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Interview with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; Interview with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 23, 2018 - 08:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's not what the vice president said. The vice president said he's not going to comment on the latest baseless allegations --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He ain't stupid. Would you comment about your --

MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I do think the line here that gets crossed by politicians is when they use their office to cover up their moral turpitude, and when they use our taxpayers' money to take care of those things, I think that's a line that everybody cares about. I do care about what politicians do in their personal life. I just think in the greater scope of things that's what we all do.

CAMEROTA: Very good. Ana Navarro and Matt Schlapp, thank you for the debate.

SCHLAPP: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, January 23rd, 8:00 in the east. The government shutdown is over for now. President Trump signing a short-term spending bill reopening the U.S. government today. Democrats relenting in return for assurances that the Senate will vote on immigration in the coming weeks. The party now facing intense backlash from some for not fighting harder to protect DREAMers.

CAMEROTA: And this morning President Trump not focusing on the next round of immigration talks. Instead he's tweeting about missing FBI text messages. This comes amid the bombshell report that the FBI director threatened to resign amid pressure from the president and the attorney general to fire the deputy director. Chris?

CUOMO: Joining me right now is the White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. Good to have you, sir, as always.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Good morning, Chris. Sounds like there's a lot of caffeine in the coffee there this morning. CUOMO: If you think that I'm going to spend any of my time talking

about that, you are sadly mistaken, my friend. We'll take that conversation offline a different time. You're no stranger to shutdowns. Do you think the Democrats did the right thing, and why?

MULVANEY: I think they did the right thing in getting out. I think they did the wrong thing getting in, and that's coming from someone who was very much, as you know, involved in the 2013 shutdown. I do think that Senator Schumer, calling him Shutdown Schumer now, made a mistake on Friday and overplayed his hand. Didn't think that we would be able to manage a shutdown as well as we did, and had no choice but to cave, and that was the word that the press was using yesterday, and reopened the government.

CUOMO: Isn't this very similar to 2013? On principle you didn't believe in the ACA. You wanted to do everything you could to not get it funded. And here you have the Democrats saying that DREAMers don't deserve to be treated like dogs and thrown out of the country and they were standing firm on that. Don't you respect that?

MULVANEY: Difference between 2013 and 2016 is in 2013 when I was a member of the House of Representatives I was asked to vote for something that I did not like. I was asked to vote for something that funded Obamacare, and I just couldn't go there, could not vote for that.

Last week when we -- when the bill passed in the House and went to the Senate, it was a bill that senators and Democrat senators supported. They supported keeping the government open, they supported the CHIP extension, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and they supported the delay in many of the taxes and most specifically the Cadillac tax. So they voted against a bill that they liked.

Keep in mind, the bill didn't change that much between Friday and yesterday. I think all of the change was a couple of days but then all of a sudden, what was it, maybe 30 Democrats voted for it yesterday where only five of them voted for it on Friday. So I think you had a very different dynamic here and the first time anybody I know can remember in Washington where folks voted against a bill they liked in order to shut the government down.

CUOMO: But functionally it's the same situation. As you know Pelosi and the House Democrats have lots of problems with what was in the bill, different types of appropriations and different caps and you're going to have to deal with that now in this window. But whether or not it's a bill that makes you pay for something you don't want or it's a bill that ignores something that you think is mandatory, both wind up being matters of principle.

MULVANEY: Again, I think you're asking two different questions. Keep in mind, Mrs. Pelosi did not object to this bill based on the caps and appropriations. She objected to the bill because DACA was not in it.

CUOMO: She said yesterday we have much bigger issues to deal with, not just DACA, and she listed a whole laundry list of things that were ignored or treated unfairly, in her opinion, in this CR. MULVANEY: She did, and I don't think -- I just simply think you're

misunderstanding what she's talking about. I think in that discussion, and I've had discussions with Mrs. Pelosi about that, she's talking about the larger deal to raise the caps to do a permanent FY-2018, fiscal year 2018 funding bill, not in the CR. It's splitting hairs, but it is important. She did not object to the bill last week, or I guess she voted against it again last night. I love the fact that Mrs. Pelosi has now voted to shut the government twice after accusing me of being an arsonist.

