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Democrats Agree To Trust McConnell On Immigration Vote; Tsunami Warnings Canceled After Powerful Quake; Trump Expected To Invite Macron For State Visit; Campaign Complaint Filed Over Reported Trump Porn Star Payment. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 23, 2018 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:31:16] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Democrats are plotting their path forward. They voted to reopen the government on assurances from Republicans that Dreamers will not be forgotten. So, do Democrats believe their Republican colleagues?

Let's bring in Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He voted against the resolution to reopen the government.

Good morning, Senator.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Why didn't you want to reopen the government?

BLUMENTHAL: I voted against this resolution because it's another stopgap, three-week patch that, in effect, kicks the can down the road. It undercuts our national defense and opioid treatment, tensions, and veterans, and disaster relief, and it fails to protect the Dreamers.

And I am skeptical about the promises made on the floor of the Senate by the majority leader. I'm hoping that my Democratic colleagues who voted to favor this continuing resolution are actually right but we'll see in the next three weeks.

CAMEROTA: But help us understand what went on behind the scenes because why did the Democrats who voted for this trust the Republicans and Mitch McConnell on Monday -- yesterday -- when they didn't on Friday?

BLUMENTHAL: To have this promise made on the floor of the Senate -- even though I'm skeptical about it, they are more optimistic -- I think is a very public commitment. It fails to guarantee that there will be passage of protection of the Dreamers, which I fault it for. It fails to guarantee a vote in the House or approval by the White House.

And I lived through the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform. In fact, I helped to draft and champion it. It passed overwhelmingly in the Senate by 68 votes and then, the House never even voted on it. So, that's part of my reservations. But again, I will be holding the speaker -- the majority leader accountable. We're all going to be negotiating on a bipartisan basis and hoping that we not only provide protection for the Dreamers and a path to citizenship but also, funding for our military and non- military needs, and that's very, very important.

CAMEROTA: Do you think Sen. Chuck Schumer caved?

BLUMENTHAL: Senator Schumer took the best course and the responsible one that he could, and I'm more interested in who's hurt than who's blamed. I am more skeptical about the majority leader's promise, but we are united in the goals that we have and Sen. Schumer has been very admirable and responsible in leading our caucus.

CAMEROTA: I know that you don't want to play the blame game -- I get it -- but the only reason that I ask this question is because we're going to be right back here three weeks from now unless something changes and unless we've learned a lesson.

So, is it fair to say that the shutdown -- the government shutdown backfired for Democrats?

BLUMENTHAL: You know, again, who's hurt is more important than who is blamed. The promise made by the majority leader is very important and the principle that was established that we believe that the Dreamers deserve this protection, I think, highlighted it for the whole nation.

The nation now -- a vast majority is in favor of providing the Dreamers with a path to citizenship. They are aware of the plight of these young people brought here as children through no choice of their own.

CAMEROTA: Right, but they didn't want to shut down -- they didn't think shutting down the government was worth it. At the end of the day, that's what we've learned, that the country did not think that gambit worked.

[07:35:00] BLUMENTHAL: Let's be very blunt. There is no such thing as a good shutdown. Nobody wanted a shutdown except, maybe, Donald Trump, who called it a good shutdown. So, avoiding the shutdown was something we all wanted to do.

Opening the government was a common goal and we have common goals now going forward of holding the majority leader accountable. He must keep his promise that was made on the floor of the Senate in everybody's view, several times, and that provides a basis for going forward.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Listen, he'll -- I'm sure he'll keep his promise to negotiate but the devil's in the details.

Are you going to have to give President Trump his funding for his border wall in order to get a deal?

BLUMENTHAL: A border wall is a waste of money. Squandering billions of dollars on an ineffective solution of border security is really reprehensible.

So we are going to be supporting border security. Surveillance, drones, more training for the agents who are there and additional agents. There are ways we can strengthen the fencing that exists and maybe extend it.

If the Mexicans are not going to pay for the border wall as Donald Trump promised, we won't support it in the way that he has proposed.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I mean are you just calling it border security and they're calling it a border wall, and it's going to be all the same $18 billion?

