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Trump, Democrats Clash in Extraordinary White House Meeting; Schumer: Trump's "Temper Tantrum" will Shut Down Government; Hatch in 2018: "Don't Care" about Criminal Allegations. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired December 11, 2018 - 13:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters. Underway right now, this season's premier of Chuck and Nancy go to the White House erupts in fireworks just 10 days until the government shuts down. Wait until you see this.

On another huge day in the Robert Mueller investigation, the president's mind turns to the coming war over his fate in the Oval Office, shrugs and Jesus, Republicans coming up with creative ways to dismiss the criminal allegations against the president, plus secrets, lies and spies. The Russian who infiltrated Republican circles inside America is ready to sing.

A first shut down, showdown live and very uncensored. What started as a photo op in the Oval Office after a meeting between President Trump and Democratic leaders turned into a rhetorical free-for-all? The president's demand for $5 billion in border wall spending in the possibility of a partial government shut down led to the gloves coming off.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The wall - That will be the one that will be the easiest of all. What do you think, Chuck? Maybe not?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: It's called "funding the government," Mr. President.


TRUMP: So we're going to see. But I will tell you, the wall will get built. We'll see what happens.

And one way or the other, it's going to get built. I'd like not to see a government closing, a shut down. We will see what happens over the next short period of time.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open, that a shut down is not worth anything, and that you should not have a Trump shut down. You have the White House --

TRUMP: Did you say "Trump" -- oh, oh.

PELOSI: A "Trump shut down." You have the White House --

TRUMP: I was going to call it a "Pelosi shut down."

PELOSI: 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, because in the Senate, we need 60 votes and we don't have it.

PELOSI: No, no, but in the House, you could bring it up right now, today.

TRUMP: Yes, but I can't -- excuse me. 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: Well, the fact is you can get it started that way.

TRUMP: The House we can get passed very easily. And we do.

PELOSI: OK, then do it. Then do it.

TRUMP: But the problem is the Senate, because we need 10 Democrats to vote, and they won't vote.

PELOSI: No, no, that's not the point, Mr. President. The point is --

TRUMP: It's sort of the point.

PELOSI: -- that there are equities to be weighed. And we are here to have a conversation --

TRUMP: Correct.

PELOSI: -- in a careful way. So I don't think we should have a debate in front of the press on this. But the fact is, the House Republicans could bring up this bill, if they had the votes, immediately, and set the tone for what you want.

TRUMP: If we thought we were going to get it passed in the Senate, Nancy, we would do it immediately. We would get it passed very easily in the House.

PELOSI: No, that's not the point. That's not the point.

TRUMP: Nancy, I'd have it passed in two seconds. It doesn't matter, though, because we can't get it passed in the Senate because we need 10 Democrat votes. That's the problem.

PELOSI: Well, again, let us have our conversation --

TRUMP: That's right. PELOSI: -- and then we can meet with the press again. But the fact is, is that legislating -- which is what we do --

TRUMP: Right.

PELOSI: -- you begin, you make your point, you state your case. That's what the House Republicans could do, if they had the votes. But there are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall -- no matter where you start.

SCHUMER: That is exactly right. You don't have the votes in the House.

TRUMP: If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them -- in one session, it would be done.

PELOSI: Well, then go do it. Go do it.

TRUMP: It doesn't help because we need 10 Democrats in the Senate.

PELOSI: No, don't put it on the Senate. Put it on the negotiation.

TRUMP: OK, let me ask you this. Just -- and we're doing this in a very friendly manner. It doesn't help for me to take a vote in the House, where I will win easily with the Republicans --

PELOSI: You will not win.

TRUMP: It doesn't help to take that vote because I'm not going to get the vote of the Senate.

PELOSI: Well, don't blame it on the Senate, Mr. President.

TRUMP: I need 10 senators. That's the problem.

PELOSI: Mr. President, you have the White House, you have the Senate.

TRUMP: I have the White House.

PELOSI: You have the House of Representatives.

TRUMP: The White House is done. And the House would give me the vote if I wanted it. But I can't because I need --

PELOSI: But you can't -- you can't --

TRUMP: Nancy, I need 10 votes from Chuck.

SCHUMER: All right, let me say something here.

PELOSI: Mr. President, let me -- let me just say one thing. The fact is you do not have the votes in the House.

TRUMP: Nancy, I do. And we need border security.

PELOSI: Well, let's take the vote and we'll find out.

TRUMP: Nancy. Nancy. We need border security. It's very simple.

PELOSI: Of course we do.

TRUMP: We need border security.

PELOSI: We do.

