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Trump White House Calls Judges Ruling On DACA "Outrageous"; Trump Contradicts Himself In Meeting With Lawmakers; IS Trump White House Softening Its Demands On A Wall?; California Republican Representative Darrell Issa Is Retiring; Top Dem Defies GOP, Releases Dossier Interview Testimony. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 11:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. This morning, an angry Trump White House calls a federal court ruling outrageous. The backlash aimed at a California judge who granted an 11th-hour reprieve to DACA, the Obama-era program that blocks the deportation of about 700,000 so-called "DREAMers." They're the young undocumented immigrant who is came to the U.S. as children.

President Trump planned to end the program in less than two months unless a bipartisan deal was struck, and that spirit of compromise seemed to inch forward yesterday in extraordinary televised talks between the president and lawmakers from both parties. But this new ruling issued late last night throws an already murky debate now into a new quagmire.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House live for us. Kaitlan, how is the administration responding?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, they're pushing back and pushing back hard, with the president himself weighing in on this decision, Brianna, tweeting a short while ago "That it just shows everyone how broken and unfair our court system is when the opposing side in a case such as DACA always runs to the Ninth Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts."

Now that tweet from the president comes shortly after the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, issued a statement calling the decision outrageous, especially coming on the day that the White House had that meeting with a group of bipartisan lawmakers yesterday, focusing specifically on immigration and what to do about DACA.

That remarkable meeting where they let the cameras come in for nearly an entire hour and listen to these negotiations go back and forth and the White House is outlining their priorities here, saying not only do they want protection for DREAMers, but also enhanced border security and an end to the chain migration system and the visa lottery process here. But, Brianna, during that meeting yesterday, the president repeatedly expressed sympathy for these DACA recipients, the so-called DREAMers, even though it was something back in the campaign he said he believed was constitutional and an abuse of executive power.

KEILAR: And the meeting, though, wasn't just about immigration. Part of this was about optics for the White House and trying to counter the narrative that Michael Wolff's book had created, and that even the president himself had perpetuated with tweets.

COLLINS: It certainly was. It really gave the administration a boost in that sense, they felt because they got a lot of praise for not only letting the cameras come in, but a senior administration official told my colleague, Jeff Zeleny, that they saw this meeting as a chance for the president to seize the megaphone, to show that he does know a lot about policy, that he can weigh in during these negotiations.

But it also was to put to rest those questions that were raised as a part of that book about whether the president was mentally fit and competent enough to be in office. So, certainly, an attempted win for the White House with that to show that the president can negotiate with lawmakers on a substantive level.

KEILAR: Well, it was at the very least very fascinating to see yesterday. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much for that report.

We have a lot to discuss. I want to bring in David Drucker to break it all down for us. He's a CNN political analyst and a senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner."

So, David, what did Republicans on Capitol Hill take away from this meeting yesterday, because the president and, quite frankly, a lot of White House officials, sounded pretty squishy on what they wanted.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And so, I think that Republicans in Congress are still going to try to negotiate some sort of a bill that they can actually pass. And what they still don't know entirely is what the president is willing to sign or what he won't sign.

And I don't think that we could have expected any of those answers to develop in a meeting that was on camera. I think in the days ahead, as they negotiate behind the scenes, which is always where the real productive negotiating happens, even if people don't like that idea, I think some of these answers will start to come to the fore.

I do think the president is going to have to make a decision on whether or not his precondition for signing a DACA-related bill is going to be the wall specifically. If it's specifically the wall, then Democrats are going to have to decide whether or not they're willing to risk a backlash from their base, which is particularly opposed to the wall itself.

Not necessarily border security, but the wall, in order to guarantee that these DACA participants will not be deported. If the president is more flexible, I think that will be OK with most Republicans, and that will make it easier for Democrats to sign on to something, but that will dictate the terms of this deal.

KEILAR: What if it's a wall? What if it's something the president will call a wall. Maybe a more nuanced border security that includes bit of wall here or there. So, he calls it a wall, even just the labeling of it, as his big, beautiful wall, but Democrats would say, no, this is actually more nuanced.

