Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Clashes with Pelosi And Schumer in Extraordinary Live White House Meeting; Orrin Hatch Says I Don't Care About Trump Criminal Allegations; Soon to Happen: Flynn Sentencing Memo, Manafort Hearing on Alleged Lies. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 11, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The wall, that will be the one that will be the easiest of all. What you do think, Chuck? Maybe not?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It's called funding the government, Mr. President.
TRUMP: So, we're going to see. But I'll tell you the wall will get built. We'll see what happens. One way or the other it's going to get built. I'd like to not see a government closing, a shutdown. We will see what happens over the next short period of time.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open, that a shutdown is not worth anything. And that we should not have a Trump shutdown.
TRUMP: Did you say Trump --
PELOSI: You have the White House, you have the Senate, you have the House of Representatives, you have the votes, you should pass it right now.
TRUMP: No, we don't have the votes, Nancy.
PELOSI: No, but in the House. You could bring it up right now today --
TRUMP: But I can't get it passed in the House if it's not going to pass in the Senate. I don't want to waste time.
PELOSI: The fact is you can get it started that way. The fact is you do not have the votes in the House.
TRUMP: Nancy, I do. And we need border security. It's very simple.
SCHUMER: We have a lot of disagreements here. "The Washington Post" today gave you a whole lot of Pinocchios because they say you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built and how much is there. But that's not the point. We have a disagreement about the wall. Whether it's effective. Not on border security, on the wall. We do not want to shut down the government. You have called 20 times to shut down the government. You say I want to shut down the government. We don't. We want to come to an agreement. If we can't come to an agreement, we have solutions that will pass the House and Senate right now and will not shut down the government and that's what we're urging you to do, not threaten to shut down the government -- let me finish -- because you can't get your way. Mr. President, you say my way or we'll should down the government. We have proposal that Democrats and Republicans will support to do a C.R. that will not shut down the government. We urge you to take it.
TRUMP: And if it's not good border security, I won't take it.
SCHUMER: It's very good border security.
PELOSI: 60 people of the Republican party are losing their offices now because of the transition.
TRUMP: And we've gained in the Senate. Nancy, we've gained in the Senate. Excuse me, did we win the Senate?
SCHUMER: When the President brags that he wins North Dakota and Indiana, he's in real trouble.
TRUMP: We did win North Dakota and Indiana.
PELOSI: Let me say this, this is most unfortunate. We came in here in good faith and entering into this kind of a discussion in the public view.
TRUMP: But it's not bad, Nancy. It's called transparency.
PELOSI: It's not transparency when we're not stipulating to a set of facts and we want to have a debate with you --
TRUMP: You know what? We need border security. I also know that 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, 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.
SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.
TRUMP: That's right. And that's why the country is doing so well.
PELOSI: But the President is representing, his cards are not factual. We have to have an evidence-based conversation about what does work, what money has been spent and how effective it is. So, let us have a conversation when we don't have to contradict in public the statistics that you put forth but instead can have a conversation about what will really work and what the American people deserve from us at this uncertain time in their lives. SCHUMER: 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 it.
TRUMP: The last time, Chuck, you shut it down.
SCHUMER: No, no, no. 20 times -- 20 times.
TRUMP: I don't want to do what you did.
SCHUMER: 20 times you have called for I will shut down the government if I don't get my wall. You've said it.
TRUMP: I'll take it. If we don't get what we want, one way or the other, whether it's through you, through military or whatever you want to call, I will shut down the government.
SCHUMER: OK, fair enough. We disagree.
TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I know, I know. John of John Avalon is at the edge of his seat our CNN senior political analyst just wanting -- chomping at the bit to talk for what we just watched. Which is nothing short of extraordinary. I was back and forth with my executive producer while we were watching. It's like the latest episode of "Trump, Chuck and Nancy" and it's just such a -- it was a total show.
[14:05:00] JOHN AVLON, CNN WITH SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was something. That was weird. Chuck and Nancy visit the oval got really weird. In some ways, it was the best and the worst of the Trump administration. There's a radical transparency. They're debating in Presidential terms in real time. And Mike Pence is sort of like the elf on the shelf and not saying a word. The other guys are really going at it and it gets heated.
