Return to Transcripts main page

CNN RIGHT NOW

Trump to Meet with Congressional Leaders over Shutdown; Trump Blasts "Failed Generals" Who Criticized Him; Netflix Pulls Comedian's Episode at Request of Saudis; Analyst: Elizabeth Warren Scores Low on Electability; Trump Holds Cabinet Meeting on Day 12 of Shutdown. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Let's talk about the shutdown. What do you think is going to come out of this meeting at the White House between the president and top Democrats and Republicans? We're hearing pessimism on both sides.

REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I sure hope everybody acts like an adult. I hope they use a civil tone. I hope they try to learn from each other. And I'm a big believer, as is our caucus, our Problem Solvers Caucus, in viewing people that think differently as a strength to be harnessed, not a weakness to be criticized. I hope they act like adults and not children.

I hope don't talk at each other but they try to listen and find out where the other people are coming from. They might learn something. In every single relationship in our lives, Brianna, whether personal, business, financial, is based on learning from what you don't know, learning from other people with different experiences. Congress should be no different. The White House should be no different.

KEILAR: I think a lot of people would agree with you, even as they say I don't think that's going to happen. You have Democrats that have been unbending on this. The president isn't giving. Who needs to budge when it comes to this money for the wall or border security?

FITZPATRICK: Everybody. Everybody needs to compromise. Everybody needs to build consensus. Just like every aspect of our lives. There's no functional piece of our lives where we get everything 100 percent of the time, where we lecture people based on what we believe and tell them, if they don't agree with us, they don't know what they're talking about. It's ridiculous.

That's not how any aspect of our lives function. Congress should be no different. People feel passionately on both sides of the immigration debate. I believe we need robust border security and we need to protect our DACA kids, unequivocally. That's what our Problem Solvers Caucus, the package we came up with did.

But you have to ideologues, the far right and far left, that are dug in and nothing gets done and the problem is perpetuated. And that's not what most people in this country want. I'm sure of that.

KEILAR: You have been critical of the president, even in this interview. We can be sure about that. I wonder, though, when you look to 2020, do you think he should be renominated? Are you glad he's going to be the nominee for your party?

FITZPATRICK: We don't know what will happen in 2020. I didn't vote for him in 2016 and got criticized.

KEILAR: Should a Republican primary him?

FITZPATRICK: I think anybody who wants to run should run and anybody who has a view of America they want to advance and get support of, absolutely. Everybody. I'm a big believer, and I have the same view of my own races. The more people that get in the better. The more dialogue, the more different opinions of good people that want to serve their country and offer their perspective on the best path forward, of course, everybody should get in.

KEILAR: Who do you think might get in or should get in?

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: No one on your mind?

FITZPATRICK: No. Who knows. Nobody knows who will get in on the Democrat or Republican side. It's so early. We haven't gotten sworn into the new term we just got elected to.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Any perspective 2020 challenger you like, though?

FITZPATRICK: I like a ton of my colleagues. That's -- there's an endless number of people I love and respect. That would be great. But who knows. We don't know if the president is going to run again. It's so hard to predict what will happen in the next few weeks, let along, year or year and a half. It's incumbent on all of us to keep an open mind, learn as much as we can about everybody, be respectful in our analysis and withhold judgment until we get all the information. I think that's all any of us should do.

KEILAR: Should Trump run again?

FITZPATRICK: If he wants to run again he should.

(CROSSTALK)

FITZPATRICK: But that's a decision for the voters also, Brianna.

KEILAR: The president -- it's also a decision for your party when you have members like yourself who have been concerned about his tone, who feel like it's disruptive to your party. But you don't want to weigh in on that?

FITZPATRICK: Well, I didn't vote for him in 2016 in the primary of the general. But my belief is in candidacies and campaigns is everybody who wants to run to offer their voice up. The more people, the better. I believe that across the board. I think we need to be consistent in all cases.

KEILAR: Congressman Fitzpatrick, the president, as you know, has taken aim at failed generals -- that's what he called them in a tweet. He's describing military leaders who have criticized him. Maybe they've criticized his policy to quickly pull out Syria. There's General Mattis, who resigned as his defense secretary.

Retired General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired after his criticism of President Obama became public years ago. Then there's retired Admiral McRaven, who oversaw the bin Laden raid but has criticized President Trump. To be clear, these men have good reputations as military leaders. I wonder what your reaction is to the president taking aim at them.

FITZPATRICK: Very concerned, very concerned. I was deeply troubled by the resignation of Secretary Mattis who has universal bipartisan support as not only a good military leader but a good human being. And we need as many over those as we can, not just in the administration but in government in general. And to have all that knowledge walk out the door at this point where we have so many threats.

The decision in Syria concerns me. The decision in Afghanistan. Brianna, I just left spending Christmas day with the troops in the Middle East. We got the briefings. It reaffirmed what I believe beforehand, that the military leaders need to make the military decisions. There's nothing more disturbing, as an FBI agent for 14 years, than when you had policymakers who never worked an undercover investigation, never recruited a source, never wired up an informant, making decisions for the street agents having never done the job.

