Return to Transcripts main page


AP: Iowa Democrat Says It's OK To "Fall In Like" With 2020 Candidate As Long As The Person Wins; CNN: House Dems Hiring Lawyers To Power Trump Investigations; Nielsen Visits Border After Two Children Die In U.S. Custody; Trump's Evolving Relationship With DHS Secretary Nielsen; Giuliani: Talks On Trump-Mueller Interview Haven't Formally Ended. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 28, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: -- where Senator Warren has made a kind of proactive approach to talk to these voters and to talk in more kind of a open terms about issues of racism and racial justice then maybe some of her progressive predecessors have. And that's going to be something that's going to be key to watch in 2020, because not all white progressives are created equal for lack of a better phrase and some who are like Senator Warren, like Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio feel very comfortable going into black spaces and winning over those votes.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Those will be really interesting to watch. Something else to be interesting to watch is 2020 in the AP talk to folks in Iowa, a crucial state for the Democratic primary. This is what one strategist said, "The innocence in us wants to fall in love, said Nikki Neems, an Iowa City Democratic activist who pledged to herself to Obama before he even announced his candidacy. But whoever we all think stands the best chance, then let's get out there and start door knocking. So for me, it's OK to just fall in like."

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yes, that's right we have great piece out from my colleague who's based in Iowa who talked to a lot of these folks. And Iowa Democrats take their role as the -- in the first caucuses very seriously. And they take a lot of pride in being the state that put President Obama on his path to nomination.


LUCEY: And that really was for a lot of people a real love match. But, what you're hearing from a lot of people right now is sort of a heart versus head calculation. And what they are saying is we don't need to rush into a relationship right now. We want someone who has a message that could win, that can build a coalition, because their driving motivation is they are just so galvanized to try and defeat President Trump that they don't -- they want -- they just want the best candidate they can get even if it isn't a, you know, a great romance.

HENDERSON: Yes, and we'll see a lot of this of course play out in the Senate a lot of folks of there thinking about eying a run. We'll see what happens.

The House Judiciary Committee is hiring lawyers, preparing for a possible congressional investigation of President Trump after Democrats take charge of the House. That's next.


[12:36:27] HENDERSON: Topping our political radar today, President Trump will be in Washington at least until a deal over border wall funds is reached in a partial shut down of the government end, according to incoming Acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, which means that President Trump he's going to miss the New Year's eve extravaganza at Mar-a-Lago this year where ticket prices jumped to $1,000 dollars per person. Prices for that event have increased every year since Donald Trump was elected.

There could be a legal fight brewing in North Carolina over election results. The campaign of Republican Congressional candidate, Mark Harris has filed an emergency petition to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District Race.

Harris, he holds a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready on official tally, but the state election board has refused to certify the race while it investigates absentee ballot irregularities under court or that board dissolved at the top of this hour and in its new form the board won't be able to hold hearings or call for a new election.

House Democrats are lawyering up, posting jobs for lawyers with expertise on a long list of different areas including criminal, immigration, and bankruptcy law. They appear to be getting ready for possible Congressional investigation of President Trump after they take charge, but Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown said it's not just the Judiciary Committee that's hiring right now.


REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D), MARYLAND: There is a tremendous amount of oversight that has been neglected during the last two years under the Republican-led Congress. And as Democrats, we have made a commitment to resume that most important function of government. So you're pointing out the staffing up on the Judiciary Committee but there's equal staff enough going on in other committees.


HENDERSON: Let me bring back my panel and we're joined by CNN Politics Reporter Jeremy Herb who reported this story. Jeremy, what did Democrats tell you about this hiring push?

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, you know, we're going to see a huge range of issues that Democrats are going to investigate, everything from President Trump's finances, to his businesses, to the actions of members of his cabinet. And Democrats, every single Democratic committee gets to basically double their staff.

And as a result there's a ton of people that they're in the process of hiring now. These hires -- they're not going to actually start until the New Year, until the congress has sworn in. But the committees have already begun figuring out who it is and what they want.

So we found for instance Judiciary Committee is asking for a wide range of different kinds of lawyers, everything from bankruptcy law, to criminal law. Other committees are looking for staffers that have experienced in subpoenas and in other sorts of topics that basically going to oversight now. The pitfall that Democrats have here potentially is that they could overreach --

HENDERSON: Overreach, right.

HERB: Yes, exactly. They might, you know, they have to be careful. And Nancy Pelosi is really trying to keep her committees on the same page so that they're coordinated as they go forward with us.

HENDERSON: And so what does this mean for 2019? Are we going to see a bunch of hearings, people being called to testify before these hearings? If so, when would something like that start?

HERB: I think that is definitely what we're going to see. Again, we're going to see it over a large portion of committees.


HERB: Usually committee, they're in charge of impeachment. And so, if the Democrats decide they want to go that route, then they'll be in charge of that show. But, everything from the armed services committee, to the energy committee, to the intelligence committee, they're going to be investigating different parts of the President's life and his administration.


