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CNN TONIGHT

Government Shuts Down At Midnight If Congress Fails To Act; Senate In Recess Until 12:01 AM ET; Chief Of Staff Kelly Made Aware Of Some What FBI Learned; White House: We Don't Take Omarosa's Comments Very Seriously; Russian Presidential Candidate Reveals Her Thoughts Of Trump; Minutes Away From Government Shutdown. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired February 8, 2018 - 23:00   ET

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


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us. 11:00 p.m. on the east coast, breaking news, and the federal government set to shut down in one hour, midnight eastern, because congress fails to pass a budget deal. We were just going through the 17 days ago. I'm getting to Capitol Hill and CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil hello to you. Another long night for you my friend. Officially an hour away from the shutdown. But you have breaking news from the senate floor, what's the latest.

PHIL MATTINGLY, NEW YORK BASED CNN CORRESPONDENT: The senate is now in recess, Don. All that means is the senate will not gavel back into session, they will not have any votes, and there will be no passage of a spending deal before midnight. In fact it's it will be after midnight when the senate actually gavel back into session. It will be a new day which procedurally will allow them to hold the 1:00 a.m. vote we've been talking about the last couple of hours. That is the next step. How did we actually get to this point? Keep in mind senate leaders, Republicans and Democrats say they know they have the votes to pass this? Why has it nothing moved forward? The crux of the issue is Senator Rand Paul wants vote on an amendment that restores the budget caps which this does away with. Senator Rand Paul making clear this deal was crafted last minute, it was put on the floor and filed at the last minute. There have been no amendments allowed on either side. He is asking for one simple vote. Republican leaders are not going to give it to him. Until they give it to him he is not yielding back any time. And we are clearly headed to a shutdown.

The issue right now is Republican leaders and Democratic leaders are very concerned if you open up the deal, if you start to give people amendments that things unravel. Senator Schumer making clear if Senator Paul wants a vote I have guys wanting votes as well. As such they have resisted the request to give Senator Paul amendment. Now what this means going forward is this. There is a time agreement, a time that will laps over the course of the next two hours allowing them to start moving in the United States senate. That is after the shutdown deadline. But the senate will move and will pass something at some point in the early morning hours likely around two or three. Another big issue is that doesn't end the game. It gets sent back across the capitol where there are other issues.

House Democrats are still making very clear they are frustrated that there is no DACA resolution in sight. Immigration is not dealt with and not given a firm enough commitment in their words that the speaker will address the issue at some point in the near future. Basically the senate has the votes. But hasn't been able to move anything forward yet. The house, nobody sure if they have the votes but haven't gotten anything to move on yet. The best case scenario as it currently stands is this probably be around about a 5 to 6 hour shutdown. That is when the house is scheduled to have their vote. Worst case, the house doesn't have the votes and we move to full blown shutdown. But as you know Don, we seem to be doing this every 17 days or so.

LEMON: You're much too young to remember Abbott and Costello, who is on first?

MATTINGLY: I was just going to say. This was a major breakthrough in the sense of taking major crisis off the table, moving shutdown to shut down. Dealing with debt ceiling, all this stuff taken off the table for a lengthy period of time. It was a bipartisan deal and while announced by the senate Republican and Democratic leaders. The house Republican and Democratic leaders were very involved in crafting the deal from the beginning and yet they still haven't figured out a way to avoid a shutdown, because of the last-minute nature. Because they waited until the last second to actually move this through. It underscores the reason there is frustration with congress. But there are a lot of members who are very frustrated right now that it got to this point. And frankly, Don, it keeps getting to this point even when they feel like they.

LEMON: Even they waited until the last minute. Everyone thought OK this is going to happen. This was not expected, right.

MATTINGLY: No it wasn't. Look, if you went into this morning everything that people paid attention to was in the house. That was the question. Where are the house Democrats going to be? Keep in mind, Speaker Paul Ryan, folks on the right of his conference are very concerned not unlike Senator Paul about the extent of the spending. $300 billion in the spending increases on the budget side. Another $200 billion in one time spending increases things like disaster relief. There is going to be a core group of 34 to maybe 50 Republicans voting against it. That means leader Pelosi and the Democrats are going to need to give some votes to get it across the finish line. Leader Pelosi exclusively told her members don't telegraph where you are on this. Don't let us lose leverage. Because of that, Republican leaders are still in the dark as to whether or not they have the votes. No, we didn't think we would have the issue in the senate. That is very true. We knew there were issues in the house. And at this point those aren't resolved.