I don't think it should be different here. We need to listen to the Border Patrol, the CBP and the Coast Guard when it comes to border security. We ought to listen to military leaders when it comes to military strategy.

[13:35:53] KEILAR: Having met with members of the military while you were overseas in the Middle East for Christmas, did you get a sense of how moral may or maybe it wasn't impacted by the president's decisions or incoming decision.

FITZPATRICK: One of the amazing things with the military, Brianna -- and I know you know this first hand, you come from a military family, and as a citizen, thank you for that, by the way -- they are so loyal to the mission. They don't get involved in politics. They serve the country. They serve a cause bigger than themselves. It's one of the amazing things about men and women over there.

KEILAR: But do they clear about what their mission is? We are at this time of uncertainty.

FITZPATRICK: Yes, I think they are clear on the mission. The question is the timeline of it. They won't express their political beliefs. But I can as a member of Congress. I think it's a terrible mistake to withdraw from Syria. By most measures, we have a limited footprint, roughly about 2,000 troops, that serve, according to General Mattis, as a stabilizing force against Assad to keep Turkey and Russia and China and Iran in check. It's part of that overall Middle East military strategy, which is very complicated when you talk about the Kurds and everybody else impacted by this. I think it's incumbent on any elected official, whether a member of Congress or a member of the administration, to defer to the experts in the military who are not political. They're not basing their decisions on politics but on military strategy. That's the way it should be.

KEILAR: Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, thank you for joining us and happy New Year.

FITZPATRICK: Happy New Year, Brianna. Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: Coming up, streaming scandal. Netflix bends to a request from Saudi Arabia, yanks an episode of a comedy show accusing the kingdom of a coverup in the murder of a journalist that the U.S. intel community believes it's responsible for. I'll get reaction from Jamal Khashoggi's editor, next.

Plus, frightening moments at a Florida zoo when a two-year-old girl slips and falls into an exhibit and comes face to face with a rhinoceros.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:42:29] KEILAR: When comic, Hasan Minhaj, took aim at Saudi Arabia's crown prince over Jamal Khashoggi's death, for which intel officials believe he's responsible, officials in the kingdom didn't find it funny. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASAN MINHAJ, COMEDIAN: Just a few months ago, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, A/K/A, MBS, was hailed as the reformer the Arab world needed. But the revelations about Khashoggi's killing have shattered that image. And it blows my mind that it took the killing of a "Washington Post" journalist for everyone to go, oh, I guess he's really not a reformer. Meanwhile, every Muslim person you know was like, yes, no (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(LAUGHTER)

He's the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Netflix has pulled that episode of Minhaj's show "Patriot Act" from streaming in Saudi Arabia. This is a decision that has prompted widespread outrage, and that includes from Karen Attiah. She is the global opinions editor for the "Washington Post." She was Jamal Khashoggi's editor.

Karen, thank you so much for being with us.

KAREN ATTIAH, GLOBAL OPINIONS EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you for having me. KEILAR: What was your reaction to Netflix pulling this?

ATTIAH: Netflix is in a difficult situation. Ultimately, the fault lies with Saudi laws that are very broad, very wide ranging. The cybercrime law bans activity that upsets public order, religious morals. So it's used to silence journalists. It's used to silence all sorts of people for tweets. And so in some ways, it's unsurprising.

But I think where a lot of the shock comes from is that Netflix so quickly decided to pull the show. It just speaks to -- Hasan's show is brilliant. I commended him for being smart and unique and funny. But also keeping attention on Khashoggi's case and it shows he must have struck a nerve and said the right thing.

KEILAR: When you watched that, what was your reaction as Jamal's friend and as his colleague, before this was pulled by Netflix, when you got to view this some time ago? What did you think?

ATTIAH: Well, in some ways, it was kind of emotional to watch the show, to see Jamal Khashoggi's story is such a global story to see. That it even penetrated the comedy world just goes to show just how much it angered and resonated with people. And I think, in particular, in Hasan's case, in one part of the show, he talks about being a Muslim and feeling conflicted about Saudi Arabia's role in repression as well as being the sight of Mecca, the holy site. So in that case, it added an extra layer of punch and complexity to this whole story. So I'm glad to see Hasan take up the case for justice for Jamal.

[13:45:47] KEILAR: OK, you say Netflix is in a tough position here. And in an official statement Netflix said Saudi Arabia threatened prosecution around a cyber crime law. Netflix is available in over 190 countries. Do you worry this sets a precedent for other oppressive or stricter nations to exploit?

ATTIAH: Absolutely. To a certain extent. Now for Americans -- maybe this will go viral on YouTube and many more people may now want to watch this. Perhaps causing a striking effect where banning something actually increases the demand for it. But I think it's a chilling precedent that anybody who dares criticize Saudi Arabia might now find themselves dealing with tech companies or streaming companies that will be willing to kowtow to their demands for censorship.

I hope in some ways that Netflix can clarify what exactly this process was in their decision. But I hope that doesn't chill people from speaking out and speaking the truth about Mohammed bin Salman, about Jamal's death, and the need for the United States to reset its relationship with Saudi Arabia, which was basically the crux of Hasan's show.