[12:40:08] HERB: And what's key though is, this is not all going to happen on January 3rd. It's going to be a slow ramp up because the committees have to organize, they have to hire these people and they have to actually do the investigating that will lead to these hearings.

HENDERSON: And you heard Anthony Brown there use the phrase tremendous amount of oversight. Catherine, that is certainly something that this president hasn't seen so far.

LUCEY: Well, certainly there's a lot of outside investigations and inspections going on, but yes, he has not seen this kind of his -- for the first two years of his presidency. Their problems have held, you know, the House and the Senate. And that's really -- this is a shift into a new phase for his presidency. He is going to be facing a House that is going to be doing all of these investigations on all each topics that we talked about and are going to be pushing their own legislative agenda as well.

We know he -- they have been trying to make some changes at the White House.


LUCEY: The new Chief of staff that someone the President hopeful, had relationship in the Hill, understands the Hill. They're hoping that that helps them navigate this. But this is going to be a very difficult time for him for next year.

HENDERSON: Yes. It's going to be a bumpy ride, folks.

Up next, after the deaths of two immigrant children in U.S. custody, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is visiting the border to see conditions first hand. One volunteer who's working to find migrant shelter after their release, says they're hearing horror stories.


DYLAN CORBETT, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE: They were telling us about the conditions which are absolutely horrendous. Dogs in pet shelters are kept in better conditions than these migrants are being kept in. So it was bound to happen that folks were going to be sick.



[12:45:52] HENDERSON: Just days after a second migrant child died in U.S. custody near the border, Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen has headed to El Paso, Texas. She'll be visiting the border patrol station to see the medical screenings and conditions first hand.

CNN's Nick Valencia who's been all over the story is live there and joins us now. Nick, thanks so much for joining us. What are we expecting to come today out of Secretary Nielsen's visit?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is as much of a PR visit if anything else Nia. We haven't been given many details from Nielsen's team. We know as you noted that she's going to be focusing on medical screenings. And you remember earlier this week she had a series of protective measures that she announced after the death of 8-year old Felipe Gomez Alonzo.

He is the second child migrant to die in less than three weeks and it has brought renewed attention on the type of medical care, healthcare that these migrants are given after they're brought into U.S. custody. In fact it's something that Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke about earlier this morning.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are doing everything in our capacity to make sure that when people do come, that they're taken care of so that we don't have these types of instances. Many cases they show up extremely dehydrated without food and they're seeing the doctor -- a doctor for the very first time in their lives, both adults and children. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Back to the death of that 8-year-old Guatemalan migrant, we are learning new information today from the New Mexico Office of medical examiner who says that they did some lung swabs and nasal swabs and they found that he had influenza B, tested positive for that.

If that's the question, if he was showing flu symptoms signs, why he wasn't tested for the flu? Initially, CDP release a statement saying that he was diagnosed with a common cold and he had a 103 degree fever and was released anyway with some antibiotic prescriptions and ibuprofen. His condition only worsened.

Officially, his cause of death isn't going to be released for perhaps after three months. We learned yesterday that it could take between six and 12 weeks before his official cause of death is announced. And the family meanwhile in Guatemala, they're begging to have their son's body released so they can give him a proper burial and have him laid to rest. Nia.

HENDERSON: Wow, Nick Valencia, thanks so much for that report from El Paso.

And one of the interesting things about this and Nick talked about this, this idea that Kirstjen Nielsen is basically on a sort of a PR campaign. And we've heard from this president, her job has seemed to be sort of uncertain if she's going to continue. And here's what he's had to say about her over the last couple of weeks.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you're doing a good job and it's not an easy job. Some of these places, they're really running them well and I give a lot of credit to Secretary Nielsen.

I like her very much. I respect her very much. I'd like her to be much tougher on the border. Much tougher, period.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Secretary Nielsen is doing a good enough job?

TRUMP: She's in there trying. I tell you, it's a tough job.


HENDERSON: Astead, I'm going to bring you in on this. You have the President there saying she's trying. The relationship that this President has had with the Secretary of Homeland Security has been a complicated one.

HERNDON: Yes, we've seen him oscillate from being very effusing (ph) as praise with Secretary Nielsen as we saw to kind of being lukewarm in more recent times. I think that comes from the intense pressure that the base puts on President Trump in this administration on this issue. I mean, this is a conservative base that really sees no limit to how far the White House and the administrations can go on issues of illegal immigration which puts the Secretary in a difficult spot. We've had reporting from other outlets and the times also about how the Secretary has been under pressure from the President and how the President has wanted to do actions that sometimes may seem extra judicial or outside of the scope of her job.

