Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Senate Votes to Reopen Government, Immigration Battle Looms; Trump Takes Credit for Agreement to Reopen Government; Senate Votes to Reopen Government, Immigration Battle Looms; FBI: Nunes Won't Reveal Memo on Alleged Surveillance Abuse. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 22, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAPPER: Tweet the show, @TheLeadCNN. That's it for "THE LEAD." I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Go, Eagles.
[17:00:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Seventeen-day deal. Senators agree to reopen the government with the Democratic leadership saying there are now 17 days to make a deal on immigration. But the party's progressive wing says it's foolhardy to believe the Republican leadership will go along.
Taking credit. The president takes credit for the deal to reopen the government, but he stayed out of sight during the negotiations. Was he forced to the sidelines by his own staffers?
Refusing to share. The FBI says the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee won't share his classified memo alleging surveillance abuse by the bureau. So what's behind the Republican claims of FBI bias?
And quiet Stormy. Porn star Stormy Daniels appears at a strip club. She's making money off her alleged sexual relationship with Donald Trump, but she's not discussing it or the payoff she allegedly received to keep quiet.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news: the Senate votes to reopen the federal government, with Democrats agreeing to a spending bill in exchange for a pledge to take up the fate of young immigrant DREAMers down the road. The House is expected to follow suit, but there's plenty of distress still swirling about and, on the Democratic side, plenty of doubts.
And it's an open question. Just how involved has the president been in all of this?
I'll talk to Republican Senator Mike Rounds. And our correspondents and specialists, they're all standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with our congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, what's the latest? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the
wheels are officially in motion to end the three-day government shutdown just in the last moment. The Senate officially voted on their spending bill. It passed through by a vote of 81-18. The House will follow suit very quickly this evening and send this short-term spending bill to President Trump's desk for his signature later this night.
We will very likely, this means, see the government reopen tomorrow. The stalemate ended earlier today when Senate Democrats agreed to a three-week short-term spending that would deep government funded through February 8. It includes six-year extension funding for CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program and comes with some assurances from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that he would take up, the Senate would take up immigration legislation, including getting protections for so-called DREAMers as long as the government stays up and running. That pledge. He heard both sides of the aisle speaking to that promise earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires on February 8, so long as the government remains open, so long as the government remains open. It would be my intention to take up legislation in the Senate that would address DACA, border security, and related issues, as well as disaster relief, defense funding, health care and other important matters.
SEN CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Despite bipartisan support for DACA, the Republican majority dithered. The Senate has muddled along for too long, content to delay action on our most pressing challenges until very last moment. That ends today. The Republican majority now has 17 days to prevent the DREAMers from being deported.
We have a way to address the fate of the DREAMers, starting right now, instead of waiting until March. With the minority and the moderate middle empowered to bring the bill to the floor, instead of being held by the most strident anti-immigration voices in the Republican caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And there's certainly a considerable amount of grumbling among some Democrats, some progressives saying even if they can get an immigration bill through the Senate, there's no assurance that the House would take that up.
And that just really underscores this stark reality of the moment. Here, yes, giving themselves pats on the back saying this is a good day. The fact that the stalemate is over and the government soon will be back up and running. But the reality is that the same huge divides over immigration still remain, Wolf, and that's something that they have to get solved just in the next few weeks -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty, reporting from the Hill. Thanks very much. Just passed the Senate. Now goes this hour to the House for a quick
vote. They are expected to pass and the president will sign it into law. We'll see if he makes a statement.
[17:05:06] The president is claiming credit for the agreement to reopen the federal government, but he was out of sight during the negotiations over these past few days.
Let's to go our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, Democrats said they may have blinked. But did the president really have much to do with that?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSES CORRESPONDENT: I think that's an open question, Wolf, but no question about it. The president was out of sight today. He has been out of sight over the last three days during this government shutdown. And according to a source close to the White House, that was by design. They did not want the shutdown to be about the president.
And earlier today, we should point out he was behind closed doors, meeting with a group of Republican senators. He met with a couple of Democratic senators this afternoon. Joe Manchin and Doug Jones, the new senator from Alabama, they are working on that immigration compromise that everybody here in Washington seems to want but can't get done.
But no question about it, Wolf. I don't think there's any way other than to describe it like this. The Democrats caved to Republican demands to reopen the government, and the White House was taking a victory lap over that earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, what the president did clearly worked. The votes just came in, 81-18. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now comes the hard part. They have to find a compromise to protect the DREAMers.
