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U.S. Government Shuts Down As Trump Marks First Year In Office; GOP And Dems Play Government Shutdown Blame Game; How The Shutdown Impacts Americans; Hundreds Of Events Planned Worldwide This Weekend. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 20, 2018 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. We're live in Washington with you here. And this isn't really how the president expected to celebrate his first year in office. It is the one-year mark for the president.

And right now, you're waking up to a government that is shut down for the first time in more than four years. In about an hour, members of the House will be back on Capitol Hill where they will try to find some sort of compromise on a budget deal despite last minute negotiations and huddles and votes, it was the Senate who failed to pass a deal to keep the government open. This happened late last night.

BLACKWELL: This morning, President Trump is blasting Democrats accusing them of playing shutdown politics. It also forced him to cancel his anniversary party at his Florida resort, but soon he will be joined by thousands of protesters headed to Washington for women's marches and rallies.

We have a panel of experts here to breakdown every detail, but we'll start with our team of reporters. Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill. Ryan, is there any indication that we're hours away from a compromise, days away from a compromise? What are you seeing and hearing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Honestly, Victor, it could go either way. There is a possibility that somehow Senate negotiators today could come up with a compromise that wouldn't be this big grand bargain, that will be a necessity at some point, but would essentially push this decision down the road at least in a shorter time frame than the deal that is currently on the table.

And yesterday here on Capitol Hill was a day filled with tension and for the most part, leaders on both sides were engaged in a staring contest waiting to see who would blink first. In fact, it wasn't until the late-night hours at around 11:00 here we saw furious activity on the Senate floor, leaders from both parties in fierce negotiations.

But no breakthrough was to happen. The vote went down. The Senate -- that Senate vote leading to a government shutdown and afterwards leaders from both parties blaming the other side for the responsibility. Take a listen.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Perhaps across the aisle some of our Democratic colleagues are feeling proud of themselves, but what has their filibuster accomplished? What has it accomplished? The answer is simple -- their very own government shutdown.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump, if you are listening, I am urging you, please take yes for an answer. The way things went today, the way you turned from a bipartisan deal, it's almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown.


NOBLES: So, this is what's going to happen today both the House and Senate will be in session. The House set to gavel in in about an hour at 9:00 a.m., then House leaders both Republican and Democrat are going to go to their separate caucuses and begin the conversation.

The Senate doesn't arrive here until noon and that is where the real negotiations begin. And right now, the most viable option on the table is an idea proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. This is something that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he will support.

It essentially shortens the window of this delay, a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through February 8th. That something that both sides seemed to be inclined to agree to.

But it's important to keep in mind, Victor and Christi, as you look at this calendar, this is going to put the president's state of the union speech right smack dab in the middle of this three-week period. It doesn't solve any of the big problems that these two sides face.

There will be no deal for DACA. It doesn't deal with military funding, the Children's Health Insurance Program. It would also be something that will be up for discussion. So even if they are able to come up with a deal today that does temporarily keep the government open, the big issues are still on the table and there is no sign that serious negotiations are taking place to end that current standoff -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ryan Nobles for us on Capitol Hill. A lot of big issues to be solved. Ryan, thank you so much.

President Trump tweeting as we said about the shutdown this morning blaming Democrats for the political panic on Capitol Hill.

PAUL: Yes, CNN's White House correspondent, Abby Phillip is live from the White House. Talk to us, Abby, first of all about what President Trump seems to think it will take to get this deal going? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Yes, as you mentioned earlier, the president waking up on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration with a government shutdown. Something that he did not think he would have to deal with today.

But at the same time, it seems very much like the talks have broken down between Democrats and Republicans. The president remember yesterday had Senator Schumer over to the White House for some talks over lunch.

They seemed to have ended that meeting positively, but by the end of the day, the White House and the Hill went back and forth with some phone calls and the message was clear, there is no deal.

The White House is now saying that they do not believe that there is any grand bargain to be had. They want to take the immigration discussion off the table. Now, the president tweeted this morning about the shutdown talking about how there is the need for more Republicans because blaming Democrats for this shutdown.

[08:05:05] And also another sign of just how contentious this debate has gotten between both sides, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary put out a really feisty statement last night talking about the Schumer shutdown as she termed it and saying that Democrats were obstructionist losers for placing the country in this position.

Now, today we are entering this morning with no sign that the White House is interested this getting back to the table with Republicans. The president is here. He is now planning at the moment to go down to Florida for that gala that had been planned for him this afternoon.

