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Evidence of Trump Campaign Collusion Emerges in Russia Probe?; Republican Support Fading Over Shutdown?; Interview with Senator Kamala Harris of California. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired January 9, 2019 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin with the breaking news in our politics lead.

Third time, not a charm. Today's third meeting between President Trump and bipartisan congressional leaders going so poorly so quickly, president Trump walked out just minutes after the meeting began.

On day 19 of the federal government shutdown, we are seemingly no closer to any sort of compromise.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president just got up and walked out. He asked Speaker Pelosi, "Will you agree to my wall?"

She said no. And he just got up and said, "Then we have nothing to discuss," and he just walked out.

Again, we saw a temper tantrum.


TAPPER: President Trump seeming to confirm some of that description and a tweet, saying -- quote -- "I asked, what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up? Are you going to improve border security, which includes a wall or steel barrier? Nancy Pelosi said no. I said bye-bye."

Vice President Pence followed the Democratic leaders, saying that the Democrats were unwilling to do any negotiating.

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House.

And, Abby, it's almost as if last night's speeches never happened. And we're just back to dueling speeches moments ago from outside the White House.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A few minutes ago, when both Democrats first walked out, 30 minutes after this meeting was supposed to start in the Situation Room, gave their version of the story, and then the vice president, unprompted, unannounced, walks out as well to give their version.

Basically, where we are is that the Democrats and the Republicans are nowhere closer to an agreement on this. And in fact they may be as far away as they have ever been.

There is in some ways a description being played out here by the Democrats of a president who angrily stomped out of the room. And the White House is apparently very sensitive to that, sending the vice president out to dispute that description, saying clearly that the president did not angrily say anything to Nancy Pelosi, he didn't slam his hands on the table.

But they did confirm that he walked out. Here's a little taste of the kind of back and forth we just got here on the White House front lawn a few minutes ago.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president seems to be insensitive to that. He thinks maybe they could just ask your father for more money. But they can't.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president calmly said, I guess you're still not wanting to deal with the problem.


PHILLIP: So, the Democrats are being pretty clear. They don't want to have any conversations at all about the border or about the wall -- about the wall until the government is funded.

And the Republicans are saying that the president will not reopen the government until he gets border security money. That being said, the president's offer to Nancy Pelosi in the Situation Room today was, if I reopen the government right now, will you agree within the next 30 days to border security that includes a wall?

Pelosi said no to that, but it's also not the first time that offer has been made. In their last Situation Room meeting, the president made basically the same offer. Democrats rejected it then too. So this was the second time around for that offer. And it's not surprising, Jake, that it was rejected by Democrats, who've been saying from the very beginning they just want to fund the government as it currently stands.

They do not want to go into a protracted negotiation over a controversial wall that their members don't support and border security and a crisis that they don't also don't believe is the way that the White House describes it, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Abby Phillip, thanks so much.

Let's talk about this all. Clearly, things have taken a horrific turn.

It does seem as though Nancy Pelosi is closing the door to any wall funding as part of any agreement. And I wonder since there is some history for big comprehensive immigration reform which included some wall funding -- or at least border security funding -- why she didn't just take that opportunity to say, we would be willing to talk about anything if there were a big immigration reform package, but right now we're focused on opening the government?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think this goes back to trust, but -- and because of both sides don't trust each other.

There is no trust between any side of the -- of the different factions. And I will tell you, being on the Hill today, they are dug in on either sides. While the president's speech wasn't exactly a resounding success, it did rally typically House Republicans, where you have a lot of members waiting, and some may still vote with Democrats.

But talking to them coming out of that meeting today, they were ready, they're ready to hunker down and for the shutdown to continue until they get what they want.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy just now speaking about how the meeting went.


MCCARTHY: And the way they have displayed and their behavior is embarrassing to me. I tell the Democrats get back into the room. Let's not leave. Let's solve this problem. Just as the president said, it doesn't even take 45 minutes. We're here and we want to work.



TAPPER: Bill Kristol, your response?

BILL KRISTOL, FORMER EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, I don't think we should necessarily take for granted that President Trump or the others were being entirely honest in characterizing exactly what was said, because I think your point is right.

