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Jennie Willoughby's Op-Ed Is A Straight Shot At The President; President Trump Has Said He Is Eager To Talk To Mueller; Commercial Airliner Crashes In Russia Killing All 71 People On Board; Group Of Republican Senators Introduced A Version Of White House Immigration Framework Ahead Of This Week's DACA Debate. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 11, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Now after Porter quit the President praised him. Wished him well. And came to his defense on twitter implying Porter's life was being shattered by mere allegations.

Now when Jennie Willoughby read that, she believed the President was suggesting she wasn't telling the truth. So she wrote an op op-ed that appears today's "time" magazine. And here is part of it.

The words mere allegation and falsely accused meant to imply that I am a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar. That that work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That abuse is something to be questioned and doubted.

Now she goes on, ultimately, this is not a political issue. This is a societal issue. And the tone has just been reset by the White House. If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?

CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles is at the White House right now.

So Ryan, this Jennie Willoughby's op-ed is a straight shot at the President. Any official response to it?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not at all, Ana. The White House yet to respond specifically to that op-ed by Jennie Willoughby. And you know, it is interesting, Ana, is that the White House is set tomorrow to unveil a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, a plan that they think could potentially be a big win for this administration and big help to the American people.

But that's not the overriding story that has being told out of this White House this weekend. It is the lack of consistency with their story as it relates to Rob Porter and David Sorensen. There two staffers accused of domestic violence by their ex-wives and the White House's slow response in dealing with them.

And a lot of that seems to be squarely on the shoulders of chief of staff John Kelly. When did he know about these accusations? To what extent did he know about these accusations? And how long did it take for him to deal with him? And there is a number of different narratives being sold by the White House as it relates to that story. And it has led to some suspicious that perhaps he is not long for his job.

Today many members of the administration were on the Sunday talk shows to make it very clear that he still has the President's confidence and he isn't going anywhere. Take a listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I spoke to the President last night. I told him I would be with you today. And he said please tell Jake that I have full faith in chief of staff John Kelly. And that I'm not actively searching for replacements. He said I saw that all over the news today. I have faith in him.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: I think there was probably some in the process some lack of communication between different elements in the White House. I don't know, to be honest. I don't know who knew what when at this point.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: And I think all the stories about replacing General Kelly are mostly being fed by people who are unhappy that they lost access to the President under general Kelly's leadership as chief of staff.

So no, I'm extraordinarily pleased with the job the chief has been doing. Everybody in the west wing is. The President is as well. I think that talk about the chief's departure is much ado about nothing.


NOBLES: And there has been somewhat of a PR campaign by those close to general Kelly to tell a story that what general Kelly did not know the full extent of these accusations against Rob Porter and actually specifically confronted Porter and asked him if violence was a part of his marriage to which Porter denied. And at that point the chief of staff accepted that version of events and it wasn't until that picture emerged of the black eye from one of Rob Porter's ex-wives that they got serious about this particular situation.

Now we should say our own reporting, Ana, shows that we do know that the former general and current chief of staff is trying to, you know, trying to somewhat change the narrative on the story but there is even some skepticism among his fellow members of the administration as to exactly what role general Kelly played. And as this White House prepares to unveil this big infrastructure stand, a lot of criticism about how they handled this particular situation -- Ana.

CABRERA: The story isn't going away. And we know a number of Democratic senators have all sent letters to the White House demanding more answers.

Ryan Nobles at the White House for us tonight. Thank you.

Let's get straight to the panel of CNN political commentators. With us now former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes. Former Hillary Clinton manager Patti Solis Doyle and former communications director for Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Tara Setmayer.

OK, Steve, I will start with you, the gentleman on the panel. Why is it so hard for the President to just condemn domestic violence and say it has no place in the White House or in America for that matter.

STEVE CORTES, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Ana, it is a great question. And I hope he will. And I think he should. And as you know, I'm very loyal to the President. I defend him (INAUDIBLE) on- air. I think that Saturday tweet was ill advised. I do. I think he needs to explicitly say that our empathy is always with the victims of domestic violence sexual or sexual harassment. And our condemnation is always on the perpetrators.

