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President Trump Absent in Senate Negotiations?; Interview With Louisiana Senator John Kennedy; Senate Reaches Compromise to End Government Shutdown. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 22, 2018 - 3:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You are watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Here's the breaking news now. The Senate reaches a compromise to end this government shutdown, which is in its third day. Just a short while ago, the Senate passed a key vote by an 81-18 margin to advance a bill to end the shutdown. A vote on final passage is slated for just a little bit from now.

The leader of the Senate Democrats, by the way, gave no credit for the president for the end of this impasse.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump unwillingness to compromise caused the Trump shutdown and brought us to this moment.

The facts are well known. Since our meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, the president and I have not spoken. And the White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great deal- making president sat on the sidelines.


BALDWIN: Moments ago, the White House responded, slamming Senator Schumer right back.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We were pleased to see Senator Schumer accept the deal that President Trump put on the table from the very beginning, which was responsibly fund the government and debate the immigration as a separate issue.


BALDWIN: Let's start at Capitol Hill.

CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is there.

And, Phil, when should we expect those votes, A, and, B, what did the Democrats get out of this?


We are expecting the Senate to move probably in about a half-hour, maybe a little bit longer. They are dealing with some technical issues now, nothing that is going to be problematic for the bill.

Once they move, it will then go over to the House, where the House is expected to move very quickly. Republicans very clear they are going to support this. That's all they need to move it forward.

At some point later this afternoon, early evening, the government will be reopened again. How did we get to this point? Obviously, that's the big question right now.

You heard Senator Schumer's comments. You could see Senate Majority Leader McConnell. You see the White House. What they're all doing right now is trying to frame this, obviously. They want to see or at least try and make sure that their side either wins or gets enough credit for things.

Here is what actually happens and what actually matters. What Democrats accepted was a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that if, by February 8, the deadline of the next short-term funding bill, there is no resolution on the DACA is , immigration will come to the Senate floor, not a specific bill, not necessarily a specific bill, just that the Senate will move to immigration on the Senate floor, and they will have votes on that.

That is meaningful. There hasn't been a commitment of that before. That is something that Democrats were looking for. Here is what Democrats did not get. They did not get a commitment that the vote would happen before February 8. It's not tied to the spending bill. They did not get a commitment that Speaker Paul Ryan would take whatever the Senate does and put it on the House floor.

Those are the issues. And probably one of the bigger things, they did not get a commitment that the president would be involved. Those were all things that were requested over the course of the last couple of days. Those are things that were not delivered upon. Majority Leader McConnell saying, simply, I cannot deliver that, you are not going to get that.

That, Brooke, is why when you look at the Senate floor vote, 81-18, as you noted, 16 Democrats voted against. And you can go up and down the list of progressives, folks on the left felt who like they caved, that they should not have given in on this, that these commitments were not firm enough, that either they couldn't take the majority leader's word.

They certainly don't have a lot of trust with House Republicans right now. They've seen too many immigration efforts wither on the vine in front of the House Republican Conference. And obviously there is not a lot of trust in the Democratic Caucus right now with Donald Trump and where he's going to come down on these things. Just a short while ago, Brooke, a group of Republican senators,

Senator John Cornyn, Senator Tom Cotton, Senator James Lankford, a group going over that are considered more hard-line on immigration, kind of underscoring that concern on the Democratic side.

If those senators are going to be the ones the are involved in a final deal, Democrats are not going to support that deal. In the end, I think it was three days that probably not a lot of people are very proud of.

But the hope on the Democratic side right now is this sets the stage for some type of resolution. But one thing is very, very clear, Brooke. This does not end anything and there is no major deals. There is still a huge number of things that need to be dealt with, including the most divisive of all, and that's immigration.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yikes. It's a short game, long game situation I know for both of these parties.

Phil Mattingly, in the thick of it all, we appreciate you.

And Phil mentioned the president. While the president is pleased the shutdown is about to be over, he has yet to say so on camera.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, just talking to our friend Dana Bash a bit ago, she was saying, in this regard, she said the president sort of stumbled into victory on this one. We know he's been noticeably quiet, right, during this shutdown.

Are there any plans for the president to at all to make public comments, appear anywhere today?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's still an open question.

My colleague Jeff Zeleny was hearing earlier today that the president would come out and say something, make a comment if and when this reaches his desk.

As you saw, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, came out and read a statement for the president. It's a little bit of a question mark in terms of what we're going to hear from the president.

As you pointed out, he was noticeably quiet over the weekend. The White House says he was working hard behind the scenes and making calls to Republicans, making sure that the shutdown went smoothly.