LEMON: I don't know how you guys do live shots with another reporter I can hear echoing behind you. So nice job.

[23:05:00] Stick around because we'll need you. Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill for us again at the capitol with another government shutdown looming. I want to bring in CNN contributor and Frank Bruni and op-ed columnist for the "The New York Times." How are you?

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: I am good.

LEMON: Have you ever seen things this dysfunctional in Washington.

BRUNI: Yes. I was thinking of the who here. Some change in the new meet the new Washington same as the old Washington. We have seen this before. We had a shutdown a lot of this stuff during the Obama years. But it needs to be said that Donald Trump supposedly came to Washington to positively disrupt it and to get us away from the old (inaudible) dysfunctional ways. Here we are with a Washington that looks at least dysfunctional and maybe more so.

LEMON: Well to the point, right, and just a few things that happen. This is just since the last government shutdown.

BRUNI: 17 days ago.

LEMON: 17 days ago, Monday January 22nd. Here is what we found out. The President said he would like to testify before Mueller under oath. His lawyers said not so fast. The President want to the Davos. Melania went to Florida. We learned the President tried to fire Special Counsel Mueller last June. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe out at the FBI. The state of the union address happened. The President defied his own DOJ and FBI and released the Nunes memo. The President accused Democrats of being treasonous and un-American for not applauding his state of the union speech. The President wants a military parade. The Pentagon is planning it. Chief of staff Kelly suggested immigrants who didn't sign up for DACA didn't get off the couch. House Intel -- my gosh how much more do we have in? They sent a Democrats memo to White House. Bannon and Lewandowsky refused to testify on the hill. Possible subpoenas coming. The stock market hit all time high and plunged 10 percent. The White House staff -- the staff secretary out amid domestic violence allegations. Still no debate on the DACA vote. Because of the last shutdown. I mean less than an hour away. I can't believe all this happened, I am exhausted, my head is spinning. Is yours.

BRUNI: It has been spinning ever since a certain day a year ago in November. But that crawl, the list you just read, the crawl that came down, in a weird way that is this administration's and Donald Trump's saving grace. We talked about this before. So much happens. If you took one or two things in a two or three, week period. They would be the discussion for a week, for a month. Donald Trump calling Democrats treasonous. Certainly these current Rob Porter story, because it's going away faster than it should. Because it is going to be a crawl like the one you just showed three weeks from now that will be just as robust. Very little sticks in the way it should to Donald Trump and his administration, because it happens in this blizzard of stuff. And it all becomes just a kind of field of confusing white to everyone.

LEMON: OK. So then, you think -- you think the Porter thing will go away. Maybe you're right.

BRUNI: Yes. Only because the next scandal will be here in three days. The next after that in four days and a whole bunch of incidental stuff between them. The Porter things shouldn't go away. I think it is a very serious thing, because it is clear that multiple people in the White House including first and foremost John Kelly knew about this stuff in the past. This they stuff stared at the details of this if they didn't. And they decide to do didn't sound like much, the domestic violence didn't matter that much. They decided to ignore it, because they just had other things they wanted to look at. I was thinking, last time you and I talked in the show was right after a terrific Philadelphia eagle's player was on. You had a great conversation with him. In pro football, sport all about brutality. If you are guilty of domestic violence, you say I had a couple of games. The Dallas cowboys lost a star running back for several games, because of domestic violence. He should gone as an intern in the White House during that period. Because domestic violence doesn't get rejected from the Oval office.

LEMON: What happens to Kelly do you think.

BRUNI: What happens to Kelly?

LEMON: Does he weather it?