In the meantime, however, we are still back to where we seemed to have been for quite some time with Democrats still wanting to talk about a short-term fix and that a bigger deal on immigration and other issues and the White House saying there is no way that we are putting immigration back on the table in order to get the government funded.

PAUL: All righty. Abby Phillip, appreciate the breakdown. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's bring in our panel, Jen Psaki, CNN political commentator and former Obama White House communications director, Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator and former senior adviser for the Trump campaign, Shermichael Singleton, Republican strategist, and April Ryan, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. Good morning to everyone.

April, let me start with you. Most people have slept through the first eight hours of the government shutdown. There will be relatively little pain today and tomorrow, right, because the government is closed.

But as we go into next week, right, they have got to come together, somebody has to come off of their perch. Is there any likelihood, any indication that they will get back to the table to talk about those big immigration issues?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I will say this, if yesterday was an indication, the urgency, there was urgency even though this did not work the way America hoped it would, there was a sense of urgency.

Let's see if there is going to be a wait and see who will blink first. I'm sure it will be. This president is very interesting in how he likes to negotiate. This does not serve the Republican Party, the Democratic Party or the president of the United States well for him on his anniversary, 12:01, to be sitting in the midst of a shutdown.

He came to Washington saying that he was going to see all these wins. You know, Sarah said Democrats were losers. There is a big "l" for Washington today. The American public is losing and when those paychecks come due, if they are posturing, that will be a problem.

And I want to ask Jack and Jen something really fast. Do you think that really that earmarks could have really just -- if it was clean, it would have been fine, but do you think that mucked it up? Because President Obama did not want earmarks. I'm wondering if earmarks are really the issue.

BLACKWELL: The president suggested earmarks at that meeting two Tuesdays ago, the projects that could have gotten people to the table for negotiating.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me say this, I actually was on the appropriations process where most of the earmarks went through and also served in Republican leadership when we had a five-vote majority. Earmarks are congressionally directed spending.

So, you say to the bureaucrats, Democrat or Republican, that the Department of Transportation we actually want to build a road here, we want to dredge this port there, or we want research in the case of something I worked on transitioning from tobacco to blueberry production.

And what happens is you get skin in the game on individual spending. It does not break the budget because it is built into the budget and it does help pass legislation.

BLACKWELL: You got a huge laugh in that meeting two Tuesdays ago.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because this is about much larger issues. And to Democrats and Republicans, it is about in part the fact that running government can be about short term CR to short term CR to short term CR.

And if you talk to defense hawks on the right, many, many Democrats, that is the concern that they have. There's been CR after CR after CR. They want long term spending.

The other issue that is much bigger than earmarks to Democrats is DACA because you are talking about 800,000 people who are now on the gambit because they don't know if they can stay or go. So, earmarks and road projects, I know we were not for them.

I don't know that that that was the thing that I'm most proud of from the Obama administration, but I would say for this it's not going to solve this. This is much bigger.

JACKSON: But it is also in the constitution that Congress would direct spending. But let's me say this, the reason why we're in this is because we did not do 12 individual appropriations bills, which is where you would fight these battles instead of having one mega battle in which the White House and leadership has taken away from rank and file Democrats and Republicans. What 12 individual appropriations does is talk about the roads here under this bill, talk about military under this bill.

[08:10:07] PAUL: OK, but I want to listen to Senator Michael Bennett yesterday because he is talking about the CRs as you are and how frustrating this is for them in general. Listen to this.


SENATOR MICHAEL BENNETT (D), COLORADO: I'm very inclined to vote against the continuing resolution. For one reason, because I don't think the government should be running on continuing resolutions. Since I've been here in the ten years that I've been here, we passed something like 36 continuing resolutions.

And now we're doing work that should have been done before the end of the year and we're proposing to delay it for another two weeks. Nothing is going to change over the next two weeks. So, we should do our work.


PAUL: Listening to that, it makes you say you knew this was coming. Why weren't you better prepared to do more than offer --

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It is so funny that you ask that question because I was talking to the congressman about that in the greenroom. This reminds me of the government shutdown back when George H.W. Bush was president. It occurred on the weekend and my hope is that Congress will prioritize and try to pass something a CR to allow them more negotiating time.

Keep in mind, the president has talked about the economy and the economy is doing very well. The stock markets are doing well. But when the government shut down in 2013 under President Obama's term, (inaudible) said the lost to the government was around $23 billion.

