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Lindsey Graham Talks Government Shutdown, DACA, CHIP; Paul Ryan Gives Weekly Press Conference; Trump "Eager to Speak With" Mueller Team; Steve Bannon Reaches Deal to Speak to Mueller Team. Aired 11:30- 12p ET
Aired January 18, 2018 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I started by asking him about the latest presidential tweet that threw his own party leadership and the plans into chaos this morning when he tweeted that the CHIP funding, the funding for the children's health initiative, that House Republicans were planning on attaching to a government funding bill in order to try to entice Democratic votes, to do it on a short-term basis, the president said, it has to be done on a long-term basis, which is completely against what his own administration said in a policy statement just yesterday.
But what Lindsey Graham said, that's well and good, but that proposal would have been DOA here in the Senate where I am now. The point being it is still very much up in the air. Even if that goes through in the House, what is going to happen with this deadline.
He said he's working with other Republicans here in the Senate to try to somehow find a way to, as part of a short-term bill to keep the government running, put language in with a promise at least that they're going to deal, not just with immigration and with the DREAMers, but also as you heard him say there many times, with military spending.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Dana Bash, fascinating interview with Senator Lindsey Graham.
BASH: Thank you.
KEILAR: Thank you for that. We appreciate it.
And any moment now, we're also going to be hearing from the House Speaker Paul Ryan. Live pictures coming to us from the location there in the Capitol Visitor Center where he's going to speak to reporters in his weekly press conference momentarily. We're going to bring that to you live.
[11:35:03] PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Guess what? Tax reform is working. It really is. It is working for families, it is working for businesses. Tax reform is working for our economy. Yesterday Apple announced $2500 bonuses for its employees, as well as the largest investment any company has made in response yet to tax reform. Remember this is not just happening of the biggest of companies as well. I was in North Prairie, Wisconsin, last Friday. I visited Zero Zone. It is a company that makes refrigerator display cases.
We talk about how tax reform is going to help them expand and hire more people. These kinds of decisions are taking place across the country. This is such a change in the past year. Now the conversation is about growing and expanding. Now workers are coming home and telling their families they got a bonus, so they get a raise or better benefits. I mentioned just yesterday, a worker at the Chrysler plant in Belvedere, came to my son's basketball game, he's going to get $4,000 more as a result of the bonus and tax cut. Tax reform is working and it is helping to improve people's lives. Which is exactly why we did it.
Next, I talked at CSIS this morning about how critical it is that we fully fund our military. It is first responsibility of our government and right now this is an urgent responsibility as our military faces a serious deterioration of its readiness capabilities.
Unfortunately, Democrats don't seem to share that urgency at all. They continue to hold military funding hostage over unrelated issues and deadlines that don't exist. Now they're threatening to shut down the government altogether over these unrelated issues. It is just unconscionable. Our men and women in uniform need our help, they need these resources so they can do their jobs and do it safely.
Don't take my word for it. Here is what Senator Schumer himself said in 2013, let me read you this quote. This is from Senator Schumer. Quote, "We believe strongly in immigration reform, we could say we're shutting down the government until you pass immigration reform, it would be governmental chaos, closed quote," Chuck Schumer, October 6th, 2013. "This strategy is governmental chaos." I could not agree more, we should not be playing these games.
The most responsible thing we can do is avoid that chaos and pass this continuing resolution that we're bringing to the floor. Address the real deadlines that are here, the real deadlines by continuing the funding for our military, extend the Children's Health Insurance Program. And instead of our men and women in uniform being treated like bargaining chips, we can keep working on getting the resources that they need.
Now, continuing resolutions are not ideal. That is why the House passed all 12 of the appropriation bills ahead of schedule before the fiscal year. The only reason anyone is even necessary, the only reason we had to pass the C.R. today is because Democrats refuse to close on a spending agreement, taking it hostage for an immigration deal. Again, the most responsible thing we can do for our military and for the country is to keep the government open. Pay our troops, put aside the games, move forward, and continue to negotiate with each other in good faith.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
RYAN: We're doing fine --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So this bill --
RYAN: I have confidence we'll pass this because members understand why on earth with we wouldn't to have a government shutdown, hurt the military and sequester on the military starts kicking in in due time, that is not in anyone's interest. And so why we would want to feed the idea we should use our troops as a bargaining CHIP? I think it is unconscionable that Democrats would walk away from CHIP, from funding our military, for something that is not a deadline. Let me tell you one thing, chad, look at the states are going to be shutting down CHIP in days, Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington State. These are states that are running out of CHIP money if we don't get this thing passed. I can't imagine why somebody would want to vote against doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Talking about the Democrats, you don't have Congress on your side of the aisle that you can carry this bill with only Republican votes.