But let's also acknowledge that in this case, the perpetrator, Rob Porter, he is gone. And he should be gone. And I think to some degree, the President and general Kelly were both poorly served by staff, by the FBI. It is not their job as President chief of staff to do background checks. They only knew him in a professional setting where apparently he was exceptional. And unfortunately, there is a lot of people like that in our society who can act very well in one setting and reprehensively in another.

But again, listen. I will be the first to say the President abhorrent - the President and the White House, abhorrent domestic violence and sexual harassment. They need to message better on that. They need to convey that better to the American people.

[19:05:26] CABRERA: Wait. Hold on to that, though. Because the President endorsed Roy Moore, remember? He was the man accused of child molestation. He has defended Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Corey Lewandowski. He implied that the women who accused him of assault and harassment warning an attractive enough to sexually abuse. So when again has the President made clear he finds violence against women abhorrent?

CORTES: Look. You know, he has made it clear through his life, by the way that he has elevated women in his business career and certainly in his White House. The first woman, Kellyanne Conway, to chair a successful presidential campaign. Hope Hicks head of communications. Secretary Nielsen, Kirstjen Neilson, the head of DHS, Homeland security. Perhaps in this White House one of the most important agencies of the federal government.

So he has elevated women, empowered women throughout his career, throughout his life. He has to convey though the message better. Again, listen, I'm admitting and conceding on that point. He has to convey the message better that in all cases, this all cases, domestic violence, sexual harassment of women is abhorrent.

And by the way, there is no D or R attached to that kind of behavior because we see it all over the place. We have seen it recently with Rob Porter. We saw it with Steve Wynn. I would argue we saw it in past with Bill Clinton. We saw it with Weinstein. It needs to in all of those cases revile end we need to embrace victims and we need to tell the perpetrators you are going to be held to account.

CABRERA: Patti, I'm wonder what you are thinking.

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, the reason that Donald Trump did not say that sexual abuse and domestic violence and all of these things, you know, violent acts against women are abhorrent is because he has set a precedent beginning with himself with where if an abuser or harasser, a rapist, claims that he didn't do it, if he denies it, well then it's OK.

He did that with himself. He has 16 women accusing him of sexual harassment. He did it with his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. He did it with Roy Moore, an accused of sexual - child molester. And now he is doing it with Rob Porter.

He sent out a tweets basically saying that these mere allegations ruin men's lives. That is an attack on every woman who has ever been beaten, who has ever been raped, who has ever been pushed to the ground. It is an attack specifically on the wives of Rob Porter. And that behavior is abhorrent to me.

CORTES: I agree --

CABRERA: Hold on, guys. Let me get Kellyanne Conway sound here real fast though because she does also represents this White House. Listen to what she told Jake Tapper about these allegations.


CONWAY: I have seen it when the President is saying, talking about due process, he is right in this way. We are a country of laws and due process. It is absolutely, correct. But we, as individuals, have a duty to assess everybody on a case-by-case basis. And in this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI in to threat perjury. You have police reports. You have photographs. And when you look at all of this pulled together, you realize that Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: It sounds like you believe the women.

CONWAY: I have no reason not to believe the women.


CABRERA: So Tara, I want to get to you involve in this conversation. There we have a White House staffer, a female coming out saying she believes the women. Does that help?

TARA SETMAYER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, GOP CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: No. I really don't care what Donald Trump's mouth pieces have to say about this. He trusts these people out to try to clean up the mess that he created. He had an opportunity on Friday to come out and say everything that Kellyanne said and others who are trying to clean up the mess, because he didn't say it. Well, he did. His default position was to basically lament over the

fact that this credibly accused wife beater had to leave his job and he did nothing but heap praise on him and a wonderful career and oh, this is so sad.

And what that did was it was such an affront not only to the victims of Rob Porter who he essentially called liars, which is the point that was made in the op-ed by one of his ex-wives. And it was a very good point, because that's what he did by not mentioning them and not having an opportunity to rise to the occasion and provide some moral leadership and moral clarity from the office the presidency.

Donald Trump has failed miserably at this over and over again. And because of his own transgressions with women, he is incapable of acknowledging that women should be believed. Because that would mean he would have to face his own accusations which he refuses to do.

