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THE SITUATION ROOM
Protests And Paralysis On The First Anniversary Of Donald Trump's Inauguration As President; Senator Chuck Schumer Laid Out Terms For The Federal Government To Reopen; Mitch Mcconnell Made A Statement On The Senate Floor; Russia Investigators Still Have A Lot Of Work To Do; Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 20, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Some high profile witnesses are creating roadblocks as well. This as we wait to learn if the would-be witness in chief will meet with the special counsel.
And one year later, protests marked the first anniversary in office of the President as he unleashes snarky new tweets and presides over political chaos. Has he changed the role of commander in chief forever?
We want to welcome our viewers from around the United States and the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, protests and paralysis on this, the first anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration as President. Americans holding anti-Trump marches from coast to coast as officials here in Washington offer new reasons for outrage.
We are now 18 hours into the federal government shutdown. And there is no sign that the stalemate will be broken any time soon.
Our correspondents and analysts are standing by as we cover the partisan wrangling and the public anger.
First, let's go to our congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty.
Sunlen, we have seen a lot of finger-pointing today, but is there any actual negotiating going on today?
SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has been a lot of activity up here on Capitol Hill, a lot of closed door meetings, Wolf. And certainly, a lot of speechifying on this floor of the U.S. House and floor Senate and then can pass that speechifying continues at this hour on the U.S. Senate floor.
But both sides really do continue to be dug in. There is not any meaningful movement towards finding a solution to reopen the government. You have Republicans and the White House on one side on making it very clear that they will not continue talks over DACA unless the government is reopening it and then Democrats from the other side say they want assurances here. They want promises made over their demands on DACA before they move forward and agree to anything.
Certainly adding to the mix is the fact that you do have tempers essentially flaring up here on Capitol Hill. Fingers being pointed and blame being assigned. Here is earlier today the senate majority leader Mitch McConnell from the floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Yesterday, our friend the senior senator from New York tried to insist that the shutdown was anybody's fault but his own. Anybody else but me he said. He blamed President Trump because the President wouldn't resolve months of ongoing negotiations over massive issues in one brief meeting and give the senator everything he wanted.
He blamed Republicans of Congress as though everybody didn't know that the Senate rules allow the minority party if they choose to obstruct the American people's business and filibuster for their own political purposes. It is possible, but in this instance foolishly done. These rhetorical gymnastics are simply not pervasive. The American people see right through all this bluster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: Meantime, more partisan rhetoric coming from the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer today who really lamented having to negotiate with President Trump throughout this process. Something he describes as a moving target.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Negotiating with this White House is like negotiating with Jell-O. It's next to impossible. As soon as you take one step forward, the hard right forces the President three steps back.
Now, I want to say, I don't have the personal animus that a lot of my colleagues have towards the President. We are both blunt and direct. I agree with him vehemently on just about every issue but at least we can talk to one another. But it's next to impossible to strike a deal with the President because he can't stick to the terms.
I have found this out. Leader McConnell has found this out. Speaker Ryan has found this out. So here we are on the first anniversary of the President's inauguration, mired in the Trump shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: Now, lawmakers up here do have a proposal for a three week spending bill, one week shorter than the four-week spending bill on the table that the White House and Republicans are coming around. One Republican lawmaker saying it's the most sensible alternative out there right now. But Senate Democrats making it clear that's a nonstarter for them.
You also have up here today, Wolf, some ominous language coming from lawmakers saying that the feeling as more time under a shutdown continues going on the more both sides continue to dig in. The feeling that this has to shake loose -- something has to shake loose in the next 24 hours or as one lawmaker put it the longer this goes, the worse it gets -- Wolf.
[18:05:01] BLITZER: Absolutely true. All right, Sunlen, thanks very much.
And now to President Trump he is holed up at the White House as we speak. The government he was elected to lead has shut down. Lots of portions of it.
Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
Jim, this clearly isn't the way that the President expected to spend this, the anniversary of his inauguration. What's the latest you are hearing from inside the White House?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, sounds like that Jell-O that Chuck Schumer referenced is hardening at this hour, Wolf. The bad news of the shutdown is getting worse.
I just talked to a source who is close to this process who said that the three-week continuing resolution short term spending bill that would reopen the government, take us to the beginning part of February, that that proposal is not going anywhere at this point. The source says there's been virtually no movement on that front. And so that escape happen should potentially for this crisis is not being acted on at this point, according to the source I spoke to a few moments ago.
