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Congress To Vote Today On Spending Deal To Avoid Shutdown; South Korea's President To Meet With Kim Jong Un's Sister; Former White House Ethics Chief Blasts John Kelly; Holocaust Denier Is GOP's Congressional Candidate In Illinois. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 8, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:18] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate and the House are going to vote today on a new budget deal to avert another government shutdown that -- remember, the deadline is tonight.

Now, Nancy Pelosi is the leader of the Democrats in the House. She's saying she will not support this bill that they've figured out in the Senate unless Paul Ryan will commit to debating immigration next week, basically echoing the commitment that McConnell made -- of course, the GOP Senate majority leader.

So where does that leave us?

Let's ask Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

I think I got it right there, Senator. I mean, you guys have a deal -- that's good. It's good to see two sides working together. We'll talk about the merits of the deal.

But are you stymied by what may happen in the House?

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT), MEMBER, SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I think the Senate needs to move forward as a Senate does move forward, and I'm encouraged by this deal because it's long-term in nature.

It funds critical things like community health centers, which are critically important in Montana. That's something I've been fighting for, both a long-term budget deal, and the community health centers, and rebuilding our military, and making sure that the V.A. has the -- has the resources to rebuild their facilities.

So I think there's some good things in this bill that really help Montana, and help the country, and help rural America, in particular.

But there's no doubt about it. The DACA issue needs to be dealt with and we need to treat these folks fairly and move forward with a plan on -- for them for citizenship. They were brought here by no fault of their own and we need to deal with them.

But in the meantime, I applaud the fact that finally -- finally, after six-eight months, leadership has gotten together and given us a long- term budget with some good things in it that I think help both military, and the health care infrastructure, and our veterans.

CUOMO: Are you hearing anything about whether or not Ryan will mirror the commitment of McConnell to have a debate on that issue next week?

TESTER: Well, I certainly hope he does. But in the meantime, I will tell you that this budget agreement is a step forward, and it's a step forward because -- let me give you an example.

In Montana, Chris, we had community health centers that were on the cusp --

CUOMO: Right.

TESTER: -- of closing. They were on the cusp of closing.

When that happens folks would have to change where they're getting their health care service. Sometimes, that means driving a long distance to get that health care. It impacted low-income folks to a great extent and children to a great extent.

So, what happened over this week is a really good sign. It's something that I've been pushing for, for a long time, to make sure that we get a budget deal that just doesn't kick the can down the road, that goes to the end of the fiscal year. And this one, in fact, goes through the next fiscal year, so that's a good sign.

CUOMO: So are you thinking about reaching out to Pelosi and saying look, I get it on immigration? We have to get that done but don't hold up this deal. We need it.

[07:35:02] TESTER: Absolutely. I think from what I've seen -- and I don't have all the specifics so give me a little gap there. But from what I've seen I think it's a good deal and we don't want to let the perfect get in the road of the good.

CUOMO: But she's saying no -- no votes from my caucus until Ryan gives us the same commitment. How do Democrats get on the same page?

TESTER: Chris, I think Ryan should give that commitment. I think it's a fair thing to do. This is a -- Congress is a place --

CUOMO: But if he doesn't are you OK with the House holding up this bill --

TESTER: No, I think --

CUOMO: -- in the name of Democrats?

TESTER: I think this bill needs to move forward and that's really the bottom line because it does so many good things for rural America and places in my home state of Montana. It makes sense.

CUOMO: I hear you. I get the arguments in favor. I do have some pushback and I'll get to it in one second.

But, have you reached out to Nancy Pelosi? TESTER: I have not reached out to Nancy Pelosi because typically, I don't do that. That is something that leadership needs to do.

I worry about the Senate. I worry about making sure that we do our job in the Senate and make sure that the Senate does what people elected us to do.

CUOMO: The political pushback is this.

I get why you don't want to reach out to Nancy Pelosi. She almost bit my head off the last time I interviewed her.

The -- but, you know, she is the face of the Democrats there. She's leading the caucus. You're going to have to deal with her at some point. Let's see what the leadership does.

The pushback politically is you Democrats are throwing a ton of money in this because you hold this Trump card -- no pun intended -- with the 60 vote swing needed in the Senate. So, Republicans are saying that the Democrats are larding on spending to match needed military spending.