Now, here's what the White House wants. They are hardening in their positions over here. They are driving a hard bargain. But Wolf, here are some of the demands coming from the White House. They want more than just a wall. You heard about that possible agreement between Senator Schumer and the president last Friday. That did not work out, because the White House wants more than a wall. They want to end so- called "chain migration," where they can bring in family members. They don't want to have that to be as extensive as it currently operates. They also want to end the diversity lottery program.
I talked to a senior administration official over the weekend who said that a wall is not enough and that, in the words of this administration official, "a wall does not equal border security." That is obviously very different than what the president was saying time and again throughout the 2016 campaign. Nonetheless, that's where we are.
We should point out the president is going to have other items on his agenda, other matters to think about later on this week. He's going to be focusing on the trip that he is going to be taking, apparently, to Davos, Switzerland, for the global economic forum that takes place later on this week. That was up in the air during this government shutdown, but now that that shutdown appears to be winding down, it looks like he's going to be going to that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Apparently, he'll be heading out to Davos on Wednesday. We'll watch that closely, of course, as well. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Yes, sir. Appreciate the opportunity to visit.
BLITZER: Are you optimistic, Senator, about finding a bipartisan immigration deal by February 8 when the spending bill runs out?
ROUNDS: If it was easy, it would have been done a long time ago. It's not going to be easy. But I think there's a very serious group of members, Republican and Democrat, that want to get to the end result that takes care of the border security issues that we all agree we've got to address.
We recognize that we've got a critical time period coming up for DACA. At the same time, we think this is an opportunity to address the issue concerning H-2B visas. I'm not sure we're going to get everything done, but I really think there's a group of people who are prepared to work very hard to find some common ground. And I think it's fair to say, we're not trying get to 60 votes in the Senate. We'd really like to shoot for 70 votes in the Senate. One that shows some solidarity with regard to long-term success.
BLITZER: I think you probably have a good chance of achieving that in the Senate. There's a lot of bipartisan cooperation there. But is there any guarantee, even if it were to pass the Senate, the Republican majority, the Republican leadership of the House would even bring it up for a vote? Because you remember a few years ago, they passed comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate. Never came up for a vote in the House.
ROUNDS: I think, based upon having a successful move with regard to border security, taking care of some of the challenges surrounding illegal immigration in the United States today, that's a step in the right direction. Most certainly, it is something that the White House has expressed a very clear interest in.
We'd like to deliver a victory for the president with regard to border security. Not just on the south border, but we've got to be talking about our other borders, as well. Because we're not talking just about human trafficking. We're also talking about contraband, as well.
We think there are some areas in which we can make some real improvements in our border security. That should bring people together.
Also, we recognize the Democrats, they have an interest in those young people who were bought here at no fault of their own, and that's going to be the most challenging part of this issue, which is how do we address those individuals and their parents? Because their parents basically committed a crime. And so how we go about doing that is going to be a very delicate part of this entire discussion.
[17:10:08] BLITZER: Senator, this is the fourth continuing resolution, as it's called, since September of last year. Why should the American public expect a difficult result this time around?
ROUNDS: I think most of the people here agree that continuing resolutions don't work. But remember, this has been going on for 44 years. Only three times in the last 44 years have we actually done the appropriations process the way it's supposed to be done, with 12 appropriation bills passing.
So we've got major work to do with regard to the appropriations process itself, but today, I think Republicans and Democrats alike are recognizing that our Department of Defense needs some additional revenues that have not...
ROUNDS: ... been available yet.
BLITZER: If these...
ROUNDS: That's going to drive the discussion.
BLITZER: If these temporary spending bills, these continuing resolutions, don't work, why do you keep on doing them?
ROUNDS: Because for 44 years, nobody stood up and said enough is enough.
Look, the last two continuing resolutions, I was not in favor of. In fact, I'm on record voting against. This one though, here's the deal. In order to get to an omnibus bill, we have to have time to agree to an increase in the spending caps. And once we've agreed to an increase in the spending caps, which the Democrats have been holding, and they wanted the issue concerning DACA addressed. The agreement by the majority leader is we will move directly to DACA on February 8, as long as the federal government is continuing to operate. In order to do that, we really think we've got to have real serious discussions about those budget caps.
BLITZER: But you don't really think you can achieve all of this in the next 17 days?
ROUNDS: We know we can't achieve everything in 17 days, but we can have an agreement on budget caps ready to go. And when that happens, it will take between three and six weeks, or another continuing resolution, before we can actually get an omnibus that might very well do not just the rest of this year but could very possibly go into next year, as well.
