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Senate Reaches Compromise to End Government Shutdown; Interview With White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 22, 2018 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: But I don't know that the two sides can come together.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, that has to be where this goes.

And it is unfortunate that DACA people are being used as leverage. But that is the exact situation that is happening right now. Donald Trump and the Republicans are using that population of people as leverage to finally get a solution, so they don't to have come back and have this debate again about amnesty in 10 or 15 years.

And I think that's a reasonable position, although it is hard to swallow. I think the good news for someone like Juan and his family is that I do believe Donald Trump wants to be the person that fixes this problem, rather than being the president that deports people like Juan.

And he delayed this action. It is called deferred action for a reason. It is a form of amnesty that these people are being given. I think calling it that actually helps negotiations and messages the fact Republicans are giving a certain kind of amnesty to the small select type of person.

And that can pave the way for other things. But Donald Trump issued a waiver once already. If there's productive negotiations going on, I have no doubt in my mind he would issue another waiver, rather than deport people like Juan.

PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Juan brought up his parents.

I think that's a very important part of this is, it seems to me the Republican hard line, as we're calling them, want to narrow this down to only the children. The children are the good people. Everyone else was a criminal and violated the law.

If you narrow it down that carefully, that's what a big part of this policy debate is really about. Is it only for dreamers? Can we limit legal immigration or can we not? I think that's the issue here. I think the wall is not really the issue anymore. DACA is not the issue anymore. The real issue is, do we want to have fewer legal immigrants or more, or drop the number down or keep that number the same or increase that number? That's where we're headed is a real debate about, what should the new immigration look like? Should it be smaller? Who should be in it? And that's where the real divide is here.

CARPENTER: I just want to say something, because I think a lot of Republicans who mean well get tagged with being restrictionists or anti-illegal immigration.

Juan was talking about how his papers got mixed up. I have no doubt in my mind that someone in the federal government could have helped them had they not been completely overwhelmed with an illegal system that is burdening everything and tearing it apart.

Republicans like me want to reform the system, so it is fair to the people who want to get in their line, who do their paperwork, and so they don't get lost in the mix.

TAPPER: Jen, you heard Juan talk about how disappointed he is in the Democrats and the fact that this might have an effect on the midterm election. Hispanic voters are a key part of the Democratic Party coalition.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee released this statement today. "Today's cave by Senate Democrats led by weak-kneed, right-of- center Democrats is why people don't believe the Democratic Party stands for anything."

Your reaction?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this reminds me a lot of the health care debate in 2009 and 2010, when a lot of people in the progressive community were frustrated that there wasn't a single-payer option.

TAPPER: Or a government option.

PSAKI: Or a government option.

Ultimately, elections -- and I heard Juan say this -- are about consequences. The consequences here are, Democrats control nothing. If Democrats controlled something, we would have more leverage and probably DACA would have already been passed or would have been farther down the line.

I would say to Juan his story is why this is such an emotional issue the is going to drive people and probably drive more than just Latinos to the polls. But it is about a choice between parties. And that's where the Democrats can still redeem themselves on this front over the next few months.

TAPPER: We were just told that President Trump, in addition to meeting with the six conservative Republican senators, also met with Doug Jones, the new senator from Alabama, a Democrat, and Joe Manchin from West Virginia, two Democrats, I would imagine, are trying to find some sort of compromise legislation.

But maybe, as Cory Gardner was suggesting, the path is not to have 40 Democrats and 20 Republicans pass a bill, but to have 45 Republicans and then the Doug Joneses and Joe Manchins of the world support something.

CARPENTER: Yes. And I think is really news.

But at some point, I think immigration has been such a political football that people on both sides of the aisle have kept it going for their political base. It takes some guts for someone like Joe Manchin and Doug Jones to say, hey, I'm willing to talk about it, because, for far too long, there's problems on the Republican side too, but focusing on the Democrats, they have said, we will get everything, we will amnesty for all or we're not talking.

And that position is no longer tenable. And I think those two realize it.

TAPPER: Right now, I want to bring in from the White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley from the Trump administration, the White House.

