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Trump: Shutdown is 'Big Win for Republicans'. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 23, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Senators working together can resolve in positive action.
[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way the Democrats caved. I think the Democrats got a better deal than people expected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're going to see is a couple weeks of wasted time.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: People have been white- knuckled all weekend wondering when the Democrats were going to grow up so we can reopen negotiations on what they say they care about, DACA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if he was unwilling or if he was incompetent. He certainly was not there making a deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is going to be key to any solution going forward.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A new report says Jeff Sessions has been pressuring the head of the FBI to take action against his deputy, frequent Trump target.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Here you have the current FBI director saying I'm not going to fire the deputy director. I don't see cause.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he's doing here is very irresponsible.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. The government shutdown is over, but the battle keeps going. President Trump signing just a short-term spending bill, reopening the U.S. government, which means hundreds of thousands of federal workers are back to work today.
Democrats surrendering in return for assurances that the Senate will take a vote on immigration in the coming weeks. Democrats now face backlash from members of their party who are saying they didn't stand up for the DREAMers. CAMEROTA: So Congress will be back today, but, again, on the brink of
another showdown 16 days from now when the government runs out of money again.
Trust, of course, remains a big issue in these negotiations. Plus, there's this bombshell report that reveals that the FBI director, Christopher Wray, threatened to resign over pressure from the president and the attorney general to fire his deputy, Andrew McCabe.
So we have all of this covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live at the White House with our top story -- Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn.
And the government is back in business today after the president signed a short-term spending bill here at the White House late last night. But there's little to suggest that the underlying dynamics of why we had this shutdown in the first place had changed and it could just be setting the state for a showdown between lawmakers 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.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What the president did clearly worked.
COLLINS: 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, again, 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 -- and I expect that we will be hearing from him early and often now once these discussions get under way.
COLLINS: Sources tell CNN this 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 that politically-motivated senior leaders have tainted the FBI's reputation.
COLLINS: Now, Chris and Alisyn, the president is up this morning. He's on Twitter tweeting about those missing employees' text messages that are at the crosshairs of the Justice Department investigation and saying, "In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months' worth of lovers Strzok/Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow."
Now of course, that's something Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to get to the bottom of after several House Republicans raised questions about it -- Chris and Alisyn.
[07:05:08] CUOMO: All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much.
Let's discuss with reporter and editor at large for CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza; and CNN political analyst John Avlon.
Well, the president doesn't want to talk about the shutdown. At least it's showing where his head is. This is his most recent tweet. He did take a victory lap this morning, said the Dems caved and all that nice stuff that really helps negotiation. But his intentions, John, to go after the FBI, to even go after one of the employees by name, the plus/minus?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Minus because he's actually -- it's self-evidently distraction and deflection, which is what this president does. But it's also not actually befitting the responsibilities in the office right now.
CUOMO: Why not?
AVLON: First of all, there's a tsunami warning on the West Coast. It would be nice to hear from the president of the United States on that. Hopefully, it comes to nothing. But calling this the biggest story in a long time doesn't even begin to comport with reality.
The Senate just kicked the can three weeks, right? So there's an opportunity for the president to get a big win show. He's the dealer he always promised to be, pull a Nixon in China and get something on immigration that's big. He should be focused on that, but he can't help himself from distract and deflect on the issue of Russia. And that's ultimately what a lot of this relates the memo stuff is about.
CAMEROTA: And why is that, Chris? I mean, this is seen as a, generally, conventional wisdom, as a loss for Democrats, in that they acquiesced during this shutdown. Why is the president deflecting today or changing the -- the conversation to the FBI?
CILLIZZA: Because I think he only really works on the attack. He -- I think he sees himself best when he is being aggressive and when he is the aggrieved party.
For all of Donald Trump's talk of, you know, we need to be tougher. We need to make America tough. We're -- you know, we were bad in negotiations. He is someone who has a victim complex. Everything sort of -- this is to John's point about being presidential and what, after an earthquake off Alaska, which last time I checked is one of 50 states, and a tsunami threat on the West Coast, what you do: Do you watch television and tweet about it or do you do that? You know?
And again, I think this is part -- particularly as it relates to the FBI, it's part of a much broader pattern. Let's not forgot, obviously, he fired the FBI director in Jim Comey. He has pressured Jeff Sessions, the head of the Justice Department. He's made fun of him publicly. He said he's beleaguered. He said he doesn't stand up for him enough.
Donald Trump just thinks everyone works for him. He's still working off that Trump Organization model, that everyone is his employee and should be doing his bidding up to and including law enforcement, which has traditionally had sort of its own carveout within the government.
