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U.S. Government Shutdown Enters Day 12 with No Deal in Sight; Trump Invites Congressional Leaders to the Situation Room; White House States House Democrats Plan to Reopen Government a "Non-Starter"; Dow to Plunge on First Day of Trading in 2019. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. So glad you're with me. Jim Sciutto has a well-deserved holiday week off. Mitt lets it rip. Incoming Senator and former Republican Presidential Nominee, Mitt Romney delivers a blistering message to the president in a scathing op-ed. Romney blasts President Trump's character and argues he has not, quote, "Risen to the mantle of the office."

And speaking of office, Mitt Romney, taking his seat on Capitol Hill in just one day, will he lead the republican resistance to Trump or are his words just words? This morning the president is responding in typical fashion on Twitter. More on that in a moment but first today marks the 12th of the government shutdown and we are just hours away from a key meeting at the White House.

President Trump invited all those folks you see on your screen, key Congressional leaders, from both parties to join him for a briefing today on border security. But a Hill source tells us this meeting appears to be more of a stunt than a serious attempt to have a discussion about ending the shutdown, so that's where we begin at the White House. My colleague Boris Sanchez joins me this morning. Good morning. So, very powerful important people will all be in the room with the president and what can we expect?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Poppy. Yes, it is unclear exactly what will come of this meeting. We heard from a source on Capitol Hill this morning that it's taking place at a bit of an unexpected location here at the White House in the Situation Room, an area of the White House that's secured and typically reserved for monitoring and handling international conflicts, military disputes, et cetera.

It gives you an idea of how this administration views the issue of immigration with President Trump repeatedly referring to immigrants as invaders, especially before the mid-term election. It's unclear that cameras will be there to capture, what we saw last time that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer came here to the White House there were fireworks between those democratic leaders and the president. Of course, we can sort of expect what may come of this meeting just based on what we have seen in terms of statements put out by both sides. Here's something from Nancy Pelosi. She writes that President Trump

has given democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly and quickly pass our plan to end the irresponsible Trump shutdown. Just the first sign of things to come for our new democratic majority committed to working #ForThePeople. She is, of course, referring to that bipartisan of six bills that democrats are expected to pass through the House tomorrow. Unlikely it will reach the president's desk.

As he has said he will not sign anything with only $1.3 billion in border security funding, which is what democrats have offered. Here is a response from Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary where she refers to that. She writes quote, "President Trump made a serious good faith offer to democrats to open the government, address the crisis at our border and protect all Americans. We have heard nothing back from the democrats who so far have refused to compromise."

Again, unlikely the cameras will be there so we'll see how both sides spin what comes out of this likely highly-contentious meeting at the White House this afternoon Poppy.

HARLOW: Spin? It's a new year Boris. Maybe this will be a year sans spin. Before you go, my friend, I know there is a Cabinet meeting as well. What can we expect?

SANCHEZ: You are quite the optimist, Poppy. Yes, there is a Cabinet meeting according to sources taking place just before noon. The president will be speaking there before cameras. A couple of things to watch for first, today is actually John Kelly's last day at the White House. We're told by sources that Mick Mulvaney has already moved in so we will not see him at this meeting. What to watch for? What the president says about Mitt Romney following that scathing op-ed that you mentioned and how he talks about the shutdown and potentially his negotiations with Nancy Pelosi, whether he goes after her as aggressively as we have seen lately or if he's in a different mood and actually strikes a tone which indicates he may be willing to strike a deal with democrats.

HARLOW: All right, we'll see. The art of the deal, will it happen? Boris thank you. Now to Mitt Romney and his blistering op-ed about the president that comes one day before he assumes his new Senate seat. Let me read part of it this morning. Quote, "The Trump Presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside of us and the president's thoughtless claim that America has long been a sucker in world affairs all define his presidency down." Romney goes on to write, "With a nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership and qualities of character is indispensable and it is in this province where the incumbent shortfall has been most glaring." Ouch. Sunlen Serfaty joins us on Capitol Hill with more. The timing, interesting the day before he takes his Senate seat. The question becomes why?

[09:05:00] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That is the big question I think a lot of people up here Poppy are asking that very question. This was such a harsh message from Mitt Romney to the president and certainly the timing is questionable too. The fact that today is one day before he is sworn in as the next U.S. Senator. Mitt Romney in this op-ed, not only attacked some his policies but in perhaps the most cutting here was the attack on President Trump's character.

You read part of that where he talked about a deep decent he perceives that the Trump Administration went through in December, but he goes on to say in this op-ed, quote, "To a great degree a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow our better angels. A president should demonstrate that essential qualities of honesty and integrity and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect."

