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President Trump Accepts Blame For Potential Government Shutdown; Trump Interested in Bossie After His Experience in the Clinton Impeachment. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired December 11, 2018 - 16:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we have to close down the country over border security, I actually like that in terms of an issue. But I don't want it to be an issue.

I want it to be something that the country needs. It's not really an issue. It's something the country needs. It's common sense. The country needs it. We need protection. We need border security. We need security from drugs that are pouring into our country.

They're coming in right through that southern border. And we need a wall. We need border security, and part of border security is a wall. So I don't mind owning that issue.

Chuck's problem is that, you know, when the -- when we last closed down, that was his idea. And, honestly, he got killed. And so he doesn't want to own it, and I said, you know what, rather than us debating who is owning it, I will take it. I will take it.

If we close down the country, I will take it, because we're closing it down for border security. And I think I win that every single time.

OK? Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press, let's go. Make your way out. Let's go.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump just a few minutes ago in the Oval Office.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And you have been listening to the president talking about the extraordinary scene in the Oval Office that we saw earlier today.

Democratic Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer did something that we haven't seen a politician do in a couple of years. They directly challenged President Trump on his policies, his insults and his falsehoods. The meeting came amidst their fight over government funding and the

very real risk of a government shutdown 10 days from now if President Trump refuses to say budge from his demand for $5 billion of funding for the border wall he wants to build.

President Trump in the heat of the showdown delivered a line that could haunt him and the Republican Party, saying that he will proudly own the shutdown if it happens.


TRUMP: If we don't get what we want, one way or the other, whether it's through you, through our military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government, absolutely.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: OK, fair enough. We disagree. We disagree.

TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I will tell you what. I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.

I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.


TAPPER: President Trump seemed set off by the likely soon-to-be Speaker Pelosi after she branded the potential shutdown a Trump shutdown. And, boy, that escalated quickly.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: You should not have a Trump shutdown.

You have a...


TRUMP: Did you say Trump?


SCHUMER: And the experts say you can do border security without a wall, which is wasteful and doesn't solve the problem.

TRUMP: It totally solves the problem, and it's very important.


PELOSI: Unfortunately this has spiraled downward from when we came at a place to say, how do we meet the needs of American people, who have needs. The economy has -- people are losing their jobs. The market's in a mood. Our members are already

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Well, we have the lowest unemployment that we've had in 50 years.

PELOSI: Sixty people of the Republican Party have lost -- are losing their offices now because of the transition. People are not...


TRUMP: And we gained in the Senate. Nancy, we've gained in the Senate. Excuse me. Did we win the Senate? We won the Senate.


SCHUMER: When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he's in real trouble.

TRUMP: I did. We did. We did win North Dakota and Indiana.

PELOSI: Let me say this -- let me say this. This is the most...


TAPPER: So, if you were wondering what the next two years of the Trump presidency might look like, I think we just got a sneak preview. It did not end there.

A source tells CNN that after the showdown, behind closed doors, Pelosi summed up what she thinks of Trump's focus on the wall, telling Democratic members of the House at a closed-door meeting -- quote -- "It's like a manhood thing for him, as if manhood could ever be associated with him" -- unquote.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins live for us at the White House.

And, Kaitlan, this meeting today was supposed to be behind closed doors, but President Trump called the cameras in. That was the first hint that this was not going to be a normal negotiation.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And it was not a normal negotiation.

When President Trump was speaking in front of reporters just a few minutes ago, he doubled down on what he said during that Oval Office clash with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, that he will own a government shutdown if it's shutting it down over getting funding for his border wall.

Now, when he was just speaking with reporters, he also described it as a friendly meeting, saying that he respects both Schumer and Pelosi. But that's not what we saw play out on the camera earlier, when they were pointing fingers at each other, shouting over one another, and cutting each other off.


TRUMP: OK, thank you very much. COLLINS (voice-over): It started out with a laugh.

TRUMP: And then we have the easy one, the wall. That will be the one that will be the easiest of all. What do you think, Chuck, maybe not?

SCHUMER: It's called funding the government, Mr. President.

COLLINS: But today's Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer quickly descended into chaos, as Washington watched talks over funding the president's border wall break down on live television.

TRUMP: The one thing I think we can agree on is, we shouldn't shut down the government over a dispute. And you want to shut it down. You keep talking about.

TRUMP: I -- no, no, no, no, the last time, Chuck, you shut it down.