BLUMENTHAL: You know, as part of the agreement, in principle, that the president reached with Sen. Schumer, he was willing to put the border wall on the table, call it a border wall, provide the funding for it. And, Donald Trump initially agreed to it, then backed away -- was pulled away by his right-wing.

We're willing to compromise and be reasonable because the paramount goal is protecting those Dreamers.

These young people are in fear. They live in anxiety --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BLUMENTHAL: -- in anguish. They're afraid to go to police when they're victims of domestic abuse. They're afraid to use --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BLUMENTHAL: -- health clinics.

This kind of situation for 800,000 young people in this country is a violation of the promise we made to them.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BLUMENTHAL: Great nations keep their promises.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, Senator, I want to ask you about the "Axios" reporting that the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been pressuring the FBI director, Christopher Wray, to get rid of the deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

Is this appropriate and why is Jeff Sessions involved? Hadn't he recused himself from these sorts of things?

BLUMENTHAL: Highly inappropriate for the president to be interfering in law enforcement and to be telling the director of the FBI, even through his attorney general, what to do about staffing the FBI.

Both of these individuals are professionals, they're dedicated to public service, and Jeff Sessions ought to be recused from this kind of interference with potential ramifications for the special counsel. So, it is highly inappropriate. My hope is that Attorney General Sessions will, in fact, back off as

the reports indicated that he has done.

CAMEROTA: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for giving us your perspective on NEW DAY.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Coming up on NEW DAY, we talk to budget director Mick Mulvaney and two Republican senators, John Thune and Susan Collins -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He's been in the U.S. since 1979, brought to this country by his parents. He was just five years old.

What did he do with his time here? He's a doctor.

He's now being detained by ICE agents and facing deportation. His story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:42:30] CUOMO: We're following breaking news.

A massive earthquake off the coast of Alaska triggered tsunami watches and warnings up and down the west coast.

CNN's Dan Simon is in San Francisco with the latest -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Chris.

This definitely had folks on their toes this morning when you had this major earthquake off the coast of Alaska. You had much of the entire western United States, at least the coast of the U.S., that was under a tsunami watch.

We are here along Ocean Beach in San Francisco. You have this three- mile beach with the ocean behind me. We've been looking at the ocean to see if there has been any sort of activity.

At this point, Chris, we can tell you that the watch here in California and along the entire region, at least the west coast of the United States, has been canceled.

As for what is happening in Alaska, they are now under a tsunami advisory. Obviously, you did have some folks evacuate. Things are said to be calm now because this watch or this advisory has now been issued but certainly, folks were anxious.

But, for now, just watch your local news if you live in Alaska and we'll keep you updated as further developments warrant.

Alisyn, we'll send it back to you.

CAMEROTA: Dan, thank you very much for that update. Good news for the west coast. We'll keep an eye on Alaska. Now to a CNN exclusive.

President Trump is expected to invite French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington later this year.

Michelle Kosinski is live in Washington with this CNN exclusive. What have you learned, Michelle?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn.

Well, we know President Trump has hosted world leaders at the White House and at Mar-a-Lago, but he's actually the first president in many, many decades who in his first year has not pulled out all the stops to host an official state visit with its accompanying glittering state dinner.

But, sources are telling us now that that's all about to change -- that plans are in the works and the lucky winner is France. Now, we understand no official date has been set yet. This has not been made official. It's expected to be in the spring, though, and this could be announced as soon as this week while the president is traveling in Davos.

But, President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron have had a strange relationship punctuated by a couple of extremely long and very grippy handshakes.

Early on, Macron seemed to relish trolling Trump on Twitter, especially when Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement and Macron started his own campaign called "Make the Planet Great Again."

But all of that tension seemed to change when Macron hosted President Trump and the first lady in Paris in July. Trump complimented Macron's wife's figure.

[07:45:02] But he seemed most impressed by the military parade for Bastille Day. Remember, he told Macron that he'd like to see something similar showcasing American military might in a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, which hasn't happened yet and maybe never will.

But since then, Macron has said that he and Trump speak often and have a very direct relationship. And sources tell us that Trump sees Macron as being similar to him in some ways, despite all their differences. He sees him as something of a disrupter and somebody who's not afraid to speak out bluntly.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: Michelle Kosinski, appreciate it. That will be interesting to watch.

