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Trump Refuses To Commit To Interview With Special Counsel; Trump Denies Collusion With Russia 8 Times In 95 Seconds; Trump Slams Dem For Release Of Fusion GPS Interview; GOP Repeatedly Blames Dems For Trump/Russia Dossier Even Though Firm Was First Hired By Conservative Website. Aired 7-8pm ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 19:00   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- they say they will have at least a dozen full-time staffers in several offices all focused on the OC. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Miguel Marquez reporting for us. Thanks very much. That's it for me. Erin Burnett "OutFront" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OutFront" next breaking news, President Trump now refusing to commit to an interview with the special counsel, a stunning 180. Why is he dodging Bob Mueller? Plus, pork fest, the President's call to bring back earmarks igniting a fierce debate. What happened to draining the swamp? And Trump's reality show, did he really refer to the White House as a studio? Let's go "OutFront."

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. "OutFront" tonight, the art of the dodge, dodging Robert Mueller. President Trump refusing to commit to a potential interview with the special counsel in the Russia investigation, an interview his own lawyers had been preparing for. An interview you would think he has no reason to avoid if he did nothing wrong, but how Trump did answer the question is worth hearing in detail. He denied collusion with the Russians eight times.


JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Would you be willing to meet with him without condition?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, again, John, there has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians, no collusion. When I watch you interviewing all the people leaving their committees, I mean the Democrats are all running for office and they're trying to say this. But bottom line, they all say there's no collusion and there is no collusion.

But again, I'll speak to attorneys. I can only say this, there was absolutely no collusion. It's a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election that frankly the Democrats should have won because they have such a tremendous advantage in the Electoral College. So it was brought up for that reason, but it has been determined that there is no collusion and by virtually everybody, so we'll see what happens.

ROBERTS: But again, would you be open to an interview?

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. I mean, certainly I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody's found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.


BURNETT: Obviously that crossing his arms, too, feeling defensive. Trump's reluctance to say whether he'll testify to Mueller is an about face because he was emphatic and clear when he was asked last summer about speaking to Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of this event?

TRUMP: 100 percent.


BURNETT: 100 percent. And by the way, that question was, was if you listen to the full, clearly referring to Bob Mueller. Trump not only has flipped flopped on Mueller about it. He also took his obsession with the word collusion to Twitter today blaming Republicans, his own party, for not ending the Russia investigation.

The President saying, "The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems knows there was no collusion, and yet on and on it goes. Russia and the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing. Republicans should finally take control!"

Take control? Mr. President, the Republicans of course are already in control of both Houses of Congress, which means they're in charge of every single committee running a Russia investigation. The Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation is a Republican. And the Special Counsel himself, Bob Mueller, is a Republican.

And whether it is eight times or 80, no matter how many times President Trump says there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, not a single committee or the special counsel has yet come to that conclusion.

Jeff Zeleny is "OutFront" tonight. And Jeff, you know, all of this coming back to the President who had emphatically said he would testify to Bob Mueller, now completely dodging that question.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, not only dodging it, but as you said, dodging it eight times in about a minute and a half or so. And now, one of the reasons for the differences between last June and now, not only the change of a couple of seasons is, this is no longer a hypothetical exercise.

There are real conversations happening inside the West Wing, inside the Oval Office and the residence between advisers and lawyers about whether and how the President may ultimately have to testify about limiting the questions in scope, about setting up you know, some rules and guide rules if you will. So this is no longer hypothetical.

Last summer in the Rose Garden when he said 100 percent without missing a beat, it seemed so far off. The President was assured by his lawyers this would, you know, the investigation would end at Thanksgiving, would end at the end of last year. It is still going on and it clearly is going to stay going on. So the question here is that's why the President I am told was reluctant to sort of commit today because it is more real, quite frankly.

And many of his advisers believe, look, he should just sit down with the special counselor's team and move on. It's the only way to get beyond it. But other advisers believe that that is a huge legal risk for him if he, you know, would happen to slip on the truth, not remember what he said before, that could create a Pandora's Box here. So the reason for the change, it's no longer hypothetical. It's very real, Erin.

[19:05:05] BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny. And it's a crucial question.

"OutFront" now, John Dean, President Nixon's White House Counsel during Watergate, Gloria Borger, Chief Political Analyst, and Mark Preston, Senior Political Analyst. Thanks to all.

John, the President hedging on whether he will testify to Bob Mueller now and obviously last summer, emphatic and direct that he would do so. What's the significance of this big shift to you?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I don't think he really has much room to play. It's probably a negotiating technique he's employing, but he has very little room because Watergate did establish very clearly at the Supreme Court level that presidents have a duty to appear if they're subpoenaed by a grand jury. So that wouldn't be difficult for Mueller to have happen. So this is really him negotiating to try to get something less than appearance in front of a grand jury.


MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I'm going to tell you, his answer today should have been said back this summer. As we see, you know, President Trump is very cavalier with words and he'll say things and does he necessarily mean them?