SCHUMER: No, no, no.

TRUMP: Twenty times.

And then you opened it up very quickly. And I don't want to do what you did. But, Chuck...

SCHUMER: Twenty times -- 20 times, you were called for, I will shut down the government if I don't get my wall. None of us has said...

TRUMP: You want to know something?

SCHUMER: You have said it.

TRUMP: OK, you want to put that on my...

SCHUMER: You've said it.

TRUMP: I will take it.

SCHUMER: OK, good.

TRUMP: You know what I will say? Yes. If we don't get what we want, one way or the other, whether it's through you, through our military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government, absolutely.

SCHUMER: OK, fair enough. We disagree. We disagree.

TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I will tell you what. I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country.

So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I'm going to shut it down for border security.

SCHUMER: But we believe you shouldn't shut it down.

COLLINS: The new power dynamic in Washington pointed fingers, raised their voices and constantly interrupted one another.

TRUMP: Excuse me.

COLLINS: It was the first meeting between the three in over a year and was supposed to be closed to the press. But after the cameras were summoned at the last minute, Pelosi and Schumer pleaded with Trump to have this fight behind closed doors.

PELOSI: I don't think we should have a debate in front of the press on this.

SCHUMER: Let's debate in private, OK? Yes.

COLLINS: As things heated up, Trump implying Pelosi was only taking a tough stance because she wants to nail down votes to become speaker.

TRUMP: I also know that, you know, Nancy's in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now. And I understand that, and I fully understand that.

We're going to have a good discussion, and we're going to see what happens. But we have to have border security.

PELOSI: Mr. President -- Mr. President, please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.

TRUMP: And we gained in the Senate. Nancy, we've gained in the Senate. Excuse me. Did we win the Senate? We won the Senate.


SCHUMER: When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he's in real trouble.

TRUMP: I did. We did. We did win North Dakota and Indiana.

COLLINS: Schumer then telling Trump:

SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.

COLLINS: It only got worse after reporters left the room, Schumer later telling reporters this while still standing in front of the West Wing:

SCHUMER: This Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum that he seems to throw will not get him his wall. And it will hurt a lot of people, because he will cause a shutdown. He admitted he wanted a shutdown.

COLLINS: The meeting coming to a close without a resolution and only increasing chances of a government shutdown next week. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, you have mentioned how when Nancy Pelosi got back to Capitol Hill, she was talking about this with the members of the Democratic Caucus, questioning President Trump's manhood privately, saying that the wall is associated with manhood for him, as -- quote -- "if manhood could be associated with President Trump."

But she also cheered the fact that Schumer and Pelosi during that meeting got the president to say he will own a shutdown if it happens, not something that Republicans on Capitol Hill wanted to hear today.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

Let's talk about this with my experts.

Bill, you have worked in the White House, you alone at this table. Have you ever seen anything like that play out with cameras there, or without cameras there?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Certainly not with cameras there, and not very often without, actually. I mean, it reminded me of you go to a coffee shop sometimes and there are some senior citizens at the next table who have been having lunch or breakfast or something for 20 years and love arguing with each other.

It's like you overhear it, and it's like, could you guys keep it down a little bit? I'm like -- I'm actually having a pleasant conversation here and you guys have been regurgitating this argument for the 25th time.

That's what it was like, literally three people in their 70s kind of -- Trump is good at dragging people down to his level. Chuck Schumer -- well, that's such a big deal to win, what did he say, North Dakota and Indiana?


KRISTOL: There are actually Democrats out there who probably don't appreciate the Democratic leader of the Senate throwing those states under the bus.


AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: When old people argue at the coffee shop, they at least look at each other. How strange was that, that Chuck Schumer could not look at Trump in the eye?

I thought Nancy Pelosi was fairly strong in that meeting. When Trump questioned her ability to lead the Democrats, she pushed right back. But then she threw it away after the meeting by following into the Trump tramp and essentially questioning his manhood, which just gives me flashbacks to the Republican primary, when Marco Rubio was talking about his hands.

Don't do that. You had a strong meeting. End it on a good note.

TAPPER: And yet, Angela, I have to say, they walked out with a little bit of sound that is going to really potentially haunt Republicans, President Trump saying that he will own any government shutdown. Take a listen.


TRUMP: If we don't have border security, we'll shut down the government. This country needs border security.

The wall is a part of border security.


