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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Trump Holds Cabinet Meeting On Day 12 Shutdown; U.S. Border Patrol Fires Tear Gas At Migrants; U.S. Citizen Detained In Russia On Spy Accusations; Netflix Blocks Episode On Khashoggi From Saudi Arabia; Trump Stands by His $5 Billion Wall Ahead of Meeting with Democrats; Trump Holds Cabinet Meeting on Day 12 Of Shut Down; Trump Says He Wishes Romney Was More of a Team Player; Trump Says He Essentially Fired Ex Defense Chief James Mattis; Trump Defends Decision to Pull Troops from Syria. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, if we're building the wall, we're paying as they build it, we pay it as they finish.

This way if they don't do a good job, we don't pay them. So not all of the money has been paid, but the money has been used. So maybe you guys can

remember that when you say I haven't spent the money. We spent the money.

We want to finish it up. The 5.6 billion approved by the House is such a small amount compared to the level of the problem. When you see the

Democrats want to give away $12 billion extra, and we are giving way 54 billion in foreign aid, so we give away money to other countries but not to

our own country. It's another thing I've been complaining about. It's unfair when we give money to Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador and

they do nothing to us. When we give money to Pakistan, $1.3 billion, I ended that. A lot of people don't know it, because they haven't been fair

to us. We want to have a great relationship with Pakistan, but they house the enemy, they take care of the enemy. We just can't do that. So, I look

forward to meeting with the folks from -- and the new leadership in Pakistan, we'll be doing that in the not-too-distant future. I ended the

1.3 billion we paid, it's like water, we just do it. And I ended the money to countries that don't even vote for us in the United Nations. We give

them billions and they don't even vote for us in the United Nations. It's not all about the rich countries because the rich countries really do take

advantage of us because they pay a very small percentage of their military and they cheat on trade. They take advantage of us on trade. Other than

that, they're wonderful, OK.

But there are countries that are poor that we will -- we don't want anything from them. We want to help them. There are some horrible things

going on in the world. We want to help those people. We don't want money from them. We're not looking for that. But when you have massively

wealthy countries that could easily pay us the full amount and they also take advantage of us on trade so when I speak up, I mean, that's why I got

elected. Issues like that. Issues like the border. And it would be so easy not to do anything. When they say I'm not popular in Europe, I

shouldn't be popular in Europe. If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn't be doing my job because I want Europe to pay. Germany pays 1 percent. They

should be paying 4 percent. They're paying 1 percent. They should be paying even more than that. Other countries pay a small percentage of what

they should be paying.

So, when I say I'm sorry, folks, you have to pay up, I shouldn't be popular in Europe. They do a poll. I was at 88 percent and now I'm at a very low

number in Europe. I don't care about Europe. I'm not elected by Europeans, I'm elected by Americans. And by American taxpayers frankly.

So, you know, I think my relationship, I will tell you with the leaders of Europe is very good. A lot of them don't even understand how they got away

with it for so many years. I'll say to Angela and many of the other leaders, I'm friends with all of them. I'll say how did this ever happen?

And they sort of go like I can't believe it either. They can't believe it. You know why? Because they have Presidents and other people within the

administration in the past to allow them to get away. Some of them will say no one ever asked us to pay. We have negotiations going on with a lot

of countries to pay a lot of money to the United States. I wouldn't say they're thrilled. If that makes me unpopular in those countries, that's

OK, but we're doing tremendous service to those countries and they should at least respect us. They didn't respect us.

Go ahead. You treat me so nicely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate it, Mr. President. Maybe the military has an angle here or a possible --

TRUMP: They have no angle. I know every angle. No, they have no angle. The military under past leadership, including for many years was taken

advantage of by other countries. Allies and not allies, they were taken advantage of. Our country has to be respected. We're not respected when

we do that. When horrible things are happening on trade where we have barriers put up, where we have tariffs put on and we open our country up,

we just open it up, where cars are sent into our country with virtually no tax, no nothing and yet they won't accept our cars, when cars are sent in

and they pay no tax but we're expected to pay 25, 40, 50 percent and we pay nothing, I'll be honest with you, it's just not in my DNA.

[14:05:00] I don't know how people allowed that in my position, allowed these things to happen. And we're not allowing it to happen anymore. I

could be the most popular person in Europe. I could run for any office if I wanted to but I don't want to. I want people to treat us fairly and

they're not. And it's not -- there's no angles. There's no angles. There's nothing -- you know, when a country sends us 200 soldiers to Iraq

or sends us a hundred soldiers from a big country to Syria or to Afghanistan and then they tell me a hundred times, oh, we sent you

soldiers, we sent you soldiers. And that's 1/100th of the money they take advantage of, they're just doing it to make me happy. I've heard past

Presidents say they've involved in the Afghanistan war because they sent us a hundred soldiers. Yet it's costing us billions of billions of dollars.