BLITZER: What about the -- what about the fate of the DACA recipients? The DREAMers, as they're called.
ROUNDS: That's == look, we have to have something done by -- by March 5. And I think Republicans recognize that. Democrats clearly have taken on this issue, but there's a lot of Republican that feel very strongly that we know we have to address it; it's in front of us.
It's not easy. It would have been done a long time ago, as we've said earlier. But there is a real desire, Republicans and Democrats, to address the issue. Coming together on it is the issue. We've got a good working group on it. And as long as we tie with it border security and we're able to take care of the border security issues that a lot of our colleagues want to have taken care of, and it's what the White House wants, as well, I think we're moving in the right direction.
BLITZER: Because you know...
ROUNDS: Everybody has got to -- the White House has got to agree. And if the White House agrees, we think the House would at least take a good hard look at it.
BLITZER: It's been months since the president changed the rules involving DACA since about last September. I know the clock is ticking now, in early March.
A lot of lawmakers, though, as you well know this, Senator, complained about the lack of involvement from President Trump on this sensitive issue. Do you know the president's bottom line for an immigration deal that will allow these DREAMers to stay?
ROUNDS: What we think is in our -- in the conversations with leadership members is, No. 1, the president clearly wants to honor his campaign promise, which is the border protection system. He's modified it somewhat in terms of what he will accept. But nonetheless, I think that's No. 1.
No. 2, I think he clearly and dearly, as Senator Graham would say, he clearly wants to address the issue for these young DREAMers.
For Republicans, border security is No. 1. H-2B visas are important to all of us. But we recognize that these young people, there's a -- there's a sense of humanity that we want to do something to take care of the issues that surround them, as well.
It's not going to be easy to get done. But we think the White House has played this well over the weekend. They kind of stayed out of the middle of it and allowed the Senate to work through the issues. That was a positive thing. It was by design. And we just appreciate the fact that the White House, for the most part, allowed to us to get in and to work through the issues without having anything come in from -- from outer space in terms of new issues we'd have to resolve.
BLITZER: Having said that, Senator, you know that your colleague, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, he has said publicly that the president's deal-making on this sensitive issue is being hampered by certain members of his own White House staff that he's mentioned by name. A senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, who's known as a hardliner on these immigration issues. Are White House staffers getting in the way of a deal?
ROUNDS: I think the president has the authority to determine who he wants to have do the negotiations for him. But I think the president is also very well-served by getting direct information from all parties involved.
I think this president really wants to resolve it. He's going to take all the data. And I think his chief of staff clearly understands that he wants to give the president as much information as possible. I think as long as we continue to have at least a fair shot at giving the president all sides to the story, I think the president can make some very good decisions.
[17:15:12] BLITZER: President Trump's re-election campaign has released an ad just over the past couple days touting his plans for immigration. It contains a line that's making a lot of people very, very angry. Watch this, Senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is right. Build the wall. Deport criminals. Stop illegal immigration now. Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: At the end of that he says, "I'm Donald J. Trump, and I approve this ad." Is that kind of rhetoric, where he says every Democrat -- Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants. Is that kind of rhetoric poisoning negotiations? Because it's clearly upsetting a lot of people.
ROUNDS: I don't think this is the time to draw back on either side. I think this is the time in which we try to reach across and find some common ground. I don't think that particular ad was helpful in any way, shape or form.
The reality is, is we have Republicans and Democrats who are all Americans. We want what is best for this country. I'm convinced of that. I go into these negotiations in good faith. I find that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are going into these negotiations in good faith, as well. And if we can't get to that point and agree that we all have a common good in mind, then these negotiations aren't going to go very far.
So I'm not going to go into the back and forth that you find in the politics of it. What I really want are results. And I think there's a lot of colleagues on both sides of the aisle that feel as I do.
BLITZER: Senator Rounds, thanks so much for joining us.
ROUNDS: Thank you.
BLITZER: There's breaking news we're following. The Senate votes to reopen the federal government, but if talks on immigration bog down, could lawmakers be back to square one in just 17 days? Our experts are standing by.
And with a public appearance, the porn star Stormy Daniels may be making money off her alleged sexual relationship with Donald Trump years ago. But she's not talking about it. We'll have a full report.
[17:21:27] BLITZER: Our breaking news, we're awaiting the final votes in the House of Representatives to reopen the federal government. Senate Democrats have just agreed to a short-term spending bill in return for a commitment to take up the very, very thorny issue of what to do about young immigrants known as DREAMers who were brought into the United States by their parents and know no other country.