Fair criticism?

TESTER: Well, that's political rhetoric. The bottom line is whether -- look, I think the military needs to be rebuilt and I think we need to have money for our border security, and I think those things are very, very important.

But in the meantime, I think how we treat our veterans is very, very important. How we deal with community health centers is very, very important. So there's a lot of things in the country that need attention.

It's why we need an infrastructure bill, by the way, and this bill has some money for infrastructure I think -- which I think is very, very positive moving forward.

So, like I said earlier, Chris, is this bill perfect? Seldom are they perfect but it does some good things for rural America and that's what -- that's a view I look at it -- from that lens. And so, we're going to push forward.

And we'll continue to push to make sure that the Dreamers are dealt with in a responsible way. I hope that Speaker Ryan allows for a good solid debate on it. I think it's important for the country for him to do that and if he is able to do that then I think we can get the best of all worlds.

CUOMO: So, gaffes starting in the White House often overshadow policy concerns, and we have another one.

Rob Porter, big pedigree -- Harvard Law, Rhodes Scholar. He was well- regarded within the White House.

Critical position as the secretary to the president. People don't understand that position. He got to handle all of the classified information -- everything of substance -- as a pass-through to the president. He would present them to the president.

He didn't have complete clearance and it seems as though one of the reasons may be these allegations of domestic abuse against two ex- wives.

General Kelly seemed to suggest he didn't know about it, then said these are bad -- these types of abuse claims. And then, we hear that the White House did know about them.

How much of a concern?

TESTER: Well, I have no use for anybody that beats their spouse -- none whatsoever. And I will tell you, the guy should be shipped out the door months ago as soon as they found out about it. And if the White House knew about it months ago then shame on them. It's ridiculous that they'd keep someone like that in the White House.

CUOMO: Do you trust John Kelly still, if that's true? If he did know and is covering up that fact.

TESTER: If John Kelly's covering this up he needs to be held accountable. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

CUOMO: What would that mean -- holding him accountable?

TESTER: Well, I mean, holding him accountable means that he has to justify what he did, why he did it, and he better have a really good reason. Otherwise, he's gone, too.

CUOMO: Senator Tester, thank you for being on the show, as always.

TESTER: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea parading missiles and tanks just hours before the start of the Winter Olympics. We'll tell you about the breaking details on also, this historic meeting that's going to happen. That's next.


[07:42:50] CAMEROTA: Breaking news.

South Korea's president says he will meet with the sister of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un. This, as the North is parading hundreds of missile in Pyongyang ahead of the start of the Olympic Games tomorrow.

Our Will Ripley is live in Seoul with all of the breaking details. Obviously, a lot happening there, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn, yes. In fact, Vice President Pence just appeared alongside South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and their tone about North Korea really couldn't be more different.

President Moon will be meeting with Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong in a historic meeting. She's the first member of the ruling Kim family to visit this country. Obviously, President Moon is trying to score a diplomatic win here.

He would love to see the United States meet with the North Koreans, even though North Korea has said they have no intention of meeting with the U.S. We're expecting a press briefing in the coming hour or so, so maybe we'll get some more information about that.

Vice President Pence, though, promising to continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea. He just announced a wave of intense new sanctions, unprecedented in their scope, from the United States. That -- those will be implemented in the coming weeks, we're told.

And in response, we saw a major show of force in Pyongyang overnight. North Korea holding a massive military parade in Kim Il-sung Square. Kim Jong Un spoke at the parade. He talked about North Korea becoming a nuclear power.

They showed more intercontinental ballistic missiles at one time in this parade than we've ever seen before. In previous parades, we saw one or two. This time, we saw seven of the kind of missiles that North Korea says could make a direct hit anywhere in the mainland United States.

Obviously, the attention's going to be on the opening ceremony of the Olympics but North Korea making it very clear, Chris, that they are still intent on growing their nuclear arsenal despite the United States' vows to stop them.

CUOMO: Will Ripley, thank you very much, as always.

CNN has learned White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and other top aides did know, and for months, about domestic abuse allegations against West Wing aide Rob Porter. But they, including Kelly, apparently did nothing.