But we also have reporting from my colleague Kevin Liptak, Brooke, that some of his aides were urging him to stay behind the scenes, because they were worried that by the president inserting himself, that it could cause some confusion. You saw what played out on Friday, when Democratic Senator Chuck

Schumer came here to the White House and had the meeting and then there was sort of a back and forth between the White House and the Hill in terms of the negotiation message being muddled and what actually came out of that.

It was interesting that Sarah Sanders said that Chuck Schumer basically and the rest of the Democrats accepted what President Trump had laid out on the table on Friday.

That is a little bit confusing. It is true that on Friday this continuing resolution until February 8 was on the table and, at that time, the Democrats did not accept. But if you look at Chuck Schumer's account, there was discussion about funding for the border wall, and as you know, the White House has very been clear about the four pillars that it wants for any immigration deal.

As we know, Brooke, that was not part of what we saw happen today on Capitol Hill with the votes in the Senate. Now the big question is, what's going to happen next? Are we going to be in the same position a few weeks from now and what role will the president play? If a DACA deal passes through the Senate, how involved will he be with making sure that it gets through the House?

That's still unclear, Brooke.


Let's go back to Capitol Hill. Pamela, thank so much at the White House for us.

Let me turn now to Republican Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana.

We spoke this weekend, sir. It's nice to see you again under different circumstances. Welcome back.


BALDWIN: I want to listen here to the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, who is from your state, and his reaction to the deal that is expected to end this shutdown. This is from Chairman Cedric Richmond about the Senate Democrats -- quote -- "They are getting their butts kicked."

Short and sweet, Senator. Do you agree?

KENNEDY: Cedric is a good man. I would put it differently. I am very happy right now. I want to thank Senator Schumer.

There is an old expression that life is simpler when you plow around the stump. I think Senator Schumer decided to plow the stump. And I want to thank him for that.

This maintains the status quo. We will continue to negotiate. If we have not reached an agreement by February the 8th, Senator McConnell is going to put a bill on the floor. And we will be able to talk about amnesty, sanctuary cities, border security, diversity visa lottery, a commonsensical, cover-blind immigration system like Canada and Austria have that looks like somebody designed the thing on purpose.

We will be able to talk about anything and all things immigration. Then we will start voting. And if 60 votes come out on one of the bills or amendments to one of the bills, then that bill will go to the House. I have no idea what the House will do. And then it will go to the president.

But what Senator Schumer wanted -- and I don't blame him for trying. He wanted us to drop everything, do a bill only on DACA, guarantee that it would pass the Senate, guarantee it would pass the House and guarantee that the president would sign it. And it just does not work that way.

BALDWIN: Right, which is why a lot of progressives in the Democratic Party would probably agree with your friend from Louisiana in saying they did get their butts kicked, with all due respect. Forgive my language there. But they do believe that.


BALDWIN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

KENNEDY: Let me defend Senator Schumer. I can't believe I am doing this.

BALDWIN: Yes. Go ahead.

KENNEDY: Senator Schumer is very smart and he's a very shrewd tactician.

He believed passionately in what he was doing. But you can believe that two plus two equals five, but that does not make you correct. This was the wrong approach. And I think he finally realized it wasn't getting his side or my side anyway.

And I want to thank him for doing what was best for the American people.

BALDWIN: For the rest of his party, for the other Democrats, Senator Kennedy, should they trust your Republican leader? And I mean that in terms of Mitch McConnell. Should they trust Mitch McConnell when he say, his word, he uses intention, his intention to take up immigration. Should they trust him?

KENNEDY: Yes, yes.


KENNEDY: Categorically, yes.

BALDWIN: OK. I want to ask you about the president and just president's role in all of this, because we heard from your Republican colleague Republican Senator Jeff Flake over the weekend saying it would not have been helpful to have had President Trump's help during all of this. Do you agree?


KENNEDY: I don't know. I know that's Jeff's perspective.

This is something that for the moment the Senate had to work out. And we worked it out. Now, at some point before we pass a bill, if we pass a bill, it would be helpful to know exactly what the president is thinking, because you don't want to go pass a bill or waste your time on a bill if he's going to veto that. So, I think that would be helpful.


KENNEDY: But could we have broken through sooner if he had been more involved or less? I don't know. I really don't know.

BALDWIN: All right, well, we should be hearing from the president at some point. Whether he speaks publicly today, we don't know. But knowing what the president is thinking is probably a good thing.

Senator Kennedy, thank you so much.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Nice to see you again.

KENNEDY: Nice to see you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We have more on our breaking news here. Did Senate Democrats blink? And will we be back in the same place three weeks from now? We will talk to Jake Tapper about that next.



BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin.

We do have the news now that standoff is over, for now. Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats reaching a deal to reopen the federal government. But there is a catch, because we could be seeing all this play out again in three weeks time.

Jake Tapper is with me, the anchor of "THE LEAD" and "STATE OF THE UNION" and chief Washington correspondent.

