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Clinton Passes Blame; Clinton's New Book; Budget Director News Conference; Mulvaney Defends Shutdown Call; Spicer Leaves Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 2, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There you have it. Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and the former Democratic presidential nominee opening up about losing the 2016 presidential election. She says she's in the painful process, her words, painful process of writing a book about it right now.

Let's bring back our panel.

Dana, she was very blunt in blaming James Comey, the FBI director, blaming WikiLeaks and Putin and the Russians for her loss.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was an incredible interview for so many reasons. I think the most telling line was her saying, I can't be anything other than what I am. And for Hillary Clinton, to the frustration of a lot of her supporters, that includes being somebody who had some difficulty taking responsibility for what happened. Now, she did. She had a pretty remarkable moment where she said that she definitely has regrets. She definitely takes responsibility in some ways. That she is also spending time looking for absolution, requesting absolution, as she writes her books, when she's not, she joked, taking walks in the woods. But, for the most part, beyond that, there was a big focus on James Comey and his interference in the election.

BLITZER: At the end of October.

BASH: At the end of October, explicitly saying, quoting Nate Silver, the statistician, that if the election were held on October 27th, the day before James Comey sent his letter saying that they were reopening the investigation into her e-mails, that she would have been your president. She said it like that. And then, of course, blaming Russia as well.

But, you know what, having said that, she did win 3 million more votes in the general election than Donald Trump, and it's got to be painful. It's got to be hard. It's got to be almost impossible to come to terms with.

BLITZER: Yes. And, Brianna, you covered that campaign, so you were with her very often. She describes herself now as an activist citizen, part of the resistance. But she also had a little bit of blunt criticism of the president.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Downright trolling him, I think we might say at some point.

BASH: Yes, right.

KEILAR: The - where she says, I did win 3 million more votes and she talks about Donald Trump tweeting about foreign affairs versus her and she indicated that she's fine with him tweeting about her because, quote, "I'm happy to be the diversion." So that was where she's - I mean in a way you can almost see if - or think of Donald Trump, if he's watching this, having a visceral reaction as he does to these kinds of things.

But there was - it did strike me that she seemed to say, I've taken some responsibility. I'm - you'll see it in the book.

BLITZER: Acknowledged she made some mistakes.

KEILAR: That's right.

BASH: Yes.

KEILAR: And we haven't seen that as much. She certainly is always first to go to external factors, be it James Comey or WikiLeaks. We didn't hear any mentions of the original sin of her campaign, which was her e-mail process. I know that Democrats are so sick of hearing about it but that -

BASH: Right, the whole reason Comey was - the whole reason Comey was investigating this (INAUDIBLE) server.

KEILAR: That's right, but it - it did - it certainly affect her trust. So I think - I mean I'm going to be really interested to see what she has been writing. She says, when I'm not walking in the woods, I'm writing.

BASH: Right.

KEILAR: Because the last books that she's written, "Hard Choices" and "Living History," these were the books written by someone who had a political future in front of them. And the expectation now, I think, is that that is behind Hillary Clinton. Is she going to be less cautious? Is she going to be a little more forthcoming about really her thought process that she keeps so close to the vest.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, she kept teasing the book, saying it's coming out in the fall. Wait until whatever revelations come out. I mean that, to me, didn't necessarily seem like a woman who has her political career behind her. She seemed to be much more comfortable in talking about this, certainly trolling Donald Trump over and over in ways that she didn't even need to. Like she brought up the tax cuts, for instance, saying that people like her don't need a tax cut. And, of course, Donald Trump's plan would give someone like Donald Trump a tax cut as well as her.

Talking about this idea that she knew that the presidency wouldn't be easy. That hard problems don't get to - or easy problems don't get to the president's desk. She flashed back on the debates and sort of moments there. But, yes, I mean, I think the members of the resistance who have sort of been waiting for, you know, Hillary Clinton's response and waiting for her critique of the campaign and what happened, I think they'll be happy to see her back out there and seeming to be kind of comfortable and confident and certainly ready for that book in the fall.