You know if he is going to be subpoenaed, if he does have to appear before Robert Mueller, just think of this. It does open even a bigger Pandora's Box that Jeff is talking about where it could lead down other alleys that might be gently related to some of the questions and that is a big concern, I think, within the White House right now. BURNETT: So Gloria, the President said there was not collusion between him and the Russians eight times in a minute and a half, instead of answering the Mueller question, right, eight times. Let me play it a little bit of a different way than I just played it.


TRUMP: There has been no collusion, no collusion. There's no collusion. And there is no collusion. There was absolutely no collusion. There is no collusion. They have no collusion. Nobody's found any collusion.


BURNETT: Ending with the arms definitively folded in front of him, Gloria. He sure is protesting.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I think he is. And I think that what we're not hearing him talking about is other things. I mean, we don't know -- we're not hearing him say and there was no obstruction. And there was -- and so we don't know. We don't know what Mueller is saying. Maybe Mueller will say there's no collusion. We have absolutely no idea.

What we don't know and I think this is really important and I think this is a discussion that his lawyers are having from our reporting is that what does Mueller want to talk to him about? What is the threshold question here that Mueller wants to talk to him about? Is it collusion? Well, if its collusion, then maybe he wouldn't need Donald Trump, right? If its obstruction, obviously that's a question that might involve the President and that you would have to talk to him about obstruction.

So I think as this little dance goes on as the attorneys on Donald Trump's side try and figure out what they want and as they then --


BORGER: -- prepare to deal with Mueller, they all have to kind of feel each other out here about what Mueller wants and about what Trump's team is willing to do on the first round.

BURNETT: And John, let me just be -- get some clarity from you on this, because I think a lot of people watch you and they'll say, "Okay, there's collusion. There's obstruction. There's a possible financial crime or whatever might be in there." If Mueller says he wants to talk to the President, right, if he gets a grand jury to say so, does the President have to no matter what the premise is? Does it matter whether it's collusion or obstruction or financial crimes that may or may not be related to Russia?

DEAN: It, the -- his counsel will try to get parameters, no question.


DEAN: He can always plead the Fifth Amendment, which is not very good for a President to do.


DEAN: The political repercussions will be very serious for that. So I think what this is, is negotiations as to the parameters, the nature of the questions, the form that they testify in.

Bill Clinton for example worked out a deal rather than go to the courthouse. He did his grand jury in front of the, without counsel. No, excuse me, he got counsel, but he did it on a closed circuit. Nixon later appeared in front of a grand jury after he left office and that was done as a deposition. It was read to the grand jury. So there are all kinds of options and I think that's what he's playing for, something less than head on one-on-one.

BORGER: And you know --


BORGER: -- we don't know whether the Mueller team is going to say, "Look, you haven't reached a high threshold for a President to testify." You know, because for a president to testify, there are some precedent that says he has to be the only one who can answer certain questions, you know. There is a high bar for presidential testimony.


BORGER: And we don't know what Mueller will say to that.

BURNETT: Right. Well certainly on other areas, obstruction and others, perhaps it would hit that bar, but perhaps not on collusion. We don't know.

I mean, Mark, the tweet I read a moment ago where trump says there is no collusion, that the investigation is the biggest witch hunt in American history, he says Republicans should finally take control. And, OK, I didn't just lay out that that's kind of absurd on its face.

[19:10:09] PRESTON: Right.

BURNETT: Republicans are not happy about that. Here's the Senate Judiciary Chairman, Chuck Grassley, responding to the President's tweet.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I don't know what the President has in mind and I don't think a better comment until I have a discussion with the President on that point. 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.


BURNETT: Not happy, Mark.

PRESTON: Wise man, Chuck Grassley. You know, there are certainly some Republicans that would agree with President Trump. But I would say most Republicans on Capitol Hill right now don't want any part of this other than what they're doing right now with the investigation. And the reason being is that they're being dragged into this and their names are being attached to it and they're all running for re- election.

Certainly in the House of Representatives they are and there's a fair amount on the Senate side as well. So when Chuck Grassley is talking -- and let's keeps in mind, Congress is investigating to figure out what it should advice Congress to do. Mueller is investigating something that could lead to criminal charges. It's two different things.

BURNETT: Yes, two different things. Gloria?

BORGER: Yes, I know. I think it is two different things and as I was listening to Grassley, I was sort of wondering was he interpreting what Trump said as fire Mueller. You know, I just don't know. When Donald Trump says take control of the investigation, I don't know the answer to this, to be honest.


BORGER: What does that mean that take the investigation away from Mueller, which clearly Chuck Grassley has no intention of doing and doesn't want to do. But it was kind of an odd way to put things.

BURNETT: Sure was. I don't know what the President has in mind, but basically I have no intention of finding out and I don't want to know.

BORGER: Right.

BURNETT: I don't want to hear about it again. Pretty clear message although to your point, perhaps it was about Mueller that he was thinking. Thanks so much to all.