So this is, you know, whatever -- I don't care what any of his -- whatever women he decides to try out, to try to clean up his mess. Their words ring hollow. Because the boss that she works won't admit it. And he will not rise to the occasion. So it doesn't to me. It rings very hollow coming from Kellyanne Conway or anybody else.

[19:10:35] CABRERA: And Steve, but you have to remember, this guy did bring out Bill Clinton's accusers before one of the Democratic debates. He has thrown Harvey Weinstein under the bus. Even though he defended all of these other accused men of abuse and harassment. So I mean, is this all about just playing politics for the President?

CORTES: Well, I sure hope it isn't because it is way too important issue for our country. And by the way, you know, I will take issue with this. And again, I'm criticizing the President, which I don't often do. I am criticizing the President and White House. They need to message better than this. They need to convey what they believe regarding domestic violence, regarding sexual harassment of women. And I don't think they are doing an effective job of that right now. I believe they are going to. I think we will get this together.

Rob Porter is gone. He belongs to be gone, right. He has no business at the White House. And I feel such empathy for his victims. The President needs to I think explicitly come out and talk about that. And once he does, by the way, too, -- and here is the bigger issue too even.

SETMAYER: It is Trump. There is not they. It Trump that needs to do it and he is not going to. And also, just really quickly, I want to defend the FBI here because I think it is really ridiculous that you are blaming the FBI. The FBI did their job like they do and informed the White House. Informed the chief of staff John Kelly. And Don McGahn was aware of this . It is not the FBI's fault. I think it is shameful that you are trying to lay this in their lap.

CORTES: There is no evidence general Kelly knew. No evidence general Kelly knew. (CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Hold on. Hold on. Because our reporting is that he did have these things raised to him.

CORTES: I know there is reporting, but there is no evidence.


CABRERA: We do know though that he was aware that there was not a security clearance.

CORTES: And I choose to believe him.

SETMAYER: Why Rob Porter didn't get security clearance? So that he or John Kelly was naive or derelict in duty? Which one is it? Because neither one is a good thing.


CORTES: If you want to call him derelict in duty or naive, John Kelly, good luck with that accusation. Because I believe he is an American mero.


CORTES: And I believe him. But look. Here is the more important issue. John Kelly doesn't believe in protecting abusers. The President doesn't believe in protecting the abusers.


CORTES: OK. And hold on. By the way --.

CABRERA: One at a time. Steve, finish your point. And then Patti, I want to get to you.

CORTES: If you believe that -- OK, OK.

SETMAYER: I do believe it.

CABRERA: Hold on.

CORTES: Can I make a point?

CABRERA: Patti --.

CORTES: If you believe that, then, will you shine that same light on team Clinton? Will you shine that same light on Bill Clinton?

SETMAYER: Of course I did. I was a conservative by the Republican. I fought against the Clintons for years. I am not a hypocrite like other people who are trying to find some kind of moral justification of giving excuses to this White House. So you can throw that at me.

CABRERA: Patti. Go head.

CORTES: Patti. Shine that same light on Bill Clinton?

DOYLE: I have been on record saying that I cannot excuse Bill Clinton's behavior. Absolutely not. Without questions. To blame Hillary for his sins is not right. That's what I said.

I agree. I agree what Bill Clinton did was wrong, period. End of story.


CABRERA: -- John Kelly is being treated unfairly in some ways for the amount of scrutiny he is getting for not doing something sooner about Rob Porter and these allegations?

DOYLE: Let's review what happened. A senior White House staffer beat his wife, both wives. When that information was brought to the attention of the White House, the White House decided to turn the other way. Not only did they turn a blind eye to it but they decided to promote this person. To give him greater access to classified information and to give him greater access to the President of the United States.

When that position was no longer tenable because of the daily mail story, they chose then to say, he has the highest integrity and highest honor and he shouldn't quit. When that position was no longer tenable because of the outcry of the American people and the media then they say, yes, he should go.

The story has changed what, three or four times already. No, I do not think that general Kelly is being treated unfairly. I think general Kelly should resign. I think (INAUDIBLE), a domestic abuser is disqualified, period.

[19:15:07] SETMAYER: To the photographed of the black eye in order for them to finally change their position. I think that is despicable.

