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White House Daily Briefing; Cuomo Defies Shutdown, Won't Close Statue of Liberty; Graham: Stephen Miller Convinced Trump of Views Too Extreme to Negotiate. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired January 22, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] REPORTER: -- is the president in cement on those three in the negotiations that are going to follow: ending chain migration, the ending of the lottery, and the appropriations for the wall?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, we've been clear those are our priorities when it comes to immigration.
QUESTION: But (inaudible) non-negotiable.
SANDERS: Look, these are the priorities we want to see in the package, and we're going to negotiate that with Congress.
But we've been pretty upfront. I think I've said it about 30 times already today. Those are the priorities and the principles that we've outlined that we want to see in any legislative package that the president signs.
QUESTION: My other question, Sarah, is on a completely different subject. Monsanto and Bayer, who are two giants in the seed industry, are prepared -- preparing to merge. Their CEOs have met with the president, and many fear that this is going to lead to a monopoly for them and -- in the seed industry, and raising the prices, which will hurt the farm community.
Is the president in favor of the merger of Monsanto and Bayer?
SANDERS: I haven't spoken with him about that, John. I'll have to get back to you.
QUESTION: Sarah, thank you.
I -- I understand you guys have laid out your criteria for what you want in a deal. But is the president saying that on March 5th, if he doesn't get what he wants from the Democrats on those other areas, that he will begin to deport the DREAMers?
SANDERS: We haven't -- we haven't determined that. We're hopeful that we don't have to do that and that we don't have to get there. We would like Democrats to -- to get serious about actually solving problems. They say they want to have this conversation, they say they want to negotiate so much so that they were willing to shut down the government. If they're that willing to go that far, surely they'll be willing to come to the table and talk about real solutions and get something done.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the deportation protection from the DREAMers.
SANDERS: I -- the president is the one that enforced the law, yes. He is. That is his job as commander in chief. He did that. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Another question: Was the president's...
SANDERS: Because -- but let's be clear but that is because of Congress' failure to actually address the issue. They're the ones that actually pass and make those laws, and the president gave a six-month timeframe in order for them to do that. And now I think all of America is counting on them to show up and make sure that happens.
QUESTION: And just one more. The president's son Eric said that the shutdown was a good thing for us, meaning politically it was good for the president's party. Does the president agree with that?
SANDERS: I haven't spoken to him about those comments.
QUESTION: What is the guidance on how quickly the government would reopen and how soon workers would be expected to be back at work and national parks and other facilities that are closed will reopen?
SANDERS: Again, with most of those parks, they tried to maintain and keep those open. Unlike in past shutdowns, they really tried to minimize the impact on the American people.
In terms of what the turnaround time for a full reopen, as I said earlier, we are waiting on the House to -- to vote and clear. Then it'll go through the OMB budget process and review -- and a legal review, and then hit the president's desk we expect sometime late afternoon/early evening, which would make most government offices already closed, and so they would start back in full capacity tomorrow morning.
And -- and if that changes, we'll certainly let you guys know, but that's sort of what we tentatively expect at this time.
QUESTION: I'm going to give you a chance to respond to the criticism that Senator Schumer lobbed over the weekend. In addition to saying that the president -- "negotiating with him is like negotiating with Jell-O," today the senator said that "the great deal-maker sat on the sidelines."
Was it a concerted effort on the president's part not to reach out to him this weekend? Was that part of his strategy? SANDERS: Look, what the president did clearly worked. The vote just came in 81 to 18. I would say that those numbers are much more in the president's favor than in Senator Schumer's favor.
I'm not sure what changed for him and what he gained other than maybe Nancy Pelosi taking a bunch of Republican members out for dinner to celebrate their shutdown. I'm not sure what other positive things came out of this weekend for Democrats.
SANDERS: Yes, sorry Democrat members.
I'll take one last question. Kristen?
QUESTION: Just following up on that, in addition to Chuck Schumer saying the president negotiates like Jell-O, even Leader McConnell said he wasn't completely clear on where the president stood when it comes to some of these immigration priorities.
So is the president shifting his policy positions behind (inaudible) under pressure from his conservative base?
SANDERS: Not at all.
