing to stand by and let the president start deporting any meaningful number of these kids in an election year when that idea is opposed something like nine to one.
CAMEROTA: David, look at this interesting poll. At the moment who the Republicans -- sorry, who the public would blame for the shutdown. And this is not an easy answer for the people who are looking for an answer whether to do it. They say they would blame Democrats, 34 percent. That's the highest percentage. Republicans, 32 percent. OK? So almost evenly split. Then if you add in the president, they would blame President Trump 21
percent. And 13 percent say they don't know. So this is not a lay-up for either side.
GREGORY: No, and it goes to -- it goes to Ron's point, which is that it's not as powerful for the side that really pushes for it as perhaps it used to be. It's messy. And it's very hard for those of us who cover Washington so closely and look at all the available facts to really connect to people who are viewing Washington in a very different way, who view the media in a different -- in a different way. Who view the president is a different way than we might day in and day out. That's what's important to remember.
So the framing of this will change from day to day. But those underlying issues are important about how people will view the issue of immigration, how they would view the prospect of DREAMers being deported. Which I can't imagine the president would want to do.
And by the way, he could be so hardline today and totally change tomorrow. And there is a high-profile Republican in Lindsey Graham, who supports the president, who also wants a more, quote unquote, "Democratic path" to immigration reform, which is worth noting here.
CAMEROTA: All right. David Gregory, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much for all of that analysis.
So Trump aide Hope Hicks was supposed to appear before the House Intelligence Committee today. However, her interview was postponed because of these concerns about whether the White House is somehow trying to limit the testimony on the Russia investigation. So we discuss all of that next.
[06:18:11] CAMEROTA: The White House communications director, Hope Hicks, will not appear today before House investigators. The panel delaying plans to question her, because other Trump advisors have not been answering their questions.
There are reports that the president himself may be directing his aides to limit their testimony. So let's bring back David Gregory, and joining us is CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin. He worked as Robert Mueller's special assistant while at the Department of Justice.
Michael Zeldin, let me start with you. Is that allowed? The president is telling his advisors, or former advisors, "Clam up, don't answer their questions." Is that legal and allowed?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it depends on the nature of the instruction. If he is saying to people who are his close policy advisers, I intend to assert executive privilege with respect to some of our conversations, that's his prerogative. If he's telling them in broad gag order terms, "Don't cooperate," that's not appropriate. So we have to say which it is is.
What we found in the Bannon testimony, which was problematic to me, was they seemed to be asserting executive privilege for a period of time before they became the executive; that is during the transition. That's what I think has caused the delay with Hope Hicks as they try to work out between White House counsel's office, the extent to which they intend to invoke executive privilege.
CUOMO: You know, I was doing a quick Westlaw search. And there is a recent case where a federal judge found that executive privilege does not extend to transition periods. So it will be interesting. If they go to court, it will seem to be reconciled.
But you cannot waste having Michael Zeldin. He is such an expert when it comes to money laundering. I have to play for you what Jackie Speier, the Democrat, said to us last night after Glenn Simpson, who's a co-founder of Fusion GPS, who put together the dossier with the help of the former British intelligence agent Chris Steele.
[06:20:11] Here's what she said last night about what her big concern is right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Money laundering is a huge component. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which really requires anyone who does business with a foreign national, foreign company, a foreign government, has to do due diligence to make sure that the money is not tainted, that it is not being laundered. And I think there is plenty of evidence to suggest that there has been money laundering going on many of the real-estate deals that were done by the Trump Organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So Michael, a lot of people don't know this about you, but you have done a ton of legal practice about money laundering. So I want your take on this. I hadn't heard this before, which kind of hurts my feelings as a reporter. But also that I asked Jackie Speier do you think that these transactions are in any way connected to what we saw as interference? She says, "Yes." And she's, you know, trying to develop that rationale.
And then I asked whether or not this was only because of what they heard from Glenn Simpson, right? You can read the transcript of his testimony if you want to the House and to the Senate. She said no. There's a lot of open source documentation. He's not the first one to bring into the panel. So what's your take?
ZELDIN: So let's put aside the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, because that's a little bit different. That's a bribery statute.
In the money-laundering sphere, the statute that she's referencing, 18 U.S. 1956, makes it a crime to engage in a financial transaction where the source of that money is criminally derived.
The allegations here are that -- and they're just allegations at this point -- that the Trump Organization, over a long period of time, mostly throughout its bankruptcies was, in order to stay solvent, receiving money from Russia and Georgia and Azerbaijan. That was illegally sourced. It has been reported in open source data. Steele mentioned it in the dossier. Luke Harding in his book, "Collusion," mentions it.