I get along with India and the prime minister and he's constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan. You know what that is? That's like

five hours of what we spend. And he tells it is and he's very smart and we're supposed to say oh, thank you for the library. I don't know who's

using it in Afghanistan but one of those things. Well, I don't like --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To show up, to negotiate with --

TRUMP: It's the end of the world and we're subsidizing their military by billions and billions and billions of dollars many, many, many times what

those soldiers cost their country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hear about the Mitt Romney op-ed?

TRUMP: I wish Mitt could be more of a team player. I'm surprised he did it this quickly. I was expecting something but I'm surprised he did it

this weekly. Look, I endorsed him, he thanked me profusely. He said it. I read his op-ed. He agrees and I don't think he would be -- I don't think

anybody would have been able to do the tax cuts like I did. Weep go we got the greatest tax cut ever. We got rid of the individual mandate, which is

repeal and replace of Obama. It only was kept, Obamacare, it was only kept because of the individual mandate. Now that that's gone, I don't know how

you can possibly keep it. So that's repeal and replace. John McCain voted against it, after campaigning for many years, John McCain voted against it.

He went thumbs down and that was the end of that. For many years it was repeal and replace and then at 2:00 in the morning he went thumbs down.

So, I'm a very flexible guy. We were part of that lawsuit as you know. A great judge, highly respected from Texas said the individual mandate's out.

That means we should win at the supreme court where this case will go. Now, when we do, we will sit down with the Democrats and we will come up

with great health care, far better, far better. We'll have everything included. We'll have everything included. Far better because Obamacare is

too expensive. The premiums are way too high and the deductibles, you can't even use it. The deductible is so high, unless up get hit by a

tractor, you can't even use it. Nobody's ever seen anything like it. Obamacare is a tremendous failure. But now that we won the individual

mandate, which was by far the most unpopular thing in Blake.

[14:10:00] So, with Mitt Romney, I'd love him to be a team player. Possibly he won't be. I'm surprised he acted so quickly. I gave him an

endorsement, I was happy that he won in Utah. I have great popularity in Utah. I love the people of Utah. I did something for them that nobody

else would have done, that had to do with their parks opinion woo we did that for a very special person who is now going to be retiring after 42

years, a great friend, a great senator, who is really a spectacular plan and also for Mike Lee, who really pressed it very hard. So, Orrin Hatch

and Mike Lee. And the people of Utah, we did that for a very special person who is now going to be retiring after 42 years, a great friend, a

great senator, who is really a spectacular plan and also for mike lee, who really pressed it very hard. So, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. And the people

of Utah really appreciate what I did for him. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of park that they'll be able to now use as opposed to not. And so, I

was surprised at Mitt Romney. But I just hope he's going to be a team player. If he's a team player, that will be great. I will say this, if he

fought really hard against President Obama like he does against me, he would have won the election. Does that make sense to you? If he fought

the way he fights me, I'm telling you, he would have won the election. But I think he's going to end up being a team player. I think he agrees with

many of the things that we've done and many of the things that we have in mind and we'll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --

TRUMP: Go ahead, Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Afghanistan, you have one ISIS and the is gaining ground. And India --

TRUMP: I think India should be involved in Afghanistan. I gave our generals all the money they wanted. They didn't do such a great job in

Afghanistan. They've been fighting in Afghanistan for 19 years. General Mattis thanked me profusely for getting him several hundred billion and

thanked me more the following year when I got him $716 billion. He couldn't believe it because our military was depleted. Now we're

rebuilding our military. Pat was very responsible for a lot of the orders for the new F-35 fighter jets and F-18s including ships and missiles and

everything. But General Mattis was so thrilled. But what's he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I'm not

happy with what he's done in Afghanistan and I shouldn't be happy. But he was very thankful when I got him $700 billion and the following year $716

billion. So, I wish him well. I hope he does well. But as you know, President Obama fired him and essentially so did i. I want results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [inaudible]

TRUMP: We're going to do something that's right. We are talking to the tall ban, we're talking to a lot of different people but here's the thing

because you mentioned India. Andria as there. Russia is there. Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went

bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia. So, you take a look at other countries. Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should

be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it

was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt. They went into being called Russia again as opposed to the Soviet Union. A lot of these places

you're reading about now are no longer a part of Russia because of Afghanistan. But why isn't Russia there? Why isn't India there in we

there and we're 6,000 miles away? But I don't mind. We want to help our people, help other nations. You do have terrorists, mostly Taliban but is.