So, there will be an impact on this as it relates to the economy and this is a president that is championed victories. He is a businessman, et cetera. With the state of the union coming up, I find it very difficult for him to make the case to the American people that he is a great businessman with the government shut down and it is costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

BLACKWELL: All right. Everybody stay with us. We'll continue this conversation after the break. But the realities of a government shutdown really can stretch beyond Washington, of course. Who will get a paycheck, who will not? Those answers next.



PAUL: It's 16 minutes past the hour right now. As the government shuts down, thousands of people will have to keep working with their paychecks put on hold. We're talking about some museums that will shut their door. There are some national parks that may be limiting services.

BLACKWELL: Yes, far more than that, all because lawmakers failed to reach a deal with the White House. Here's CNN Tom Foreman with more on the impact of this shutdown.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The 850,000 government workers locked out of their offices and left out of their paychecks. That's what happened when the government shut down in 2013, and it would likely be the same this time.

Many services would be stopped or delayed for the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, would back down on its flu tracking even as the nation faces the worst outbreak in several years.

Some senior nutrition programs would be paused, and 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed during the shutdown in 1995. Congress funds much of the science research being done in this country. In 2013, the shutdown meant that some experiments went on hold and suffered costly losses of data.

In space that same year, NASA put a monitoring system for looking for dangerous asteroids on hold for about two weeks reportedly. A big one, by the way, is expected to brush by earth on February 4th.

As for the 417 national parks, the administration wants to keep limited access wherever possible. Services would be reduced in all 19 of the Smithsonian's Museums, which shut their doors after this weekend.

Now beyond that, not everybody would be out. For example, in the military, there's worry about the impact on the military. There would be some discomfort, no doubt, for military families if their pay was delayed, other benefits, that sort of thing.

But Congress has previously gone out of its way to keep that from being too egregious, and the troops would stay on duty. Indeed, roughly 1.9 million government workers would keep at it since their jobs are considered essential, air traffic controllers, security officers, food inspectors, prison guards.

Social Security checks would also go out as would be expected for the senior population out there. The post office would remain open. In virtually all of these cases, people would be working without pay until the shutdown is over.

That could cause them some difficulties, undeniably, and it could all be pricey for us, too. One current estimate, shutting down the government would cost taxpayers $6 billion a week.

PAUL: All righty. Joining us now to talk about how this affects government workers, Jay David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

BLACKWELL: One of the largest union representing federal and D.C. government employees. Jay David, thanks for being with us. Your reaction to this shutdown on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of your organization.

J. DAVID COX SR., NATIONAL PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: I think out members are frustrated. They are disappointed in the president and Congress that they are not funding the government doing their job as we do our jobs every day going to work, servicing the American people.

PAUL: This is what is interesting. We were talking about this last night. They are most likely, if this isn't reconciled, will be told you need to go to work still, but you're not going to get paid. How many people at home would say OK?

COX: That is because the government exempts itself from all the laws that it passes for other employers.

BLACKWELL: That's convenient.

COX: And other government shutdowns, employees who are deemed essential, nurses at hospitals, doctors, people that are responsible for safety, border patrol, TSA, are required to go to work, however when pay day comes, they don't receive their paycheck and they can't get paid until Congress appropriates the money.

[08:20:08] And then people come back to work and then there is an opportunity to pay them. It could be a lapse of two, four or more weeks before the people would get their money if there is a two-week shutdown.

BLACKWELL: So, have you identified the first date paychecks would be skipped?

COX: Yes, many employees their pay ended yesterday, so they would get paid this coming Friday. But then two weeks from that Friday, then they would not get paid or if their pay day is this coming Friday, they would only get paid for say half of the pay day.

And then after that, they would be -- continue to work, but not be paid. And other employees are told you're not essential, go home, and it is people that want to go to work. They want to service the American public.

BLACKWELL: Has the government identified, been clear in communicating who is essential and who is not essential because I've seen some reporting that there is still confusion about --

COX: I've been through two major government shutdowns in my career. This one has been the most confusing. I think there is certainly efforts on part of the administration to window coat like national parks, we'll partially keep them open and things that have drawn bad publicity in the past when they are closed, trying hook and crook to keep those open.

But in reality, if they don't have the money, Congress hasn't appropriated the money, it is no legal to spend the money, they can't go out and hire contractors, that is also against the law because they don't have the authority or the resources to pay them with.