Look, there's an appropriations process. There will be a Homeland Security Bill. There will be amendments in order in committee and probably on the floor, and they will get to vote on whether they want to have $5.7 billion for the wall or $1.6 billion or zero.

Maybe Speaker Pelosi could have made that clearer to President Trump. He doesn't know a lot about how Congress works. But the Republicans do control the Senate. They can pass the 5.6 and send it over to the House. And so, I mean, the idea that he's not going to have a chance to make his case for his wall is ridiculous. And, incidentally, he's had a chance to make his case for that for the last two years. And he could have even tried to pass it on reconciliation, which only requires 50 votes, 51 votes, 50 plus the vice president.

And they controlled, of course, the Senate. They could have done that, but they chose to go with tax reform and Obamacare on reconciliation. So the idea that he doesn't have a chance -- that Republicans don't have a chance to get a vote on the wall or make a case for the wall unless the president shuts down a third of the government is simply false.

TAPPER: Well, it's also false, as you note -- Noah Rothman, the conservative commentator, did a long tweet about this -- that it's false that Republicans are unified around the wall.

I mean, maybe they are right now, this minute. But there have been two years in which Republicans have been all over the map about the wall. And, in fact, a lot of border state Republicans do not support the wall.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A lot of border state Republicans don't support the wall, because they realize what it's going to mean in terms of things like eminent domain.

There are stories after stories of ranchers whose lands would be taken away, who would lose their livelihood, who would not have access to things like the river that they need in order to be able to ranch.

Talk to people like John Cornyn about this. But also Republicans are not unified around this. We know that just in the U.S. Senate, there's at least three Republicans who have now publicly come out -- Murkowski, Collins and Gardner -- and said, we are ready to vote on reopening up the government.

So there is no such unison in the Republican Party. And I think -- look, I think it's up to Republicans. Donald Trump doesn't care what Democrats say. And he says this is not political.

Yes, it is political. It's so political that yesterday, hours before an address to Trump nation, he sent out a fund-raising, a political fund-raising request based on that address.

Republicans have got to demand that the president of the United States not act like a 72-year-old man baby having tantrums in the Situation Room or Oval Office and come to the table and negotiate.

TAPPER: And, Paul, speaking of President Trump saying the Republicans are totally unified and -- quote -- "There was no discussion about anything other than solidarity," which is what he said today, take a listen to Republican Senator Susan Collins.


QUESTION: Did any members raise any concerns? SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: There was a vigorous discussion.

QUESTION: Did you raise any concerns?



TAPPER: Susan Collins saying that she did raise some concerns that she has.

And we know that she wants to vote on opening the government in a clean bill. And she is one of three Senate Republicans that have called for that, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner Colorado and Senator Collins.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And that's that's the beginning at the end, I think, of Republican splitting off from the president.

The wall is not terribly popular. The president says he wants a wall. By the way, I think he just got one. I think Nancy Pelosi is the wall. She told him no.

This is a man baby is, as Ana says, who at age 3, according to "the New York Times," his father was giving him $200,000 a year in today's money. At age 3, he was a millionaire. He was a rich man, a rich baby. And he's still rich baby.

But he's never before, I think, had someone look him in the eye, someone with equal power, look him in the eye and say no.

Nancy Pelosi raised five children. Believe me, she knows how to say no.

TAPPER: So President Trump today saying he didn't want this fight at all.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We really have to think about the people of our country. This is not a fight I wanted. I didn't want this fight.


TAPPER: OK. Now, of course, we know that the Senate, controlled by Republicans, voted for a clean bill which funded the government and did not include border wall funding. And President Trump said, no, he's not going to sign it.

And then this happened last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country.


TAPPER: So I think it's clear, just on a factual basis, he does want this fight. He wants the politics of it. He wants the rallying of Republicans and rallying the base. He wants the changing of the subject from the fact that Paul Manafort shared campaign data with somebody with ties to Russia military intelligence.

He does want it.

KUCINICH: Absolutely.