Over here at the White House, earlier today, they were exchanging more insults and hash tags with the end other end of Pennsylvania Avenue but they are marking this one year in office for President Trump with the dubious and unfortunate distinction of having a government shutdown. Something I asked Marc Short, the director of legislative affairs over here about, earlier today here at the White House. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: This is the one-year anniversary of the President being sworn into office. How does this White House feel to have a shutdown one year after the President was sworn in?
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: Well, Jim, I think it's disappointing that Congress has chosen to shut down the government and particularly Senate Democrats have at the one-year anniversary.
ACOSTA: Your reflection at all of the leadership out of the White House? SHORT: I think it's a reflection candidly that many of the Democratic
Party find themselves in for this reason. I think that there are many Democrat actors who look at all the administration accomplished over one year. And they have pushed our leadership to say we want something to shut down the government. Meaning, they looked back and say the largest tax cut in history. They say he repealed the individual mandate. They look at the regulatory rollback. They look at what's happened with $7 trillion added to the stock markets. They see more circuit judges ever confirmed in one year. They see a new Supreme Court justice confirmed.
Those are things that we look as tremendous progress. But I know that they are captive by a small base in their party and they are saying we demand a shutdown. So I do think they are related. They look at the accomplishments of the last year that followed this administration's accomplish and their reaction is because we can't beat them we are going to do it and shut down the government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, you heard Marc Short there ticking off what he considers to be achievements for this administration in the first year in office. But Wolf, we can tell you that a source close to this White House has told as that privately, the President is worried about being blamed for this shutdown long term. At the moment they are blaming Democrats but the President is worried about taking the blame himself. He has been behind closed doors all day long. He's been on the phones with Republican lawmakers but he is also been issuing tweets going after Democrats. We can put one up on the screen that deals with the issue of immigration.
It basically says at this point that Democrats are to blame for all of this because they have been digging in their heels on immigration. Obviously, that is the issue that is -- at play here. Democrats are not going to go for a CR at this point until they see some kind of tangible promise from this White House that they are going to get some kind of action on DACA and those DREAMers.
Wolf, one thing that the President did do in front of a camera today, it wasn't in front of the public cameras, wasn't in front of the press, he recorded a video message that's going to be played tonight in Mar-a-Lago at that celebration of his one year of office -- of being in office. Of course, that is a celebration he won't be attending. He will be here at the White House, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly will be.
All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta at the White House.
Let's talk more a little bit more about the shutdown and standup with Senator Richard Blumenthal. He is a Democrat. He serves on the judiciary and the armed services committee.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you. Good to be with you.
BLITZER: I may have to interrupt this interview briefly. Mitch McConnell may be going on the Senate floor and making a statement. We will have live coverage of that. I'm anxious to hear what he as to say, the Senate majority leader.
But in the meantime, senator, the President as you know, he says Democrats are holding U.S. military -- our military hostage he says. Those are his words. Democrats are holding our military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. How do you respond to that?
BLUMENTHAL: Let's take the facts, Wolf. The Republicans are in control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. They are in charge --
BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt politely, senator. They are not completely in control of the U.S. Senate as you know. They have only 51 votes. The Democrats are in the minority but you need 60 votes in order to be -- to break a filibuster. So they are not in control of the Senate when it comes to this issue.
BLUMENTHAL: That's absolutely right. But there is bipartisan consensus, Wolf, behind every one of the issues that needs to be resolved for there to be a long term solution here. What the President is advocating is a short term, temporary patch. The fourth in as many months which fails to adequately support the military. That's the reason why the Pentagon said that this four-month deal was inappropriate and inadequate.
And why we also need to deal with the children health insurance program, community health facilities, veterans and of course the DREAMers who need to be protected against mass deportation.
And there was an agreement yesterday, midday, involving the President and Chuck Schumer until the President backed away from it. In fact, he was pulled away from it by his right wing. Chuck Schumer put the wall on the table, full funding for the wall to the consternation of some of us, but in the interest of compromise and flexibility he was willing to make that step and the President simply can't take yes for an answer. He needs to lead or get out of the way.
[18:11:00] BLITZER: What the Republicans say is yes, Schumer, he put some funding for the wall but only one year funding. Not the ten-year funding that they clearly -- they want $20 billion and he put a lot less on the table.
