Return to Transcripts main page


Shutdown Day Two, No Breakthrough in Sight; Thousands Protest for Women's Rights across the U.S.; At Least Five Killed in Kabul Hotel Siege. Aired 0-0:30a ET

Aired January 21, 2018 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. government stays shut. No visible sign of progress on the reopening it; Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked and the president worries that he'll get the blame.

Plus this was the scene across the U.S. on the first anniversary of Mr. Trump's inauguration, marches for women's rights.

And gunmen attack the Afghan capital's biggest hotel. The siege is ongoing with special forces onsite as we speak.

Live from CNN HQ in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you for joining us.


VANIER: It's just after midnight on the U.S. East Coast and that means we're entering now day two of this federal government shutdown. The House and Senate will convene on Sunday but for now there's no deal on the horizon. On Saturday they seemed to make absolutely no progress. Republican and Democratic leaders didn't speak to each other all day. What they did do was blame each other. Here's Jim Acosta at the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conceding they don't know how long the shutdown will last, aides to President Trump are shaming Democrats for closing down the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a 2-year-old temper tantrum to say I'm going to take my toys and go home because I'm upset about something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite is still the Schumer shutdown. It's got that nice little ring to it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But privately CNN has learned President Trump has confided to aides and allies he worries he will ultimately take the blame as the shutdown is happening exactly one year after he was sworn in to office.

ACOSTA: This is the one-year anniversary of the president being sworn into office.

How does this White House feel to have a shutdown one year after the president was sworn in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Jim, I think it's disappointing that Congress has chosen to shut down the government and particularly Senate Democrats have, at the one-year anniversary. But I --

ACOSTA: No reflection at all of the leadership coming out of the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a reflection, candidly, of the position that many in the Democrat party find themselves in.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue ...

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), MINORITY LEADER: Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-o.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is complaining Mr. Trump rejected his offer to start paying for the wall as a last-ditch gesture to prevent a shutdown during their Friday meeting at the White House.

SCHUMER: It's next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can't stick to the terms. I have found this out. Leader McConnell has found this out. Speaker Ryan has found this out.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Democrats have dug in their heels, insisting on an agreement to protect the young, undocumented immigrants known as the DREAMers in exchange for their help in reopening the government, outraging Republicans.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: There is no reason for this shutdown. We have been and we continue to be willing to work together in good faith on immigration. But that deadline, that deadline is weeks away.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president stayed behind closed doors, making calls to Republicans while using his phone to blast away at Democrats, tweeting "Democrats are holding our military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can't let that happen."

The president is escalating his rhetoric on the DREAMers, a far cry from the compassionate tone he used earlier this month.

TRUMP: This should be a bipartisan bill. This should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Democrats are constantly reminding the president of his past comments on shutdowns. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: He said what this country needs is a good shutdown. We don't agree.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Especially when Barack Obama was president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to bear the brunt of the responsibility if indeed there is a shutdown of our government?

TRUMP: Well, let me say, who gets fired?

It always has to be the top. I mean problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. And the president's the leader.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was supposed to be at Mar-a-lago this weekend, celebrating the one-year anniversary of being sworn in to office. Instead, he can hear the protests from the Women's March in Washington right outside the White House.

It was one year ago when the president promised fundamental changes for the U.S.

TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

ACOSTA (voice-over): That combative tone from that January weekend has lasted throughout the president's first year in office in ways the nation won't soon forget.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.

ACOSTA: The president was supposed to celebrate his one-year in office at a fund-raiser at Mar-a-lago but instead he's spending the night here at the White House and sending a video message instead, a video he uses once again to blame Democrats for the shutdown -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


VANIER: The blame game had begun even before the shutdown. So it was no surprise that it continued full swing on Saturday. It was pretty spirited. Listen to this.



SCHUMER: This is the third or fourth time on this issue he's made some kind of commitment and then backed off because he's afraid of the right wing. Whether Stephen Miller does it, whether General Kelly doesn't steer him in the right direction and just lets it happen, I don't know.

But it's getting very, very difficult. You know, my hope has always been that Senator McConnell and Leader Ryan would see, knowing what they know about the president, that they would step up to the plate themselves. But they're afraid to, too, I think, or at least reluctant to. I wouldn't characterize it as afraid.

But they are reluctant. Leader McConnell has said publicly that he doesn't know what the president thinks and has told me repeatedly, I should negotiate with Trump.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: The American people cannot comprehend why the search and rescue senator from New York is advising his party to keep the government shuttered for American troops, American veterans, American military families and vulnerable American children until he gets exactly what he wants on the issue of illegal immigration.