RYAN: I didn't say that. I said I think the Democrats should join us in passing this bill. I feel like we're in a good place.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said CHIP needs to be renewed right away. The president signaled he didn't think it should be included in the spending bill. How do you negotiate with Democrats and your own members if you're not sure where he stands?
RYAN: I am sure where he stands. He fully supports passing this legislation. I just talked to him after my CSIS speech. So I didn't see what he wrote, but I've spoken with the president, he fully supports passing what we're bringing to the floor today.
[11:40:07] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I was going to ask you about the same thing, because you say you didn't --
RYAN: Let me go to the next question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: CHIP should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30-day or short-term extension. Is that causing you problems?
RYAN: No. It is not causing us problems at all. CHIP funding is unique in how it works. Because some states are doing fine. They have more money. Some states don't. And these short-term patches don't fix those problems. So you really do have states that are actually legitimately running out of money and the short-term patches don't fix those states. Right behind these seven states are a whole other tranche of states that will run out of money. We figured out on a bipartisan basis how to renew and extend the CHIP Program, a bipartisan program -- he does understand CHIP.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Broadly beyond CHIP, though, the Senate majority leader said yesterday has concerns the president hasn't indicated yet what he's willing to support on a deal for DREAMers. Are you confident that you're clear that -- on what the president would and would not support?
RYAN: Yes, the president wants a balanced deal, he wants maneuverability, he said this at the White House event that you guys were all invited into that you talk about, which is he wants to have security, he wants to have a balanced deal, the purpose of getting DACA right is so that we fix DACA once and for all and don't create a new DACA problem that we have to address five and 10 years down the road. So the president is clearly giving legislators room to negotiate but wants a balanced deal.
The president made it clear that the deal he was presented with by Graham and Durbin is not a balanced deal and doesn't support that. What I've been making clear is we're not going to bring a bill through here that the president is not going to support. What would be the point of passing something that doesn't go to law. We'll pass a balanced deal, but, again, what does this have to do with our military? What does this have to do with preventing the children's health insurance program from shutting down and all of these states in a few days?
What does this have to do with making sure the men and women who are out there right now putting their lives on the line need what they -- what we can give them? What does this have to do with our funding for our troops? It has nothing to do with funding for our troops and we should not use it as bargaining chips.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is this because of Ohio state in the big-10 championship.
RYAN: Next question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just to follow up on Mary's point, because of what Leader McConnell said about not knowing where the president is, last week you had to serve as translator in chief to a FISA tweet. These are tough votes for you, tough votes for your conference. Is it helpful, do you feel the president is helpful to the process of getting 216 or 218, whatever you need?
RYAN: He's going to the Pentagon today to make the point about why our military is under duress, why our military needs funding. He's supporting getting this done. And the president likes to do things in an unconventional way. Does he it with his phone. But actually does help us with our members.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: "Politico" is reporting that Mr. McConnell is making contingency plans for a possible shutdown. Are you making those plans and are you open to a one, two or three-day C.R. --
RYAN: I'm not going to negotiate to the media, but the -- that's up to the Senate Democrats. If the Senate Democrats want to shut the government down, if the Senate Democrats want to deny funding for our troops, if the Senate Democrats want to stop CHIP funding for unrelated issues, that's a choice they would make, I don't think it is a good choice for them to make, but that would be their decision to make.
In the back.
NASH JENKINS, REPORTER, TIME MAGAZINE: I'm Nash Jenkins, from "Time" magazine.
RYAN: Yes, sir.
JENKINS: This will be the fourth time in as many months that you guys have had to pass the cr. Why is that? Why --
RYAN: Want me to read my opening again?