BRUNI: I don't think this administration can stand too much more turnover. There's been more turnover in its first year plus than any other administration. But John Kelly is one of the most fascinating stories of these administration, because when he came in, I think you and I talk about this, when he came in, he was put in that Mattis, McMaster, Gary Cohn box of one of the stable even-keeled adults. He has repeatedly made news in a way that has been smirched the administration, John Kelly. He has proven to be the opposite of what he was supposed to be.

LEMON: He was supposed to be putting out fires and he is starting then.

BRUNI: Just a couple days ago we are talking about his incredible immigration remark about how people were too lazy etcetera. And now we are talking about the fact that he had a guy accused of domestic violence with much evidence supporting that, it couldn't get a security clearance and he was doing nothing about. He was just turning and looking the other way.

LEMON: I do feel like we are living in the Saturday night live skit where nothing matters. Where it keeps going on and on. Adding insult to injury.

[23:10:00] Which I think is unbelievable to me is the communications Director is involved romantically with Rob Porter. She reportedly helped draft the original statement that praised him talked what a great guy and employee he was. But then they said she recused from some of the conversations. Should she have been anywhere near the situation.

BRUNI: That is a rhetorical question. Of course she shouldn't have. There are not the sorts of clear -- lines that exist for a reason in most administrations and White Houses seem not to exist in this one. LEMON: And most businesses and companies, right?

BRUNI: Yes, I mean Donald Trump and the people around him make up the rules as they go along. There are certain people seem to have favored status. And Hope Hicks is long one of them. She is coming back in the news again and again in a way that is not looking good for the administration. But she clearly has favored status where she doesn't have to behave in the manner that most would be expected to.

LEMON: Always fascinating conversation. Thank you, Frank Bruni.

BRUNI: Thank you.

LEMON: Appreciate it. Straight ahead more on the breaking news, the government is set to shut down in less than an hour, midnight eastern. The congress can't reach a last minute budget deal. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He is going to joins us next. Also ahead, she is back. Can't believe this. Amarosa. I knew I was going to say this. The apprentice star turn White House aide, who was fired back on reality TV tearfully talking about her fears of President Trump's constant tweeting. Really? This is the woman who said, you're going to have to bow down if he becomes President. Now she is saying it's a calling. I was fearful. Girl, bye.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:19] LEMON: Breaking news tonight the clock ticking down closer to the latest government shutdown. The impasse on the senate floor appears to be placing that announced bipartisan deal by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer on hold. I want to bring in now Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. Senator, it's a pleasure to have you on.

JEFF MERKLEY, DEMOCRATIC SENATOR: Good to be here.

LEMON: The last time we spoke was January 19th, right before the last shutdown. Here we are. Why is this happening again, Senator?

MERKLEY: I'll tell you last time we spoke we are pushing for a three- day continuing resolution, the Democrats were to keep the government open and keep people negotiating intensely. I predicted then the negotiations wouldn't really get serious until the last couple of days of a continuing resolution. And that is exactly what's happened. Here we are at the at last minute a big bill coming out just a few hours ago, people trying to go through and understand what's in it. Of course the last moment speech and protest by Rand Paul, to make a very important point I might add.

LEMON: Yes. So Senator, how are you going to explain this to your constituents back home?

MERKLEY: Well back home in Oregon there are a couple of things that people really care about that aren't part of this bill. One of the key things is that despite the massive aid to Texas and Puerto Rico and Florida and Virgin Islands. There is nothing addresses the massive fires that went through the northwest last summer and to prepare to stop those fires this coming summer. That is a big deal that has been left out of this bill. And second, a lot of concern that our community members, our dreamers, who have been treated so poorly by the administration are going to be left in limbo for an additional period. Those things matters. Meanwhile, I'm going to say there is a whole bunch of things in this bill that I fought for really important as well, for example, keeping the health clinics open. And proceeding to address the opioid epidemic. Those are some good things. It's got some very good things in it.

LEMON: So Senator tonight, Senator Rand Paul called out his fellow Republicans for hypocrisy in the budget plan after the GOP criticized President Barack Obama for adding to the U.S. deficit during his time in his office. Is he right?