TAPPER: "We will shut down the government," said President Trump. That's not what Republicans wanted him to say.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not what Republicans might have wanted him to say, but they knew what they were getting when they were getting this strongman, right?

This is someone who pledged his campaign on not being afraid to back down from Democrats. This was an opportunity to show that he had gravitas in this room.


And little does he know that part of being a statesman, which I think he should look up in the dictionary, is figuring out where you can compromise.

This is not a point of compromise for Democrats. There was a comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed a few years back. It's worth now looking back at what was in that measure. Right? It is time for people to understand, there's not just one border, there are water borders. There is a northern border.

And all of these things are of concern. Donald Trump is fixated on the southern border, as he was the day that he announced his campaign. It is not about securing the borders. It is about xenophobic, racist, bigoted beliefs that he holds. And he's trying to continue to give platforms to believe those things.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The interesting part here is, Jake, President Trump brought the cameras into the Oval Office as a power play, because he thinks he just knows how to handle and -- quote, unquote -- "manipulate the media."

And I think he thought that those cameras would be a strong point for him. And I think it just dug him a bigger ditch, if you will. Look, Democrats have said, Republicans are currently in charge of all three branches. They are in charge of Congress, in charge of the House, the Senate and they are in charge of the White House.

If the government shuts down, it is on not just President Trump, but all the entire team of the Republican Congress. There are deals to be made. There are two deals on the table. Donald Trump can either take them or leave them.


KRISTOL: But most of the government is already funded. It's not clear what the effects of a shutdown for a week or two would be.




KRISTOL: I'm someone who I don't like President Trump, and I don't like what he did in the Oval Office. It really offends me, as an American, that this is the way the White House is being treated, as this ludicrous stage for squabbling and so forth.

But I'm not so confident that Democrats win this fight as a pure political matter, because I don't have any confidence that Chuck Schumer knows what he's doing there. And I do agree the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who is going to become speaker, seems the most mature, as is often the case when there is three men and a woman -- and a woman in the room.

She seemed by far the most impressive. But she doesn't control anything right now.


SANDERS: I just want to say, if the government shuts down on December 21, even if it's just through January 3, that means federal workers will have their paychecks withheld during Christmas. So I definitely think it matters.

CARPENTER: Trump gave himself so many outs in that meeting.

If they get to a number that somewhere between $1.2 billion and $5 billion, he's going to claim victory, he's going to show pictures of the fence partially built and they're going to go home in time for Santa.


KRISTOL: And the Republicans can ignore him. They can keep the government open over his veto if they want to.

TAPPER: President Trump has never had to deal with Democrats in a position of strength. In the middle of the meeting, Nancy Pelosi tried to calm things down and reset. Take a listen.


PELOSI: Let's call a halt to this. We have come in here -- the first branch of government, Article 1, the legislative branch. We're coming in, in good faith to negotiate with you about how we can keep the government open.



TAPPER: That's an example of Nancy Pelosi trying to set the agenda. This is about keeping the government open. Donald Trump tries to make the meeting about funding the border wall.

SANDERS: Which, again, I do not think Donald Trump understands the position he truly is in.

A government shutdown is not good for anyone. So I remember back not just a few months ago, when it was -- you know, there was a government shutdown, and folks said it was the Democrats who shut down the government, even though the Republicans were still again in charge of all three -- in charge of Washington right now.

But the government shutdown is never good for anyone. So it does not behoove President Trump...


CARPENTER: Republican voters who voted for Trump, they are sick of arguing about the border since 2006. They want to see action. So he is speaking to his base. He is not...


SANDERS: He is not talking about comprehensive immigration reform.


CARPENTER: Of course not, because Republican...


SANDERS: He is talking about a wall, a wall that he said...


SANDERS: And now he's saying the American taxpayers are going to pay for it.

CARPENTER: Yes. They are going to.


RYE: What is interesting, Amanda, about the year you brought up is that is the year that there was supposed to be SBInet, the Secure Border Initiative.

CARPENTER: And it's funny. We're just going back to that virtual fencing idea anyway.

RYE: It's also funny because it didn't work. So I just wonder, at what point do we say, we have thrown money at

this issue, and money doesn't solve this problem?


RYE: Just one moment.

But I think that we also have to acknowledge, at some point, history should inform the present. It doesn't mean you should repeat it. But you should definitely not make the mistakes and repeat them.