As you also know, senator, Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, says there's actually nothing in the deal -- in the legislation that was passed with 230 votes in the House of Representatives that you and your fellow Democrats -- actually oppose right now. There's stuff in there that you want to be included but there's nothing you oppose. Is that true?
BLUMENTHAL: The Trump shutdown is directly as a result of a President who says it's a good shutdown. There's no such thing as a good shutdown. And what's needed now is a long-term solution. We have been through three of these 30-day continuing resolutions which is not a full budget. We are going to be in exactly the same place in four weeks from now.
For the majority leader to say that we don't agree with every one of the provisions or we agree with all of them is simply to say that this continuing resolution actually is inadequate because it continues last year's funding for the military.
So in point of fact, no, we don't agree that last year's funding levels should be continued. It has to be enhanced for our military. We do not agree with the continuing of the present funding based on last year's numbers. For children's health insurance, for community health facility, for our veterans and of course the House bill has nothing to protect the DREAMers.
BLITZER: But senator, as you know, the government is shut down right now. On the table apparently is a three-week spending bill. At least to give everyone some time, keep the government operating. Give everyone time to talk about the DREAMers, come up with a compromise, come up with a solution. Are you ready for a three-week extension right now?
BLUMENTHAL: A three-week extension is no different from a four-week extension.
BLITZER: So what kind of extension would you support?
BLUMENTHAL: If there is a two-day or a three-day extension to enable us to use the bipartisan consensus and I stress to you there have been talks and conversations all day long. That's why I'm here at this hour. And I will be here for hours longer because we are working hard to try to put the bipartisan consensus behind the DACA-DREAMer provision, community health facilities, children's health facilities.
On every one of these issues, there is agreement across the aisle. All we have to do is put it on paper. Put it on the floor for a vote. And we can move forward with ending the Trump shutdown.
BLITZER: The White House says that they are anxious to get a deal on DACA as well as soon as you and your democratic colleagues in the Senate reopen the federal government. Do you buy that?
BLUMENTHAL: If the condition for talking is that Democrats agree to anything and everything they want, that's not really a viable proposal for constructive negotiations. Plus, the President seems to back away and renege and change his position like a ping pong ball. Chuck Schumer compared it to Jell-O. But the point is we need a reliable partner who is trustworthy and even the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has found the President frustrating in his constant changing of positions.
BLITZER: If the shutdown ends at some point down the road, we don't know how many days it will go, without a deal, specific deal on DACA, the DREAMer issue, will Democrats pay a price, a big price, in the November elections? BLUMENTHAL: The simple stark fact for the President is that he is in
the office where the buck stops. He has to lead or get out of the way. He has to stop thinking of it as a good shutdown and the American people will rightly hold him accountable and his party because even though 60 votes are necessary, four of our Republican colleagues sided with us yesterday. The opposition is really bipartisan and the support for solutions should be bipartisan too.
But right now, put aside the blame and finger pointing. Congress should do its job. That's why we're here working on a Saturday evening. We'll be working all day tomorrow and we'll continue working until we can persuade our colleagues simply to give these measures a vote.
[18:15:48] BLITZER: Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we are standing by for an exclusive interview with the senator Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. We will have that.
Also, how strong is the anti-Trump movement as protesters gather in cities across the United States. We will go to live to a rally under way in Los Angeles right now.
[18:20:40] BLITZER: We are back with our breaking news coverage.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been taking to the streets across the country to show their opposition to the President one year after his inauguration.
We are joined now by our senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt.
Alex, we have seen marches across the country and in New York where you are right now.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All across the country, Wolf. And these women's marches are at the core or part of the fight for women's equality. But in speaking with people today, the reasons that people came out really run the gamut. As you know all too well that debate over DACA is consuming Washington, a lot of people came out today in support of immigrants and the so-called DREAMers. We heard black lives matters chants. We saw gay activists, all out today in united and their anger with Donald Trump.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands protesting for the second year of Donald Trump's presidency. Mostly women and girls, but also men and boys. Marching not just for gender equality, but for issues ranging from gay rights to immigration and religious freedom. Across the country and around the world, they took to the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it's important to show Congress and the President that we need to be heard.
MARQUARDT: The demonstrators trying to keep the momentum of the movement going. Many of them hoping to turn this enthusiasm into electoral victories in this year's midterm elections.
In New York crowds gathered near the Trump hotel spilling into Central Park, among them (INAUDIBLE) a refugee from Cuba.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be accepted and welcome when you have nowhere else to go and no other recourse in this world is a very big thing. And for now to say you are not welcome here is against everything this country stands for.