The president, as well as the administration -- we've laid out clearly in a three-page memo what our priorities are, what our principles are for this process. And we have been very consistent on that front.
QUESTION: Does Jason Miller (ph) really veto power over any immigration deal?
SANDERS: Jason Miller doesn't work in the administration.
SANDERS: The only person I'm aware of with veto power in this country is the president.
[14:35:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And she's off there.
Let me bring back Dana Bash and Chris Cillizza.
It's important to go back to her first talking about a meeting between the president and the Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, saying Schumer accepted the deal that the president initially put on the table.
Is that the case, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: If that's the case, why didn't the president take yes for an answer? BALDWIN: I don't know.
BASH: I wasn't sure where that was going at all. It didn't make a lot of sense. It sounded like what she was saying was that the way Senator Schumer described the last sort of 12 hours or so before the government shutdown was he thought he had a deal. He did agree to the demands that -- many of the demands the president put on the table and yet the White House pulled it back. That didn't clear things up for me at all. I think it made them, if possible, a little bit more muddy.
BALDWIN: What do you think, Chris?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: No commitment on a pathway to citizenship as it relates to DACA. Look, Republicans believe they won here. I don't think Donald Trump did a lot, candidly. Maybe it was a strategy. I'm always skeptical to give strategy credit when he often just does things. He was not heavily involved. Jeff Flake told CNN that was a good thing.
CILLIZZA: I think if you look at this, Dana -- and I were talking before the press briefing, Brooke. I just really don't see what Chuck Schumer got today versus what was on the table on Friday. It feels roughly like the same thing. The CHIP six-year expansion was there. He said on Saturday he wouldn't accept a three-week C.R. That's what this is. You are putting a lot -- a lot if you are Chuck Schumer and the other Democrats who voted for this on mitch McConnell's word and intention. That's the word he used Sunday night and this morning. My intention is to proceed to DACA. It will be a level-playing field process. Even if he holds to that and he may well before February 8, there is the other chamber that Republicans control.
CILLIZZA: And a guy in the White House named Donald Trump who is a Republican.
CILLIZZA: So I'm surprised.
BASH: When I heard --
BALDWIN: I want to hear from you, Dana.
Talking about diversity visa, ending chain migration, the wall, DACA. But she wouldn't elaborate in talking about a permanent solution but not necessarily a pathway to citizenship. I'm left with a cartoon with the head spinning around. How will this not be Groundhog Day in three weeks because, your point about the other chamber and the House, Dana, game it out. What do the next three weeks look like?
BASH: Listen, that's a good point. Because we have seen what's happened when the Republicans and Democrats have relied on the president to show leadership, my sense in observing both mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer and talking to sources around them is that this is taking the reins back and trying to force a solution. Mitch McConnell has a history of doing this. It's different now. He has one of his own party and the us who. But he was the guy who struck many deals with Joe Biden when he was vice president. They kind of forced it down the throat of the House Republicans. Again, it is a different scenario now. There is total Republican control. But there is a history and an ability for mitch McConnell along with his Republicans in his caucus who want to get a deal and Democrats who also want to get a deal to make it happen. I go back to the point that I have made so many times and one that Sarah Sanders didn't clear up today which is how is the president going to get it over the finish line? They can pass what they are going to pass, even with a big giant majority. It's going to be up to the president to help give House Republicans cover for anything that passes the Senate that looks and smells like what the Republican base would call amnesty.
CILLIZZA: To add to Dana's point, Brooke, at the end of the briefing, Sarah Sanders said, I think the president got what he wanted. Whatever he was doing was working. He wasn't -- I mean, ask Republicans in the Senate. He wasn't doing much of anything.
BALDWIN: The negotiations were all on Capitol Hill. He was on the phone --
CILLIZZA: Chuck Schumer said in the statement on the floor announcing an agreement had been reached, I haven't talked to the president since the meeting on Friday.
BASH: Let's call it what it is. The president stumbled into a political victory here.
[14:40:02] BASH: He did, and he did it with the help of mitch McConnell working with Chuck Schumer and the pressure Chuck Schumer was feeling from Democrats in his caucus who wanted this resolved because they felt they were losing the battle.
BALDWIN: He needs to do more than stumble into victory in three weeks.