Hogan, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Hey, great to see you, Jake. Thanks for the time.

TAPPER: So, the clock is ticking and the big question on the Hill right now as we go forward is what immigration bill would President Trump be willing to sign? We keep hearing from Republicans that they really have no idea. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm looking for something that President Trump supports. And he's not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign.

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I prefer clarity. But we're not seeing that from the White House. And that does to some degree make our jobs more difficult here on Capitol Hill.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I have talked to the president. His heart is right on this issue. I think he has got a good understanding of what will sell. And every time we have a proposal, it is only yanked back by staff members.



TAPPER: So that was Mitch McConnell, Mo Brooks and Lindsey Graham, Hogan.

I guess the question going forward is, is President Trump willing to convey clearly what compromises he is willing to make on this and what exactly he is willing to sign into law?


Well, I'm not going to negotiate from this live location, but I will make this point. You remember back in September the president released a seven-page plan. It got winnowed down to three pages. Your cameras had a front-row seat for a 55-minute bicameral, bipartisan meeting in the Cabinet Room.

After you all left, they came out of that meeting with four narrow topics, all around the issue of national security and how we protect our borders. Number one in that was border security with a wall. Number two was ending chain migration. Number three was the visa lottery. And fourth was a lasting long-term solution to the DACA issue.

That's where he wants to start the negotiation. And that's where we have to be if there's going to be any deal signed.

TAPPER: I hear you. And it was great television two weeks ago with the 55 minutes.

But then Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin thought that they were bringing President Trump exactly that, at least a starting-off point, with those four items addressed. And obviously President Trump said no, even though he also had said in that 55-minute televised meeting, I'm willing to take the heat, bring me a compromise, I will sign it.

So there obviously remains some confusion about what the president is willing to sign. Is he willing to sign anything that contains a path to legal status for the dreamers?

GIDLEY: Let me address the Durbin-Graham piece for just a moment. That's just simply not true.

Senator Graham and Senator Durbin called the president and told him they had a bipartisan bill. They had come together with some meeting of the minds to prepare a piece of legislation that would address everything the president outlined.

The president was ecstatic. However, here's the problem. Senator Graham and Senator Durbin were completely dishonest. When they brought the plan to the president, it did not do anything to address chain migration. In fact, it blew it up and made it bigger. It gave basically amnesty, and then it didn't even touch but one-tenth of what the president -- excuse me -- what DHS demanded this country needs, not what it wants, but what it needs for a border wall.

It was 10 percent. It was woefully underfunded. So the idea -- and back to Graham and Durbin for a moment. To pretend for a moment they had to get together and have a meeting of the minds so they could come together in immigration, those two have been in lockstep on immigration for decades.

They want open borders. They want amnesty. That's what Lindsey Graham is about. I'm from South Carolina. I have known the man for a long time. And it is fine. He can take that position. But to pretend he is anything other than someone who wants open borders and amnesty is just disingenuous.

TAPPER: Well, I'm sure that both Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham would take issue with your characterization.

But in the time we have left, I just want to double back on the question I asked, which is, is President Trump willing to sign into law anything? Let's posit right now that it contains lots of border wall funding, not just authorized, but appropriated.

GIDLEY: Right.

TAPPER: Let's posit that it changes immigration policy, so that chain migration or family reunification is reduced and skills is increased, et cetera.

But it also includes a path to legal status for the dreamers. Something like that, if it contains the path legal status for dreamers, would he be willing to sign it?

GIDLEY: A lot of hypotheticals you just threw out there, Jake.

But let's pretend for a moment that the three pieces are there and let's focus mainly on DACA. The president has been clear that he wants a long-term, lasting solution. He is willing to have the conversation. He is willing to negotiate. We know what some Democrats want. We know what some Republicans want.

But anything that relates to DACA, whether it be a pathway to legalization, a pathway to citizenship, that can be in the conversation, but it has to be tethered to the other three main points, including a wall.

TAPPER: Hogan Gidley, always good to see you, sir. Thank you so much for joining us.

GIDLEY: Thanks, Jake. Any time.

