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No Federal Government Funding Deal Yet Reached by Congress; Interview with Congressman Paul Gosar; Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal; House GOP Offers 1-Month Spending Bill to Avoid Shutdown. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 17, 2018 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, January 17th, 8:00 in the east.

House Republicans are trying to stop the clock, offering up a short- term spending plan to keep the government running for another month. But they have two problems. They have a problem within their own party because conservatives don't like it. There's a lot of fighting going on, especially where the military is concerned. And if they want to reach out to Democrats, they are divided as well. Many don't want to sign on to any continuing resolution unless it involves the Dreamers. So therefore we are now back to square one. And the president's vulgar remarks about immigrants is not helping.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So there's also a new twist in the Russia probe. White house chief strategist, formerly, Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury. Bannon refused to answer many questions, or any about the president's transition during this interview with House investigators in a time period, of course, that is key to the Russia investigation. Two more close Trump associates are set to meet with a House panel today.

CUOMO: Joining us right now is Republican congressman Paul Gosar. He's a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Congressman, good to see you.

REP. PAUL GOSAR, (R) ARIZONA: Good morning, Chris.

CUOMO: So Jorge Garcia, that name mean anything to you?

GOSAR: No. I've never met the man.

CUOMO: He is a man in Detroit, Michigan. He was just deported. He was brought here when he was 10 years old. He's lived here almost 30 years. Didn't make the DREAMer cutoff, though. He literally missed it by a year. He was deported because of what's going on right now with immigration enforcement, and his family is still here, his wife who was born here, a citizen, his two kids, citizens, born here. And they are being seen as an example of what you must fix. What is the chance that you fix the situation for someone like the Garcias, tax- paying, good, no criminal record, family, community. Are you going to fix it?

GOSAR: We should, Chris. And I've been saying that from day one. We've got to get back to what it takes to be a legal immigrant in this country. That's what people want. They want to embrace legal immigration. We've got to get past this aspect that the government is responsible when laws are broken. I think Ronald Reagan said it best. We have to have that accountability. So Jorge knew about the situation looming over this aspect, and where's the personality accountability?

CUOMO: He was 10.

GOSAR: There's a bunch of sad stories.

CUOMO: He was 10.

GOSAR: We want to make sure we go back to the rule of law. You know, his parents, you know, were the lawbreakers.

CUOMO: Yes. They broke the law. They came in illegally.

GOSAR: Absolutely.

CUOMO: But you know what, congressman, here's what I want to test on that. There are laws and there is law enforcement. There is a subjective component to laws that are on the books, how they're enforced and when they're enforced. Would you agree with that?

GOSAR: Yes, to a certain degree, yes.

CUOMO: So you have a situation where you cannot come into the country the way he did. Understood. But he's a child. So personal accountability has to go out the window. At the age of 10, you can't inform criminal intent let alone being held accountable for being brought in here.

GOSAR: Chris, it comes back to being part of that family. You want to keep the family together but the lawbreakers are the parents. So you've got to make that break there.

CUOMO: But what is your priority? I understand terrorists, drug dealers, people who commit felonies, I understand the exigency, the harm, the potential for harm with that population and why you want to seize on legal enforcement. I get it. How does Garcia fit into your need of protection?

GOSAR: Well, in the case if they were talking about the gentleman that was on the show earlier, you know, the comment from his wife was is they want an individual basis, and the only way you can look on an individual basis is by going through a legal process the proper way. That's the key here is if you want to have the blessings of this country, do it right. From that standpoint they said do it one by one, not en masse. And I've said that from day one. Let's get some certainty, but let's go back to what it takes to be a legal person coming to this country legally and break it down in front of the American people so that they actually intercede and give their viewpoints, whether it be enforcement of sovereign law, whether it be chain migration, whether it be a border wall. All those applications have to be done in front of the American people.

CUOMO: What does that mean, done in front of the American people?

GOSAR: Share it with them. Because, I mean, they're the government, Chris. They're the ones -- when you had Youngstown on, these are the people tired of the way the country is going where we're facilitating lawbreakers instead of upholding those people that follow the law. That's what made us great.