MARQUARDT: In Philadelphia, women droned their message.
Chicago members of the cast of "Hamilton" sang to hundreds of thousands.
And in Los Angeles, celebrities like actresses Natalie Portman and Viola Davis were among the protesters.
VIOLA DAVIS, ACTRESS: I am speaking today not just for the Me Too's because I was a Me Too. But when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence.
MARQUARDT: In Washington, D.C., crowds marched to the White House. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi pushing for more women to get involved.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOSE MINORITY LEADER: Nothing is more wholesome to a government, to a country, to a society than the increased participation of women.
MARQUARDT: Nancy Pelosi there and many out here hoping that this energy translates to votes. We saw lots of signs for lots of chatter about the midterm elections this year in 2018, the Presidential elections in 2020. And as one sign read that we saw, marching is good, voting is better - Wolf.
BLITZER: Alex Marquardt reporting from New York, thank you.
Just ahead our new interview with Senator Chuck Schumer. He is laying out terms for the federal government to reopen. Standby. You will hear it and see it.
And the Russia investigation as Mr. Trump begins year two of his presidency. We are going to tell you what we're learning this hour.
[18:28:29] BLITZER: On this, the first anniversary of President Trump's inauguration we are following breaking news. Over at the White House and up on Capitol Hill, an urgent push is under way to try to break the stalemate that a shutdown of the U.S. government -- shut it down at midnight last night.
Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju just had an opportunity to speak with the Democratic leader in the senate, Chuck Schumer.
Manu, what did he tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he laid out his demand for reopening the government. He made clear that it was not just about immigration, not just about fixing DACA. There were other issues that were central to the negotiations that he need to see some agreement on. He also made very clear he has not spoken to the President today despite of this being day one of this government shutdown.
My first question to him, Wolf, is what exactly do you need to see from the Republicans and the White House to agree to reopen the government? This is how he responded.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: We need a good bipartisan agreement that allows us to get a good defense number, get a good nondefense number. Get a vote on the DREAMers bill and get that done and deal with the disasters too. There's a whole lot to do and our Republican colleagues have sent us just a CR which doesn't do the job.
RAJU: Well, why not extend the government funding and negotiate the numbers on the side?
SCHUMER: Do you know what number CR this is? It's been going on for six months. They have had a three month CR, they had a one CR, they had a two week CR. If we do this, if we keep kicking the can down the table, our soldiers will be hurt. Our children will be hurt. Our disaster recipients will be hurt. Everyone will be hurt.
If this was the first time that they used this CR approach, your question would be reasonable. Your questions are always reasonable. But they would be reasonable. This is the fourth time. They can't get it done and they just use the CRs.
[18:30:22] RAJU: But senator, in 2013 you said, we could say we are shutting down the government. We are not going to raise the debt ceiling until you pass immigration or fund. It could be -- would be governmental chaos. How do you reconcile that with your position today?
SCHUMER: Big difference. That was Ted Cruz on his own. This is a bipartisan proposal that has the support of 90 percent of the American people. Huge difference.
RAJU: Have you talked to the President today or anybody in the White House?
SCHUMER: They have not called me. They say they are not negotiating. That's foolish. I have asked them to bring the big four, myself, leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan and leader Pelosi to the White House today but we haven't heard from them.
RAJU: And I know that you said that you will not - that you disagree with Mick Mulvaney who said 1.6 billion for the wall --
SCHUMER: Mick Mulvaney wasn't in the room and he doesn't know what he is talking about.
RAJU: Are you willing to do $18 billion for the wall?
SCHUMER: I'm not giving a number but it was the President who chose the number and we said, yes, put that on the table.
RAJU: So Wolf, that last comment in reference to the meeting yesterday in the White House between the Senate minority leader and the President in which Schumer is saying that he suggested essentially full funding for President Trump's wall in exchange for doing something on DACA.
Now, that's something that has been disputed by the White House today. But also significant, Wolf, him, saying that he will not agreeing with the three week extension of the government funding that's something that the Republicans are saying that they want to see, and then negotiate these other issues separately.
But tonight, Wolf he is saying very clearly will not accept that. This only be part of the same agreement. A sign that the shutdown could take some time and right now behind closed doors, Wolf, he is meeting with a number of senators from both parties as well, including Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham. Other senators to see if they can come sort of deal. But Wolf, this could be some time if there's not agreement on this wide-range of issues that Schumer himself said needs to be resolved.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. Manu, thanks very much for catching up with senator Schumer.