The situation which not even -- does not even become urgent until March.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: There's no defense to what we're doing. The DACA population is very sympathetic, nice in public. The military is beloved in the eyes of the public. Most people want to find the government -- the president decided to give to Congress six months to find a DACA solution. That was plenty enough time.

The president needs to find a deal he can live with and stick with it. I think we look petty, we look like we care more about the party flag than the American flag.


VANIER: All right, let's discuss. With me now, conservative commentator Alexandra Datig and Democratic strategist, Dave Jacobson.

Alexandra, you first. There's one man really at the center of all of this and that's the president. And what's surprising is it's not 100 percent clear where he stands.

So what does the president want?

ALEXANDRA DATIG, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: That is a very good question. I think he wants to govern in a way that benefits Americans and he wants to put Americans first and then that is what he is all about and that's why people like me voted for him.

But I got to be honest with you, at this point, the people who really deserve a pay cut are people in Congress who couldn't make a deal. This is an absolute disgrace and they should all lose their pay over this.


VANIER: But the specific question is do we understand what deal the government would be willing to sign up to?

In terms of DACA specifically because that's what at issue here.

DATIG: Politics is the art of compromise. And if the compromise is we want the wall and they can get DACA, then perhaps that is something that we can look at, although I have be honest with you, we have over 1 million victims, American victims of human trafficking, children on our streets and we prioritizing illegal aliens.

That is absolutely shameful, Cyril.

VANIER: Illegal aliens that a majority of Americans do believe should actually be allowed to stay in this country.

DATIG: Yes, but you know, these people are not valedictorians and war heroes.

VANIER: Some of them are.

DATIG: Well, congratulations. Let's keep those. OK ? I'm willing to keep anyone who has benefited this country and has increased the quality of life for Americans.

That would be fine. That would be a good compromise.

But to just give blanket amnesty, amnesty to 700,000-800,000, we don't even know what the number is.

To all of these immigrants and what do we -- what do we get?

What do the American people get?

We get to live paycheck to paycheck. Just because we have more jobs doesn't mean America is solvent. More jobs means more people living paycheck to paycheck, we are not getting anywhere with this. This hurts -- this shutdown hurts the economy, it hurts this president's agenda.

The Democrats know it. They have a double standard and if they didn't have a double standard, they'd have no standard at all.

VANIER: David, let's hear from you.

Are the Democrats overplaying their hands on this, shutting, forcing a government shutdown over the DREAMers?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's Democrats that are overplaying their hands. I think it's the Republicans. For the first time, Cyril, modern history, a political party, the GOP, controls the White House and both chambers of Congress. The United States Senate and House of Representatives, it's like they ultimately -- the American people are going to hold Republicans' feet to the fire because they control every element of the government. It is on them to cut a deal.

And Americans overwhelmingly support the DACA plan and creating a pathway to citizenship for those DACA recipients. In fact, Quinnipiac put out a poll that 80 percent of Americans support (INAUDIBLE) --


JACOBSON: -- citizenship. And of that, 64 percent of Republicans support the DACA recipients having a pathway to citizenship --


VANIER: -- we just put up some of our own numbers, essentially that half of Americans believe the president and Republicans should taking this very seriously and should make it a priority of theirs.


JACOBSON: And also when it comes to the CHIP program, the Child Health Insurance Programs, even more Americans (INAUDIBLE) the House bill to pass (INAUDIBLE) was an opportunity for Republicans to try to (INAUDIBLE) Democrats. They had a fixed-hear extension.

But at the end of the day, it wasn't at (INAUDIBLE) any funding effort. It wasn't a permanent solution to (INAUDIBLE). And this is something that has even more overwhelming support among Americans across the country.

So bottom line, budgets are a reflection of values and (INAUDIBLE) to the GOP (INAUDIBLE) and millionaires and billionaires getting fat tax cuts, they jammed it through Congress.

But when it came to getting children's health insurance or (INAUDIBLE) citizenship for children who came here through no fault of their own, GOP ultimately had led to the stalemate. This is on them to compromise --


VANIER: Yes, still the Republicans, the Republicans offered six years of funding for the Child Health Insurance Programs. From a purely political standpoint, it's going to be hard for the Democrats to justify turning that down. Let me turn to Alexandra again.

According to CNN's sources, the president thinks and he's been saying this privately to aides and allies, today, well, on Saturday, that this will ultimately be blamed on him.

What do you think?

DATIG: Well, you can shift the blame anywhere you like.


VANIER: No, but this is what the president thinks.

DATIG: Of course the blame's going to be shifted on him because, you know what, Americans want to be counted. And the way that he is going about it is by the spreadsheet. He's not trying to sell identity politics. He's not trying to sell Americans (INAUDIBLE) -- look, he's not trying to tell Americans how to feel about the issues.