CILLIZZA: Particularly in the House.
BASH: That's substance, not politics.
(CROSSTALK) CILLIZZA: In the House, he has potentially, as Dana mentioned, the only way to get the House Republicans on board with this -- I don't know if Trump could, but to say I need this, I'm behind whatever deal emerges on immigration, I need your votes. I don't know if it works. It almost certainly doesn't work without him.
BALDWIN: Yes. We are listening for him to hear his message. It matters. Especially the House Republicans will be listening.
Chris Cillizza and Dana Bash, thank you very much.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Ahead on CNN, we'll talk about the role of one of the president's most controversial advisers, who Senator Lindsey Graham said disrupted everything -- this guy, Stephen Miller.
Also ahead, we take you live to one of the landmarks defying the shutdown by staying open. We are live on a ferry boat near the beautiful Lady Liberty, next.
[14:45:37] BALDWIN: Government shutdown or not, the nation's most powerful icon of freedom and democracy is open for business today. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowing that the chaos over the last couple of days in Washington will not shut down Lady Liberty. He told the "Daily News, "In New York, we won't let them close the Statue of Liberty, literally or symbolically. The Statue of Liberty is one of New York's greatest tourist attractions. The state has made an agreement to keep the statue open by paying the cost of operations to the Department of the Interior."
Let's go to Liberty State Park. CNN's Alison Kosik.
Beautiful shot on this Monday afternoon, Alison. So vowing to stay open no matter what?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Brooke. Vowing to stay open no matter what. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island were closed on Saturday and Sunday. Governor Cuomo made an arrangement with the Interior Department to open these monuments back up. You can see beautiful Lady Liberty over my shoulder here. We were pulling up to Ellis Island as we speak.
What's interesting is you look at New York harbor and think about what happened here. Back in 1892 through to 1954, more than 60 years, millions, 12 million immigrants went through here on ships. The first thing they saw was, yes, the Statue of Liberty. Very poignant.
BALDWIN: I think we lost her.
I said it was a beautiful shot too soon. We see the point. And we are glad Lady Liberty remains open. Alison Kosik, on a boat somewhere out on the Hudson River.
As we wait on the final passing of a deal to re-open the government for the next three weeks, lawmakers have to decide what to do about DREAMers.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who put the bipartisan plan on the table, is blaming one specific White House adviser for the roadblock. Senator Graham said Stephen Miller has convinced the president to adopt views that are too extreme to negotiate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The reason we yanked these things back is because Mr. Miller -- I have known him for a long time. I know he's passionate and was an early supporter of the president. I'll tell you, his view of immigration has never been in the main stream of the Senate. We are never going to get there as long as we embrace concepts that cannot possibly get 60 votes. One of the concepts I just completely reject is that we have too much legal immigration. Mr. Miller wants to restrict legal immigration at a time when we have a worker shortage. We're a declining population. We need more legal immigration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: A little bit of background here on Miller. He was the architect of the White House's first travel ban. He is one of the president's primary speech writers, and wrote that controversial address that the president presented in Saudi Arabia.
With me to talk more about this central figure, this survivor in the West Wing, is CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel. And with me Alex Conant, a former White House spokesman under George W. Bush.
Great to have you on.
Jamie, this 32-year-old former Senate aide-turned-influencer, right, within Trump's inner circle, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham calls him an outlier. Is he?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, that's Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. It is very unusual for someone to call out a staffer in this way. He may be an outlier to Lindsey Graham. I don't think he's an outlier to Donald Trump. He worked on the campaign. He's written speeches. Let's remember, Donald Trump ran on immigration. This is the same policy.
Now, is there a balancing act here? Absolutely. Donald Trump, what do we know about him? He wants to win. He wants to make a deal. He wants to get them up on the board. But on policy, I think these two are very close. I'm told General Kelly and Stephen Miller are very close. So I think he's only an outlier outside that inner circle.
BALDWIN: This is how the president's secretary, Sarah Sanders, defended his role in the White House. She said, "The only person I'm aware of with visa power in this country is the president." That was Sarah a second ago at the briefing.