[11:05:04] How -- even when it just comes to the fact that the messaging will be different, you can't have this understanding that these are two separate things, right? Even if it is something that most Americans when they look at the fine print may be OK with?

DRUCKER: Well, I think there is some wiggle room in the rhetoric, but I think it depends on how the money is appropriated. I mean, if the money is appropriated in a way that is designated for the building of the security wall along the southern border, it doesn't mean that the wall is going to cover all 2,000 miles of the border.

It could be technology and fencing in some areas, and that prototype of a wall, with the different prototypes that the president will choose from in other areas. But I sort of think it depends on whether or not it's designated as border security, with the understanding that Democrats can go back to their voters and say, we supported security but not a wall.

And the president can say, hey, I can spend security money anyway I want, but it depends on how they actually designate this. And that will sort of depend on, I think, how important it is for the president to get a win and to send a message to his base, that I promise to build a physical barrier that does not exist in most parts of the border, and that is exactly the down payment we're making with this deal.

KEILAR: The White House clearly, and you heard Kaitlan reporting this, David, was hoping for some good optics here, bringing in the cameras, quell the speculation about the president's stability and his handle on things that were brought up in this book, "Fire and Fury." Do you think it worked?

DRUCKER: Well, I think it accomplished what the White House wanted. And that was that people got to see the president facilitating a conversation about a very difficult topic. He was very receptive to ideas from both sides of the aisle.

Even you saw this in the press briefing, the daily press briefing from Sarah Sanders that followed. All of this focus on the president bringing both parties together to facilitate a compromise and get things done and that was the message they wanted to send. I don't think that this meeting is going to change any minds.

Look, for people that want to believe that Michael Wolff's book is the bible on a Trump who's lost his mind, nothing they saw yesterday is going to change that. But I do think that if the White House wants to try to broaden the president's base and try to make things a little easier for Republicans in what's going to be a very difficult midterm.

The kind of optics that they saw yesterday, a president governing as opposed to lashing out on Twitter and in a raucous campaign rally, is the message and the picture that they want to send to try to do that.

KEILAR: Yes, it is an improvement. David Drucker, thank you so much, sir. And I want to bring in our panel now, Symone Sanders, CNN political commentator, and former press secretary for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

We have Kevin Madden, a CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to Mitt Romney, and Ned Ryun, CEO of American Majority and former writer for President George W. Bush.

So, Ned, the question remains, if the president's base expects him to build a massive brick and mortar wall, are they going to let him get away with this? Because listen to what he promised them.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are going to build a great border wall! We will build a great, great wall. We're going to build a wall. Don't worry about it. We'll build a wall. I promise, we will build the wall.

It's not going to be a little wall, it's going to be a big, beautiful wall. It's going to be a very tall wall, very strong wall, very powerful wall. It's going to be a very beautiful wall. It's going to be so big. It's going to be so powerful.


KEILAR: All right, well, listen to what his administration and Trump himself said yesterday.


MERCEDES SCHLAPP, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND SENIOR ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION: It is a physical wall and then in certain areas, if you look at where the wall would be placed, you can't somehow put some physical barrier, so that's where you need personnel, that's where you need technology. So, it is a -- it's a border wall system.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The wall is one of the pieces, as well as technology, and a number of other things.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And we don't need a 2,000-mile wall. We don't need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting.


KEILAR: OK. It's just so interesting, how you go from the campaign trail and then you go to governing and it's just not as pithy, right? So are his supporters going to say, no, we get that, that's OK. We understand that this may be more nuanced now?

NED RYUN, FORMER WRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think the response from the base is, there are expectations for a physical wall in as many places as feasible. But a couple things about that meeting yesterday, again, addressing the mental fitness.

And Trump basically said, you want to see mental fitness, he was engaged, humorous, extremely reasonable. I think some of the base thought he might have been a little too reasonable when he said, I'll sign whatever you'll send me.

But that's not quite right. And I think the White House has obviously followed up on that and said, there are a couple of things we have to see in this whole compromise in regard to DACA, and I think a lot of it is actually laid out in Bob Goodlatte's bill, which Paul Ryan has endorsed.

