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Trump, Democrats Clash in White House Meeting over Government Shutdown; GOP Shrugs Off Criminal Allegations Against Trump; U.S. Flips Accused Russian Spy Who Infiltrated NRA & GOP Circles; McCarthy to Democrats: Don't Waste Time Investigating President. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 11, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will take the mantel of shutting it down.


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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer hitting back.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: In the "Washington Post," today, they have gave you a lot of Pinocchios because they say you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built and how much is there. That's not the point. We have a disagreement about the wall.

TRUMP: The "Washington Post" --

SCHUMER: Whether it's effective or not. Not on border security, but the wall. We do not want to shut down the government. You have called 20 times to shut down the government.


KEILAR: Let's bring in Republican Congressman Tom Reed, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solver's Caucus.

What were you thinking as you saw this showdown in the Oval Office and especially with an eye towards trying to solve a stalemate and prevent a shut down?

REP. TOM REED, (R), NEW YORK: Obviously, you saw the negotiations and live feed. But the bottom line is there's a solution here. I think we are blowing this out of proportion in regard to the politics taking over this issue. What we should be focusing on is, do we believe, as Democrats and Republicans, we should have a security border. If we agree on that, what is so hard about having a mixture of wall, structures, technology and resources at the border to keep our fellow American citizens safe? That is the heart of the matter. That's why, politics, when it takes over, the American people lose. I think most Americans join me and say we are sick and tired of it. Get it done.

KEILAR: Can you support $1.3 billion in funding for the wall as part of what you described? Cobbling together these things that create border security? Is that an OK number by your standard?

REED: That might be a little low given what I know about the technology and the border security and the structures that are necessary, but there's a number that we should be able to reach across the aisle to come to an agreement on. That's why Senator Schumer really is the heart of this. Is he going to get caught up in politics or is he going to negotiate in good faith and find the money necessary to secure the border?

KEILAR: Then what is the money necessary. You have your colleagues in the Freedom Caucus in the House saying $5 billion or bust. You say $1.3 billion is not enough. Where's the number? What is the number that you think is necessary?

REED: I clearly think it's right between the two there, somewhere in the middle. I think that's a reasonable position to take on this issue. At the end of the day, this needs to be negotiated. And Senator Schumer is the key to this. If he is going to put border security as the priority, we can come to a rapid decision and come to an agreement. If it's about politics and protecting and drawing a line in the sand about a wall and not giving into the hard left, that is going to lead to a shut down and a situation that is not going to be able to be negotiated out of.

KEILAR: When the president said he would be proud to shut down the government for border security, and you have Democrats putting up money, you think it's low, but they are putting up money for the wall, for border security, do you worry about the politics of a president of your party saying he is proud to shut down the government?

REED: No, because I think it's clear the American people are seeing what this is about. This is about politics. The word "wall." About that structure being the politics that is dividing the nation. What we need to do is get past that. The number they are putting on the table, they are not putting it on the table to do what's right and secure the border. They are putting a number on the table to avoid the politics of it. And the politics has overtaken the issue. At the end of the day, the American people lose, because if you don't have a secure border, you have American citizens threatened by the criminals and the threats coming through the border that are going unchecked right now.

KEILAR: How do you square that after your party passed tax cuts last year and we saw the federal deficit jump 17 percent to $779 billion, that you're talking about, you said somewhere between $1.3 billion and $5 billion for the wall. How do the Republicans, historically the party of fiscal conservatives, justify that expense and try to hold on to that mantle of fiscal conservatism? REED: As a result, revenue in the federal coffers are up 2 percent.

That is a record-high level of revenue coming into the --


KEILAR: The deficit is up 17 percent.

REED: -- because it's a spending-driven problem. And that's why prioritizing the investments that are made. And border security should be one of our top priorities, keeping our fellow American citizens safe, Brianna, is something we should be able to agree upon. That's all the American people are looking for. Keep us safe from the bad guys. But have a border that functions and allows people to pursue the American dream. But at the same time, you can't get bogged down into this divisiveness of a structure, I.E., a wall.

KEILAR: The deficit is up 17 percent.

REED: That's because of the spending that keeps going up at skyrocketing rates. Revenues up 17 percent.


KEILAR: You are talking about billions of dollars of expenditure in this case.

[13:34:59] REED: This is about having the honest conversation of what is the sufficient number to keep the border secure. I do believe that number is somewhere between the two, $1.3 billion and $5 billion. Obviously. If you are going to follow this logic all the way through, Schumer should just put zero billion because there's no money to put in for border security. That is not a realistic position. And highlights this is about politics. We need to move past this because the American people lose in that situation.