CABRERA: Got to leave it there. Tara Setmayer, Patti Solis Doyle, Steve Cortes, thank you so much.

Still ahead this hour, no interview? Or maybe. As the White House awaits a request from Bob Mueller, what they could learn from Trump's past deposition.

And then later, on the table, after a major budget deal passes without DACA included. Debate on this topic finally set to begin this week, officially in the Senate. Can Congress reach an agreement in time? Details on a proposal some Republican senators just released here in the NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[19:19:51] CABRERA: Now to the dueling memos controversy.

The President decision this weekend to block the release of the Democratic rebuttal to a GOP memo on alleged surveillance abuses at the FBI. A larger question though is looming over the White House tonight. And that is what should the President do about special counsel Robert Mueller's interview request. Agree or refuse?

Trump has said he is eager to talk to Mueller. His lawyers are less than keen on this idea.

Let's discuss with CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, former director of the Nixon presidential library and Kim Wehle, former associate independent counsel in the whitewater investigation.

So CNN's Marshal Cohen reports President Trump gave at least seven depositions in the last decade that were publicly released. And they all seemed to show a pattern that Trump is often ill prepared. Let's watch.


[19:20:42] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you do to prepare for the case today? The deposition.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say virtually nothing. I spoke with my counsel for a short period of time. I just arrived here and we proceeded to the deposition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. So you didn't look at any documents or --

TRUMP: No, I didn't. I don't have my glasses. I'm a disadvantage because I didn't bring my glasses. This is such small writing.


CABRERA: And then you look at again, Marshal Cohen, as he went through this in a 2006 deposition, for example, he Trump admitted that he lied or misled with some of his public statements some 30 times. And Tim, we know Mueller's investigation is no ordinary case.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, it is not ordinary case. And if you look at the deposition that Mr. Trump did in the Trump University case, he more often than not said I do not recall. I do not recall. I do not recall. And that was important because --

CABRERA: Because he has such a great memory.

NAFTALI: Well, not just that. It is because he was selling the point of Trump University was that these were hand-picked experts in real estate. Hand-picked by Mr. Trump. And he was ask, do you know so and so? I think. I don't recall. I don't know. I don't know. So all these people - all these instructors that were apparently hand-picked by him, he couldn't recall a single name.

His problem in this instance if he should go before Mr. Mueller's team or Mr. Mueller himself is that they are going to be well-prepared. They are going to have chronologies. They are going to have documents. They are going to be able to ask very, very precise questions. And OK, I don't recall about something that happened eight months ago, maybe that works. I don't recall about something that happened a year ago or less than a year ago, that doesn't work so well.

So I think this well be a very uncomfortable situation for the President if he and his lawyers decide that he should do it. I just don't think he can do it.

CABRERA: CNN's reporting, Kim, is that the President actually is feeling confident that his experience would help him handle this and based on previous losses testifying under oath from his real estate business that that actually is going to benefit him, he thinks. The source telling us he thinks he can work this. So do you think the President realizes just how high the stakes are?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL IN THE WHITEWATER INVESTIGATION: Well, it is hard to know what the President realizes. But you mentioned the stakes and there really is a difference between a civil deposition and testimony either before a prosecutor or even more seriously before the grand jury. I mean, the difference is that in the criminal context someone who lies can actually go to jail. And what they say can send them to jail for other actions.

So I think in this instance, the President would be very well advised. And I'm sure his lawyers are telling him, this is a new day and new way. We need to thoroughly prepare. That said, I tend to agree with those who have suggested that a sit-down voluntary interview with Mr. Mueller's team doesn't benefit the President personally in any conceivable way. It only potentially makes things murkier for him. Although o do think for the American public that would be the right thing to do so we can move forward with this investigation which I think needs to be brought to conclusion notwithstanding all of the roadblocks that seem to be politically being thrown in front of it.

CABRERA: Kim, let me ask you about this, look through the prism of another case you know a lot about, Whitewater. So CNN's preview decades of court records reviewing the details of how Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr forced a grand jury appearance from President Bill Clinton. What do you think Trump's legal team can learn from this in terms of defending the President?

