Return to Transcripts main page
Dem Leaders and Trump Clash Over Border Security, Spending Bill. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired December 11, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: That he isn't using the $5 billion figure very much. He doesn't actually seem that attached to it.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is --
BASH: OK, stand by. Let's go to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who are speaking outside the White House.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Instead he has admitted in this meeting that he will take responsibility. The Trump shutdown is something that can be avoided, that the American people do not need at this time of economic uncertainty. People losing jobs, the market in a mood and the rest.
It's a luxury -- the Trump shutdown is a luxury the American people cannot afford. We told the president, our leader -- distinguished Senate leader will talk about two proposals we made to the president. After he makes those proposals, I'll tell you another statement that I made to the president about those.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: OK. The bottom line is simple. The president made clear that he wants a shutdown. His position --I f he sticks to his position for a $5 billion wall, he will get no wall and he will get a shutdown. But the bottom line is very, very simple, and that is, we want border security. We offered him border security, but Americans know that the wall, not paid for by Mexico anymore is not the way to border security, and the experts say that.
We offered the president two ways to avoid a shutdown. First, pass the six other appropriations bills that have been agreed to by Democrats and Republicans and do a one-year extension of the Homeland Security bill by what's called a CR which is funds it the same way it funded it last year. Or do a one-year CR for all seven remaining appropriations bills.
Both of those ways, we gave the president two with ways, each of which would get a majority of votes in the House and 60 votes in the Senate and would avoid a shutdown. We hope he'll take it because a shutdown hurts too many innocent people. And 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. It's hard to believe that he would want that.
PELOSI: Should unfortunately that the president choose to shutdown the government, that we have a Trump shutdown as a Christmas present, a holiday present to the American people, I told the president that the new House of Representatives when it convenes will pass what Mr. Schumer suggested here. The distinguished Senate leader suggested in terms of passing the six appropriations bills that are agreed to in a bipartisan way and have a continuing resolution until September 30th for the Homeland Security bill. During which time we can discuss these issues further.
I told the president that would happen and we would send it to the Senate. He says, oh we can pass it in the House his bill right now in (INAUDIBLE). He does not have the votes in the House to pass whatever his agenda is with that wall in it. We are telling him we'll keep government open with the proposal that Mr. Schumer suggested. Why doesn't he just think about it?
In fact, I asked him to pray over it.
SCHUMER: And one point -- one final point. No, no, no. Stop. OK? One final point. The $1.3 billion that we gave him last year for border security, no wall, but border security, less than six percent of it has been spent. They haven't even spent last year's money and now they're demanding much, much more this year.
Go ahead. Now, we're just going to take questions on this subject only.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, given what we saw in there, the bickering and the back and forth, what does it say about your ability to work with this president over the next two years?
PELOSI: Well, I told the president as I said over and over again, this new Congress will be something different from the Congress we have now. It will be a Congress of transparency so that the American people can see. Not passing a tax bill with $7 trillion impact on the economy in the dark of night speed of light so nobody can see what it is without hearings or any expert opinions.
So it will be about transparency. It will be about reaching out and extending the hand of friendship to work in a bipartisan way to find common ground where we can and stand our ground. As Thomas Jefferson said, like a rock where we can't. And about honoring the guidance of our founders, (INAUDIBLE). We didn't come to divide, we came to unify.
[12:35:00] And we extend the hand of friendship to him which he seemed to like that course of action. He does not accept that hand of friendship to him which he seems to like that course of action.
He does not accept that hand of friendship. This still will be who we are. Dignified and respectful of the institution that we represent in the Congress and honoring the vision of our founders.
(CROSSTALK) PELOSI: Well, I thought it was unfortunate. I will just say this, you want to know who is more productive behind the scenes. I hear some of the reporters saying -- well, Fox reporters saying, why did we not want transparency in this discussion. We don't want to contradict the president when he was putting vote figures that had no reality to them. No basis in fact.
We had to if we're going to proceed in all of this, had evidence-based factual, truthful information about what works and what doesn't. I didn't want to in front of those people say you don't know what you're talking about.