And, Jake Tapper, just in terms of both parties, what do the Democrats get out of this, what do the Republicans get out of this?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, even if you take the Democrats at their word that they think that they got something out of this, they did not get a ton.

They got a commitment from Leader McConnell to work on this big piece of legislation that would address spending caps and disaster aid and immigration. And if there is no agreement on that big legislation by February 8, then Leader McConnell promised that there would be a vote with an amendment process on immigration, but no commitment as to how that will turn out, no commitment on what the House of Representatives will do, which is really big, because the House of Representatives in the past has simply not taken up the issue of immigration, even after the Senate passes something.

And then still no clear direction on what the White House will do. A lot of people think the Democrats blinked. A lot of people think the Democrats caved. Even if you are trying to be charitable, they got something. They did not get a ton.

BALDWIN: So, what is likelihood of us having Groundhog Day all over again in three weeks?

TAPPER: It's possible.

I think if Leader McConnell upholds his end of the deal, we won't have a government shutdown in two-and-a-half weeks. We will have an immigration debate in two-and-a-half weeks.

Now, what happens then, that is the big mystery, because it is possible -- let me do the most optimistic scenario in terms of what happens in terms of there being some sort of legislation.


TAPPER: The Senate passes some sort of immigration bill. Something gets 60 votes. I don't know what it is, but something gets 60 votes. Maybe it is to gang of six bill. Maybe it's something more conservative, but something passes.

Then the question is, will the House of Representatives pass something? Right now, there is a bill offered by Congressman Goodlatte of Virginia. It's a conservative bill. There's concerns among House leadership that is a little too conservative. It needs to be a little bit less.

That's not to say to make it a liberal or moderate bill, but slightly less conservative. Let's say they pass that. Then there is a conference committee, where they have to reconcile the differences between the bills.

And then they go back to the House and back to the Senate for another round, and then maybe something lands on President Trump's desk and then maybe he signs it. There is a lot of maybes there and a lot of possibilities and places where this entire thing might unravel.

BALDWIN: I think one piece that's getting lost in all of this is CHIP, right? This is the Children's Health Insurance Program, which will be extended, thanks to all of this, will be extended by six years.

Can we just remind everyone this is that program that affects, what is it, nine million children in this country. TAPPER: That's right. This is for kids whose parents make too much

money to qualify for Medicaid, which is for the lowest-income individuals, but they don't make enough money that they can afford health insurance.

There's a lot of kids stuck in the middle here. This program will be extended for six years through this government funding bill. There are still concerns among Democrats who say that there is not the funding for the community health centers and other places like that, where these kids can actually get medical care.

But, yes, at least the CHIP program, which is a bipartisan bill started by Kennedy and Orrin Hatch years ago, at least that is going forward.

BALDWIN: Lastly, I imagine you think politics in your sleep, but I have to imagine it was the Eagles for you last night, Mr. Philly Man.


BALDWIN: We've got the picture of you and your pops on the field last night.

What was that like for you?

TAPPER: It was great.

BALDWIN: Did you sleep?

TAPPER: You know, now we have the Super Bowl to contend with.

But just, as is a lifelong Eagles fan, I grew up just a few miles from Veterans Stadium, where they used to play. It was such a dream to go. One of the vice presidents of the Eagles, a guy named Ari Roitman, went to my high school. He was years behind me.

Saw all my rabid, insane pro-Eagles tweets and asked if I would want to come. And I got to bring my pop, who was a pediatrician in that neighborhood, South Philadelphia.

And it was great. And it was very cool walking onto the field. This is stuff that I normally don't get to do, and certainly my dad has never gotten to do. So, it was very exciting. And obviously that game was just unbelievable.

BALDWIN: You going to try to snag Super Bowl tickets?

TAPPER: I don't know. I generally don't think that I am good luck for teams that I root for. Last night was a rare exception.

BALDWIN: So, if we're Eagles fan, we don't want you at the Super Bowl? Is that what you're throwing down?

TAPPER: Well, I don't know. I was there last night, and it worked. And it was a tremendous victory. So, I don't know. Maybe I am good luck. [15:20:03]

I don't know. I'm not pushing for it. We will see what happens.

BALDWIN: There you go.

I think I am going root for the Eagles, not because I have love for you, Jake Tapper, but because of the Pats and my Atlanta Falcons. And I don't even want to talk about the Super Bowl last year. So, let's take the Pats down.

TAPPER: The Patriots are cheaters, Brooke. The Patriots cheat.


TAPPER: This is just a fact as established by investigations. They are a cheating team.

I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: Yes, you go tell our friend John Berman that. Good luck with that. Good luck with that.

TAPPER: The facts speak for themselves, but we will let Berman tell himself whatever he wants to tell himself.

BALDWIN: OK. All right, Tapper, we will see you at the top of the hour. Thank you so much. See you then.

