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Soon: Paul Ryan to Speak After Trump Cuts Deal with Democrats; Paul Ryan Press Conference; Trump Jr Took Meeting with Russian Lawyer to Assess Clinton's "Fitness for Office". Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 7, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:41] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are keeping a close look on Hurricane Irma as it crushes the Caribbean and threatens Florida. A hurricane watch has been issued this hour, new ones, for the southern parts of the state and the Keys. The category 5 storm is off the northern coast of Dominican Republic. We are going to have the latest on the storm's path and how the United States is preparing for what could be the worst. We are going to have that in moments.

We are keeping an eye on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Paul Ryan is supposed to speak to reporters a day after being blindsided by President Trump who cut a deal with Democrats in front of them, on the debt ceiling, Hurricane Harvey aid, keeping the government open. Despite of the House speaker ridiculing that very idea, minutes prior.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is live on Capitol Hill.

Oh, Ryan, where do we go now? How is the speaker framing what is going down in the Oval Office? How is he feeling today?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, he's already appeared before cameras and downplaying the fact he was outmaneuvered by Nancy Pelosi. They didn't want to play politics with Harvey funding. It was not that difficult to agree to the deal.

We heard from Nancy Pelosi and got her side of the story. She described it as Democrats being in a better bargaining position. She could deliver her voting bloc, if they agreed to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling. Then it was the Republicans who said they wanted to add a continuing resolution to avoid a government shut down and Harvey funding. They wanted 18-month extension and the Democrats weren't able to go there. She said voting is the currency of this realm, echoing "Game of Thrones," I think. She said President Trump seemed to recognize that and he sided with them. She down played the idea that somehow President Trump made an about-face and moved away from Ryan and McConnell, saying it was a long and involved discussion and she seemed to understand it.

Let's listen to what Paul Ryan had to say about the discussion from this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What the president didn't want to do is have a partisan fight in the middle of response to this. He wanted to make sure in the moment of national crisis where we are being hit by two horrible hurricanes, he wanted a bipartisan response, not a food fight on the timing of the debt limit attached to this bill. Basically, that's what I think -- that's what I believe his motivation was.

NOBLES: We'll see here in the next few minutes if the speaker expands on those comments.

Kate, you made the point, it was earlier in the day, he described attaching a debt ceiling extension to Harvey being ridiculous. He had a change of heart after the meeting in the Oval Office -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. I'd say so. What are other Republicans, that's what Paul Ryan is saying, but what are other Republicans saying on Capitol Hill. Got to be confident conservatives are not happy.

NOBLES: I talked to a number of Senators after this deal came out and some said they understand this needed to be done. They were OK with the debt ceiling, but conservative reps that were upset about it. Among them, Rand Paul, who is opposed to a debt ceiling increase without significant spending reforms in any case and thinks it's a problem it's tied to Harvey funding. The other is Sass of Nebraska. He said the Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal was a bad deal. He essentially said if this were a deal hatched by a Democratic president that Republicans in Congress would never go for it. So, there are certainly some conservatives concerned about it.

The problem they have, Kate, is the votes aren't there. If the Democrats can vote in the House and Senate, it doesn't take that many Republicans to come over on the other side. If House and Senate leadership are on board, it will likely pass.

The question becomes, what becomes of the negotiations over tax reform that the White House wants to see done. Are these conservative Republicans going to want to be as involved in this conversation and want to help the president out if they feel they were blindsided in this respect?

One person we haven't heard from is Ted Cruz, the Senator from Texas. Under any normal circumstance, you could never see Ted Cruz support a bill like this. It is obviously tied to the funding for Harvey, his home state, his hometown. He's in a very difficult position here and has yet to say whether or not he will support the package.

[11:35:34] BOLDUAN: These are the people who elected you and brought you into office, the people who are paying. It's a different story. We see that time and again.

Ryan, thank you so much.

We are going to see Speaker Paul Ryan when he takes to the m microphone. With me, former chief of staff to Senator Mitch McConnell, Josh

Holmes, and CNN political commentator and former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, his presidential campaign, Symone Sander, and Steve Rogers, a member of President Trump's adviser board for re-election.

Great to see all of you, in the moments we have until Speaker Ryan comes out.

Josh, I want to get your gut check. Paul Ryan, he put quite a good face on this morning. The motivation of this president was bipartisan. Look, we all talk about wanting to see a bipartisan moment. Can you take me behind the scenes? What do you think mitch McConnell was saying yesterday?

JOSH HOLMES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: I think the speaker and majority leader are going to put on the best face they can. They are team players. They will play team ball on it. I don't think it's difficult to figure out what happened here. The president's own staff, if you read the coverage, the secretary of Treasury, the Office of Management are all on the same page as Paul Ryan and mitch McConnell. Somehow the president didn't get the message. The idea Nancy Pelosi had more leverage here -- the only way Democrats were able to withhold is filibustering Harvey funding. Think about that. That would absolutely never happen. They had no leverage and walked out with a perfect deal.