WEHLE: Well, certainly they - and they already know that if it comes to a subpoena, there isn't really an objection. Historically at least legally that the President can make. I say historically because we are in a world where this President doesn't appear to respect the kind of processes and legal norms that we historically with prior Presidents have been known to enjoy and that's why I have said, you know, that this whole issue raises is really big separation of powers questions in addition to being, you know, former justice department lawyer as well as independent counsel, I'm a full-time constitutional law professor. And I think, you know, the issue here that might be different from Bill Clinton is Bill Clinton complied with the subpoena. And we just don't know what Mr. Trump would do. And if he challenges the legality of it, you know, it could really, really get extremely traumatic for the country.

[19:25:06] CABRERA: Tim, there is a new CNN piece out that just came out yesterday, legendary journalist Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein saying that they see what is happening now with President Trump as eerily similar to what happened with Richard Nixon right before the Saturday night massacre, which was the 1973 President Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating him. And then both the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned. Well, I had a chance to speak with Carl yesterday. And we got his

take on how he sees the parallels between these two different presidents given the investigation of each of them. Watch.


CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We have no reason to believe almost anything that Donald Trump says. What is so extraordinary about him and his presidency is the incessant compulsive continual lying. This is not me sitting here as a commentator, saying this is demonstrable, reportorial truth. The number of lies, the consistency of lying by the President of the United States, it is extraordinary. We have never have a President who lies like this. Certainly in the modern era, even Nixon.


CABRERA: Tim, you heard the former director of Nixon Presidential library. What do you make of Carl's characterization of President Trump's truthfulness versus Richard Nixon?

NAFTALI: Well, I think Richard Nixon was a much more careful liar. He did lie about the basic key issues in Watergate scandal which is why ultimately he had to resign. But he was a lawyer. He was trained as a lawyer.

By the way, I think that makes his lies just as bad because he knew what he was doing. He would skirt the truth to protect himself. Even if it meant hiding a crime.

CABRERA: He knew how to do it.

NAFTALI: He knew how to do it. He knew how to (INAUDIBLE) perjury. That in other words, to force other people to lie under oath. He knew not to do it directly. He had other people do it for him. He was very sneaky. But he was the more careful liar and therefore more difficult to find out.

Mr. Trump seems to have operate in a world where you were - if you caught lying, it didn't seem to matter. The difference between the two men is that under oath Mr. Trump is gong to have an either harder time than Mr. Nixon would have had. Now, Mr. Nixon actually did testify under oath after he left office. He testified to a grand jury. That grand jury proceeding has been open so we can talk about it. Mr. Nixon did, I think can you make an argument that he did actually commit perjury afterwards but --

CABRERA: Didn't matter that point because he wasn't President any more?

NAFTALI: Perjury always matters. It just that I think the government was tired of going after him. The point though is that Nixon, President Nixon, was parsimonious in his lying until the last year of Watergate, when the White House just sent out a lot of information.

This President is totally different. Because this President has no legal background and doesn't respect the norms of the presidency. Richard Nixon for all of his faults respected the norms of our constitutional system in the end. In the end when the Supreme Court said you have to turn over the tapes, he did. Even though the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch with the office of the President.

CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much, Tim Naftali, Kim Wehle. So interesting, all of it. We will have you back, both back, to discuss as we move forward. Thanks again.

Straight ahead, a commercial airliner crashes in Russia killing all 71 people on board. Details are still coming in. We will bring them to you live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:32:55] CABRERA: Details are coming out of Russia where a commercial airliner crashed today. The jet had just taken off from Moscow when it disappeared from radar. Rescuers found the wreckage. No survivors. Sixty-five passengers and six crew members all dead. Plane's flight data recorders has been found. Investigators are hoping it will help them learn what caused this crash. No word yet on if weather was factor. But that area we do know has recently seen some the heaviest snow fall in decade.

For more than seven years the war in Syria has dragged on and big world powers have gotten involved. And now with exclusive unprecedented access, CNN can take you along with U.S. special ops forces in control inside northern Syria putting them face-to-face with NATO ally, Turkey.

Our Nick Paton Walsh reports from this new front line.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trying to stay out of the dust and chaos here for years but it hasn't worked. And now American special forces give us the first access to the daily risky patrols in Syria. They are here despite unprecedented threat from a supposed friend, Turkey, whose forces are just over the hill.