[11:10:07] You've got to deal with chain migration, with the visa lottery system, with e-verify, and you have to increased border security, which the base really feels needs to be a physical wall.

And in return, I think the thing that's been a little unfair in the press, a lot of Trump supporters understand, there will not be deportation of DREAMers. In fact, a lot of them don't want to see that.

There has to be something reasonable done in regard to the DREAMers. Did they come here illegally? Yes. Of their own volition? No. And I think one of the things that can be done in a reasonable way is to say, you'll all going to get green cards and there'll be a five-year path towards citizenship.

And I think if he can somehow manage to accomplish that, I think a lot of his base walks away happy. They get physical wall in as many places as possible and DREAMers get some legal status and are not deported. It's a win.

KEILAR: Kevin Madden, what do you think? Are some folks who support Trump going to say, no, that's actually amnesty in our view.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are a lot of Fifth Avenue Republicans out there that, you know, who believe anything that the president does say. If there's one guarantee -- there are very few guarantees in politics. If there's one guarantee here, it's that the president, no matter who comes out of this deal, is going to declare victory on the wall whether it's $1 or $15 billion. So --

KEILAR: He has 10 feet of big, beautiful wall versus miles and miles.

MADDEN: He's going to say, we got what we wanted on the wall.

KEILAR: Symone, I wonder what you think, as we heard some of this more nuanced language coming from the administration yesterday, isn't it harder for Democrats to say, no to something that's a more nuanced border security position than it is to say no to a big, beautiful wall if they're going to get protection for DREAMers.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know what, that's why this is a really a test for Democrats. You have heard Democrats say time and time again that we stand with DREAMers. But time and time again, Democrats have failed to get legislation to actually protect those DREAMers over the line.

So, this is going to be a test. If a funding bill, if something is voted on January 19th that includes funding for a little bit of nuanced border security, a wall, ICE, DHS has nothing to protect the DREAMers, that will be a failure on the part of Democrats, and folks are going to hold them accountable.

KEILAR: All right. We have some breaking news in that I want to get your reaction to, Kevin Madden. Darrell Issa, longtime Republican, prominent Republican member of Congress is going to be retiring. So, he's following in the footsteps of a number of other Republicans ahead of what's no doubt going to be a difficult 2018.

Just to put people -- this into perspective for people, Darrell Issa had joked to me, and I'm sure he told a lot of people this joke, that his new nickname was landslide in the last election, because it was so close. I mean, this is a competitive district he's in. What do you make of this retirement?

MADDEN: Well, I think you'll see a lot more of these. We've seen a couple. Many are in districts that are pretty strong Republican-held districts. So, we're not worried about losing them. But as these deadlines for filing start to come up between now through the end of February, you'll see a lot more of these.

And many of them will be in districts like this that Hillary Clinton won, where you have Republicans sitting there and there'll be very competitive districts. And the Democrats are salivating over winning a lot of these areas, particularly in districts where you have a large suburban population of college-educated married women that are right now turned off by the president.

That's why the president's approval rating is so low. That presidential approval rating is going to lead a lot of Democrats to believe that these are opportunities for them to pick up.

KEILAR: Ned, do you think this is purely the Trump effect?

RYUN: I think, obviously, at some point, certain people get tired of having to go through the grind. My dad was in the House for ten years. It becomes a grind. You have to constantly raise money. In the district, in California, that whole cross-country flying.

At a certain point, people say, I've had enough. I will say this, it's not unusual. Historically the party in the White House loses seats in the midterm. I think Republicans are looking at this going, hey, if you're not up for the fight, it might be a good idea to step down, see if we can maybe hold on to some of these swing districts.

Again, I think it's about two dozen districts. We're expecting to lose some of those, although I think Democrats' expectations of taking back the House, I think that's -- you know, well, it remains to be seen.

The elections are basically a lifetime away and if Trump's tax reform and all these bills start to kick in, you have a strong economy, wages going up, a market that might hit 26,000, multiple quarters of 4 percent GDP, I think Republicans actually have a decent chance in the midterms to hold the House and maybe even pick up a few seats --

KEILAR: Symone?

