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Senators Meet on Immigration; Trump Supports Pathway to Citizenship; Trump with Netanyahu in Davos; Money for Palestinians on the Table. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired January 25, 2018 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:33:35] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this morning on Capitol Hill, once again, a bipartisan group of lawmakers will sit down, try to has out a deal on dreamers and immigration.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the meeting comes after the president really shocked everyone --
BERMAN: With this statement on where he stands on a path to citizenship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you want citizenship for dreamers?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to -- we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen at some point in the future.
QUESTION: What does that mean? What do you mean morph into it?
TRUMP: Over a -- over a period -- over a period of ten to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Let's go to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill, where this meeting is about to take place.
And, Suzanne, they're going to have to deal with this new reality of a new position apparently from the president.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's true that you have a new position, but it is clearly one that was articulated by the president and really kind of throws things into flux here. You've got his chief of staff, John Kelly, who will be up here meeting with lawmakers, pushing for the conservative point of view, the conservative hard line agenda. Then you've got these bipartisan groups, the Common Sense Caucus,
meeting in about an hour or so, led by Collins and Manchin. I'm told that their job is to move the train forward, to keep on the deadlines, to keep the momentum here. The other bipartisan group that formed and met last night, their referees, Durbin and Cornyn, really meant to craft the legislation, the bipartisan legislation that hopefully will not only be to their convictions clear, but also satisfactory to the president who will sign on to something.
A lot of people wondering what does this mean, this option for the dreamers, potentially this path to citizenship that the president has now articulated. It has been a position in closed doors floated by moderate Republicans perhaps a compromise. Hardliners say no path to citizenship, renew permits every three years. Democrats are saying, let this play out, let this happen rather quickly. The dreamers have already paid dearly. Give them a quick path to citizenship.
[09:35:22] Well, reaction from many here, including Senator Lindsey Graham, a moderate Republican, who has been begging for leadership from the president saying here, this will greatly help the Senate efforts to craft a proposal which President Trump can sign into law. His statement represents presidential leadership on immigration that will allow us to solve a difficult problem. I truly appreciate President Trump making it clear that he supports a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. This will greatly help the Senate efforts to craft a proposal which President Trump can sign into law.
We also heard from Senator Tom Cotton who tweeted that he did not actually mention this path to citizenship, but praising the president for other aspects that might be part of these discussions.
But, John and Poppy, as you know, this is going to be a very significant sticking point and people are very far apart in terms of that very controversial issue.
HARLOW: Suzanne, on The Hill, thank you very much.
Joining us now, our political panel, Karoun Demirjian. CNN political commentator David Swerdlick is also here. And national political reporter at RealClearPolitics, Caitlin Huey-Burns.
Karoun, to you. I would have paid to see Steven Miller's face when our Pamela Brown asked him that question about a path to citizenship for dreamers, and then -- and then the president saying what he did. I mean, so can we take this as the final word? Is this it, yes, path to citizenship, or is this going to flip-flop in the day?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the pattern thus far has been, nothing is the final word until the billings are across the -- moving across D.C. and getting signed by the president, which we are very, very, very far away from at this point. There will probably be pressure and discussions, and clearly there's a splintering between -- in the White House between various people and the president.
But you saw members of Congress, Lindsey Graham in particular on Twitter yesterday trying to seize this moment and get it on the record.
DEMIRJIAN: He started this new hash tag trumpsdreamers basically on Twitter that is trying to basically encapsulate it and make this -- you know, put this both in print and praise Trump also and say this is the breakthrough and trying to lock him into this before they lose him again. So that's a recognition of the fact that this has been a really shifting discussion where you don't have the same line necessarily coming out of the White House, depending on who in the White House you're speaking to. And that's problematic when you're going to negotiations like this.
But we'll see what Kelly says today in those negations where he'll be the one in the room, not the president.
BERMAN: You want to lock him down because, you know, it's different. And as policy wonk Poppy Harlow points out to me, look, this is different than the Goodlatte bill. This is different than what House conservatives are pushing for, right?
HARLOW: Really different. That never would allow a path to citizenship. That would be three-year work visas for these dreamers that they can consistently renew but never citizenship.
BERMAN: And it's very different than what Breitbart wants.
BERMAN: And a lot of people on that side of this debate. Look at the headlines here. I think we can put them up on the screen for you. Amnesty Don suggests citizenship for what Breitbart likes to call illegal aliens. You know, so, Caitlin, the lines being drawn here, I'm very curious to see if the president, if he chooses to, can bring some of these doubters over to his side.