I'll give you an example. So tall ISIS is an enemy. We have an area where Taliban is here, ISIS is here and they're fighting each other. I said why

don't you let them fight? Why are we getting in the middle of it? I said let them fight. They're both our enemies, let them fight. Sir, we want to

do it. They go in and end up fighting both of them. It the craziest thing I've ever seen. I think I would have been a good general but who knows.

These are two enemies fighting again but what are we doing? He's done a fantastic job. He's brought the country together. India, Russia, you look

at some of the satellite countries that are extremely wealthy with oil, surrounding.

[14:15:00] I spoke to some of them. They -- I said to a certain country, very rich country, what would you do if the United States pulled out? Oh,

we'd be taken over by the Taliban and terrorists. I said, ah. They b then why are you charging us when we have to use your country to send product

through? Why are you charging us when we send airplanes over your country? We're doing the job for you, why are you charging us? He said to me, very

great gentleman, smart. He said to me, well, nobody ever asked me not to. I said I'm asking you not to. He said we will not charge you. And I'm

talking about millions and millions of dollars. Flights over his country. But I say to him, what would happen if we weren't here? And he looks at me

and he goes we would be overrun. We could not defend ourselves. And yet he charges us. But he doesn't charge us anymore, OK. Jeff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You use the word slowly when you're describing the withdrawal --

TRUMP: I didn't say --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your timetable?

TRUMP: Somebody said four months. Obama gave up Syria when he didn't violate the red line. I did when I shot 59 missiles in but that was a long

time later. And when President Obama decided not to violate his statement that never cross the red line and then they did and he didn't do anything

about it, you know, make a threat is OK but you always have to follow through with the threat. You can't make a threat and then do nothing. So,

Syria was lost long ago. It was lost long ago. And besides that, I don't want -- we're talking about sand and death. That's what we're talking

about. We're not talking about vast wealth. We're talking about sand and debt. Now, the Kurds, it's very interesting, Turkey doesn't like them,

other people do. I didn't like the fact that there selling the small oil they have to Iran. But Kurds are selling oil to Iran. I'm not happy about

it at all. At the same time, they fight better when we fight with them. When we send 30 f-18s in front of them, they fight much better than they do

when we don't. And you've we want to protect the Kurds. But I don't want to be in serious forever. It sad and the death. If we fight ISIS-- you

know where else they're going? To Iran, who hates ISIS more than we do. They're going to Russia, who hates is more than we do. Then I read when we

pull out, Russia is thrilled. You know why they're not happy? Because this be and we're killing ISIS also for Iran. And just while we're on Iran

because people don't like to write the facts. Iran is a much different country than it was when I became President. Iran when I became President,

I had a meeting at the Pentagon with lots of generals, they were like for a pry, better looking than Tom Cruz and stronger. I've had more I said this

is the greatest room I've ever seen. I saw more computer boards than I think that they make today.

And every part of the Middle East and other places that was under attack was under attack because of Iran. And I said to myself, wow, I mean, you

look at Yemen, you look at Syria, you look at every place, Saudi Arabia was under siege, they were all -- I mean, they wanted Yemen because of a long

border with Saudi Arabia. That's why they're there, frankly. But every place was under siege. I actually asked a question. They had plenty of

money. President Obama had just given them $150 billion. He gave them $1.8 billion in cash. I'm still trying to figure that one out, mick

opinion plane loads of cash, I cash from my different countries.

[14:20:00] You know why from five different countries, Jeff? Because we didn't have enough cash in, they had to use the current at this with all of

that being said, I did something called terminate the horrible Iran nuclear deal, which by the way, in eight years gives Iran the legal right to have

nuclear weapons. I did it. Iran is no longer the same country. Iran is pulling people out of Syria. They can do what they want there, frankly,

but they're pulling people out, they're pulling people out of Yemen. Iran wants to survive now. Iran was they were going to take they can do what

they want there, frankly, but they're pulling people out, they're pulling people out of Yemen. Iran wants to survive now. Iran was they were going

to take over everything and destroy Israel while they're at it.

Iran is a much different country right now. They're having riots every week in every country, bigger than they've when we do all of the things

that we gone pan Iran is in trouble. I'd love to negotiate with Iran. There but Iran is a much different country right now, Jeff, than it was

when I took office. What I took over two years ago, Iran was going to tack over the most and they were going to have all the weapons they wanted in a

short period of time because of that stupid deal. When I terminated that deal and then did what I had to do, Iran is a much different country today

than it was 19 months ago, that I can tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the timetable for withdrawing troops --