SANDERS: I think that's wishful thinking. I don't think Republicans have a great chance to hold the House in 2018 if Democrats do their job. I think Darrell Issa is interesting because, if you remember, the health care fight, he was one of the Congressional members in the hot seat that held a couple townhalls, wouldn't hold some, and folks were very engaged. And so, I think this is a seat that's definitely up for grabs for Democrats. I think Republicans all across the country should be on notice.

KEILAR: Symone Sanders, Kevin Madden, thank you so much, Ned Ryun, to you as well.

Coming up, new drama over that controversial dossier. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein going rogue a little bit, releasing the closed-door testimony from the head of the firm that hired a British former spy to investigate Donald Trump. What does this mean for the Russia investigation?

[11:15:11] The offshore outrage, the Trump administration backtracks on a plan for more coastal oil rigs, but just for one state with a Republican governor that has a close relationship with the White House. What about everyone else, though? Stay with us.


KEILAR: The dossier drama taking a sharp partisan turn in Washington and prompting a Wednesday morning tweet storm from the president. This coming after Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, ignored her Republican colleagues and released 312 pages of hours of testimony by the cofounder of Fusion GPS.

That is the firm behind the opposition research on Donald Trump and the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. That research that is known as the Trump/Russia dossier.

Now, some of its pages reveal that the dossier's author went to the FBI because he was afraid that then Candidate Trump was being blackmailed.

[11:20:07] And a short time ago, President Trump tweeted his frustration over the whole thing. He said this, "The single greatest witch hunt in American history continues." He went on to say, "Republicans should finally take control."

And we have a lot to break down here with CNN's Manu Raju, live for us on Capitol Hill with more -- Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, this is certainly angered the president, the release of this transcript, which caught Republicans by surprise. Dianne Feinstein joining with her Democrats in releasing this transcript yesterday of Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of Fusion GPS, discussing his decision to hire that former British spy, Christopher Steele, who did put together that Trump/Russia dossier and his decision to brief the FBI about what he considered was very alarming.

Something that could potentially lead to blackmail of a presidential candidate, in the words of Glenn Simpson. Now the president just went after Dianne Feinstein on Twitter saying, "The fact that sneaky Dianne Feinstein who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump and Russia has not been found would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way totally without authorization is a disgrace. Must have a tough primary."

Now, the one part of the Trump tweet that you read earlier, Brianna, was when Trump mentioned that Republicans need to regain control of the investigation. The man who's in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation, Chuck Grassley, just emerged from this hearing.

And I asked him, should he regain control of the investigation, as the president said. This is what Grassley said.


RAJU: Senator, the president said that Republicans should take control of the investigation in light of the release of this transcript. Are you losing control of this investigation and should you re-gain control?

SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: I don't know what the president has in mind and I don't think I better comment until I have a discussion with the president on that point. And I don't intend to have a discussion with the president on that point and I hope he doesn't call me and tell me the same thing that you said he said.


RAJU: So, clearly does not want to discuss this with the president. I can tell you, a number of Republicans and Democrats do not view that as particularly appropriate for the president to comment, to tell them to finish this investigation.

But still, Democrats in particular are concerned that the president is putting a lot of pressure to end these investigations soon, as you can see. A lot of frustration from the White House today about this -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And Manu, that was one of the most fascinating answers to a question that I have heard. Just hearing him go from, I don't want to comment on that until I talk to the president, oh, I'm not going to talk to the president about that, and I hope he doesn't tell me what you told me. That was sort of unreal.

Great pull-aside there with Senator Grassley, Manu. Thank you so much. Joining me now is Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. She serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.


KEILAR: What do you make of Senator Feinstein's decision to unilaterally release this transcript?

SHAHEEN: Well, I think it was an effort to get the word out to the American public about what really happened in that testimony. We've heard from the witness that he was fined. In fact, he wished the transcript would get released and it really flies in the face of the allegations that Republicans have made, that this was a Democratic effort that the FBI wasn't doing their job.