BOLDUAN: That's what Paul Ryan was saying. Democrats with a three- month extension will playing politics with Harvey funding.

HOLMES: Right. Right.


HOLMES: That's it. That's right. They would have had to make the case and lost and lost badly. My guess is there would have been a huge defection and Democrats would have supported whatever Republicans wanted to go along with.

BOLDUAN: Symone, how do you do this moment? It is bipartisanship? Do you stand with Donald Trump now?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Kate, you will never get me to utter those words on this program. What I am happy with is we have a deal that the people that need this Harvey aid, this funding will get it. FEMA will not run out of money and folks will get help. What we have to at least recognize here is if the Republicans had the votes they wouldn't have had to play ball with the Democrats. They did not have the votes. Nancy Pelosi knew they didn't have the votes, Chuck Schumer knew they didn't have the votes and Donald Trump knew they didn't have the votes. This is a president trying to avoid another embarrassment. He has not one win in eight months. Who doesn't love to help hurting people. If Donald Trump can get a win this way, he was going to take this win. This sets it up for the Democrats to come with a stronger position towards the end of this year when we have to do this again. BOLDUAN: If you are from the outside looking in, if you are in Texas

looking at this, you say, I'll take a win no matter how I can get it. No matter how I get this funding, I'll take it. Forget the politics of it. For folks that are hurting, they will take it. It's a win, politics aside.

Steve, if this deal angers most, a lot of Republicans, gives Democrats more leverage at the end of the year for the big negotiation that are going to happen once again, is it worth it?

STEVE ROGERS, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ADVISER BOARD FOR RE-ELECTION: Kate, I am a Republican, I am a conservative, and I'm happy today, as are millions of Republicans. President Donald Trump did something similar that Ronald Reagan did when he reached across the aisle and embraced Tip O'Neil. I'm not a fan of Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, but I'm giving them credit. I'm giving them credit. They did something we haven't seen done in a long time. They embraced the president. He embraced them. For who? The American people. I would say this, it's not a Democrat win or Republican win, the president set this up so the American people win. I'm hoping, I really am hoping this sets a new tone that there could be bipartisan working together as we move forward. Credits to the president and the two others I spoke about.

[11:39:56] BOLDUAN: We'll see how far the bipartisanship extends. I can see it on your face, feeling the love of bipartisanship right now.

Stand by, guys. I'm going to get back to you in a second.

Where're we going? Paul Ryan? OK.

We'll get to all of it in a second.

Let's get to Paul Ryan speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference.

RYAN: -- by the people of his state. It really is something to see. I express our commitment to provide resources to the region. In addition, I spoke to our delegates from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with Hurricane Irma. This morning, I spoke with President Trump about the urgency of our relief efforts. It's a good thing, but with new technology, FEMA is moving money faster than ever before. So, that is why there's a sense of urgency to get this relief package done. Right now, we are thinking about everybody in Irma's path. This hurricane, 185 miles per hour. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people in the path of this current hurricane.

This morning, we had another productive meeting. That's why I was late. Another productive meeting between the House, the Senate and White House on tax reform. We are in the midst of working on tax details. This is our number one priority this fall. We want Americans to begin with a new tax system. It is high time. The rest of the world passed our country on, and it's time to get back in the game of being competitive. We will get faster economic growth when we do this. It's about growth. It's about fairness. It's about finally giving American families a tax break. Lastly, I want to take a moment to highlight a new report from the

Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. This is something I consider very, very important. This has been a personal project of mine. Senator Patty Murray and I came together to start this panel. The mission here is to completely re-examine the way government solves problems. Look at something like the war on poverty, we have been at this for decades, but the needle barely moved. Washington is stuck in this endless feedback loop where we measure on effort, input, how much money are we spending, how many programs, how many people are on the programs. We cling to that when we ought to be focusing on outcomes. Are these programs working? In this case, are we getting people out of poverty? This report, the Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking, this report lays out a blueprint for doing that. I'm excited about the potential for more bipartisan progress here. What we should be doing as policymakers is focus on outcomes and results, not just based on input and effort. Patty and I are going to talk about this later in the capitol today. But this is something I think is high time in coming. With big data, analytics, with the tools we have in technology, we ought to be able to get our policy focus on achieving the results we intend, not just hoping, but doing. That's what this is about.



RYAN: I hope the Democrats join us on tax reform. I think it's fantastic if they do. We are going to go the path we are been planning on tax reform. I have heard from a few Democrats they like what we are talking about.