This is what -- he thinks this is politically good for him. And he even said in an aside at one of those press conferences that this is really politically bad for Democrats. What is he going to run on in 2020, if he doesn't have the wall to pound on, to say -- is it finish the wall?


This really -- he has seen this. This got him -- this helped him get elected. And he sees this as a hill to die on.

KRISTOL: But this is nuts.

It helped him in the primaries. There's a lot of data on this. The world did not help him in the general election. It did not help Republicans in 2018. It is not going to -- it's not helping them as we speak.


KRISTOL: His numbers have slid a little bit over the last week. They're now at the lowest they have been since September.

So, I mean, he can tell himself, I suppose, that my base is so idiotic that they think that shutting down a third of the government over...


KUCINICH: He has convinced himself also that people who are not getting paid right now are saying, that's OK, Mr. President.

KRISTOL: Do you think he's convinced himself or do you think...

KUCINICH: You keep on keeping on. That is not happening.


KRISTOL: I feel it's more like desperation, that he knows he's losing and he doesn't know what to do. NAVARRO: I actually think Jackie is right. I think he does convince -- I think he convinced himself he has had conversations with past presidents who have told him they want a wall.

Obviously, he is conversing with the paintings on the walls and things that are answering back.


TAPPER: But also, Brad Parscale, his campaign manager for 2020, put out a tweet today saying the president's ratings have never been higher. I'm data-driven. I know what I'm talking about. Forget anything else that you're seeing in the fake news media. This is real.

BEGALA: He's made a decision, as presidents who get pasted in their first term -- midterm -- have to make, the decision between deepening and broadening.

A sensible politician would say, I want to broaden. I have my base. And I have never seen a politician stronger with his base than Donald Trump is with his.

TAPPER: He could do -- he literally could do anything.


BEGALA: He could. As he said, he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue.

TAPPER: No, but he could sign immigration reform.

BEGALA: Yes. If he was any deeper with his base, he'd come out in China.

But he should be broadening. This is what President Clinton did, President Obama did. This is what President Reagan did.

And he's not. I think it's because of Mueller. I don't think he's a stupid man. I don't think he's a bad politician. I think this is about deepening his passionate commitment among a minority of Americans, so he can perhaps withstand Mueller.

TAPPER: Speaking of which, moments ago, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee spoke to CNN about what could be game, set and match for conspiracy, after it's revealed that President Trump's campaign chairman was passing on campaign info to a Russian intelligence operative.

Plus, presidential buzz. Senator Kamala Harris, she's made a name for herself challenging Donald Trump at every turn. Will she take him on in 2020? She's live in studio.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:16:15] TAPPER: Welcome back.

Just minutes ago, President Trump walked out of a meeting after Democrats refused to contemplate ever funding his border wall if and when he agreed to reopen the government. It's now day 19 of the shutdown. The two sides have really never seemed further apart.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more is Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California, a Democrat who serves on the Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.

She is here to talk about her new book titled "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey", which is just out.

And it's a good read.

Senator, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, I will talk about the book in a second.

HARRIS: OK, sure.

TAPPER: But I have to ask you about what we just saw, president Trump walking out of the meeting saying he wants agreement for some border wall funding at some point and Nancy Pelosi saying no, and he says, we have no reason to talk.

Is there any way out of this impasse?

HARRIS: Well, let's first acknowledge that this is a crisis of the president's own making. We are talking about a request for $5.6 billion that the American public knows can be spent on issues that impact them every day, not on the president's vanity project. We are talking about over 800,000 American workers and their families and the structure around them that relies on those families, who are going to go without a paycheck tomorrow. And tomorrow will be the anniversary apparently or the day that will mark the longest shutdown --

TAPPER: Friday.

HARRIS: Friday, tomorrow -- you're tracking the days.

TAPPER: Friday.

HARRIS: Friday.

TAPPER: On Friday, it will surpass the longest shutdown in history.

HARRIS: Right. And for what? And for what purpose?

Let's put it in further context. A bipartisan group, a unanimous group of the United States senators and on the House side, a bipartisan group all passed and agreed on a funding bill that this president refuses to sign.

TAPPER: I get that's how we got here.