TAPPER: So can Republicans and Democrats find any middle ground and come up with a long-term solution on immigration? We have much more to talk about. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead.

You're looking at the Senate floor live. The Senate has the votes to pass the bill to reopen the government.

My panel joins me again.

And I have to say, the deputy press secretary of the White House, Hogan Gidley, was just on the show. He referred to Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham as dishonest in terms of their description of what happened when they were trying to come forward with an immigration bill, and then said they want open borders, they want amnesty.

"I'm from South Carolina. I have known the man," meaning Lindsey Graham, "for a long time. He can take whatever position he wants. To pretend he is anything other than someone who wants open borders and amnesty is disingenuous."

That is -- step outside of the Trump years for a second -- stark, Amanda, for a Republican White House deputy press secretary to accuse a Republican senator, somebody who has been trying to have a good relationship with the White House, of being dishonest and being open borders on amnesty. That's harsh.

CARPENTER: Yes, two words come to mind, arrogant and classless.

And, also, if you're going to make that charge, he needs to go and say what he's being dishonest about. That guy came to the camera said that he was lying about immigration negotiations.

Well, what exactly was wrong with the proposal that Graham and Durbin brought to you? I can read between lines and say, OK, they're probably upset that proposed temporary protected status, instead of just ending the visa lottery program.

Why can't they go out and say that? If you want to get a deal, actually talk about the policy, rather than the politicians. But they seem incapable of doing this for some reason.

And I feel sorry for Senator Graham. I have watched him all over the weekend. He is clearly working his heart out trying to make a deal. I don't agree with him on everything.

But, my goodness, that guy went to the White House again and again, and two senators, a good-faith effort, and then they trash him?

I mean, what jerks!

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It's a -- it's a --

CARPENTER: I mean, if they can --


TAPPER: But I know when I covered the Obama White House, I know you guys felt that way about sometimes about some of your opponents, both Republicans and Democrats but you never said it publicly.

PSAKI: Because President Obama would never have accepted that and he wouldn't have thought that was abhorrent behavior and that is a big driver of how people behavior in the White House. Look, their behavior would never have been accepted by President Obama, by President Bush, by President Clinton. This is demeaning the office, it's demeaning the public servants who have served for decades and it's really taking the Presidency down a notch. Because it's not just about Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, this is a pattern for them. They attack reporters, they attack members of Congress, they name call, and that's just not how we should be governing or conducting ourselves.

TAPPER: I mean, just to be fair. The Obama administration, the Obama White House attacked reporters just in a very different way.

PSAKI: Sure.

TAPPER: Just for the record, because --

PSAKI: But Jake, I think, if you watch what they've done in the last couple of weeks, it's attacking dishonesty, the legitimacy of the craft. I mean, it goes to another --

TAPPER: Absolutely, totally different way. But I want -- I do want to say, in Hogan Gidley and President Trump's defense, the Democrats just blinked. The Democrats just blinked. I mean, you might disagree with that, but I mean, I don't -- I don't see what the Republicans conceded. The Democrats got something --

PERRY BACON, SENIOR WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: In their defense also, the Democrats -- also -- Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake have been trying to work in a bipartisan way and their colleagues have you know, (INAUDIBLE) ignored them. I mean, Lindsey Graham is no longer relevant to interview in some ways when you think about the Republican position on immigration. And if you think about it --

TAPPER: And Jeff Flake is retiring.

BACON: And Jeff Flake is retiring. So it's not as if the White House has ignored Graham and ignored Flake and I would argue been over the top in doing so but they're basically right. The Republicans want the shutdown ignoring Graham, ignoring Flake and ignoring Chuck Schumer.

TAPPER: But I guess the big question is, Psaki, where is the path to something to pass the Senate? I mean, I don't doubt that President Trump has command and control over the Republican base and even just Republican voters more so than Lindsey Graham or Jeff Flake or me. But what I wonder is how do you get legislation passed if you're out there calling Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin dishonest and disingenuous and they want open borders and you see that Web ad from President Trump's campaign -- reelection campaign saying that they're complicit in the murders committed by illegal immigrants.