BLITZER: You know, David, she also seemed to ridicule the president. She said, you know, a president should know that health care reform is difficult.

HENDERSON: Yes.

BLITZER: A president should know that national security issues are difficult. Clearly, the implication being that this president was not necessarily prepared for all the challenges.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. And that has come home to be a huge issue and I think an unfolding issue for this president that he's underprepared for the job, but his voters knew that and even his supporters knew that.

A couple of areas of foreign policy substance, she was critical on the strike on Syria, suggesting in more subtle ways that there's no strategy there, that it's something of a one-off.

[14:05:06] She did not ridicule the idea of meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea, suggesting that it had to be a regional approach, but not saying that it was an outlandish idea. Obviously negotiations are important. Her husband's administration pursued that. She thought it was important here as well.

You know, what she doesn't do - I mean she's obviously writing a book and she's going to be more forthcoming. I think she's absolutely right about the unprecedented steps that Jim Comey took as FBI director, completely disregard Justice Department policy for how to handle an investigation. That is incontrovertible. We don't know the exact impact, but just because she screwed up with her judgment and in the investigation of the e-mail server does not mean that she should have been subjected to something that no citizen should have be subjected to, including the leaks of interviews that were done in the process of the investigation by the FBI. That was absolutely totally inappropriate.

But she doesn't seem to grapple with the idea that she missed the mood. She missed the mood of the country that was for such radical change and that was not her. I do, however, think she's right that misogyny played a role in why people voted against her and I think that will - maybe her book will bring in a wider conversation about all that.

KEILAR: She talked about -

HENDERSON: And in some ways she's - yes, I mean, in some ways she's sticking to her brand as the wonk, right? I mean she, at one point, said there needs to be a national conversation on robotics and artificial intelligence. And she talked about being prepared and job training and things that don't necessarily fit on a bumper sticker, but in ways that, going forward, you will have to have those conversations about where the economy is going forward.

KEILAR: She mentioned being in Harrisburg. I believe the trip she was talking about, I think I covered that event or some of the events around that. That was an opportunity really. She talked - to admit, as you said, that she missed the mood. She talks about how there wasn't good Internet there. But this was the area, one of the areas, that sort of sunk her.

One of the other things that I thought was interesting was she said during the debates she was waiting for someone, meaning a moderator, to ask about how Donald Trump would create jobs. That was asked. Donald Trump really would not answer it. I think that left and right you had journalists trying to get to the bottom of that. He wouldn't be substantive. The point is, overall and the way that it affected the election, voters did not seem to care.

HENDERSON: Right.

GREGORY: Right.

KEILAR: They seemed to believe that he would be better at creating jobs no matter how it was that he was going to do it than Hillary Clinton was going to do.

GREGORY: And Republicans came home in a way that I think everybody missed.

HENDERSON: Yes.

GREGORY: I think part of our problem was that we saw the election was so close right in the end but we still thought, I'll speak for myself, I thought, yes, I know it's close but there's no way that her people are not going to come out in sufficient numbers to carry her over. I was wrong about that. And I think people generally underestimated the extent to which Republicans would actually come home and vote for Republicans.

HENDERSON: Yes. But particularly white women, right?

GREGORY: Right.

HENDERSON: I mean and that - that came up. Christiane asked that, why do you think white women went for Donald Trump and not for you? She didn't answer that. Typically white women do vote for Republicans and that was the same thing that happened in this election as well.

BLITZER: You know, Brianna, she really didn't get into - she won the popular vote nationally by, what, 3 million votes, which is significant, but clearly not enough. You need 270 electoral votes. Donald Trump got 306 electoral votes because he managed to carry those battleground states plus largely Democratic states, like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania. States that Republicans in presidential elections don't normally manage to win. And in Wisconsin, for example, after the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, she didn't step foot in Wisconsin until after Election Day. She didn't go there once because she thought it was a lock.