MERKLEY: He is absolutely right. We can go back to when the Republican team was saying let's spend the government until it's so small it is brock and won't be able to spend anymore. Then the Democrats come into office and say we're sorry there is no way to address national problems. We're block anything you do to try to take on health care, education, and infrastructure. And then when they're back in office they start spending like drunken sailors. This bill represents an increase of about $150 billion a year, or another 1.5 trillion over ten years. You add that what they did on taxes that is another $3 trillion manufactured out of nowhere.

LEMON: listen, Paul also said -- he said the American people are going to be upset that conservatives were elected are not much different than the people they're criticizing. Is this an example of campaigning is different than governing, do you think?

MERKLEY: Well, I've always believed in the principle, you campaign on that things you believe in and then you fight for the things you campaigned on. That doesn't seem to be the vision of the Republican Party.

LEMON: Immigration, it's not even part of this deal. Everyone thought since DACA was taken out that this wouldn't happen. Where does it all go from here?

MERKLEY: Everything depends upon President Trump. President Trump, when he wants to say I'm the deal maker, as he did a couple of weeks ago when he brought in the house and the senate and the Republicans and Democrats and said, you all work out a deal, bring it to me I'll sign whatever you have, I'll take the heat, that individual has disappeared. Instead we have the President who wants to refer to all immigrants as if they're all gang members. And that sounds like someone who has turned to Breitbart and decided to drive a campaign issue right into November by degrading the enormous contribution immigrants are making to our country. If that is the mode he is in there is not going to be a deal successful over restoring legal status for the dreamers.

LEMON: I just want to ask you a little bit more about that. Why do you say it depends on him? I had Mazie Hirono on earlier. She said the less the President is involved in this process the more opportunity it has to be better and to come to some sort of agreement. [23:20:07] MERKLEY: It does show the craziness of the situation. But

here is why I'm describing it this way. When we pass the immigration deal in 2013 we had members of the Republican caucus and the Democratic caucus come together, work out a deal, they had a stake in it. They were determined to do it and they had a President who supported it. But to get the 60 votes you have to have cooperation of the Republican leadership. Otherwise Rand Paul calls up Mitch McConnell or the President calls him and says I'm ok with 55 or 56 votes, but don't let it be 60, because I want this issue as a campaign issue. I want to keep denigrating immigrants. I want to keep portraying them as gang members. I think that is our best bet so I don't want a deal. If that happens there won't be 60 votes in the senate.

LEMON: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate it.

MERKLEY: You're welcome, good to be with you Don.

LEMON: You as well. When we come back under an hour until the government shuts down. And who is blame? And Omarosa? How do you say it? Who is always saying the President's praises now going after him about his tweets and describing the situation inside the White House as bad? What's going on here? That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:25:10] LEMON: So we have breaking news. A source says Rob Porter was interviewed by the FBI in the fall and they brought up what the ex-wives had alleged. Porter then told White House Counsel Don McGahn about it. Also in the fall, the chief of staff John Kelly was made aware of some of what the FBI had learned when Kelly inquired about status of some security clearances. Now, again, Porter denied the allegations. I want to bring in now CNN political commentator Scott Jennings and Symone Sanders. Listen, no matter how you slice it, this is a very troubling story. Good evening to both of you. Scott I'm starting with you. I have to ask you about this new reporting by CN's Pamela Brown about Rob Porter interview with the FBI and what John Kelly and John McGahn were told. Should Porter have been fired then and there?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certainly if the FBI thought that the allegations were credible enough to bring forward, and if Porter then misled as some are saying chief of staff Kelly and the White House counsel McGahn about what was said in the interview, absolutely. That is one thing you will hear if you talk to people in the White House tonight, because they feel like Porter really did mislead them. I'd like to know what Porter told the FBI, I like to know if he misled them as well. These time line has been laid out and the reporting tonight is extremely troubling. And the White House I think still has work to do to try to clean up precisely who knew what and when.

Again if you talk to people in the White House there is a lot of frustration. They feel some of this has been scrambled about when John Kelly knew things and when he did not. But at the end of the day you cannot deny this is a major P.R. debacle in the White House. I'm glad Rob Porter is ultimately gone. But this has been a torturous story. Nobody with this kind of stuff in their background should be in a position of trust.