JENKINS: I mean --
RYAN: It is a legitimate question. I'm not trying to belittle your question. Why are we doing this continuing resolution? Because Senate Democrats are not allowing appropriation bills to even be brought up for a vote. Because they're attaching unrelated issues to cap negotiations. So shouldn't we have regular order on appropriations. Congress agrees on the spending level and Congress funds appropriations to those levels. That is how appropriations are supposed to work. The House passed all 12 appropriation bills ahead of schedule this year. The Senate hasn't brought up one appropriation bill. That's not Mitch McConnell's fault. That's the fault of the fact that it takes 60 votes in the Senate Democrats of refusing to even exercise the power of the purse and now they're refusing to get a cap agreement so we can get the power of the purse exercise, we can fund the military, fund things like basic health care, fund things like opioids. Refusing to do that over unrelated issues. That's why we are where we are. Andy?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You are aware that Senator McConnell has not attempted to bring up an appropriations bill and that the Senate appropriations committee has not drafted --
[11:45:12] RYAN: I am aware. They know they don't have 60 votes to proceed on this thing. I wish they didn't have to get 60 votes, but it is because of that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Maybe make more of an effort to demonstrate the points you're making by moving to go to legislation.
RYAN: Of course, I would. I'm a House guy. I always want to see the Senate do more on the legislative calendar. They're pretty busy with their executive calendar getting personnel through. I sympathize with the problems, but I would love to see people have to vote on these things.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, what is your taste to national security lawmakers who worry every day under a C.R. it damages the military?
RYAN: The C.R. is not good for the military. But what is worse for the military is a government shutdown. What is even worse for the military is a government shutdown followed by a sequester, which would happen if we don't pass a C.R. We also passed what we call anomalies. We passed things in the C.R.s that give the military the flexibility they need during the time of the C.R. to do what they need to do, but it's clearly less than ideal. I gave a speech this morning at CSIS about this. What we know for a fact, you can ask Secretary Mattis the same question, is that not passing a C.R. is much worse and much more damaging for the military, especially when it is followed up with the sequester.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, we have been talking about Senate Democrats today, but I want to be clear on the House and where you're getting the votes for the C.R. in the House. Is it coming from the defense hawks in Freedom Caucus members who have been reluctant to support it or are you expecting the Democrats to help --
RYAN: I feel -- I feel like we're making good progress, having great conversations and I think our members do not want to reward using the military as a hostage in this moment.
KEILAR: OK. I want to bring my panel back in to discuss this. Mark Preston with us, David Drucker and Rebecca Berg.
That was -- he was spinning, he was trying really hard there, the House speaker was, but a lot of reporters doing some good work there, Mark Preston, and reminding him you have the majority in the House, you have the votes if you can wrangle them within your own party to fund the government. And he's lambasting this idea of attaching unrelated measures to budgetary issues, he's doing the same thing to try to sweeten the pot for Republicans.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He's supposed to have allies in the Senate, which he does, and an ally down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which he doesn't, because he doesn't have the full backing of the White House to get anything through. What is interesting there is, and for our viewers out there, you only need 218 votes in the House to get this stopgap measure passed in the House of representatives.
He has way more than 218 votes. His problem is he doesn't have what is known as the Freedom Caucus, the hardcore conservatives that don't want to vote for another cr. He is depending on Democrats to come across the aisle with this -- with this carrot of CHIP Funding for six years to come get him to 218.
KEILAR: Funding for children's health insurance, that's what CHIP is, children's health insurance, and that's for less fortunate Americans who have children relying on this.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: This is where it would help to have, Mark, an ally in the White House, a strong president who can make a consistent case to these members of the Freedom Caucus or from districts where Trump won by huge margins and he has that sort of political pull that political capital to make his case. This is where it would help to have the president out there, making the case, consistently, to these members of the House.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It certainly would help Republicans if the president was leading in front and trying to get all of these cats herded in the same direction, which is very difficult. I have a little sympathy for Paul Ryan and I thought it was an epic piece of trolling when he recounted that tweet from -- that statement from Chuck Schumer during the 2013 shutdown that you shouldn't use -- you shouldn't use anything as a hostage to try and get something done through government funding. Look, all politics is situational.
What are you seeing Democrats do? They're leveraging their Senate minority you need 60 votes to try to extract as much as they can from the Republicans who are trying to turn it around on Democrats and blame them for holding all sort of things hos hostage, in order to get something done, trying to paint it as unfair. This is the same thing Republicans did when they tried to defund Obamacare with the shutdown, they complained that President Obama was twisting the truth because the military wasn't going to be threatened, the troops weren't going to be threatened and there was nothing untoward about a partial shutdown that wouldn't really hurt people anyway.
We now have seen the rolls there is a Republican in the White House. The last two times there were big shutdowns, there were Democrats in the White House. There is nothing saying Republicans can't have a government shutdown. I wonder if things will be different this time.