KEILAR: That's right. And one of the early postmortems now that we have seen, this book "Shattered" that is out, talks about some of the missteps that the campaign took in their analysis of those areas. But it's going to be very interesting to hear that from Hillary Clinton because as we understand, bill Clinton was in the background saying, you're missing something. You're missing these areas. You need to pay attention to these areas. And perhaps his opinion was not taken as seriously as it could have been, if she would have even been able to turn that around.

HENDERSON: Right.

BLITZER: All right, David Chalian is with us, our political director.

David, I'm anxious to get your reaction to what we just heard from Hillary Clinton.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Wolf, after covering Hillary Clinton for more than 15 years and looking at many of her public appearances, I found this to be perhaps the most astonishing Hillary Clinton appearance I've ever seen. It was perhaps her at her most authentic. You know, authenticity is a word we talk about in politics all the time and we - in terms of Hillary Clinton, that there was somehow a deficit of that over her career. Authentically raw, authentically biter, authentically pissed off, if you will, at these election results that she clearly, while she noted that she was taking responsibility, her name was on the ballot, but clearly placing the bulk of the blame on Comey and on Putin, for WikiLeaks, and clearly thinking that an election that she believed was sort of rightfully hers, that she was winning, she said, was taken away from her in those cases and she's clearly not resolved that yet. I mean there's still some real resentment about that, that was apparent and I'm sure a lot of her critics will slam her for not talking more about how she didn't visit Michigan or Wisconsin and what have you. But what I think we saw on display there, Wolf, was a real, authentic and raw Hillary Clinton who was publicly revealing herself in a way that I don't recall her ever doing before.

[14:10:50] BLITZER: Yes, no. I totally agree. She was very, very blunt. And I've been covering her a lot longer than you. I was down in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1992, just before the election, so I've been watching her in action as a first lady, then as a secretary of state, as a U.S. senator.

We're just beginning to lose our lights a little bit in here. But we'll get that fixed as we're talking.

But you're absolutely right, David, she was very, very direct in dealing with these issues.

CHALIAN: Yes. And it startled me just watching it. It was just like, this is Hillary Clinton that I don't know if she's either indicating as she's writing this book she told Christiane she's wrestling with this. It's been a difficult process. Is this her sort of final way to get all of this off of her chest, what she experienced last year, and put this in the book and be done with it, or was this a Hillary Clinton who was demanding to still stay on the stage and have her stay because she clearly has not sort of like left the campaign behind. It is clearly something, as she was critiquing the Trump administration for the things it's been doing, she clearly still wants to have a voice, right now a voice of criticism of what she's seeing, that has real impact.

BLITZER: Yes. We have our lights back here in our studio, fortunately. So we're going to continue to get reaction. Much more on all of this coming up.

I quickly want to go to the Office of Management and Budget director, the budget director, Mick Mulvaney. He's briefing reporters at the White House briefing, standing by for Sean Spicer.

[14:12:25] MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: You've seen the executive orders. You've see the stuff. Oh, this bill includes all of the traditional protections for the pro-life movement, including the Hyde Amendment. And what we simply decided was, look, if you want to take a vote on The Hill to stake out your position on Planned Parenthood, do it on the health care bill.

You've seen the stuff -- oh, this bill includes all of the traditional protections for the pro-life movement, including the Hyde Amendment.

And what we simply decided was, look, if you want to take a vote on the Hill to stake out your position on Planned Parenthood, do it on the health care bill. And the outside groups agreed with us on that. The pro-life movement agreed with that.

If you want to prove to the folks back home that you are pro- life, then vote for the Planned Parenthood bill.

The last thing you asked, about sanctuary cities, I already talked about that, in that it was something we gave up in the negotiation.

But the end of the day, here's how I look you in the face and the folks in the camera and the folks back home and say the president got his priorities funded. More money for the military, more money for southern -- the southern border security and more money for school choice.

Those are the same exact priorities that I talked about in March when we laid out the budget. So that's how I can look you in the eye and tell you that I'm absolutely satisfied we funded our priorities.

QUESTION: Will the new border wall look like that border wall right there? The new border wall that you build, will it look like that one right there?

MULVANEY: Well, this is what's -- this is what's permitted in the bill. So that's...