And next, the President launching an attack against a powerful member of Congress over Russia and the infamous dossier. Plus, the White House leaving out keywords in an official transcript, it just happened to be the part where Trump agrees with a top Democrat on immigration. Coincidence? And blurring the lines between the presidency and T.V. stardom.


TRUMP: Welcome back to the studio. Nice to have you.



[19:16:10] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump on the attack, blasting Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein for releasing the transcript of testimony from the cofounder of Fusion GPS. That is the firm behind the controversial dossier on Trump's possible ties to Russia.

Trump tweeting, "The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace. Must have tough Primary!"

Now, Feinstein says that today, she came out and said she owes the Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley an apology for releasing the transcript without telling him. However, she denies what she did is illegal and stands by the need for the transcript to be released. And to be clear, CNN has confirmed with multiple legal experts that what she did was not illegal.

"OutFront" now, Republican Congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee and has been very involved in all of this. So, Congressman, I've got it here the testimony of Glenn Simpson. You've seen it. Its 312 pages. He, of course, is the founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind that dossier.

You've u called the dossier and opposition research campaign document that was dressed up as an intelligence document to use your words. In his testimony, Congressman, Simpson says the dossier alleged that members of the Trump campaign were eager to get information from Russia. That is something that's in the dossier and it turned out to be true.

Look no farther than the e-mail we've all seen from Donald Trump Jr. where he response, "If it's what you say I love it, especially later in the summer." That was in reply, of course, to e-mail saying the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton to share. Are you willing, Congressman, to admit that at least some of what is in the 35 page dossier is true?

REP. MATT GAETZ, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I have no idea. I know that James Comey said that it was salacious and unverified. My suspicion is that when it's fully vetted, it will be a pile of garbage that should not have been use as an intelligence document.

And it really sets a bad precedent, Erin, when you've got one political party paying for opposition research and then that then becomes the basis for some counterintelligence investigation or at least a contributing factor. I found the most interesting part of Glenn Simpson's testimony to be that the FBI was willing to acknowledge dependency of an investigation to him.

I mean, heck, when we ask the FBI questions in the Judiciary Committee, they tell us they neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations, here that standard seems to be departed from and I like to know why.

BURNETT: So I want to get to the point you make about who paid for this in a moment, but first on the issue of truth. When you said pile of garbage, I just want to ask you another couple of points here. You know, we've also reported, Congressman, that U.S. investigators have corroborated other aspects of the dossier, specifically that some of the communications among foreign nationals as reported in the dossier did actually occur as reported. That's another thing. That's true.

GAETZ: Are you talking about the Papadopoulos communication?

BURNETT: I'm talking -- I'm saying in the dossier there were conversations reported between foreign nationals, so not involving Americans, specifically, we know some of the ones involving foreign nationals did occur as reported. So I'm simply making the point, don't we deserve to know if anything else is true inside that dossier?

GAETZ: Oh, yes. Unquestionably if there are investigations that could discover facts, we're all for the disclosure of facts. My concern is that this dossier was created at the behest of the Democratic Party. That's not in question. That has been established.

And then if somehow the Democratic Party is able to have a politicized FBI that is willing to take their opposition research and then use it for intelligence gathering purposes, that would be troubling.

Now, the FBI could clear all this up, Erin. They could just come forward and say the dossier was not the basis of FISA warrants to go and spy on American citizens associated with the Trump transition team, but the FBI won't tell us that. That begs more questions and it certainly doesn't give us the answers we need.

[19:20:08] BURNETT: Let's talk about the FBI then and let's talk who paid for it, because when you say the dossier is political by Democrats, that it's proof of collusion between Democrats and Russians, as the President has said. I just want to lay out the facts here in terms of how this document, this dossier happened.

The firm behind it, Fusion GPS, was first hired in September 2015. That date according to "The New York Times." They were hired to do opposition research on Trump during the Republican primaries by the Washington Free Beacon, which as you know start as a conservative website. A website funded by a major donor to Marco Rubio, who was a major Trump rival at the time.

It was not until April of the following year, so you go from September 2015 all the way to April 2016, when Trump, you know, won that crucial primary against Ted Cruz and it became clear that he could be the Republican nominee. That's when a law firm representing the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign picked up the tab and started paying Fusion. OK, so started Republicans became Democrats. So, why you only accuse Democrats? Why do you say this is a Democratic thing?

GAETZ: Well, they're the ones who paid for it, Erin. This is how opposition research works.

BURNETT: Right, but so did Republicans.


BURNETT: I mean, I just laid it out.

GAETZ: Right.

BURNETT: So did Republicans.

GAETZ: OK, so let's accept that as fact. What opposition research do, they are mercenaries. They get paid to go and curate information and then they provide that information to someone who can use it in a politically embarrassing way against a rival.

The Fusion GPS people still needed to get paid and so they went to the Democrats and said, "Will you pay us for this information that we purport to be accurate about Donald Trump?" And then the Democrats were the willing participants to pay Fusion GPS to then go and collude with Russians to tell lies about the President of the United States.