RYAN: I do. Look, I know there's a lot of interpretations about this and the meeting yesterday. Isn't it a good thing congressional leaders talk? That's probably a good thing, number one. Two, the president made it clear. What he was aiming for in that meeting yesterday was a bipartisan moment while the country is facing two horrible hurricanes. What he made clear to us is he didn't want to have -- look, personally, the debt limit and the credit market, the longer the better. That's my strong opinion. He was interested in making sure that this is a bipartisan moment to respond to the hurricanes. He made that clear. That's what his motivation was.


RYAN: No, I didn't describe it that way. I think you are putting words in my mouth. I described a short-term debt limit. I'm worried about the credit markets. We can't keep doing on a short-term basis. What the president expressed is, at this moment, when we had a massive hurricane hit Texas and Louisiana, we got one that just hit the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, now Florida. And if you look at the cone, it could be from Georgia to South Carolina. So, that is a tough moment for our country. We need to make sure the government responds to people. The president wanted to make sure we are going together as Republicans and Democrats to respond to this. I was making an economic point, which is with respect to the credit, stability and longevity are key. Juan?


[11:45:21] RYAN: No, I think -- I won't get into a conversation we had, but there's a will and something we defend here in Congress.


RYAN: I won't get into what they have or aren't doing at the legislative session. I spoke with Governor Abbott last night. What we know is the disaster reserve fund, which, by the way, isn't just for Harvey. This is all disasters. We have more than just one disaster occurring this this country, especially today, than what's going on in Texas. What's happening is, unlike Katrina, where I don't think iPhone existed then, people on their Smartphones are quickly applying for FEMA relief. Those applications are being approved and the money going out the door at such a faster pace than we ever experienced before, to the point where OMB is telling us, FEMA could run out of money as early as tomorrow and no later than Tuesday. So, that is basically the projections we are getting from Homeland and OMB. We have a Treasury secretary worried about the borrowing limit to cash flow the payments to FEMA, particularly now that there's a new hurricane hitting this country today. So, those are the concerns that trump everything else, no pun intended. Those are the concern that is prevail over everything else. That is why we have this issue in front of us.


RYAN: I'm sure they are going to.


RYAN: Yes, that's a good question.



RYAN: I do. I think it's in our interest to have one, but one that works for war fighters. I want to have one that works for the men and women we are asking to go in harm's way and do it in a way that doesn't put them in jeopardy. I think the administration should take the lead. I didn't like the one Obama wrote, excuse me, President Obama wrote because he was tying the military's hands. I didn't like the deadline. What matters, in my opinion, is that we have one that respects the fight we have in front of us, which is multi-content. We have ISIS in Libya. We have ISIS in the Arabian Peninsula. We have central Asia. We have a lot of fights on our hands that we have to engage in, in order to keep the American people safe. I think the president recognizes this threat. I think the president, through a long analysis recognizes the need to go a better, different way in Afghanistan. I think in Afghanistan, I think the best description over the last 16 years in Afghanistan is we have had 16 one-year strategies in Afghanistan. We need to have a real strategy in Afghanistan that shows what victory looks like on how we keep ourselves safe and deny terrorists safe havens. It should reflect that.


RYAN: I'm not going to get into our meeting yesterday. That was a private conversation. I'm sure there's going to be rival interpretations. We, as Republicans, the administration agrees, remember, DACA is a symptom of a problem. We don't have control of our borders. So, while we deal with the issue, I think it's only reasonable that we deal with the root cause of the problem, open borders, uncontrolled borders. We need to control our borders while we deal with this problem so we don't have the same problem ten years from now. It's perfectly reasonable. It wasn't too long ago a lot of Democrats agreed, we should have operational control of borders.


RYAN: Obviously, funding the border is part of controlling the border.


[11:50:15] RYAN: Well, we haven't done the -- I don't know the answer to your question about the vote count. We all thought we had more time obviously to deal with the debt limit issue, and that's before the hurricanes hit. When these hurricanes hit and we saw the new numbers coming in from FEMA, that changed the entire calculation. So the president made it a game call yesterday that he thought it was in our country's interests to have a bipartisan support, in a bipartisan package, to deal with these ongoing hurricane disasters. And so that is where we are right now, and, look, hurricanes don't discriminate between Republicans and Democrats. Hurricanes just hit people. They hit Americans, and we have an obligation to respond to this.

So, thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: All right. Speaker Paul Ryan speaking to reporters in his weekly press conference, facing a lots questions what happened yesterday. And he said what the president made very clear, aiming at a bipartisan moment. Making a quip, isn't it good that congressional leaders talk? But remember, minutes prior to that meeting, Paul Ryan called the proposed idea, the three-month extension on the debt ceiling ridiculous and disgraceful. They're moving forward now.

And we're also moving forward. Breaking news. New details on what Donald Trump Jr just told the Senate Judiciary investigators, staffers interviewing him this morning about that June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. "The New York Times" is reporting that Donald Trump Jr says he wanted Russian dirt to determine Hillary Clinton's fitness for office. That's what he said to investigators.

