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Trump: Shutdown is 'Big Win for Republicans'; Winners & Losers of Government Shutdown Deal; Report: FBI Director Threatened to Resign Under Pressure from Sessions. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 23, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The businessman dealmaker was AWOL for the three days that this government was shut down.
[05:59:33] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What the president did clearly worked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump claiming political victory, saying he's eager to negotiate an immigration deal.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This immigration debate will have a level playing field.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not trust him at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question now is will the majority leader honor that commitment, and I think he's under a lot of pressure to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new report says FBI Director Wray threatened to quit over pressure from the attorney general to fire his deputy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 100 percent Donald Trump move.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Tell me one thing that Andy McCabe has done in this investigation that's wrong. I don't get it.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, January 23, 6 a.m. here in New York.
Here's our starting line. The shutdown is over for now. President Trump signing a short-term spending bill passed by the Senate and the House, reopening the U.S. government. So hundreds of thousands of federal employees head back to work today after their three-day hiatus.
Democrats relenting in return for a promise that the Senate will vote on immigration in the coming weeks. Democrats now face backlash from their liberal members for not fighting longer to protect DREAMers. So what concession did Democrats get to end the stalemate?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: They got a deal to make a deal, maybe. The truth is the Dems got spooked and the GOP got a boost, because the division that leads to a political shutdown is currency for them. They only funded the government for 16 days, meaning we're only that far away from more brinksmanship.
The president's position on DREAMers has vacillated from ending the program to calling for a bill of love, putting out that ad that makes them all look like terrorists. So is there a basis to trust he won't play to his base and give Dems the minimum when it comes to protecting the DREAMers.
Speaking of trust, bombshell report reveals that FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to resign, because he felt pressured by the president and the attorney general to fire his outgoing deputy, Andrew McCabe. This is another case of presidential overreach. We have it all covered.
Let's begin with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, live at the White House with our story.
Kaitlan, what do we know?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris.
The government is back in business this morning after President Trump signed a short-term spending bill here at the White House late last night. But there is little to suggest that the underlying dynamics of why we had this shutdown in the first place have changed. And lawmakers could be set for another showdown in just three weeks.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump touting the end of the government shutdown as a big win for Republicans. In signaling a willingness to broker a deal on DREAMers and border treaty, tweeting, "See you at the negotiating table."
Sources tell CNN that Mr. Trump is eager to rebut criticism that he did little to help end the shutdown.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines.
COLLINS: Aides say Mr. Trump's low profile was intentional, the White House insisting the president had an impact.
SANDERS: What the president did but offering little clarity about Mr. Trump's position about the path forward for DREAMers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Status versus pathway to citizenship, or does it not matter to the president?
SANDERS: I think that's part of the negotiating process. But right now we want a permanent solution for that program. COLLINS: The chairman of the Republican conference telling CNN that
Mr. Trump is key to any immigration solution succeeding in the House.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: His role will be an important one, and I expect that we will be hearing from him early and often now once the discussions get under way.
COLLINS: Sources tell CNN the deal to reopen the government was due, in part, to promises from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on immigration in the coming weeks.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: It's a much more explicit commitment, and that's what I think made the difference.
COLLINS: But Minority Leader Schumer's decision to concede and accept McConnell's commitment prompting backlash from progressives, including the 16 Democrats that voted against the short-term resolution.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: I do not trust him at all. He has promised Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, make promises, commitments that he has not honored.
COLLINS: Distrust in Washington is nothing new. It now extends to the FBI, given President Trump's very public war with the nation's top law enforcement agency.
A new report from Axios claims that the FBI director, Christopher Wray, threatened to resign amid pressure from Attorney General after Jeff Sessions. To fire the FBI's outgoing deputy director, Andrew McCabe.
President Trump has repeatedly targeted McCabe over his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and his loyalty to fired FBI director James Comey. Suggesting McCabe is biased and questioning why Sessions has not replaced him, the White House insisting in a statement that the president supports Director Wray but asserting the politically-motivated senior leaders have tainted the FBI's reputation.
COLLINS: Now, Chris, it's worth noting that the president actually interviewed Andrew McCabe to be the FBI director back in May, and he never publicly raised these concerns then.