SCHUMER: One other thing here. The president said things are working quite well at the border. Well, we want to give him the same thing he had last year. If they're working well last year, they should work well this year. He shouldn't shutdown the government.
Thank you, everybody.
BASH: OK. So Nancy Pelosi there at the end saying I didn't want to say you don't know what you're talking about in that room, but she did say you don't know what you're talking about outside the room and made it pretty clear without using those words while in the room.
We continue to talk about this extraordinary first meeting with the Democratic leaders and President Trump, first meeting since the election when the Democrats won back the House. And as we predicted, the Democratic leaders felt that they successfully baited the president into saying he would be proud about a shutdown and made it easier, they think, to label it a Trump shutdown which is you said, Olivier is right on. That's what going to lit the match in the Oval Office in the first place rhetorically when she called it a Trump shutdown in front of the president in the Oval Office. And they laid down the marker for what's going to happen over the next two weeks.
I don't want to get too much into the weeds into what he was talking about whether it's going to be a funding bill that's going to go for a whole year or they're going to agree to the numbers now because I think what matters again in the big picture is how much the Democrats are going to be driving this train. And they think that they are.
PHILLIP: Yes. And I was going to say before they came out that this meeting didn't go as President Trump planned. And it was even more clear after they came to the cameras that a very (INAUDIBLE) brief meeting which didn't seem to last very long did not clarify anything for -- in terms of how we can get to a solution to this problem. And in fact, President Trump had brought the press in an effort to do what he did the last time around when it came to immigration. He brought the president to the meeting, he made it seem as if he was coming to the table trying to get a compromise, trying to do whatever was going to work so that he could get something on a PR boost going into the meeting, framing the terms of the conversation.
But instead what happened was that he was basically provoked by Nancy Pelosi calling it a Trump shutdown and ended the conversation by giving the Democrats exactly what they sought by going into this meeting. Which is by saying this is going to be my shutdown. I'm President Trump and I'm going to own this.
What you're seeing now is I think the Democrats making it very clear that they have the power here in this relationship right now. And that President Trump needs to come back to the table with a different proposal. And President Trump frankly wasn't prepared to do that. This was a PR effort and it didn't go as planned.
And I think they're probably going to have to go back to the drawing board on both the substance and on the strategy for messaging this to the country.
BASH: In fairness to the president, yes, he walked into what they believe is their trap on the shutdown, but in fairness to the president, he doesn't see it that way. And, when I say fairness, there's a new poll out by NPR and PBS saying -- asking the question, President Trump, should a compromise, should he compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock?
Overall, 57 percent say yes, but if you look at Republicans, only 29 percent. So, just remember his mind set. It is still about the GOP, not the overall.
OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: And note he's a president who's got an eye on his re-election campaign already.
KNOX: And so, there is -- you could sort of see the political dynamic there for him of wanting to keep the Republican base strongly behind him which is, as that polling suggests, maybe this is a good path. On the other hand, if you're a Republican leader in Congress, you just saw an election in which that strategy did not work. I'm putting it mildly. And so you got to be wondering, OK, is this what he's going to do for the next couple of years as this election ramps up.
But I can see the political rational there.
[12:40:02] KEITH: Yes. Presidents are always running the last campaign. So, he looks back, he said, I came down that golden escalator and I started talking about immigration and talking about a wall and I won. And as he sees it, and they sort of gotten a little bit of a tiff about this in the Oval Office. He feels like he won the Senate with that very same strategy and never mind the House. And they argued a little about that.
So, he thinks that this immigration thing works for him. And he -- but if he goes four years without a wall, that would be a problem which is in some part, why he is probably claiming that the wall is being built already and sort of re-branding. However this comes out, it's likely he will re-brand it to say that he got what he wanted.
BASH: Exactly. And that's what he was trying to do by talking about parts of the wall already being built. He was already trying to re- brand or redefine the debate for himself and for his base. And he did -- even through the crossfire, he was trying to, you know, sound like he could have conversations about this. You know, he was defensive in some parts but not others.