And so the theory is Trump received all of this illegal money to keep his business alive. And his son, Don Jr., in 2008, Chris, you'll remember he gave a speech where he said we don't rely on banks. We rely on Russian money for our high-end properties such as the Soho properties in New York.
And so that's the theory. They received all this money to keep their businesses afloat. In exchange now, years later, they have entered into another agreement by which they will receive support, intelligence. The June 9 meeting, the WikiLeaks meeting in order for them to gain the political prize of the presidency. The exchange that Russians want for that is the removal of sanctions. And we saw a little of that in the loosening of the Ukraine platform...
CUOMO: During the convention.
ZELDIN: That's the theory. During the convention. So that's the theory. Illegal money coming into Trump to support him. Then the collusive deal that's off the back of that is they then say, "Well, let's make you president, and if you make the presidency, you'll help relieve sanctions." There is the June 9 meeting, which is the Magnitsky Act, which is sanctions. That's the theory.
CAMEROTA: We have to move on, David, to another thing that is more news that's breaking. "The Wall Street Journal" has new developments, or at least they're reporting developments now bringing them to light about Stormy Daniels. Right? So this is the porn star.
The report is that she had some sort of illicit affair with, or at least moment with Donald Trump. And somehow, some media outlets buried it before the election.
Here's what "The Wall Street Journal" says. "Michael Cohen," who's the president's personal lawyer, "established Essential Consultants LLC on October 17, 2016, just before the 2016 presidential election, corporate documents show. Mr. Cohen, who is based in New York, then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the $130,000 payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing the woman, Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, one of the people said."
So they are following the money and following the paper trail, "The Wall Street Journal" and trying to -- well, they're asserting there was this payment made right before the election.
GREGORY: Yes. So I'm not sure what the impact of any of this is. The president has denied it. She has apparently denied it. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that there was a statement using her -- her entertainment name to deny it.
[06:25:03] I'm not really sure where it goes. I don't think that either Trump's critics or his supporters would necessarily be surprised if he had this kind of relationship or took some steps to keep it quiet.
CAMEROTA: Isn't that itself, David, notable? That this is the point that we've gone to in politics and in our world? Where something that would have been a bombshell, obviously, in years gone by, that now it's an afterthought, because there's so much else that we are dealing with that this kind of revelation is a footnote.
GREGORY: Well, it's also that these kinds of revelations are not new in politics, and they're not new to being covered in politics by the media about political figures. So I think that's part of it.
But yes, I mean, it is notable. This is a -- a president who has proved to be able to survive the kinds of statements or the kinds of accusations that others have not.
I would just make the broader point, kind of pulling these two stories together, too, if you were listening to Congresswoman Speier with Chris last night on the program, this is what a Democratic control of the House looks like. Which is Democrats in control of the investigative arm of Congress not letting anything die around President Trump, moving the investigation, you know, from Russian interference to Russian interference that has to do with money laundering and his financial ties. And that is, of course, the great fear. And that's what the White House thinks is so unfair.
But we should also point out that the special counsel could very well be looking at exactly all of this, as well.
CUOMO: It would be his purview, not theirs.
CUOMO: Aspire to even mention that.
Last word to you, Michael, and then we'll move on.
ZELDIN: What I was going to say in respect to the money laundering, to David's last point, is you know Mueller is looking at this, because the Manafort money laundering indictment is exactly the same theory that we've just talked about with respect to Trump and his organization.
ZELDIN: So you can't look at Mr. Manafort and assume that he's not looking at it for Trump.
CUOMO: And when we talk about why we care about one thing and not another, if you're Donald Trump and you're talking about what he has facing him, money laundering from a special counsel versus. Did you cheat on your wife? I mean, a different universe.
CAMEROTA: Oh, sure. I just wanted to take a moment to note where we are.
ZELDIN: And that's...
CAMEROTA: Yes. Michael.
ZELDIN: I was going to say, that's -- and that's why perhaps, in that "New York Times" interview, he said, "Looking into my financial dealings is a red line for me." Because I think this is an area that he fears most, because the allegations with respect to the receipt of this money are many and long.
CAMEROTA: Michael Zeldin, David Gregory, thank you both very much.
CUOMO: All right. We've been following a story that gets more dark and more scary the more you get into it. Thirteen kids bound and shackled inside a house of horror. The details about the torture they endured for years. What police say was being done by their parents, next.