LEMON: You mention a time line but the White House won't give the time line, because they're afraid it makes them look bad.

JENNINGS: There are things going on in this time line that we don't know. What I would advise the White House to do is sometimes letting people, the American people, the press look under the hood of the security clearance process is a good thing. And if there are things that aren't getting out that they feel like would help clarify this situation that would be good. Look, the bad actor here is Rob Porter. He clearly did something he shouldn't done. It was a terrible thing. So what the White House has some explaining to do on is how does the security clearance process work? How did it work with Porter? And why wasn't it acted upon?

LEMON: John Kelly is not a bad actor, after a year you can't get a permanent security clearance?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Scott is being generous. He is being extremely generous. Too generous. The fact of the matter is Rob Porter is a bad actor. And John Kelly. And anyone else who excused and covered up this behavior. This is not rocket science. It's not just Rob Porter for that matter that is been operating with a temporary security clearance at the White House. Because there is some reason they cannot get a real security clearance. Jared Kushner as well. And 13 other individuals who don't have security clearances handling sensitive information for this country in the White House. This is a problem. I don't buy it not more a minute that the White House didn't know. It should be inexcusable at any level for something like -- I don't care if you are a Rhode scholar if you are beating on your wife or anyone else, you don't deserve to serve the American people.

LEMON: Let me say this. They say they were misled by Porter. Well they had the information. The FBI said there were orders of protection. An order of protection. There is the evidence. There were two different wives that there were allegations against. I mean, if you have the evidence laid out in front of you, then how can you be misled by Rob Porter? There is the evidence. The facts. And then how someone spins them. Scott?

JENNINGS: Yes, I think there is some dispute if you talk to White House people about exactly what they knew from the FBI. Now what I think is frankly a more troubling.

LEMON: Is it because they don't trust the FBI even if --

JENNINGS: Porter had been involved with separately from the FBI called the White House and said these things happened to me which further complicates the overall time line. One thing to remember about the security clearance process. It's not instantaneous process. It does take time for people who even had relatively uncomplicated backgrounds. It is not totally unusual. This one took a long time and clearly there were issues at play that they should have looked into it.

SANDERS: Son, I think the fact of the matter here is this. To be clear Porter is no longer at the White House not because the White House felt it was egregious of what he was accused of they need to excuse him. But because of media pressure, he excuse himself and even afterwards the chief of staff sent out a statement basically saying we stand with him.

LEMON: But Symone, January of last year, the White House reportedly told FBI, I mean the ex-wives told the FBI.

SANDERS: Exactly which is why this is problematic. What this says to me, this is a larger issue. We have had a national reckoning with the #metoo movement. But the fact of the matter is that men in power are still protecting toxic men who are having access to power.

LEMON: Is this an old boy's club Symone?

SANDERS: It's an old boy's club. I think we have to unpack it, we have to speak very frankly and intentionally about that. I just do not understand -- I think there are many folks across the country, especially women, asking themselves today how could Rob Porter be allowed to continue to operate in that magnitude at the White House and folks continue to support him?

LEMON: I got to switch gears here so let's move on now. I want to talk about the former White House aide. Omarosa.

SANDERS: It is black history month we got to talk about Omarosa? All right. I'm just saying. It is black history month.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Guys.

SANDERS: We didn't go to the mat to get Negro history week and eventually turning into a black history month to talk about Omarosa and her apology tour and salvaging her reputation on a reality TV show. Not during black history month, Don.

LEMON: Ok.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: These are the facts. Scott, you going to back me up.

LEMON: All right. Sorry the guys in the studio are not helping let me get the story.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That was terrific. That was a terrific decision. I'm frankly amazed with someone is allowed to use a position of public trust to further enrich themselves. I think it devalues the office.

LEMON: She is not the only -- all right listen as much as I'm laughing at Omarosa she is not only one using the public office to enrich themselves personally. There are lots of people in this administration, including the President.

SANDERS: Every other white man that is been fired from the White House.

LEMON: Wow! Let's get the story in. Omarosa is now on the celebrity show celebrity big brother I think on CBS, she has been giving insight into the time at the Trump administration. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was haunted by tweets every day. Like what is he going to tweet? Does anybody say to him, what are you doing?

