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U.S. Federal Government Remains Shut Down; Interview with White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short; White House: Dems Wall Funding Offer "Tying Our Hands"; Arab Lawmakers Protest VP Pence Speech In Knesset; Soon: Senate To Vote On Plan To Reopen Government. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 22, 2018 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] LINDSEY LEMKE, SEXUALLY ABUSED BY LARRY NASSAR: -- it needs to change. When a child comes to you and they need help, just help them. They're not trying to get attention. They're not trying to be mean to somebody else. They know that something is wrong. These organizations like USAG, when you see these children that are working so hard to reach their goals and they're willing to do anything, and you're willing to put them through anything to do it, and that's not fair to them.

And it's the same way where, you know, Larissa said she felt honored to have Cathy as a coach, and when someone looks up to you like that and you betray them, that wrecks somebody. And it goes to show that this happened to some people 20 plus years ago and you hear in court today, you can still hear how angry they are and feel the mood in the room.

So you have to be able to -- when a child tells you something to listen and you have to believe them. Not make them second guess themselves because then they're so insecure that it does take all of this courage and strength to have to speak to their abuser and talk to him straight in the eye, and it's not OK.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Believe us, protect us. That is all you are asking. Your bravery is an example to all of us. Ladies, thank you so much.

LEMKE: Thank you.

HARLOW: We have a lot of news to get to. Good morning, everyone. Again, a lot to get to this hour.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Let me tell you, that is the right move by that circuit court judge. Empower these young women, these victims, because it helps them. Even if it delays the process, so what?

So welcome to your new day. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow joins us right now this morning after that great interview.

We are three days in to the U.S. government shutdown. Is there going to be progress? Here's what we know. In just hours the Senate will hold a procedural vote on a plan to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks. But there is so much on the table. They're probably fair criticism trying to get too much done on this bill. The big dividing line, is there really a bill of love for DREAMers in the heart of the GOP? Because right now there doesn't seem to be any consensus. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says he's willing to start debating immigration legislation if there is no agreement by February 8th. The Democrats aren't buying it. The Senate minority leader says he needs a firmer commitment.

HARLOW: So where's the president in all of this? His role in striking a deal is the focal point today. Will he bring lawmakers from both sides together to try to end this stalemate? And will Mitch McConnell trigger the nuclear option as the president is calling for?

CUOMO: Joining us now is White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short. Mr. Short, thank you for joining us.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION AFFAIRS: Thanks for having me back on.

CUOMO: And you're always welcome whenever you want to come on and discuss what matters. I appreciate it, and I want the audience to know, yes, in the 6:00 hour I said we couldn't get anybody from the White House on. That was true at the time, and after that you guys agreed to make time in your schedule, so thank you for doing that.

SHORT: Thank you for fitting me in.

CUOMO: So I'm not going to play the commercial that is being run out there by the president of the United States because I believe it is unfairly demonizing illegal entrance into this country. If the president wants a bill of love, why are you guys running an ad that paints illegals entrants as monsters?

SHORT: I think, Chris, what it's trying to do is it's trying to show that we do have a real security threat on our borders. And I think what you saw last week report from DHS is that there's 2,500 people on the terror watch list trying to get into the United States each and every year. That means seven per day that are either apprehended or turned away.

We have serious security concerns and it's being ignored in a lot of this debate right now. We want to help get that resolved. And I think when you talk about a bill of love, let me just step back for a second and say where we are in the negotiations, because I'm perhaps too optimistic, but I feel like there's been significant progress. I think Democrats have moved significantly toward our position of the physical barriers that we're asking for and the front line officers of CBP have asked for, and Democrats have asked us to say, look, as opposed to 600,000 people who have work permits in the DACA program, would you be willing to consider that beyond, because their position is there are some who were either afraid to come out of the dark and to register or what not. And we said, yes, we'd be willing to do that.