But anyway, so I don't think she objected to what was in the bill. She objected to what was not in the bill. And that is an important difference. You can call it principle if you want to. I can call it practical, but the bottom line is that folks voted against a bill they liked to shut the government down.

CUOMO: I don't see how it's any different than 2013 when the party that doesn't have the power is only left with that recourse, that's what they do. That's how we got green eggs and ham from Senator Ted Cruz, right? It was just a stunt to delay the process and keep it open to be discussed and maybe get some leverage out of it. That's what happened this time. The Democrats wound up just backing off and now creating this window of opportunity.

MULVANEY: Well, it is a very short window of opportunity. I think we've got about three weeks now to solve the DACA problem. The president already started on that. I think he met with half a dozen senators yesterday. We said during the shutdown that we were looking forward or we'd enjoyed having discussions about DACA before the shutdown. We were going to renew discussions about DACA after the shutdown, but we would not have those discussions during the shutdown. We didn't importantly, and no one has mentioned this before, what Senator Schumer did was cost us several important days. Keep in mind, even though we have about three weeks now before the next CR, the continuing resolution expires, I think Congress is only going to be in town maybe six or seven of those days. So the three days we lost --

CUOMO: That's where the president comes it, right? He should be pulling the strings and making these guys meet and inviting them to the White House. It worked once, then he backed off. He could be doing that. You say the president is interested in DACA. What is his position on DREAMers?

MULVANEY: Keep in mind the president has already done every one of those things that you just listed. He's called members of the House and the Senate and he's had them down in the White House, had them again. Again, half a dozen I think senators here yesterday, technically before the government --

CUOMO: Numerous Republicans say he stepped away, that he wasn't an active part of this process, he was letting them handle it, and Mitch McConnell has said he doesn't know where he stands on immigration.

MULVANEY: To be perfectly clear, we said we were going to step away if the government shut down. We said we would negotiate before a shutdown and after a shutdown, but not during a shutdown. CUOMO: Then we agree, he stepped away and wasn't an active part of

the negotiation. I accept your point.

MULVANEY: And got exactly what we wanted. Sometimes not going to the table is one of the best things you can do in a negotiation. So the president got exactly what he wanted, which is he got the government funded, he got the CHIP extension, he got the delay in the taxes and didn't have to give anything in exchange for that. But anyway, so moving forward we do look forward to continuing the --

CUOMO: What is his DACA position?

MULVANEY: The position is as it has been from the very beginning. We are interested in border security.

CUOMO: That's not a DACA position. What's his position on Dreamers?

MULVANEY: If you let me finish.

CUOMO: I want you to answer that question. That's what makes this interesting.

MULVANEY: I will.

CUOMO: All right, go ahead.

MULVANEY: You don't get a chance to pick and choose. We want a large agreement. We want a big deal that solves the reason that we have a DACA problem in the first place. If you simply gave amnesty, whatever you want to call it, to the folks who are here but don't solve border security, then you are simply delaying another DACA problem 10 or 15 years from now. You have to deal with this holistically, you have to deal with the entire issue of immigration at one time. So that mean, I'll start with your topic, figuring out under what terms and conditions folks can stay here. Those are the DACAs, those are the DREAMers, all of us want to, but allow them to stay here, what are those terms and conditions, and who gets to stay?

CUOMO: What are they? What are his terms and conditions? Who does get to stay?

MULVANEY: Chris, I know you won't be offended by this, but not negotiating with you on national television.

CUOMO: I just want to hear it. I'll tell you what, I won't say anything. Just say what his position is on it. How do they get to stay, who gets to stay?

