Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Set to Deliver First State of the Union Address; Source: Trump Tried to Fire Robert Mueller; Interview With Maine Senator Susan Collins; Interview With West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin; Trump's Immigration Proposal Criticized; Trump's Lawyer Paid Off Porn Star; Democrats To Wear Black To State of the Union; Clinton Shielded Aide Accused of Harassment in 2008; Wynn Resigns As RNC Finance Chair; Secret Societies In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 28, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Almost fired. President Trump denies a report saying he tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.


TAPPER: But sources say it happened. And Democrats are crying foul.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: There's a credible case of obstruction of justice against the president of the United States.

TAPPER: What does a key Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee think? Senator Susan Collins responds next.

Plus: Dead on arrival? The White House proposes an immigration framework.

TRUMP: We need the wall. We need security at the border. But there are fierce critics on both sides.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: That plan is a campaign to make America white again.

TRUMP: Can moderates find a compromise in the middle?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: The president wants to get this done. He's sympathetic towards that.

TAPPER: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joins us in moments.

And prime-time speech. President Trump is getting ready to deliver his first State of the Union address.

TRUMP: The United States is once again experiencing strong economic growth.

TAPPER: But which President Trump will show up?

TRUMP: No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is stormy.

That's a reference to the tenor in town, not to the porn star by the same name, whom, according to "The Wall Street Journal," was paid $130,000 by Trump's lawyer for her silence.

With all eyes now turning to the president's State of the Union address to see whether the president will try to alleviate tensions with Democrats in Congress, according to a senior administration official, the president's speech has been in the works for many weeks.

If the president sticks to his prepared remarks, he is expected to take a victory lap, taking credit for the healthy economy and touting his tax reform plan. He also plans to look ahead by introducing his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and pitching his new immigration framework to the nation and to Congress.

Late Saturday night, the president was up tweeting about the plan, which includes a proposal for the dreamers covered by DACA -- that's the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- and attacking the Democrats.

He tweeted -- quote -- "I have offered DACA, a wonderful deal, including a doubling in the number of recipients and a 12-year pathway to citizenship, for two reasons, one, because the Republicans want to fix a long-time terrible problem, two, to show that Democrats do not want to solve DACA, only use it."

Casting a shadow over the moment, of course, is the ongoing Russia investigation and the news first reported by "The New York Times" that President Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller in June.

Here with me now is Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She's a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for being here. We always appreciate your being here.

COLLINS: Thank you.

TAPPER: So, I want to start with the reports that the president ordered his White House counsel start the firing process of special counsel Robert Mueller in June after he heard Mueller was investigating him for obstruction of justice.

Because the White House counsel threatened to quit if the plan was carried out, Mueller was ultimately not fired. The president's supporters say this story doesn't because Mueller wasn't actually fired.

Does it matter to you?

COLLINS: Well, first, I think it's important to note that the president cannot directly fire Mr. Mueller.

The only person who can fire Mr. Mueller is the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. He's the person who appointed Mr. Mueller. And last year at a hearing, I questioned him at length on this issue, and he was adamant that he would never give in to any White House pressure to remove Mr. Mueller.

I think what happened here is, the president had a bad idea. He talked with his counsel, who explained to an angry and frustrated president why it was a bad idea, and that was seven months ago. And the White House counsel is still on the job, and Mr. Mueller is still aggressively investigating. And that's as it should be.

TAPPER: Sources tell CNN the president has been talking about firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because of this frustration.

COLLINS: Well, if that's true, that obviously would be a terrible mistake.

We have seen what happened back in the Nixon administration when President Nixon, on the Saturday Night Massacre, kept going down the line until he would find someone who would fire the special counsel. And that didn't end very well.

TAPPER: Beyond whether or not the president has technically obstructed justice, because that's a decision that will be made by Mueller and then theoretically Congress, maybe even judges, do you agree with the idea, as a political matter, that the president has -- has clearly tried to stop or impede the Russia investigation?

COLLINS: I think the president would be best served by never discussing the investigation, ever, whether in tweets, except in private conversations with his attorney.


And this is hard for us, but I think we have all got to be patient and allow the independent counsel to conclude his investigation and bring his findings forth before speculating on whether or not there are sufficient grounds for any kind of wrongdoing. We just don't know.