[11:50:11] KEILAR: Could we be clear about the process, right? The reason reporters remind this speaker he has a majority is because this is something the House will be dealing with first. So even if there aren't the votes in the Senate, you deal with the House first. If something can move through the House, you'll have a lot of Democrats saying, OK, I'm facing tough reelection, I think I'll have to go along with this. So the focus really is on the House right now, not on the Senate, as he's making it all about.
PRESTON: The other thing, too, this is where I think it really frustrates people outside of the Beltway in Washington. What we're seeing right now is the federal government in the act of closing down. The Democrats are playing the only card they have, and that's the United States Senate, to try to get what they want. At the same time you have Paul Ryan right now trying to offer a little something as well. That's not necessarily related, so when people look at Washington they say to themselves, what is go on there? How can you not get this done? And I'm going to blame them.
DRUCKER: Because all of these politicians on the Hill are worried about their own voters. If they thought their voters were going to reward them for compromising and giving a little, they would do it a lot easier. Both parties have a very restive face that don't want to see them work with the other, and that's what's happening.
KEILAR: Really good point.
David Drucker, Rebecca Berg, Mark Preston, thank you so much to all of you.
I want to turn now to the Russian investigation. President Trump is now eager to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller. That's according to White House lawyer, Ty Cobb. He tells CBS talks are under way about a possible meeting, though there is a big concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TY COBB, WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: The president is very eager to sit down and explain whatever is responsive to the questions.
UNIDENTIFIED CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you have any fear of a perjury trap?
COBB: No, but I think it would be foolish to not proceed without considering that possibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, President Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is also preparing to talk to Mueller. They have reached a deal for Bannon to be interviewed by prosecutors, instead of appearing before a grand jury. Bannon's lawyer says his client will answer any questions from the special counsel's team. But that was not the case when Bannon faced congressional investigators earlier this week. He infuriated both Republicans and Democrats by refusing to answer, citing executive privilege. He was due back on Capitol Hill today, but that has been postponed
CNN political correspondent, Sara Murray, is joining me now.
Sara, tell me what's going on now.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, not easy to do by angering members on both sides of the aisle when you're appearing before a committee like that, but Bannon did just that. He said he couldn't remember anything that went on during the transition, anything that's happened during his tenure in the White House.
The committee actually subpoenaed him, and while they were taking breaking, this was six is hours of closed-door testimony, Steve Bannon's attorney was on the phone with the counsel's office, and the White House counsel's office came back and said, you cannot talk about the transition, you cannot talk about your time in the White House, which was very frustrating to lawmakers.
Now, He is not going to be on the Hill today. The committee is giving him a little bit more time until the end of the month. And Bannon's lawyer put out a pretty striking letter that we've been reporting on today that basically said, look, we need the White House and the Hill to get on the same page about what we are actually allowed to talk about next time Steve Bannon comes up here. Because you saw the reaction from lawmakers yesterday, Brianna, they were certainly not impressed by Bannon's appearance.
KEILAR: What was fascinating to find out, Sara, was that the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, said the Trump administration did not instruct Bannon to invoke executive privilege. How do you reconcile, then, the two accounts?
MURRAY: That's one thing we're trying to figure out today and we're asking the White House about. Was John Kelly trying to be deliberately misleading or is there some game-playing going on in terms of semantics? It's possible the White House did not officially assert executive privilege, but they're basically protecting their right to do so in the future.
So when the White House counsel's office was on the phone with Bannon's lawyer, they didn't say, hey, we're asserting executive privilege here, they said, we prefer you don't talk about the transition, you don't talk about your time in the White House. Don't do that because you may want to use this privilege down the line. But when you saw those Republican and Democratic lawmakers come out of that hearing earlier this week, they basically said, look, this seems like a pretty questionable way to use privilege. It's a pretty broad interpretation.
[11:55:00] KEILAR: Yes, it certainly is. Tell us about Bannon apparently slipping up. He did reveal a detail about some discussions.
MURRAY: This is according to Axios. They're calling it a slip-up Steve Bannon made. He apparently did mention that he had conversations with other members of the White House, Sean Spicer and others, about the meeting Don Jr had with Russian officials. This came after Steve Bannon was instructed not to talk about the transition, not to talk about his time in the White House, so Axios was called a slip-up, even though he was not to be talking about this time period at all.
KEILAR: Very interesting.
Sara Murray, thank you.
Still ahead, could we be heading now to a government shutdown? We're following the very latest on Capitol Hill and we'll have more after a quick break.