So, when it comes to immigration there are many who are saying look, nobody's getting thrown out, everybody's fine.

You heard the story about Jorge Garcia, the man who was brought here at 10, lived here for 30 years, and was just torn out from his family and put in Mexico City. That was real.

Now, another story.

A respected doctor who has lived in the United States for almost 40 years -- he has been detained by immigration officers and facing deportation. His name is Dr. Lukasz R. Niec. He had a temporary green card. He later became a lawful, permanent resident.

His wife and sisters are asking why him? They're fighting to keep him from being sent back to Poland, a country he does not know and where they have no family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's an excellent physician, he's loving, he's caring. He's an honorable husband and he's always helping others. He's the person I call whenever anything goes wrong or right and now I can't do that, and it's just -- it's breaking me up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: What is this about? Well, the system seems to be seizing on this fact. Niec was convicted of misdemeanor theft 25 years ago. He agreed to a state plea deal for first-time offenders to keep his criminal record clean. That deal is not recognized by federal authorities.

So, according to a federal notice, crimes involving quote "moral turpitude" do make him eligible for deportation.

CAMEROTA: This -- how does this make any sense? I mean, when the administration -- the administration said they were going to go after the hardened criminals, the violent criminals. How does moral turpitude, 25 years ago, make any sense for a practicing, working doctor? I don't understand.

Why is he being targeted?

CUOMO: Well, because he broke the law. What the hardliners will say is your invitation is only as good as your respect for the law, and he broke the law and that makes him eligible.

Now, the delay in recognizing the offense, and the degree of the offense, and the disruption that it will --

CAMEROTA: Right.

CUOMO: -- cause does not seem to be fairness under the law of justice.

CAMEROTA: He's a lawful, permanent resident. I mean, that isn't who we understood that they were going to be targeting first -- prioritizing.

CUOMO: Anybody short of a citizen is vulnerable when it comes to the law and infractions, and how those can be interpreted by the system based on its rules, and that's why the debate matters so much.

CAMEROTA: All right. You feel free to weigh in on our CNN page.

Did the president's personal lawyer break the law by reportedly paying a porn star to keep quiet about her alleged affair with President Trump? We have a debate on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:52:28] CAMEROTA: Did a reported payout from President Trump's lawyer to a porn star in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair violate election law? A nonpartisan watchdog group, Common Cause, thinks so and they have filed a complaint with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission.

Joining us now to discuss this are CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, and former political director for President George W. Bush, Matt Schlapp. Great to see both of you.

Matt, here's their thinking. They say that these funds were paid -- this is what the nonprofit group says -- for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election. Therefore, they should be considered a campaign expense and they were not reported.

Your thoughts?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't really have many thoughts on this, Alisyn. I don't know what -- I don't even know what we know. They're basing this on a publication that is kind of like "TMZ," a gossip publication.

I'm sure that he will continue to usher the --

CAMEROTA: Originally. Hold on, Matt. There's been other reporting -- "The Wall Street Journal," which is not "TMZ."

SCHLAPP: Yes, they're reporting on --

CAMEROTA: But, I know what you're talking about. "In Touch" --

SCHLAPP: They're reporting that --

CAMEROTA: -- the original one. But, "Wall Street Journal" --

SCHLAPP: Yes, do you read -- Alisyn, do you read --

CAMEROTA: -- has -- hold on, hold on.

SCHLAPP: -- "In Touch?" I don't read it.

CAMEROTA: Matt --

SCHLAPP: Do you read it?

CAMEROTA: I do read "The Wall Street Journal" and here's what they -- SCHLAPP: But I don't read "In Touch."

CAMEROTA: Matt, here's what "The Wall Street Journal" has said. They have determined that there was this LLC -- this sort of shell account that Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer, funneled a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels through her lawyer. So --

SCHLAPP: Look, I don't do --

CAMEROTA: -- do you think "The Wall Street Journal" is legit?

SCHLAPP: I think "The Wall Street Journal" is legit.

But with all due respect, with everything that's going on in the country, I thought we were going to talk about immigration reform this morning. I thought we were going to talk about the shutdown. I thought we were going to talk about how we're going to fund the government --

CAMEROTA: Right.

SCHLAPP: -- in two weeks.