So, it has been a lot more confusing than in the past as to what is going to be essential, nonessential, and who is supposed to work and who is supposed to go home.

PAUL: Just can't imagine the burden for people who work paycheck to paycheck.

BLACKWELL: We heard Mick Mulvaney say that national parks will be open, but the trash won't be picked up. Would your suggestion be to just shut them down until there is funding for the government, until there is a CR?

COX: I think that is the best way to operate because again, you can't have national parks without the trash bin collected, without park rangers on duty to deal with emergencies and the people that visit national parks. It is not safe. You can't run these government services without government employees. And I'd like to remind everyone the average AFGE member's take home pay is right at $500 a week.

BLACKWELL: Which is remarkable when we read that statistic.

COX: After taxes and other deductions, that is not a lot of money. They are living pay day to pay day. And when you shut off one pay day, it creates a crisis.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

PAUL: Jay David Cox, thank you so much.

COX: Thank you so much for having me. Let's get this government open right away.

PAUL: Thank you so much.

Listen, do you remember these scenes from last year? Hundreds of thousands of women marching in protest of the president. Now on the first anniversary of his oath of office, they will be streets again.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is traveling with some of them today. Good morning, Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Christ, extra trains have been added from the Poughkeepsie to New York City train route just to accommodat all of these crowds. Let me tell you they are motivated. Look at this sign? Tweet others as you would like to be tweeted. We'll talk to some of these women about what is different from a year ago coming up.



PAUL: Just about 8:30 on this Saturday morning. Good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. We are live in Washington where despite last minute negotiations and votes and some deals possibly, the government is shut down for the first time in more than four years. The art of the deal president couldn't strike a deal with Democrats or few Republicans and just a few hours ago, they marked the one-year anniversary of his presidency by rejecting a budget bill.

PAUL: And the president has something to say about that reacting on Twitter this morning with this, that Democrats, quote, "could have easily made a deal but decided to play shutdown politics instead."

BLACKWELL: So, across the country today, thousands of activists are getting ready for the second annual now women's march.

PAUL: Organizers of the movement are looking to keep up last year's momentum that you saw, the rallies across the country and really across the world. Live now with the latest is CNN correspondent, Brynn Gingras. Tell us what you're doing there -- Brynn.

GINGRAS: Well, Christi and Victor, you can probably tell how loud it is just here at the Poughkeepsie train station. All of these women are gathering because we have a train leaving in about 20 minutes headed to New York City, thousands of women from the area flooding into New York City for this march.

Not to mention there are dozens of other marches all around this area of the state. But I want to bring in the organizer of this particular peace train as we're calling it. You are organizing this with so many women, so much motivation. Tell me how you particularly are feeling about the turnout right now.

MAURA O'MEARA, ACTIVIST: We are so psyched. We've been waiting for this. We had a wonderful time in D.C. last year and now to be able to march in New York and to join over 300 marches worldwide today, we are excited. We have a lot of people joining us today that we've been working with throughout the year. We haven't been quiet since last year. We have been up and out and really working very, very hard to keep everybody energized.

GINGRAS: The momentum going really. And you know, one of the things I would say that's interesting, last year the election happened, everybody got motivated. A few months before the inauguration. Now you all have had over a year to really get together and motivate. Do you think it's going to be different this year? O'MEARA: I actually have a lot more hope this year than I had last

year. Last year we were kind of like a little numb, a little shocked. And this year we got really, really excited because look at what's happened. I mean, the grassroots have really taken hold. There are so many organizations that started over the last year that we didn't have.


O'MEARA: And so we're organized, we're getting together, we're communicating.

GINGRAS: You're psyched. You're psyched. You're ready to go.

O'MEARA: It's just a celebration of what we've been doing all year long.

GINGRAS: Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us, Maura.

O'MEARA: Let's march, everybody.

GINGRAS: Actually, Victor and Christi, we are going to join them on the train so you guys can come back to us and we'll talk to more women about why they're personally here. So many reasons. We'll bring that to you later. Back to you, guys.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Brynn, thank you so much.

We have Brynn Gingras there.

So bringing our panel back and I know we sat here and we watched it last year. I didn't know it was going to be an annual thing.


PAUL: Did anybody expect that they were going to reorganize and they were going to be back out there again this year?