MULVANEY: Again, depends on who gets to stay. What do we get for border security, what do we get for a wall? Senator Schumer this weekend said that he gave the president everything he wanted on the wall. I challenge that. Senator Schumer insists that he gave it. We'll have a discussion. Did he really offer $20 billion in appropriated funds or did he just offer $20 billion in authorized funds? Keep in mind, there's border security that was authorized in 2006 that Senator Schumer voted for but that still hasn't been built yet because no one has actually appropriated the funds. So where are we on that? That's part of the discussion.

CUOMO: Legitimate issue. The president is not helping by going back and forth about wanting a brand-new wall versus using the wall as a metaphor as most reasonable minds see it, meaning a fence in some places, censors, increased manpower, and it's really not tomato, tomato. The president was so strong in saying no, I mean a big, brand-new wall everywhere and Mexico is going to pay for it, and clearly, or at least we hope if there's going to be any chance of progress, that's not where he is now. But you said something there that I have to go back to.

MULVANEY: Sure.

CUOMO: A wall is an inanimate object and you can bicker about it, you go about the money and the time and the appropriations and how it's done, I got you. DREAMers are human beings, and the idea that he will only be as generous or as loving, right, because he said he wants a bill of love, as warranted by what he gets in return does not seem like love to me.

MULVANEY: Trying to solve the problem, though, is. He's the president of the United States. He's the commander in chief. He's responsible not only for the well-being of the citizens, he's also now taking responsibility for helping the folks who are here under DACA temporarily at least through March, but he's also in charge of making sure that drugs don't come in, that future illegal immigrants don't come in. You can't do it the way you've laid it out, Chris. You can't just say OK, I'm going to do a deal on DACA and that's it.

CUOMO: Why?

MULVANEY: Because it doesn't solve the problem.

CUOMO: Is does for the DREAMers.

MULVANEY: It doesn't solve the problem for you, for me, for everybody else, it doesn't solve the issue of drugs crossing the border. You can't do it like that. You can if you want to.

CUOMO: You could.

MULVANEY: But that's not an effective way to solve the problem.

CUOMO: But it's an effective way to help the DREAMers and he called it a bill of love. None of that other stuff is about love. It's about security and there are things that are important, but not the same as giving dignity to these human beings who were brought in as children who he says he cares about.

MULVANEY: Look, fabulous questions, great questions, go back in time, ask President Obama when he had control of the White House 60 votes in the Senate and the House, why didn't they solve illegal immigration? Why didn't they deal with the DREAMers?

CUOMO: But he did the executive action to protect the DREAMers because the rest of you guys couldn't get it done. That's what a leader does, right?

MULVANEY: Again, you're ignoring the fact that he controlled the Senate and the House, again, with 60 votes in the Senate. But go to the executive action because I was watching an interview you did earlier today or last night. The executive action was illegal. I know you said that it wasn't determined to be illegal.

CUOMO: But it never finished that process.

MULVANEY: The deferred action against parents was determined to be illegal by the courts for the same reason DACA would --

CUOMO: But the litigation wasn't finished.

MULVANEY: If the president had allowed the litigation to go forward and the courts had undermined and had overturned DACA, it would have been instant. And what the president was he gave Congress at least six months, keep in mind, General Kelly, I think he said this on your show before, was actually talking to the Senate as early as December of last year, so 13 months ago, saying, look, DACA is a problem. You know it's a problem, I know it's a problem, it's not going to hold in the courts. You need to fix DACA now. That was 13 months ago, but Congress did nothing.

And then the president comes in last fall and gives them another six months, and still we are here with nothing. So you cannot say this is the president's fault that DACA has not been fixed. He's been trying to shine a light on this from the very beginning, but it's been Congress, mostly the Senate Democrats have been dragging their feet on this. We do look forward at the end of the day if you want to find something positive to look on of having this next three weeks to be able to focus intensely on DACA.

CUOMO: Right, but it will only be as generous to the DREAMers as it is what you get in return. That's what you said, right?

MULVANEY: The president represents every person, every citizen of the United States of America. You can't say I'm going to fix DACA but I'm not going to fix illegal immigration. That's not being presidential. That doesn't solve the problem. That's what we pay a president to do. It's why we hire a president to do, to try to get the best solutions that we can to many of our problems. Simply waiving a wand and giving amnesty to 12 or 13 million people may solve a problem for them but doesn't solve a problem for the other 300 million people that live here.