TRUMP: People are pouring into our country, including terrorists. We have terrorists. We caught 10 terrorists over the last very short period of time. Ten. These are very serious people. Our border agents, all of our law enforcement has been incredible what they've done. But we caught 10 terrorists. These are people that were looking to do harm.

We need the wall. We need -- more important than anything. We need border security, of which the wall is just a piece. But it's important.

Chuck, did you want to say something?

SCHUMER: Yes. Here's what I want to say. 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 the wall is -- how much of the wall is built and how much is there.

But that's not the point here. We have a disagreement about the wall --

TRUMP: Well, "The Washington Post" --

SCHUMER: -- whether it's effective or it isn't. Not on border security, but on the wall.

[13:05:00] 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 --

TRUMP: Chuck --

SCHUMER: -- because you --

TRUMP: You don't want to shut down the government, Chuck.

SCHUMER: Let me just finish. Because you can't get your way.

TRUMP: Because the last time you shut it down you got killed.

SCHUMER: Yes. Let me say something, Mr. President. You just say, "My way, or we'll shut down the government." We have a proposal that Democrats and Republicans will support to do a CR 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.

PELOSI: It is good border security.

SCHUMER: It is very good border security.

TRUMP: And if it's not good border security, I won't take it.

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

TRUMP: And we've gained in the Senate. Nancy, we've gained in the Senate.

PELOSI: The morale --

TRUMP: Excuse me. Did we win the Senate?

PELOSI: -- is not.

TRUMP: We won the Senate.

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

TRUMP: I did.

PELOSI: Let me say this.

TRUMP: We did win North Dakota.

PELOSI: This is the most unfortunate thing. We came in here in good faith, and we are entering into this kind of a discussion in the public view.

TRUMP: But it's not bad, Nancy.

PELOSI: Let us -- no, but it's --

TRUMP: It's called transparency.

PELOSI: I know. But it's not transparency when we're not stipulating to a set of facts. And when we wanted to have a debate with you about saying we'd confront some of these facts --

TRUMP: You know what? We need border security.

PELOSI: -- without saying to the public, "This isn't true."

TRUMP: That's what we're going to be talking about, border security. If we don't have border security, we'll shut down the government. This country needs border security.

I also know that, you know, Nancy is 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.

PELOSI: Mr. President --

TRUMP: 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. But let me --

SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.

PELOSI: Let me just say --

TRUMP: That's right. And that's why the country is doing so well.

PELOSI: Let me say this. What the President is representing in terms of his cards over there are not factual. We have to have to an evidence-based conversation about what does work, what money has been spent, and how effective it is.

This isn't about -- this is about the security of our country. We take an oath to protect and defend, and we don't want to have that mischaracterized by anyone. And we are --

TRUMP: I agree with that.

PELOSI: -- that we are --

TRUMP: No, no I agree with that.

PELOSI: -- we are.

So let us have a conversation where we don't have to contradict, in public, the statistics that you put forth but instead can have a conversation about what would really work and what the American people deserve from us at this uncertain time in their lives, where they have apprehension.

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

SCHUMER: No, no, no.

TRUMP: -- and then you opened it up very quickly.

SCHUMER: Twenty times. Twenty times.

TRUMP: And I don't want to do what you did. But, Chuck --

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

TRUMP: You want to know something?

SCHUMER: You've said it.

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

SCHUMER: You said it.

TRUMP: I'll take it.

SCHUMER: OK, good.

TRUMP: You know what I'll say. Yes, if we don't get what we want, one way or the other -- whether it's through you, through a military, through anything you want to call -- I will shut down the government. Absolutely.

SCHUMER: OK. Fair enough. We disagree.

TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I'll tell you what --

SCHUMER: We disagree.

TRUMP: 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.


TRUMP: And I'm going to shut it down for border security.

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

TRUMP: OK. Thank you very much everybody.


KEILAR: Wow. CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joining us now with more. Watching that, Kaitlan, that extraordinary protracted back and forth between Democratic leaders and the president, with Mike Pence watching on it. It's hard to imagine that they are going to come to some sort of agreement unless of course this is just pure theater. What are you thinking?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You just got a good look at the new power dynamic in Washington that we are going have for the next several years and it did not look good. You brought up the Vice President Mike Pence. He sat there throughout the 15 or so minute exchange and did not say a word the entire time as Nancy Pelosi, the president, and Chuck Schumer went back and forth repeatedly, cutting each other off, not looking at each other while the other speaks.

And Brianna, you have to say a lot this was predictable that they were not going to get along on what they were discussing today, but they did not know whether Capitol Hill aides or aides here at the White House that it was going to play out on the cameras the way that it did. That was supposed to be a closed press meeting. And you kept hearing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say let's negotiate behind closed doors and not in front of the cameras. But this is President Trump's White House. He summoned the cameras to come in before that meeting took place. And now you see all of those things that typically you only hear about from sources behind the scenes play out on camera right there with the president vowing to shut down the government if he doesn't get the funding for his border wall.