And I tried to be that person. And then all of the people around him attacked me.

Should we be worried?

Don't say that. Because we are worried, but I need you to say now it's going to be ok.

No it's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Okay. So.

SANDERS: I don't think it's going to be ok either.

LEMON: But --

JENNINGS: Wait, whoa, whoa? Why is he whispering? She is on national television. Who does she think is not going to hear her? I bet if you tried to produce a memos of all the things she accomplished at the White House you couldn't fill up a piece of paper double spaced.

LEMON: Hold on Symone, OK -- you just made my point.

SANDERS: Ok.

LEMON: In defense of Omarosa which I can't believe I'm defending Omarosa. There are lots of people at the White House.

SANDERS: It is black history month.

LEMON: Symone, I got to get through this. Stop it, girl. If you look at the White House there are lots of people who didn't get anything accomplished in the White House and who are not getting anything accomplished now. Look at the chaos that is going on. Omarosa is not alone. I think maybe other people in the house are sleeping. Maybe give her and what's his name some credit for that. Go ahead.

SANDERS: Look, I don't give any passes to anyone who came from the White House who participated that the kerfuffle that is the Donald Trump in my opinion presidency and the eroding of the institutions who leads the White House and going on the tours suggesting they are hurt.

LEMON: But Symone other people showing up on this this network on making money off this White House and getting rich why should shouldn't Omarosa be any different.

SANDERS: They are all in my eyes bad apples. I'm putting Omarosa in it.

JENNINGS: Hold on hold on. You can't apply that to -- you cannot apply that title to -- there are people working in the White House and this administration and there are people working in the Obama administration and the Bush administration and the Clinton -- people go to the jobs by and large do so because they believe in public service. You can't apply that title to everybody that works there.

SANDERS: You worked in the White House. It's not just because I don't like the President. I think the president is eroding institutions and the stance abroad. The damage is done to American democracy that is being unraveled. So in my opinion anyone that is working in the White House that is complicit that doesn't beat in back every single day, I think those individuals are complicit I'm calling them bad apples.

[23:35:16] LEMON: I want to White House response? Can I do the White House response? I want to do the White House response. Let's play it real quick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Omarosa was fired three times on the apprentice. And this is the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the President while here. She has no contact now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So here is what I got out of that. We let her go, meaning the White House is the apprentice. It's a reality show. He said that. His words, Scott.

JENNINGS: Yeah, I thought Raj's note today and comment was good. It was stinging. But the clearly she shouldn't have been hired in the first place. I mean, this person's entire life has been made by Donald Trump both before and I guess after the White House.

SANDERS: Hold on Don.

JENNINGS: I think she used this job as a spring board to the next reality TV thing. To use a job like this where you could do some good really to enrich only you're only self and I think despicable.

SANDERS: She is not the only one.

LEMON: She is not the only one only black one.

SANDERS: Omarosa is no different than the President of the United States in this matter. I think that statement goes to show that this White House -- if you didn't think it before they had zero loyalty. Omarosa had been with the President from the beginning. She went to support the Donald Trump candidacy, because her friend called her and told her he was running for president. What would you do if your friend called you? I don't know what kind of folks need enemies with friends like these. Omarosa is no different than other folks on the apology tours which I do not support.

LEMON: I got to go. This is a fascinating conversation. I needed a good laugh. Thank you Symone. Thank you, Scott.

JENNINGS: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Omarosa. Come on now. Really. When we come back her father was one of Vladimir Putin's bosses. Now this reality star turned politician is challenging for the presidency. Sound familiar?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:00] LEMON: Russian voter are getting a taste of good old fashioned American politics in a story line resembling the 2016 race for the White House. Reality TV Star Ksenia Sobchak is challenging Putin IN next month presidential election and she joins me now, welcome.

KSENIA SOBCHAK, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

LEMON: How did I do with the pronunciation?

SOBCHAK: Well. It is fine.

LEMON: Did I did it well? You are at the breakfast with president, are you a fan of President Trump?