KEILAR: I hear you blaming spending and saying there needs to be an honest discussion about spending, but this is just a proposal for more spending. That's not a part of this discussion. If we are putting the politics aside, that's not really a part of this discussion.

REED: No, this is about having an honest conversation about what is necessary, finally speaking, to secure the border. I think that number is somewhere between $1.3 billion and $5 billion. That's where the negotiation should be focused on. But what you are seeing happen is this is all about hard-left politics. We cannot have a wall being given to the president because of politics. That is wrong. That's why I say, just cut that out. Let's get to the heart of the issue of keeping Americans safe and secure the border.

KEILAR: They are offering a number. You're not happy with that number, the $1.3 billion. I just have to say that. Just to be clear, you are saying it's hard-left politics. I am saying they are offering a number.

I want to ask you about something else. The president has been implicated in two crimes, campaign finance violations. This is in the recent filing in the southern district of New York. Does this concern you?

REED: I don't agree with the assumption that he is accused of a crime. I don't see that here. I see that --


KEILAR: He has been implicated. Michael Cohen admitted --

REED: I disagree with that. I disagree with that.

KEILAR: But you can't. That's just the truth. I don't know how you disagree with a fact.

REED: No, no, no.

KEILAR: He's been implicated in directing the hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

REED: Legal scholars are arguing this point, ad nausea, about whether or not there's a criminal activity. You look at the John Edwards case, you look at other situations --


KEILAR: He didn't become president, sir.

REED: And what I will tell you is that --


KEILAR: He did not become president, sir. He did not become president in the commission of his actions.


KEILAR: I'm not saying this didn't have an effect on that, but you are dealing with someone who became president. John Edwards did not become president.

REED: Just because someone became president or not, the legal argument being pushed back and forth is the legal argument of whether or not there's criminal activity here. I don't see that here. I see Mueller needing to do an investigation to get to the conclusions that need to be reached and then we follow the evidence where it takes us. Right now, as you have this debate unfolding before the American people, let's continue to see and wrap this investigation up and get to the bottom if anything is there.

KEILAR: If it's not criminal activity, what kind of activity do you see it as?

REED: Obviously, there's activity here, but I don't think it's criminal. Whether or not it was wise, I will defer to the American people on that. The bottom line is, I don't see the criminal activity that have come to the conclusion to in your reporting. KEILAR: So it's just unwise for someone running for president to

direct a hush money payment to his personal fixer to pay off two women he allegedly had affairs with?

REED: I think that whole scenario you articulated is something concerning. But at the end of the day, criminal is a totally different level of a conclusion. I just don't see it there.

KEILAR: You don't see it there.

All right. Congressman Tom Reed, we appreciate you being with us.

REED: Thanks so much.

KEILAR: She is an accused Russian spy and cooperating with U.S. authorities. What we know about Maria Butina and her relationship with the NRA and her plea deal.


[13:43:14] KEILAR: Vladimir Putin insisting today his intel agencies knows nothing about accused Russia spy, Maria Butina. This comes one day after Butina has reported struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors. According to the deal, she agreed and conspired with a Russian government official and another person to act as a foreign agent. Butina is suspected of trying to infiltrate the NRA and GOP circles to advance Russian interests.

Kim Wehle is a former associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation and a former federal prosecutor.

It's something out of the movies. How rare is a case like this?

KIM WEHLE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We have a Russian national pleading guilty to basically espionage, a form of espionage in connection with the Russia investigation, but this is not being handled by Robert Mueller, but the attorney's office in the District of Columbia with other national intelligence entities related to it. It's hard not to see the links between this and what happened with Mr. Cohen in particular in the sentencing memoranda.

KEILAR: Can you explain what she has agreed to here?

WEHLE: It looks quite broad. She agreed to cooperate with anything that federal officials think would be relevant to her cooperation. I think for her, I am not a national security expert, but what happens to her if she goes back to Russia? Is he a hero, where she helped Putin's plan to infiltrate our election system or is she a traitor? We see what the Russians do to people who don't go along the party line. It's a difficult situation for her and her lawyers and family.

KEILAR: It certainly is.

Kim Wehle, thank you so much.

WEHLE: Thank you very much. [13:44:54] KEILAR: We appreciate it.

Coming up, the outgoing House majority leader has advice for Democrats, don't bother investigating the president. I will get reaction from a top Judiciary Intel member, next.