CAMEROTA: And the other two hours and 45 --

SCHLAPP: And we're going to really talk about an article from "In Touch" magazine on facts we don't even know to be true? We are all better than this.

CAMEROTA: Matt, so conservatives don't care anymore about extramarital affairs?

SCHLAPP: Absolutely. We especially care about it when people use the government --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: -- which the Clintons did --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: -- to use their government power to try to silence women.

CAMEROTA: But you don't care --

SCHLAPP: I think that is a line --

CAMEROTA: OK, so you don't --

SCHLAPP: -- that should not be crossed. But you hold down --

CAMEROTA: Matt, hold on. Let me get a word in. You don't care when somebody uses campaign funds --

SCHLAPP: You literally want to delve into the sex lives of everyone in politics. I do not. CAMEROTA: Matt, you don't care --

SCHLAPP: I do not.

CAMEROTA: You don't care. You don't care if a candidate uses campaign --

SCHLAPP: I do. No, I didn't say I didn't care.

CAMEROTA: -- funds.

SCHLAPP: Alisyn, I care about a lot of things.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: I just think that with everything that's going on in this country, all the issues we have to face --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: I listen and watch your show.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: I respect you. Are we really going to talk about an article from "In Touch" magazine -- a magazine I don't even look at?

[07:55:01] CAMEROTA: Right.

SCHLAPP: I see it in the grocery store line.

CAMEROTA: We're talking about the one from "The Wall Street Journal."

SCHLAPP: We can spend this time in a more effective way. You can attack Trump in all kinds of ways.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: We could be scrutinizing of Trump. But, really, this?

CAMEROTA: Matt, so you don't care anymore about a candidate's --

SCHLAPP: I do.

CAMEROTA: -- extramarital affairs. You don't want to talk about it anymore.

SCHLAPP: I didn't say I don't care.

CAMEROTA: How convenient.

SCHLAPP: I didn't say I don't care. I just said with all the public policy questions at stake --

CAMEROTA: Sure, yes.

SCHLAPP: -- why don't we talk about them? I bet Ana --

CAMEROTA: The backburner of the swamp.

SCHLAPP: -- might even agree.

CAMEROTA: Ana?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, sweetheart, can you just give me a vat of popcorn. I'd like to sit here all morning and, you know, watch this entertainment going on.

Look, the bottom line is it's true. People don't care. Christian conservatives don't care. I think it's part of what Donald -- the Donald Trump effect has been.

There was a -- there was a great skit on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" over the weekend. You know, it doesn't even matter anymore. It does not even matter anymore --

CAMEROTA: It should matter if a candidate paid $130,000 to a porn star -- let's use it hypothetically -- for an affair and didn't disclose it, were those campaign funds? Should those be considered campaign funds? Should the FEC look into it?

NAVARRO: Look, I think there's going to be an ongoing investigation on this. I think there is the issue that needs to be answered about in-kind donation. But the political question is do people care, and the answer is there is a scandal du jour.

There used to be soup du jour in most restaurants. With this president, there is a scandal du jour. And so, it's like going to the butcher shop. You've got to take a number.

And a lot of us care more about Russia, and a lot of us care more about his racist comments, and a lot of us care more about fixing immigration than whether he got spanked on the butt with a -- you know, "Forbes" magazine. What I want to know is who was on the cover?

I mean, we are on a level where we don't -- you know, it doesn't even matter anymore because there is so much that we are --

CAMEROTA: But isn't that unfortunate --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: We're at this point that these things don't matter to conservatives --

SCHLAPP: Yes, this is all very unfortunate.

CAMEROTA: -- like yourself.

SCHLAPP: Look, Alisyn --

NAVARRO: What would be your magazine of choice, Matt?

CAMEROTA: Oh, boy.

SCHLAPP: To get spanked on the butt, Ana? I would want your picture on it. Is that a deal?

CAMEROTA: Oh, my goodness gracious.

SCHLAPP: Look, I think this is an outrageous waste of time.

CAMEROTA: Oh.

SCHLAPP: I think we should be talking --

CAMEROTA: Do you think -- I'm just curious now. Did you think --

SCHLAPP: I really do.

CAMEROTA: -- it was an outrageous waste of time for John Edwards when there were reports about John Edwards?