TRUMP: It just over a period of time. Oh, we're withdrawing. We're hitting them very hard. When I met with the generals in Iraq, I said to a

couple of the generals, why didn't you do this before? He said, sir, our commanders were telling us what to do. I said don't you tell them? No,

sir, we take orders. And they're great soldiers. They listen. I do it differently. I sat around and after a few minutes they listened up and

said this is what we're should do. But we were supposed to be out and that was five years ago and we never left. I see soldiers that are so badly

injured and hurt, I don't want that. Why want it. And our military is getting really strong. I can tell you story when I got here about our

military that I don't even want to talk about. I don't even want to talk about. One of the NGS, we do these reports on our military. Some I.G.

goes over there, and he goes over there and they do a report on every single thing we're fighting wars and they're doing report and releasing it

to the public. The public means the enemy. Those reports should be private reports. Let them do a report but they should be private reports

and be locked up and but for these reports, criticizing referring for these reports -- essentially given out to the enemy is insane. And I don't want

it to happen anymore, Mr. Secretary. You understand that. Look at the reports. Nobody more critical of, hey, it's not my fault, we're getting

out smart. And we're.

Said but we're getting out very carefully. Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you accept anything less than $2.5 billion?

TRUMP: No, we're asking for 5.6. Somebody said 2.5. No, look, this is national security we're talking about. Just like we talk about the

military, just like we're talking about Syria or Afghanistan or all these different places. I mean, we spend in Afghanistan more in one month than

what we're talking about for the wall.

[14:25:00] Think of that, OK. That's another way. We spend in Afghanistan more money than most countries spend, except a few. They stepped up. I'm

not holding Nancy to this but she said you'll never get the Republicans to vote for it. I never saw anything so beautiful in my life. That spired

this many we don't need another Democrat. And I want the Democrats to join in, too. The 5.6 billion is such a small number. Literally it's one month

in Afghanistan we're talking about national security. This isn't just a border. This is national security. This is health and wellness. This is

everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does that mean -- of

TRUMP: We're going to see. Let see. Maybe they have an idea. I talk also DACA but I just think we are better off waiting for the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court rules that President Obama was wrong, which they should, because by the way if he was right, then I have been given

tremendous power. Wouldn't that be scary, right? If President Obama is allowed to do what he did on DACA then I am allowed to do whatever I want

to do on things that you know probably the president as he said probably a president doesn't have the right to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long do you think the government is going to stay partially shut down?

TRUMP: Could be a long time and it could be quickly. It is too important a subject to walk away from. I was here Christmas evening, I was all about

except for all the guys out on the lawn with machine guns. I never saw so many guys with machine guns in my life, secret service and military. These

are great people but I was all alone with the machine gunners and I felt very safe they're great people and there but they didn't do that and that's

OK. Look, look, this is really something that should be bipartisan. And we'll see if it is. I hope it is. I hope it is, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you willing to keep the government shut down until the Supreme Court rules on DACA?

TRUMP: No, I think this should be settled. By the way, if the supreme court would do a great favor to this country and say the President should

not have done that, we will settle this whole thing, including really a big immigration policy, not just border security, which is very important.

Because we would do something with DACA. A lot of the Republicans, most Republicans are fine with some deal on DACA. DACA's OK. These are people

that have been in the country a long time. In many cases they don't even speak the language of the country from which their parents came.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you viewing this meeting later this afternoon? Is this an education campaign? Are you issuing demands --

TRUMP: All this is to tell Chuck and Nancy and some others from I.C.E. and border patrol and also from local law enforcement how bad it is, how

dangerous it is and why we need a wall but they know that. Look, when they say the wall's immoral, then you got to do something about the Vatican

because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all. The wall is immoral. Look at all of the countries that have walls. And they work 100 percent.

It's never going to change. A wall is a wall. The others just -- I mean, we can have all the drones flying over the people last night as they tried

to rush the border. The only thing that stopped them was the wall. If we have drones up there, it's wonderful, we'll get nice pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 5.6 is a small amount compared to a problem.

TRUMP: It was never 25. A lot of people thought it was 25 billion. That was for overall homeland security. That was for much more than the wall.

The wall was a piece of that. So, a lot of people said he should have taken the 25 billion. Well, that covered a lot more territory than the

wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you willing to keep the government shut down?

As long as it takes?

TRUMP: Look, I'm prepared -- I think the people of the country think I'm right. Again, I could have done nothing. Could I have a lot easier

presidency by doing nothing. But I'm here, I want to do it right. And I'm not only talking here, I'm talking about middle east problems and other

problems and North Korea problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think Mr. Romney will eventually become a team player?

TRUMP: I don't know if he does. I hope he does. I think I have the highest rating -- I don't know why but they like me. They say I'm the most

popular President in the history of the Republican party. You see the same news I do. A number that's hard to believe considering I never get fair or

good press. How do I have these numbers? People see the job we are doing. People see that gasoline is way down. And the reason it's way down is

because I called up some of the OPEC people. I say, don't do it.