Let's bring in our political specialists. And Gloria Borger, February 8, 17 days away. Any reason to believe that things are going to be different then than they are right now?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You tell me. I don't -- I don't think we know.
I think I -- I think the Democrats believe that they're going to get something on DREAMers and that they'll be able to get something through the Senate and perhaps in the House. Only through the House, however, if the president defines what he's willing to do on DREAMers.
So at this point, the president is going to have to be the one to signal that he wants to get something done. And I think it's a gamble for Democrats. They got -- they got six-year funding for children's health. That's good. So I think there are a lot of Democrats who are disappointed, because they think the fight was for nothing.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes.
BORGER: A lot of them happen to be running for president in 2020.
BLITZER: A lot of Democrats think the Democratic leadership caved.
CILLIZZA: I mean, if you look at it, I don't see what changed between Saturday, when Chuck Schumer told our Manu Raju, "No three-week deal. We need -- we need hard and fast promises on DACA and scheduling."
The best they can do is take Mitch McConnell at his word. He says his intention is to do so. And let's say it is, Wolf. Let's say that he does bring it up, which he may well do, to Gloria's point. If the Senate made laws, then they'd be all set. The problem is the House is controlled by Republicans who have made no such pledge to Senate Democrats and Donald Trump. Who, I mean, I hesitate to predict what Donald Trump will do. He could be for it. I mean, I honestly don't know.
But the point is, is that it seems a little bit shortsighted, particularly because Schumer said no deal on the exact same thing that suddenly was concessions that they had wrung out of Republicans.
I think it's probably because some of these red-state senators, ten Democrats up in states Trump carried up in 2018, started to panic and pressure Schumer; and he felt like, "OK, I have to fish or cut bait. Let's do it now and declare victory and hope down the line it pays dividends."
BLITZER: The final vote was 81-18. When you look at the Democratic senators who voted against it, what stands out?
CILLIZZA: This is to Gloria's point. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand. You know, I mean, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.
CILLIZZA: You know, I mean, there's a reason. So you have a mix. Right? So you have Mazie Hirono in there. You have Ed Markey in there. You have Ron Wyden. These very -- Pat Leahy. These are very traditional what we would say is sort of down-the-line liberals.
BORGER: Bernie Sanders.
CILLIZZA: But then you also have that group of people who are not, who are running for president or at least thinking about running for president. They were also the ones who were the most vocal on the cloture vote, as well, the vote to sort of set this vote up. You saw Kamala Harris from California be extremely unhappy about it. And I'll note we're talking about this stuff here, Dianne Feinstein, who faces a challenge from her left -- I think she'll be fine, but a challenge from her left ideologically, was very outspoken about how she did not think that this was a -- a deal that should have been cut.
So there's -- people always say, well, don't put politics into it. There's always politics in these things.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of those progressives not very happy right now. You know, Sabrina, if you take a look at what lawmakers from both parties have been saying about the president of the United States, where he stands on these sensitive immigration issues, they have a point and they're disappointed. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:25:18] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I hope the White House will come on board. But the Senate needs to lead, because no one else is. SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: What has been difficult is dealing with
the White House and not knowing where the president is. And that was what was holding us back.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I do not know where the president is. I don't think we should wait for the president. Presumably, he's thinking it through.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: It's next to impossible to strike a deal with the president, because he can't stick to the terms.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: The president has not been helpful. Every opportunity he has, where you think you're moving forward, he changes his mind after he talks to someone else on his staff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about President Trump? Do you need President Trump to be involved in the process, Senator?
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: You know, the Senate is an institution of its own. And I think we should proceed on what we believe is the best route forward.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE; If the president's not going to be constructive, we need him to stay out of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is the president squandering an opportunity right now? Because you heard Democrats and Republicans say they don't know where his position lies.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, certainly, the president has been removed thus far from the negotiations over these past few days. And I think one of the challenges is that, on the one hand, he has said he would like to treat these DREAMers with heart. That is something we've heard him say time and again. The White House has reiterated that position.
But he also is torn between taking that much more hardline approach upon which he campaigned. He has this base that views any legal status for DREAMers as so-called amnesty. And it seems like he's got competing voices in his ear, between those lawmakers like Lindsey Graham who are trying to push him to resolve the status of DREAMers, and people like Stephen Miller, one of his aides, who of course is saying, you know, this would be catastrophic for your base.