KEILAR: The outgoing House majority leader has some advice for Democrats when they take control in January: Don't waste your time investigating the president.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: It looks like what they're going to focus on is just more investigations. I think America's too great of a nation to have such a small agenda. I think there's other problems out there we really should be focused upon.


KEILAR: Joining us from Capitol Hill is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, of California. He's a member of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

I'm sure, sir, you're going to take Kevin McCarthy's advice.

[13:50:03] REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, but we'll take it from here, Leader McCarthy.

We're going to have a big agenda on the issues of whether there's consensus among the American people that he never brought a vote forward on, and that's immigration reform, that's infrastructure spending, reducing gun violence through background checks, reducing the cost of prescription drugs. We're also going to do all of that and put it on the president's desk. But we're also going to investigate whether the Republicans gave the president presidential immunity over the last two years.

KEILAR: The president has been implicated in two crimes, campaign finance violations, filed in the southern district in New York, a filing accepted by a federal judge. A number of Republican Senators are dismissing this. What's your reaction?

SWALWELL: I see those two crimes as propensity evidence for what are probably much larger crimes as they relate to his finances. I think we should view it as that. They're prior bad acts, but the way he acted in paying off those two women is probably how he acted in such shadowy ways when it comes to his finances and his dealing with Russia, Saudi Arabia and the Chinese. So we shouldn't just go all in on those payments because I think there's a lot more out there we're going to want to understand.

KEILAR: We're hearing a lot of restraint from the idea of proceeding with impeachment my Democrats, so far, as we're waiting for the Mueller findings. You said you would like to impeach him at the ballot box. Do you worry, even that we don't know what Robert Mueller's investigation is going to find, do you worry that the Democratic base could respond poorly if they don't feel that their leaders have held the president accountable?

SWALWELL: Well, the Democratic base has seen the president commit crimes in real time, in plain sight, but we haven't had the ability to investigate and put forward to the American people, you know, an airtight case. Now we do. So, Brianna, I don't want to rush to impeachment, and I would rather that happen at the ballot box, but there are red lines he cannot cross. The rule of law is important in this country. We will set precedent based on what we do now for future presidents and their White House counsel. If we let him cross the line, it would be the erosion of the rule of law in this country. I want the American people to understand what those lines are and what we're going to do about it. In just 20 or so days, things are going to change for the president.

KEILAR: Where are you for this funding for the wall, as we look at this negotiation, if you can call it that, that went on in the Oval Office. You have Democrats saying $1.3 billion, you have Republican colleagues asking for $5 billion. What's the number that you can support?

SWALWELL: First, we should keep the government open. Two, we should have security at our border. And I'm open to funding whether it's additional border patrol agents, using technology. I do not support a structural wall as the president wants it. And right now, Brianna, only 6 percent of what was allocated in the last budget deal has been spent. So I think this is more funding the president's political promises.

KEILAR: So you can't be on board with $1.3 billion for the wall?

SWALWELL: Not for the wall president wants, no.

KEILAR: As you looked at this discussion, this back and forth, this debate going on between Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and President Trump, I know that potentially the incoming speaker, Nancy Pelosi, hasn't sealed the deal on that, came back to the Hill. Is there a sense among some wavering Democrats that they may be able to get her on board after watching her go toe to toe with the president?

SWALWELL: I think saw in that meeting that Leader Pelosi is the most effective person we can have in the room where it happens. I think she may have sealed her speakership by going toe to toe with the president and standing up for our values. I think you're going to see us continue to unite as we get closer to that vote on January 3.

KEILAR: Congressman Eric Swalwell, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: More on our breaking news. The president and top Democrats spar in a very public face-off. We'll see the video in full, straight ahead. [13:54:11] And moments from now, lawyers for Paul Manafort will

respond to Robert Mueller's memo accusing him of lying to the special counsel.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for joining me.

Ladies and gentlemen, your United States government at work.


SCHUMER: This temper tantrum that he seems to throw will not get him his wall.


BALDWIN: Yes, the fall premiere of the "Chuck and Nancy go to the White House" show takes a wild turn. In the same office that has produced peace deals, historic legislation, today, it produced anything else but as the president and Democrats are further away from a deal to keep the government open than they were before this face- off.

Now exactly two weeks before Christmas, the president is threatening to shut down the government if he doesn't get $5 billion in border wall and funding. And Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi could not keep their opposition from the cameras. I want you to watch this Oval Office photo-op get raw and, oh, so real.


TRUMP: The wall, that will be the one that will be the easiest of all.

What you do think, Chuck? Maybe not?

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

[14:00:09] TRUMP: So we're going to see. But I'll tell you the wall will get built. We'll see what happens.