JENNIFER PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. And I marched last year in part because I didn't know what to do with myself with Donald Trump in the White House and I think that was true for tens of thousands if not millions of women who marched. There was natural skepticism and cynicism about what this would actually result in. I count myself among the cynics. But what has happened is you have a record number of women running for office, many of them Democrats, some Republican, but a record. I mean, 400 percent more than in the past.

Women turned out. They elected a Democratic governor in Virginia. They almost flipped the state legislature. So the question now is can we continue this momentum. But this is real. It's activism. It's actually the backbone of the resistance movement.


BLACKWELL: Yes. RYAN: And what's interesting about this is, women feel that they're

not heard by this administration. Women -- and I think back Shirley Chisholm, the late great Shirley Chisholm in 1972, she ran for president for the United States. And she said if you don't have a seat at the table bring a folding chair. Well, they're bringing a lot of folding chairs today. But at issue -- and women really are powerful.

And I'm going to bring it back to something that we saw last year. The day after Inauguration Day. You know, we all worked Inauguration Day and the crowds were not as robust as they had been in years past. I was in the crowd, so I saw it. And I walked through easily. But the next day, a few women just started walking around Washington, New York, Lansing, Sydney, London, and it caused Sean Spicer to come to the podium because there was a challenge of the look.


RYAN: You know.


RYAN: He came to that podium with that ill-fitting suit screaming. And that was the reason I think the tumbling began for him for six months. But I believe if the women kept that momentum, I think, you know, they would push a little bit more in the ear or the face of the president and the White House.

BLACKWELL: And we have seen that. We have seen --

RYAN: We have. And I'm just saying this from someone who's observed for the last 21 years.


RYAN: How people get reaction from government. And that last year they saw the crowds. And there was a huge reaction from the White House and just looking over history, if it were to be a consistent movement, I think it would be a little bit more --


BLACKWELL: And the president vacillated actually on that day. First criticizing the crowds for protesting his election and then reaffirming of course their right to be out in protest.

Shermichael, let me come to you. The president's legacy. Well, I guess it's too -- just too soon to talk about legacy, he's only finished his first year. The president's record over this first year legislatively as it relates to many of the concerns of the women who will be out across the country today, how do you rate it?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, he has the lowest approval rating of any president at the one-year mark. And, you know, I am a product of a single mother. My dad was killed when I was very, very young. And so I recognize the importance of women's voices. And I think in this administration right now, you have a president who made that comment from the video that was released, you have a lot of these --

BLACKWELL: The "Access Hollywood."

SINGLETON: Correct. You have a lot of men who have done very bad things targeting women, et cetera. And so right now I don't think this is a bad thing for women to have their moment, to allow their voices to be heard. And I think it grows the conversation and allows us as men who may not see things from the same perspective as we should. And I think this is a good thing. I think it moves the needle forward as other movements have.

I may not necessarily agree with all of their policy positions, and that is OK. But to give women the opportunity to say this is how we have been treated unfairly, we want equity, there is nothing wrong with that. There should be a level and equal playing field.


SINGLETON: I don't think anyone could debate that.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And let me just point out yesterday there were hundreds of thousands of women who were in Washington and other cities around the country on right to life, about the rights of the unborn.

[08:35:02] And so often they are overlooked, they don't count because they don't maybe fit into some of the agenda of the left, but these are women who care deeply.

And the other thing I want to point out, if you look at this administration, the comms job, with Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders Huckabee, international politics led by Nikki Haley, a key role, Seema Verma, Betsy DeVos, women are in this administration. Women benefit from the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years.


KINGSTON: African-American, Caucasian women, women of all colors have benefited from jobs that are out there and opportunities in a pro- business environment.


RYAN: The African-American unemployment rate is still two times higher.

SINGLETON: Higher than white.



RYAN: So it may be the lowest in a long time, but it's still --

KINGSTON: It's the lowest since 1972.

RYAN: That's an argument that has a lot of holes in it.

BLACKWELL: Jack, let me --

KINGSTON: Statistics 6.8 --

RYAN: Yes, but there's still a lot of people --

BLACKWELL: Jack, let me ask you --

RYAN: More than any other group. So how do you deal with that one?

BLACKWELL: And Jack --

KINGSTON: Continue to push back on the job-killing bureaucracy and --

BLACKWELL: Jack, you talk about women who are members of this administration but in August the administration overturned an Obama- era rule that required big companies to report their salaries for based on race and gender to avoid gender gaps, right? How does that reconcile with your narrative that this is an administration that supports women?