But I do think that when we look back on this, this is going to be the Democrats showing up early and showing him and showing their base that they're going to stand up to this president.
CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. Yes. The immigration thing I think if you look overall didn't work out for him by the way in the election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, of course.
HULSE: No, no, I know that, but I'm not sure I agree with you, I'm not sure he gets it. But, you know, since the president has been in, the Democrats even when they were in the minority have outmaneuvered him on appropriations. It's like the White House doesn't understand how the appropriations process works.
And Nancy Pelosi is a veteran of the Appropriations Committee. She really knows how to work this thing. And the dirty little secret is that the Republicans want to gang up on the president with the Democrats on appropriations because they want to get the things that they want.
The president caused this problem for himself. They gave him his budget request of $1.6 billion basically in these bills and for political reasons, he wants to say I got $5 billion because he's been being shout out on the appropriations bills. And now, they're like, well, we really don't have to give you this.
And plus, on top of that, how many times did Nancy Pelosi say Trump shutdown in that stake out? You've given us this great gift of taking over the shutdown. I think the White House has got some real issues here.
PHILLIP: Yes. I think the big problem also is that a shutdown is not going to make it more likely that President Trump will get his wall money. It's going to create a huge political problem and then he's going to go into another Congress where Democrats are going to be in control.
BASH: Guys, we have to take a quick break. We have so much more to discuss, so much more unpack.
And when we come back, I definitely want to revisit that image of those two New Yorkers going face-to-face, head-to-head over this issue. Stand by.
[12:47:03] BASH: Welcome back to quite an hour in INSIDE POLITICS.
I talked about before the break. One of the many extraordinary moments in the Oval Office when you had these two New Yorkers, Baby Boomer New Yorkers going at it with extraordinary body language, never mind what was coming out of their mouths. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: Shutdown the government over a dispute and you want to shut it down. You keep talking about it.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The last time, Chuck, you shut it down.
SCHUMER: No, no, no.
TRUMP: And then you open it --
SCHUMER: Twenty times.
TRUMP: -- very quickly.
SCHUMER: Twenty times.
TRUMP: I don't want to do what you did.
SCHUMER: Twenty times you have called for, I will shutdown the government if I don't get my wall. None of us said it.
TRUMP: You want to know something?
SCHUMER: You said it.
TRUMP: OK, you want to put that in mind. 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 military, through anything you want to call, I will shutdown the government.
SCHUMER: OK, absolutely.
TRUMP: And I am proud --
SCHUMER: We disagree.
TRUMP: And I'll tell you what, I am proud to shutdown 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 you. The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting it down, and I'm going to shut it down for border security.
SCHUMER: But we believe you shouldn't shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Wow. You know, we often see the president doing this when he's trying to control himself. He was full on forward in Chuck Schumer's face in a way that I don't remember seeing at least at recent times. And I think that that speaks almost as much if not more than the words coming out of his mouth which of course was with Chuck Schumer was wanting that sound bite to play over and over again.
PHILLIP: It's really incredible to see that. And I'm sure that that's probably what would have happened if the cameras weren't there. But for the benefit of the cameras, I think the president was making sure that he didn't seem like he lost that fight or that argument. That's one of the problems of what just played out here.
Is that, once it became an argument, it became a performance for all parties involved and a show of dominance on President Trump's part. And a show of dominance with someone, as you pointed out, a fellow New Yorker, some who the president actually thinks he has a pretty good relationship with --
BASH: Abby, I'm sorry, I keep interrupting you. Now, Nancy Pelosi is speaking on the Hill. Let's listen.
PELOSI: No, we didn't (INAUDIBLE) so he would just come in and welcome us and then he go from there. I myself once thought we would open the meeting with a prayer which I did once we privately had the meeting while outside the press. You can call that private because there are many people in the room.
But I told him about Solomon, King Solomon when he became -- when he was to become king of the Jews. He prayed to God, he said, how can I ever follow King David? King David, king of the Jews. I need you to give me great understanding and wisdom, Lord.
And after he prayed and prayed and prayed, God came to him and said Solomon, because you did not ask for longevity or great wealth or vengeance against your enemies, I will give you more wisdom than anyone has ever had.