Now, we did hear from President Trump this morning. He tweeted out his response, he says, quote, "Here we go with Mitt Romney, but not so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big and he didn't. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a team player and win!"

And that reference there from President Trump was a reference the outgoing former Republican Senator form Utah, Jeff Flake, someone who stood up as something of a chief critic and regularly challenged President Trump and his Administration.

So, the fact that this op-ed is coming one day before he sworn in, a lot of talk about, will this be the role that Mitt Romney wants to take over, and it certainly seems that he's suggesting that he wants to take on that mantel as the next U.S. Senator here.

HARLOW: It is, but it is interesting. Flake voted with the president on almost everything. Will Romney do the same but then speak out against him? Sunlen, thanks for the reporting.

This afternoon Mitt Romney gives his first interview with our very own Jake Tapper, don't miss that on "The Lead" 4:00 o'clock eastern only right here on CNN.

Let's talk about all of the news of the morning. Molly Ball is with me, national and political correspondent for "TIME." And Rachel Bade, congressional reporter for Politico, good morning ladies.



HARLOW: Rachael, to you, notable that Romney is confronting the president just now, right, just as he assumes his Senate seat versus those who did so on departure, right? Like Flake and like Corker know that they -- to know that they weren't running again. What is his goal in all of this? Is it a warning shot across the bow?

BADE: Yes, absolutely. I think he is very clearly embracing stepping into that void that Bob Corker and Jeff Flake are leaving on Capitol Hill and those are two senators who are comfortable criticizing the president and pushing back on his tone when they disagree, which is something we don't see a lot of Republicans on the Hill do, because a lot of them privately don't agree with the president on certain things, but they muffle that criticism because they are afraid of speaking out against him.

But, again, right here you have Mitt Romney coming in on his first -- before his first day and speaking out. And I think it's really interesting to contrast that with one of his best friends in Congress, who is leaving, Paul Ryan, who was his running make in 2012.


BADE: Both of these men have talked about listening to our better angels and sort of have -- sort of set themselves up as the mantel to have this sort of moral compass. But, whereas Paul Ryan spent the past two years stifling any criticism he had of the president, it's clear Mitt Romney is breaking from one of his good friends from the 2012 campaign and is doing the exact opposite. So, we'll just have to see how that works out with him in terms of trying to get stuff done, his priorities done with the president while also criticizing him going forward.

HARLOW: Molly, you have conservative Bill Kristol, an anti-Trumper, I should note, who writes this morning on Twitter, "For now, at least Mitt Romney has become the leader of the Republican resistance to Trump.

But, I mean how much weight does that carry? Is it just Republican resistance in word or Republican resistance in action, meaning, can he wield the power to shift the Party in any significant way here or is that just not his aim?

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I actually don't think there's a distinction there. I think that word matter in this sense and I think there's two really notable things about this op-ed.

First of all, I think Romney is speaking less to the president, or even the nation, than to his fellow Republicans, directly rebutting the argument you hear most often from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

He's saying out loud what a lot of people say privately or are thinking, Rachael's totally right about that, but he also, what you hear from Republican's so often is, this is all just noise, it's bluster, it's trash talk from Trump. You shut that out, you compartmentalize it, because what matters is the policy.

He's saying, no, you can't separate those things. He's saying, character matters and he's framing it as a matter of morality, which we have not seen a lot of Republicans do.

And second of all, there's a heavy emphasis on foreign policy here and that's not something where the Senate has as much power to act, but it is where we have seen Republicans rebuke Trump --

HARLOW: On sanctions. BALL: -- or past things he didn't necessarily love in the past. And so, that seems to be where Romney's driving very hard. Don't forget, he wrote an entire book about American foreign policy, he's long been concerned, particularly, about the Russian threat. And so, that's the area, I think, where he plans to focus.

HARLOW: Right, and that's the area where Congress has tied the president's hands, right, on Russia, on sanctions, et cetera. To the shutdown, day 12 that we enter this morning on this front, no deal near in sight and you have this key meeting, Rachel, at the White House today. We will see what comes of it. The president wrote border security and this wall thing and shutdown is where Nancy Pelosi wants to start her tenure as speaker. Let's take a deal. You have a new piece out, fascinating in POLITICO this morning. The headline, "Why Trump Has Spared Pelosi From His Personal Vitriol So Far." Explain.

BALL: So far.

HARLOW: So far.