CUOMO: But they're not a problem for you, the DREAMers.

MULVANEY: No, it solves a problem for them.

CUOMO: I know, but they are not a problem to you. This imaginary crisis that immigrants pose to the United States, DREAMers are not a problem. They're a benefit, and in fact, according to the Center for American Progress, if you got rid of them you'd cost us $433 billion over 10 years or $43 billion in U.S. gross domestic product. You'd cost us money by getting rid of them. MULVANEY: You're not going to get me to disagree on the value of

legal immigration. Illegal immigration is a different topic. I'm not going to debate a Center for American Progress report on your show.

CUOMO: You don't believe the numbers?

MULVANEY: Center for American Progress? Seriously, let's find a couple of different studies on both sides of the argument. You know that I can find something from some rightwing that has the --

CUOMO: You're the budget director. Do you believe that it wouldn't cost the country money if you got rid of DREAMers?

MULVANEY: I believe that it's bad for the nation to have bad illegal immigration policies, and that's what we have right now. You do have drugs coming in --

CUOMO: Do you think if you got rid of the DREAMers we would lose money?

MULVANEY: You need to solve our immigration problem.

CUOMO: Why won't you say, yes, we'd lose money? What's wrong with that? Why not say something that's positive about these people? Why can't you do it?

MULVANEY: Let me ask you a question. Why won't you just agree that we need a holistic immigration solution so that we don't have this problem so your kids and my kids aren't having this same debate 25 years from now? What's wrong with that?

CUOMO: What's wrong with it is you're lumping in something that is an exigency with a human cost right now with things that are not on the same sphere of importance. The border matters but you guys talk as if it was wide open. It isn't wide open. It's disrespectful to the good men and women who are keeping it safe.

MULVANEY: I can say this in good conscience because I was accused of the same thing. Lumping in an exigency is taking a DACA discussion and trying to force it into a fiscal government shutdown discussion. I got accused of the same thing supposedly for interjecting Obamacare into a financial discussion in 2013. That's an exigency. That's taking something that's not related.

Border security and the status of folks who came here legally are absolutely inextricably linked. Those two things go together. You have one because you have the other. Taking DACA and forcing it on whether or not we are going to pay the troops or the federal works for a week, that's an exigency.

CUOMO: But that didn't have to happen either, right? The Democrats offered to put something on the floor to keep the military paid and McConnell wouldn't put it on that floor. What about that?

MULVANEY: Those were a bunch -- you and I both know those were a bunch of procedural motions that both sides objected to and Mr. McConnell asked for quicker consideration instead of waiting until Monday. We could have opened this government, by the way, even after it closed as early as Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

[08:15:00]

But we've not talked about this. I absolutely believe there was a political motivation to deprive the president of that opportunity over his anniversary weekend, his first year in office of the ability to talk about all of the successes the administration has had in the first year, but they denied the ability to do that. I think that was a political motivation. But certainly, there's a bunch of different --

CUOMO: There's always political motivation in a shutdown. It was the same with you guys in 2013. You had a senator reading "Green Eggs and Ham" on the floor of the Senate. It was all about politics.

Let me ask you something --

MULVANEY: Yes, the difference though this time is, Chris, we won this time.

CUOMO: Well, if you see it as winning, get the 16 days and this incredible dysfunction of back and forth and dealing with the DREAMers or not dealing with them and what do you get in exchange, we'll see what kind of progress comes out of it. It certainly avoided a crisis, but for how long?

One bill or two? One ill or two? What are we going to get?

MULVANEY: I'm sorry in terms of what?

CUOMO: Quickly, I know you have to go. Will it be one bill or two? Will one be on the budgetary issues and one that is separate beyond immigration or will they be conjoined again?