Nancy Pelosi is going toe to toe with the President saying we need to have an evidence-based argument. The President says, fine, you want to say I'll shut down the government, I'll be proud to do it for border security. That is a high-stakes moment. December 21st, there's not a lot of days to fix this.
BALDWIN: There's ten days away. The fact that you have Trump saying I'll take the mantle, I'll shut it down. That's something that Republicans are like record scratch, what did you say? Democrats are taking that to the bank.
AVLON: You've never had a government shutdown where one party's in control. This is unprecedented. The problem beneath the surface is deeper than it may have looked in that contentious, odd exchange. The Republicans are saying they're not going to sign off on everything unless it's got the 5 billion the President wants for border security. BALDWIN: On the 5 billion, this is Nancy Pelosi and Senator Schumer
after that whole thing outside the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: The President made clear that he wants a shutdown. His position, if he sticks to his position for a $5 billion wall, he will get no wall and he will get a shutdown.
PELOSI: Unfortunately, that the President chooses to shut down the government, that we have a Trump shutdown as a Christmas present, a holiday present to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, doesn't it seem to you that they're saying, you know, if Trump doesn't budge on the 5 billion that he wants and it's pretty stunning to Democrats that they're even there offering 1.3, right, there will be a shutdown. That seems inevitable.
AVLON: We're headed for a shut down. Republican leadership will say what it always does, we're not going to have a shutdown, no big deal. But this President is not afraid to threaten a shut down and not afraid to go over the cliff. And Democrats from Nancy Pelosi saying bring it on. You guys have unified control. You want to gift Americans a Christmas present because if it shuts down on the 21st and Congress only has a couple days left, it's probably going to go through the new year. This is going to last because there's a big gap there. A lot of folks on the far left are saying why are Democrats even going in and offering 1.3 billion for the wall?
AVLON: It is raw.
BALDWIN: In the rawness just, last quick question you mentioned the Vice President, the so-called elf on the shelf to quote you, not saying a darn word.
AVLON: No, no.
AVLON: I think because the Vice President is used to in this role in public just basically saying what he said. Mike Pence has been in the House. He could help navigate that, but he doesn't want to get out in front of the President and so he's really sort of this third wheel in the room, fourth wheel in the room.
BALDWIN: John Avalon, thank you so much. Next hour, lawyers for Paul Manafort will be in court for the first time since Mueller detailed why he accused the former Trump campaign chairman of lying to him. We are also expecting Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn to ask a judge for no jail time, echoing Mueller's investigation. Wait, there's more. Former fixer Michael Cohen will be sentenced tomorrow and on Friday a mystery document will be filed. Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina will change her plea after deciding to cooperate with prosecutors. And it looks like the pressure could be getting to the President. Sources tell CNN he is concerned about being impeached when Democrats take over the House in the new year.
This steady drumbeat of revelations also appears to be influencing voters. That is according to new CNN polls which show the approval of Trump's handling of the Russia investigation now stands at 29 percent. That matches an all-time low hit in June of this year, 29. The President is also losing support among fellow Republicans. 51 percent approve of his actions around the Russia investigation, down double digits from October, but there is one group of Republicans standing firm with this President and you can find them in the U.S. Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:10:00] SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We have to get all the facts, and I'm going to wait.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: Take a step back and wait until we have a more complete picture.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: If you phrase it am I afraid the President might be involved in a crime, of course. The question is whether this so-called hush money is a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Those Senators are all downplaying the fact that the President has been implicated in a felony and say they want more information before making any decisions. Their colleague, Senator Orrin Hatch, took it one step further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I don't care. All I can say is that he is doing a good job as president. I don't think he was involved in a crime. Even then, you make anything a crime under the current laws if you want to. You can blow it way out of proportion and do a lot of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: If that sounds to you like a total reversal for Senator Hatch, you would be correct. Flashback two decades. He then blasted then President bill Clinton nor what he called crimes of moral turpitude and explained his vote to convict Clinton in his impeachment trial this way. "this great nation can tolerate a President who makes mistakes, but it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up." as you just heard, the mood among some Senate Republicans on Trump's dealings with Michael Cohen's crimes ranges from dismissal to not caring but for some 44 lawmakers who once roamed those halls of the Senate, the view is decidedly different. And in a "Washington Post" op-ed, the bipartisan group is pleading with their former colleagues to, their words, stand in defense of democracy. One of those former Senators is John Danforth of Missouri. He now joins me. Senator, a pleasure. Thank you so much.