I do think it was striking, though. I spoke with Senator Jeff Flake, who's one of the authors of a DREAM Act type bill. And he said at this point we should no longer rely on this president. We should just move forward on our own and send legislation to his desk and put pressure on him to sign it.
BLITZER: It's a problem, Phil, if these lawmakers, including supporters of the president, Republicans, they're trying to figure out what his position is. PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM: I suppose, but hold on just a second
Would you prefer that the president spent 48 hours on Saturday and Sunday tweeting because he's going down to the Hill all the time? And then we're trying to figure out what he's tweeting about, why his position Saturday changed till Sunday and how we nail JELL-O to a wall, because we don't know what he thinks.
I understand what they're saying. Traditionally, the president has a powerful role here. But the reverse would be, he played a huge roll over the weekend, and he really bollocksed it up, because nobody could figure out what he thought. I'm not sure what I want here, but I think I'd ask them, would you prefer the alternative?
BORGER: That can still happen, by the way. It's 17 days down.
BORGER: But there's another thing we ought to consider, particularly as it regards the House, which is the 2018 politics come into play here. You have lots of conservative Republican who don't want to get primaried on the issue of immigration. They're going to run to their right.
The president does not want to lose control of the House of Representatives. And if he has conservatives saying to him, "Don't make me take a vote this right now. It's going to kill me in my district. I'm going to be challenged. I'm going to lose my seat," he may not be willing to do it.
CILLIZZA: And remember, Gloria's right. The other thing to remember is, look, the House has sort of got the little brother role in this. In this deal, it's like the Senate made the deal. Now you just go ahead, and you say yes.
That is not going to sit well with the House Freedom Caucus. I do not envy Paul Ryan his next couple weeks, because it's try to avoid a shutdown. And let's say best-case scenario for Senate Democrats, Mitch McConnell brings some sort of DACA border security fund up, and it passes the Senate, which I'm not going to say -- but let's say it does. Well, now Paul Ryan is going to be in the situation of it's a bill his people, his conservatives don't want. Unclear what role, if any, Donald Trump plays. I mean, it's...
BORGER: He doesn't want to hurt them.
CILLIZZA: This doesn't make the politics easier. It makes it harder. It may be a short-term win...
BLITZER: Because remember, Sabrina, they passed, a few years ago, comprehensive immigration reform, a compromise in the Senate. Went to the House, didn't even come up for a vote.
SIDDIQUI: This is, frankly, why a lot of immigration advocates are disappointed that Democrats didn't held the line. Because they genuinely believe the only way for an immigration bill to pass is if it's part of a must-pass spending measure. Something that cause more lawmakers to support it.
Because we've seen it repeatedly fail as a stand-alone bill. The politics are still far too contentious in both parties.
BLITZER: I want to get your reaction, Phil, to this add that the Trump re-election campaign -- and yes, there's a re-election campaign already out there -- has put out, which is causing all sorts of pain. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is right. Build the wall. Deport criminals. Stop illegal deportation now. Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Your reaction?
[17:30:03] MUDD: So let me get this straight: If we don't pass a law, a Democrat is responsible for a criminal conducting an act of murder? And we're supposed to be in this town determining how, on Capitol Hill, we come up with a compromise, when the president says, "If you don't compromise, you're a killer"?
The American people vote the Congress way down in terms of credibility and pretty far down in terms of the presidency. Partly because they look at them and say, "I can compromise in my office. My 8-year-old can compromise on a lunch line, but you accuse the guy on the other side of the table of murder, and that's the way to get to compromise?" I don't think anybody buys this stuff, Republican or Democrat.
BORGER: But that's an ad to rally the base, the Republican base, and you know, that's what it will do. And the Democrats are rallying their base. And what we saw play out, in this -- in this whole little mini drama, was each side playing to its base.
In the end, Chuck Schumer decided to be a negotiator, decided to reopen the government, because he didn't want the government to be shut down, and it could boomerang on him, quite frankly. And I just don't see these Republicans being willing to go out on a limb here in an election year. It's difficult for them.
CILLIZZA: And remember, Chuck Schumer's job, unlike a Kamala Harris, for example, or a Cory Booker or a Kirsten Gillibrand, who has an eye sort of on the 2020 horizon, his job is to try to figure out how to pass legislation, yes. But also, win control of the Senate. And the only path to win control of the Senate is through Heidi Heitkamp winning in North Dakota, John Tester winning in Missouri -- sorry, in Montana, Claire McCaskill winning in Missouri. I guarantee you, those are the people, many of whom voted to keep the government open, by the way, those are the people leaning on him. And he is answerable to that constituency in a way he's not necessarily always as answerable to that national liberal constituency, as someone who wants to run for president.