You know, if you look back a few months, gasoline was at $83 a barrel. That was going to be bad. It was going to 100 and some people saying 125,

Rick. And I made calls. I say, you better let that oil. That gasoline flow. And they did. And now it's down to 44.

And I put out a social media statement yesterday. I said, do you think it's luck that that happened? It's not luck. It's not luck. I called up

certain people and I say, let that damn oil and gasoline -- you let it flow. The oil. It was going up to $125.

If that would have happened, then you would have had a recession, depression, like we've had in the past when that happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- that Senator Romney's well aware of. Why do you think people are moving around than become team player?

TRUMP: I don't know if he's going to become a team player. I hope he does. If he does, I think it's going to be better for him. I think people

are very upset with what he did. He hasn't even gotten to office yet. He hasn't even gotten to office.

And he was very happy when I endorsed him. So, you know, I don't know what changed other than we've succeeded in many of the things that I said we

were going to do.

And let me tell you we're succeeding and others. We're really succeeding and things that people thought were impossible to do. So I think that Mitt

Romney, hopefully, will be a team player and if he's not, that's OK, too. Look, I handle it. I mean, I just got rid of -- I wouldn't say -- they

said they're retired. They say that Bob Corker retired.

They say that Jeff Flake, wonderful guy, I never even met him when he's hitting me. He was going to tell people how to win in 2020 because 2016

can't -- he wrote a book about it. Didn't work out too well that book. Because we won in 2016, because we didn't want to wait until 2020. So Jeff

Flake is now selling real estate or whatever he's doing. He'll probably going to work for CNN. That's my prediction.

Bob Corker, unfortunately, you know, I had a good relationship then I thought I was going to get some publicity for himself and his ratings tubed

where he couldn't come in 4th in the primary. He was going to be a senator. Bob Corker was going to be a senator for another 20 years. And

then for some reason, he hit me because he thought it was going to be good publicity. It didn't work out too well.

So with Mitt, I hope he's a team player. But if he's not, that's OK, too. I will tell you, we have some great Republicans. And if you look at the

way they're standing up for border security, you'd be very proud of them. If you're a Republican or if you're a person that loves our nation. Thank

you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, that was a wide ranging Q&A with journalists after a cabinet meeting at the White House. This was just

the Q&A portion, by the way. Not the cabinet meeting itself which went on for just about an hour. He talked about everything from Pakistan,

explaining why the U.S. cut aid to Pakistan in September saying they've not been fair with the United States and they quote, "house the enemy."

Explaining they understands why he's not popular in Europe because asking European countries to quote/unquote "pay up." And he went on and on,

reiterating familiar themes for the president. Portraying the United States as a victim, as a country that's been treated unfairly and taken

advantage of by many countries.

He mentioned by the way the prime minister of India, Modi. For all our viewers around the world, I think there's a little something for everyone

here, by the way.

The prime minister of India mocking him sort of saying he told him that he built a library in Afghanistan. Who even goes to that library?

He dismissed, as well -- and this is something that's not going to play well, especially in European countries, including the one I'm in right now.

I'm sure, the U.K., dismissing the role of U.S. allies. The military role of U.S. allies in countries like Iraq and Syria saying there's a few

hundred here and there. What do they amount to?

And he also confirmed that he essentially fired Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense. You remember initially that's not what he said happened. He

said that Jim Mattis was retiring. He said he essentially fired him after he did a poor job in Afghanistan. Then he went on several tangents about

the history of the Soviet Union and how it was because Russia or the Soviet Union at the time invaded Afghanistan and went quote/unquote "bankrupt"

there that the Soviet Union broke up.

He talked -- and this will be interesting to our viewers in the Middle East, about the Syria withdrawal. The plan to withdraw American troops

from Syria. Saying he never said it would be quick. You'll remember initially he actually said that it would be.

[14:35:11] But reiterating the withdrawal is happening. And we will continue to protect the Kurds even though we're not happy that the Kurds,

the president said, are selling oil to Iran. He went on to say that because of his presidency, Iran was not able to take over the Middle East

in the way that it was before he came into office. There you have it. The digest for you.

Let's bring in Sarah Westwood at the White House. Stephen Collinson is in Washington. And CNN political commentator, Doug Heye, also joins me to

discuss this all and particular the Mitt Romney op-ed and the reaction by the president.

Sarah, let's talk a little bit about this because he's kicking things off with this big, wide ranging Q&A with journalists.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. And this is coming before the president holds what could be an even more consequential

meeting later today with democratic and Republican congressional leaders here in the Situation Room which the White House billed it as a border

security briefing but it could be an opportunity for the leaders to talk about the shutdown.