MULVANEY: I don't know the answer to that question. In fairness, I know they'll all be discussed together because they are now sort of linked. So, there will be discussion about DACA, discussion about raising the caps, discussions about several other things. But whether or not it's one bill or two, I think it's truly -- it's probably -- it's probably not relevant.

CUOMO: And, of course, that's also up to McConnell and keeping his promise. And we'll see if the February 8th date if they don't make a deal and if he does trigger a vote.

MULVANEY: Yes, by the way, you should ask shutdown Schumer if that was the same promise that McConnell gave to Flake, because my understanding was that was going to happen anyway, that was a promise given to Senator Flake as part of a tax discussion. So, it's another thing that Schumer says that he got yesterday that he didn't get.

CUOMO: Shutdown Schumer. You know, it's the same hashtag that Russian bots are using all of the time. Just for what it's worth.

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: I'm sorry.

CUOMO: Russian bots.

MULVANEY: Yes, that's -- I'm not a Russian bot, I can assure you of that. I'm a director of Office of Management and Budget.

CUOMO: I believe you. I see you right now.

And it is good to see you as always. Mick, your always welcome here to discuss what matters to the American people.

MULVANEY: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well.

Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: All right. As you've been discussing, lawmakers are expected to tackle immigration reform in the next 15 days. So, how can a bipartisan deal be reached in that time?

Republican Senator John Thune joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[08:20:58] CUOMO: Just say what his position is on it. How do they get to stay? Who gets to stay?

MULVANEY: Again, depends on what we get in exchange. What do we get for a border security? What do we get for a wall?

Senator Schumer this weekend said that he gave the president everything he wanted on the wall. I've challenged that. Senator Schumer says that he insists that he gave it.

We'll have a discussion. Did he really offer $20 billion in appropriated funds or did he just offer $20 billion in authorized funds?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. That was White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney just moments ago, talking about the DREAMer negotiations and now that the government is shut -- the shutdown is over, now what?

Joining us now is Senator John Thune of South Dakota. He's the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Good morning, Senator?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Good morning, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: OK. You heard Mick Mulvaney there say the president's

position on the DREAMers depends on what we get in exchange. Is that a position?

THUNE: Well, I think what it represents is a negotiation and what he's saying essentially is there should be symmetry in this negotiation. The president has indicated that he wants to solve the DACA issue, so do most members of Congress, and we can get that done, but it does need to be coupled with border security measures so that we don't find ourselves in this position in the future.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I think you're right. I think you're right. It does represent a negotiation, but it's hard to negotiate with somebody when you don't know what their position is, or what position they ultimately want. Do you know today how the president feels about legalization for DREAMers versus citizenship, what the conditions are, who gets to stay?

THUNE: Well, I think part of that obviously, I believe that the president wants a deal on the DACA issue. He's made that very clear.

CAMEROTA: Right, but what kind of deal?

THUNE: Well, I mean that's going to depend on the negotiation. But I think what he wants to see is what most of us want to see and that is that they are protected. And, you know, whether or not that includes a path to citizenship and some form of legalization and those are all issues that they need to debate. But I think he wants to make sure that those young people who came here to this country through no fault of their own and are here illegally get protected status.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

THUNE: In exchange for that, obviously, wants to see border security measures and other things put into place that would ensure that we protect against illegal immigration in the future.

CAMEROTA: Those are big issues to have to tackle and solve over the next 16 days. I mean, what gives you --

THUNE: They are.

CAMEROTA: -- faith that you're going to be able to solve in 16 days what hasn't been solved for the better part of three decades?

THUNE: Well, I think there's an -- obviously, there's an intensity behind it now. We got this February 8th deadline, so I think these discussions are really going to intensify and that's good. I mean, it will bring some pressure on to get us to a solution, to get us to a result.

I'm not sure that this is going to be able to solve all of the issues surrounding immigration, and I think the question really is as they enter into this, does this end up being a fairly narrow solution or do other things get added in? And that's where I say, I think there's going to have to be a balanced approach and if there is some -- as one side brings in an issue, I think the other side is probably going to bring in an issue that creates that sort of structure and that sort of balance.