BALL: No listen, the president we know that he loves to go after his adversaries. He makes nicknames for them. He hounds them on twitter. He has had an opportunity to do that in the past couple weeks when it comes to this shutdown and Nancy Pelosi. Some republicans have been out there saying Nancy Pelosi was in Hawaii. The president was in Washington. He hasn't said anything like that. And you know from my understanding in talking to people on both sides is that this is intentional that he's taken a more mild approach to Pelosi because he sees her as someone he could get stuff done with next year, whether it's infrastructure, lowering prescription drug prices and he's sort of looking beyond the shutdown and trying to keep that positive relationship.

But -- but, we know the president in moments of frustration will turn on people on a dime. So I just think that this shutdown is a real test of their relationship. He admires her. He's told people privately he thinks he's strong and he admires that. But is he going to keep that sort of more professional relationship with her in the next few weeks or do they totally - does he lose that and does it up end the relationship totally?

HARLOW: Molly, let me ask you about something that's not certainly getting as many headlines this morning as shutdown day 12 or Mitt Romney's op-ed that's everywhere, but it's something that's really important and it's something that happened yesterday on the debt ceiling and what democrats signaled that they may reinstate the Gephardt Rule. This came from John Yarmuth, of course incoming Budget Committee Chairman. The significance of democrats doing that and attaching it to any budget that's passed?

BALL: Well it's interesting. The debt ceiling hasn't been that much of an issue since republicans took control of Washington. They were willing to make it an issue when there was a democrat in the White House and there's a long history of hypocrisy by both parties on this right? Democrats made an issue out of the debt ceiling when there was a republican in the White House. There really hasn't been something you hear a lot about.

HARLOW: But it will be(ph)...

BALL: Now that Trump is president they haven't been willing to make it that much of an issue. So, yes, this is something where the democrats could be giving up a potential pressure point, something that they could make an issue out of to torment the republicans. But it also doesn't apply to the Senate. So we'll see whether it actually matters.

HARLOW: All right Molly Ball. Thank you Rachel Bade. Appreciate it this morning.

We are following all of the developments of course on the shutdown but also on this man that detained American in Russia, accused of being a U.S. spy. The Russian Foreign Ministry now tells CNN that Paul Whelan just got consular access. That is a significant development. We'll have the latest on the case ahead.

Also the first day of trading in the new year and things get could get ugly. Mixed, look at that. You've got the Dow futures pointing slightly lower and NASDAQ up a little bit. We'll take you live to the New York Stock Exchange.

And twin boys joined at the head captivated millions around the world. Now more than two years after their surgery, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta continues to tell their miraculous story.


[09:15:00] HARLOW: It is day 12 of the partial government shutdown, and right now, it's looking more and more like Congress will reconvene tomorrow with no immediate resolution in sight. Let's speak with Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, he sits on the Intelligence Committee, good morning.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: Good morning, happy new year.

HARLOW: Happy new year to you. I wish Congress was beginning its session with a deal. We'll see if something happens at the White House today. But let me ask you about a letter that likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent to you and all of your Democratic colleagues last night.

Here's part of what she writes, quote, "House Democrats will take action to end the Trump shutdown." She goes on to say "it's important to note that these bills contain no new wall funding." The White House last night, as you know, called this a non-starter.

So, I think, first, yes or no to you. Do you have any reason to believe that the president would sign a bill like this?

QUIGLEY: No, but I think you have to start somewhere, and you have to keep pushing the envelope. Merely staring at each other and talking on shows like this don't get anything done. You have to sit down, you have to make an effort. Let's remember what Miss Pelosi is proposing here, to reopen the

government. Six of the seven bills we still have to approve were what she's proposing are measures that came out of the Republican- controlled Senate. The seventh we have a short-term Homeland Security measure just to get the government back open.

And if you want to talk and debate the issue, fine. But in the meantime, government workers go back to work.

HARLOW: Look, there are 800,000 or so government workers affected by this, furloughed by this, not getting pay over the holidays, it's a real problem for them certainly. But if your answer is no, this is not something that you think the president will sign.

And you're the one who tweeted on new year's day you want to and look forward to a productive 116th Congress. You told the "Daily Herald" in Chicago this Fall, "I am here to get things done." Is that really the best faith effort you think Democrats should be putting forward, something that you admit the president wouldn't sign?

[09:20:00] QUIGLEY: Well, let's put the president as he did alone on this issue. He tweeted on Christmas that he was alone. Democrats and Republicans funded this government for 2018 on a bicameral, bipartisan basis. And they did at least on a temporary basis for 2019.