TAPPER: All right, thanks a lot.

BALDWIN: Still ahead here on CNN, the votes in the Senate and House moments away. We're keeping a close eye on activity there on the floor.

Also ahead, breaking news. This Russian spy ship carrying high-tech equipment spotted in international waters off the coast of North Carolina. We are going to take you live to the Pentagon for an update on that.



BALDWIN: We are back.

Live pictures here, Capitol Hill, the Senate floor, waiting for that final vote there in just a moment on a deal to reopen the government in this shutdown, as lawmakers worked overtime this weekend to find a compromise.

The president of the United States have been noticeably absent from negotiations. The White House says he was making phone calls, he was making phone calls specifically to Republicans and having some internal meetings, Cabinet meetings and the like. With more on this, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel is back. Ana Navarro is with me here as well, CNN political commentator. And also with us, Jeff Ballabon. He's a member of the Trump for President Advisory Board.

Welcome to all of you.

And let's just begin, Jeff, with you on what we have seen, hearing that the president has more or less been on the sidelines. Yes, he held some meetings, Cabinet meetings and the like. For the most part, we're hearing he let the negotiations take place on Capitol Hill, he stayed at the White House.

And Jeff Flake says that was a good thing. What do you say about that?

JEFF BALLABON, MEMBER, TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT ADVISORY BOARD: I think that this president is going to be judged by results. He's getting the results.

He knows when to insert himself, when it's insinuate himself hard and when to do it in a soft way and exert power from the sidelines. I think the president's winning every step of the way.

BALDWIN: What was his role in it, from your perspective, in this?

BALLABON: In this?

There was obviously -- this political showdown ended up with a brutal, real disaster for the Democrats. It was a victory for the Republicans in general. But it's really seen as a victory for the president.

The Democrats thought that, as in previous years, they could blame the government shutdown on the Republicans. The country has been conditioned to before that Republicans want the government to shut down. But it did not work this time.

And I think the White House and the Republicans in general put this on Chuck Schumer, where it belonged. And after a weekend of trying to push it back on the president -- remember, Chuck had this big sign the Trump shutdown -- no one bought it and they collapsed.

BALDWIN: Let's agree that this so far, for all intents and purposes, is a good look for the Republicans. This is win for the Republicans. But didn't the president sort of stumble into victory here? What role did he really play?

BALLABON: This notion of the president stumbling into victory keeps on happening. He keeps on winning.


BALDWIN: There is a difference between winning and stumbling into winning.

BALLABON: I get it. But the notion that he's stumbling into winning, that's sort of a media concept that is not based on reality. He's either the luckiest guy on the planet who keeps winning or actually he knows what he's doing.

He is a very successful man in many spheres, in very influential spheres. And he did not do it by stumbling the top of the media world and the top of the political world and the top of the hotel world. He did not stumble into these things. He's actually good at what he does.

And what he does sometimes is to stand on the sidelines and let other people do things in the front. Sometimes it's to insert himself. And people go crazy when he inserts himself and they go crazy when he stands in the sidelines and he keeps on winning.

BALDWIN: Just sounded like he's been more on the sideline, and so I was just wondering how is he going to claim victory in this one.

How do you see this?


ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I don't think there is anybody winning or losing in this short term.

I think today is a battle. But we don't know who's going to win the war. And the winners and losers to me here are the people whose paychecks, the federal workers whose paychecks are in limbo and the dreamers, whose entire lives and futures are in limbo.

We get too caught up too often when things like this happen, when we see the two parties in complete conflict, about what the political cost to Republicans or political cost to Democrats and who is winning is going to be.

It is about the people affected. The guys in Congress and the guys in the White House, they're still cashing their paychecks. It is the federal workers, it's the and dreamers who have everything up in the air.

How do I see it? I don't know. Ask me February 9 or maybe before. I think that we have seen this kind of spiking of the football before at the halftime by Donald Trump and some Republicans. We saw it in health care and we saw it fail.

And we have also seen them have victories, like the tax reform, for example. I don't know where this is going to end up. I think that Chuck Schumer showed that he can wrangle up enough votes to jam this up and to oppose the continuing resolution.

I think he also showed that he is a squishy do-gooder liberal who can't stand the pressure of seeing people hurt and affected, and the political pressure that comes with holding down the line on something like opposing a C.R. JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To Ana's point about let's wait and

see where we are in three weeks, when Sarah Sanders said at the briefing -- she read President Trump's statement on it.

And there was one line that jumped out. He said, we will make a deal if and only if it is good for the country.

So, let's wait and see. And I talked to four different Republicans on the Hill, all political stripes, afterwards. They all thought that, yes, the Republicans had won, to a certain extent. One hard-liner said unconditional surrender. But the thing I heard more than anything was this. The whole thing is ridiculous.