CUOMO: You know, just to insert a fact to this, Eric Swalwell said last night -- he's on the Judiciary Committee, as well as the Intelligence Committee in the House. He said that they're trying to get Sessions in next week. This could be a pretty tough interview for him about if this happened, why did it happen, why would you get involved with this guy when you're supposed to be recused. That could be one thing. But politically, isn't this a no-brainer? For Trump it lines up just
like the Hillary e-mails. Where did they go? The mystery of the unknown. Is this something that the FBI did to hurt him. It plays to every one of the themes he likes to hammer.
AVLON: It's catnip for -- for the Trump base. There's no question about it. They get to use a lot of the rhetoric, muddy the lines about what the real scandal is. This is all against the backdrop of the Russian investigation and against the backdrop of increasingly Republicans needing to figure out if they're going to be patsies to the president, trying to attack law enforcement and holding them accountable. And that's a serious thing for self-identified conservatives who traditionally always have law enforcement's back, because that's going to be coming to a head.
And if the folks are doing things at the president's behest that are not in the national interest, that's a problem, and that is a pattern.
So of course, the president's going to try to pump this up. Of course the conservative base is going to try to pump it up. How much are Russian bots also pumping it up for their own...?
CAMEROTA: A lot apparently.
AVLON: Watch it. Exactly right. Beware of those political...
CILLIZZA: Can I make a quick -- can I make a quick point on that comparison, Chris, just echoing John? Donald Trump was a candidate for president at that point, OK? The Hillary e-mail thing that Trump focused considerably on in the media, we wrote -- myself wrote a lot about. Donald Trump was a candidate for president at that point. He is now the president of the United States, and the FBI falls within his purview.
We have never seen -- again, there's such a tendency, and it's so difficult to not point out every single thing that he is doing that is different, but this is wildly different. He has insinuated the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department. All these organizations, at one point or other, he has suggested are corrupt from the inside out and are aiming to get him in some shape or form. He's the president. He's not a candidate. He is the person representing all of the federal government to the American people, and he is essentially pushing and fomenting ideas that really did not exist outside of sort of conspiracy theory websites prior to his presidency.
[07:10:12] CAMEROTA: So John, how does all this play? Now that the government is back and running for 16 days, you know, Democrats sometimes can get distracted by the president's tweets and try to figure out what he means or get bogged down in it. But they're supposed to get back to the order of business. I mean, this promise is about immigration. What's going to happen on Capitol Hill?
AVLON: The focus needs to be they've got, basically, a three-week sprint to do something big for the American people and the DREAMers on immigration. Both sides are going to have to give, and at the end of the day, if the system is working all right, the folks on the far left and the far right won't be happy. But they will get something done for the DREAMers and also satisfy some of the president's priorities.
This is a time for them to step up and show that we can still govern in the national interests. And that's why I think the strength of the center yesterday was hopeful, but the clock is ticking as of now. That we know the dates certain, this needs to be done. So get to work.
Yes, are they going to going to be distraction to the president? Of course. That's a given. This is President Trump. Are there going to be release the memo efforts to try to undermine and attack the Mueller investigation? Yes. But don't, for the Senate, don't lose sight of the winter, we've got to do something big for the American people.
CUOMO: But how about the ability of the Senate to get a bill that comports with what the House wants, especially in this issues. A lot more hardliners in the House and the Senate.
CILLIZZA: Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, third ranking Republican...
CUOMO: Left the hospital just to come vote. And we wish him well.
CILLIZZA: Right. And gave an interview to the folks, Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer at Political Playbook. I was looking at it before I came on. In which he says, we feel, no -- I'm paraphrasing. We feel no need to take up what the Senate promised. You know, we're doing our own thing.
And I think all indications are that they may well try to pass a more aggressive illegal immigration bill in advance of anything that the Senate does so as to sort of stake their ground. I think that's the fundamental flaw in the deal that Chuck Schumer cut, which is this assumption that just because Mitch McConnell -- let's say Mitch McConnell's good to his word. To what end?
You have Donald Trump still in the White House who based his presidency on building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. And you have House Republicans who are considerably more conservative than their Senate Republican colleagues.
So I just think, even if it gets through the Senate, this phase has a very uncertain future. And circle February 8, because we're I think going to be right back where we were.
AVLON: Well, and all said, you know, does Paul Ryan want deportation of DREAMers on his watch and his reelection?
CILLIZZA: Yes. Fair point.
CUOMO: But you can come short of that and still not have the DREAMers as American citizens, not have them be permanent, not have them feel the security that they want and supposedly the Democrats want to fight for. We'll see.