Let's bring in our political specialists, our analysts to assess.
What does it say, Gloria, that on this, the first anniversary, President beginning a second year in office the federal government is shut down?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in an odd way and nobody likes to see a government shutdown, nobody wants a government shutdown, but it does seem kind of fitting given the chaotic year.
BLITZER: Hold on a minute because Mitch McConnell is making a statement on the Senate floor.
MCCONNELL: -- in which the President has already said he will sign. Of course, like any compromise, this funding bill cannot be all things to all people. But this bipartisan bill does what we need to do right now. It ends this pointless, pointless, irresponsible shutdown, funds the government for our troops, our veterans and millions of vulnerable Americans and extends health coverage for millions of children in low income families.
None of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can point to a single thing in the bill that they oppose, not one thing. That's why -- that's why the bipartisan majority voted for it last night. It would have passed smoothly and been sent for the President's signature. Except -- except that the Democratic leader took the extraordinary step of filibustering this bipartisan bill and initiating his own government shutdown.
Why? Well, because he explains, the President would not give him everything he wants on the issue of illegal immigration in one afternoon in the oval office. That's it. That's it.
Leaders from both parties have spent months negotiating long-term fixes for immigration policy, government spending, and other important priorities. Senators on both sides want a bipartisan solution to DACA and other immigration issues. Senators on both sides want long-term funding for our troops. Bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on these matters have been under way for months -- months.
Here's the difference between the Democratic leader and the rest of us tonight, the difference. He wants to keep the government shut down for hundreds of millions of Americans until we finish negotiating on the subject of illegal immigration. He wants to keep the government shut down until we finish a negotiation on the subject of illegal immigration. Shutting down the government over illegal immigration.
Let those discussions on the immigration issue continue. We don't have to shut down funding for our veterans, military families, opioid centers or anyone else who relies on the federal government over the issue of illegal immigration.
(INAUDIBLE), one of the people involved in the very subject. There's a lot of interest around here on both sides of the aisle in dealing with it. But it's not an emergency. All of these other issues which are affected by the government shutdown are emergencies, particularly the children's health care issue.
Look, the American people know what's going on here. They have got this figured out. A survey this week shows that a majority of Americans say funding the government is more important than passing legislation on DACA. Legislation by the way that doesn't really exist and in which the Democratic leader cannot present to us.
We hear a lot of talk about it but we haven't seen it. Fewer than half of Democrats in this poll I'm talking about -- fewer than half of Democrats say that dealing with DACA is more urgent than keeping the government open. And these numbers came in before Americans picked up their newspapers this morning. When they did, they read from the Associated Press exactly -- exactly who is responsible for this chaos.
From the A.P., Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late night vote causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter of a century. You might say they pinned the tail on the donkey.
"The New York Times," not exactly a bastion of right-wing sentiment put the blame exactly where it belongs. Senate Democrats blocked passage of a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open.
Now, Mr. President, Senate Republicans remain ready and eager to end this totally manufactured crisis. This is not a crisis. It's a manufactured crisis. We voted to avoid it entirely in our bipartisan vote last night. We are ready to vote again. All the country needs is for the Democratic leader to withdraw his filibuster and let a bipartisan majority pass this bill and reopen the United States government.
Earlier today, I asked for a consent to move up a vote on this bipartisan solution and to end the craziness today. Democrats objected.
That won't work forever. If they continue to object, we cannot proceed to a cloture vote until 1:00 a.m. on Monday, by I assure you we will have the vote at 1:00 a.m. on Monday unless there's a desire to have it sooner.
In the meantime, shutdowns have consequences. The democratic leader may be playing for a political point, but the rest of us understand that the readiness of our armed forces, health coverage for poor children and survivor benefits for the families of fallen service members are the farthest thing from a game. Playing with all of those lives over the issue of illegal immigration.
Congress has a lot of work to do. We need to provide for our war fighter, secure the border, resolve the DACA issue and continue work on health care and attend to many other key priorities. I want to move forward on all of these issues. And we can when the Democratic leader's filibuster comes to an end. Because these talks are only being delayed, not advanced, but delayed by the Democrat's filibuster and the Democratic shutdown it has created.