Former director of Governor (sic) Ethics Walter Shaub, tweeted, " So John Kelly, often touted as the White House's adult, falsely smeared a congresswoman, tells us a failure to compromise on slavery caused the Civil War, called Dreamers lazy, and protected a wife beater. Tell us again, press secretary, how we're ever -- we're never allowed to -- tell us how we're never allowed to criticize a general."

[07:45:13] Sorry for mangling that tweet.

Joining us now is Walter Shaub. He is now a CNN contributor.

It's good to see you, sir.


CUOMO: Well, let's give clearance on -- we have CNN reporting that says they did know about these allegations. What is the ethical standard?

Porter says I didn't do this, I was never convicted of these things. There is some legal action that was taken by the women involved -- his two ex-wives.

What is the standard for you here?

SHAUB: Well, you know, the standard provided in the actual standards of conduct for employees is that you're supposed to comply with the laws of the land. Certainly, beating your wife and then beating your next wife don't comply with the laws of the land.

But we also have the security clearance issue and we can be sure that security clearance background investigators for the FBI went and spoke with both of these women. And so, there was never any doubt that this information was in the background report received by Kelly.

And, of course, they had to have known that this was an issue because they weren't able to assign him to certain things as a result of not having a permanent security clearance and yet, we hear that he continued to rise and rise.

And, you've got Kelly saying that he believes the man, but what does Kelly base that on? He looked deep into the man's soul and perceived innocence? I doubt Kelly went out and interviewed those women himself and decided that they were liars.

He just decided that the white male employee working for him couldn't possibly beat his former wives because he said he didn't. Well, that's ridiculous and shame on John Kelly.

CUOMO: So you think there is no question that Kelly knew or had reason to know about these allegations?

SHAUB: Absolutely, there's just no way he couldn't. I mean, they knew that the man didn't have a full-time security clearance.

CUOMO: Right.

SHAUB: And this is one now, as I highlighted in that tweet, of a series of --

CUOMO: But you're assuming that that's why he didn't have it? Walter, just to make it clear for people, you're assuming that the reason he had only temporary --

SHAUB: Well, it is -- it is --

CUOMO: -- clearance would be because of these allegations.

SHAUB: Well, I have been involved in security clearance cases before and, of course, had one myself, and these are the types of things that the security clearance investigators look at and it's relevant to some of the factors they consider. So it's possible there were other reasons why he also didn't get a clearance, but this would certainly be one of them and I don't think we have any information suggesting he committed other misdeeds.

CUOMO: And what is your feeling about the ethical standard of conduct being exhibited by the chief of staff because that's what your tweet goes to? That you see this a part and parcel of some kind of case that you're making.

SHAUB: Well, let's remember that he smeared an African-American congresswoman, making up a lie about her. He said that the Civil War was the fault of the people who wouldn't compromise on their radical position of thinking that holding humans in bondage is unacceptable and isn't susceptible of compromise.

And, he called Dreamers lazy people, tapping into other dog whistles of a racial nature.

And so, I think that we've got a pattern here that there's a lot of people he doesn't believe and trust because they look a certain way. And then, he's ready immediately, without conducting any independent investigation because I don't know how he could have, to believe somebody who looks the right way.

So I think we've got a very disturbing pattern with the man who is really running the White House on a day-to-day basis and is the personal gatekeeper to the president. I don't know how much lower he could possibly sink. This is an absolute failure of any kind of ethics.

And to the extent that there's an ethical standard that says people comply with the law have to comply with the law, he certainly fell below that in covering for this individual and defending him and continuing to push him higher and higher in the power structure of the White House.

CUOMO: Well, the questions are out there. They've been put to the chief of staff and the White House. We'll see what their replies are.

So, under the category of maybe good news, you know, you were the last ethics czar --


CUOMO: -- in there. You've been out for, you know, over a half a year now and they just named the new one, Emory Rounds. He was White House counsel for Bush 43 back in 2009. He gets the five-year term.

How do you feel about that?

SHAUB: Oh, I couldn't be happier. I mean, it's nice to finally have some good news to report in this administration and I do have to give this one to the White House. They have made an excellent pick.

I've known Emory since about 2006. He used to be Richard Painter, who's another well-known ethics official -- he used to be Richard Painter's deputy in the Bush administration.