He's trying to do things in a way so that it makes sense for the economy and for people's pocketbook.


VANIER: OK, I get that. But then, in that case, if he wants to help the economy and he doesn't want to be blamed...

DATIG: Yes, Cyril, Democrats are looking to blame this president for everything. You wouldn't see a single one of them get up and congratulate him on his first year in office. You would never see that. But he has accomplished a lot for us. He's done so much for this economy that was taking when he first took office.

VANIER: Why doesn't he sit everyone around the table and try and get that deal, Alexandra?

Why doesn't he sit everybody around a table and get a deal?

DATIG: Well, because people are not willing to compromise with him. They're not willing to negotiate with him. He is trying to protect American citizens.

VANIER: There's not 100 percent evidence for what you're saying here.

DATIG: Excuse me?

VANIER: There isn't 100 percent evidence for what you're saying. Chuck Schumer is there, available. He'll pick up the phone if the president calls him. They met on Friday.

DATIG: Sure. Right. Sure. That's why they called it the Schumer shutdown. Chuck Schumer doesn't even have the decency to take off his glasses when speaking to CNN. You can see that on my blog. OK, he's too busy -- he's too visiting arrogance, speaking it to the Republicans and the president because Obama couldn't get a budget, either.

And so he's talking about kicking the can down the road with the C.R. again and again and again. And this is all retaliation for the past eight years of the Obama administration. But there are other things that are going to be coming to light, especially with the FISA abuse and things like that.

So if, look, if Democrats want to play this game and they want to go down this road, it's -- it is not going to help them. Because there will be retaliation on the other side, too. And the American people are sick of it. We're sick of this bickering and this partisan nonsense. We're tired of it.

VANIER: David, I wonder about the political system that creates this. And I know the conversation here in this country, in the United States, is about the polarization, is about how Democrats and Republicans don't trust each other and can't come to any kind of agreement.

But look at this from a foreigner's perspective, for our international audience here. It is striking to me that Republicans have a majority in the Senate and that they need 10 extra votes from the Democrats to pass anything. That's just the U.S. system that requires that. They've got 51 votes potentially in the Senate and they need 60 to pass this.

Isn't maybe the rule, the very rule of voting here in the Senate at issue?

JACOBSON: I don't think so. Look, there was a bipartisan --


JACOBSON: -- president Donald Trump came up with a deal with Senator Dick Durbin. They presented it to the president. It had bipartisan support. And the president shut it down.

So the fact of the matter is, there are efforts for collaboration (INAUDIBLE) for trying to find the government and the shutdown among --


JACOBSON: -- senators. But Donald Trump, the person who's supposedly of the ultimate dealmaker, refuses to cut a deal with some of the (INAUDIBLE) way like Lindsey Graham and a Democrat like Senator Durbin.

And so I think that's the bottom line, The president hasn't put forward any common sense comprehensive, bipartisan deal.

You're right to ask the question, Cyril. the reality (INAUDIBLE) schizophrenic (INAUDIBLE). We don't know what his ideas are. We don't know what his (INAUDIBLE) values are. We don't know where his policy positions are.

And that's the problem with this chaos-infused White House. It's why we've got dysfunction. It's why we've got infighting. That's frankly why we've got this shutdown.

The president refuses to (INAUDIBLE) the most basic function of being commander in chief of the United States is to run the government and he simply can't do that.

VANIER: All right, listen. Thank you very much to both of you for coming on, Dave Jacobson, Alexandra Datig. Depending on how long this lasts, we're going to need to talk again. Thank you very much for coming again.

DATIG: Good to be with you. Thank you, Cyril.

VANIER: And this was also key on Saturday, women across the U.S. sending a clear message to the president that it's time to pay attention to women's rights. Hundreds of thousands of women marched in cities across the country on the one-year anniversary of Mr. Trump' presidency.

The protests had a distinct anti-Trump tone. CNN's Kyung Lah was at a rally in Los Angeles.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If last year was about women coming together to have a voice, to march together across the country, this year was about directing that voice to action. And that action being what will happen later this year: the elections.

Speaker after speaker who spoke to this very large crowd said that women had to vote, that it will be women this year that make the political difference.



This march and movement is far more ambitious in scope and scale and it extends beyond one political actor or even one political party.

LAH (voice-over): The mayor of Los Angeles called this march, the one in Los Angeles, the largest in the entire country. The estimate by the City of Los Angeles is that 500,000 women marched through the streets of Los Angeles, finally gathering in front of city hall to talk about the 2018 midterms.

If you walk through the crowd, there were a number of signs where people were talking about how, this year, women would make a difference, not just at the ballot box but on the ballot themselves. Women in exponential numbers are training to run for the very first time for political office.