BLITZER: You know, Sabrina, the president's White House legislative director, Marc Short, he tried to distance the White House from that very, very controversial ad, saying it was produced by an outside group.
The outside group is the president's re-election campaign. And at the end of the ad, you hear the president saying, "I'm Donald J. Trump, and I approve of this ad." So the outside group is the president.
SIDDIQUI: The outside group, as you noted, the ad ends with him saying himself that he approves of that messaging. I think that increasingly, the signs we're seeing from this White House in recent days is precisely why proponents of immigration reform don't believe that this president is willing to put his political capital behind a compromise. Particularly one that would give some certainty to the fate of DREAMers.
And I think that all indications are leaning toward him taking this hard line and teeing this up more as an issue upon which to rally the base than actually to try and take a stand in support of these DACA recipients.
BLITZER: So what do Democrats do over the next 17 days?
CILLIZZA: I mean, again, they have put a lot of their eggs in the "trust Mitch McConnell" basket. I mean, Democrats do not have the ability to set the agenda in the Senate. They just don't. So they have to hope that McConnell's word is good and that he does bring this up and that they can figure out a way that, by the way, Wolf, they were unable to figure out before the government shutdown, that they can figure out a compromise on that includes border security funding. You know, does Donald Trump give on chain migration at all? Don't know.
But they have to figure that out, because the first step is getting it through the Senate. Right? Then I'm -- I'm just skeptical that suddenly, the House is going to, which reminder, is controlled by Republicans, is going to suddenly, just because the Senate did it, do it.
BLITZER: What if the president tells him to do it?
CILLIZZA: Well OK. That's the big X-factor.
CILLIZZA: He might. But again, he also might, the next day after he tells them to do it, say, "This isn't a good deal." I mean, that's the difficult thing. His unpredictability makes it very difficult if you're a Republican of any sort.
BORGER: I think -- I think the wall is -- is going to come into play here, because you saw Chuck Schumer, which was shocking, in a way, start talking about funding for the wall. So he's said, "Well, I gave a little bit on that." Now the base is not going to like that and didn't like that.
But if they can have some conversation about a star border security, which is otherwise known as a wall. I don't know what you call it. But if they can have some kind of conversation so the conservatives can go back and say, "Look, we've got some money for this wall," and the Democrats can say, "OK, we got DACA." That is the only way that I can see something happening.
BLITZER: That would be a compromise. Right?
SIDDIQUI: There certainly needs to be flexibility, I think, around the language. You've seen them say a physical barrier, funding for that, is not conceding on the wall, which Democrats have taken a hard life against.
But I think most lawmakers I spoke to said that the focus needs to be very narrow. That this needs to address some degree of border security. And the status of DACA recipients. If you make it too complex, you get back into something that's deemed as some sort of comprehensive overhaul of immigration system. And we've seen that show before.
[17:35:00] CILLIZZA: Which, by the way, though, two weeks ago Donald Trump in an open forum said we should do comprehensive after we do DACA.
BORGER: "And I'll take the heat. And I'll take the heat."
BLITZER: That's why people are confused about where he stands specifically.
CILLIZZA: You know.
BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's much more we need to discuss. the growing controversy over an alleged abuse of surveillance laws during the presidential campaign. Why haven't Republican leaders shared their information with the FBI?
And later, the porn actress reportedly paid to keep silent about an alleged affair with Donald Trump years ago makes her first public appearance since the controversy became front-page news.
[17:40:21] BLITZER: Breaking news, the House of Representatives just came into session. We're standing by for the crucial vote on the Senate-passed spending bill to end the government shutdown. We'll keep a very close eye on developments.
In another important story we're following right, the FBI says the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devon Nunes, won't share his classified memo alleging surveillance abuse by the bureau.
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. Manu, what are you learning? MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right,
Wolf. This has to do with a four-page memo that Chairman Devon Nunes, the Republican who leads the House Intelligence Committee, has put together and has essentially given the authority of the full House to review in a classified setting after the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to make that available to House members.
Now, according to sources who have reviewed this memo, it alleges that the FISA judge who signed off on surveillance warrants during the Trump -- during the campaign on Trump's team was not given full information about that Trump/Russia dossier that was used, in part, for justification for that FISA warrant on at least one of the people they were looking to surveil. Now, this is according to the allegations in this memo.