But we will see the president here at the White House today for the first time since the government shut down late Friday night. And you can bet he'll be asked about all of this, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Kaitlan. Appreciate it.
So what happens next? The two sides pressed pause. But what happens when they press play?
[06:05:05] We have a panel that is going to take on the issue of whether the GOP really wants to create a path to citizenship for DREAMers, or will we wind up right back here? Only this time will the Dems be on the verge of giving Trump his wall? We discuss next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump taking a victory lap as more than 30 Democratic senators joined Republicans in a vote to end the three-day government shutdown. Congress punting the battle over funding and DREAMers for another 16 days.
Let's bring in reporter and editor at large for CNN Politics Chris Cillizza and CNN political analyst John Avlon. Great to have both of you here.
John, what changed yesterday from Friday that allowed Democrats to get on board and stop the government shutdown?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the reality of the shutdown being -- resonating with the American people, as we saw with CNN poll numbers yesterday, people weren't buying the Democrats' position. They said, look, we care about the DREAMers but not necessarily at the expense of the shutdown. The exit ramp became really unclear.
So the deal became, "Look, can we live to fight another day? Can we take Children's Health Insurance off the table, call that a win, and -- and trust McConnell -- big "if" -- to actually get something done substantively on the DREAMers over the next three weeks. It's a gamble on all sides. But for moderates, it was a way to solve a problem and avoid deepening the spiral that we're in.
CUOMO: Cillizza, in Italian slang, they would say that the Democrats got the gagadel (ph). They got the nervous stomach when they started to see poll numbers going their way. But now, they're getting beaten up by the base, and I don't know what the GOP lost on this other than giving it a short window. They haven't made any real promise to do anything on DREAMers. This is just a deal to make a deal.
[06:10:16] Chuck Schumer said yesterday, you know, we've now extracted a promise for Mitch McConnell. I thought to myself, "I must have missed the memo. I must have missed the McConnell speech." Because again, McConnell's intention is not a "We will have this vote on 'X' day on DACA."
Now, let's say, best-case scenario for center Democrats, McConnell is good to his word. And there's no reason to think, necessarily, he won't be on this. He's made a very high-profile play. Let's say he's good to his word. And it passes. They find something that passes. DACA border security funding mix.
Well, the House Republicans didn't make any deal with Senate Democrats, and neither did President Trump. That to me is the problem. If all you needed to do was pass something through the Senate for it to become law, this isn't a terrible deal for Senate Democrats, because you're depending on McConnell and trusting him. But that's only one-third of the piece of the puzzle.
CAMEROTA: So we're back here in exactly 16 days? AVLON: Mark your calendar.
CAMEROTA: Start the countdown clock right now.
CUOMO: As they get closer to the shutdown period, the anxiety will rise if they don't have a deal.
AVLON: And they can't do what they always do, which is the only way to get anything done in this political environment, is wait until the last minute and hope the pressure forces compromise. They're going to -- this is an anticipatable problem. This is something where there's been the outline of a big deal. And for all the divisions inside the Trump White House, maybe they can't...
CAMEROTA: I think you're right. But crying wolf won't work as well next time.
CAMEROTA: Because it's fine. The government shuts down, and then they figure it out three days later.
AVLON: But to Chris's point, the House didn't sign onto this deal. That's a real problem. The far left is furious. There are -- they told reporter, one senator said, "Look, if you're looking for a spine, we don't have any to sell. You know, so there are folks who are furious about this."
But if they can take that outline of a grand bargain on this deal they had where border security gets funded, the DREAMers get a degree of legal status if not citizenship...
CUOMO: But that's the problem. The certainties are all on the side of what the Republicans want. The uncertainty -- you know, you said some degree of protection for DREAMers.
If you're a DREAMer, that ain't putting you to sleep tonight. You know what I'm saying?
AVLON: But I think citizenship is -- what I'm saying is that may not be the question.
CUOMO: I have not heard that word come out of a GOP mouth, certainly not from the president, Chris Cillizza. He went from saying, "I want a bill -- I want to help the DREAMers."
AVLON: Bill of love.