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. Well, what's interesting here, there are multiple factions within the Republican Party. And, remember, we're talking about the Senate right now, right? We are not even in discussions with the House at this point, which I think is really interesting because we have seen bipartisan legislation come from the Senate only to be dismissed entirely by the House of Representatives.
When we're talking about the president's leeway with his base of immigration, I mean this is one issue that he campaigned very hard line on consistently. But just talking to Republicans and some supporters of the president, you get the sense that, if they get something in exchange for something on DACA, that that could allow the president to make the case that I've, you know, championed immigration reforms that haven't been done by my predecessors. If they can allow him that.
But, again, the question is, what in exchange? HARLOW: Yes.
HUEY-BURNS: And there are lots of differences around border security, what that means, what the wall would mean, you know, whether those are the same thing and also chain migration, diversity lottery visas and the other elements that will certainly be required, I think, for some kind of deal.
HARLOW: I just -- I don't know if I'm sold on, OK, putting $25 billion, David Swerdlick, back on the table for the wall, which is what was there last week when all of this fell apart, is going to do it for the president's base, right? Because, remember, he promised them, not only would there be this big, beautiful wall go all the way across and it would be paid for by Mexico. What do you think?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. No, I think that right. I think, at this point, Republicans are fighting amongst themselves about how much ransom they're going to extract from Democrats for -- to sort of save the fate of the dreamers.
[09:40:03] The president is being pulled in two directions. On the one hand, his base wants him tough on immigration. I'm surprised Breitbart went with "amnesty Don" instead of the more alliterative "DACA Don," right? At the same time, you have the president, who wants to be seen as this sort of benevolent daddy figure. Like, oh, these DACA kids are great, let's keep them here in the United States. So you -- they float out a trial balloon like 10 to 12 years horizon for citizenship, then you add on some of the things that Caitlin just mentioned, family migration, border wall funding, maybe forcing Democrats to give up on the visa lottery, see how much they can extract in exchange for not having the dreamers be sent back to their home countries.
BERMAN: Guys, shifting gears to the Russia investigation right now and the politics surrounding it. Some of the arguments made by those critical of the investigation seem to have taken something of a hit over the last 24 hours.
BERMAN: Number one, it wasn't just the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that were lost. You know, a whole bunch of people in the FBI had their text messages lost. (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: Thousands and thousands. Also the secret society text message back and forth, unclear what the context is. Might have been a joke, you know, right there.
But, you know, Karoun, has or have those trying to sew doubt on this investigation, have they already succeeded? Have they created the reasonable doubt they're looking for within specifically the president's own supporters?
DEMIRJIAN: Well, the question has to be to what end, right? I mean if the reasonable doubt is supposed to undermine support for Mueller's probe, then, no, you still have a number of people in the GOP even saying that Mueller should be allowed to proceed with that to its end, whatever that is. And he's still going. So it's not like this has actually dismantled the scrutiny about the allegations about whether the president had connections to Russian officials.
But if the question is, you know, in the public mind, is there something now to seize on? Republicans have seized on many of these particulars of ambiguity. And at baseline this is questionable. I mean Mueller did let these people go from his team because of the texts that were being exchanged. It's not like there's, you know, no problem here. There's a problem here.
But the GOP has seized on many different things, some of which have stuck, some of which, like the ones in the last 24 hours or so, have not stuck so well. But it's -- they're speaking to their base if they're speaking to people who want to have reasons to try to absolve the president of whatever these investigations may find and call those into question, then these are --these are little crumbs that can be, you know, that can be seized upon in that way.
DEMIRJIAN: I don't think you're going to see this stopped just because you had some setbacks and some false moves this week potentially. I think that we will see more -- there are more text messages that members of Congress have their hands on. We'll see these things continue to come out. And as the fever pitch around Mueller's probe grows and nears the president, probably we'll see this with even greater frequency because there's going to be that political dispute, no matter what the facts are that they find.
HARLOW: Control room, don't kill me, but I have to get this in very quickly as they're telling us to wrap it up. You guys, Oprah just coming out with a new interview where for the first time she directly addresses all of this talk about her possibly running for president in 2020. Let me just read this really quickly to you. She just told "In Style" magazine, I've always felt very secure an confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it's not something that interests me. I don't have the DNA for it.
Very quickly, Caitlin? So --
HUEY-BURNS: Well, that looks like a no to me. A rare --
HARLOW: Or is it a political answer, like John thinks it is.
HUEY-BURNS: Is this a Sherman-esque kind of deal or --
BERMAN: No, it's not Sherman-esque. I don't think she's going to run. But it's not Sherman-esque. Go ahead. Sorry.