Just looking at what's happening at the governor's mansions across this country, a record 79 women have announced or filed papers saying that they intend to run for governor -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


VANIER: President Donald Trump acknowledged the protests on Twitter and used it to point to his achievements.

He tweeted, "It was a perfect day for all women to march," quote, "to celebrate historic milestones, an unprecedented economic success" of his first 12 months in office. And then he touted the lowest female unemployment in 18 years.

Moving on now, the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has come under attack. Special forces are trying to rescue guests and staff that are trapped inside the hotel. We'll have the latest details when we come back.





VANIER: At least five people in the Afghan capital have been killed after attackers stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Two Afghan news outlets also report that 100 people were rescued, including 16 foreigners. Special forces are now trying to clear the hotel. Moments ago we saw smoke coming out of the building after the third

floor was set on fire during the attack. The overnight siege had been ongoing for more than 12 hours. An official earlier told CNN that two of the four attackers have been killed. There's no claim of responsibility so far.

We're joined now by journalist Zakaria Hassani (ph), who joins us on the phone from Kabul.

Zakaria (ph), I've been told that you were a witness to the scene.

Can you explain to me what you saw?

ZAKARIA HASSANI (PH), JOURNALIST: Well, just a few minutes ago I talked with (INAUDIBLE) and got the latest, the latest bit about (INAUDIBLE) the attack. He told me that the (INAUDIBLE) operation is underway and they (INAUDIBLE). They cleared the sixth floor and yet the (INAUDIBLE) attackers could move through the seventh floor and still they are dealing with that.

He also told me that (INAUDIBLE) now five people killed, six other wounded and that they could rescue about 100 staff and guests, including (INAUDIBLE) that (INAUDIBLE).

A few hours ago I also talked with the spokesperson of Afghan Ministry of Public Health (ph). He told me that about seven people wounded in this attack. (INAUDIBLE) set on fire and it's more than 12 hours since the attackers conducted the attack. From four attackers, two of them killed and two more is still fighting with the security forces.

VANIER: Zakaria (ph), so the security forces are clearing the hotel floor by floor and they're currently going up. You told us they were -- they had reached the second floor by now.

Do we have a sense of how many people might be left in the hotel?

HASSANI (PH): Right now, there isn't any exact figure about the (INAUDIBLE) and also about those who had settled there because we talked with many sources and they in to give us any details about the exact numbers of those who are trapped in the hotel and about the exact numbers of (INAUDIBLE) because the security operation (INAUDIBLE) even the way the helicopters is also flying over the Intercontinental Hotel and I think they are waiting until the attack finished.

VANIER: Zakaria (ph), give us a sense of what kind of target this is. When you hear Intercontinental Hotel, you immediately hear -- you immediately think that foreigners are likely to be there, perhaps business men, diplomats.

But equally, I understand that this particular Intercontinental had been bought up by the Afghan government.

So who actually goes there?

HASSANI (PH): Well, Intercontinental is (INAUDIBLE) considered as the favorite hotel in Kabul. Mostly, it holds events like (INAUDIBLE) political gatherings and (INAUDIBLE). As I said, because of having (INAUDIBLE) environment and (INAUDIBLE) are likely -- they are eager to (INAUDIBLE) and they are eager to settle (ph) in the hotel.

So maybe the (INAUDIBLE) a few years ago (ph) and (INAUDIBLE). And also this at times came under the Taliban (ph). This was -- came under the Taliban attack that there were nine men, nine Taliban members in both the (INAUDIBLE).

So again, after what (INAUDIBLE), again, this was a commander the attack (INAUDIBLE) no group (INAUDIBLE) for the responsibility. But it might be -- it's hard to file a target for the interim group (ph).

So that's why they target the (INAUDIBLE).

VANIER: Yes, a very high-profile target indeed. That operation is still ongoing.

If you're joining us just now, security forces currently trying to clear the hotel after it was attacked by, we --


VANIER: -- believe, at this stage, perhaps four gunmen. This is the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. We've just been speaking to Zakaria Hassani (ph).

Zakaria (ph), thank you so much for all the details you've given us. Thanks a lot.

All right, stay with us. We're back with you after this.




VANIER: You might recognize that. You might have heard this a time or two. That's Ed Sheeran and his hit, "The Shape of You." His love ballads are often played at weddings and now possibly his own.

Sheeran has announced that he's engaged to long-time girlfriend Cherry Seaborn. The two met in grade school when they were 11 years old and began dating back in 2015. The engagement comes after what you can only describe as a successful year for Sheeran. The Grammy winner was Spotify's most streamed artist of 2017 and in no small measure thanks to that song.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Stay with us, I'm back with the headlines in just a moment.