And that has put her on her a difficult position but we have to say that even though these things are going on, even though the base is putting them under real political pressure, there's still this big moral questions that have to be asked when children are dieing, when families are being separated. That has brought some really intense scrutiny on the administration. We saw some blow back in the mid- terms to that. And that's going to continue or even ramp up in the next year as Democrats take control of the House.

[12:50:10] HENDERSON: And Dianne Feinstein, Karoun, wants to see more scrutiny. She seeks a hearing after the children's deaths. And this is what she had to say, "These heart breaking incidents are sadly consistent with previous reports of widespread abuse of children in immigration custody and the judgment of medical and mental health organizations and border patrol facilities are not adequately staffed or equipped to properly care for children."

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. And Feinstein is a top Democrat on Senate judiciary so that's going to be up to Lindsey Graham who's likely who's going to be chairman who actually has got a fairly moderate view of immigration policy for a Republican. But it's definitely seemed like it's something that the House will pick up. I mean, you heard House lawmakers all year talking about what about the kids at the border. What about the family separation policy. Now it's their time.

Their job isn't just to look into the Russia things and the Mueller allegations and the financial considerations about President Trump, but also the policies of the administration and immigration and the border. And everything that it entails for especially the children that have been caught up in all these policies is really a high priority.

HENDERSON: And quickly, I'm going to put up this up on screen, if you look at the border apprehensions under each of the Trump's DHS secretaries, you look at Nielsen there, this is a problem that's getting worse. Drucker, you want to weigh in quickly?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESSPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes. Look, this is not politically sustainable for Republicans or the President no matter who is at fault, the dangerous journey of getting to the southern border or the United States Government after these individuals are detained.

And, you know, people talking about the Republican base and the pressure they may put on the President, but this -- but there's a larger Republican coalition that does not like the President's approach to border politics. We saw that in the mid-term elections. So, this is something both he and his party needs to figure out in a better way if they want to be in a better position in 2020.

HENDERSON: Yes, already. Up next, the Mueller probe gets the jeopardy treatment.


[12:56:35] HENDERSON: President Trump's Attorney, Rudy Giuliani tells the Daily Beast that quote, "The loop hasn't been closed when it comes to the President doing an interview with Special Council Robert Mueller and negotiations haven't formally ended yet." Giuliani said, "They haven't ended because it's not just my opinion that matters. There are other lawyers involved and the President of the United States of course. My opinion is I don't trust them. I look at how they treated Manafort, Flynn, and Corsi."

So, if you're keeping track at home, Giuliani also told the Hill Newspaper this week that President Trump, "will not be answering any more questions from these people."

CNN's Evan Perez, he joins us now. You've been all over this. Evan, thanks for joining us today. What do we know about what's ahead in 2019 with this Mueller probe?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well we expect -- I mean, we expect that the Mueller part of this investigation is almost concluded. Probably in the next couple of months, we're going to see that Mueller is going to send his report, whatever findings are in that report. And then the new phase, the next phase of this fight begins, right.

With the Democrats, they're going to want to get their hands on whatever report Mueller produces. The President and his legal team say, not so fast. We're going to have to litigate this because there's executive privilege and there's a lot of questions that the -- how long that fight really goes on before they -- the Democrats to begin to do their own investigations on Capitol Hill. So, the preview of coming attractions is simply that this is entering the next phase which will take us to 2020.

HENDERSON: And there's this weird reference in the court filings in the Russian troll foreign (ph) case to a nude selfie.


HENDERSON: "Could the manner in which he collected a nude selfie really threaten the National Security of the United States, Concord's lawyers ask in this particular filing." Say what now?

PEREZ: Yes, exactly, right. It certainly made you read.


PEREZ: But, look, probably a Russian nude selfie and apparently its in this terabytes of information that the Special Counsel says the lawyers for this company are allowed to see, but which they're not allowed to share. And so this is all a fight about how information that is shared with the defense is allowed to be shared beyond them, including with Russians back in Russia.

So this is a fight over that, but hey, you know, it's -- there's a nude selfie in there. Were going to try to figure out what that means.

HENDERSON: Yes. And that's never good model. I don't really want to hear anything about that. Something a little more fun here, Mueller on jeopardy or playback clip and then we're out of here, probably.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes lawyers for 400. At least 17 indictments and five guilty pleas were in by May 17 of 2018, one year after he became Special Counsel.



HENDERSON: He got that pretty quickly.

DEMIRJIAN: Now you know you he's important.

HENDERSON: Yes, he writes jeopardy.

DEMIRJIAN: Jeopardy or Sesame Street and then you know that he made it.

HENDERSON: Yes, yes, yes.

LUCEY: Part of the popular conversation.


HENDERSON: They got it. They got it right away. Thanks for joining us on "INSIDE POLITICS". We'll see you back here Sunday morning. Dana Bash starts right now.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everybody. I'm Dana Bash for Brianna Keilar. And we start with the New Year fast approaching and still no sign of a deal to end the government shutdown. It's been almost a week now.

And today, we do have a new threat from the President.