CAMEROTA: John Avlon and Chris Cillizza, thank you. CUOMO: All right. So a group of bipartisan senators got together to
end the government shutdown: Common Sense Caucus. Will they be able to make another deal on funding and immigration in 16 days? Senators Angus King and Mike Rounds join us next.
[07:17:13] CUOMO: All is well. The government back open for business today and at least for 16 more days, but the showdown over funding, the government, the battle over DREAMers, immigration, security, appropriations, it all has to happen in the next two weeks. Are we going to be right back down here or are we going to be on the brinksmanship path once again?
Joining us now, Republican senators Mike Rounds of South Dakota and independent Senator Angus King of Maine. Both men were involved in bipartisan negotiations to reopen the government and voted "yes."
Gentlemen, good to see you both.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Thank you.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Good to see you.
CUOMO: Angus, what can you get done in the next two weeks?
KING: Well, first, I want to say the one single factor, Chris, that probably pushed us over yesterday was that you wore your lobster tie, and that gave us the mojo.
CUOMO: Thank you for the tie. I wore it in the spirit of bipartisanship. Appreciate you noticing.
KING: And it worked.
Well, where do we go from here? I think it was -- it was important to have this group of 20, 25 senators that basically were pushing on the leaders in both directions to try to find a solution. Now as you say, we've got three weeks to put up or shut up, and it's going to be hard. I've already had two meetings in the last -- well, yesterday afternoon on border security. Got another one scheduled this afternoon.
We're serious about trying to make this happen. It's not going to be easy. Because we've got people on both sides, in both caucuses that are very suspicious of what -- whatever comes out. And as your people have been pointing out all morning, that we've got to deal with the House and the president.
Frankly, I think our best bet is to get a really good bipartisan bill, 60, 70 votes out of the Senate, and then the president and the House have to sit up and pay attention and say, "Hey, there's a solution here. Let's take it."
CUOMO: Pretty big disconnect, though, between the Senate and the House, Senator Rounds, especially when it comes to the DREAMers. ROUNDS: There could be, but we think, if we do a good job of
combining that with border security, toss in perhaps H-2B's, they might very well come up with a solution that the president would endorse, and if the president endorses it, it makes it a lot more difficult for the House to ignore it.
Look, we all recognize, Republicans and Democrats, that the issue of the DREAMers is not going to go away, and we really do have to address it just -- not only because it's the right thing do but because, politically, it's the right thing do, as well.
CUOMO: Are you looking at one big omnibus bill here? Or do you think you'll break this into parts, Angus?
KING: Well, I think -- I think it's important to be clear. On the budget part, I think what we're looking at is agreement on the -- on breaking the caps, setting the -- what they call the topline number, how much will be appropriated.
At that point, nobody should be surprised. There will have to be another continuing resolution of probably three weeks for the appropriation committees to actually write the details on the budget.
A lot of that work has been done. But that's what we're talking about, is an overall number; and then the allocations between defense and the FAA and the Department of Agriculture. A lot of that work has be done, and I think it can be done, in general, by February 8. And then the final sort of paperwork will be done in the next two or three weeks.
[07:20:20] If we can do that, and we're talking about two-year numbers here, that will be a big breakthrough in terms of getting our work done and finally starting to at least think about doing budgets as they ought to do.
Both Mike and I are very upset. I -- one of the reasons I voted "no" on this bill the other night was I'm just sick and tired of continuing resolutions and not making decisions when we're supposed to.
CUOMO: Well, you were a governor. You don't get to shut down on the state level the way you do on the federal level. There's all kind of -- well, usually it's just not allowed in most states.
So in terms of -- I hear you on all the budgetary stuff. Let's say that's one negotiation. It sounds like this immigration will be a separate negotiation. The president will loom large here. And I just want to remind people where he has been and left on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 young people brought here, no fault of their own.
This should be a bipartisan bill. This should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love, and we can do that. I will immediately terminate President Obama's illegal executive order
on immigration, immediately.
We're always talking about DREAMers for other people. I want the children growing up in the United States to be dreamers also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. So we don't really know where he is. He just put out an ad basically saying that, you know, people who come in here illegally are all bound to be terrorists.
So what do you think, Senator Rounds? Are you going to have to break off the immigration stuff? Go with the budgetary matter. There's plenty there, and that this will be a second bill?
ROUNDS: No. I think what you have to so is, in good faith, work through the issues of immigration, and that includes border security. And if you can make headway on that, and I think if the Dems recognize that there's a serious attempt here, and we honor our commitment to move forward to it, then they have to honor their side of it, which is to keep government open. That's the condition.