So I want to assure the American people we will be right back at this tomorrow. Say it again to the American people, we will be right back at this tomorrow and for as long as it takes. We'll keep at this until Democrats end their extraordinary filibuster of government funding and children's health care and allow a bipartisan majority of senators to reopen the federal government for all Americans and to get Congress back on track. The democratic leader may put his personal political priorities ahead of everything else no matter the cost, but Republicans stand with the American people.
[18:40:31] BLITZER: The senate majority leader Mitch McConnell making his case, blaming his colleague the democratic leader Chuck Schumer for this impasse in the U.S. Senate.
Gloria, strong words from Mitch McConnell there. Really going back and forth, the majority leader, the minority leader, seems they are at an impasse. Seems to me there's one way to resolve this impasse, somebody has to come in and mediate and negotiate some sort of resolution and presumably the best person to do that would be the President.
BORGER: Right. And, you know, Mitch McConnell calls this a manufactured crisis, it's very clear what their political point is, which is that you are putting Americans second after illegal immigrants. And he as clearly talking about the DREAMer issue here. And I think there's some negotiating going behind the scenes with Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake over the DACA issue.
But you are right, Wolf. Nobody can do anything unless it has the blessing of the President. And the problem as Chuck Schumer said earlier when he was talking about dealing with Jell-O or punching Jell-O or whatever it was, is that he seems to think he gets an agreement from the President and then the President gets pulled back by members of his administration. So Trump has to get involved or he has to -- he has to put a line in the sand and say, this is what I'm -- this is what I want, this is what I'll accept. This is what I wanted.
BLITZER: And remember, the whole children's health insurance program, that expired back in September. We did some checking, 112 days ago. They had plenty of days over this 112 days to deal with that. DACA, the DREAMer issue. President changed the rules 137 days ago, back in September on that as well. They had plenty of time to deal with that. They haven't dealt with either one at least not yet.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wolf, we have had years to deal with the issue, right? The DREAM act came up for a vote in 2010. There was a shutdown in 2013. That was the gang of eight immigration bill in 2013. Finally, Democrats after all this time have said I feel like I have used the word hostage a lot in the last 24 hours. They are like we are going to grab a hostage too.
Republicans have DACA hostage. The Democrats have the budget hostage. To your point about the President, he hasn't taken a hostage so no one knows where he stands on anything.
BORGER: Though he is the hostage in White House.
SWERDLICK: He is. I think that's what senator Schumer means by Jell- O. No one knows which way the President is going.
BLITZER: And you just heard senator Schumer tell Manu Raju, he hasn't heard from Republicans or the President of the United States today. They had a meeting yesterday. After that meeting, the President tweeted, excellent preliminary meeting in oval with senator Schumer. Went out to say, making progress. But since then, silence.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: And we have heard from the administration all throughout the day that President Trump has been making phone calls. And you did -- when you had Raj Shah, the spokesperson on for the White House, you said have you called senator Schumer and he tried to divert off that and say, listen. He is talking to senator McConnell and Congressman Ryan and trying to get a deal done.
But to your point, he has to call, and to Chuck Schumer's point, who wins is going to get real resolved is if Chuck Schumer and Donald Trump cut a deal.
BLITZER: Yes. And then the President goes ahead and does what he had told bipartisan, a group of bipartisan lawmakers last week, he will take the heat. He will sell it and get it going.
Listen to Schumer, Jackie, because he was very, very specific in saying what it's like to negotiate with the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: Negotiating with this White House is like negotiating with Jell-O. It's next to impossible. As soon as you take one step forward, the hard right forces the President three steps back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And even the Republican leader, the majority leader Mitch McConnell said he earlier in -- last week, he didn't know precisely where the President stands. As a result, couldn't make a deal.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: I think you can boil this down to one word and that's trust. There is very little trust between any of these people, between Schumer and Trump, between McConnell and Trump.
I mean, look at what happened in the intervening hours when Schumer talks to the President and then today there was this -- it can only be called an outrageous press release that went out from the President's campaign committee saying that Democrats were complicit to -- with all deaths caused by illegal immigrants or all murders caused by illegal immigrants. I mean, these are very inflammatory words. And everyone is trying to score political points on each other. And that is not how you get things done. You have to sort of lay down arms in order to do this. And no one seems willing. Everyone is kind of -- you know, grabbing a pitchfork or something at this point.