I was surprised when this was first bubbling up how many Democrats I talked to that were really enthusiastic about her running. And that kind of showed the dearth of leadership in the Democratic Party. But, you know, she does have a point, that this would be an incredible endeavor, unlike anything she's ever done before. And saying you don't have the DNA for something, I think is sending those signals. But, still a long way to go.
HARLOW: We'll see.
BERMAN: All right, Karoun, David, Caitlin, guys, thank you, very, very much.
HARLOW: Thanks, guys.
All right, another high profile meeting -- very high profile on the world stage for the president. He's sitting down momentarily with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. You will see that live.
There is the prime minister moments ago.
BERMAN: And we also we do have breaking news on the Mueller investigation. Some new documents from the White House. Stick around. We'll tell you what they are.
[09:47:36] HARLOW: All right, what are you looking at? Well, there you have it, President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just ahead of their fourth meeting since President Trump was elected to office. Let's listen in.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. It's great to be with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We've developed a great relationship, both as countries where I think it's never been stronger, and I can honestly say that, and also as personal friends. We have discussions going with Israel on many things, including trade.
But the big move and something that was very historic and very important was the fact that we will be moving our embassy, as you know, to Jerusalem. And as we also know, that is way ahead of schedule by years. And we anticipate having a small version of it open sometime next year. So that's a long time ahead of schedule. It's an honor. And it's a great honor to be with you.
Thank you very much.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Mr. President. (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
NETANYAHU: Mr. President, I want to say something, because this is the first meeting we've had since your historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the embassy, and now to expedite the movement of the embassy to Jerusalem. And I want to say that this is an historic decision that will be forever etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come.
People say that this pushes peace backward. I say it pushes peace forward because it recognizes history, it recognizes the (INAUDIBLE) reality and that peace can only be built on the basis of truth. By recognizing this history, you've made history. And we will always remember that.
We also support you completely and your stalwart position on the Iran nuclear deal. You said it's a disastrous deal. You've said that if its fatal flaws are not fixed, that you should walk away from it. And I want you to know that if you decide to do that, then we will back you all the way.
We also appreciate the fact that you confront Iran's aggression with us and with other parties in the region as never before. I've never seen the realistic alliance between the United States, Israel and your other allies in the region as strong, as unified as it is under your leadership.
[09:50:16] And the last point is, you stood up for Israel at the U.N. in remarkable rock solid support. This is a place, it's a house of slander against Israel and against the United States. And by word and deed, you have told them, enough is enough.
As you finish your first year in office, I want to say that I look forward to continuing our remarkable, tremendous friendship in the years ahead. And I want to express the appreciation of the people of Israel to you.
Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Bibi. Thank you. My honor.
I have to say, on the United Nations, we were pretty much out in the wilderness by ourselves, the United States, and we heard every country was going to be against us. And it was very interesting. I said, you know, we give billions and billions of dollars to these countries. It amounts to hundreds of millions and sometimes into the billions for certain countries and they vote against us. And I made a very simple statement that I'm watching. I'm watching.
And we ended up getting 68 votes, either yes or we'll take a neutral position, which was OK too.
NETANYAHU: Which is a yes (ph).
TRUMP: But -- which was essentially a yes, is right. But we ended up getting a lot of votes that we were -- I would say virtually we were going to get none. And we give billions of dollars away every year to countries and in many cases those countries don't even support us. They don't support the United States. Israel has always supported the United States. So what I did with Jerusalem was my honor.
And hopefully we can do something with peace. I would love to see it. You know, if you look back at the various peace proposals, and they are endless, and I spoke to some of the people involved, and I said, did you ever talk about the vast amounts of funds, money, that we give to the Palestinians? We give, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars. And they said, we never talk. Well, we do talk about it. And when they disrespected us a week ago by
not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands, that money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they're going to have to want to make peace too, or we're going to have nothing to do with it any longer.
This was never brought up by other negotiators, but it's brought up by me. So I will say that the hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table so we don't have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem. We took it off the table. We don't have to talk about it anymore.
You win (ph) one point and you'll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place. I don't know that it ever will take place. But they have to respect the process also and they have to respect the fact that the U.S. has given tremendous support to them over the years, in terms of monetary support and other support.
So we'll see what happens with the peace process, but respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we're just not going any further.
Thank you all very much.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: Speak up, Steve, that's not like you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you (INAUDIBLE) any sort of Middle East peace plan, a proposal?
TRUMP: Well, we'll see what happens. Yes, we have a proposal for peace. It's a great proposal for the Palestinians. I think it's a very good proposal for business. It covers a lot of the things that were over the years discussed and agreed on. But the fact is, I think you know this better than anybody, there was never any deals that came close because Jerusalem, you could never get past Jerusalem.