As we now know, of course, that Trump-Russia dossier, the firm Fusion GPS was behind that, which was detained by the Democratic law firm Perkins-Couey, which of course, was working with the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
The Republicans are alleging there could be wrongdoing there in the way that the FISA warrant was obtained. Now, this is in that memo the FBI apparently has not seen.
According to a statement that the FBI put out, it says, "The FBI has requested to receive a copy of the memo in order to evaluate the information and take appropriate steps if necessary. To date, the request has been declined."
And Wolf, Democrats are saying this is just a Republican talking-point memo. It does not have the full information. But nevertheless, it could be released publicly if the committee votes to do that and the president agrees to declassify the memo, essentially going around the Intelligence Committee, if they took those steps, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it's pretty amazing. They've shared the memo on a classified basis with other members of Congress, but they won't share with it the FBI. It's pretty extraordinary.
Same time, Manu, hundreds more pages of texts have been sent to lawmakers. Republicans say those messages between FBI staffers are examples of bias.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. Four hundred pages of text messages from two FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who have come under scrutiny over these previous text messages that have been delivered to Congress.
Well, these new messages also raising concerns of under the president text messages that are raisings concern among Republicans, suggesting there may have been bias in the way the Clinton e-mail investigation was done. And suggesting there may have been bias in the way that these agents who were involved with the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign, that they did not like President Trump. They did not like candidate Trump, raising those new concerns. As well as this new batch of documents does not include, is missing
about five months' worth of text messages that the FBI says was a result on a technical glitch.
Still, one of the committees that has received these messages is the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the Senate side. The chairman of that committee, Ron Johnson, told me earlier today that he wants to get those missing documents. He called it very suspicious.
He also said that there's something -- quote, "something rotten going on" about the actual contents of the text messages that he has reviewed. Suggesting that Hillary Clinton was doing something, quote, "illegal," in his view, and that she was not telling then-President Obama about what -- about her classified e-mail server.
And Wolf, Democrats say it is another effort to distract from the ongoing Mueller and Russian investigation. We'll see where it turns out, Wolf.
BLITZER: OK. Manu, thank you very much.
Let's get back to our political specialists. You know, Phil Mudd, a whole bunch of documents, pages, memos, e-mails, are missing. How do you explain that?
MUDD: This has nothing to do with documents, Wolf. Zero. We have a president of the United States who runs the executive branch. That is he runs the FBI, the CIA, the State Department. Every time they disagree with him, instead of saying, "I represent the American people by running the government," he says, "Let me persuade you Americans not to trust your government. Don't trust the CIA in Russia. Don't trust federal judges when they disagree with me. Don't trust Rex Tillerson. He shouldn't be negotiating with the North Koreans, until he should."
And now we're saying one side of the House, representing President Trump, saying, "I want to further denigrate the U.S. government, persuade the American people that their taxes are going for wrongful purposes, instead of saying I'm going to have a hearing with Democrats and Republicans and get to the bottom of this."
This is not about documents. It's about persuading people that the investigation is inappropriate.
BLITZER: And Phil, the fact that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devon Nunes, won't share a four-page memo he wrote with the FBI.
MUDD: Well, it's not just sharing the memo. How -- how do you think he understands the details of how you conduct surveillance? Do you think he knows what the law is? Do you think he knows what FBI regulations are?
[17:45:00] Do you think he knows what FBI regulations are? Do you think he has read through the telephone book of FBI regulations? This is about a hatchet job. And the hatchet job is on the effort to
say, what happened during the election with the Russian involvement with the Trump people? Maybe nothing, but we won't know from the Congress because Devin Nunes won't allow a nonpartisan investigation to take place.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's unprecedented that he would be accusing the FBI of something and not allow them on see what he's accusing them of.
I mean, it's ridiculous on its face, and the FBI has a right to complain about it. And the President should say you have to let the FBI see what you're accusing them of, but it's part of an effort to just discredit --
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's right.
BORGER: -- the FBI which is, of course, investigating him.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's pretty startling.
All right, everybody standby. There's more we're watching right now, including a porn star making her first public appearance since reports surfaced that she was paid to keep quiet about an old affair with Donald Trump.
[17:50:30] BLITZER: The porn star who allegedly took $130,000 payment to right before the presidential election to stay quiet about an alleged sexual relationship with Donald Trump years earlier made a splash this weekend in her first public appearance since the story broke.
Brian Todd is joining us right now.