PSAKI: Which maybe helped President Trump and his staff feel in their hearts and maybe we're just all in denial about that. That's entirely possible. The reality is he can continue to sign waivers. That is a choice he can make. He's done that on Iran. It is a little lower key than getting legislation passed or not. Democrats, if you're being entirely cynical, will have a huge rallying cry for the base if there is still uncertainty around DACA. I understand Juan said but if most Latinos are DREAMers, look at the options in the election in November. They're going to be motivated to go with the party that promises to resolve DACA. So you know, will something pass through Senate? It seems hard. It seems hard for that to happen and especially since we have really no idea where Trump is exaclty.

TAPPER: What do you think happens in two and a half weeks? Do you think that Mitch McConnell -- let's assume as I think it's safe that they don't come up with an agreement on this massive immigration bill/disaster relief/health care/lifting the caps on both defense spending and non-defense discretionary spending? I think it is a safe assumption. So then Mitch McConnell, does he keep his promise? Does he open up the floor to an open debate on immigration?

CARPENTER: I mean, listen, having an open debate doesn't happen much in the Senate but it doesn't mean anything either. Any Senator could force a vote or a debate anytime he or she wishes. I worked for Senator Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz. We were hated by leadership because we used parliamentary tools to do things like that. I would recommend the Democrats try that instead of another government shutdown. So Mitch McConnell, yes, go ahead and talk your hearts out. And at the end of the day, we'll have another debate whether to fund the government. I expect they will because this doesn't work out so well for the Democrats and nothing happens. And a few weeks later, Donald Trump issues another waver for the DREAMers and we continue he the charade some more.

BACON: My question is which 11 Republicans want to vote for some kind of a DACA bill particularly if Donald Trump is not for it. Because I think you have to think about the math. You have to get to 60 somewhere. A very restriction builds me hard to get the Democrats for, but a DACA style bill, like the one that Durbin wrote, is it only got Lindsey Graham, Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake, maybe a few others. But if Donald Trump and his staff is against it and talking like what they're talking at it right now, I don't see how a lot of like more conservative Republicans get behind it.

TAPPER: And let me also say, you're assuming that all 49 Democrats vote for it.

BACON: That's exactly right.

TAPPER: And I don't -- I don't know that you can make that assumption. Several Democrats today Jen Psaki voted against reopening the government. Among them were Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. I got to talk to you about that when we come back from break. Stay with us.


[16:50:00] TAPPER: We're back with our "POLITICS LEAD." The Senate is right now voting to end the government shutdown. The bill then goes back to the House and then assuming it passes there, it will go to President Trump's resolute desk in the Oval Office. My panel is with me. And Jen Psaki, we're talking about what kind of bill -- what kind of bill that offers some protections to the so-called DREAMers could pass the Senate because I don't know that all 49 Democrats would support it. And in fact, the number of Democrats, especially progressives, especially those with either tough re-elections this is year in liberal state California, I'm talking to you, Senator Feinstein or others who might be running for President in 2020 voted against reopening the government and might not be willing to vote for a bill that protects DREAMers but also builds the wall.

PSAKI: You're right. And the closer we get to 2018 -- November 2018, the harder it is for reasons on both sides. They shut in part because some -- several Democrats, many Democrats have a tough re-election in the Senate but also because people who may run for President want to be as progressive as humanly possible. And so they're making a calculation. They look at history and they see votes like for the Iraq war funding, you know, health care issues and they say, oh my goodness, these votes could determine whether or not I can compete in Iowa. So that --

[16:55:27] TAPPER: That because it's a race to the left in the part --

PSAKI: It's a race to the left, exactly. And that always is the case in basically how the primary system is set up.

TAPPER: Yes, I remember when -- I'm old enough to remember when Obama and Clinton both voted against funding the troops in Iraq because were both -- they both had Iowa on their mind. I brought up Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who is facing a primary challenge from the left. She told CNN she voted against reopening the government. She wanted to -- she said did so because she wanted to keep protecting the DREAMers. She said that the lack of resolution for the DREAMers in this bill is "one of the most crushing things that has happened to in the Senate because we've got such strong public support." She continued on saying, "I'm not going to criticize anybody because anybody can make a blunder." But she seems to be suggesting Perry that Chuck Schumer might have made a blunder.