HARRIS: Yes. But that's important. Context is very important.

TAPPER: I hear you. But let me ask you, you weren't here in 2013 when there last was a big attempt to comprehensive immigration reform. And I know you always say there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform. The problem needs to be solved.

HARRIS: And there has been a bipartisan agreement on what comprehensive immigration reform would look like.

TAPPER: Right. So, that's the 2013 bill. To get Republicans, they did put in border security funding. Tens of billions of dollars of it. Is there not some sort of agreement that could be reached at least hypothetically, like we're willing to sit down and have a comprehensive immigration reform which border wall funding?

HARRIS: And we should have that conversation -- and we should have that conversation about what we can do to pass comprehensive immigration reform, to pay attention to what we all care about, which is border security. It is a false choice to suggest that we're going to hold 800,000 federal workers and all of the services they provide hostage for this president's vanity project.

Let's have that conversation. But let's stop this shutdown of the government, get the government working doing the job it is supposed to do and those workers want to do and pay them for their work.

TAPPER: So I have one more question about the news and then I'll turn to the book, which I agree to discuss.

HARRIS: OK, I appreciate that. Don't hold my book hostage.

TAPPER: I'm not.

The top Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, so you're vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee --


TAPPER: -- told CNN today that if it's true that Trump's then campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared data -- internal holding data with Konstantin Kilimnik who just believed have links to Russian military intelligence, if that's true, then that's evidence of somebody on the Trump campaign giving the Russians information they would have found helpful for their intelligence operation to interfere on the 2016 election.

So if it's true, is that evidence of conspiracy?

[16:20:02] Is that game set match for the whole collusion thing?

HARRIS: It is -- certainly there is good reason to believe that this is suspicious and probably linked. But again, on this issue, let's not lose sight of one important fact. There is a guy by the name of Bob Mueller that is engaged in a very important investigation. It is imperative that to answer the questions you are asking, we let him complete his job without any interference.

TAPPER: Did you know about this, Manafort sharing the data thing?

HARRIS: I cannot tell you right now.

TAPPER: You can't tell me who --



TAPPER: Let's talk about your books. You have two books, actually, I should point out.


TAPPER: One is for grown ups, the truths we hold.

HARRIS: Or those who legally are grown ups.

TAPPER: Right, chronologically, which I include myself in.

HARRIS: Exactly, yes.

TAPPER: And this one is superheroes are everywhere.


TAPPER: Actually, I read them both. There is a lot of overlap.

HARRIS: Yes. There is.

TAPPER: Both of them praise your mom a lot.

HARRIS: Yes, very much.

TAPPER: Your mom was born in India, raised in India. She came here.

HARRIS: At the age of 19.

TAPPER: At the age of 19.


TAPPER: He raised you and your sister as a single mother after your parents split up. You described her as the strongest person you have ever known. You wrote very emotionally in one section of the grown up book about her being treated differently because she was an Indian- American.

You wrote, quote: I have too many memories of my brilliant mother being treated as though she was dumb because of her accent. Memories of her being followed around the department store with suspicion, because surely a brown-skinned woman like her couldn't afford the dress or the blouse she had chosen.

Your dad is also immigrant from Jamaica.

How does that affect how you govern and especially when it comes to the immigration debate but not exclusively?

HARRIS: Well, I think all of us or any of us who have an immigrant background will tell you there are so much more in common in our parents and grandparents than what makes them different.

My parents raised us with a commitment to making sure that we would be healthy, that we would be happy, that we would be productive. That was their priority. I think we were blessed to have a childhood that was a very nurturing and happy childhood.

But when we talk about the immigration debate, I think there's no question that there are powerful forces, including this president, that are attempting to vilify immigrants because they were born in another country and suggest that they are therefore any different in terms of their fundamental values or beliefs or priorities. I think all of us as Americans should be insulted by that suggestion, knowing that all of us are just a few generations, if not one generation away from immigrants who arrived in this country with the same hopes and dreams that we each have for our children.

TAPPER: You were in the second integrated class of Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Oakland.


TAPPER: It happened because of busing. You write about that.

HARRIS: That's right.