It's what we've hear from this White House and from President Trump, his continued efforts to discredit nonpartisan investigation of what happened with Russia. That's what this testimony was about, what the dossier is about, and what we should be pursuing. We should be pursuing what actually happened here. Let the facts go where they will, and I think that's what this transcript release helps us to determine.

KEILAR: Without any judgment on whether this was right or whether this was wrong, it's a unilaterally move. And it signals a break with the Republican judiciary committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, who we just heard from. What kind of indication is this that the only hope for finding a bipartisan decision on the Russia election meddling is going to come from the Senate Intelligence Committee, and from no other committee on Capitol Hill?

SHAHEEN: Well, I think what we're going to find is that the Mueller commission and investigation is going to show what the facts are. And hopefully, we'll continue to see bipartisan working together on the Intelligence Committee, that has continued. They have been doing the really deep investigation in the Senate anyway. So, I think that will continue.

KEILAR: Do you worry that the Senate Intelligence Committee, not the Judiciary Committee, like Senator Feinstein's the ranking senator on, but do you worry that the Intel Committee may not cross the finish line in a bipartisan manner on this?

[11:25:14] SHAHEEN: I think it's in the country's interest, it's in Congress' interest to get to the bottom of what happened with Russia. And what is not being said here is that we have elections coming up in 2018. We need to be looking at what Russia may be doing now to try to influence those 2018 elections. We've seen their actions in Europe, trying to change the vote on --

KEILAR: But do you worry that Republicans and Democrats won't be able to do that anywhere, on any committee in Congress? SHAHEEN: Well, I can continue to be hopeful that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are also interested in getting to the truth and they will continue to work on that.

KEILAR: The top Democrat on your committee, Ben Cardin, released a new report. It says the U.S. is not prepared to defend against possible Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections and in 2020. Something that you were just saying. That's something that you have your eye on. He's accusing the president of being negligent on the issue. So, what does need to be done there?

SHAHEEN: Well, we have a whole range of things that we need to be doing. First of all, we need to have a way to counter Russian disinformation. We need to be looking at their propaganda machine, RT, which is an arm of the Putin government that's operating in the United States.

We need to make sure people know that what they're putting out comes directly from Putin and we need to be looking at social media and making sure that people understand where the messages are coming from on social media.

Hopefully, we're going to see more responsibility for what's going on, on social media, from the companies involved. So, we need to be doing all of those things. We need to harden our electoral system and make sure that there can't be hacking into our voter rolls.

We need to make sure that secretary of states and states across this country understand the threat from Russia in terms of our elections. So, there are a whole range of things. And it starts with the president of the United States acknowledging Russia's role in the 2016 election and working to make sure that doesn't happen in 2018.

We've seen France do that. We've seen Germany do that, as they're looking at their elections. We're seeing companies like Montenegro, who understand the Russian attempt to try to overthrow the government there. So, they wouldn't become a member of NATO. So, we're seeing European countries take action. We need to see the United States do the same.

KEILAR: You were supposed to leave tomorrow, for Moscow, as part of a bipartisan delegation of senators. Russia would not allow you entry. It did permit your Republican counterparts, two Republican senators, to go, though, they're refusing to go without you, which is nice, I think, right? But why do you think --

SHAHEEN: It is. I think it's important.

KEILAR: Of course it is, to show solidarity and why do you think you were singled out?

SHAHEEN: I don't know, but I'm in good company with people like John McCain and others who have been willing to stand up to the Russian government to -- well, to Putin and his government, to say what they're doing and to blow the whistle on them. That's what I've tried to do. And I was pleased to see my Republican colleagues who said, this is a bipartisan delegation and we also think Russia should be held accountable for what they've done. So, unfortunate for the Russian people, because I think there is an opportunity to work together, but Putin's actions make it impossible to do that.

KEILAR: Yes. It would have been such an interesting trip to get all of your perspectives on. So, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

SHAHEEN: Thank you.

KEILAR: Coming up, outrage over an offshore flip-flop. The Trump administration reversed its plan for more coastal oil rigs, but only for the state of Florida, the home of Mar-a-Lago, and also, maybe more importantly, the home of a friend of the White House, Governor Rick Scott. So, what about everyone else? We'll talk about that, next.