QUESTION: I'm saying, will the new one that's built along the U.S. southern border look like that border wall right there? MULVANEY: Well, I mean, you've got a border that's -- in certain places, yes, (inaudible) the other photo we can't get up is the levee, so I'm not really sure what your question is.

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: We will build the most appropriate...

QUESTION: ... that wall with a new wall with new funding. In other words, is this short-term fix and then we're going to...

MULVANEY: That is a 20-foot-high steel wall. That is not a temporary, short-term fix.

So I'll -- I'll finish...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MULVANEY: I'll go to the next one. I've been promising the young lady in the pink in the back (inaudible)... (CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: And I'll follow up on that.

Where is that being built? And how many miles how are you going to get out of it?

MULVANEY: Well, I don't know where it's being built.

And, again, we haven't done mile -- the per mile. I think the total spending is $347 million on that. But I -- we haven't done the math yet on what that does.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) what does that cover? What are we talking about?

MULVANEY: Well, again, it depends on -- it's more expensive to build the wall in certain places. So we -- this is going to be replacement. So we have to go out and figure out where we are. And that's -- it's cheaper than building new wall, because we already have land acquisition here, we have the right to build it, et cetera. There's probably roads out there to service it.

When you're building new walls, to the gentleman's point, you're starting from scratch, so you have to build the infrastructure necessary just to get the construction teams out there to build.

So we haven't done the math yet on how many miles we can build and where it will be. What we do know is that we have several hundred of million dollar -- hundreds of millions of dollars to do this.

You want to follow up on that or not?

QUESTION: Well, yes.

I mean, when can we see construction? And when do you think they're going to go out there and put up a wall? MULVANEY: This construction that you see here -- well, I don't know if it's this exact construction, because I don't know where this photograph is. This wall is being installed on the southern border today.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: (inaudible), Director Mulvaney. All right. So two topics for (inaudible).

When it comes to the wall and this -- this budget for the wall, it's very expensive. That's one piece of the immigration issue.

QUESTION: What about the larger piece of the immigration issue? Where's the funding when it comes to fixing the issue when you have people who are overstaying their visas? That's more of the immigration issue that in the past and even now is happening, versus just dealing with the southern border. You have immigrants from all countries coming here, versus just the southern border. How are you going to -- what -- what monies are going to...

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: It -- it's a fair question. Let me answer two ways. It's probably not going to be very satisfactory, but this is how I'd answer your question.

First, this is a -- this is a pure funding bill. Yes, there are certain policies that are wrapped up into it, but I think both parties would probably push back if you tried to tie something as large as immigration reform to a funding bill. They don't like to do that. They will tell you that they're not supposed to authorize on an appropriations bill. This is a one-year funding bill. It is not supposed to be a carrier for a long-term policy change.

Now, they obviously from time to time make exceptions to that, but they really don't like to do that on the Hill. I didn't like to do it when I was a member of Congress. So that's a technical answer to your question.

But to your larger discussion about why do this and ignore the other -- the other topics is that I really don't think, and this is not just rhetoric, I really believe this, and I've been through this as a member of Congress, it's very difficult to have a conversation about immigration until the southern border is secure. Because all of us who follow it very closely, many of you in this room, know the example of Ronald Reagan from the 1980s when he did the amnesty in exchange for the southern wall; gave the amnesty first and never got the wall.

And there's a lot folks, myself included, who say fool me once, you know, shame on you. And until we secure the southern border, we don't think it's productive to have a larger conversation about immigration.

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: They were the ones trying to interrupt you. (CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: The conversation -- the conversation has been basically focused just on the southern wall and the other piece is just not there in the conversation from the White House. No one is dealing with the bigger issue, the main -- that's the major piece versus this expensive wall. And that's why I'm wondering why is there not talk about that, and the money to accompany the bigger piece on the immigration issue?

MULVANEY: I'll answer the same way, but a different way. I think the administration needs to have credibility on this before we start talking about immigration with anybody. No one will take us seriously on immigration reform until we've satisfied them that we have secured the southern border. There are folks in my own party who say, look, I want to talk about immigration reform, but you have to go out and secure the southern border first. And I think that's what we're doing.