TAPPER: Around that same time, then Senator Joe Biden changed his position and became anti-busing. He joined with Jesse Helms. I don't know if you know this.

HARRIS: I did not know that.

TAPPER: And I'm wondering as somebody who was in an integrated class because of busing, was then Senator Biden wrong?

HARRIS: Well, as we know, first of all, there was a need for Brown v. Board of Education. Thanks to Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton --

TAPPER: Who are among the heroes in your book.

HARRIS: Who are among the heroes in my children's book. There was a need for them to make clear that anything that was about segregating children in schools based on race was antithetical to our Constitution and the values and priorities and ideals of our country.

So, there's no question that busing was the right thing to do as an attempt towards integrating the public schools of America. And I am sure that all good people support the idea that children should not be educated separately and that we should have a society and leaders that want to integrate and bring all children together as equal.

TAPPER: I have two more questions.


TAPPER: You were a leader of the #MeToo Movement. You were very vocal in the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh.

An unfortunate thing happened on your staff which is that one of your top aides you had resigned a few weeks ago, Larry Wallace. And, in fact, he is mentioned in the book at one point helping you run the attorney general department of the Department of Justice in California and fixing the problem of implicit bias.

As somebody who is a leader of the #MeToo Movement, how did this happen and you didn't know about it? And what did you learn about it given that it kind of struck close to home?

HARRIS: Sure. First of all it was a painful experience to know something can happen in one's office, of almost 5,000 people, granted, but that I didn't know about it. That being said, I take full responsibility that has happened in my office.

[16:25:04] I always do and I always will. The buck stops with me.

But the other point, Jake, is that it really does -- to your point -- make also a clear point, which is even in the office of someone who has been an advocate for women and women's rights and all people's rights, there's no office that is immune from this kind of behavior. And that's something tat we're also going to have to deal with. And it is a sad statement.

TAPPER: You have said that you think the country is ready for a president who is a woman of color. Not necessarily you --

HARRIS: Right.

TAPPER: -- but a woman of color. At the same time, you also talk very movingly and compellingly in your book and elsewhere about misogyny, sexism, racism.

HARRIS: Anti-Semitism.

TAPPER: Anti-Semitism.


TAPPER: But square the circle. How is the country ready for this if problems are so prevalent and when are you going to make your decision?

HARRIS: I will make my decision soon, not at this very moment. But I will say that we have to give the American people more credit. We have to understand that the American public and the people of our country are smart people who will make decisions about who will be their leader based on who they believe is capable, who they believe has an honest desire to lead, to represent, to see them, to be a voice for them even if they have no power and those are the kinds of people who we are as a country.

And so, the pundits can talk all day and all night. And there's a lot of chatter about which demographic will do this or that. It has been my life's experience that the American people are smart and they make decisions based on what's in the best interest of their household, their family and their community. And I have faith that in 2020 and any other election, that would be their motivation when they vote.

TAPPER: Do you think people talk too much time talking about the fact that you were first woman district attorney in San Francisco, first woman attorney general of California, first African American, all of those trail blazing things they did? Do they spend too much time talking about that and not the accomplishments?

HARRIS: I think that people talk about both. I am proud when people talk about the fact that I created one of the first reentry initiatives of any D.A.s office in the country when I was district attorney in San Francisco, focused on first time offenders and what we need to do to reform the criminal justice system. I'm proud when they talk about the fact that I was the first attorney general to create a bureau of children's justice focused on education, understanding that there's a directed connection between public education and public safety. I'm proud when they talk about I was one of the first to focus around digital forensics, and cyber security.

I'm proud about all of my firsts.

TAPPER: And these two books also.

HARRIS: Yes, my first children's book, and my second book.

TAPPER: Your second book for grown ups. The first book, children's superheroes are everywhere.


TAPPER: And "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey". Thanks so much for being here.

HARRIS: Yes. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: I really appreciate it.

HARRIS: Appreciate you.

TAPPER: We have more breaking news. A family in complete shock after a woman in a coma for more than a decade had a baby. Now, police are talking about the disturbing case for the first time. What are they telling us?

Stay with us.