[08:05:00] CUOMO: The American people are as close to unanimous on anything I've seen them on about wanting to protect the DREAMers and people like the Garcias. You're own party is at 75 percent in the Quinnipiac poll.

GOSAR: I'm also very good at statistics. You can get people to say anything they want to. What they want to is they want to have a big heart, but they want to stop this problem, and they know that they have to delve into the numbers and do this for right.

CUOMO: Right, but you can do it both, Congressman. You can stop it going forward. You can change the laws and change the enforcement model and make the border more secure and have more enforcement and vetting, fine. But you also have incidental victims of people like Garcia. You don't make our country any more safe by getting rid of Jorge Garcia.

GOSAR: No, but Jorge Garcia may be one of those people that is on the good side. You've got a number of people that are on the bad side.

CUOMO: But most of them are on the good side. You know the statistics don't support this fear of immigrants.

GOSAR: No. I mean, Chris, the report coming out of the Department of Justice shows exactly what we've seen. We've seen a plethora of people coming in through these chain migrations and family units --

CUOMO: That doesn't mean they do criminal acts once they get here. The crime rate among the illegal immigrants, as you call them, is lower than you have for the rest of the citizens.

GOSAR: You know, that's not what we're seeing out of the statistics out of Arizona. Being an illegal into this country is two times more prevalent in regards to butting up against the law.

CUOMO: You're probably counting the entry and saying they broke the law de facto by how they came in. That's juicing the stats.

GOSAR: These are violent crimes. These are also --

CUOMO: I welcome you to show me any statistics that show people coming in undocumented have higher homicide rates that people who are citizens. Please send it on, I'd appreciate it. Let me get you on the shutdown while I have you here, sir. Do you

believe that you can find accommodation within your own party to do a straight party line to get the CR passed?

GOSAR: I think we can. From this standpoint, I think there's something out there that can be achieved, but I find it very interesting that we've got Democrats that are holding hostage of a budget that's really unrelated and should be decoupled with DACA. So I think there's a deal to be made there and I think it's time that we break the camel's back in regards to coupling issues that are not related to the budget and our military's prowess and readiness and men and women in harm's way.

CUOMO: So keep DACA separate and you're willing to work on a deal in DACA, but you don't want it part of the CR, fair point?

GOSAR: Absolutely. It will not -- I can't vote for any of that if it's tied together. And Chris, I've been very consistent. I've asked for it germane, saying keeping single issues from the day I came into Congress, having that debate about single issues and not clouding the issues with pork and stuff that are sliding into this omnibus bills.

CUOMO: But you do want long-term military spending included in it?

GOSAR: Oh, absolutely. I mean --

CUOMO: Some members of your party don't like that either. Some of them were for the sequester. They were for the hard cuts that were made on the military. Do you think you can get on the same page with that?

GOSAR: You know, Chris, I do. But trust is a series ofpromises kept. We've got to start looking at when you see reports coming out where it's 20 cents out of every dollar on the military is wasted, we ought to turn back in there. I want a strong military but I want my resolutions and changes made. We offered amendments on a fair wage or a fair job that is fair to the taxpayers, and that's just making sure that people and contractors are paid fairly, open and paid fairly. That could have been another $11 billion in savings right there. So it's not the chance that we're not trying to put things forward. I want a strong military but I also want reforms. That's what the American people demanded.

CUOMO: And the budget side is this Friday. You're saying you want to keep that clean, but you're pledging that you will deal with DACA ASAP because you do care about these families caught in the lurch?

GOSAR: I care about all of immigration. Once again, go back to Ronald Reagan. I'm tired of blaming the government when people break the law. We've got to look back at this because immigration is such a fabric of this country, but we've got to do it right. There's a difference between legal and illegal immigration, Chris.

CUOMO: Right, but there's a different amongst those undocumented, their circumstances, and -- GOSAR: I understand. But once again, you also have to look at it as

a Trojan horse. If you don't get it right, you forever break up immigration from the controls that were given.

CUOMO: But that assumes that immigration is a plague, right? Because that's what the Trojan horse was. It was filled with people who wanted to kill and destroy where people it landed, right. That's not what immigrants are. They're not looking to kill us.