[13:10:10] Now, critics will say that's exactly what Chuck Schumer wanted because when he came into this meeting because he has got the president on camera and that by - right there at the end saying I will take the responsibility for shutting down the government over the border wall. That's what Democrats want. They want President Trump to own the shut down and that's not what Republicans on Capitol Hill were hoping to hear the president say during that meeting.

Now, Brianna, no one thought this meeting was going to come up with some magical solution where they were going to get along over whether or not they were going to agree on funding for this border wall. But they did not think it was going to play out like that. And you could see it on the faces of the White House aides as the reporters left the room there. It was total shock, Brianna.

KEILAR: Indeed. Kaitlan Collins thank you so much.

We have a lot to discuss. I want to get some perspective now from Melanie Zanona, she's a congressional reporter for "The Hill." We have CNN political director David Chalian and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

This - you know Kaitlan said something that so interesting to me, this idea of this is normally what you would see behind closed doors. This doesn't even - this far surpasses what I would ever expect even to see behind closed doors, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: There was no decorum. I mean these were people meeting in the Oval Office. Remember the movie "Home Alone" where the kids says to his parents are not the boss of me? Well, they don't think he's their boss anymore. This is the new world order. And they were -- there was no decorum and it was melee in there. And it was clear that Chuck Schumer could barely look at Donald Trump. And Nancy Pelosi pushed back when he tried to say well, I know it's difficult for Nancy to talk right now because the implication being she may not be speaker. And they didn't give any ground. And effectively they got the president to say OK, I will proudly have a shut down if we don't get agreement on a border wall, which as Kaitlan points out, that's what Republicans don't want. And it's astonishing because this was in the open. And even behind closed doors as you were pointing out, these meetings are usually more formal and productive.

KEILAR: In this case, David, I mean the expectation initially was we were not even going to have cameras in there for a hello, here is - you know, here are Democratic leaders with the president and the vice president which is normally a really boring sort of affair. And of course, President Trump invites the cameras in with an idea of how this is going to proceed.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean this was instead of him tweeting, right? That's what this was. The total different approach. Pelosi and Schumer going in there to do the you know typical Washington Kabuki Theater kind of thing of sitting in the Oval Office, making their case of what their demands were. You know once they knew a photo op was happening, that is as you noted, and then going on to the actual meeting where they thought they would try to make some progress.

The president doesn't approach things that way. This is he wanted to own the narrative media narrative in his way that he does. And I got to say, when you have two totally different approaches, there are two different metrics for the sides of what is winning. Donald Trump -


KEILAR: They can both win, right?

BORGER: He is --

CHALIAN: He is happy to attach himself to a shut down over border security because his base who he does all of his messaging to would totally rally around that. He may not win with the American public more broadly. We've seen that in the past. But he is not concerned about that. So they are playing to totally different games here.

KEILAR: And they're both serving the wrong purposes, right? So it's not - is it necessarily that there is someone that comes out with a stronger position in this, Melanie? What is your view?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE HILL": Look, I this it was very clear, this was never going to be a serious negotiation. Both sides went in there and they wanted to show that their respective bases that they were standing up for what they believe in and taking a principled stance. You have to keep in mind some of the politics and the internal dynamics are at play here. Nancy Pelosi, for example, still is working to lock down these votes for speaker. She also wants to show that she is taking a stand against President Trump that she can go toe to toe with him. I assume that a lot in her caucus are going to really like what they saw today in that meeting with her standing up to him. But I think at the end of the day that doesn't mean a deal can't get done in the next week or so. Maybe they just needed to get this out of the way so that they could have that public confrontation and then maybe something can come together behind closed-doors but it certainly doesn't look good right now.

KEILAR: So what would a deal look like? So at this point in time it's the wall money that is the issue. You have on the right Republican were saying 5$5 billion. You have Democrats coming in and offering $1.3 billion, right, for a border wall, right, or fence as they would put it or whatever it would be. A wall described by President Trump.

BORGER: Well, it was clear. The Democrats -- I mean, he suggested something more short-term which they always like to kick the can down the road - KEILAR: The Democrats suggested -

BORGER: Yes, the Democrats suggested that maybe it comes out of the military budget. I mean, you know, we really don't know because they didn't get anywhere today other than to argue about who is on top.

[13:15:07] I mean, can I just say one thing? When Chuck Schumer came out and said when the president brags that he won Indiana and North Dakota, he is in real trouble. And the president said well, we did. And Schumer just sort of sat there and kind of laughed.