So I think that honestly there's a lot of progress here. What's hard for us to understand is why we're having a manufactured shutdown when you're having progress in negotiations, you're shutting down the government over an issue that's not in front of you in the actual bill to keep the government afloat.

CUOMO: The Democrats answer to that is lack of clarity and consistency and leadership from the White House. They say if you put the Durbin-Graham amendment on the floor in the Senate it will pass, and McConnell is not doing that. Why?

SHORT: Let's get at both of those issues. Lack of clarity, General Kelly went to Congress when he was DHS secretary a year ago and said these are the things we need fixed. We gave plenty of notice that we felt the position the Obama administration had taken was untenable. The federal government was sued. We had an opinion from the Justice Department we're going to have to end the program.

[08:05:04] We then extended six months and said Congress, please fix this, and we gave to them a list of our priorities. We refined that list at their request weeks ago and said here are the four things we're asking for -- fix DACA population, help border security, end chain migration, end the visa lottery program. We have been crystal clear of what our priorities have been and remain.

On the Graham-Durbin bill, I think we are encouraged that they actually focused on those four areas. There's a lot of things on interior enforcement that we put aside and a lot of other thing that they wanted they were put aside, and so it helped channel it. But inside those four buckets, Chris, we felt their proposal was woefully insufficient, that on the border security what they were doing is appropriating one year and tying our hands in that and saying no new technology can be used. Well, we're experimenting with new technologies and now prototypes on the border every day, so to say you can't use that I think was a clever way of basically saying we don't really want the wall being built.

CUOMO: Any negotiation that the president is moving off building a new wall of China across the southern border and moving towards the reasonable position of technology as the context demands is going to be seen as progress. But two questions. One --

SHORT: Can I stop you there for one second, because the president actually on the campaign trail said and we have plenty of documents of him saying that we know the wall cannot be built from sea to sea. There's plenty of places where there's mountains, there's valleys, there's places of physical limitations. But you're right --

CUOMO: His call was, what are we going to do? Build a wall. Who's going to pay for it? Mexico. And he distinguished himself from the rest of the field by refusing to acknowledge the complexity of it along the border and that you couldn't have a wall, that the border agents don't even think that their barrier is their main concern. Come on, Marc, you know he made this a signature issue.

SHORT: It was a signature issue.

CUOMO: And he made the Mexico part was obviously some kind of myth, and the wall he's back and forth on.

SHORT: We'd be happy to pull the campaign footage of him saying that he recognized they can't be at each and every place --

CUOMO: Then why did Kellyanne Conway say since becoming president he's met with experts and learned that their topographical issues looking at the map and there are rivers in involved? Did he learn that there are issues or did he not learn that there are issues?

SHORT: What I would say is that I think one of the things that he is helped to be informed on is when CBP says there are places where we need the wall actually to be porous. It's important for us to be able to see through the other side. And so that impacts exactly what that physical barrier is.

CUOMO: I don't disagree with what you're saying right now. I'm saying the president didn't embrace it.

I just have to correct one thing, Marc, before we get too far away. I get what the message is in the ad. My seven-year-old gets what the message is in the ad, but it's just not true. Is there a security threat? Yes. Are there illegal entrants who pose criminal threats and are here to create crime? Yes. But by numbers and statistics, you cannot make the case that the illegal entrants are more dangerous than native born citizens. But you are making that case. You're saying they're the terror threat even though you know the statistics show that either white supremacists or homegrown people and radicalized here are a bigger threat than illegal entrants. You know if you look at the prison population or the criminal -- the committing of crimes by percentage of population, they are lower than they are the rest. So why make them monsters when that's not true in the data?

SHORT: Chris, I don't think that we're trying to make everyone here monsters. What I think you would look and say in the last week and the study came out we also showed that three of the four terrorist convicted in the United States are foreign born. You know as well as I do --

CUOMO: Where were they radicalized? Where were they committing --

SHORT: Chris, you and I both know that the two terror attacks inside the United States last year in New York, the pipe bomb and the terrorists who ran over people in a truck, one came in through visa lottery and one came in through chain migration.