So when people said, oh, I sent it back, I didn't sent it back, I helped it, because by taking it off the table, that was the toughest issue. And Israel will pay for that. Look, Israel, something's going to happen. They'll do something that's going to be a very good thing. But they want to make peace and I hope the Palestinians want to make peace. And if they do, everybody's going to be very happy in the end. We'll see what happens to them. We're going to see what happens.
[09:55:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any comment about (INAUDIBLE) remarks (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are they going to pay for it?
TRUMP: No, I didn't really read his remark personally. I think I'm probably better off not seeing them. But we've done a lot to them and hopefully they're going to make peace for their people.
You know what, it's many years of killing people. It's many years of killing each other. They have to be tired and disgusted of it. So let's see what happens. I think eventually very sound minds, I hope sound minds, are going to prevail and it would be a great achievement (INAUDIBLE). I've said it from day one, if we could make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. If we do that, I would consider that one of our truly great achievements.
But the money is on the table. You know, the money was never on the table. I tell you up front, we give them tremendous amounts, hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That money is on the table because why should we do that as a country if they're doing nothing for us? And what we want to do for them is help them. We want to create peace and save lives. And we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. But the money is on the table.
Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you taking the (INAUDIBLE) right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you -- are you (INAUDIBLE) now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're heading out. (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, thank you. Thank you.
BERMAN: Very interesting to see President Donald Trump and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, clearly very close personally.
BERMAN: Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the relationship really has never been stronger between the U.S. and Israel. The president saying the same thing.
Just one tidbit of news there. President Trump saying out loud for the first time that a small embassy, a small U.S. embassy will be open in Jerusalem next year in 2019. Vice President Pence had said next year. Now we know, small embassy in Jerusalem next year.
The president also said that there's a peace deal on the table. HARLOW: Yes, that was --
BERMAN: The U.S. has a peace deal. I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that.
Joining us again, Admiral John Kirby. Also with us, Daniel Kurtzer, former ambassador to both Israel and Egypt.
Ambassador, first to you, just your general reaction from what you just saw?
DANIEL KURTZER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, as you suggested, John, they enjoy a terrific relationship. And that's a good thing when the prime minister of Israel and the president of the United States get along so well. There's almost a mind meld between them.
And for both of them, it's very important for their domestic audiences. Of course it doesn't resolve any of the major issues that are on the table. The president suggested that there's going to be a peace plan, but we haven't seen it yet.
KURTZER: And the Palestinians have said the United States is not a partner. So the meeting is faded to succeed, but the question is how much progress they'll make at it.
HARLOW: We know, admiral, how well the president responds to flattery, and he certainly just got a whole lot of it on camera from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying by recognizing history, you have made history, calling their friendship remarkable and tremendous. And then the president, on the substantive side, talking about a peace deal he says is on the table between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He said, quote, everyone will be very happy in the end. And he is still insisting that by what he calls taking Jerusalem off the table, by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, he has helped the process. That is certainly not how the Palestinians see it.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No, not at all. And Mahmoud Abbas has made it very clear that the United States has now removed itself as any -- in any kind of mediation role in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. We've removed our leadership. We've removed any influence that we might have had.
He didn't take Jerusalem off the table. He made it more of an issue by declaring it as the capital of Israel, although that's been said before by presidents, and by saying he's going to move the embassy there.
Look, the status -- the final status of Jerusalem was always supposed to be, according to the U.N. process, settled by the parties, by the two parties, at the final negotiations. That was the whole process in place. By doing what he did, and because the United States had, until recently, such influence, he actually made it more of an issue and set back any potential peace process going forward. BERMAN: Admiral, 30 seconds left. You know he said Jerusalem's off the
table, and does that mean that the Palestinians won't get their capital in east Jerusalem? Because that I don't believe has exactly been discussed just yet.
BERMAN: And he also said the Israelis will have to give something.
KIRBY: Yes, no, it's not going to go away for the Palestinians. It's still going to be an issue for them and they're going to continue to want to seek that. And then, you know, again, I -- on where this goes with Israel, I don't know. Clearly what he's done, though, is by declaring Jerusalem the capital and by saying he's going to move the embassy, he's given Israel everything and gotten nothing in return from Israel. I find it interesting that keeps talking about the money to the Palestinians, which is really humanitarian aid and assistance more than anything, and he didn't talk about all of the money and aid we give to Israel, which is largely on a military defense program.
HARLOW: That's a very salient, important point. Thank you, admiral, we appreciate it. Ambassador, thank you so much.
[10:00:02] Let's go straight to our Jeff Zeleny, of course our senior White House correspondent. He's following all of this with the president in Davos.
And we're getting some more reaction to these two key meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and Netanyahu. What are you hearing?