But, Alex, how influential, when -- again, you go back to Lindsey Graham, other folks who talk who talk about maybe other deals so, so close, and then, all of a sudden, it falls apart. And the point to the likes of Stephen Miller. Is that fair?
[14:50:23] ALEX CONTANT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: I know for a fact that Stephen Miller does have a tremendous amount of influence on this issue, on immigration inside this White House. He obviously is one of the president's longest-serving aides. But he's also extremely passionate about immigration. When I work for the U.S. Senate, I worked for Marco Rubio back in 2013 when we had a bipartisan group trying to fix our broken legal immigration system and do comprehensive immigration reform. I can tell you, at the time, Stephen Miller was Jeff Sessions' communications direction, and the chief critic of what we were trying to do, the bipartisan group was trying to do in the Senate.
The issue here, as you played in the clip with Senator Graham, Stephen Miller doesn't believe that immigration is good for the country. I think most Americans, myself included, recognize the fault with that logic. Immigrants come to the U.S., they create businesses, jobs, economic activity. It's just absolutely essential for our economy. In fact, we need more immigration, especially more merit-based immigration. But Stephen Miller doesn't share that viewpoint. So when you're trying to negotiate with him, there's no common ground. I think that's why you see Senator Graham and a lot of other Senators so frustrated that he's in the room for these negotiations. Frankly, as long as he's in the room, it's highly unlikely there will be any sort of agreement, just because they don't share similar world views at all.
BALDWIN: Sounds to me -- we are reading more about him, he was with Jeff Sessions, right. This goes back to A.P. history class senior year of high school. According to his classmate, this is how he felt for a long time.
Alex hit on it, Jamie, because he says one of his longest service adviser. Why do you think he has such the power?
GANGEL: Well, we are told that President Trump likes him and likes his combative style. One of the things that's interesting here is Alex is completely right about where he is on immigration verses those in the Senate who's been trying to make a deal. Donald Trump was about building the wall. They've been singing the same song for a long time. There is something that's came out in the last news cycle about him. You will see critics of Stephen Miller calling him President Stephen Miller. When was the last time we saw that? President Steve Bannon?
GANGEL: When --
BALDWIN: Not a good look for him.
GANGEL: When you want to needle with the president, that's the kind of thing that you do.
BALDWIN: Yes, cannot be outshined. We have seen so many people have gone when they have.
Alex, I want to ask you on the vote. We're waiting for the full Senate vote in passing and clearing and opening the government back. How do you see from the perspective of Republicans, are they secretly saying, Chuck Schumer, we got you where we want you?
CONANT: Yes. Look, this was a big short-term win for the Republicans. We got basically everything we wanted to get here, and the Democrats have nothing to show for it. But I say it is a short- term win because, presumptively, we'll be back in the same situation a couple of weeks from now. And again, we want a deal with the DREAMers issue, but I don't think we are closer to having an agreement on that. It is highly likely that the government may shut down again in three weeks over the same issue. It is bad for everybody. Clearly, this episode ended up worse for the Democrats, but I don't know if there will be a guarantee that there will be -- for the Democrats again in February.
[14:54:04] BALDWIN: Alex Conant, see you in three weeks. See you.
And, Jamie Gangel, see you. Thank you very much.
Votes in the Senate and House are moments away here to make sure we get the government back up and running for now.
We are also getting some breaking news from the Pentagon. A Russian spy ship has been spotted off the coast of North Carolina. What's going on? We'll find out.
BALDWIN: Women were front and center at the 24th Annual Screen Actor Guild Awards and the "Me Too" movement dominated at another Hollywood event. All the presenters were female. The first woman chosen ever to host the award, Kristen Bell, joked about being the first lady with a bit of a dig
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN BELL, ACTRESS: You know there is never been a host for this award show before. First time, first person, first lady, right?
BELL: And I honestly never thought that I would grow up to be the first lady, but you know what, I kind of liked it. I think my first initiative as first lady will be cyberbullying because I have yet to see any progress made on that problem quite yet. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Ouch. Both men and women took to the podium to call for truth and change.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's breaking news.
[15:00:02] BALDWIN: Top of the hour. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
Here's the breaking news now, the Senate reaches a compromise to end the government shutdown, which is in its third day. Just a short while ago, the Senate passed a key vote by --