When the president was speaking about the shutdown in this cabinet meeting, we heard President Trump suggest that it could go on for a very long time.

There seems to be no end in sight as the president remains dug in behind that demand for border wall funding.

Now, we did suggest that he might be willing to go below the $5.6 billion number that was in the House bill that failed in the Senate, the night that

the shutdown happened. But he said he wouldn't be willing to go lower than $2.5 billion which was, by our reporting, the last offer that was on the

table and Democrats rejected that, as well.

So right now, the stalemate seems to continue and the president offering no path out of it during that cabinet meeting, Hala.

GORANI: And interestingly, Stephen, when asked how long is this shutdown going to last, he didn't back down. He said as long as it takes for me to

get the funding for the wall, even though interestingly polling is showing that this may not be going in his favor.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. A lot of people think that Donald Trump has walked himself into a corner that it's going to be

very difficult for him to get out of. This appears to exacerbate that.

But that was a great summary you gave about the wide-ranging nature of this. It was almost as if all this was boiling up in Donald Trump in those

two weeks in the White House alone over Christmas and New Year which he described being alone in that big house.

And I think it was a very interesting glimpse into what it must be like if you are a foreign leader in one of those summits with Trump or

congressional leaders. We're going to talk to him this afternoon about ending the shutdown or even if you work inside his White House.

He has his beliefs. His own version of reality which he believes in very adamantly. He changes facts to suit his situation, for example, as you

said when he said that he essentially fired James Mattis, the defense secretary. That's not true.

So you can imagine, if you're trying to hold a more reality based conversation with the president, based on what you see as the objective

facts, it must be very, very difficult to get through to him.

GORANI: And he also what seems like a number, really, plucked out of thin air, the $275 billion that it cost the U.S., that illegal immigration cost

the United States, this is not a number that has been -- we've been able to find facts to back up at all. Other things about the Vatican having a big

wall around it, the Vatican is not surrounded by a wall, et cetera, et cetera.

Now, on the question of Mitt Romney, interestingly, Doug Heye, what do you make of the president's rather muted response to an op-ed that Romney wrote

in the Washington Post, criticizing the president?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. It shows on some level that Donald Trump can be restrained at some level when he wants to, when he

thinks it suits his purpose. What we, I think, would have seen otherwise would have been full guns blazing at Mitt Romney.

But President Trump knows that he's going to need Romney's vote in the future and Romney certainly left open that possibility. Clearly, what Mitt

Romney said in the op-ed in the Washington Post and what he's going to comment on on CNN and CNNI later this afternoon, are very critical of

President Trump.

But there also needs to be some kind of a discussion on what is the ultimate strategy here. Certainly, these are words that are well received

in the media and certainly by Democrats. But it's not clear that Republicans, even if they agree with Trump, if Republicans on Capitol Hill,

even if they agree with Romney privately that they do so publicly. So the what's next for Mitt Romney is still an open question.

GORANI: And, Sarah, at the White House, you mentioned this important meeting with congressional leaders about the shutdown and about

immigration. What would it take to get a breakthrough? Because it seems like the president is standing pretty firm today.

WESTWOOD: That's right. And Democrats are showing no signs of bending to support any kind of wall funding. Now, everyone's been sort of in a

holding pattern until Congress comes back into town, until Democrats take over the House. Nancy Pelosi finally gets the speaker's gavel as she's

expected to tomorrow.

[14:40:10] When that happens we might start to see some movement because the talks could actually start up again. But democrats have no incentive

at the moment to give him his wall funding when they've already come up with what they see as a bipartisan solution to reopen the government.

Now, the catch is that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said he won't bring any bill to the Senate floor that doesn't have President Trump's

explicit backing. And we just heard the president say he wouldn't take less than $2.5 billion. What's in that democratic package is $1.3 billion

of funding.

So it seems that the stand still will persist and it's unclear if maybe just changing the definition of wall, calling it a fence, calling it steel

slats, as the White House has been trying to do to muddy the waters, could be the way out. There's still no end in sight right now, Hala.

GORANI: And, Doug, a quick last one to you because what I found interesting about what Mitt Romney did is he's clearly positioning himself

politically as some sort of Republican opposition to the president. Do you think that among Republican elected officials now there is a sense that a

very close association with Trump maybe politically damaging?

HEYE: The short answer is no. Donald Trump still maintains very broad popularity within the Republican Party itself. And that's true in members'

home states and then their districts. Mitt Romney knows that. Utah is a little bit of a different example.

But what he will also hear from his colleagues privately is that they agree with everything Mitt Romney said. They just don't feel politically if

they're able to say that publicly.