CUOMO: There's are two. You had 18 deaths by white supremacists. Why aren't you rounding them all up?

SHORT: Chris, I think that the Justice Department is pursuing those vigorously. Yes, we want to round those up too, without a doubt.

CUOMO: He said bill of love. Here's what I don't get. I don't get how you put out an ad like that and say bill of love. I don't get how you attach the border security and the DACA bill and say that you care about the Dreamers. If you care about them, do it solo. If you attach it to the wall then they're not your priority. Then finding a pathway is not your priority.

SHORT: So here's the difference, as the president looks at the DACA population, he recognizes these are people aged 16 to 36 who have been in the United States in order to get a work permit. By their very nature they are law-abiding. Therefore they are productive to our society. We want to find a pathway for them, whether or not that's legal permanent residence or even a conversation the Democrats have had about citizenship. The president is willing to go there and to make sure they are protected and stay in our country. What he is saying is that, I think, is a very emotional issue for them, and he wants to make sure that they are protected.

[08:10:00] CUOMO: Then why did he just tweet -- Marc, while you're speaking and doing well obviously he's watching. He's like it, but he thinks you need a little help. "The Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for noncitizens. Not good." How is this not exhibit A of a clear intention to divide people in this country along those who like illegal entrants, as you guys call them, and who don't like them? How is this true? How are the Democrats choosing DACA or DREAMers or illegal entrants or undocumented entrants over American citizens, how is that true?

SHORT: Chris, where we are in our debates is we are actually making progress in our negotiations to get a solution. The Democrats have decided we're going to stop paying American troops. We're going to stop paying custom and border control agents. We're going to not fund children's health insurance over a manufactured issue because their base is upset at all the administration has accomplished. They're being held hostage by their base and what they're doing then is in consequence holding American troops hostage to their demands.

CUOMO: If you're worried about that, why when the Democrats offered to put a bill on the floor to keep the military paid, why wouldn't you guys allow a vote on it?

SHORT: Chris, the bill that's already passed United States House of Representatives kept the government open for another four weeks to continue negotiations. The president said he was willing to sign that. If Democrats are willing to vote for a bill that does not include DACA for five days, why aren't they willing to do it for four weeks? We've already now offered a new proposal to say let's do it for three weeks if you want a shorter timeframe.

CUOMO: Because it's what is in the proposal.

SHORT: Five days is not going to give us time to finalize this deal.

CUOMO: I agree. It's not my place to agree or disagree, but I get you that doing things in the short, in the small, in the minimal has not served well. I take that point.

SHORT: That's good news. When we and CNN agree that's good news.

CUOMO: As long as you embrace the facts we'll always be on good footing, my friend.

Here's what I'm trying to say, though is that I don't see how -- I get why you don't want to defend this tweet this morning. I don't envy this position. But the Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for noncitizens. Why divide people along this line if what he says he wants is a bill of love? If he believes that the DREAMers should be given dignity and respect in this country, why tweet something like this? Why put an ad out like that?

SHORT: Chris, the Democrats have chosen to say we are going to deny services to federal workers, deny services to our troops serving overseas, deny services --

CUOMO: They put their bill --

SHORT: It's exactly what they're doing.

CUOMO: -- pay for the military, and you guys control both houses of Congress and the White House. This is the first time we've ever had a shutdown under those conditions.

SHORT: You know from Schoolhouse Rock as well as I do that there's 60 votes that are needed in the United States Senate. We would have 50 votes. They need 60 votes to actually move to this. That's our challenge. So the Democrats are able to shut down the government.

CUOMO: He doesn't even have his own, McConnell doesn't even have all the Republicans in the Senate.

SHORT: Now Senator Graham and Senator Flake are in support of this bill. We have the votes to do this if Democrats would actually assist us.

CUOMO: But that's about working with the other side.