SCHLAPP: But he did use campaign money, Alisyn. What you're basically saying is --

CAMEROTA: And aren't we trying to find out whether Donald Trump did the same?

SCHLAPP: But, Alisyn, look, I watch your show. It's not like you don't have enough material to talk about on the public's call to questions of the day.

CAMEROTA: So why don't you want to talk about this one, Matt?

SCHLAPP: If there is wrongdoing -- no matter who commits wrongdoing in this country, I think law enforcement ought to go after that --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: -- wrongdoing. If there's any campaign --

CAMEROTA: And have to look into it, which is why this nonprofit wants to look --

SCHLAPP: Yes, I've thought about that but that's not --

CAMEROTA: -- into it.

SCHLAPP: But, Alisyn, don't try to -- don't try to box us into this idea that we're hypocrites just because --

CAMEROTA: Why not?

SCHLAPP: -- we want to focus on the issues of the day. And if there's any wrongdoing, of course, it should be going out to --

CAMEROTA: And when you felt the issue of the day was John Edwards you were happy to talk about it, but not now. That's all --

SCHLAPP: I never -- I never was invited on your show to talk about it.

CAMEROTA: Come on.

SCHLAPP: But I do think after a year of the -- of everything we've seen at the FBI, all this question --

CAMEROTA: OK.

SCHLAPP: -- of the special counsel --

CAMEROTA: I know, you want to stay -- I know.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: You want to change the --

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: If you want to waste time and talk about it, I'm right here. Let's talk about it.

NAVARRO: All right. No, you don't want to talk about it. But when you want -- listen --

CAMEROTA: You've already wasted four minutes -- go ahead.

NAVARRO: Can you just imagine -- seriously, can we just for minute imagine in 15 years when children are studying history of the Trump administration. I mean, can you make this up? Stormy Daniels -- you know, him getting butt spanked --

SCHLAPP: It might be made up, Ana.

NAVARRO: -- with the cover of a magazine.

SCHLAPP: It actually might be made up.

CAMEROTA: So you don't believe it? I'm just -- just to get you on the record, you don't believe it, Matt?

SCHLAPP: I don't believe -- I don't believe -- when people tell me "In Touch" magazine has a scoop, I'm dubious.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: Do you think that's unwise of me to be dubious --

CAMEROTA: Do you believe "The Wall Street Journal?" Do you believe --

SCHLAPP: -- at that "In Touch" magazine?

CAMEROTA: Do you believe the "The Wall Street Journal's" scoop?

SCHLAPP: Look, what we have in journalism today is people write stories on other stories. Go back to the original story and see if that is credible.

CAMEROTA: They got their new reporting about the LLC --

SCHLAPP: Alisyn, let's do it -- let's do it.

CAMEROTA: -- and Michael Cohen paying $130,000. That is the "The Wall Street Journal's" reporting, Matt.

SCHLAPP: Well, my only point is this, Alisyn, which is if there is campaign violations -- if there are campaign violations the FEC will look at it.

CAMEROTA: OK.

SCHLAPP: In the meantime --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: When it comes to Donald Trump what we saw during the campaign and we continue seeing during his presidency is that he gets measured by a different stick.

We knew Donald Trump, the brand, as the brash billionaire T.V. guy. He got away in that campaign with doing and saying 50 things that would have killed any ordinary politician.

Frankly, if we'd found out that Mike Pence had paid a stripper $130 to spank him we would be, you know, scandalized.

But when people voted for Donald Trump they knew they were voting for a guy who has this kind of character. They knew they were voting for a guy who had these kinds of issues. I mean, for God's sakes, we heard it in his own voice on tape. So this is not a surprise to anybody.

I think the reason that you're not seeing the outrage and the level of interest is because there's not much shock value to this and people knew what they were getting --

CAMEROTA: I guess.

NAVARRO: -- when they voted for him.

CAMEROTA: I mean, that's not what the vice president said.

SCHLAPP: I don't think that's right.

CAMEROTA: The vice president said he's not going to comment on the latest baseless allegations.

NAVARRO: Yes, he's stupid. Would you comment --

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure how he knows how they're baseless.

NAVARRO: Would you -- would you comment on that -- your bosses --

CAMEROTA: We've got one second.