[18:45:09] PRESTON: You know --
What's interesting, just quickly, you know. He talks about "the art of the deal." He is the big dealmaker. You are talking about Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi they have cut deals before. They know how Congress works. Well, guess what? Donald Trump doesn't still doesn't understand how Congress works and how Washington works. So his deal-making skills, while they may have been very valuable to him in the private sector don't seem to be doing (INAUDIBLE).
BORGER: And you know, as a businessman, if you don't like the deal you are presented with, you just get up and you walk out of the room. You say that's fine. I can walk away. And that's what Donald Trump did an awful lot during his career. Well, you can't walk away when you are President of the United States. You actually have to come to some kind of agreement and he can't have other people do it for him. He has to do it.
BLITZER: Yes. And what's, you know, really depressing when you think about it, we are being seen -- not only in the United States but around the world. People are watching what's going on here in Washington and they are saying is this the United States of America, the government is shut down, they are wondering what is going on. It is pretty embarrassing when you think about it.
Everybody, standby. There is more breaking news we are following. There is breaking developments clearly in the government shutdown. CNN is live up on Capitol Hill and over at the White House.
Up next, the Russian investigation still in full force as the President begins year two over at the White House. We are learning about a possible move by Republicans to change the subject.
[18:51:13] BLITZER: Tonight, after one year of reeling from crisis to crisis, President Trump is now struggling with government shutdown even as the Russia investigation weighs heavily on his administration.
Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.
Jim, Russia investigators clearly still have a lot of work to do.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And despite the President's frequent and continuing protests, the President has tried attacking the intelligence agencies and their assessment on Russian interference in the election. He has tried attacking the FBI and its work on the Russian investigation. He has even tried firing the director of the FBI, all to undermine or bring this investigation to an end. And yet on the anniversary of his inauguration, there is no indication that is ready to happen.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): One year into Donald Trump's presidency, the Russia investigation he has repeatedly dismissed as phony.
TRUMP: For 11 months they had this phony cloud over this administration.
SCIUTTO: And hoped would end soon shows no signs of rapping up.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Looking forward to 2018, we know that the Mueller investigation is nowhere near an end.
SCIUTTO: Despite Trump's attacks on the investigations, special counsel Robert Mueller has already netted in indictments on former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy chairman Rick Gates for alleged financial crimes, both have pleaded not guilty.
But Mueller has obtained guilty pleas for lying to the FBI from Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom are now cooperating with investigators. Still, the biggest legal questions remain unanswered, did members of Trump's campaign cooperate with Russia's interference in the election?
TRUMP: There has been no collusion. There has been no crime.
SCIUTTO: Did the President obstruct justice in his firing of FBI director James Comey? And is there any evidence of Russian link financial wrongdoing?
ZELDIN: We know or believe that Mueller is looking into the Trump finances. Their pre-candidate Trump dealings with Russian oligarchs and allegedly organized crime in the same that he will then Manafort and we know that he is looking at obstruction of justice.
SCIUTTO: Congressional investigators of both parties say they still have work to do.
SEN, RICHARD BURR (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: We have interviewed everyone that needs to be interviewed and we feel like we have answered every question that the committee jurisdictionally should, we will finish.
REP. ERIC SWALLWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: The only way you can test the stories and accounts that witnesses have given us is to subpoena third party records, text messages, bank records, and travel records. We haven't done that yet. So there is a lot of gaps in our investigation.
SCIUTTO: Several key witnesses, however, through up new legal road blocks in the congressional probes this week. Former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski both refusing to answer questions on the transition or time in the White House.
According to Bannon's attorney, the White House told him not to answer those questions. Now Hope Hicks' appearance before Hill investigators was abruptly delayed until it is clear whether all witnesses can claim the same.
This according to a source. Executive privilege, however, does not hold for interviews by the special counsel. Still undecided is whether the most important witness of all, the President himself will face questioning by Mueller.
Sources tell CNN that preliminary discussions between Trump's attorneys and the special counsel are ongoing.
ZELDIN: Assuming that the investigation comes closer to an end point, we will require that Mueller put the President under oath to take his testimony. There is just no way I can consider this investigation as having been complete until the President is interviewed.
SCIUTTO: Whether he does or not --
TRUMP: We have been very open and we just want to get that over with.
SCIUTTO: The investigation he calls a witch hunt will continue long past the end he hoped for.
[18:55:02] SCIUTTO: It seems that the President's own lawyers have added to the President's unrealistic expectations about the time line on the Russian investigation promising him, according to CNN reporting exhibit end by thanksgiving, by Christmas, by new year, of course none of those deadlines have been met. In fact, if you look where it stands it is very likely continues for many more weeks or months.