SHORT: Five Democrats crossed over from Senator Schumer and said this is ridiculous and we are going to keep the government open. We hope that more will actually come across today.

CUOMO: Right, but that's about what you're offering and how legitimate the conversation is that's going on. If you care about the military, there's a deal to extend it right now for the duration of any shutdown. You don't want to vote on it. Why? Because you're playing to political advantage here with the shutdown and so are the Democrats to a certain extent. I hear you on that.

SHORT: Chris, 95 percent of Republicans are asked to keep the government open and more than 95 percent of elected Democrats are voting to shut it down. I don't know how can you make the case that we're the ones --

CUOMO: We have a number this morning -- 56 percent of the American people say keep the government open.

SHORT: We're trying to.

CUOMO: I'm not saying anything different.

SHORT: That's exactly what the proposal on the Senate floor does. It's what the House of Representatives voted on. It's what the president is willing to sign is to keep the government open. The one shutdown --

CUOMO: But it doesn't protect the DREAMers.

SHORT: Chris, that is an issue that we're making progress on. There's been substantial movement in that. This is a manufactured shutdown because the base of their party is upset of all the things that were accomplished last year.

CUOMO: No.

SHORT: That's what this is about.

CUOMO: I hear that line. I get it. But -- if this is about the DREAMers and protecting them and a bill of love on the part of president and the DACA as a standalone issue, then that's what it should be and it isn't.

SHORT: We are making progress of DACA. But what you're doing is what Chuck Schumer said in 2013 when there's a shutdown. He said what you're doing is you're basically coming into my house, stealing my wife and kids, taking them hostage, and then saying let's negotiate the price of the house. Those are his exact words and it's exactly what he's doing right now.

CUOMO: It's bad politics and that's why we're hoping the president would make a difference. Let's see what happens today. But I'll tell you what, Mr. Short, I appreciate you coming on and being tested and making the arguments to the American people. It is helpful and you are welcome back any time and on the regular.

SHORT: Chris, thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Be well. Poppy?

HARLOW: I'm so glad they joined an important conversation. Let's go through it all. Let's bring in our panel, CNN political analyst, "Bloomberg Business Week" national correspondent Josh Green, CNN political analyst, "New York Times" national political correspondent Jonathan Martin.

[08:15:00]

All right. Gentlemen, a lot of news out of that interview with Marc Short. Two really big things, one we're making significant progress on the shutdown negotiations. I think we're all glad to hear that.

CUOMO: And then the president tweets.

HARLOW: Right. And then the president tweets.

CUOMO: (Inaudible) of dividing people along whether or not they care about --

HARLOW: Mid-interview, by the way. Not helpful for Marc Short trying to make his argument. The second headline here, Jonathan Martin to you, is that he argues, look, the Democrats are tying our hands because they, Schumer, will only appropriate billions of dollars in wall funding for one year and that is not going to work. How do you see it?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's a lot of public posturing amid some more substantive and serious private conversations. I think that both sides publicly have to come out and sound tough to try to create the appearance of hanging tough for their bases and trying to win the PR fight here.

But I think privately what is happening at this hour indeed all morning is that you're going to have Senate Democrats in conversation with Senate Republicans, not necessarily the leaders, but more rank and file who are trying to get some kind of assurances that if, in fact, they vote, they, meaning the Democrats, to reopen the government today that, yes, a DACA bill of some kind will come to the floor in the next month.

That is what I am told that right now they're trying to go beyond what McConnell promised last night was a little bit vague and pin them down that yes, in fact, if we vote to reopen the government to today, we Democrats will get an opportunity to vote on DACA in the next month.

I think if they get that assurance from trusted interlockers in the Senate, I think there's a chance a deal could be struck today.

CUOMO: Josh?

JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I heard two big things come out of the Marc Short interview. Number one, Republicans still seem very comfortable with their position. The idea that they're going to blame Democrats for this shutdown. We've seen some public polling that indicates, you know, opinion tilts narrowly to Democrats. I don't think it does enough yet that Republicans feel any pressure.