Over to Jessica Schneider with much more from washington.

Jessica, what are you picking up? What's coming from this interview?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this was a highly anticipated face-to-face and still going on. It started at 9:30 this morning. Donald Trump Jr actually not going in a public entrance, not seen before he went in to meet with staffers this morning. So he's still in there, but what we know from the "New York Times" is they have gotten Donald Trump Jr's prepared statement. Things that Donald Trump Jr has said to staffers before he answered their questions that are still ongoing. So interesting, Donald Trump Jr simply said he was intrigued when he got this e-mail saying that there was potentially damping information that maybe the Russian government or people affiliated with the government had for him. So to that point, he says he was intrigued something he said before.

What was somewhat new from his statement, he disclosed he was, initially conflicted, and indicated after he got this information, which, of course, he says he never actually got, he said that he intended to confer with counsel. His exact quote, and exactly what he said to Senators a little while ago according to "The New York Times" is this, he said, "To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least here them out. Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult to counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration."

This is the first time we've heard Donald Trump Jr say he intended to meet with attorneys with counsel if he got anything from that meeting. Which he's repeatedly said nothing came out of it.

It is very interesting, Kate. Previous to this disclosure, before staffers and Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Donald Trump Jr had stuck to the line, well, anyone would have taken this meeting. The result of me being a political neophyte in the midst of a chaotic campaign where no one thought his father had a chance to win the presidency. Of course, the president himself spoke out briefly about this, saying anyone would have taken this meeting.

Now, it's come out from Donald Trump Jr's own words in a statement obtained by "The New York Times" that, yes, he was a bit concerned about this information, intending to meet with counsel.

So Donald Trump Jr still on the Hill right now. We haven't gotten a glimpse of him, but we know that he is expected to speak for at least a little while longer to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and well as their staff -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Two and a half hours we're approaching he's been in there. See how much longer it goes.

Jessica, thank you. Appreciate it.

Bringing in now CNN political director, David Chalian.

Want to make sure it's not lost in this moment. Even though not a public hearing, this is a president's son over on the Hill being investigated as part of a probe into the president's campaign, his father's campaign, and stretching into the president, as we well know. And where this goes, we don't know. But the fact that the president's son is sitting before investigators and staffers and answering questions right now, it's really amazing.

[11:55:18] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It doesn't get much more serious than that. Obviously. You're right to note the seriousness of the moment, Kate. And, remember, you know, even though this isn't public tournament, sworn under oath kind of a thing, you can't lie to Congress, and that gets you in a whole host of trouble if you do. You can lie, unfortunately, to the American people, or to the press, when trying to explain things that are perhaps uncomfortable. You can't do that with Congress and perhaps that's why this statement we're learning about from the "New York Times" has a little more reality any it than certainly the first initial responses that the public was getting. You remember when this meeting was first reported on. So you remember, Kate, at first, we heard this was simply about Russian adoptions. That's it.

BOLDUAN: I actually have the statement. He says, it was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. Primarily discussed a program about adoption of Russian children and says not a campaign issue at the time so there was no follow-up. That's what he first said. Now he is saying, clearly, he went in initially to find out if Hillary Clinton was fit for office.

CHALIAN: Right. So obviously -- listen, the idea it was about Russian adoptions was sort of blown up and made clear when the e-mail was revealed --

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

CHALIAN: -- about the pretext of the meeting. Now it's a lie completely made clear. He went in today explaining his motivation for taking this meeting was, indeed, to get damages information on Hillary Clinton.

The other thing Jessica noted is important to underscore. We were told by the president himself and others that this was a meeting anybody would have taken. Anybody in campaigns take meeting from anybody who offers opposition research, they said. Well, obviously a lot of people at the time that excuse was given said, that's not truth, people on both sides that have worked on campaigns. Now we learn that's not true either. Donald Trump Jr was initially conflicted. If you're conflicted or have suspicion about meeting it's not a slam dunk it's a meeting anybody would take.

BOLDUAN: A lot of folks would say no matter you what you consult your counsel first, not after you take the meeting. That's how this stuff works.

CHALIAN: Right. Without a doubt.

BOLDUAN: David, where does it go now? CHALIAN: Well, clearly, there are going to be more calls for Donald

Trump Jr to come back to the Hill. He's not done with this process by a long shot. There's going to be real pressure for some kind of public testimony. We've heard Democrats say that already. And so I would imagine that that's not going away anytime soon.

BOLDUAN: I doubt it, after this meeting with congressional investigators.

David, great to see you. Thank you for jumping on. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: We're tracking, keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma as it moves closer to the United States. Florida, the Governor Rick Scott with a new update, holding a press conference, top of the hour, on the latest on evacuations orders, preparations in Florida. We follow this monster storm headed towards south Florida. We'll bring that to you live.