TAPPER: There have been a number of bipartisan bills proposed in the Senate that would attempt to protect the special counsel from firing by the president.

And you said in December that -- quote -- "You haven't seen the need for legislation protecting Mueller."

Do you see the need now? COLLINS: It probably wouldn't hurt for us to pass one of those bills.

And I give Senator Tillis and Senator Coons great credit for coming up with a bipartisan bill. And Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Cory Booker have a different approach.

There are some constitutional issues with those bills. But it would certainly not hurt to put that extra safeguard in place, given the latest stories. But ,again, I have faith in the deputy attorney general that he's going to do what he told me he would do.

TAPPER: There are a lot of Republicans calling for the release of a memo written by the committee, the House Intelligence Committee, under Chairman Devin Nunes that alleges FBI abuses of surveillance laws in this case, in this case against Trump and this investigation.

"The Washington Post" is reporting that President Trump wants this memo released, against the advice of his own Justice Department, people in the Justice Department very concerned that it might reveal sources and methods and that there are other issues with the memo.

Democrats, who have seen the memo, say it's -- quote -- "profoundly misleading."

Do you think it should be released?

COLLINS: Well, one of the problems with the House investigation, it has been very partisan. In contrast, the Senate Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Senators Burr and Warner, have worked together.

And I think that's a far better approach. There -- I have a lot of confidence in the FBI. They are the nation's premier law enforcement agency. That doesn't mean that there weren't -- that an agent and a lawyer who had inappropriate and highly political text messages in the midst of investigations, but let's look at what happened.

First of all, the special counsel immediately removed the agent from his team in response to that. And, second, perhaps even more important, there is an ongoing inspector general investigation into this matter.

And I think, again, we should let the inspector general sort this out. And...

TAPPER: So, defer to the Justice Department on the memo; don't release the memo?

COLLINS: On the memo, I don't know what's in the memo. But if it...

TAPPER: Burr doesn't either. They won't show it to Senator Burr.

COLLINS: And I think that needs to be shared.

But, also, my concern is whether it would compromise classified information. And that's a really serious matter. So, to me, the preferable way to handle the allegations of wrongdoing by certain FBI agents and a lawyer there is to leave it in the hands of the inspector general, Michael Horowitz.

I know him. He's aggressive. He will do a fair investigation.

TAPPER: Let's turn to immigration.

You have been working with a bipartisan group of senators to try to come up with some sort of compromise that can pass the Senate and pass the House and can be signed by the president. And that's no small task.

The White House released a framework for immigration. It proposes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers, $25 billion for the border wall, an end to the diversity lottery program, drastic changes to family or change migration.

How different is the White House proposal from the one that you're working on?

COLLINS: Well, we're going to be meeting this week, our Common Sense Coalition, to take a look at the four pillars that the White House has put out there.

I think all of us realize that it's going to take a compromise on this issue for us to get something done and to protect the dreamer population, which is certainly a goal of mine.

But I think the president is also right about border security, that we do need to beef up our border security.

We know that from a state in Mexico, there's been an influx of this tar heroin, which is very inexpensive and is ravaging communities and families across our country. And we have been talking about securing the border better since the George Bush administration.

We passed the Secure Fence Act. That doesn't mean a wall literally across our southern border, but it does mean using technology.

Now, some people aren't going to like that. Some people aren't going to like the path to citizenship for the dreamers.

What this is about is a compromise. And it's important to note that our coalition is not a legislative committee. We're going to be making recommendations to the chair and ranking member of the Immigration Subcommittee. That's Dick Durbin and John Cornyn.

And I hope we can find a way forward. I think it's really important.


TAPPER: What's your reaction to the "Wall Street Journal" story alleging that President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen saw a $130,000 payment go to a porn star who at one point had been claiming a relationship with President Trump while married to Melania, although both she and President Trump now deny it? COLLINS: Well, I don't know the circumstances of it.

In some ways, this sounds like an issue that's between President and Mrs. Trump, because it doesn't seem to be a workplace issue, as far as I know.


I want to ask you about the former -- now former finance chair of the Republican National Committee, Steve Wynn, who stepped down after another "Wall Street Journal" investigation alleging massive accusations of sexual misconduct.

He has now stepped down, but he still donated a lot of money to Republican candidates. And after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the RNC made a big case that Democrats need to give the money back.

I asked a senator, a Democratic senator, about that then, so I will ask -- now ask a Republican senator about Steve Wynn.

Do you think Republicans who took money from Steve Wynn should give it back?

COLLINS: In -- if they have accepted contributions recently from him that have not been spent, absolutely. I don't even think it's a close call to return the money.

I'm very pleased that he immediately stepped down from the RNC position. I was going to call upon him to step down. And the allegations against him are very serious, because they do involve harassment at the workplace and inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse.

So, I think they're very serious allegations, and should be treated as such. And I'm pleased to say that I have never received any money from Mr. Wynn, so I have no money to return.

TAPPER: Senator Collins, it's always good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

COLLINS: Thank you.

TAPPER: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says President Trump's proposed immigration framework is a plan to -- quote -- "make America white again."

Will language like that help lawmakers reach a bipartisan deal? We will ask Democratic Senator Joe Manchin next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

The right and left are in agreement when it comes to President Trump's proposed immigration framework. They both do not like it.

Republican Democratic Senator Ted Cruz called the proposed pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers a profound mistake, while Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said the plan is a wish list for anti-immigration hard-liners.

Now a group of senators are doing what seems impossible at this point, coming up with a compromise that could pass the Senate and the House and be signed by President Trump.


TAPPER: Joining us now to discuss is one of the senators leading the bipartisan effort, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Senator, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

I want to get to immigration in a second, but first let me ask you, if it's OK, about the recent developments in the Mueller investigation, the news that President Trump had ordered the firing of special counsel Mueller in June, and only backed down after his White House counsel threatened to quit.

Many in your party, the Democratic Party, are calling this obstruction of justice.

Take a listen to Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal.


BLUMENTHAL: There's a credible case of obstruction of justice against the president of the United States.

And what we're seeing, in fact, extraordinarily, is obstruction of justice, in a sense, unfolding right before us in real time, with the actions and statements that he's making.


TAPPER: Now, he's talking about not just the attempted firing of Mueller, but also the firing of Comey and other examples.

Do you agree that there is a case of obstruction of justice against the president?

MANCHIN: Jake, I haven't gone down that road, nor am I going to go down that road.

I believe in the rule of law. And it's -- it pertains to all of us. We're all treated the same. And if any of this has happened, it will come out.

But, you know, people from New York have a different way of talking and speaking. And I take that, you know, literally as, OK, he blew off about some things. There's a process to go through. If he's going to go down this road,

which I'd advise him absolutely do -- do not do, Mr. President -- let Mr. Mueller do his job. He has the confidence of most of all Democrats and Republicans on the Hill.

And I think that he will be fair, he will be just and -- and he'll get a conclusion. I would encourage everyone to work with him, so we can get this to an end.

But the more hyperbole you hear about all this stuff and the more people get fired up about it, the more it continues. So, I would say, hey, let's do our job. Let's go on. Let's run the government. Let's run the country.

TAPPER: A source tells CNN the Democrats plan to try to include a proposal to protect the special counsel in the next round of government funding talks ahead of the February 8 deadline.

You were a key figure in negotiating the last short-term spending bill that reopened the government. Do you think it's a good idea? Are you going to try to include protections for Mueller?

MANCHIN: Well, the thing about it, I think it's premature for us to go down that road, too.

There's a process they have to go through. Mr. Rosenstein would be the first person that I would think, if there's going to be some movement in that direction, where they're going to go first. And I think that would give us time to move and act if we need to.

I hope it doesn't come to that. I really do. But we have to wait and see.

But, again, let me just say this. I have the utmost confidence and faith in our Justice Department. These are not people that are working or fame and fortune. When you look at the FBI agents, you look at all the people in the intelligence community, they are absolutely committed to who we are and the ideas what we have and basically the ideals of America.

Jake, what I want to say to Mr. President, Trump, people have to understand, there's been a man all his life who's been control of his own life, his own destiny.

He's been able -- he's been very successful. He's been able to have control of his personal life and his professional life in the business world.

And now, all of a sudden, he's in a whole different realm. And I can imagine the frustration he might have saying, listen, I was able to give orders and get this, and this, and this done. And, if not, I would either fire this person or hire this person or give someone a financial incentive to do something differently.


TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

MANCHIN: It doesn't work like that.

And that's what makes our government so special. It makes our country so special. And when they can understand that, everything's going to be just good, fine.

TAPPER: Let's turn to immigration, if we can, sir.

The White House framework for a deal on the dreamers includes a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million of them in exchange for major changes to the family immigration system, the diversity lottery, $25 billion for border security and the wall.

Republican immigration hard-liners, such as Senators Cotton and Perdue, they support the president's framework.

But I want you to take a listen to what Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi had to say about the proposal.


PELOSI: While I'm on the subject of dreamers, since last night the president put forth the plans, let me just say what I said last night.

That plan is a campaign to America white again.


TAPPER: Make America white again.

Where do you come down, sir?

MANCHIN: You know what? We don't need that type of rhetoric on either side, from Nancy, Paul Ryan, or anybody else.

And I come down this. The president has laid out a template. We're going to look at that template, and we're going to work with it.

I think that what it really comes down to, Jake, how big do you want to go? In 2013, we passed a piece of legislation in the Senate, bipartisan, and people says, well, the wall.

Let me tell you one thing. We have the wall. We need to repair the wall. We'll need to build more wall. We need to do whatever we can to secure the border -- the borders.

We had $42 billion of expenditures to secure America with that piece of legislation in 2013, but, also, there was a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people.

Now, if you want to go big, that's big. If you're going to go medium or you are going to go small, we've got to decide. You can't have big on one end of it, and then also medium or small on the other end. I think that's what we're trying to figure out. And I'll work with Susan Collins. Our Common Sense Coalition, I

think, is going to be the grounding, if you will, and what will pass or what can move through the Senate.

We're going to meet Monday night, start over again, trying to find that commonality that we've been able to do. And there's no way that anyone should be considering any more of a shutdown, even talking the nonsense of a shutdown.

Let's get down to business and fix this. And we can do it. The president's laid out what he wants. That's a good starting point. Let's see if it's something that we can agree on, something we need to adjust, and something we can negotiate with.

TAPPER: But you -- you condemned Nancy Pelosi's rhetoric.

I just have one more question for you, sir, before you have to go.

MANCHIN: I'm not -- I'm -- I'm condemning...


MANCHIN: I'm condemning -- I'm condemning all this crazy rhetoric that goes on.

TAPPER: OK, including...

MANCHIN: I mean, just because someone's a Republican is not -- is not my enemy. And, you know, we have to work together.

TAPPER: Got it.

I want to ask you, sir, about your party's last presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. "The New York Times" reported and CNN has confirmed that, in 2008, Hillary Clinton's faith adviser was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young staffer, but Hillary Clinton decided not to fire him, against the recommendation of her campaign manager at the time and other senior aides.

Instead, they docked his pay, they changed his title, they sent him to counseling, and then they reassigned the woman who had been harassed.

Hillary Clinton tweeted on Friday that she had reached out to the young woman, writing -- quote -- "I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should. We deserve to be heard."

But the fact that Hillary Clinton kept him on board and -- and -- and reassigned the woman, a lot of people say that this is hypocrisy, that Hillary Clinton says things about the MeToo movement, but when it came down to it, you know, didn't take the actions that were necessary.

What were -- what do you think?

MANCHIN: My question to Hillary Clinton would be, if you had it to do over, would you change it? Would you have fired him? Would you have removed him from your campaign?

If you try to defend that, then that speaks volumes of what's going on. But if she made a mistake and she says, I made a mistake, I evaluated it wrongly, and I should have fired him, and I'm very sorry, and that woman should have been protected, that would have been the right answer.

So, I'd ask that question, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, always good to see you, sir. Thanks for joining us.

MANCHIN: You too, Jake. Thank you. Appreciate it.


TAPPER: President Trump lashing out at Jay-Z after the music mogul's interview with CNN's Van Jones.

What he said in response to Jay-Z's criticism of the president's rhetoric and divisive comments on race, that's next.




SHAWN "JAY-Z" CARTER, MUSICIAN: It's not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- doesn't equate to, like, happiness. It doesn't.

It's -- that's not -- missing the whole point. We treat people like human beings. And then, you know, that's -- that's the main point. You can't treat someone like -- it goes back to the whole thing, you going to treat me really bad and pay me well.

VAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Yes, that's.

CARTER: It's not going to lead to happiness. It's going to lead to, like, you know, again, the same thing.


TAPPER: That was the Jay-Z on "The Van Jones Show" yesterday.

Van Jones had asked about the famous rapper and producer about the president's rhetoric and how divisive he may be, and Jay-Z gave his thoughts.

And then Van Jones asked about the fact that black unemployment is so low. And that was Jay-Z's response.

President Trump, I don't know if he watched the whole show, but he was tweeting about Jay-Z this morning, saying -- quote -- "Somebody, please inform Jay-Z that, because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the" -- all caps -- "LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED."

But, obviously, Jay-Z gave his response already to that.

Nina, let me start with you here with our panel.

Black unemployment is at historic lows. President Trump has a point, although Jay-Z already responded.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, it's a quality of life issue too.

I mean, the unemployment rate, as we know, is one thing, but how people are really living their lives. And, you know, there was a study that indicated that, even for African-Americans to catch up with just wealth, it would take them almost 200 years to do that.

So, it's deeper than just the unemployment rate. And the unemployment rate in the African-American community is always double that of mainstream America, the suffering that's happening among African- American families when it comes to their quality of life.


So just saying that the unemployment rate is low is not enough. People are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet in this economy and the president's tax cut didn't do anything to help main stream America.

TAPPER: And, David, Nina is right black unemployment is while historically low is still about twice the rate of white unemployment.


Look, we need to do more for our inner cities. We need to do more for rural America and I think this president wants to lift -- you know, wants to lift all Americans up. I think you'll hear that in this coming State of the Union.

Kind of a little bit of a preview it's going to be optimistic, kind of, you know, speaking from his heart about how this presidency, this tax cut, that you're talking about five million individuals getting a thousand bucks, right? I know Speaker Pelosi kind of denigrated that as crumbs but to people of Cleveland a thousand bucks --

TURNER: I'm not -- I mean --

URBAN: -- to people of Cleveland that's real money.

TURNER: -- we are not going to denigrate that but we still have to go a long way in this country and ensure from an educational standpoint that African Americans and other communities are lifted. We're talking about generational poverty need to be lifted.

URBAN: And I think -- the infrastructure of Cleveland needs to be repaired --

TURNER: Well, infrastructure all over the country.

URBAN: -- we need -- we need -- we need to work on that. I think that's another thing. The president would like to see that this coming -- this coming session. You'll hear some of that in the State of the Union.

TAPPER: And one of the things we expect also to hear from President Trump on the State of the Union is about his immigration framework after the White House released the framework a lot of people were grumbling on the left and the right.

Take a listen to President Trump talking about the dreamers and DACA.


TRUMP: If you see numerous senators on the other side they said, we would give the wall in two minutes if we could do something with DACA. Everybody wants to solve the DACA problem. They've been to solve it for a long time.


TAPPER: Does the president's frame work while being condemned by the left and the right is there a path forward there that could actually work and become law?

LINDA CHAVEZ, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Well, I think there is a path forward and I think balancing some funding for the wall with the DACA would be the best way forward. I think the problem the president has is that he has also thrown into the works a whole immigration reform which would drastically alter our current legal immigration laws and I think that is -- that's problematic because the president has from his campaign forward talked about reducing legal immigration which I think would be a disaster for the country and would be a disaster for the economy.

Immigrants are a vital part of our economy, not just at the high end, but also doing jobs like poultry processing and picking fruit and vegetables, cleaning buildings, we need people at both ends of the skill spectrum and there is no path for those people to come in under the president's plan.

TAPPER: The president's been pointing at Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic Leader, as one of the reasons why nothing has happened yet. There has not been an agreement.

He tweeted recently, "Crying Chuck Schumer fully understands especially after his humiliating defeat" -- in the government shutdown -- "that if there is no wall there is no DACA. We must have safety and security together with a strong military for our great people."

Do you think Democrats will be able to support something that the president would be willing to sign?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think first President Trump clearly wasn't briefed on his own proposal because I think as you just said, if there is an agreement or if there's a proposal that focuses on border security and DACA you're much more likely to get quite a bit of Democratic and Republican support.

That is what Schumer has talked about. That is what Lindsay Graham has talked about and basically if you look at the last couple of days Republicans and Democrats in Congress have essentially ignored the president's proposal. It was dead on arrival within an hour.


PSAKI: Let me finish. In large part because it would reduce by many estimates, legal immigration by 50 percent. We're going back to the immigration quotas of the 1920s.

URBAN: Listen -- listen --

PSAKI: It's not just Democrats but Republicans are unwilling to accept that.

URBAN: Yes --

PSAKI: So what the best option here is that Democrats and Republicans are already working together to see if there's a plan that has border security, that has DACA solution, let's see if they can get there (ph) (INAUDIBLE). We've seen Trump is willing to sign legislation that goes through Congress even if he opposes it.


PSAKI: Let's see if that happens.

URBAN: This is something. This is a bill -- the frame work of this bill is something that President Bush couldn't get done, President Clinton -- President Obama didn't even propose this. A pathway for citizenship -- a pathway to citizenship for almost 2 million folks.

Linda -- I know Linda would like to see that. I know a lot of Democrats would like to see that and I think it's a brilliant move by the president. Everyone was driving (ph) Stephen Miller who was driving (ph) the president before. Now all of the sudden they've got a bill, all these DACA recipients are going to go to their members and say hey, this looks pretty good to me, we could be -- we could be citizens, we could be members of this community moving forward and the Democrats are going to vote against it.

TAPPER: What does that --

CHAVEZ: But, David, the problem is the legal immigration part of his proposal.

TAPPER: Reducing -- eliminating the visa lottery program and reducing family reunification.


CHAVEZ: -- lottery program. Let's remember I'm old -- I'm old enough --

URBAN: Eliminating chain migration --

CHAVEZ: I am old enough to remember that it was Ted Kennedy trying to get more Irish in the visa lottery program came about through.


But it -- you know, the problem is that this reducing legal immigration, trying to ensure that we cut legal immigration drastically is going to harm our economy. It's bad for all Americans.

And you know, this was never part of the Republican proposal. I mean, we've had a legal immigration program right now that's broken. The way we fix it is not to decrease the numbers but to increase the numbers so that people who come here illegally have to have --


TURNER: I'm just going to say, I mean, the irony of the party of family values though to think that it is OK to separate families we're talking about --


URBAN: No, no, no, no, no, no. Be fair, be fair, be fair.

TURNER: No, on that part -- but that part of --

URBAN: Nuclear families can remain together in this proposal.


TAPPER: Yes, but not parents and not siblings.

TURNER: Right. I mean, come on that part of it is --

URBAN: No. Parents -- OK. (INAUDIBLE) not aunts and uncles but they can come in. There's a lot of folks --

TURNER: It's important that this country uphold those values and we are not 11 --


URBAN: Let this (INAUDIBLE) country uphold the law.

TURNER: -- 11 million -- 11 million -- let's do this in a humane way and then we can deal with both of those things at the same time.

URBAN: Everybody's for family unification.


CHAVEZ (ph): President Trump's proposals are not.

URBAN: Stop, stop, stop. This is also prospective. This isn't retroactive, OK?

This is prospective. So let's remember that, OK? There are a lot of folks that are going to be included, taking care of.

This is moving prospective. This is going to be a vote of whether the Democrats are going to put their money where their mouth is and protect the DACA kids and also provide a pathway to citizenships for lots of folks. Pretty popular idea.

CHAVEZ: And give them the wall as -- in order to get that.

URBAN: Pretty popular idea.

CHAVEZ: You know, that -- that is -- I'm willing to concede on that even though illegal immigration right now is as low as it has been since Richard Nixon.

URBAN: And the "Post" -- remember, a few weeks ago "The Washington Post" said great idea, Democrats. Take the money and run. Take (ph) this (ph).

TAPPER: I think -- it sounds like the issue here is the changes to the immigration policy.


TAPPER: But otherwise we can cut a deal right now with the border wall --


URBAN: Listen, any deal -- any deal in Washington to the far right and the far left probably a pretty good deal.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around we've got a lot more to talk about.

In two days the president will give his first State of the Union address. But will his speech be overshadowed by some recent destruction such as allegations that his lawyer paid off a porn star? That's next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever think that you'd be able to turn on CNN or FOX News or MSNBC and your name and the president's name together in the same sentence over and over and over?

STORMY DANIELS, PORN STAR: No. Does anyone? No one ever looked twice at me before and now suddenly everyone is looking at me.


TAPPER: That was porn star Stormy Daniels talking with "Inside Edition." Allegedly according to the "Wall Street Journal" Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer, paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 before the election to not talk about what she had previously been talking about, an alleged affair between herself and the president in 2006 although right now Daniels and the president both deny it. Our panel is back with me.

So, Jen, you're a White House communications director under President Obama. I am just wondering a world in which these kinds of allegations were made against President Obama and what the response would be, do you think, in the media or the political world.

PSAKI: Certainly quite more significant than it is today. The reality is, we're talking about -- I mean, look at that headline from the "Wall Street Journal" story the president of the United States, his lawyer paid off a porn star. That almost took down a presidency, a similar version of that back in the 90s.

If this had happened during the Obama administration, one, racism would have been at play. No doubt about it. Certainly many other factors would have been at play.

Hatred against liberals would have been at play. But this story is number six, seven or eight on the ranking. So that's pretty incredible.

That's in part due to the fact that there's an ongoing investigation of the president and his team. And in part because of many unforced errors of his own, but it's pretty astounding that this barely made a bleep in the news coverage.

TAPPER: You heard Senator Collins earlier when I asked her about it. She said this seems to be a marital issue between the president and the first lady.

CHAVEZ: Boy, it's funny. You know, we had an impeachment over a similar kind of issue a few years back. What is really astounding about this is his Christian base wants to look the other way --


CHAVEZ: -- wants to pretend that nothing ever happened or that he's a changed man, that somehow he's had a come to Jesus moment. Of course we've never seen any evidence of that, perhaps they have. I just find it astounding and frankly hypocrisy is just rampant (INAUDIBLE).

TURNER: Yes, the rule -- the Trump rules, you know, there are different standards for President Trump. And I absolutely agree with Jen that if President Obama -- I mean, two seconds flat folks would have been going crazy and calling off with his head for many reasons. This is certainly very unacceptable for the president. TAPPER Jackie Speier, a Democratic congresswoman, has asked for other members of Congress, this is changing the subject a bit from Stormy Daniels because poor David, I asked you -- I asked you about it just a couple of days ago, I'm going to give you a break.

But Jackie Speier -- she tweeted -- quote -- "My colleagues and I in the House Democratic Women caucus are calling on our fellow members of Congress, women and men, Democrats and Republicans to wear black to this year's State of the Union in solidarity with survivors of sexual harassment, violence in Hollywood, politics, the military academia, et cetera #TIMESUP #MeToo."

It doesn't seem specifically designed to attack the president or focus on the president. It's about the movement writ large. What do you think? I mean, is that something that people should get behind?

URBAN: Listen -- I mean, obviously there has been misconduct in the Congress, there has been well documented in the media. Congress is still -- I think there's a large number of Congress that still had not been revealed because of the secretive nature. I think that's something that she'd like to see kind of come out and look I think that people's voices need to be heard.


So she has ever right to do that. They can do a peaceful protest. That's what our country is based upon so I encourage it.

Yes. And so what she's doing is something that's, you know, well deserved on her part.

TAPPER: Speaking of the Me Too movement, a story broke on Friday that Hillary Clinton decided not to fire a senior aide on her 2008 campaign after the aide had been accused of sexually harassing a young staffer. Against the advice of Clinton's campaign manager the female staffer was reassigned but the accused aide got to keep his job, though he got a dock in pay and mandatory sexual harassment training.

Columnist Ruth Marcus of "The Washington Post" wrote about Clinton's response this week saying -- quote -- "It is possible to imagine her thinking process if I can, this guy for doing way less than my own husband do with a subordinate in his work place, how's that going to look? Well, Clinton erred in the other direction and that's not looking so good now, is it?"

And obviously we found out that this aide went on to another job affiliated with the Clinton campaign -- correct the record -- where he went on to sexually harass more staffers.

PSAKI: That's right. Look, Secretary Clinton response makes me what to bang my head against the wall to be totally honest. This is a woman who has exhibited moments of courage at many times in her public service career and the question I asked and many women I think are asking is why? Why would that be your response?

You have absolutely nothing to lose. Millions of women look up to you -- continue to look up to you in this country. This is a moment where you could say, I made a mistake. I missed this.

This is a moment where we should all be watching more, more should have been done. And clearly that should have happened. It was not just disappointing it was really a missed opportunity for her.

TAPPER: Nina, do you feel the same way?

TURNER: Yes, I totally agree and we cannot -- on matters like this we can't politic this stuff. If people have those kinds of behaviors and it wasn't just cat calling. I mean, the young lady said that inappropriate touching --


TURNER: -- kissing --

TAPPER: Texting.

TURNER: -- e-mails.

TAPPER: E-mail, yes.

TURNER: I mean, come on that's serious. That's not just hey baby, that is going way above and beyond and it causes the Democrats -- well, it causes us as a country to lose the moral high ground. It is just unacceptable whether you're Democrat, Republican or in between.

We cannot politic this kind of stuff. We've got to do the right thing.

TAPPER: And worse behavior alleged in a "Wall Street Journal" story about Steve Wynn who was until Saturday the finance director -- finance chairman -- rather -- of the Republican National Committee. Now Republicans are -- I'm sorry. Democrats are calling on Republicans to return any money that Steve Wynn donated just as Republicans called on Democrats to return any money Harvey Weinstein gave.

Obviously parties try to score point with this but I think there a lot of people like me and I imagine a lot of people around this table, everybody here who are like get it all out. I mean, Wynn, Weinstein, it's all disgusting.

PSAKI: Right.

CHAVEZ: Yes, it's all disgusting.

And, yes, they ought to return the money and certainly those who have received recent donations and have to spend that money it's got to go back.

TURNER: Well, stop playing politics -- you know, you just, Jake, as you said, so now Democrats are calling on Republicans to return money. Then when it happens on the Democratic side -- let's just agree that any type of behavior like that that we all come together.

If one thing we should have consensus on is that sexual exploitation, harassment, none of that should be acceptable in any level of society.

URBAN: And gross violations like have been alleged against Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Wynn, I think you'll see the money returned by politicians. I think they'll step up and do the right thing. People recognize it's egregious and needs to be -- needs to be --

TURNER: Because they are forced to.

URBAN: No, no. I think the -- you know, look, I think the people who took the money they didn't know when they took the money at the time.

TURNER: Yes. No, I get that. No, I get that.

URBAN: And I think they'll -- I think they'll do the right thing to return it just because --

TURNER: No, I get that.

PSAKI: Look, I think everybody's covered it here on the panel and there's broad agreement at this panel, at this table with people from different sides of the aisle who have disagreements about a range of things.


PSAKI: I think there has to be no tolerance for any element of obviously abuse, but even harassment. This is a time where government officials and party leaders need to lead and we can't be making exceptions.

And it's good to see that he stepped down. Hopefully members will return the money and the same should happen on the Democratic side.

TAPPER: Yes. The charges are really horrific against him.

PSAKI: Exactly.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. Really appreciate it. A great panel.

One Republican lawmaker is backing down on his claims that there's a secret society in the FBI, but there are several American presidents who have been involved in secret societies. Some so private they can't even talk about it. And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."



TAPPER: Welcome back.

One Republican senator this week raised a lot of eyebrows but suggesting there is evidence of a secret society with the FBI. Great premise for a Dan Brown novel, not so much for reality. It turns out he might have misunderstood a joke.

But secret societies among American leaders that is no secret and that's this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): There is no secret society within the FBI that we know about but America's leaders do have a long history with very secret, very exclusive clubs. Both Bushes for example were tapped for Yale's cryptic and scary sounding Skull and Bones.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's so secret we can't talk about it.

TAPPER: Other notable bonesmen include former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who refused to give up the tiniest of secret morsels.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I wish there were something secret I could manifest.

TAPPER: At Harvard President Teddy Roosevelt was a member of the secretive all male Pork Club. So exclusive that another president, his distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was rejected for membership.

But President John F. Kennedy, no stranger to secrets himself, condemned secret societies.

JOHN F. KENNEY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.

TAPPER: Though we should point out he was also a member of an exclusive club while at Harvard.


In fact the American tradition of joining secret societies dates back to the very beginning. George Washington himself was a member of the order of Freemasons. As for President Trump who knows if he's part of a secret society. He certainly has secrets.

TRUMP: I have to tell you a little secret. I shouldn't say half of you will leave the room. Should I say it?

TAPPER: The first rule of secret societies, Mr. President, you don't talk about secret societies.


TAPPER: It was a gathering of the elite, the rich, the famous, the powerful. So did President Trump fit in with other world leaders in Davos? That's next.