BURNETT: OK. So this brings me back to my point. We've already just established there are things in here which are true, so you're saying they're paying them for lies. First of all, Republicans also paid.

GAETZ: I'm quoting James Comey saying it's unverified.

BURNETT: Secondly, there are now things which are true. Some things into that are unverified, certainly by CNN, but others are not. In fact, in fact, Congressman, let me just make this point. On page 279 of the testimony, Glenn Simpson's lawyer says, "Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier." Nine Russians, nine high profile Russians died nine months after the U.S. presidential election. If people may have died because of this dossier, is that enough for you to say I want to know if every single thing in it is true instead of saying it was --

GAETZ: Well, of course.

BURNETT: -- a Democrat's paying people to lie as you just said?

GAETZ: Erin, these are people who curated lies about Donald Trump and are now trying to cover their tracks and so they make yet another salacious and unverified claim to cover up their other salacious and unverified claims. That's not evidence that the things that they said are true. That's evidence that these are people willing to say anything in order to distract the American public.

BURNETT: As I pointed out, there are things in here which are true. So this point about lies simply doesn't add up. However, I want to ask you this. According to Glenn Simpson's testimony, Christopher Steele, who is the man in the former British intelligence officer who authored the dossier as you know, he was quote very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat.

"He said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information. He thought from his perspective there was an issue, a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed."

And then they asked, they asked Mr. Simpson if anyone gave Steele approval to go to the FBI, he even asked for it. Simpson said, "No. He went to the FBI, Steele did, out of obligation." Are you simply shooting the messenger because you don't like the message? GAETZ: Absolutely not true, Erin. These are people who by virtue of your last question are willing to work with and for anyone who will pay them. If conservatives will pay them, they'll work for them. If liberals will pay them, they'll work for them. If the FBI will pay them, they'll work for them.

BURNETT: But it doesn't mean that what they find is untrue, because that's opposition research is research where you find something true and used unravel something.

GAETZ: But there's no evidence that it's true.

BURNETT: I just pointed out there are multiple things in the dossier --


GAETZ: No, you pointed out the fact that you believe that CNN has been able to verify this information. That doesn't mean it's true. That just means you think that CNN has verified it. There's no independent verification of these documents. And by the way, if there was, James Comey would have said so. James Comey said it was unverified.

BURNETT: OK. First of all, yes, conversations between foreign nationals did happen. However, let me just read you this.

GAETZ: What foreign nationals, Erin? Let us all know, tell us. What foreign nationals?

BURNETT: In this testimony, Simpson points out the dossier alleged members of the Trump campaign were eager to get information from Russia. That is true. It is true not because of just anybody's reporting on the dossier, it is true, Congressman, because of the e- mail we have from Donald Trump Jr. which he said, "If it's what you say, I love it," referring to getting dirt on Hillary Clinton.


BURNETT: That was an e-mail from someone who said they had dirt from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton.

GAETZ: Erin, are you really maintaining that that is evidence of collusion? That someone saying --


BURNETT: I am maintaining that it supports the dossier's allegation --

GAETZ: Absolutely not true.

BURNETT: -- at members of the Trump campaign were eager to get information from Russia.

GAETZ: But no evidence of collusion. Again, the point is collusion. BURNETT: But I didn't bring that word up. I didn't bring that word up.

GAETZ: But that is the whole debate.

BURNETT: We're talking about whether some things in the dossier are true because if some are true, all of them deserve to be looked into and verified whether --

[19:25:09] GAETZ: That's an absurd claim. That's like saying if somebody got the names right in the dossier or locations or times that somehow the verification of a single fact in the dossier somehow informs on the rest of it.

BURNETT: So just because some things are true in it you think we should dismiss everything else as lies. That's your statement.

GAETZ: No. What I'm saying is we need to know the truth and we need to determine where the facts point in here.


BURNETT: Well on that we agree. We need know the truth, so we should what's true within it.

GAETZ: Yes, but that -- but this hasn't helped us in that regard. We are one year after the publication of the Fusion GPS dossier today and all we know truly about it, all we've been able to actually verify is that it was paid for by Democrats and that the FBI in some form of fashion relied upon it and to me that's deeply troubling.

That you have the FBI functionally working with the Democratic Party through the Fusion GPS Company to undermine our democracy and undermine the President of the United States. That's why the oversight work of the Judiciary Committee is so important and it's why we will continue to point out the anti-Trump bias that has intractably infected this entire investigation.

BURNETT: I do want to just be clear as a point of fact, according to Simpson's testimony, to your point, that the dossier was important to the FBI investigation certainly it was part of it. However, we understand that the FBI believed Chris' information, referring to Chris Steele, this is a quote from the testimony, "Might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing."