A NATO ally whose president has demanded only hours earlier that the U.S. withdraw immediately.

These Syrian-Kurdish fighters are the reason why. America fought with them to defeat ISIS across northern Syria. But Turkey thinks they terrorist linked to Turkish-Kurd fighters. And so here they are, barrel to barrel.

This is the strange new world in Syria. In the end game of the fight against ISIS. NATO ally facing NATO ally here. American troops. Very much on the front line after years you might say of trying to stay out of this messy civil war. A new chapter of which is now beginning.

This is the scramble for the land ISIS built and lost. In fact, in the last hour the rebels from over there have fired on the nearby checkpoint as if they heard the Turkish demand the U.S. leave.

But still, the Americans send their highest ranking officers yet. The message, we are not going anywhere.

You take fire from this direction, three, four times a week. And that's from forces supported by your NATO ally Turkey.


WALSH: Which is by definition, bizarre, right?

FUNK: Yes, absolutely. You said that. That is exactly right. It is bizarre. I would say that the people that fought to take Raqqa back from ISIS, no matter what nationality they were, no matter what their beliefs, were heroes.

WALSH: Turkey say some of them are terrorists.

FUNK: Well, OK.

WALSH: That's the complexity of where we are right now?

FUNK: It is. That's exactly right.

WALSH: What's your biggest worry about what is going on here?

FUNK: Miscalculation. Could be anybody's.

WALSH: If these two sides end up in open conflict, what do you do about that?

FUNK: We deescalate.

WALSH: But don't pretend this buffer roll for America goes anywhere good fast. Turkish and Kurd hate each other perhaps more than they did ISIS. And they won't fight ISIS if they are fighting each other.

The coalition's goal, this commanders says, was to finish ISIS in the area but Turkey with actions and statements is giving life to ISIS again.

And this is just the beginning. We drive past a huge convoy in support of Kurdish fighters in nearby Kurdish enclave to the west called (INAUDIBLE). The Turkey has invaded despite American pleas they don't.

In the nearby town of (INAUDIBLE), America's special forces commanders strolls around the market liberated from ISIS 18 months ago where life is just about becoming life again where hotels are trying to open.

But where businesses hamstrung by the fear Turkey will make good on its threat to send its NATO-equipped army to invade here too. They thought they were getting over the wall here but it looms again. Another possible ugly chapter, January ally again ally is nothing new to brutalized Syria. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, (INAUDIBLE) Syria.


CABRERA: Up next, just a short time ago, a group of Republican senators introduced a version of White House immigration framework ahead of this week's DACA debate. One of those lawmakers senator James Lankford, he joins us live next here in the NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[19:41:35] CABRERA: We have a special early preview of this week's expected immigration showdown in the Senate with only 21 days now until Dreamers. The immigrants brought to the U.S. as children face President Trump's March 5th, the deadline to end the DACA program.

Just a short time ago, a group of Republican senators introduced a proposal for debate in the Senate starting tomorrow. And one of those Republicans joins us now, Oklahoma senator James Lankford.

Senator, thank you for joining us. Break it down for us. What exactly is in your proposal?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: Yes. This is key aspect the President has talked about before dealing with border security, dealing with naturalization for about 1.8 million Dreamers. Those are folks that are in DACA or DACA eligible at that time. And they were also dealing with the other effected areas. Diversity lottery and the family unification portion of it that are connected.

If you have 1.8 million people go through the naturalization, obviously that effects a lot of people unless you also deal with issue at family unification. So all of those are dealt with it. This is a compromised proposal. It doesn't deal with some big issues that have been controversial about things like in interior (ph) enforcement on sanctuary cities. These things do have to be address at some point. It deals with just those key issues.

CABRERA: So your proposal, we do know has support from Republican senators. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst. Again, those are all Republicans. They tend to be further right than some who are more in the middle.

Beyond that, though, how are you planning to get to 60 votes? Do you have Democrats on board with what you are proposing?