And at the same time, I think the president has given himself plenty of leeway in which to negotiate. That's a good thing. And at the same time, look, he wants to win, as well, on the border security side. A lot of Republicans, a lot of Americans, want to make sure that when we do this, we do it in such a fashion that we actually secure the borders.
But even more important than that, we provide evidence that we can actually reduce the number of -- of illegal immigrants coming into the country long-term. That's not just border security. It's also talking about what our laws look like with regards to how they're interpreted south of the border.
It's not just Mexicans coming across. It's a lot of folks from a lot of different countries who come into the country. We've got to have some consistency across the board with how we deal with those individuals.
KING: Chris, there's one other important point that I think is largely missed in what Mitch McConnell said.
All last week and for the last several weeks, he's been basically saying, "We're waiting for the president." He said something like, "If we don't know what the president will sign, we're just spinning our wheels."
As of yesterday, he said, "We are going to take this bill up on February 8 if it's not resolved before then." That was an important step, for him to say we're not going to wait for the president. Where the Senate is going to work on a bill and come to our -- come to a conclusion and hope the president joins.
Now, if the president wants to join in good faith and try to help with these negotiations, ultimately, politically, I don't think there's much doubt that whatever is going to get through the House has to have the president's blessing, and I think that's going to be part of the sort of second stage.
My hope, frankly, is that he steps back, let us work on it here, let us come up with a proposal, again, involving DACA and border security, and I think we can come up with something pretty good that he can then endorse, and we can get it done.
ROUNDS: Which is what happened over the weekend, where the president basically stepped back, allowed the negotiations to go on, and we were getting to a conclusion, at least on a temporary basis.
CUOMO: Well, let's see -- right. So we'll see what happens. Maybe you're just a talking stick away. Maybe you bring that Susan Collins talking stick. Are you guys going to tell me? Who threw the stick? Who threw the stick and broke Susan Collins' elephant, Angus? Was it you?
KING: I wasn't in the room at the time.
CUOMO: Oh, here we go.
KING: I have nothing to say.
CUOMO: Here we go. Let me guess, Senator Rounds, were you not there? Were you there, were you looking the other way? Was there crosstalk and you missed it?
ROUNDS: I was there.
CUOMO: Who threw the stick?
ROUNDS: We're going to leak that for...
KING: Let me just say in the subsequent meetings, we used a Nerf ball. It was a lot -- a lot safer.
CUOMO: Nerf ball.
ROUNDS: It did break the ice, though, I've got to admit that. It broke a few other things, as well, but it did break the ice in that group, as well.
CUOMO: Well, look, there's nothing like a good stick it to the head to make people start to focus a little bit more clearly.
[07:25:05] Before I let you go, senators, give me your take on this report out of Axios that the president was pressuring Sessions to pressure Wray to get rid of McCabe, one of the senior agents there at the FBI who is on his way out. But Angus, what do you make of that report? What does it mean to you, if true?
KING: Well, there's this sort of unwritten rule. The Justice Department and the FBI do work for the president, but there have been a lot of both unwritten rules and written rules, like the term of the FBI director is ten years. That clearly overlaps presidential terms. That's designed to protect the independence of the FBI.
So it is not -- it's unsettling, frankly, if you have the executive leaning on law enforcement because they don't like somebody or they're afraid. And as one of your commentators earlier this morning said, FBI people are people. They vote, and they have preferences, and it's impossible. They're not automatons. So I think leaving the FBI alone is probably the best policy, and this isn't -- doesn't help in this situation.
CUOMO: Senator Rounds, are you on the same page?
ROUNDS: You know, similar except for one thing. It does remind us that, even though we're all human and we've all got our own points of view, when it comes to the Justice Department, it's got to be evenhanded.
ROUNDS: That means you can't play favorites either way. I think that message is pretty important, as well.
CUOMO: Sure. You've got to show proof of the unfairness.
Senators, I appreciate the insight. I don't believe, Angus, that you don't know who threw the stick. I just want you to know that. Senator King, nothing but respect for you, but I want you to know, I don't buy it.
Be well, gentlemen.
KING: Plausible deniability, then.
CUOMO: And please check back with us when you're starting to make progress and you see what the pitfalls are -- pitfalls are. Let's have some transparency for the American people.
KING: Thank you.
ROUNDS: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Now what is next is the big question. Where are the lines? What is the chance for progress? What will be the setbacks? We'll take it all on for you tonight in prime-time at 9 Eastern.
CAMEROTA: OK. Meanwhile, some Democrats did not vote for the short- term fix to reopen the government. How do they feel today? Senator Richard Blumenthal joins us live.