So when he called they had other intelligence that indicated that and to your point that you point about the dossier being the basis for the investigation, I think it's also important to point out this. "The New York Times" reports the Russia investigation began because the Australian government contacted the FBI because a Trump foreign policy adviser said that Moscow had thousands of e-mails about Hillary Clinton. And that happened in May. And that happened in May. So there are a lot of things that came into this Russia investigation. It would be unfair and inaccurate to say that it was simply because of the dossier. GAETZ: Well, there are only two fact patterns to believe. Either you believe that an entire counter intelligence investigation was started because George Papadopoulos was running his mouth in a London pub about the fact that Vladimir Putin hated Hillary Clinton, a widely know fact. Or the far more likely scenario and that is that the FBI had become so politicized that when Democrats had paid for opposition research, that when that very opposition research company had employed Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr, a senior official at the Department of Justice, that that became the document, that it was the basis for FISA warrants to spy on Americans.

And if I'm wrong, Erin, if it's really that this whole thing got started because of drunk George Papadopoulos who's running his mount at a London pub, then why doesn't the FBI come clean? Why don't they just tell us that the dossier was not used as an intelligence document and that would clear everything up? But they won't tell us that --


BURNETT: They are investigating. They are investigating, but here's another point. Here's another point. If they're so political, why 11 days before the election would the FBI director announce he's looking back into the Hillary Clinton e-mails? I just to play for you --

GAETZ: Because he knew that there was going to be more proof.


BURNETT: I just want to play for you what the President, the vice- president and a Fox News anchor had to say about what Jim Comey did 11 days before the election, same Jim Comey that you're trying to say is politicizing the Democrats. Here it is.


TRUMP: It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know I speak on behalf of my running mate when I say we commend the FBI for having the courage to reopen this case.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This news has turned the entire political universe on its head. It has given Donald Trump new life for his campaign and it has given Hillary Clinton and her campaign new reason to worry.


BURNETT: Guts, courage, giving Donald Trump new life.

GAETZ: He had to do it.

BURNETT: That's the FBI that you say was biased.

GAETZ: Yes, absolutely. And you know what? Let's assume that James Comey hadn't given that revelation days before the election and there had been evidence of criminal wrong doing from Hillary Clinton on Huma Abedin's hardware that was involved in the Anthony Weiner investigation.

This isn't a consequence of the activities of Republicans. It was terrible, terrible carelessness. It was criminal negligence in my opinion on the part of Democrats to mishandle this classified information and James Comey was covering his tracks because that could have been a circumstance where we have massive criminal conduct right before the election that the American people would not have known about.

So that is hardly evidence that James Comey was an apolitical actor. But by the way, if he was an apolitical actor, we should all believe the fact that the Fusion GPS dossier is salacious and unverified, the very words of James Comey.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time, Congressman Gaetz.

GAETZ: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, pork, a dirty word to a lot of politician, but apparently not to the President.


TRUMP: Maybe you should start bringing back a concept of earmark that's going to bring you together.


BURNETT: And the curious words left out of an official White House transcript.


[19:31:57] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: New tonight. Pork, it's what's for dinner in Washington. The House Rules Committee planning to hold a hearing on earmarks known as pork. This coming after President Trump appeared to yearn for the days when lawmakers would funnel billions of your hard-earned money back to their home states for frankly, almost always, ridiculous, wasteful personal pet projects.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maybe you should start bringing back a concept of earmark that's going to bring you together. You're going to do it honestly. You're going to get rid of the problems that the other system had and it did have some problems. One thing it did was it brought everyone together.


BURNETT: It did? Nothing like a handout.

All right. Let's be clear here on what earmarks are. Remember some examples, the $223 million bridge the nowhere, the $500,000 teapot museum. That was for Senator Burr in North Carolina. Or the $1.8 million spent to study pig odor and manure.

These projects led to corruption and they helped create Washington's image as the swamp which, of course, is very the same thing we all know that President Trump has promised again and again and again to drain.


TRUMP: We need to drain the swamp. Drain the swamp. Drain the swamp. We're going to drain the swamp, folks.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Robert Reich, former labor secretary in the Clinton administration. His new movie "Saving Capitalism" is on Netflix, and Stephen Moore, former senior economic adviser for the Trump campaign.

Stephen, bring back pork, earmarks?

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER, 2016 TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Erin, are you going to try to get me to defend that? Because I'm not going to. You know, I was part of Republican movement not ten years ago to get rid of and eliminate an outlaw earmarks, and that I think worked to help get rid of some of the absurd projects like you talked about, the bridge to nowhere and the turtle tunnels and all of this.

BURNETT: Turtle tunnels.

MOORE: Yes, yes, I don't know if you know about that one. We built tunnels so turtles could get across the highway.

But look, this is a big, serious issue because I'm here to tell you, I think if Republicans reinvent the idea of earmarks because look, they run the House and Senate, they run Congress. They're going to lose Congress. That will infuriate voters. Especially if they're loading up on these projects that bring money back to their district.