BLITZER: At least no end in sight. At least not now.
I want to bring in Evan Perez, our justice correspondent.
Evan, another issue you are looking is this classified memo Republicans are now circulating alleging details of FBI abuses including a surveillance long known as FISA, the foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. What are you learning about this?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a matter of four-page memo written for the House intelligence committee led by Devin Nunes. And what they say this four-page memo shows is abuse of the surveillance law by the FBI, by the people who are doing this investigation, into Trump Russia connections. They say that in particular they used the dossier that was done by that former British spy, and they say that the fact that that was used in this investigation to get FISA warrants to do surveillance on people connected to the Trump campaign, that it shows that this was an abuse. And they say that they want to release this. It's never been done in the 40-year history of this committee basically bypassing the federal agencies that govern this classified information. So we expect they are going to vote on this, Wolf, and we will see whether or not --
BLITZER: Who wrote the memo?
PEREZ: Devin Nunes and his staff are the once who prepared it.
BLITZER: And is it possible the President might authorize the release of this memo? There has been some pressure or recommendation that he do that by Republicans?
PEREZ: Well I think - look. I think I'm spoiler alert. I think the President wants this memo out. I'm told that the President plans to accede to the request of the Republicans to put this out. Because he believes that they do that this is an abuse of surveillance law and unfairly showed targeted his campaign. And he says, after all, that this entire investigation is a witch hunt.
BLITZER: But Democrats put on a statement on this. They see this as simply an effort to try to change the subject, if you will, from the overall Russia investigation. The President does have the authority, he can declassify whatever he wants. So he can do this if he wants to do it. Let's say he were to do it or they were to release the memo, how would that impact, Jim, the overall Russia investigation?
SCIUTTO: Well, particularly on the Hill, the investigations have already becoming more politicized, and certainly on the House side where the Republicans have the bigger advantage. We are seeing that playing out in the public. The senate side, still more collegial, right. And Evan, you see the comments there of Senator Burr in my piece where he said listen, we are going to continue this investigation until all questions are answered. But those partisan lines, (INAUDIBLE) are expanding here and this
would be the latest example of that. And it wouldn't be the first time that intelligence was used to the advantage of one side or another, perhaps colored. And what Adam Schiff said in the statement on Friday was that this is very one-sided how this was used.
PEREZ: Intended to undermine the Mueller investigation?
SCIUTTO: And listen. The fact is, it is, you know. The face value intended to undermine and distract, et cetera. Of course, question is until we see it we don't know if there is substance in there to make that argument.
BLITZER: You saw the reporting. We just have some of it yesterday. WikiLeaks wants the memo released. There are whole bunch of Russian bots.
BLITZER: Whatever they are saying. Talk about that.
PEREZ: Right. We now see that there are Russian bots, these accounts on twitter and some on social media that are associated with believed to be connected to the Russian government are trying to get these this release the memo hashtag trending on social media.
Look. It's clear that there is an effort to get this out there. And look. It's true that the dossier was used, certainly was references to it in footnotes, in the applications to the foreign surveillance court. That is accurate. Now, whether or not this was something that's illegal, it doesn't appear to me, at least from what I know, that it is. This is what the FBI does. And you know, it is part of the investigation. It doesn't mean that anything has been proved. But it is part of the investigation process that the FBI uses.
BLITZER: And getting back to your report, Hope Hicks, communications director at the White House, she was going to appear, but now that's been delayed, what, indefinitely?
SCIUTTO: Well, the question is will she answer any questions, right? Because now you have had Bannon and Lewandowski both exercise this expression of the possibility of invoking executive privilege in effect. And if she were to do the same, yesterday, which seemed very possible, committee said listen, OK, we have to figure out what the rules are here before -- because otherwise it will be useless.
BLITZER: But they did let Rick Dearborn, a senior White House official, answer whatever questions were asked?
SCIUTTO: Absolutely, no question. And to be clear, at the end of the day when they sit down with Mueller which all of those witnesses will do, that doesn't apply. They are going to have to answer those questions. And if they lie, they will have broken the law.
BLITZER: That's clearly continuing. And we will continue our coverage. Of course on all of this as well. Guys, thanks very much.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM.
CNN special breaking news coverage of the government shutdown here in Washington continues right now with Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT."