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Trump to Deliver First State of the Union Address; House Speaker Paul Ryan Agrees Nunes Memo Should be Released; Interview with Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 30, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Some of the president's most trusted and loyal surrogates may already know what he will say in the State of the Union address. The president hosted them at the White House yesterday.
Joining us now to talk about other things, CNN senior economic analyst Stephen Moore and CNN political commentator Jason Miller. They are here with me now.
I say other things because this meeting was off the record. And neither of you can't confirm nor deny whether in fact you were there.
So let me ask the question in this way, Jason Miller. Were you to attend a private meeting with the president on the eve of his first State of the Union address, what would be the one thing you think he would be most excited about?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would -- guessing, of course.
MILLER: I would say the president is very excited about the economic numbers that we've seen so far with this first year. And in particular when you stack up the first year of his presidency really against the first year of any presidency that we have seen in modern history, you probably can make the case in just about any president in history. There are some pretty darn good accomplishments. So I expect the president will probably talk a lot about his record and the great things we've seen.
But I think also, too, one important thing to keep in mind, this president is very aware of the response that he got to his speech at the Joint Session this last year. That was arguably one of the best news cycles that he had. I think you're going to see the president look to try to build some consensus on the things he wants to get done in 2018 and I think we're going to be in for a good show tonight.
BERMAN: Again, in the abstract, speaking, you know, abstractly here, he likes the response he gets from speeches like he gave to the Joint Session in Davos. That is something he actively wants to repeat, theoretically? MILLER: Well, I'd say, if you look at the president's style, and he's
a game day player. He shows up for these big speeches or back during the campaign during the debates, when we needed a big performance from the president in the second debate, he showed up. Because he's the Tom Brady of the big speeches and he shows up and he absolutely delivers. I think that's what you'll see tonight.
BERMAN: I appreciate you sucking up for the Tom Brady reference. But I do remember the Giants Super Bowl as well.
You know, Stephen Moore, again, in the abstract here, have you ever heard the president be reflective in a self-critical way to look back on the last year and say, you know what, I want to do this differently or better?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: No. I mean, look, that's not Donald Trump. But he will -- look, I can tell you definitively, he's going to take a victory lap on the economy, Jason is right. He's got a lot to boast about. This is a ferociously strong economy right now, all the -- even the opinion polls are showing, you know, 67 percent of Americans think the economy is good.
You know, the campaign, as Jason knows, you worked on the campaign, it was all about the economy and jobs. Right? Sometimes we forget that because we focus so much -- here at CNN on Russia and Steve Bannon and issues like that.
But look, he's going to say, stick with the program, it will be interesting how he -- I'll be paying attention to how he addresses the Democrats in that room. So far the Democrats have been resistance movement, they've been against virtually everything that he's been for.
I would like to see him really reach out to the Democrats and say, hey, let's get immigration reform done, let's do infrastructure together, let's work on these trade deals, we'll see if he does.
BERMAN: You would see -- you would like to see more than he's done that to date?
MOORE: I would love to see that. And I think, you know, it's possible he does that. Reaches out to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who've not been very friendly to him and vice versa, and say -- and I think the American people would really applaud that.
One other quick thing, Jason is so right. I remember last year when he gave the speech to the -- it wasn't the State of the Union, but kind of a de facto State of the Union, I remember being on the CNN set and all the -- that was the greatest speech I've ever heard, I'm like, that's the way Donald Trump is, he's a great speechmaker.
BERMAN: But -- but I think the other interesting element of that wasn't just that it received that response, it's the president liked that response and wants to repeat it. I think that was notable what Jason said.
MOORE: That's true.
MILLER: If I can make one small note, I think one of the things that the president is really aware of is there is a disconnect right now between the Democratic leadership in Washington and Democratic voters around the country on issues like the economy, the shutdown, coming up with the solution for Dreamers. And I think the president is going to look to --
BERMAN: Maybe, the Democratic voters have spoken pretty loudly in special elections in Wisconsin, you know, in elections in Virginia.
MOORE: Not more on that side.
BERMAN: So, you know --
MOORE: And every week that goes by, when you see these increasing really good numbers on the economy, it helps.
BERMAN: Again, in the abstract, again, because you can't confirm or deny you were there, does Russia and the Russia investigation seep into the president's thinking and conversations he might have with supporters in a room that are off the record?
MOORE: Well, I'll say this, you know, I've seen Donald Trump several times lately. He's in a really good mood. He's feeling jubilant about things. I don't get the sense at all that he's, you know, fretting about the Russia investigation or that it's keeping him up at night. I think he's so excited about the way things are going in the country that he's not being -- his attention isn't being diverted by the Russia scandal.
BERMAN: Chris Christie this morning said that the president should not testify, should not speak to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.
[10:35:04] Jason Miller, as a former adviser to the president, do you think he should answer questions of the investigators?
MILLER: Well, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a former prosecutor --
BERMAN: But you -- look, but you're a shrewd political adviser and a lot of this is politics. Would you advise him as a political adviser to sit down with the special counsel?
MILLER: If his legal counsel views this as a fishing expedition, don't go and give them a brand-new fishing pole. That's the only thing out there.
BERMAN: You think there are risks here?
MILLER: I would say I'd probably agree with Governor Christie.
BERMAN: All right. Jason Miller, Stephen Moore, thank you for meeting with me here on the record and speaking in these huge abstractions. I do appreciate it.
All right. There is much more ahead. There are developments, again in the Russia probe, on this memo. What Speaker Ryan thinks about it and what the president will do about it all just hours from his first State of the Union address. Stick around.
BERMAN: All right. Just moments ago we heard from House Speaker Paul Ryan. He supports the release of this memo from the House Intelligence Committee. That alleges misdeeds, abuses and politization of the FBI investigation, both on the Hillary Clinton e- mail deal and also the early stages of the Russia investigation.
Joining me now to talk about this, Jamie Gangel, CNN special correspondent, and Jonathan Martin, CNN political analyst.
And Jamie, it is no small thing when the House speaker says out loud in prepared talking points there may have been malfeasance in the FBI.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And we heard a lot of what he said about two hours ago from other sources who are familiar with the committee work.
I think the first thing we have to say when we talk about this over and over again is this is a political document. This is a Republican memo and it has to be looked at in that context. That said, a Republican source of mine who is very familiar with what's going on in the committee said that someone might say this is sloppy trade craft, this source thinks that it leans toward abuse and the quote is this.
[10:40:12] "It calls into question the methods and tactics that the FBI was using and they were not as independent of thought as they should have been." The other thing is the source said that sources and methods were not compromised in this.
BERMAN: Again, when the speaker of the House says there may have been malfeasance at the FBI, it carries extra weight. And when he's doing it at the same time as trying to suggest I think we should keep this separate from the Mueller investigation, that's a type of, I think, political and rhetorical gymnastics if possible.
JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, of course. Because the idea among political partisans is that you link it, let's say, to the Mueller investigation so that you can lessen the impact of whatever Mueller comes up with. I mean, it's politics that's being practiced by politicians. I mean, it's shocking to find that there is gambling in the casino here, John.
But look, this is an effort -- I'm not trying to put Ryan in this group, but by a lot of outside partisans, especially on FOX News, who are trying to basically create a scandal to muddy the waters of the Mueller investigation. And, by the way, keep in mind, when Mueller was named counsel, huge praise from folks across the Republican spectrum. It's not, by the way, just the province of the Republicans. 1990s,
John, you were around back then as a kid. The Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton, Democrats were relentless in trying to, you know, undercut Ken Starr's investigation. This is what partisans do. They try to muddy waters, confuse the electorate, which allow Washington back and forth.
BERMAN: And it's notable that the Republicans are not going to wait to release their memo for the Democrats to release theirs at the same time. He said it's ironic somehow Paul Ryan does it that people are even asking that question now.
Hang on one second, because I want to play some sound from former New Jersey governor Chris Christie this morning. And I want your take to see if it plays in to this whole thing. He was talking to George Stephanopoulos, and George asked him outright if Chris Christie, a former U.S. attorney, thinks that the president should talk to the special counsel's investigators. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABS NEWS ANCHOR: Should the president sit down with him face-to-face?
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: No.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?
CHRISTIE: I don't believe so. Listen, I don't think there's been any allegations -- credible allegations against the president of the United States and I don't think the president of the United States, unless there are credible allegations, which I don't believe there are, should be sitting across from a special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: OK, so take what Chris Christie, friend of the president, who I think doesn't normally say things in a vacuum, maybe he does, but, you know, I don't believe in coincidences in politics. He's saying that this same week that there is this memo from other people coming out drawing into question the investigation at the same time, might the memo be used as a predicate for the president, his legal team, to say we can't speak to the special counsel. Now look how messy this investigation is. Why would we sit down?
GANGEL: So first, that was absolutely Chris Christie, friend of Donald Trump. You can be sure that as a former federal prosecutor that would not be what he would be saying. But I think just to put it into categories, yes, this is absolutely political. But on the other hand, let's assume there is something in that memo that does show abuse. It can't help but muddy the waters because it's going to discredit some part of the investigation and that will fall over.
MARTIN: Chris Christie, keep in mind, folks, he is, A, a lawyer, and B, somebody who knows intimately the mind of Donald Trump. So he is speaking from that perspective. That's why I -- he doesn't want President Trump to go sit with Robert Mueller. He knows as an attorney how those kind of conversations transpire and he also knows Trump very, very well. And he knows what Trump will be inclined to say out loud in those meetings so I think he's trying to save Trump from himself there on TV. And by the way, he knows Trump watches a lot of TV so he's offering his advice for the president right there.
BERMAN: Jonathan Martin, Jamie Gangel, great to speak to you in person. In New York. I've seen you in New York. Good to see you.
MARTIN: Thanks, John. Agreed.
BERMAN: All right. Appreciate it.
Just hours away from the president's first State of the Union address, and some Democrats will not be there, including my next guest, Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.
Thanks so much for being with us, Congressman. You were first to announce that you are going to boycott the State of the Union. Why?
REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: Well, I respect deeply the office of president, but over the course of the last year Donald Trump has demonstrated that he doesn't respect the office. He's lied repeatedly to the American people, he's sewed discord, he's failed to take advantage of opportunities to bring us together, and simply doesn't appear to even know his own mind, confusing his own staff.
[10:45:04] I don't think there is anything to be gained by my dignifying a performance of a reality TV star. I'm going to be here in Portland with my constituents.
BLUMENAUER: Hearing about their concerns about the State of the Union.
BERMAN: You call it a performance. Now we're told by the White House that he wants this to be a speech about the economy, which he sees as improving. We just talked to a couple of his biggest supporters right here who think there will be outreach to Democrats. You know, is it possible -- and I know, look, there's a lot of history that you see with the president and the past things he says and you have to take those into account, but this speech in and of itself, is it possible that you will approve of what he says in this speech?
BLUMENAUER: Well, the point is, what he reads off a teleprompter tells you nothing about what is in this man's head and in his heart. You might read through the summary of his tweets that Dana Milbank had in "The Washington Post", the things that he burst forward with at 3:00 a.m., I think, are much more accurate reflection of who he is and what he believes than what is scripted here.
You saw him at Davos, lying about the size of the tax cut. I voted for five tax cuts in my short time in Congress that are larger than what he claimed were these biggest tax cuts in 40 years. Words aren't going to matter. What matters is what happens with this
administration. Are they going to help the millions of people that are in chaos because of what has not happened with the Dreamers, crisis that he created. Is there finally going to be a real infrastructure program rather than talking in bizarre terms and then cutting the budget for infrastructure?
It's the actions that are going to make the difference.
BERMAN: And we may see, and we don't know the details of it, but we may see part of that infrastructure proposal tonight. We can assess it all afterwards right there.
Speaking of afterwards, there are, what, four or five separate Democratic responses including the official one from Congressman Kennedy of Massachusetts. When you have that many people giving a response, including, you know, you see Bernie Sanders there, you see Maxine Waters among others there, is this a unified message? Do you feel like the Democrats are sending a unified messages when they have so many different heads delivering it?
BLUMENAUER: I think it is important to recognize that there are a variety of approaches that can and should be taken. Speaking, for example, to people in the Hispanic community, in their own language, I think is valuable. We need to start bringing the country together and part of that is reflecting the variety of --
BERMAN: But that's -- in this case, only one of them is giving a Spanish language response. But you're getting different responses from the political spectrum there. We're talking about Joe Kennedy and Bernie Sanders and Maxine Waters and -- those are, you know, they're all speaking English.
BLUMENAUER: Yes. I mean, that's -- part of that is a reflection of the fact that there is not one single unified leader for a party that is out of power. Part of that is a reflection of the notion that there are a variety of perspectives that we're in the process of working with and advancing. And that the United States has a variety of people who want to hear things that speak to their interests and concerns.. And I think having different voices dealing with different constituencies, from different perspectives, is not a bad thing at all.
BERMAN: Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, thank you so much. Enjoy the evening out there with your constituents.
BLUMENAUER: I will indeed. Thank you.
BERMAN: And we hope all of you are watching CNN's primetime coverage of the State of the Union address. It all starts at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:52:55] BERMAN: All right. The world's greatest coach arriving in Minneapolis in style. Fedoras -- excuse me now -- sold out everywhere after Bill Belichick wore one getting off the plane.
Andy Scholes here now without a hat on for the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey, John. You know, we're used to seeing Bill Belichick in a hoodie but travel attire required him to be a little more formal so he was rocking a Fedora yesterday. And at Super Bowl opening night, Belichick was asked what if that hat had special meaning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BELICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS HEAD COACH: It's my dad's hat so I thought I'd just toss that one on today and so I felt good about wearing it so Minnesota is a good place to have a hat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Now Belichick wouldn't elaborate on the reason for wearing the hat. But it probably means quite a bit to him that it belonged to his dad. Belichick's dad Steve coached at the collegiate level for 43 years. He served in Normandy and Okinawa as a member of the Navy. Belichick said he learned how to work hard, do his job and pay attention to details all from his father.
And after winning the 2005 Super Bowl over the Eagles, Belichick and his dad, they shared this embrace while being doused with Gatorade on the field. Belichick's dad died shortly after that Super Bowl at the age of 86.
All right. NFL network, they actually had a smile counter last night for Belichick to count how many times it actually happened during opening night. The goal of many reporters last night was trying to get Belichick to laugh. And they went and asked Tom Brady what they thought would work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: I have no idea. To say Navy, lacrosse, Lawrence Taylor, Bon Jovi, those four.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think the coach went to the bank?
BELICHICK: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To go get his quarter back. Do you get it?
BELICHICK: You ought to be on TV as a comedian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All right. The Eagles weren't wearing fancy hats like Belichick. But a couple of dog masks did show up for the third straight game. The Eagles are going to be underdogs. Odd makers have the Patriots as 4 1/2 point favorites right now. And our own Coy Wire, well, he spoke with the Eagles who say they've really embraced that underdog role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TORREY SMITH, EAGLES WIDE RECEIVER: The goal has been the same since day one. We believe in ourselves. It is not about outside noise. We always say, you know, we're all we got, we're all we need.
[10:55:05] TREY BURTON, EAGLES TIGHT END: I think for a lot of guys it's really comfortable for them to be an underdog.
CHRIS LONG, EAGLES DEFENSIVE END: I've been lucky in two years to be in two locker rooms where guys really buy in and really buy into each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: So, John, will you be wearing a Fedora on Sunday when you're cheering on your Patriots?
BERMAN: And nothing else. Believe that there.
Andy Scholes, thanks so much for being with us.
SCHOLES: All right.
BERMAN: House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Nunes memo. He says keep it separate from the Mueller probe. How is that physically possible? All the breaking developments ahead.