From our Republican friends out there, if you're listening, do not go there. I think what Donald Trump meant by the way, Erin, you know, sometimes, you have to interpret what he means. It would be a good thing if Republicans and Democrats rolled up their sleeves and got together and came to some consensus on some of these issues like the budget and like solving the immigration problem.

BURNETT: If you can throw everybody a turtle tunnel, turtle tunnel or a teapot museum, lots of alliteration there, I guess you get everybody on board. The White House though did come out today and defend the president's suggestion. I want to play for your Sarah Sanders' defense.


REPORTER: During the meeting, the president talked about earmarks, saying essentially it could lower hostility here in D.C. and lead to both sides coming together. But is he not concerned also that it could also lead to runaway spending?

[19:35:03] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president said you have to be careful with that, and you have to have controls on earmarks, and he wants to find different ways to bring more and more Democrats and Republicans to work together on legislation, to move our country forward and he threw that out as one suggestion on how we might be able to do that.


BURNETT: Robert? Is that the only way to do it? Give them their earmarks? Give them a turtle tunnel?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I'll tell you, Erin, if that's the only way to bring Democrats and Republicans together, we are in more trouble than anybody assumed we were. I mean, it would be very nice. Maybe the president could say to the Republicans, why don't you try to get some Democratic votes on your next tax bill? Or why don't you try to work together on something that is really important to average working people?

You know, the Republicans used to be or at least they used to pretend they were the party of fiscal responsibility. But you got this tax bill, which is anything but fiscally responsible and now, you've got his suggestion and they're taking it seriously, apparently, the Republicans, that they bring back earmarks after years.

Now I was there, Steve Moore was there, years of reformers and I'd like to think that this is one of the few areas that reformers on the left and reformers on the right actually got together on.

BURNETT: Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner did both agree on this.


REICH: And we agreed on getting tot and getting rid of earmarks. I mean, the swamp -- this is the swamp water. You talk about draining the swamp. The swamp water is actually earmarks and it is insane to hold hearings on earmarks.

Steve Moore, you and I agree on almost nothing. We agree on this. I wish you were advising. You were a former adviser to Trump, why don't you advise him this is so stupid? This is -- would turn back the clock, waste money, and actually not bring anybody together.

MOORE: And, by the way, you know, one of the reasons historically that members of Congress have put earmarks in the bill is to get re- elected, right? I'm going to bring the bacon back to the district. But I think in this case, Robert Reich is exactly right.

So if any friends in the white house are listening, don't go there. I mean, I think you're going to actually so disgust voters that you're going to lead them to vote out the guys. One other quick thing --


REICH: One of the biggest problems here, really, is that political power trumps, not to use an overused expression, the merits of any project. I mean, it's all -- once you admit earmarks, it's all about who has the power to get a particular pile of swamp grass to their own --


BURNETT: You both agree on this. I agree.

I have something you will not fully agree on. Robert, you wrote a piece, and it is titled: Trump may be dumb, but he has plenty of emotional intelligence. And in it you write, he knows how to manipulate people. He has an uncanny ability to discover their emotional vulnerabilities, their fears, anxieties, prejudices and darkest desires and use them for his own purposes.

And you go on to call him a political con man. Make the case.

REICH: Well, I don't know that I have to make too much of a case, Erin. We've all been witnessing for the last year this man who -- I mean, he's conning 37 percent of Americans. And he tells them lies. He tells them that he is going to have a big tax bill that's going to help the working class when in fact, it helps his friends who are the oligarchs. He cons them constantly.

And I think we ought to give him some credit as being a very, very effective, intelligent con man. All this business about him being dumb and stupid, and all of this stuff that's been coming over the last week, I don't think takes full account of the fact that he is a brilliant con man.

My concern is that when you put together somebody who really can't read and can't analyze and can't really hold a logical piece of information in his head, with a brilliant con man, that is a very dangerous combination for not only the United States, but the world.

And I'm sure my good friend Steve would agree with me.


MOORE: Well, not at all. I think Donald Trump is a very good sales man. He's a very good marketer. He did something no one thought was possible.

In terms of being a con man, I mean, Robert Reich doesn't like the tax bill, but we've already seen as many as a million people, working class people who are benefitting from the pay raises and the bonuses that they're getting.

But, look, you could make the same case about Barack Obama. This is a guy who told the American people he could stop the rise of the oceans for goodness sakes, and that, you know, he could spend $800 billion on a stimulus plan and it would create all these jobs.

So, I think it's an unfair charge.

REICH: Steve, wait a minute.

BURNETT: OK, quickly.

REICH: But surely, surely Steve Moore, you would agree that there are a lot of, let's call them, I would call them lies. You might call them misstatements of fact, but the Trump administration.

MOORE: I call them exaggerations. He exaggerates.

REICH: Exaggerations. He exaggerates. I see. Exaggerates like any con man would exaggerate.

BURNETT: OK. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

And next, Trump clears up confusion over the wall.


[19:40:02] REPORTER: Would you be willing to sign an immigration deal that ultimately does not include funding for the border wall or would that be a red line for you?