I'll take one or two more.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: I said several topics when I asked you (inaudible).

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I have to get it when I can get it.

On ACA, is it -- sir, on ACA, is it more about the numbers or about the issue when it comes to these possible waivers for states? When it comes to the issues of substance abuse, taking the substance abuse component out of the ACA? That -- I'm asking that question as many of these (inaudible) to include this current president who ran on the issue of fixing the opioid addiction, heroin addiction.

Now, you have this piece that possibly the states can take the substance abuse prevention or program out of ACA. What are the numbers on that? Because how do you justify that when these candidates -- the Republican candidates, and Democrats, ran on this?

MULVANEY: I don't know what numbers you're speaking of, but I will -- I will -- I will speak to the philosophy, which is that we really do believe that the states will do it better than we will. I mean, you've seen this commitment that the administration has already had to opioid abuse. I think there may be money for it in this funding bill that we approve of.

OK? So we're committed to that, but I also think we recognize the reality that the states are probably more nimble and more well attuned to their own local populations to deal with it. I was in the state legislature in South Carolina. I would have loved on very many different levels, from opioid abuse to Medicaid, to simply have the federal government write us a check and say, "Here, South Carolina, go fix; go help these folks that we want you to help," because we have done a better job at it.

So while I don't have numbers for you, that's the philosophy behind all of these waivers is that the federal one-size-fits-all might not be the best solution and let's let the states solve the problem.

You had a question. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Yes, thanks very much.

Back on the issue of shutdowns, you had mentioned earlier that President Trump was upset by how the Democrats portrayed the deal.

MULVANEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it right to shut down the government because of how something was portrayed instead of what was...

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: No, which is why we're not -- if that was the case, we'd be vetoing this bill now.

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: No. I think what he's foreshadowing is, look, this place has to change. The way we run the town has to -- to be fixed. We have to do something. We cannot simply muddle along using the same models of previous -- that the previous administration has used. OK? Something -- this is a change-agent president and he's going to change Washington, D.C. And if it takes a shutdown, then what's what it takes.

But again, that's several months away from that discussion. We have a lot to do between now and then.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: A quick followup on this notion of a good shutdown. What -- wouldn't most Americans agree that shutdowns are bad, you shouldn't shut down the government?

QUESTION: And further to that point, it seems as if you -- you may have answered your own question this week on the question of government shutdown. You have a compromise. Republicans and Democrats are getting together and passing something. Both sides are not getting everything that they want.

Isn't that what the American people want? They want their government to work and pass budgets that -- that can be a compromise and both sides can agree on.

How could a -- how could a shutdown be good?

MULVANEY: That -- that's exactly what I think they want and that's exactly what we have given to them with this agreement. My point to you, in response to a couple different questions, was that the president wants to see Washington better, get better, get fixed, change the way it does business.

QUESTION: But isn't this better...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... you have a...

MULVANEY: It is. It absolutely is. Which is why it's so frustrating...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MULVANEY: Which is why it's so frustrating to have the Democrats go out to say they won and we lost. That's not -- that's not a bipartisan way to approach things. I can't imagine Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill having that discussion, you know, at the end of a negotiation.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) both sides always do...

MULVANEY: You watch that last question.

(CROSSTALK)

MULVANEY: Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: (inaudible), I wanted to ask you about Republicans. I know that you're talking about on the Senate side and these Democrats...

MULVANEY: Yes.

QUESTION: ... but on the House side, there have been budget bills that simply can't get enough Republican support to pass on their own.

Do you think that -- that it is possible to do a Republican budget bill with Republican votes alone?

MULVANEY: I do, because I voted for them myself. There's actually been a lot more...

QUESTION: Like an actual appropriations bill?

MULVANEY: ... many more appropriations bills that have passed with just Republican support than people realize.

The reason you don't hear about them is that they die because the Senate is not -- is incapable of passing a bill or passing a bill that has any chance of passing in the House because they have to use the 60-vote threshold, which is where I started the conversation.