The other thing from that Short interview was the idea that progress was being made as I heard him not just on the efforts to reopen government, but on the issue of DACA, which is at the heart of this shutdown.

The one thing that's been absent so far from this debate is a clear expression of the president's position on DACA and I know from talking to Republicans that is one of the major sticking points. We heard Paul Ryan come out yesterday and say, I'm not willing to move forward with anything until I know what the president's position is.

I think a lot of Republicans are worried that if they make these commitments to vote on some kind of a DACA bill that Trump will saw off the limb and abandoned them the way he has in the past on other issues.

So, I think the president coming forward and getting beyond John Kelly and Steven Miller and saying this is my position, this is what I need would greatly advance this process if you are willing to do it.

CUOMO: Well, you can't blame people for being confused about where the president is. You asked for something.

HARLOW: He hasn't elaborated on it.

GREEN: He seems confused about what he's for.

CUOMO: His golf buddy, Graham and Durbin come back two days later and they get into that fight that launch a whole new vocabulary for the American people and since then you have people on both sides saying they don't know where he is. He started with bill of love but look at his most recent tweet.

You know, Jonathan, he is clearly playing on the politics of division here. You're either for American citizens or you're for illegals. That is clear in his latest tweet. Why would the Democrats believe he's going to give them good faith in a negotiation to help DREAMers after something like that and that ad that he's running on tv?

MARTIN: That's exactly right, Chris. They don't view this president as somebody that they can trust or even depend on in negotiations which is why from my conversations talking to Democrats in the Senate they want to get some kind of assurances from more trusted counterparts in the Senate, not Donald Trump in the White House, not even Mitch McConnell.

HARLOW: But who then?

MARTIN: Well, there are known Senate moderate dealmakers whose names you have mentioned who I think if they can come to an agreement, I think you will see the Democrats necessary to reopen the government but again, Chris is right, though.

Part of the challenge here is that you have a president who does not offer the kind of traditional leadership that we've seen in the White House where they land somewhere. It's clear how they view on issue or even a process matter.

Even on the substance or the process here, it's not clear where the president wants to go and the reason it's not clear is because he's torn between his hawkish instincts on immigration that his base likes and his thirst for getting better media coverage and better treatment.

GREEN: Exactly.

MARTIN: He's torn between those two polls and that's why he shifts back and forth so much, guys.

HARLOW: What about, Josh, I mean, look, Jeff Flake, no fan of the president and his party but that's about it, saying it's not helpful for the president to be involved here.

[08:20:05] But at this point three days of the president with nothing on camera, nothing with tweets about this, is there any benefit -- is there anything, Josh, beneficial, though, to Mitch McConnell if the president does come out today, does go on camera, does convene lawmakers from both parties? You're not sold? GREEN: Well, there would be if he came out and articulated a clear position but he hasn't, and so John was just talking about the distrust that is sewed among Democrats. It is important to understand it's also sewed distrust among Republicans.

You have Jeff Flake come out yesterday and say, no, we don't want the president involved. You had Paul Ryan and say, yesterday, we need the president to be involved and articulate a position, so we know whether we can move forward.

The lack of a clear position, the lack of leadership from the president I think has scrambled this issue in both parties and made the shutdown harder to resolve.

CUOMO: All right, Gentlemen, I appreciate your take on what Marc Short said. Again, we're happy to have him here. You need to hear what the positions and arguments are from the White House. You need it for the debate. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Breaking news, you may have a war of words here in the U.S., but you had something much worse than that going on in Israel. This is what happened when Vice President Mike Pence began speaking at the Israeli Knesset.

Arab-Israeli lawmakers were removed from the floor for interrupting his address amid applause, which I think is a way -- that's how they celebrate taking them out and to somewhat diffuse the situation.