BURNETT: And Trump's playbook on the coal industry. Is he taking orders from a millionaire coal CEO?


BURNETT: New tonight, the wall or no deal. President Trump making clear today any immigration bill he signs must include the border wall.


REPORTER: Would you be willing to sign an immigration deal that ultimately does not include funding for the border wall or would that be a red line for you?

TRUMP: No, no, no.


TRUMP: It's got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in.

The security is number one. And so, the answer is have to have the wall.


BURNETT: Loud and clear.

So will this be a deal breaker for Democrats?

California Congressman John Garamendi is OUTFRONT.

Congressman, will you do a deal with the president on immigration, on Dreamers, if it means what he says it means? It's a red line. You got to put a wall in there.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I have no idea how you deal with this man. Remember, it was Monday, just a couple of days ago, that he ordered 200,000 El Salvadorians to leave the country. These were refugees that came there because their life was at risk. And on Tuesday, he says he would sign a DACA bill without a wall, did that right on public television in an answer to Senator Dianne Feinstein. And now today is back the other direction.

You tell me where this man is on any given day. We put a bill with -- to him on a day in which he's going to sign with or without a border wall, something will happen.

This is the problem with this president, is you don't know what he's going to do tomorrow. He is all over the wall.


GARAMENDI: Wall yes, wall no. Who knows where he's going to go?

BURNETT: Well, let me play for you. So, obviously, he was very clear today and in a sense, seemed like a clean up for the event you referred to yesterday when he clearly seemed to consider Senator Feinstein's idea of a DACA bill, of a Dreamer bill without the wall. Let me just play that exchange.



SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: What about a clean DACA bill now and with a commitment that we go in to a comprehensive immigration reform procedure like back when Kennedy was here. It was really a major, major effort and it was a great disappointment that it was nowhere.

TRUMP: I think that's basically what Dick is saying. We're going to come up with DACA. We're going to do DACA and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive.

FEINSTEIN: Would you be agreeable to that?

TRUMP: Yes, I would like -- go ahead. I think a lot of people would like to see that. But I think we have to do DACA first.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: Mr. President, you need to be clear though. I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here, when we talk about just DACA, we don't want to be back here two years later. You have to have security as the secretary would tell you.


BURNETT: So you hear there, Trump seemed to agree with Feinstein. Just do it separately until Congressman McCarthy jumped in to remind him of his own party's stance.

I mean, what's your take on this? Does the president not understand how this works in Congress or is he just trying make a deal and he doesn't care about the wall, he wants a deal and a win?

GARAMENDI: I don't think we have any idea how this man's mind works. We've gone back through this DACA business two or three times. There was an agreement on DACA several months ago. It fell apart because the president really didn't mean what he told Pelosi and Schumer that he would do a DACA bill and he backtracks on it.

This is a problem for sure, for 800,000 young men and women that are in the United States and the Dreamers. It's a serious problem for them.

But to take this thing in the context of international affairs, where is the president, where is this administration on North Korea? And one day, it's "I got a bigger button than you have". The next day, well, we ought to negotiate. You go back and forth.

The uncertainty that this man's lack of clarity, lack of consistency creates is an enormous danger to this world.

BURNETT: You refer to his mind, and I know that has been top of your mind, and at this moment, Dr. Bandy Lee, the Yale psychiatrist who has expressed serious concerns about the president's mental health is briefing Democratic members of Congress. I know you're going to be heading over there after this.


BURNETT: And you had a private briefing with her earlier today. What did you learn?

GARAMENDI: Well, her book, which is not just hers, but 26 other mental health experts from around the country, made it very, very clear that the mind of the president is a clear and present danger to this world. He controls the world's most powerful military, the most powerful nuclear arms anywhere.

And he is not stable. He calls himself a stable genius u. Anybody that would call themselves a stable genius has a significant problem.

BURNETT: Did she say that? Did you get a chance to talk about that with her?

GARAMENDI: Yes, we did, and we talked about the way in which he has displayed, beginning with his primary campaign, all of the bullying that went on against the other candidates, which continues to this day, which continued this morning to bullying Senator Feinstein, probably about what she did to embarrass him at that meeting you just played. It is, that's one piece of it. The continued attacks on people, is in her mind and in the mind of many of these mental health experts, a sign of mental instability.

And it's a problem when you have a president who we cannot have confidence that he is capable of understanding the issues and being able to rationally work through a set of problems, but rather reacts emotionally and in many case, irrationally to the last thing that was said to him.

BURNETT: Congressman Garamendi, thank you. Appreciate your time tonight.

GARAMENDI: Thank you.

BURNETT: And also this evening, the Trump administration appearing to be taking its coal policy from a coal CEO. A newly released memo written by Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray details the types of changes to environmental and coal policies that he would like to see. Of his 16 suggestions, at least 10 have already been fulfilled or are underway by the Trump administration and Trump wants to take credit for these changes, telling "The New York Times", quote, I'm the one that saved coal.