KINGSTON: I think if that becomes an issue in terms of that particularly regulation you would have 535 members of Congress who would -- I want to say this to my friend, Jen.

BLACKWELL: If wage inequality becomes an issue with that?

KINGSTON: No, no. If the lack of that regulation, because there are other enforcement mechanism that's in the law. But I want to say this, my daughter marched in the march last year, but, you know, the economy is in great shape. ISIS is on the run. America is strong again. Optimism in America is an all-time high.


RYAN: The Obamas began with ISIS on the run and you're just continuing. You guys have got to stop spinning to make it seem like you --


PAUL: OK. We're getting back.

BLACKWELL: All right. We've got to take a quick break. All of you are staying with us.

PAUL: They're OK.

BLACKWELL: The president once billed himself as the great unifier. Now he is plagued with accusations of racism. We all remember the S- hole comment a couple of weeks ago. Just a year into his presidency. So is this just talk or is his rhetoric influencing policy?



[08:41:48] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides . Look at my African-American over here. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. I would like to have him show his birth certificate.

When Mexico sends us people, they are not sending their best. They are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they are rapists. This judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall. You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.


PAUL: So that's kind of a wrap of the first year of the presidency.

BLACKWELL: And a bit of the campaign in there.

PAUL: Yes. President Trump in this year, too, has had to spend a good portion of it shooting down claims that he's not a bigot.

BLACKWELL: Yes. He billed himself as the great unifier during the 2016 campaign and has said that he is the least racist person than you've ever met or interviewed or known. What happened to that promise of being a great unifier?

April, Shermichael, Jen and Jack are back with us.

Jack, I'm starting with you.

KINGSTON: What a surprise.


BLACKWELL: So when you hear that and you watch what the president has said over the last two years, let's say, first the administration and the campaign, are you surprised by concerns that the president might be a racist?

KINGSTON: I do not believe he is a racist. I'm not surprised by the charges of the critics of Trump that he is. In terms of his language, it is a little unpolished and he does offend certain groups.

SINGLETON: I'm sorry, unpolished?

RYAN: Unpolished.

KINGSTON: Here and there. If you look at him, he's kind of picked on everybody from Bob Corker to --

BLACKWELL: Except Norwegians. RYAN: He likes them.

PSAKI: He likes them.



KINGSTON: But let me say this. During the campaign, we were often told he was a sexist. And his record as an employer with the Trump Organization was very solid pro-women, with upward mobility, with management decisions, and pay and everything else. I believe it's the same with African-Americans and I have actually asked that question because I think that there is a story to be told. And otherwise we would know about it within the Trump Organization because it's so easy to sue for racial discrimination these days and the fact that there is not all these cases against him --

BLACKWELL: Well, there are cases against --

PAUL: OK. I got --


KINGSTON: There was one.

PAUL: People is going to bust open.

KINGSTON: I'm surprised.


RYAN: Jack, I'm going to say this. I understand your point of view. But at some point you have got to stop and say, is this right? Is this insensitive?

Jack, there have been so many things. I mean, let's not even talk about just here. Let's go back to -- let's not talk about this year, let's not even talk about the campaign. Let's go back to the Central Park Five. Let's go back to the issue of putting a C on those housing applications and this issue with the Justice Department.

[08:45:07] That's -- that kind of starts telling the thing. Then Sarah wanted to come out talking about "The Apprentice," how, oh, you know, he had "The Apprentice" on a network for all these years he was a racist. You've got contestants who won who were African-American who said he was not fair to them, to include Arsenio Hall and the other gentleman, Randall Pinkett who said he wanted them to share the award. No other contestants were asked to share the award.

Now let's move into this piece. This whole year.


RYAN: This whole year, we have not seen any black agenda issues when he said on the campaign trail he would deal with fixing the urban -- he would have an urban fix. There's been nothing --

BLACKWELL: And initially asked the question what the hell do you have to lose?

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Which is a question that I have -- I've got a group of African-American women voters who will be hearing from tomorrow because I don't think we hear from African-American women enough in this election cycle who say that when the president says that he is for the forgotten man and woman, that woman does not look like any of them.

Jen, let me come to you with the question of, how much does this impacts policy? Because with the whole S-hole controversy, that was a policy discussion.