GORANI: All right. Thanks to all of you. Stephen Collinson, Doug Heye, and Sarah Westwood, for joining us there. You just saw it there. About

half hour of questions that the president of the United States answered with journalists after a very long cabinet meeting on this first full

working day of 2019.

Now in the next hour as we were discussing, President Trump is expected to meet with eight top congressional leaders in the Situation Room at the

White House.

And meantime, what's happening at the border, what the president is calling a crisis, is continuing. Agents with the U.S. border patrol fired teargas

and pepper spray into Mexico over New Year's Eve. You're seeing images in Tijuana there.

And you can see what appears to be one migrant throwing a teargas canister back over the barricade. CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Mexico City and she

joins us now live. So, what happened that led to this at the border, Leyla?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so, CBP is saying that the migrants were throwing rocks at them. That's why they dispersed teargas,

pepper spray, as well as smoke to sort of react to that. That's their account of what happened.

At the time, according to CBP, there were teenagers, there were toddlers trying to cross and they say they couldn't help them because they were

being attacked by rocks at the time. This was Monday night into Tuesday morning, but really, a very similar scene from what we saw about a month

ago when members of the caravan also had a teargas spray. CBP then saying the same thing, that rocks were thrown at them. That was their response.

Now, if you talk to immigration advocates, they will tell you that this is just a symptom of a bigger problem. They believe the reason you're seeing

so many big groups, some of which are believed to still be part of the caravan that is still waiting in Tijuana, they believe they're resorting to

this because ports of entry on the border are turning away asylum seekers citing capacity. Saying we don't have the room to take you in so you're

going to have to wait weeks. That's the case in Tijuana.

So many saying you're seeing this. You're seeing people cross the border in those big groups because they have no other option. That's the take

from immigration or immigration advocates.

And one more thing, Hala, that I want to note. We just heard from the president talking about foreign aid sent to Central America. You know,

many people who came in the caravan were from Honduras, from El Salvador, as well as Guatemala. Fiscal year, '19, $180 million planned for foreign

aid to go down there. If that money is taken away, which, by the way, that is a decrease from previous years. If you take that money away, you are

taking away programs that are put in place to prevent the very factors that sort of fuel migration. Poverty, violence, education. The things that so

many migrants have said they want improvement in their life.

GORANI: Right. Yes. That's a very good point. Thanks very much. 180 million, as you mentioned, is a decrease and a relatively small sum

compared to other aid budgets. Thanks very much, Leyla Santiago. Live in Mexico City.

[14:45:02] Still to come tonight, the wedding guest who got arrested. U.S. officials are granted access to an American who visited Moscow for a

friend's wedding and ended up being accused of being a spy. The latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: For the first time since his arrest last week, U.S. officials got a chance to meet with an American accused of spying in Russia. Russia says

American consular officials met with Paul Whelan a few hours ago. He was arrested by Russia on Friday and accused of espionage. Whelan's family

says he's not a spy and that they cannot figure out why he was arrested.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: He was visiting Moscow for a wedding for a friend and helping his friend because Paul had

been to Russia before and could navigate Moscow and the sites. And so he is helping to squire some of the American tourists around who are part of

the wedding party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow. And Mike Pompeo, by the way, just before I get to you had this to say about the arrest of Whelan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to

understand what it is he's been accused of. And if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, do we know -- do we have more specific details about what Russia is accusing Whelan of?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. We don't have any more specific details than what's already been set out in the short

statement that was issued shortly after the arrest by the FSB, the main sort of federal security service which is the lead agency in Russia when it

comes to counter espionage.

Basically just saying that they've arrested this U.S. citizen Paul Whelan who was caught spying is the simple phrase they essentially used. And a

couple of hours ago, we had confirmation from the Russian foreign ministry that the consular visit that had been requested by the Americans had been

granted.

Within the past few moments, we've had a State Department spokesman in the United States saying that the Russian ambassador, Ambassador Huntsman,

visited Paul Whelan today in Lefortovo, the detention center which is a major prison in the center of Moscow.

Apparently, ambassador expressed his support for Mr. Whelan, offered the embassy's assistance. He then spoke by telephone to Mr. Whelan's family

because of privacy considerations. The state department statement goes on they're not going to have anything further to add at this time.

So, yes. The consular visit has been had. But again, no detail -- on what the circumstances were exactly as to why Paul Whelan was detained and

accused in this way of espionage, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Matthew Chance.

More to come including Netflix is under fire. They have pulled an episode in Saudi Arabia because the kingdom did not like it. We'll bring you the

details on a controversial move from the streaming giant. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:41] GORANI: Censorship, you might expect it out of the Saudi Arabia. But what about a major media company? A content provider as big

and powerful as Netflix?