[07:50:07] I worked closely with him through the Bush administration and, in fact, was instrumental in working with the general counsel at the time to hire Emory Rounds at the end of the Bush administration because we'd had such good interactions with him. I didn't want him -- I didn't want him to have to go back to his home state, as a lot of people were leaving town at the end of an administration.

We brought him in. He's a solid guy. He's a decent human being. He's committed his life to public service.

I mean, I'm not going to hold him to the standard of being able to get President Trump to divest his conflicting financial interests because I wasn't able to achieve that.

But I do think Emory Rounds represents somebody who is going to keep the agency running, hold it as close to its traditions as anyone can, and make sure that the day-to-day operations don't disintegrate the way they might if you got some political who didn't know the government ethics program.

CUOMO: Well, let's see if this situation with Porter and Kelly winds up on his plate. It's good to see that you give it the stamp of approval. It's good to know there are good people around the president.

And you use Richard Painter. We've come to know him very well here. Another guy you're happy when you get through an interview without him biting off your head.

All right, take care. Thank you, Walter -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. Wait until you hear this story.

A holocaust denier is running for Congress in Illinois and chances are he is about to win the Republican primary. How is this happening? We will speak to that candidate, next.


CAMEROTA: A former leader of the American Nazi Party is running for Congress in Illinois. As the only Republican on the ticket, it looks like he is about to win the primary next month.

His name is Arthur Jones. He has never disavowed his Nazi views. Here is what Jones said at a rally in Kentucky last April, and we want to warn all of you that the language you're about to hear in this segment is offensive.


ARTHUR JONES (R), UNCONTESTED GOP CANDIDATE FOR ILLINOIS THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, LEADER, AMERICA FIRST COMMITTEE, FORMER LEADER, AMERICAN NAZI PARTY: The white majority are fed up with all of these lying, cheating, thieving, warmongering, child-molesting political pimps and whores of this corrupt and decadent two-party, Jew-party, queer-party system.


CAMEROTA: Arthur Jones, that Republican candidate for Illinois' third district, joins us now.

[07:55:00] Mr. Jones, it is shocking to hear how vocally and unapologetically racist you are. Are you a Nazi?

JONES: Well, for the past 15-20 years I have not had anything to do with any national socialist organization on a formal basis.

CAMEROTA: But do you call yourself a Nazi?

JONES: I did have a -- I don't call myself a Nazi. I call myself an American patriot and statesman.

CAMEROTA: OK. Well, let me give our viewers --


CAMEROTA: -- some details about this just so they can decide for themselves.

You've been part of anti-Semitic groups since the 1970s. You go to neo-Nazi rallies -- we have pictures of you there. You are -- were part of the White People's Party. You dress in Nazi garb and you celebrate Hitler's birthday.

You're a Nazi.

JONES: Well, I do not belong to any formal national socialist organization anymore and I haven't belonged to one since about 1990, OK? The only organization that I belong to is my own organization and that's the America First Committee.



CAMEROTA: Yes. You can call it whatever you want, Mr. Jones, but your Website is filled with the most vile, rancid rhetoric I think I've ever read.

JONES: I disagree with you. It's not vile and rancid, it's the truth.


JONES: There's nothing on that Website that's not true.


JONES: I personally put that stuff on there.

CAMEROTA: Yes. JONES: I personally picked out the articles on there because they're true. Now, I can't help it if you won't --

CAMEROTA: That's really troubling.

JONES: -- accept the truth.

CAMEROTA: Listen, it is so --

JONES: I can't help it if you don't want to accept the truth. You Jews (ph) media, you've gone absolutely nuts. You think that Adolph Hitler's revived from the grave or something.


JONES: There's one man -- one man, myself, that's standing for the truth --


JONES: -- and the news media can't stand that.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Jones, what I can't stand if your vile rhetoric and your --

JONES: The Democrats and the Republicans are the cursed, two-party, Jew-party, queer-party system -- can't stand it.

CAMEROTA: -- language. And the fact that you deny the holocaust. You are entitled to your --

JONES: Yes, I deny the holocaust. It's an extortion racket, pure and simple.

CAMEROTA: Listen, Mr. -- you are entitled to your own crackpot theory.