GOSAR: Omar Mateen, Chris?

CUOMO: You can share cases. There's no question that you have felonies and drug addicts and terrorists. But if those are the people you want to get rid of, you should start with the civilian population first because the percentages are much higher. That's what I'm saying.

[08:10:00] GOSAR: You understand precedence. So when you allow people to come in in a precedent that establishes a pathway, it will be taken advantage of by the liberal courts. From that standpoint, that's how I look at it.

CUOMO: And I appreciate your take. You're always welcome on the show to discuss what matters to the American people. Congressman, thank you very much.

GOSAR: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, so, let's get another perspective. How do Democrats feel about the spending bill, about government shutdown, about the DREAMers? Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Good morning, Senator.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: Good morning. Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Will you be voting on the short-term deal to keep the government open if it does not include any protections for DREAMers?

BLUMENTHAL: There is no reason that any short-term deal should exclude the DREAMers. There's a bipartisan compromise supported by the vast majority of the American people --

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. The bipartisan compromise, do you mean the Durbin/Graham deal that is effectively dead in the water?

BLUMENTHAL: The Durbin/Graham bill is the only bipartisan proposal before us. And I'll vote against a short-term spending bill, the fourth in as many months, because it simply kicks the can down the road. It holds hostage not only the DREAMers but also defense spending, both military and nonmilitary, the health community facilities bill, aid for disaster relief. There are a number of measures that we need to address. It's not just about the DREAMers. But we have a moral principle at stake with the DREAMers. These young people were brought here as infants, as young children, no choice of their own. And we need to keep our promises as a great nation.

CAMEROTA: OK. So what if over the next -- today you're a no. At this moment you're a no on this vote. You will not vote to this government spending to keep the government open. What if Republicans promise that if you do it, if you vote, that DREAMers and immigration will be their first order of business come next week?

BLUMENTHAL: We've heard this before, we've seen this movie already. There needs to be a solution now. Remember that these DREAMers, Alisyn, are out there losing their status, literally thousands of them every day. And as of March 5th, they will all lose their protection against mass draconian deportation. The anguish and anxiety they feel has to be addressed, not to mention the deadlines that are looming. And we held a hearing yesterday with the secretary of Homeland Security. There is doubt as to whether or not there's time remaining if we wait longer to address the administrative issue. So clearly now is the time.

CAMEROTA: Are you willing to shut down the government over this?

BLUMENTHAL: There's no reason for a government shutdown. The Republicans control the Senate, they control the House, they control the White House. The president has said he would welcome a good shutdown, but there's no need for this self-inflicted wound. It can be avoided in the next 48 hours. The Durbin/Graham compromise addresses every single one of the elements necessary, a path to citizenship, border security, the so-called chain migration, really family reunification, it's all there.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but it doesn't address it in the way that, as you know, the more hardline immigration folks in the Republican Party want it addressed. They don't like how it addresses chain migration, they don't like the lottery system, they don't like the protected status for certain countries. So correct me if I'm wrong, but that deal is over, right? The president has said he won't sign it. That deal is dead.

BLUMENTHAL: The president that appeared in the White House last Tuesday would sign that bill. The president who appeared in the White House on Thursday, as Senator Graham said yesterday, was a different guy. I'm hoping that the president of last Tuesday is the one who will sign that bill. But clearly there's a vast majority of Congress, bipartisan consensus, and the American people, as Chris just said so well, who favor this kind of solution. There's no reason we can't achieve it.

CAMEROTA: So just out of curiosity, you think that Tuesday Trump, Tuesday President Trump is going to make a comeback? Do you have any evidence? Is somebody is working on that, working on getting the president back on board?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, I think we're all working on it. And thanks for, by the way, giving us the opportunity to work on it publicly. If the American people express themselves in favor of what's fair and morally right, the president hopefully will do the right thing, too. But it really is up to the leadership in Congress. This kind of

kicking the can down the road, we've done these continuing resolutions, they're stopgap, temporary, short term, no way to govern. And the Republicans can make a choice now to put it on the Republicans' desk. The vast majority of Congress would be in favor of this bipartisan consensus.