Maybe they would be more likely to stand up for free expression. You would think. Or maybe not. The video streaming service is facing some backlash

for blocking an episode of a comedy show in Saudi Arabia after kingdom officials complained about it.

The episode in question is from "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" and it mocks the Saudi account of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder. Take a

look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN MINHAJ, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: 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, yeah, no (BLEEP). He's the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, it's important to note, as I said earlier, that Netflix did this at the behest of the kingdom. So, was the company right to heed the

request? That's causing a lot of controversy. And I want to bring in tech expert and columnist Shelly Palmer on this and he joins me from New York.

So thanks for being with us.

Netflix is saying in a statement they have to comply because Saudi said that by airing that episode, they were breaking a cybercrime law in the

kingdom. How is it being received, though, in the U.S., this decision by Netflix to comply?

SHELLY PALMER, TECH EXPERT AND COLUMNIST: So there's -- there are two camps completely. One, there is the camp that said look, these are the

local laws. You are doing business in that country, you have to abide by the laws.

Then, you know, Khashoggi was killed because he wanted freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia. So I -- to be fair and frank, you have to

decide if this is a purpose driven marketing campaign you want to get on if you're Netflix or if you're going to comply with local laws.

And I don't know that there's a cut and dried answer, but it's been a 50/50 split on social media all day. There are a lot of people who believe that

Netflix should have taken a stand and there are just as many people who believe that they did the right job. They complied with the law.

GORANI: Well, I mean, if you're going to be perfectly cynical about it, Netflix is not human rights watch. It's a business. If it wants to do

business in the Middle East and in other parts of the world where governments might ask it to block some content, that's what they'll do.

But then I guess what's irritating some people is then don't say that you are supporting, you know, artistic freedom of expression for all and in

that case, just be transparent about it.

PALMER: So that is a very fair point. Right? What does it mean to support free expression and what does that mean in an American context?

And what does that mean internationally? We as Americans, if you don't do a lot of international business, you might project your western culture and

your western ideas on other parts of the world and then maybe that's a good idea or maybe it's a bad idea.

But one thing I can promise you so that everybody doesn't think like we think and everybody doesn't have the same rule of law or the same concept

of freedom of expression, so --

GORANI: By the way, lots of Middle Easterners think the way westerners think about the freedom of expression. They have died for it and fought

for it for many years. I guess the question is, what is Netflix's job here? What is Netflix's job here? Because Netflix also is -- not just

Netflix. It's companies like Google, for instance, with bespoke search engines in China where you have certain search results censored. So tech

companies are having to deal with this everywhere. Yes.

[14:55:09] PALMER: The answer to your first question, what is Netflix's role? I think that's a perfect question for Reed Hastings because he would

be the only one whose answer to that question matters, what I think doesn't matter.

And with respect to Google in China and all of tech companies doing business worldwide, the world is getting a lot smaller. But governments

are very threatened by big tech. All kinds of big tech. Streaming, data, all of it.

And we're going to be in a struggle now between commercial interests and governments that want to control those commercial interests because data

and information are at the core of how you run a government. So this is the beginning not the end. This is the first of these stories. Not the

last.

GORANI: And for instance, WhatsApp, you have voice calls that are blocked in some countries, as well. Has there been an instance of a tech company

that was asked to censor something and then said no, we won't do it?

PALMER: Well, there are -- look. There have been a few examples of that but the example that's most remarkable is when the United Arab Emirates

said to BlackBerry back in the day we want the keys to enterprise server. The government wants to be able to look at your secure server or you're not

going to sell any BlackBerrys in our country.

And BlackBerry acquest (ph) and they've undermined their own security and they took the core value of the enterprise server and made it useless. So

there's a struggle. Tim Cook, famously, wouldn't give the FBI the keys to the iPhone. There are plenty of examples on both sides of this that say

you should and you shouldn't.

History has not been kind to BlackBerry with respect to their decision. So far, Apple is the first or second most valuable company in the world,

depending on who you ask. And so which decision was right? You know, in the eye of the beholder?

GORANI: Yes. And how have investors reacted? I know Netflix shares were down but presumably that's unrelated to this story.

PALMER: I think that that is unrelated. Netflix lost about 30 percent of its share value in the last 90 days and it dipped a little bit today based

on some analysts saying that they're not growing quite as fast as they should be growing. No one knows if that's temporary, if it's a blip in the

radar. If this is a tech clash correction. That's for the market experts to decide. Netflix is still a company that I would not count out.

GORANI: Oh, well, I wouldn't either.

Thank you very much, Shelly Palmer. Thanks so much for joining us on the program. Appreciate your time.

And thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. There's going to be a lot more on the other side of this break. Richard Quest will take it away

with "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" and I'll see you tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END