JONES: If you did any investigation -- if you did an honest -- if you did any honest investigation of the holocaust you'd realize that it is nothing but an international extortion racket by the Jews to bleed (ph), blackmail, extort, and terrorize their enemies.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Here --

JONES: And to suck us into one war after another in the Mideast.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I've heard this --

JONES: I am not campaigning as a national socialist. I campaign as a Republican.


JONES: I campaign on the one issue that's on everybody's mind and that's to avoid war in the Middle East.


JONES: We need more wars --


JONES: No, we don't need more wars.

CAMEROTA: Fine, I understand.

JONES: We need more jobs.

CAMEROTA: And you call the -- you call -- well, I don't even want to quote you.

But here's the deal. Here -- you can have your own conspiracy theories but you can't have your own facts. And, Mr. Jones, six million Jews were killed. Adolph Hitler --

JONES: Not conspiracy theory, it's a fact. The Jews controlled basically the country, the economy -- the economy, the media --

CAMEROTA: -- perpetrated a genocide. The Auschwitz death camp existed and the Nuremberg trial happened.

JONES: Poppycock.

CAMEROTA: Those are the facts, sir.

JONES: It's poppycock. It's a --

CAMEROTA: Either way, here's the larger point.

JONES: It's a scam. Here -- here --

CAMEROTA: Fine. You're on the record.

JONES: Here is -- here is -- here -- here is forged records, ma'am. Forged records --

CAMEROTA: You said that you don't believe the holocaust.

JONES: -- of a holocaust survivor to get special social security benefits.

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm glad that you're pinning --

JONES: Forged records.

CAMEROTA: -- all of your position and platform --

JONES: This comes from -- this comes from --

CAMEROTA: -- on that piece of paper.

JONES: This comes from Congressman -- former Congressman Bill Lipinski -- CAMEROTA: Yes.

JONES: -- OK -- acknowledging --

CAMEROTA: Mr. Jones, listen, you've been doing this for decades.

JONES: -- a forged record was used to give them special social security benefits.

CAMEROTA: You're steeped in this kind of crazy crackpot theory, but here's the larger point.

How do you think that you are going to represent the people of Illinois in this district? You have 700,000 people in your district. Seven thousand of them are Jews. How you plan to serve them as a public servant?

JONES: And a handful of them are Jew (INAUDIBLE) but the overwhelming majority are white, Christian patriots. And I might add, black Christian patriots, Latino Christian patriots. They don't want any more wars in the Middle East.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So it's just the Jews that you don't like.

JONES: And the Israeli lobby -- the Israeli lobby controls the Congress of the United States and have sucked us into one war after another, and that's what I'm running against. Not the holocaust. I'm running against --


JONES: -- trying to prevent a holocaust in the Middle East.


A couple of things. The Republican Party -- the state Republican Party has completely disavowed you. They say the Illinois Republican Party and our country --

JONES: Well, they're a bunch of idiots. What can I say?

CAMEROTA: Please let me speak, Mr. Jones -- have no place for Nazis, like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any --

JONES: Arthur Jones fought for this country.

CAMEROTA: -- public office, including the third congressional district.

JONES: I was in Vietnam. Was any of those idiots in Vietnam? I don't think so.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Jones, I'm going to make my point.

The National Republican Party has also done so. "We condemn this candidate and his hateful rhetoric in the strongest possible terms."

Here's the good news. You have a long track record, Mr. Jones --

JONES: That's a picture of me in Vietnam, OK?

CAMEROTA: Yes, you did serve in Vietnam but something --

JONES: That's right, honorable -- honorably. I wasn't a draft dodger like a lot of these communist Jews --

CAMEROTA: -- than where you are not honoring the people like the -- listen --

JONES: -- that were in the streets.

CAMEROTA: Here's what everybody needs to know, Mr. Jones. You have a long track record of losing. You lose virtually everything that you run for.

You've run for Congress and you've lost, for mayor, for alderman, and we're not in the business of predicting the news --

JONES: Persistency counts.

CAMEROTA: -- but I can say that you will lose this race. You couldn't win dog catcher.

JONES: Persistency paid off. Now I'm going to be on the ballot for the March 20th primary and the ballot for the November election.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Jones, we're going to go.