[12:50:06] The wisdom of Solomon.
PELOSI: No, I didn't -- no, it had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with let us be prayerful and listen to each other and have an understanding of where people are coming from on all of this. Because, whatever you think about it, how many times did he mention the word wall in the public statement? I mean, that's all he could say. It's all he could say.
How many times did he mention that? However obsessed he is with the wall, is it worth shutting down the government and hurting the American people. When the economy has some uncertainty and that people are losing their jobs, the market being in a mood unpredictably that again, services being cut off from people who need them. It is not the right thing to do. It is the wrong thing to do and he shouldn't do it no matter what he thinks of his campaign promise. (INAUDIBLE)
PELOSI: No, I don't think so. I don't so. So I think everyday is a new day with all of these things. With the Republicans here and with the president of the United States.
And as I said at the press conference, we are prepared to be transparent, unlike the current Republican Congress. Bipartisan, were possible, and unifying. And that we extend the hand of friendship to him in that way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In your counteroffer, you laid out to him today, you said that he got this impression he would think about it. Anything more?
PELOSI: That's how it was left. We'll see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you think the Republicans don't have the capacity --
PELOSI: Because they don't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the chances of a shutdown leaving that meeting?
PELOSI: They had to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BASH: Nancy Pelosi there returning to Capitol Hill after some rhetorical jujitsu. I don't know any other way to describe it. But before we went to her, we were talking about the body language between -- and the interaction between Donald Trump and Chuck Schumer. One of the main reasons Nancy Pelosi has told me and others she wanted to stay in the game is because she is the only one woman in the room, always in these meetings.
And boy, was that, you know, kind of apparent and obvious and a reminder when we saw what happened today. And on that note, an interaction between her and Donald Trump on her future was very telling. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: She did get a little bit of maybe unneeded help from Chuck Schumer there saying elections have consequences, but she was trying to put him in his place, saying, you know, please don't talk about my political future. I'm fine. I can handle this. Let's talk about the issue on the table.
KEITH: Well -- and also highlighting that she most likely will be leader of the Democrats who will be in control of the House because of really large losses that Republicans took in the midterm. The president would rather not talk about it.
PHILLIP: And if anything, I think President Trump helped her out a lot in reaffirming to a lot of Democrats that she probably does have what it takes to spar with this president and maneuver in this environment. If there were people on the fence about whether Nancy Pelosi had the sort of Democratic agenda in her mind. I think she put that to rest today and she also made it clear that she is being clever about this. You heard what she was saying about trying to be prayerful about this.
These are not side comments that she's making by chance. She's trying to make it very clear that she is the one coming to the table trying to make peace and trying to characterize her opponent very differently. And, you know, this is about her demonstrating her strength not just to the president, but to her own fellow Democrats.
BASH: And I have been told by people who talk to the president that he genuinely respects her. That he actually likes her and understands the power that she has had in corralling the Democratic caucus both in terms of her leadership and in terms of getting big pieces of legislation done. And this comment that we just played aside, you could kind of see that.
You don't think so?
KNOX: No, I do. I mean, I was just going to say -- I mean, one thing you hear from a lot of Republicans in this town is, boy, I wish we had someone who could count votes the way Nancy Pelosi can and can corral her caucus the way Nancy Pelosi can, who can put down rebellions the way Nancy Pelosi can. So you hear that a fair amount.
It doesn't completely surprise me to hear that from -- that -- hearing that about the president. I mean, you saw another example of mutual respect between George W. Bush and Nancy Pelosi at the funeral for George H. W. Bush.
[12:55:07] So, yes, it's a real thing.
BASH: You were going to say something?
HULSE: I just think that he had mentioned that early that he would help her get the votes to be speaker. That didn't go over very well with her. She knows she can succeed without Donald Trump.
BASH: Carl Hulse, you got the final word. Before we -- OK, we're going to go to break because we're out of time. Thank you so much for joining us on this wild INSIDE POLITICS.
Brianna Keilar starts after a quick break.