KEILAR: I do think more people will watch it, I think you're right, Karen.

Karen Attiah, thank you so much.

ATTIAH: Thank you.

KEILAR: Any moment, we are expecting new video of the president at his cabinet meeting taking questions from reporters. Live pics of the White House here. And we're told there was a lot of news being made in this meeting. Stand by for that.

Plus, as Elizabeth Warren heads to Iowa, there's one high-profile Democrat who says Joe Biden has the best case among anyone on the Democratic side to be president. We'll discuss that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:52:10] KEILAR: We are awaiting video of a meeting, a cabinet meeting there at the White House where there's also some Q&A between reporters and the president. We will bring that to you. We'll dip into that.

In the meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is taking a lot of incoming from President Trump, is possible, probably running against him. She's very much looking into running for president, but does she have a shot? Based on new polling analyzed by our Harry Enten, on electability alone, Warren actually underperformed when compared to other possible 2020 Democratic contenders in the 2018 midterms. The only other possible contender to also underperform was also Senator Bernie Sanders.

Let's talk about all this with U.S. CNN Political Analyst, Karoun Demirjian, Jackie Kucinich.

Sorry for butchering your name.

(LAUGHTER)

When you look at that, when you look at what Harry Enten did, which is interesting because he looked at how a Democratic Senator performed compared to other Democrats on the same ticket. Kind of comparing, hey, this is a trend for that state, this is how the Senator should have done, did they do better, did they do worse.

What do you think about that, Jackie, that it seems like Elizabeth Warren underperformed?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANAYLST: I think some of the other candidates aren't as well-known as Elizabeth Warren. And she's been more of a national figure since she's been -- since she was elected. So perhaps that's why. But, you know, listen, maybe because of that she has a lot more campaigning to do. Some of these early states she hasn't spent as much time at. The Warren people are looking at that. They look to compensate for it.

KEILAR: That's a good point.

When you think of the people that did better, you have Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown. They're not as well-known as Elizabeth Warren.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not as known as Elizabeth Warren. And this a comparison of people in their home state, which is not what they'll do in a potential presidential run. I'm from Massachusetts. I know it's actually one of the weird states because it's so independently liberal in certain districts. It's harder to run statewide. There's 35 percent of the state that's not as liberal as people think that they are, which is not the backdrop of places like Minnesota and Ohio. The bar is higher for Warren to clear to outperform absolutely everybody else in the state.

However, it does go to the question of, is there something that she can do at this point to make herself that much more electable, that much more likable. We know her. She's been out doing her thing. She's a kind of known quantity or at least people think she is. She's going to be able to get people more excited about her than it appears to show.

(CROSSTALK)

[13:55:16] KEILAR: And it's so early.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: But it's so fun to talk about.

I wonder, it seems like one of the challenges, fair or not, from Elizabeth Warren is, how does she avoid her run or messaging being determined by President Trump. Right? When he says things that -- they're just so crazy about calling her Pocahontas, which he's using it as a pejorative, as a racial slur. She had to put out this DNA evidence, which I'm sure she didn't want to have to do that. It sort of reminded me of President Obama having to put out, ultimately, his birth certificate but she did have to confront this because it had taken hold.

How does she battle that, Jackie, getting away from the president saying, I'm going to get you talking about what I'm talking about?

KUCINICH: In is not an Elizabeth Warren problem, this is a Democratic field problem, just like it was the Republican field's problem when they were running against Trump. Let's not forget Little Marco or Low Energy Jeb. The president is good at this. He's good at defining these candidates before they're able to define themselves. She is going to stay on message, making sure people know her for her message and not for hitting back at President Trump over and over again. That is going to be a challenge for her and the other 30 people that are running.

KEILAR: Quick final word to you, Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: She's been very good in intimate settings, House settings, on her Senate seat. She's been good on the stump making speeches when she was not the presidential candidate. She has to cover everything in between and that's where we haven't seen here as much because she has not been -- at times, she's been an out-front Senator but not her entire in Congress.

You know, it has not developed a relationship with the press like others have. She's got to show everybody who she's going to be and cover all aspect of it, which includes responding to Trump, even staying on message. That's been the challenge for everybody, keep their message going through those responses and not let him dictate the terms.

KEILAR: Karoun and Jackie, thank you so much.

Just moments ago, the president for the first time on camera firing back against Mitt Romney's scathing criticism. Hear why President Trump invoked Romney's race against Obama.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- questions, most notably, is there a low- price, billions that he might be willing to accept in order to reopen the government and get this thing --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'd rather not say it. Could we do it for a little bit less? It's so insignificant compared to what we're talking about. I've heard numbers as high as $275 billion we lose on illegal immigration. And here you have a wall where you're talking about to complete -- because, again, a lot has already been done.

We've been getting money in. Somebody said we didn't spend the money. We have spent it, but we don't pay contractors before they finish the job. That's one of the other things that Pat and I sort of instituted. We like to have people do the work. So if we're building a wall, we're paying as they build it. We pay it as they finish. So they do a good job. This way, if they don't do a good, we don't pay them. So not all of the money has been paid but the money has been used.