CAMEROTA: OK, I do want to ask you about that hearing yesterday where you had DHS Secretary Nielsen in.

[08:15:00] You kept pressing her to tell you what was really said in that Oval Office meeting where the president reportedly made crude comments about African nations and she didn't remember, she told you, what was said. And she grew weary of your questioning about it and frustrated.

So where does that leave you?

BLUMENTHAL: It leaves me doubting that she couldn't recall if the president of the United States used that four-letter word to getting beginning with S. If she can't recall it, and she could recall, by the way, that Senator Durbin did not use that word, I find that very difficult to believe.

And, you know, words matter. Those kinds of words have consequences. The president of the United States doesn't speak for me when he refers to those countries with that word or make a blatantly racist remark in fact, the most insidious remark masquerading poorly his immigration policy. I think that she and the president should acknowledge what was said and apologize to the American people.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about Steve Bannon being subpoenaed now by Robert Mueller and his investigation. I read that you saw that as a solid sign that Mueller is considering additional criminal charges. Connect the dots.

How is it just by them subpoenaing Steve Bannon, who is a top adviser, how do you know that they are going to get any charges out of that.

BLUMENTHAL: We can't say for certain that there are going to be charges, but subpoenaing a witness like Steve Bannon, who has very intimate knowledge about what was happening in the White House during those first months, as well as what happened during the transition, especially the meeting in Trump Towers, the firing of Comey, the drafting of a statement on Air Force One, which clearly obstructed truth, those facts linking together before the grand jury indicates that the special counsel is moving toward additional criminal charges.

I think that this claim of executive privilege is unfounded and unprecedented. It's simply untenable. Only the United States can invoke executive privilege. Not Steve Bannon and --

CAMEROTA: Well, but he did, the White House did. I mean, the White House requested that executive privilege.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, the White House imposed, in effect, a gag order. Not a legal kind of instruction. It has no basis.

And by the way, Alisyn, we've seen where the president has invokes broad executive privilege in United States versus Nixon, the Watergate tapes case, the United States Supreme Court was ruled unanimously, there is no such thing as the kind of blanket executive privilege when there's a legitimate need to know for a criminal investigation.

CAMEROTA: OK. Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much for your perspective on NEW DAY.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

ROMANS: Chris?

CUOMO: All right. So, we're still dealing with this basic question. What will it take to avoid a shutdown? Is it inevitable? We're going to bring in a panel and discuss the percentages, next.


[08:21:58] CUOMO: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle reacting this morning to a new proposal from House Republicans to prevent a government shutdown in just three days. What's going to happen?

Let's bring in CNN politics and editor at large Chris Cillizza, and associate editor for "RealClearPolitics", A.B. Stoddard.

I've got nothing on this, A.B. It seems like everybody we interview tells us something different. The Republicans are saying, yes, I think we may be able to get there, but then the more hardliners they are, the less they seem to be on board. They don't want to have DACA on it. Some do. On the Democrats' side, it's kind of the mirror image.

So, what does that tell us?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think the Republicans really in the end want to blame Democrats. They want to say, we didn't get nine Democrats on the Senate side. I think newly elected Senator Doug Jones from Alabama would probably vote with Republicans. He has made CHIP a huge priority, talked about it a lot in the campaign. He'll talk about why that needs to be a yes vote.

So, if you have House Freedom Caucus members balking and making it a Republican on Republican violence story, that's really bad for everybody. I don't think anyone wants a shutdown. I've covered these long enough to know that miracles do happen at the 11th hour and people fold. I don't think it would be a DACA give, but I bet it would be more military certainty and more military spending to bring the Freedom Caucus members on board so all of the pressure is on Senator Manchin and Senator Heitkamp and Senator Donnelly, and those Democrats on the Senate side who are up for re-election in the states that Trump won.

CAMEROTA: That's interesting, because, Chris, when we've spoken to Democrats this morning, so we just had Jim Himes and we had Senator Richard Blumenthal on. They're both noes at the moment, OK? They're noes and the only way that they tell us this morning they are getting on board is with the deal for the Dreamers that they think is still alive, though President Trump, you know, has, I think, for all intents and purposes, at least what has been reported out, killed it. But they still think it's a bipartisan bill that they can revive.