SOBCHAK: Well, yes, I was at this breakfast for the first time. My purpose was to meet, you know, some of the officials there to arrange meetings. But, out of all the other meetings I had here during those days it wants the most important one.

LEMON: Why are you running against Vladimir Putin?

SOBCHAK: I run because in Russia, unfortunately, that is the only opportunity to have your air on federal TV to see about the things Russian audiences have never heard about. So my purpose is to say about liberal values, about need of freedom of speech, about need of rule of law, all of those things that sound so normal you know to all of us, but we are never told on Russian TV. Which is controlled by Putin. And Presidential campaign gives constitutional opportunity to have your time as a candidate on this TV.

LEMON: So in a recent interview you said this. You said the other candidates are boring. I've been famous for years through my entertaining programs, through my show business activities. All Russian people know who I am. So I use this to the good, because it's really hard to shut my mouth up, because I am too bright and too many years visible to everyone. You sound like the guy in the White House here like Donald Trump. SOBCHAK: Oh, no.

LEMON: Are you copying his strategy?

SOBCHAK: No. The strategy is actually working. So the Trump effect is something I believe in. But I'm kind of a Trump vice versa. Because the things that he is saying here and that sound shocking in Russia unfortunately when you say that LGBT have the same rights as all the other people, it's something shocking for Russian audience, unfortunately. When you say that Crimea is Ukraine territory, it sounds like a shock for Russian audience. So unfortunately, yes, I'm shocking people in a way with what I say. But I really think that these things are normal. And that is something that should be implemented in Russian politics. Unfortunately I'm the first person to do it there.

LEMON: You said that you don't hear some of these things on Russian television. You don't hear people -- they don't get to hear much, right?

SOBCHAK: Right, exactly.

LEMON: Because the government or state basically runs television.

SOBCHAK: Yes.

LEMON: The kremlin effectively approves who gets to be President. You said you compared it to a casino. Winning at a casino. The house always wins. Are you running to win? Or running to prove a point?

SOBCHAK: Yeah I'm of course running to prove a point. I cannot win because, you know, on Russian elections and in Russia there is a saying there are three things you can never choose, it's your parents, it's your gender and you can never choose a President too. He is always chosen for you and it's always Putin.

LEMON: So you're at least trying to --

SOBCHAK: I'm trying to change the whole situation and say there are millions of Russians who are against and millions of people who want to live in another kind of Russia. They are young, have education, use internet. They know there is another world that exists.

LEMON: I want to get in in bus former President George W. Bush gave a speech today and very publicly called out your country's involvement in our last election. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled whether they affected the outcome is another question. It's problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:45:12] LEMON: Do you think the Russian government actively tried to influence our election?

SOBCHAK: Well, I don't have any more information than everything that is there on TV.

LEMON: But you're a smart woman.

SOBCHAK: Well, there is -- there is a chance that it really happened to my mind. So the only thing I can say, if that happened, that was a bad idea. No one should interfere into other country's affairs. I think America shouldn't interfere into Russian affairs, Ukraine affairs. And the same way Russia shouldn't do that.

LEMON: Well, good luck. I know you said you don't believe that you are going to win. But at least you are trying to make a difference. Who knows? Maybe?

SOBCHAK: Well I think I will win if I will speak to my editor about the things that matter.

LEMON: Ksenia Sobchak thank you so much. Thank you for joining us.

SOBCHAK: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, barring something extraordinary the government will shut down in just a few minutes. The hold up this time, Republican Senator Rand Paul. What happens next?

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[23:50:30] LEMON: Breaking news, now. We're just minutes away from a second government shutdown this year. And it's only February. Here to discuss CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde, CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart and Bakari Sellers. Weren't we just here two weeks ago?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's like Groundhog Day.

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: It's been a long year.

LEMON: Why is this happening again?

DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: I would say the divisions in the Republican Party. There's going to be problems in the house because of the Democrats. But this is the President and Mitch McConnell being unable to control his Senators and Rand Paul.

LEMON: Maybe this is what we call bipartisanship. It seems like Democrats, Alice, and Republicans, are upset with Rand Paul. Does he have the right to do this?