PSAKI: Well, there is nothing more important about how we project ourselves internationally than how we handle things domestically. And the president of the United States is the most powerful person in that regard. So you look at his S-hole comments last week. Obviously it inflamed people who are not racist -- I wouldn't count the president among them -- in this country and around the world.

But you also look at the impact of the fact that it makes it very difficult for African leaders to work with the United States on issues like terrorism, on issues like economic development. Because he is incredibly unpopular now in all of those countries. That makes us less safe. There are huge policy implications that are beyond racism which alone is a huge problem.


RYAN: And Africa is very important in the conversation.

PAUL: Shermichael, we have a minute left.

SINGLETON: I mean, the policy implications, look, Reuters has just reported, the "Economist" just reported the Trump administration has barred Haitians from getting low-skilled visas. Not only six or seven days after S-hole comments, Congressman. So there are implications for this. And I think if you're an African-American, and you're looking at this administration, you have to ask yourself, where is it uniting? Where are we getting all together?


SINGLETON: We're more divided now than we were before.

KINGSTON: Trump critics love to gloss over on the profound decrease in the unemployment. I mean --


RYAN: You need to stop believing that.

SINGLETON: Congressman, I will have --


KINGSTON: -- the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and I will say this in terms of foreign countries --

SINGLETON: I'm not disagreeing with --


BLACKWELL: Hold on. Let him finish.

SINGLETON: Remember what Jack Kemp said, people care about how you make them feel first. You can have the best policies in the world. All the best policies in the world but if people feel that you're dividing them, if people feel like that they're marginalized, none of what you're talking about matters. And that is a reality. We're not robots, we are human beings. And human beings are emotional creatures.

BLACKWELL: Well, all right, we've got to wrap it there.

Shermichael, April, Jen, Jack, thank you so much -- whoa -- for the conversation.


PAUL: Thank you all. We appreciate all of your input. We really do. Thank you all for being here.

All right. Listen, up next, we're taking a look at First Lady Melania Trump's first year in the White House as well.


[08:52:34] PAUL: We talk a lot about the president, but what about the first lady? She's one of the most unique in modern history. A year into the Trump presidency, Melania Trump still a bit of a mystery to a lot of people.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Kate Bennett has a look at the first year of the first lady.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): One year into Donald Trump's presidency and Melania Trump is settling in as first lady.


BENNETT: Mrs. Trump didn't officially move into the White House until June of last year opting to stay in New York until her son Barron could finish out the school year. That unprecedented decision only served to enhance the mystery of the new first lady. KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST LADIES": In actual modern terms,

she is the most reluctant first lady we've had. I don't think she's shy. And she's talked about not being shy. But I think she is private.

BENNETT: Once Melania Trump made the move to Washington, her transition from fashion model, wife and mother to full-time first lady began in earnest.

M. TRUMP: It's very exciting life. And it is a lot of things that you need to take care of, a lot of responsibilities. And it is part of being a first lady.

BENNETT: It was on her first overseas trip in May accompanying her husband that the world saw Melania Trump in the spotlight, winning over the foreign press with her fashion sense and a show of confidence on the global stage.

Back at home, Mrs. Trump decided that helping children would be the backbone of the first lady's platform. A point she made in a rare public speech last fall.

M. TRUMP: No children should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid with nowhere to turn.

BENNETT: With a husband prone to frequent Twitter outbursts, the year for Melania Trump meant focusing on being the compassionate voice of the family. Connecting with kids and at the White House from the Easter Egg roll to the annual turkey pardon, and her very first White House Christmas.

One thing missing from the first lady's first year, a signature cause. In the coming months, that will change. Mrs. Trump will champion issues affecting children, including bullying, drug abuse and helping kids succeed.

In China last November, I asked the first lady about that and she provided some hints.

(On camera): How are you feeling one year into this role as first lady? How has it been for you? Is it what you expected?

M. TRUMP: Well, it's my honor to be a first lady of the United States. And it was very busy year. And we love to live in Washington. We have a very busy life. And it's exciting as well. And I'm looking forward to work on behalf of the children.


PAUL: And our thanks to Kate Bennett reporting there.

BLACKWELL: All right. In about 4 1/2 minutes, the House is scheduled to head back to work. And at noon the Senate does the same to try to find a solution here. And as government shutdown standoff, how long will the government be shut down? Well, hopefully we'll get an answer to that soon. Thank you for joining us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: I'm Christi Paul. We always appreciate your company. Make some good memories today. "SMERCONISH" is starting after a break.