So, no, I think you're selling the Republicans short. You're selling the Republicans' leadership and the rank-and-file membership -- you -- let them speak their mind, let them -- let their voices be heard and the next appropriations process, which, by the way, starts today. And I'll close with this. This puts '17 to an end, OK? But the discussion about the '18 funding begins right now. And we very much want to see the ordinary appropriations process function. And anything we can do at the White House to encourage that to happen, we will do it.

And we -- because we do not want to be here again. We don't want to be having a discussion about a shutdown.

It -- look, one of the things you asked about, about changing Washington, about why would you have a discussion of a shutdown in September, if the appropriations process is still not working by September, that's a bad thing for the country. It's a bad thing for the Congress, by the way.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... shutdown, why is the president threatening one?

MULVANEY: The -- one of the things that we like, OK, as members of the government -- I'm not talking about members of the administration now, it is members of the government -- is that the -- the proper functioning of the appropriations process is critical to the proper constitutional function of the government.

The House and the Senate are supposed to use the power of the purse. And when they don't do appropriations bills, their constituents' voices, who are also our constituents' voices, are not heard.

So we hope very much that comes back into -- as part of the process. We're very pleased with the deal today.

If you have any follow-up questions, you can always call Mr. Zartagy (ph).

Thank you very much again. And thank you for letting me have a shoutout to my wife.

QUESTION: Will you guys just e-mail where that wall is from exactly so we can identify location? Appreciate it.

QUESTION: Hey, Sean!

QUESTION: Come on, Sean!

[14:23:02] MULVANEY: If you have any follow-up questions, you can always call Mr. Zartagi (ph). Thank you very much again and thank you for letting me have a shout-out to my wife.

QUESTION: Will you guys just e-mail where that wall is from exactly so we can identify location? Appreciate it.

BLITZER: All right, there's Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, strongly defending this short-term budget bill, spending deal, to keep the government operating, even in the face of a lot of criticism from Republicans that the Democrats basically got what they wanted.

Also trying to explain the president's sort of controversial tweet this morning. I'll put it up on the screen right now. "The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 percent. Our country needs a good 'shutdown' in September to fix the mess."

You know, David Chalian, causing a lot of concern right now that, in effect, the president is threatening a government shutdown at the end of September when the fiscal year ends.

CHALIAN: And that is the opening bid to the 2018 budget process.

HENDERSON: Right.

GREGORY: Yes.

CHALIAN: Because you just heard Mick Mulvaney there clearly say it was very clear, Wolf, the highest priority for the administration right now is to avoid a shutdown this week, right now.

BLITZER: And they did - they achieved it.

CHALIAN: And they did. And they achieved that. But after seeing some headlines that the Democrats got more than the Republicans and that they won on some of these budget battles, what you saw President Trump do and Mick Mulvaney do is say, OK, see you in September, and right now we're going to start putting the pressure on. He is willing to play shutdown politics, as he's indicating in his tweets, to start leveraging and getting his way on what he sees are the bigger budget battles, which is his priority. Remember, this is funding Barack Obama's budget and priorities and finishing that up. He now is setting forth his own budget, his own priorities and he's indicating the fight for that will come in September.

BLITZER: Let me go to Jim Acosta, our senior White House correspondent.

Jim, you were there in the briefing room.

[14:25:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BLITZER: Pretty extraordinary what's going on right now.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, Wolf. You saw the budget director for President Trump, Mick Mulvaney, talking to reporters in here, going over this spending bill that is likely to get passed this week and signed by the president to keep the government open all the way through the fiscal year of 2017. And at the end of this briefing, Mulvaney walked out and so did Sean Spicer without taking any questions and obviously there are some questions to ask Sean Spicer that are not budget related, such as this phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And you can hear by sort of the loud voices in this room that there is a good number of reporters who are scratching their heads and wondering what the hell is going on. But that is not a new question at this White House.