KRISTOL: And I say this as someone who is not for the wall. Shouldn't the Democrats actually say, we will waste $3.5 billion of taxpayers' money if you give us the dreamers, if you equalize the situation of literally a million people now who are living with a very uncertain future, which is very typical for them?

And why don't they just make -- put that monkey on the president's back?

RYE: Bill, and I think that's the compelling point that, again, to go back to the idea of compromise, that there is something to be said for that.

I think the challenge you have here are the optics of what's happening at that border. It is inhumane. And for Democrats to compromise on that, maybe there are some other policy initiatives we can talk about, but on the wall, I think it's a no-go.

KRISTOL: Well, stop family separation, too.


KRISTOL: I would take everything you would want, put it all in one basket, say, OK, you can have your stupid $5 billion. We want no family separation. We want the dreamers taken care of.


[16:15:00] SANDERS: I think we all are forgetting. I think you're forgetting --


KRISTOL: At least say it, though. Put the monkey on Trump's back.

SANDERS: I think you are all forgetting that Donald Trump has not been a good faith negotiator when it comes to Congress. He has not been a good faith negotiator. So, why should -- why should Democrats see any --

CARPENTER: Now he can do a deal, because he won't have another chance.

SANDERS: Donald Trump has never been a good faith negotiator, even if his back was up against the wall. It does not behoove Democrats.


SANDERS: They are in -- the members of Congress, the Democratic members of Congress are in the strongest position here. It is on the White House and the Republican-led Congress.

CARPENTER: What I thought was good point from Nancy Pelosi. She essentially kept asking Trump in that meeting, why don't you have the Republicans pass it now? Why are you asking me? And he had no answer.

TAPPER: He wants a foil. I think for the first time -- in addition to now he has to deal with Democrats, he also has foils. Pelosi and Schumer and Pelosi will actually almost certainly be in charge of one of the branches of government for the first time. In fact, she said that she didn't want the cameras there, because, quote, we didn't want to contradict the president when he was putting forth figures that had no basis in fact. That was why she said she didn't want the cameras there.

CARPENTER: She doesn't want to live fact-check their meeting.

TAPPER: Right, exactly. You know, I didn't want to say in front of those people, say, you don't know what you're talking about.

KRISTOL: It is bad -- we shouldn't kid ourselves. It is bad for the country. This is really a ridiculous spectacle. And, well --

CARPENTER: It's disrespectful to call her Nancy in the Oval Office, too.

TAPPER: At the very least, call her Leader Pelosi.

CARPENTER: Yes. I mean, they can sit there and call him Donny? No.

TAPPER: Yes. Everybody, stick around.

It seems President Trump is looking to an unexpected source to help him pick his next chief of staff.

And then an unusual twist in the spy games with Russia. Accused Russian spy Maria Butina, is going to spill her secrets. When was the last time you heard about a Russian spy cooperating with the U.S. government?

Stay with us.


[16:20:53] TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead.

President Trump said today that he will name a new White House chief of staff in two weeks or less, but it's the threat of impeachment that might be weighing into his final decision. A source close to the White House tells me the president is particularly interested in his former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, for chief of staff, potentially. Bossie helped with Republican investigations in the House before former President Bill Clinton was impeached. And the president is said to be interested in his expertise.

Should the president be thinking about this? I mean, it actually seems, you know, to be a lot of consideration about something that actually might happen, impeachment.

RYE: Yes. I think the challenge that we have is what is in the interest of the American people versus what is in the best interest politically for Democrats. Democrats are a little gun shy about impeachment because they think that they would in fact experience the political, the vast amount of political consequences going into the next election, et cetera. And I think that's the real robe.

And the challenge? Democrats won the House because the American people expected them to fight and to push back against Trump. This is one example of how they can do that. But they have to be brave enough to do what is -- to challenge what is the impeachable offense.

TAPPER: And we all know, Amanda, where the best place to audition for a job in the Trump White House, is Fox News, his favorite channel. And David Bossie was on Fox today, running down a checklist of attributes he thinks that the president might need in his next chief of staff.

Take a listen.


DAVID BOSSIE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: As somebody who will be able to handle what is the subpoena cannon. Somebody who is going to understand what the House is going to do to him and the White House staff, in trying to drag them into a legal process and an investigative process that will slow down the success of this White House, somebody who can stop that from happening.


TAPPER: Somebody with a crew cut. Somebody with --


RYE: Somebody wearing a blue suit.

CARPENTER: He has another qualification. He wrote a book called "Let Trump Be Trump" bylined with Corey Lewandowski.