FORMER SEN. JOHN DANFORTH (R), MISSOURI: Thank you.
BALDWIN: So, you tell me why you and 43 other Senators, Democrats, Republicans, all decided that the time was now that you all wanted to write this letter and what specifically do you want to see from Congress?
DANFORTH: Well, the whole point of our country really has been to hold ourselves together. That's been our mission from the very beginning. We're a very diverse country. The idea of the constitution was to provide a framework for keeping the -- keeping America as one country with all our differences. And we're falling apart. And a lot of people have commented on this, we're becoming increasingly polarized. And it looks as though we're heading to even a more polarized situation. So, our concern is that, you know, we can't just have the Democrats on one side, the Republicans on the other side exasperating the situation. And so, our idea is to make an appeal to the United States Senate, which should be the place where things are worked out and to get on with it on a bipartisan basis and to try to reach some sort of accommodation with each other.
BALDWIN: As you are making this appeal, we just were talking about Republicans up on the hill who are completely ignoring these current accusations facing this President. Are you disappointed in, say, Senator Orrin Hatch?
DANFORTH: I think that there's a lot of blame to go around, Republicans and Democrats. I long for the days of Sam Irvin and Howard Baker during the Watergate time when you had very esteemed people on both sides and they weren't playing the political cards. It wasn't I'm a Republican, therefore I'm always going to support the President, I'm the Democrat, I'm always going to oppose the President. It was a sense of real statesmen working together and trying to serve the American people as a whole.
BALDWIN: But, Senator --
DANFORTH: I didn't see that today but I long for it.
BALDWIN: How do you explain this current group of Republicans?
[14:15:00] DANFORTH: I don't -- I'm not going to tee off on Republicans or on Democrats because I think that, you know, it takes two to make a problem and I think you see that every day, when it's as though the Republicans as a party line up on one side, the Democrats as a party line up on the other side on everything and it not just, you know, the Trump situation, it's on, for example, confirmation votes where regularly the vote on the confirmation, not talking about Kavanaugh, but any confirmation is like 51-49. It's a straight party line vote. So, there is a total breakdown of any sense of coming together, working through problems. It's just I'm on one side, you're on the other side, it's defined by party label.
BALDWIN: I know you want to talk about all the groups to the, Republicans and Democrats, but I do want to ask you about Republicans looking ahead to 20. I mean, you have been candid in how you feel about this current President, Senator. I'm just wondering looking ahead to 20, would you welcome a Republican challenger to President Trump?
DANFORTH: I would personally, yes, but I don't know that that's going to happen.
BALDWIN: Who? Who, Senator Danforth? Can we name names? May we name names, sir?
BALDWIN: Who would you like to see challenge President Trump?
DANFORTH: No. I don't know. Why is it that -- I mean, we just finished one election and already we're immediately talking about the next election. I mean, something is really screw ball in that, isn't it? And you hear it all the time.
BALDWIN: The campaign does begin pretty soon.
DANFORTH: You hear it on every TV channel.
BALDWIN: I mean, screw ball or not, we're going to blink, sir and it's about to be 2019 and the campaigns, they're about to begin.
DANFORTH: Well, it seems to me that people should get elected to serve and not just get elected to get re-elected to get re-elected one election after another. And all of our attention is focused on that. And almost no attention is focused on real problems anywhere. Either by politicians or I might say by the media. How much attention is focused on, let's say, the national debt, what we're doing to our country, what we're doing to the future, what's the future of Medicare, of social security. Where are we going as a country? It's as though, you know, that doesn't matter at all. I mean, that's just beside the point. Let's talk about politics and let's talk about candidates in the next election. Let's talk about whether you're for candidate a or candidate b, and it's backwards. We should be elected to do something. Not just get elected to be re-elected.