CUOMO: He cancels the program, OK? They can say, well, Obama's executive order was illegal. That process hadn't played out fully. He ended this. He created a date certain. He said he wanted to help them. He said bill of love, and then he turned around and, most recently, put out an ad saying they're all terrorists.
CILLIZZA: So two things. One, Sarah Sanders expressly refused to say anything about path to citizenship when asked repeatedly. CUOMO: There you go.
CILLIZZA: So doesn't mean they don't get there, but the idea that there's a commitment that Democrats extracted? Not the case.
No. 2, the thing about all of this is Donald Trump's incredible unpredictability.
CILLIZZA: Right? We had that Tuesday act -- bill of love. "Let's do comprehensive." Right? He's pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. We'll get DACA done easily.
Then we have the Thursday meeting. Then we have tweets. Then the tweets this morning where he says, "Well, let's get to the negotiating."
AVLON: They can't say what he's for because they don't know.
CILLIZZA: It's just all over the place. You need a president to, if not engage in the nitty-gritty of the details, which I think we're going to do. You need a president to say, "We're pushing in this broad direction" and not change that direction 180 degrees two days later.
CAMEROTA: Do you? We'll talk about that in a moment.
John, Chris, stick around. Please stay with us. We'll look at the winners and losers of the government shutdown next.
Plus, that bombshell report on FBI Director Christopher Wray threatening to quit because he felt pressured to fire his deputy. What was that about? We'll talk about that, too.
[06:18:23] CUOMO: The government shutdown is over-ish, because we'll be back here in just over two weeks, but as the dust settles, who came out of this on the top, and on the bottom, and sideways.
Let's welcome back Chris Cillizza and John Avlon. Cillizza, what have you got?
CILLIZZA: Well, let me do winners fist. I think Mitch McConnell wins here. He got praise from Chuck Schumer for working on a deal when he said the president couldn't. And frankly, we talked about this the last segment. I'm just not totally sure what Democrats got here.
CHIP was already on the table when Chuck Schumer said we're going to -- you know, we can't accept this. We're not going to accept the three-week shutdown. We need a three-week continuing resolution. We need more.
I don't really understand what more they got. Schumer, by the way, made my loser's list. I also think Lindsey Graham, and parenthetically, Joe Manchin, and
Susan Collins, as well, get in the winner's circle for a simple reason. This was largely a project of sort of the sensible center. These people willing to get together in a relatively large group, actually, 25 senators, and say let's figure this out.
Now, you saw Dick Durbin, the second ranking Democrat, come out right before the vote and say essentially, this is a model for what we can do going forward. I think that would be great. I don't know if that's true, right?
I mean, they do these -- John made this point in the last segment. They're like a kid in college. They only do things when it's due the next day. Sometimes they do it after it's due. So I don't know that there's going to be sort of this new bipartisan coalition on everything going forward. But at least on this...
AVLON: Keep hope alive.
[06:20:04] CAMEROTA: So let's put up -- I just want to put up your winners again and have John react to it.
CAMEROTA: So this is who Chris thinks are the winners. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, as he said, 2018 Democrats, moderates, and Davos. When isn't Davos a winner?
AVLON: When hasn't Davos meant celebrating with a canape? Look, the 2018 Democrats, it's true. The red state Democrats facing tough re- elections. A protracted shutdown would have been bad for them.
And Democrats on the far left can, you know -- can protest all they want, but they've got to win beyond their base. That's the only path to a real majority. And they were looking at the poll numbers and saw that was a bad deal. Davos, presumably winner, Chris. I'm going to go migrating now. Because they get the benefit of President Trump, minus the first lady and a large entourage.
CILLIZZA: They just get -- look. Davos is high-profile. I don't think they have to worry about this. But yes. They get -- I mean, look, Donald Trump -- either you like him or don't like him -- brings a whole heck of a lot of eyeballs.
AVLON: But the first lady officially saying there's a scheduling problem and no longer attending, which is a loss for Switzerland.
CILLIZZA: I did not know that when I wrote it.
CUOMO: If we're going to -- well, there's a good defense. If we are going to delve into the personal externalities involving the president, what do you make of the Common Cause lawsuit about the alleged settlement with Stormy Daniels for 130 grand, the idea that that was a contribution in kind to the campaign, and they're suing about it.