CARPENTER: So, he's been auditioning I think for a job for some time. But I think he's a good fit. I don't think, you know, he's the most stately guy, but for the Trump White House, if Trump is looking to go to war against the Democrats' impeachment, yeah, David Bossie is your guy. He was president of Citizens United who essentially did nothing but make anti-Hillary films and campaign against her for many years. And so, he has some House experience. And look at the cast of

characters. You're going to go with David Bossie. I would put my very limited funds on him.

TAPPER: And he's having lunch -- by the way, he's having lunch with President Trump on Friday.

KRISTOL: Really?


KRISTOL: David Bossie should be in the White House counsel's office or public affairs communications office handling impeachment trial. He can fight the Democrats. The chief of staff is kind of an important job and there will be a moment in the next year when --

RYE: It used to be.

KRISTOL: Well, no, but there will be a moment next year where there's a crisis with North Korea or crisis with Putin or something, and there'll be -- the chief of staff will be in the Oval Office and Jim Mattis will be on the phone. And you like a chief of staff who can deal with them somewhat as peers as John Kelly could. There were times, I believe, when he and Mattis and McMaster before and Pompeo probably stopped some things from happening that we should be grateful they stopped or shaped policies in ways that made -- kind of just random thought of Trump something that was manageable and responsible or semi responsible for the country.

I'm very nervous about -- I mean, I really think we can joke about David Bossie, I'm happy to joke about him, and I know him, he's a nice guy. But the idea that he would be chief of staff, which is a serious job, I'm not -- that is not good for the country.

And it is part of a process where every -- the grownups are just -- are leaving one by one. They're being replaced by people who are not serious and have no interest in curbing the president's instincts, impulses and irrational wishes.

TAPPER: Symone?

SANDERS: Well, look, I just think that I want to underscore Bill's point here and say that I've never worked at the White House, but I read. And I know that the job of the White House chief of staff is, in fact, not just the person that makes sure the president doesn't tweet too much. Like, they are the person that keeps the trains running on time. If there is an issue, they are the folks that overall deal with all of these high-level folks.

I don't know if David Bossie is that person.

[16:25:00] CARPENTER: I think he has operational experience.

SANDERS: Well -- the fact of the matter is --

CARPENTER: I just think he's a good match. SANDERS: Look, frankly, I don't care who the president's chief of

staff is. I think the real question becomes, is what will the president's relation with Congress be, with this 116th Congress?

What they will be dealing with in the House are a number of oversight hearings, but also, Democrats are going to want to get some things done. There will be attempts to pass different types of policies. And the White House does not have its own house, quote/unquote, in order, as we saw today, I don't think they do. It's going to be a very rocky road.

And so, David Bossie, or whoever else is going to be the chief of staff, won't be their only issue.

TAPPER: No, according to reporting by CNN's Dana Bash, President Trump liked a checklist that David Bossie gave to "The Washington Post" on fighting Congress and Mueller.

Bossie said the president, should, quote, hire a pack of killers, people who know congressional rules backward and forward. He urged Republicans to narrow the scope of investigations. So, later, they can argue whatever they have turned up is not within that scope.

He urged the Trump White House to have a fifth and fled crowd. He said just like the Clintons did where people plead the Fifth and flee the country when inquiries pop up. It sounds like Bossie has a road map for the president's next two years and that might be what the president is interested in.

RYE: So, again, this goes to I think the point you're making. There is a role that is supposed to be associated with the White House chief of staff. At one point, it was associated with the president. But we have a different game in town, right? Like this just is kind of what it is.

The fact that there is this foolish checklist, and that is what is the most intriguing to him. The fact that he litigates real challenging, complex policy in 200-plus characters on Twitter is problematic. And yeah, they shouldn't be a Twitter cop, but somebody has got to watch that. Anyway, I don't even --

TAPPER: I mean, I guess one of the points is you could bring in David Bossie to do what you like, but have him be in charge of the war room or the political director.

CARPENTER: We know that Trump -- it's been reporter in the press, they wanted somebody with political experience. Nobody that has real political insight would take that job right now. But David Bossie is enough of a partisan to say, yes, if you want me to help you fend off impeachment, I'm your guy. I don't see anybody else raising their hand.

TAPPER: All right. Coming up next, what kind of alleged lies did he tell the judge today, trying to pull more information out of Paul Manafort's team?

Stay with us.