In the 11th hour, King Leer shouting at the winds, decided he didn't like I guess what he saw on TV and shut it all down. It is difficult for Democrats to help the president here and reach a compromise when he takes an extreme position.


QUIGLEY: It is difficult for the --

HARLOW: I hear you --

QUIGLEY: Rest of the world to act with this president when he's an isolationist, and even the Republicans when he acts impulsively on Saudi Arabia, Syria matters, Sessions and others. So look, I'm willing to work on a bipartisan basis. Have a --

HARLOW: Yes --

QUIGLEY: History of doing so. The president makes it extraordinarily difficult when he acts impulsively on the 11th hour.

HARLOW: You do have a history of acting on a bipartisan basis. And so that's why I'm asking you, Congressman, if you had your druthers, would you do it differently? Would you not put forth what Nancy Pelosi is proposing?

Would you side more with some of those that have told me on this show, like Congresswoman Jackie Speier that she would be for $2.5 billion for wall funding as the vice president proposed if there was a DACA deal included? Or just yesterday, from the state of Michigan, Representative Debbie Dingle who said I'm sort of in a Jackie Speier camp.

Would you like to see Democrats take that approach for something the president might sign instead of this, which you say he won't?

QUIGLEY: Look, I think we have to approve things that make sense from a policy point of view, and don't just get the budget approved. I was at the border in October, and the experts were talking to me about imaging, cameras, drones, roads, boats on the Rio Grande.

This is technology for a modern time. So if the issue is border security, we can fund those, and we did. There's still over a billion dollars worth of funds available for border security. For me, to suggest that I would compromise by approving something that makes absolutely no sense and waste $5 billion, I just can't do that with my constituents --


QUIGLEY: And look them in the eyes. I'm for --

HARLOW: Do you --

QUIGLEY: Compromising, but it has to make some sense.

HARLOW: To your point about the billion dollars that hasn't all been spent, yet, was allocated in fiscal 2018. I hear you, but you know that, that money was only allocated to fix or beef up existing parts of that 700 miles of fencing. None of it can go toward a border wall.

It sounds like you're in the camp that says Democrats shouldn't budge, that not a dollar should go towards a border wall. Is that right?

QUIGLEY: I am for resources that protect our border. I don't think the wall is the right thing to do. All the items I just mentioned address border security. And when the president --

HARLOW: But some Republicans do, so --

QUIGLEY: Talks about narcotics crossing the border --

HARLOW: But some Republicans and the president do. They think a wall is part of the solution. So is there a middle ground for you? Are you -- are you at the point where you are saying not a dollar toward this wall?

QUIGLEY: I don't think the wall makes any sense. If you're concerned about narcotics crossing, 85 percent of those narcotics are crossing at the check points. If you're worried about security, the vast majority of those attempting to cross the border want to be apprehended because they're seeking a status here in the United States.

They're not trying to sneak across. Why spend billions on an idea that doesn't work? Century old technology. I am for border security. I think the compromise is using that money on programs and projects that actually accomplish that goal. I think that's a worthy compromise.

HARLOW: One final question, given your important position on the House Intelligence Committee on impeachment. One of the last times that you were on this show with us, you told my colleague Jim Sciutto when he asked you about impeachment, you said, look, the president in your words has abused his power.

You went on to say I believe the president of the United States obstructed this investigation. Is impeachment as this new Congress takes session on your agenda?

QUIGLEY: It isn't, because as a former criminal defense attorney, I learned the hard way that you don't stop an investigation when you think you found enough. You complete the investigation because you want to find out exactly what took place.

What did the Russians do and who conspired with them how to stop it in the future? So I tell the Republicans, protect the Mueller investigation. To be fair, I have to tell my own colleagues, if we had gone to impeachment when some wanted to, you would have known nothing about the Flynn, Manafort or Cohen court cases.

[09:25:00] Let the investigation complete its course, let's get the report, let the House begin to re-open its part of the investigation so the American public knows exactly what took place. At that point in time, Congress can make that decision. But we need to do this fairly, rationally and methodically.

HARLOW: Congressman Mike Quigley, happy new year, I appreciate your time this morning. Thanks.

QUIGLEY: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right, we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, taking a look at Futures, the Dow off almost 400 points in this first trading session set to be begin. There we go, Dow down 400 as the market gets ready to open for the first time of the new year. Alison Kosik live with me at the New York Stock Exchange before the bell. Good morning.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Poppy. Yes, we are just moments away from the opening bell, a new year, but disable volatility, looks like, yes, the Dow will drop in the triple digits when that opening bell rings. We will be back with the opening bell after the break.