So, I'm hoping we can get a solution that obviously solves DACA and does some border security. What happens beyond that I think is a negotiation and remains to be seen.

CAMEROTA: Here's the problem with not knowing what the president's position is, as it was spelled out by leader Mitch McConnell. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm looking for something that President Trump supports, and he's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we are not just spinning our wheels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Mitch McConnell doesn't know where to begin.

THUNE: The leader is obviously prepared, as he said, to bring this issue to the fore. When he brings up is the base bill is yet to be determined and I think that will happen as a result of consultation with the administration and, of course, with the House of Representatives and the leaders John Cornyn, Dick Durbin, Steny Hoyer, Kevin McCarthy in the House and the bicameral, bipartisan discussions that are ongoing I think are designed to try and achieve consensus and then be able to put something on the president's desk that he will sign into law.

[08:25:10] But the thing you have to remember, Alisyn, is not just something that we have to get through the Senate. We have to get it through the house and it's important that everyone has a buy-in in these initial stages of the discussions.

CAMEROTA: Listen, this sounds like a catch-22. Mitch McConnell can't put together something without knowing what the president wants and the president isn't going to say what he wants, until Mitch McConnell puts something together. I mean, Mitch McConnell says he -- the president has not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign. So, what does that mean? Do you start with legalization? Do you start with citizenship? What?

THUNE: No, I think the leader does want, obviously input from the White House. He wants to know what the president will sign into law and now these discussions will get under way in earnest, I mean, I think right now with the deadline approaching, it will bring a new, as I said, intensity to these discussions, I hope -- and these negotiations, that I hope will lead to a result.

I mean, ultimately, we all know we have to solve this issue. It's one of many issues, frankly, that I've -- in addition to others, budget caps and some other things that we have to get done here in the next few weeks, and so this is -- this is a process, and I don't think we can probably ordain at the beginning of the process what it might look like at the end.

CAMEROTA: Is this the first order of business now that Congress -- and the government's reopened?

THUNE: Is what?

CAMEROTA: Is the fix for DREAMers the first order of business now?

THUNE: Well, it is. Sure, it is. Of course, coupled with, again, budget caps and a few other things that get into this. There are several things that are unresolved. One of which is the DACA issue, and I think that it will be teed up along with some other things and hopes that we can take a be in of these issues off the table and get to work on the other things that we need to do on the American people's agenda.

CAMEROTA: And from what you're hearing, is the latest thinking on Capitol Hill that you will find in the next 16 days a way for legalizing the DREAMers who are here permanently?

THUNE: I think we will and if we don't, that means what the leader said is he's going to put a bill on the floor. And if the bill goes on the floor of the United States Senate obviously, and there's an amendment process and what likely happens is whatever can get 60 votes passes the Senate, but again, you don't have a guarantee that it passes the House.

I think there's real value in having the discussions in advance between the House and the Senate Republicans and Democrats that would get a consensus position or bill that we could put on the floor that would get a big bipartisan majority and also be able to pass the House and be signed into law by the president. That's what we're going to find out in the next few days. If that doesn't happen, then it ends up being more of an open free for all on the floor of the Senate.

CAMEROTA: Will see more --

THUNE: But again, I want to get a result. I want to get a result. And I think most members of Congress do, as well.

CAMEROTA: Yes or no? Will we see more threats of a shut down in 16 days?

THUNE: We'll have t see. I mean, we're open for business again. The shutdown was obviously in my view, a big waste of time, but, you know, we're at least back at the table and that's where we need to be.

CAMEROTA: Senator John Thune, we appreciate you taking time to be on NEW DAY. Thanks so much.

THUNE: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chris? CUOMO: All right. So, what are we going to see in terms of cooperation? Will Democrats and Republicans be able to come together? Will they find a solution on anything, let alone DREAMers? Susan Collins says, I am part of the common sense caucus, we helped end the shutdown. We can work together.

A special talking stick may be the key, next.