CNN's Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem with the breaking details. Oren, first of all, we have it right. They were applauding not the protest. They were applauding the efforts to remove the protesters. How did it go down?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Chris. We knew the Arab members of Israel's Knesset here behind me had something planned. They'd made it clear they wanted to boycott Vice President Mike Pence's speech, but we didn't know exactly what until Pence took the stage to speak inside the chamber in Israel's Knesset.

That's when they held up a sign of the (inaudible), the old city of Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam and began protesting. Shortly, thereafter, they were removed from the chamber and that's when you had that applause.

It's also worth pointing out that the Arab members of the Knesset were not inside the chamber for Pence's welcome inside the chamber there and that gives you a sense of the Arab anger that still is here, not only in Jerusalem but throughout the Middle East at Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pence reaffirmed that decision and also said the U.S. Embassy would be moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sometime next year. Doubling down on what we'd reported just a couple of weeks ago.

Pence also said that the U.S. remains committed to a peace process. The U.S. is willing to commit to a two-state solution if both sides are. Poppy, it's worth pointing out the Palestinians will not meet with Pence while he's here. In fact, the Palestine president is in Brussels pursuing an entirely different approach to a peace process.

HARLOW: Sending a very clear message to this administration. Appreciate it. Oren Liebermann for us with that breaking news out of Jerusalem.

Republican Senator John Kennedy slamming Congress as being, quote, "run by idiots." He's a member of Congress. What does he think about the prospects of reopening the government today? We will ask him live on NEW DAY. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:50]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I am happy to continue my discussion with the majority leader about reopening the government. We've had several conversations, talks will continue, but we have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable for both sides. For that reason, I object.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejecting any deal to end the shutdown last night without a commitment on DREAMers. The Senate will convene soon with a key vote coming up in just hours. Will the government shutdown end soon? That's the question.

Let's ask Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. Always good to have you, sir. Marc Short, director of Legislative Affairs of the White House says he is optimistic progress is being made. Do you think that there is a chance that this shutdown ends with this vote at high noon?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Nobody knows the answer to that, Chris. Here's what I heard speaking -- Leader McConnell propose last night. He said Democrats agree today to open government back up until February 8th. From then and until now, we will negotiate a budget and will negotiate an immigration bill of which DACA will be apart.

If we don't agree on either one of those, on February 8th, the Democrats have to agree to another C.R. to keep government open again. If that happens, Senator McConnell will put on the floor a bill that everybody can offer amendments to dealing with DACA but dealing with all the other issues pertaining to immigration. Now that's what I heard him say.

CUOMO: I got you. Now do you know where the president is on these issues and has he been helpful to you in your process?

KENNEDY: I do not know where the president is. I don't think we should wait for the president presumably he's thinking it through, he's watching to see what we're doing. The executive branch, as you well know, is separate from the legislative branch and it's our job to fund government and keep government open and I don't think we ought to spend a lot of time waiting to hear from the president.

He'll weigh in when with he's ready to weigh in. I understand the Democrats' concern is, will the president sign a bill if it passes the Senate and will the House of Representatives pass it, but nobody can make a guarantee like that. There are no guarantees in terms of a bill passing. That's unrealistic.

CUOMO: So, let's just try and get some of the ground rules straight here. The president had started all this by saying he wants a bill of love. He wants to help the DREAMers. I don't understand how if you're worried about the DREAMers and what's going on with them on a daily basis in terms of increased anxiety and uncertainty in their lives, why would you attach anything else to that proposition?

KENNEDY: Well, I don't know what the president's thinking. It's clear to me he changed his mind and as I've said before that's not an unusual circumstance for him or anybody else. All of us change our minds on occasion.

CUOMO: I get you. But I'm just saying if the Republicans are taken at their word, most of you say, not in the House, in the Senate, most of you say, these DREAMers are different. They're doing the right thing. They've been vetted. They are law abiding.

They are working. They are adding to us. We are going to lose a ton of money if we don't have them because of their contributions, why --