BACON: I don't think she would be saying this -- I hate to say this -- if she wasn't in the primary, she's been someone in the past who voted for government funding bills and she's not a super liberal traditionally. But I do think we're getting into the right issue which is that -- and Cory Gardner mention this -- which is I think the compromise here is something that Doug Jones and Bob Corker support, not something that Tom Cotton and Kamala Harris support. You know, they talk about the wings of the outside of the party. So I think that's the question is. Trump is meeting right now with Doug Jones. That's the thing that I've heard today. Because that's the kind of person who needs you behind this bill, Doug Jones the newly elected moderate Senator from Alabama. That's who is in the room for some kind of deal that really happen.

TAPPER: Do you think that President Trump would sign something like that? I mean, if the conservative hardliners hate it, would he support it?

CARPENTER: Listen, if he gets a deal, I think he ultimately would loves to be the person who says I fixed the DREAMer issue. I say that he would lord it over everyone because this is what he does. But then, if he also fixed the lottery system and chain migration and got the wall started, I think that's so easy to measure. I think it would be a great deal. The fact Democrats are now saying yes, we're willing to talk about the wall. I'm a little cynical yes. Do they think they would retake the House and that not ever actually fund it eventually? Yes, I think maybe they thinking that. But Chuck Schumer has been willing to go to the table on that. And so, I just -- I think this is easy to solve but it will require the Democrats wanting to help the DREAMers enough to give on those other three things.

TAPPER: And it's an interesting point you made because apparently Trump and Schumer, when they -- when they talked, Trump said $20 billion for the wall, Schumer agreed to authorize that. But when I brought it up on Sunday with Mick Mulvaney, the Budget Director, he said yes, authorize but not appropriate, and that -- and that's an important -- that means the actual money. Yes?

CARPENTER: The wall has been authorized since 2006 when Democrats and Republicans came together and said we'll build the wall. They just never put the money up.

TAPPER: They never put the money.

PSAKI: Well, and Democrats see it as colossal waste of money which most people see it.

TAPPER: Not just Democrats, Rand Paul said it.

PSAKI: And many people. I should say most of people see it as -- and it's something that's taking away from their core priorities. So it's a symbolic thing, as Amanda pointed out, as you pointed out to sort of say you'll authorize it or support the wall. It gives Trump a rallying cry at rallies and on his political -- on the political campaign trail which is a reason for him to agree to it even without the funding. So it could be the key in some ways. I actually do think Democrats don't care as much substantively about it as much as they care about it politically. But they're willing to give on it which does tells you something about the DREAMers and how important that issue is to them.

TAPPER: Although the bigger issue is, of course, is actually immigration and who gets into this country. It is the majority of people who get into this country legally through family reunification or what opponents call chain migration, people who are part of your family coming in as opposed to people with skills that the United States --- that could benefit the economy of the United States. And that's going to be the real tough part of this.

BACON: That's what I think is the real issue here. As the President and his team really want to limit people who come in through family unification, chain migration is the phrase they're using in. That's something that a lot of Republicans don't agree and also a lot of Democrats don't agree. We haven't mentioned these three words in this conversation yet, House Freedom Caucus. We need to figure out what they're for too. If they're not for a bill, it's probably (INAUDIBLE). And that's where this is ultimately going.

TAPPER: And that's -- and that's really honestly -- we've been talking about the challenge at the Senate, we forget about -- I mean, then the question is can anything that would pass in the Senate make it through the House? CARPENTER: But I do think we're going in the right direction. It's

not just the debate over are you for amnesty or not. We're actually getting into the point we're talking about how many family members would we have in the country? Are we having a debate over Visa lotteries or temporary protected status for countries that made -- need to send refugees here? That is the much better policy debate, narrower, more productive than anything we've had before

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. You can see the vote on the Senate floor right there. Yea: 81, nay: 18. That goes to the House next, then President Trump. The government will soon reopen. Amanda, Jen, Perry Bacon, thanks one and all for being here. I appreciate it. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Go Eagles!