CILLIZZA: Well, they may be able to revive it, but it's not going to happen by Friday.

Number two, both of those people are from my home state of Connecticut and are not from Democrats in North Dakota or West Virginia or Indiana, to A.B.'s points. The politics are a little bit different. Easy for Blumenthal or Himes to be against it.

That said, I do think -- even the sweeteners that house Republicans unveiled last night, CHIP and some of these other things to get more folks on board with a bill to extend the budget funding, I'm skeptical that Republicans would not be blamed 100 percent for this. Pat Leahy, senator from Vermont said it yesterday and this is how it goes, Republicans control the White House, the White House and the senate.

We've seen Congress get blamed for past shutdowns when there was split control; '95, '96, Republicans got the blame. Newt Gingrich took the blame, even with Bill Clinton in the White House. 2013, John Boehner and House Republicans took the blame even with Barack Obama in the White House.

I just think it's a fool's errand in my opinion to think that somehow Democrats will be blamed for the shutdown, with Republicans in control of ever lever of power in Washington.

[08:25:03] CUOMO: Is there a case to be made that putting DACA/the Dreamers into this C.R. is a mistake? It's -- there's too much to it. You're not going to get just that, whether a wall component and/or security, chain migration, the lottery, there's too much that goes with it for all these bill of love and we all care, compassion talk. Do you think there's just too much to fit it in in two days?

STODDARD: No, comprehensive immigration reform is too much to accomplish by Friday, but the terms of the Graham/Durbin bill, which I saw on paper, included construction -- $1.6 billion for construction of something that President Trump would call a wall and the Democrats would call virtual fencing or whatever would make them comfortable.

But really, these concessions on chain migration and visa lottery system should make conservatives very happy and I think liberal Democrats would be very upset about it.

CUOMO: Why did he kick the curb, A.B.?

STODDARD: This is interesting, he got a last-minute blowback from immigration talks, including his aide, Stephen Miller, that is now playing the Steven Bannon role as well as Senator Cotton who is pushing for restrictions on legal immigration. This is -- look, that was, I thought, a conservative compromise. It solved the Dreamer thing but also gave a lot on legal immigration, new restrictions, new reforms that Democrats on the way left are not going to be happy with, even Steny Hoyer, House minority whip, said I can't support those reforms to chain migration. It was a conservative-friendly compromise.

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, Chris.

CILLIZZA: I was just going to say, what's amazing here, let's assume -- let's assume -- I'm somewhat skeptical, but let's assume they get something to avert a government shutdown. A.B. and I are going to be here a month's time having the same conversation. I mean, nothing is changing. I mean, the dynamic remains the same.

At some point, Democrat will have to decide if they can't cut a deal on DACA, are they willing to withhold enough votes to keep -- to close the government and that Republicans can't get enough from the House Freedom Caucus? But the dynamic isn't changing.

Dick Blumenthal was just on with you guys and said, you know, this is just kick the can-ism, it is. I mean, this is the fourth -- if it passes, it's the fourth short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open in six months.

I mean, this governing sort of lurching from crisis to crisis or deadline to deadline and then finding a door over here that is somehow unlocked and then you go through and you're in another locked area, that's sort of what this is. This is not really governing even if they don't shut down the government on Friday.

CAMEROTA: You're making it sound Kafkaesque.


CAMEROTA: All right. Well, we'll just replay the tape in a month if you -- so you don't have to come in.

CILLIZZA: Good. Don't have to get up early.

CAMEROTA: O.K. Fantastic.

Chris Cillizza, A.B. Stoddard, great to talk to you. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right. So, the former chair of the House Freedom Caucus is Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. So, you have him representing one set of resistance points. On the other side, you have Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison and he represents a very hard-line when it comes to the Democratic Party.

So, we're going to have them both on tonight and test where they are, what it will take to get things done tonight at 9:00 p.m.

CAMEROTA: That will be very interesting.

All right. Meanwhile, President Trump getting a thumbs-up from the White House doctor after his first physical as commander-in-chief. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with what he saw in the test results, next.