LANKFORD: So this is an ongoing conversation. It has been happening for months, actually. And now, it is the point to be able to actually get things on paper, get them out and actually initiate the debate. We think this is a compromised proposal over a lot of proposals that have come out the past few months. The very few of those have actually been put to paper. And so we try to actually get legislate language on that one, put it out and say let's open debate. Start debate on this issue if people have amendments. Bring the amendments and go through the process. I'm sure there will be other bills that will come out. And what is

the leader has actually proposed is just open dialogue. Bring a bill out. If you can get to 60, then we are on that bill. We will start debating the process and be fair to everyone.

CABRERA: But when you keep saying it is a compromise, what are you compromising on specifically? And if that is the case, wouldn't that have Democratic support?

LANKFORD: Well, we -- obviously, we hope that he does. We are going to accept 60 votes to be able to move in.

CABRERA: But you don't at this point, is that what you are saying?

LANKFORD: We don't know yet. We are going to be bring in and be able to work through the process. That's the nature of this week. There are probably four or five or six proposal that have come out. All of them have to be able to get to 60 to be able to actually go through the process. So literally, we don't know yet which area has 60 votes because we haven't gone through the process. There is lots of dialogue and conversation. But this proposal actually does the basics on border security. This does the basics on getting citizenship for those that are in DACA and all the areas that are around that.

CABRERA: Can you guarantee DACA recipients that the Senate is going to pass a bill that protect them before the March 5th deadline?

LANKFORD: No, I couldn't. I wish I could on that. I'm going to continue to work to be able to work to make sure that we actually do. And this is something that several of us started working on in September actually. (INAUDIBLE) putting a proposal that we call the succeed act to say here is how we could actually get to citizenship for those individuals that are in DACA and DACA eligible and to be able to work to build a coalition.

Literally since September, we have worked to try to build a coalitions to be able to get things done. Not only to limit the scope because once you start on immigration there are a lot of issues on immigration that have been unaddressed for the last 20 years. So to try to limit the scope to the smallest numbers of things as of possible but to actually build a coalition. Now we are down with the final days. It is time to actually get to voting.

[19:45:13] CABRERA: OK. You are on Senate intelligence committee so I'm going to switch topics here. A lot of focus right now on your counterparts in House that have their dueling memos.

Democrat representative Adam Schiff is set to meet, we know, with the FBI tomorrow to discuss the Democratic memo that President Trump declined to declassify. He apparently ignored the concerns of the FBI and DOJ in releasing the Nunes memo and now he is using that though as his reasoning to block the Democrats memo, isn't he?

LANKFORD: I haven't seen the memo. None of us have. Only those that are in the House have actually seen that part of it. So it would be interesting to be able to see what that may be. I would say my understanding is there are additional sources and methods that are actually revealed in the Democratic memo. If so they can certainly go back and redact that or simplify their language to be able to put out some of the same issues without revealing sources and methods that are exceptionally important we keep classified, then they can go re- release that. But again, obviously, I have no idea what is on it because we work on the senate. So I - we are not aware what the House is putting together.

CABRERA: OK. Do you want it see that Democratic memo?

LANKFORD: I would like to know all the sources they are drawing from. That's what we have always trying to focus where we are interested in on the House and Republican memo, wasn't necessarily the memo. It was the sources they are drawing from to make sure we see the same sources.

On the Senate side, we are trying to be bipartisan in this process. And we think it is exceptionally important to be able to build a series of trust with the American people that everyone from both side of the aisle is looking at common set of facts and coming to a common set of conclusions. I would like it continue to stay that way on the Senate side because we have to get information out.

CABRERA: Let's talk about the other big news. Staff secretary Rob Porter leaving the White House and accusations of domestic violence from both of his ex-wives. Porter was working under interim security clearance. We know he was handling classified information.

Senator, do you worry about White House staffers handling classified memo without a full permanent security clearance.

LANKFORD: If he is handling classified information as in, you know, taking a sealed folder and passing it on to the President that's different that actually reading through documents as we go through. There is a reason you do background checks and the reason you do classification review for anyone so that you never have an opportunity for someone to be able to get access to classified information that could also then some background information could be used to extort them. So we don't want anyone to be in that position. Obviously Rob Porter is now stepped back from resign. I think that's entirely appropriate. I think it is also entirely appropriate that we take seriously any accusations that coming for anyone as they go through the process.