KEILAER: But does the -- the dynamics normally, David, coming out of a midterm election like this are different than President Trump is -- the dynamics that he is sort of operating under.

CHALIAN: He publicly has been refusing to accept the new reality in Washington that Democrats had a massive wave. They won 40 seats in the House. So it's not just Nancy Pelosi barely overtook the majority. There was a crushing that went on, on Capitol Hill on the House side. And because of the way that the Senate map was, the president just hangs on to the fact that in deep red territory, he was able to maintain and pad his Senate majority, but he takes that as the complete lesson and he is deliberately missing the larger.

BORGER: Indiana and North Dakota, right?

ZANONA: But I would also point out that conservatives on Capitol Hill right now especially in the House, there is a sense that this is their last chance to get something done at least for the next two years. I talked to one conservative member yesterday who said we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by digging in. And they are hoping that the president does exactly that. So, yes, well he knows that he may not have the mandate right now in Washington, there is also a sense that this is their last shot.

KEILAR: The days are numbered. All right, everyone stand by for me if you will.

And up next, more and more GOP members shrugging off Robert Mueller's findings despite criminal allegations against the president.

Plus, a stark warning from a bipartisan group of nearly four dozen former senators that America's democracy is at serious risk.


[13:21:07] KEILAR: This is gearing up to be a crucial 24 hours for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And new legal moves could uncover more revelations in the Russia investigation. Any moment now, we are expecting former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to ask a judge for no jail time. And then this afternoon, there's going to be a hearing in former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort's case following Mueller's bombshell memo, accusing him of lying to the feds. Tomorrow Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen will learn his sentence and then Friday, there is a mystery grand jury case schedule and prosecutors will file a reply to Flynn's sentencing memo. And then a separate Justice Department case accused Russian spy Maria Butina is expected to change her plea to guilty tomorrow now that she is cooperating with investigators.

Meantime, some Republican senators are shrugging off the fact that prosecutors have implicated President Trump in two federal crimes for allegedly directing Michael Cohen to make hush money payments to women he allegedly had affairs with before the 2016 election. Some senators are calling it a question of Michael Cohen's credibility. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy said, quote, "Jesus loves him, but" everyone else, "everybody else" I should say "thinks he's an idiot." Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is also on the list attempting to downplay the criminal allegations. You may remember that back in 1999 during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, Senator Hatch said, quote, "Committing crimes or moral turpitude should disqualify someone for office." And now he says this about the allegations I just mentioned.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I don't care. All I can say is he is doing a good job as president. I don't think he was involved in crimes, but even then, you know you can make anything a crime under the current laws if you want to. You can go way out of proportion. You can do a lot of things.


KEILAR: Gloria Borger with me now. What's your reaction to this? I wonder if Republicans -- they remember they were not successful in impeaching Bill Clinton.

BORGER: That's right. And you know where you stand depends on where you sit. And Bill Clinton was president. Orrin Hatch was not a fan of Bill Clinton. Donald Trump has been very good to Orrin Hatch and vice versa. So there's a personal relationship there.

I think Republicans are living in this alternate universe in which they say well, this is a campaign finance violation. And remember John Edwards had a similar campaign finance violation and he was never convicted on it.

KEILAR: He didn't become president.

BORGER: He didn't become president, exactly. But this is what they are saying and they are sort of shrugging and saying, well let Mueller finish his work. This is not really a big deal. Although Mueller says that the president of the United States directed, directed his personal lawyer to lie and cover up illegal campaign donations to save his campaign. We will never know of course whether if this news had come out, whether it would have affected the election one way or another.

Personally, I say I doubt it would have because I think a lot of this information about Donald Trump is known and has been discounted. But this is serious. And what they are saying is let the string play. Let it just play out right now. We are just not going to deal with it. KEILAR: That's amazing. Gloria Borger thank you so much. And up next, more on the GOP's dismissal of Robert Mueller's findings. I'll get to Congressman Tom Reed on the record. I'll ask if he agrees with his fellow Republican colleagues and the epic showdown between the president and top Democrats. How a photo op in the White House devolved into a free-for-all.


[13:29:17] KEILAR: More now on the wild clash between President Trump and Democrats before the meeting with Chuck and Nancy, as he calls them. The president tweeting today, "But the wall will get built."

But this $5 billion demand has ran into a wall of opposition from Democrats and the stalemate could trigger a partial government shut down. The president, last hour, making it clear he is not budging.


TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I'll tell you what --

SCHUMER: We disagree.

TRUMP: 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.


TRUMP: And I'm going to shut it down for border security.


KEILAR: Democratic leader Chuck Schumer hitting back.