CILLIZZA: It's an interesting way to go about it.
CUOMO: We've seen it before, right?
CILLIZZA: Right. Yes, we have. But this is -- Chris...
CUOMO: John Edwards, Rielle Hunter?
CUOMO: Remember those painting [SIC] -- payments.
AVLON: Wasn't the nominee, wasn't before a general election and wasn't -- didn't become president or vice president.
CAMEROTA: And scuttled his campaign.
CAMEROTA: This is the difference, the different world that we're now in.
CUOMO: The legal dynamic was the same, is what I'm saying. The basis for the lawsuit with Common Cause. I get that it wasn't...
AVLON: Look. Let's pursue this by any means necessary. But as Bill Kristol tweeted, who among us hasn't set up a Delaware LLC to pay off a porn star right before a presidential election? It's insane.
CILLIZZA: Look, and to add to John's point, look. I just -- here's -- Mike Pence yesterday abroad said this is a false...
CILLIZZA: ... never, no -- there was never any sexual relationship between the two of them. OK, fine. But then why did $130,000 go from President Trump's personal lawyer to Stormy Daniels in a private -- in an LLC that was set up to disguise both of their identities? Presumably, Donald Trump did not get rich by just giving out $130,000 to people with whom he. What was that money for? I think you have to have that explanation. If the Common Cause can get us closer to getting an explanation for why was -- why was his personal lawyer giving out six-figure sums to a porn star?
AVLON: A bill of love. I think this is the bill of love we've been looking for people. I feel really bad, actually, for the vice president who on his world tour is forced to say it's a baseless claim, because the presence of this payoff itself is evidence that this is real, folks, whatever you want to deny it.
CAMEROTA: All right. John, Chris, thank you very much for that spirited debate.
All right. Coming up on NEW DAY we'll talk to budget director Mick Mulvaney as well as lawmakers on both sides about what they think they got out of that shutdown.
CUOMO: We're also going to dig into what is next in this battle. Tonight in prime time, 9 p.m. Eastern, we'll take you through all the different options, where they come out well and where not so much.
OK. CAMEROTA: A new report revealing that President Trump is attempting to meddle with the FBI. Did his hand-picked director threaten to quit over this? We discuss all of that next.
[06:27:43] CAMEROTA: Axios is reporting that FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to quit because he felt pressured by Attorney Aeneral Jeff Sessions and President Trump to fire the FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe.
Joining us to talk about all of this and more, CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd and CNN chief analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
OK, so Jeffrey, let me start with you. If Andrew McCabe is somebody who President Trump has made a frequent target, if they and director -- sorry, A.G. Sessions think that Andrew McCabe is a partisan who lets other partisans have text messages about how they want to bring down Trump, why wouldn't they pressure him to get rid of Andrew McCabe?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well the question is does the FBI director work for the American people? Does he have independence from the president? Or is he an employee like the secretary of education, the secretary of the interior? Is there something different about the FBI director?
Traditionally, one reason FBI directors have had ten-year terms is that they are supposed to be independent. They are supposed to operate with more of an interest in the law than in the interests of the current administration.
But obviously, President Trump thinks that the FBI director should be loyal to him. That's why he fired Director Comey, and that's what seems to be the basis of this confrontation.
CUOMO: You always have an extra layer here that's relevant, Philip. This wasn't just a presidential whim. This was Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly getting involved with this when he's supposed to be recused from all things Russia investigation. How does it smell to you?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Doesn't smell too good. And if you're the FBI director, you had no option but to do this. If you're sitting inside the Hoover Building over at FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue -- I worked there for 4 1/2 years -- and the attorney general comes down and says, "I don't like one of your employees because he has -- I think" -- and I I don't see any evidence that the deputy director is -- Andy McCabe is biased -- "because I think he's biased on an investigation," my first question is, what's the evidence? And my second question is, "I can't sit here and let somebody meddle in an investigation, because they don't like the political smell of it.
There's a simple lesson here, and that is if you enter the FBI, what are you supposed to do? If you're a Republican, you can't participate in the investigation of Hillary Clinton? If you voted for Hillary Clinton, you can't participate in the investigation of Donald Trump?