[19:50:03] I'm the one that created jobs. You know West Virginia is doing fantastically now.

So how do West Virginians field?

Martin Savidge went to find out.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In West Virginia, they measure progress by the number of coal trains and coal trucks. And lately, they're seeing more of both.

Coal production is up 31 percent, according to the state Chamber of Commerce, a welcome change after 2016 saw the state's lowest coal production in decades.

ADAM ROARK, COAL MINER: I left as soon as I graduated.

SAVIDGE: A year ago, Adam Roark had been laid off four times in 12 months.

ROARK: Now, it's just booming.

SAVIDGE: So, you're working full time?

ROARK: Full time, six, seven days a week now.

SAVIDGE: So, as much work as you can want or handle?


SAVIDGE: There are more mining-related jobs than qualified people to fulfill them, at least according to the president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Thirty-two-year-old James DeHart was laid off from a mine in Arkansas. He came to West Virginia four months ago.

West Virginia, you hear, is hiring miners, or at least there's opportunity for you.

JAMES DEHART, LAID-OFF COAL MINER: Yes, yes. There's a lot of things in the works to where there's a lot of jobs opening up.

SAVIDGE: James got a mining job in less than a week.

In 2016, in the town of Welch, things were so bad even the Walmart closed. Today, small businesses are opening. There's a new barbershop, talk of a restaurant without a drive-thru, and this one boarded up building has become a thriving car repair with five full time and two part-time employees.

At Eva's house, the local bed and breakfast, they're seeing something unheard of -- tourists.

SANDY BLANKENSHIP, OWNER, EVA'S HOUSE B&B: I would say it's doing really good. So many people didn't give us a chance to make it and we're making it.

SAVIDGE: When I met Sheriff Martin West in 2016, he way laying off deputies, nearly half his force, due to budget cuts. Now, thanks to increased coal revenues, he's got more money.

What does that mean for your department?

SHERIFF MARTIN WEST, MCDOWELL COUNTY: We were recently able to recently hire one deputy back and hired a process server back, so we feel that, you know, we're optimistic.

SAVIDGE: So, for this turnaround, who did you give the credit to?

ROARK: Donald Trump.

SAVIDGE: Everyone we asked says that.

ROARK: I can't thank him personally enough.

SAVIDGE: Things may be better, but life here is not all good.


SAVIDGE: Linda McKinney and her husband run the country food bank. Last year, they helped 16,000 of the county's roughly 19,000 residents. That is not the worst of it.

Forty-seven percent? Is that what it is? Of children in this county?

MCKINNEY: Are considered homeless. That means that 47 percent of the children are living without a biological parent in the home.

SAVIDGE: In part because though McDowell County ranks last for almost everybody in Virginia, it is second in the state for deaths due to drug overdoses, something Sheriff West, who is also a local pastor, personally knows personally and painfully.

So, you know of these deaths. This isn't like these are just numbers some way.

WEST: I've conducted many of the funerals, of overdose, whole families. I've seen sisters and two brothers, a nephew out of one family.


SAVIDGE: There's no question when it comes to coal mining, things are getting better, but there are other aspects that haven't gotten better at all. There's one more grim indicator of how the industry is improving. It's the number of coal mining-related deaths. In 2016, in the state, there were just three. In 2017, there were eight.

It's a reminder that coal mining has always been a dangerous job -- Erin.

BURNETT: Incredibly dangerous job.

Thank you very much, Marty.

And next, Jeanne Moos on the president's favorite TV program, the Trump show.


TRUMP: My perform I consider it work, but I've got great reviews.



[19:58:11] BURNETT: It's the real world White House edition. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sometimes it's hard to tell a cabinet meeting from "The Apprentice" boardroom.

TRUMP: A nice-looking group. Welcome to New York.

Welcome back to the studio. Nice to have you.

MOOS: The studio, the president was referring to letting cameras state for almost an hour Tuesday at that bipartisan meeting on immigration.

TRUMP: My performance, you know, some of it called it a performance. I consider it work. Got great reviews.

MOOS: Reviews my performance, the studio, no wonder someone joked -- he had these installed these at the cabinet meeting. Calls of reality TV references bear out. "The New York Times" reporting that before he took office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.

TRUMP: Who will succeed? Who will fail?

MOOS: In retrospect, some of his boardroom's musings were downright prophetic.

TRUMP: Do you ever take your hat on the?


TRUMP: I should wear a hat.

MOOS: Make the cabinet the boardroom again.

And just as ratings were dear to Trump's heart -- same goes for ratings of the White House meeting.

TRUMP: I'm sure their ratings were fantastic, they always are, which is why I think the media will ultimately support Trump in the end.

MOOS: Did he say the end? Tweeted one pessimistic critic, we all die in the season finale.

TRUMP: Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: My performance --

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: One thing you can't question, he blossoms when the cameras are on.

Thank you so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go. Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.

Anderson is next.