But, Wolf, going back to what Mick Mulvaney was talking about during this briefing, you heard a great deal. Talked about the border wall. Mick Mulvaney was very, I guess, I think frank and candid would be the word to say that, yes, there is no funding for a wall, a new wall on the U.S./Mexico border, but what he was trying to argue is that there's about $350 million that will go to enhancing existing border fencing. And so they're taking that as a win.

Now, he was also pressed, Wolf, time and again on the president's tweet from earlier this morning that what this city needs is a good shutdown after, you know, last week the president was chiding Democrats for threatening to shut down the government. He was saying this morning that a shutdown would be good. Mick Mulvaney was saying, well, if that's what it takes to change this city, then that would be a good shutdown. But he was saying that that would happen later on in September when they're arguing over the fiscal year 2018 budget.

And I tried to press Mick Mulvaney there at the end of that briefing and say, why would you want a shutdown when - why would the American people want a shutdown when you accomplished something that a lot of American people would like to see more of, and that is a budget compromise where not everybody gets everything and they have to make some deals to keep the government running and fund projects that people care about. And I think he was - Mick Mulvaney was really sort of sticking to his position there that in the - at the end of the day, if they don't feel like they're getting what they want, and I think what they want perhaps more than anything is border wall funding, they want a new border wall, that they're prepared to shut down the government for it at some point in time, but that - that is likely to come later this year, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, and it's an important issue. I want - Nia, you know, the fact is, all appropriations in the Senate have to be passed by 60. Not 51. And if there's going to be appropriations to fund a border wall, you're going to need 60 votes. The Democrats are not going to vote for that.

HENDERSON: The Democrats aren't going to vote for it. It's not clear that many Republicans will either, right? I mean you have even border state Republicans who are questioning whether or not it's ideal to spend billions of dollars on a wall. They're the ones who have to deal with those problems in those states. I think it also just gets to the fact that Donald Trump hasn't really made a great argument for the wall other than I want it and a lot of his constituents want it, too. And it was like a slogan of his campaign. He's obviously moved off this idea that Mexico will pay for it and he basically is saying you'll pay for it, American people, and at some point Mexico will pay for it. It doesn't, obviously, have the same ring to it as Mexico paying for the wall.

But, yes. And it's also just not clear by September are Republicans and Democrats going to change their mind on the wall? I mean part of the reasons that it wasn't - the wall (ph) from 2006 wasn't completed was that it was really expensive, to take people's land away, sort of eminent domain, and paying for that and it just didn't make sense. Now he's saying it's about safety and security, the MS-13 gang. That was pretty much a home-grown gang. So, you know, he's got to work on his argument. At this point it's just like, you know, fund the wall or I'll shut down the government.

BLITZER: Yes. And at the end of September, when the next budget showdown comes, David Gregory, the Republicans will still only have 52 members in the Senate and the Democrat will still have 48. That 52 is still short of 60.

GREGORY: Yes, that's right. And, again, I don't - I agree with Nia, I don't see the groundswell of support for the wall among Republicans and I think - you know, but the president's in a corner here as she's gone around saying, don't worry, it's going to be built, it's going to be built. He may want to try to shut down the government over it in a budget negotiation.

I mean Mick Mulvaney is right. I mean Congress should be embarrassed that they can't pass a budget and that they have to just put these Band-Aids on spending bills all the time. But the problem with shutdown politics, as we've seen, is that shutdowns tend to hurt, you know, in this case - a lot of Republicans, even when Democrats have been in power, they seem to hurt Republicans. But even sequestration politics, right, where you choke off money to the Defense Department, that was very harmful and Congress couldn't seem to get out of that. So, look - but this is also Trump just firing a shot across the bow here. I don't think he necessarily wants it. But, you know, he - I make a larger point, which is, his dealings with Congress have been really suspect so far. He - for a guy who prides himself on winning and negotiation, he seems not to be winning too much, and that's just with Republicans. And so that's the bottom line right now.

[14:30:05] BLITZER: You think he's not winning because his job approval numbers are not very good right now?

CHALIAN: Well, certainly, if he was at 60 percent approval instead of 44, I am sure that more members of Congress would come