CABRERA: Out reporting is there are about 30 to 40 people who are inside the White House administration currently who still do not have their full security clearances that they are operating under an interim security clearances.

I remember the Republicans who were so upset about Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information, is there a double standard here?

LANKFORD: I don't think so. I would have to get all the background information. Again, you are isolated. If you have interim clearance, you are not allowed into quite a few items. That is a protected status on it. And just because there are 30 or 40 people, that doesn't mean those 30 or 40 people that have been there since January of 2017. Some of those might have been recent-hires. That's not uncommon to have recent-hires to be able to put them over in a separate categories saying we have done some basic information, but there are still additional FBI checks that have to be done before we get to you the full clearance. So I would have to be able to find out exactly what stage they are in the process and what information they have access to.

CABRERA: Was it appropriate for Rob Porter to be in his position without full security clearance?

LANKFORD: Again, I don't know what information he is actually handling. And had I was blocked off. That is tough to be able to tell. Obviously, he has access to the President. But there are a lot of people that have access to the President that don't have full security clearance. It is the information that he is handling and what meetings that he actually attend. There are a lot of individuals --

CABRERA: He was handling classified information.

LANKFORD: Right. But I'm saying there a lot of times you get into a conversation and say this person has to be excused from the meeting because they don't have the level of clearance necessary to actually attend a certain meeting. I couldn't tell you that. Obviously, I'm not working in the White House.

CABRERA: Yes. I guess it goes back to why we have more questions than answers that still need to be answered.

Senator James Lankford, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time. And we will continue to hopefully stay in touch as this immigration debate continues.

LANKFORD: Yes, there's a lot to get done this week, both the Senate and the House and White House.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. Thanks again.

New information just revealed by the royal family. Details on the upcoming wedding plans of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. We will take you live to London for that in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Stay with us.


[19:54:16] CABRERA: Across the pond, the countdown to the royal wedding, which is just three months and eight days away, in case you were wondering. And tonight, we are getting some new details about it.

Let's get straight to the royal correspondent, Max Foster, who is in London for us.

Hi, Max. MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Yes. We going to get

a better sense of the shape of the day. So we now know that the service will start at noon in St. George's chapel in Windsor Castle, U.K. time. So 7:00 eastern time. So it will be morning for the eastern United States. So it will be a morning event.

You can see there the route they are going to take. And they are going to chopper up the long walk. So this is what is going to happen after the service at 1:00. They are going to take a carriage procession out of the castle. They wanted to meet as many people as possible. Want to share the day with as many people as possible. But obviously, the actual castle is in lockdown. So they wanted a carriage procession. So it is going to be a bit of a more grand affair that we expected.

We can take you inside the chapel as well. These are new images that were taken on behalf of the broadcasters within the chapel. And you get a real sense of how beautiful this scene is.

It's about half the size of (INAUDIBLE), which is where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. But it is much more intimate space and be a very beautiful space. So we are getting a sense of the day.

We also know that the archbishop of (INAUDIBLE) is the most senior official in the church of England will be overseeing the vows. It's not a state occasion, but it's a very important national occasion, reemphasizing that as well.

[19:55:46] CABRERA: How fun. What about the reception? Any word on details or where that will be?

FOSTER: Only that they are going to be coming back from the carriage procession to the reception within St. George's hall, another really picturesque room in the chapel, usually used for state banquets. So they are going to join the congregation there. And then later on in the evening, Prince Charles is going to have a more intimate affair. We don't know where it is going to be. That's going to be very private.

Bu I just want to share some of the day and keep some of the private. Prince Harry is very careful about how he opens up his life. He is very - he is quite controlled. And we are getting a sense of that and the way that dripping information to us as well is part p of that as well. But they do want the world to be involved. And certainly they will all be able to see it live, because it's going to be evening in Asia, it is going to morning in North America, and lunchtime in Europe. So it's going to be quite well-watched, I think.

CABRERA: God. I remember the big wedding with Kate and Prince William.

Thank you so much, Max Foster, for the update there.

We are back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:00:01] CABRERA: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And, tonight, the White House wants you to believe two things that can't both be true, at least not at the same time.