This was notable, Brian, for what she didn't say as much as what she did say.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Stormy Daniels talked about how she was feeling about all of this new attention, but she refused to talk about the alleged affair.
Today, the story has even followed Vice President Mike Pence overseas. Pence pushing back on reports that President Trump had the affair with Daniels. The White House has said the reports were recycled and denied prior to the election.
All of these comes as we get new information that Stormy Daniels is indeed seeking to capitalize on her new notoriety.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, Stormy Daniels is not talking about her claim of a 2006 sexual relationship with Donald Trump. Just making money off it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's The Trophy Club on the heels of Stormy's national publicized alleged affair.
TODD (voice-over): Daniels appeared at this strip club in Greenville, South Carolina over the weekend. The owner won't tell us how much he paid her or how much he made but said he booked her as soon as he saw published reports on the alleged affair.
JAY LEVY, OWNER, THE TROPHY CLUB: There's no hustle going on there tonight. Everybody can come see the young lady that's in the news.
TODD (voice-over): But CNN is told Daniels could be booked at other adult clubs around the country in the coming months.
Daniels made a quick getaway after her performance and would not talk to journalists about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump reported by "In Touch" magazine and "The Wall Street Journal." But she was quoted as saying her life since the story broke has been stressful and amusing. Stormy Daniels has had a long career as a porn star.
STORMY DANIELS, ACTRESS: I just wanted to give you a commendation.
TODD (voice-over): And even a potential Senate candidate.
DANIELS: Politics can't be any dirtier of a job than the one I'm already in.
TODD (voice-over): But "The Wall Street Journal" says that shortly before the 2016 election, she was paid $130,000 by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to stay silent about alleging a sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006. Cohen has never denied making the payment.
And tonight, there is new information about a reported attempt to cover up her claim of an affair. In 2011, Michael Cohen threatened to sue "In Touch Weekly" magazine if it published their interview with her, according to four former magazine employees who spoke to the Associated Press.
"In Touch" never published Daniels' allegations of an encounter with Donald Trump at a golf resort in Nevada until now.
Before the Associated Press story broke, CNN asked "In Touch's" new editor why it was held for seven years.
JAMES HEIDENRY, EDITOR, IN TOUCH WEEKLY: Why wasn't it published before? I can't really speak to it. In fact, I don't have the answer.
TODD (voice-over): One Trump biographer isn't surprised that his lawyer reportedly threatened to sue the magazine.
MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY OF AMBITION, EGO, MONEY, AND POWER": He has a long pattern of going after people legally, whether they have criticized him, whether it's someone who has some embarrassing information about him. He uses threats, lawyer letters, actual lawsuits, all to control the message.
TODD: Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, did not get back to us regarding the Associated Press report that he threatened to sue "In Touch" magazine. The magazine's representatives told us they would not comment on that report, but Cohen has previously denied that the affair took place.
And today, Vice President Mike Pence told the Associated Press that reports of the affair are, quote, baseless -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And you're getting more information, Brian, that that appearance in South Carolina will probably be followed by other events for Stormy Daniels. Is that right?
TODD: Right, Wolf. We spoke to the owner of that South Carolina nightclub and others involved in that event.
We're told that she is booked for some kind of an adult club in Oklahoma in the coming months, that she could have appearance booked through the month of June. So it clearly appears like she's capitalizing on it.
BLITZER: Yes. Next hour, we have more information coming in. We'll share that with our viewers as well.
Brian Todd, thank you.
Coming up, our breaking news. As lawmakers vote on reopening the government, President Trump is taking credit for a compromise deal. But if the immigration deadlock isn't broken within a couple of weeks, will the government grind to a halt once again?
We're looking at live pictures. They're voting in the House of Representatives right now.
[17:54:43] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. No part of the deal. After being mostly absent from negotiations, President Trump claims credit for a new compromise to end the government shutdown.
Tonight, there's no end to the partisan mistrust, much of it aimed squarely at the President.
Democrats' butts kicked? Some members of Chuck Schumer's own party are accusing the Senate Democratic leader of caving on the shutdown. I'll talk live with one of the Democrats feeling angry and betrayed, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric Richmond.
Russian VIPs. As President Trump was sworn in a year ago, what were Kremlin-connected Russians doing in Washington? A new report is raising questions that may be a focus of the Russia investigation.
[18:00:04] And Stormy makes waves. The former porn star who allegedly was paid to keep quiet about a past affair with President Trump is cashing in on her notoriety.