STEWART: I'm all about bipartisanship, but at the same time, you have to get everybody on the table and agree to what the proposal is and before you shove it down their throats. People can be mad at Rand Paul all they want, but I do think he had the right. Let's have amendments on there. Let's 2hear a few more voices here. In my view, he was right. He didn't have opportunity to have input on this. Now, he does.

LEMON: Yes. Do you think Democrats are going to hold this up once it gets to the house?

SELLERS: I don't have faith in my Democratic colleagues and friends having the fortitude to withstand that kind of onslaught that comes with this courageous (inaudible). I did not, the fortitude, you have to have the strength to withstand the onslaught that is coming toward you. We saw that in the last shutdown. But I will say, there's economic factors that people really aren't just paying attention to. From the volatility in the market that we've seen in the last week. Dropped 1100 points today. To the fact that gas prices are slowing ticking back up. Something I didn't pay attention to. But my wife brought it to my attention. The price of milk is slowly going back up and commodities are going back up. Interest rates are ticking up slowly. We're starting to see the economy that Donald Trump inherited slowly slip away from him. And I'm not sure people are paying attention to that, on top of the fact that you have a dysfunctional government or congress. That doesn't bode well for a President who really doesn't know up from down.

LEMON: Also, you see, I'll let you get in. You see the stock market is correcting itself. But there's other analysts who worry about a bull market at this point.

ROHDE: Well, if that is the concern, as interest rates go up, the economy could overheat, and this is against the partisan argument, that this huge tax cut, the infusion of money by the Republicans was not needed. It might overheat this economy ad that is the interest rates.

SELLERS: One of the things I have to point out, when you talk about the huge tax cut, we'll talk about the reason we're at this budget crisis, is the fact that the level of hypocrisy, of the Republican Party has become almost insurmountable, because now they don't care about our national deficit. In which you are starting to see at one point $4 trillion being added on to the deficit, because of the tax bill that passed. All of the sudden they cared about it under Barack Obama but now they don't care about it under Donald Trump.

STEWART: I do think we have to be careful not to dogpile on the Republicans with regards with the shutdown.

SELLERS: Equal opportunity.

STEWART: I think the Democrats also need to realize, they should have learned during the last shutdown that we need to let an appropriations measure be about appropriations, not about policy. And here they go once again trying to interject immigration policy in a budget deal. It didn't work last time and it shouldn't be the case this time. The Democrats are pushing back on this, because they want to include DACA provisions. There's an opening and an opportunity for us to provide protection for dreamers. This isn't the time. This needs to be about the budget and only about the budget. At the same time, Republicans want to make sure we don't hurt the deficit and have too much spending. But Democrats need to let this be about the budget, and let's worry about DACA in the next few weeks.

LEMON: Hold on. Can I get the thing from Frank Bruni, the scroll? When is the right time?

STEWART: Well let's look at the calendar. Right now, we should have been working on a budget. We should have done that over the last week. DACA, we have until March, to work on that measure. Let's take the next few weeks and have a conversation about DACA. We'll say this, Republicans did say they would have this conversation. They need to be true to their word.

LEMON: Bakari, I want to put this up. This was since the last government shutdown on January 22nd.

[23:55:00] Look, I'll just let it scroll. This is everything -- I'm sure we left out some things we just forgot, but look at all of this the president says he likes to testify before Mueller. His lawyers said not too fast. The President went to Davos, Melania went to Florida. The president tried to fire special counsel last June. And on, Democrats accused of being treasonous. Lewandowski refused to testify. The stock market went up and it plunged. All of these things. Why should anybody, Democrat or Republican or anyone who is invested in the market, why should they have confidence in this White House when you look at this chaos?

SELLERS: I'm just amazed by this, because that doesn't even encompass the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels or "fire and fury" which was a few weeks before all of this happened. We got the week, we're getting to these new points. One of the things I have to say, Republicans, it was nearly six months ago, when the President ended this, you know brought on end to the DACA program. And so we need to make sure that we have a resolution for these individuals. And we need to do something about the deficit.

LEMON: Standby guys we are going to come back around. We have more on our breaking news, as we approach midnight east in the federal government shutting down again. We're going to go live to the capital for the very latest. Don't go anywhere.

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