BALDWIN: Senator, I'm hanging on your every word. I fully agree with you on electing to serve. I think we can all agree on that. But with this President and alleged crisis and a massive Russia investigation, I'd love to talk tax, politics and American people but he's got us pretty people. We will be talking about the next elections and campaigns coming next year. Senator Danforth, you are right about everyone coming together for solutions. I thank you for all your years in Washington and for coming on today. I truly appreciate it.
DANFORTH: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Ahead, more on this clash between President Trump and the leadership. And he faced 20 years in prison in formal rape charges. How a former fraternity president cut a deal to avoid time behind bars. The victim now blasting prosecutors and the judge. We will tell you which is now saying. And a show of force. Two Russia nuclear capable bombers are on the move south of the United States. Is President Putin trying to send the administration a message?
You're watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin.
[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: A showcase in contrast playing out today in the Russia investigation in the next hour, Paul Manafort's attorneys are due in court to respond to accusations that Trump's former campaign chief broke his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, and yet another ex-Trump insider will be detailing how cooperative he's been with Mueller. Michael Flynn's sentencing memo is already due today and it's already been recommended Flynn receive no jail time.
Former federal prosecutor and contributing writer to "The Atlantic," Ken White is with me now. Welcome to you. Let's start with Manafort. His attorneys are saying their client has been cooperating, but you make the point Mueller has all the receipts. How do Manafort's attorneys show he's been truthfully cooperating?
KEN WHITE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO "THE ATLANTIC": I think it's going to be very difficult for them. The type of confidence, one might even say hubris you see in the special counsel's brief talking about how he's going to be able to prove that Manafort lied suggests that Manafort's lawyers are going to have an uphill battle. The thing is, the more they push to argue that their client was telling the truth, the more that the special counsel is incentivized to bring out more and more juicy information showing how he lied. The issue isn't just that they're arguing he lied, but that he lied about a variety of issues, everything from his contacts with the suspected Russian agent to the nature and amount of his contacts with the White House after Trump's election. They seem to have a lot of different topics that they're ready to prove up.
[14:25:00] BALDWIN: I want to come back to your last point about Manafort contacting the White House as recent as this spring. As Michael Flynn, do you think Mueller's already done the work for Flynn?
WHITE: Absolutely. A no prison time sentence for simple lying to the FBI-type crime is pretty straight forward. I don't expect a lot of fireworks in Flynn's own sentencing memorandum. Mueller's already done the work for him by recommending that sentence. Where we should see more fireworks, this week are at Manafort's hearings and Michael Cohen's.
BALDWIN: Something that struck you was Michael Cohen's conversation with the White House before he talked to Congress. Tell me more about that.
WHITE: Exactly. The language that the special counsel used in his sentencing memorandum was that Mr. Cohen provided information during cooperation about how he circulated the statements he was going to make to Congress, but he wasn't trying to pass the blame. And it's kind of code words from prosecutors. It rather clearly shows that Cohen told them that he got approval for what he said to Congress both in writing and in live testimony and someone higher up approved it. We don't know yet who it would be.
BALDWIN: And going back to your point about Manafort talking to the White House as recent as this spring and we don't know who he spoke with, we don't know what - they spoke about, but what would be your biggest question on Manafort there?
WHITE: Well, I think it's important that we ask why is it important to the special prosecutor what Manafort was saying after the election. Most of Manafort's crimes had to deal with longstanding business practices arising even before the election. With the exception of his sort of ham-handed attempt to suborn perjury. That's trouble for the President.
BALDWIN: Ken white, good to see you. Thank you very much.
WHITE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: More on our coverage of this wild oval office scene that played out in front of all kinds of tv cameras today when Senator Chuck Schumer and leader Nancy Pelosi paid a pre-holiday visit to the President. Didn't take long for things to go awry.