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Dow Tanks; Democrats Take Control of House of Representatives. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired January 3, 2019 - 16:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Will the blue wave now turn the tide against Trump?

THE LEAD starts right now.

First the gavel, then the hammer? Nancy Pelosi takes over as speaker of the House, as she says she's not so sure that the president can't face criminal charges. Democrats now with new leverage facing off against a president who is dug in on his wall.

With bills and garbage piling up, why the shutdown may not end any time soon.


Plus, new buzz around Biden and Beto. A year before any votes are cast, big-name Democrats are already choosing sides in the battle to face Trump.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake today.

And we begin with breaking news in the money lead, Wall Street taking a nosedive, the Dow closing down close to 700 points, continuing its spiral from 2018.

CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

So, Alison, tell us what caused this plunge.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, stocks plunged after Apple's bombshell warning that it's going to badly miss Wall Street expectations that come out in a few weeks.

They are going to miss by the billions of dollars because of the economic slowdown in China and U.S.-China trade policy put forth by the Trump administration. So, Apple has really become kind of a poster child as to some of the concerns and worries that have rocked Wall Street for weeks.

But, today, the Apple news really set off this cascade of selling, first of all with Apple shares closing down 10 percent, slicing 100 points off the Dow because of how heavily weighted Apple is in the Dow index; 15 percent of Apple's revenue comes from China. So Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, blamed the billions of dollars in losses that will be announced in a few weeks, he blamed it on China's economic slowdown and this unresolved trade dispute between China and the U.S. that's undercutting confidence in consumers in China who go out to buy smartphones, but who aren't doing that at the moment -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Alison, thank you.

And now to the politics lead and the new reality in Washington, a stark one for President Donald Trump, divided government. The 116th Congress has been sworn in with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, and Nancy Pelosi now once again the speaker.

Today, she is giving the president a preview of what may come, asserting it's still an open question whether a sitting president can be indicted and not ruling out the possibility of pursuing impeachment, but also noting that minutes ago that the House will undertake what she calls bipartisan legislation, even quoting and praising two former Republican presidents.

House Democrats, meanwhile, are ready to investigate every aspect of Donald Trump, his presidency, his campaign, his business dealings and more.

CNN's Manu Raju starts off our coverage from Capitol Hill.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: And to the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, I extend to you this gavel.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that, Nancy Pelosi officially took over as House speaker and the newly emboldened Democrats took charge in the House with plans to confront President Trump and his administration.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Remembering that the legislative branch is Article I, the first branch of government, co- equal to the presidency and to the judiciary.

RAJU: The House narrowly elected Pelosi speaker with 220 votes, four more than she needed, after 15 Democrats revolted against her. And when she presided over the House, she tried to strike a positive tone.

PELOSI: We must be pioneers of the future. This Congress must accelerate a future that advances America's preeminence in the world and opens up opportunities for all.

RAJU: In the Senate, the GOP added two more seats, now with a 53-47 majority and the ability to protect the president against their Democratic foes.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It's a clear choice and it will be clear to the American people watching all of this at home. Good governance or political performance art? The public interest or political spite? Policy-making or presidential harassment?

RAJU: Democrats say Republicans have ignored their basic jobs of oversight and now have plans to mount what could be the most expansive investigation of a sitting president.

The new chairman of the House Oversight Committee told CNN his first priority will be to get to the bottom of the decision to put a controversial citizenship question on the U.S. census, suggesting Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross misled Congress.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: He has to answer for something that he said that I don't think was accurate, and what we're going do is be in search of the truth.

RAJU: Also, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker could be forced to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this month.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: They are trying to get a date, and they are dragging their feet on a date. We will see what happens.

RAJU (on camera): Will you send a subpoena to him if he doesn't...

NADLER: If we have to.

RAJU (voice-over): While Pelosi has her hands full, some of her colleagues are already pushing to impeach the president.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: The road to impeachment is a long road, many miles. The standard is high crimes and misdemeanor, and he has committed the felony of obstruction of justice.


RAJU: Pelosi for now wants to keep the focus elsewhere.

PELOSI: We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we will just have to see how it comes.

QUESTION: If Robert Mueller comes back and says, I am seeking an indictment?

PELOSI: I think that that's an open discussion. I think that's an open discussion in terms of the law. Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he's no longer president.


RAJU: Now, the top priority for Democrats will be to try to protect Robert Mueller from political interference. Jerry Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman, introduced legislation today to make it harder to dismiss the special counsel.

Of course, that's a bill that they pushed in the last Congress that Republicans resisted. Expect that to move early in the new Congress.

And, Brianna, when I asked Nadler specifically about moving forward on impeachment proceedings, as has been introduced by Congressman Brad Sherman today, he said to each his own, referring to Sherman's push to go forward on impeachment. He said that he himself not there just quite yet -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Manu Raju, a very busy day on the Hill. Thank you.

Bill Kristol, to you first.

The speaker today in her speech name-dropped former Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. That was no accident.

BILL KRISTOL, FORMER EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes. She knew what she was doing. She quoted President Reagan on something saying in his farewell speech, the well-being of America depended on immigration and immigrants, the contribution of immigrants.

That was sending a bit of a message maybe to the current Republican president. But also I think, to be fair, it's a nice gesture. It's a new Congress, 116th, historic moment. It's supposed to be a bipartisan moment and it was nice to have -- personally, maybe this is just my corny kind of, you know, civics self or something like that, but it's always sort of moving when you see this peaceful transfer of power.

You see it at the executive branch every four years with a president, that's more famous, that swearing-in, but it's really equally important obviously that we have this 116th Congress. Not many countries have 116 successive elected Congresses.

KEILAR: It is really a special day, not to lose sight of that.

Jackie, earlier today, the speaker was asked if she would rule out impeachment. She's talking about bipartisanship. She's also talking about impeachment. I want to play her response.


PELOSI: We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason, so we will just have to see how it comes.


KEILAR: It's like something for everyone in that answer, right?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, no, it's true, but she's -- she's not a fool.

She knows how politically charged this is. She knows that her caucus right now is -- yes, there are some -- there are a lot of progressives, but there's also a lot of members from Trump -- from former Trump districts, from Republican districts, that want to talk more about legislating than about the president.

So, she's trying to strike a balance. And you heard the same thing from her Judiciary chairman, Jerry Nadler, who says -- hasn't ruled it out, but said, you know, we are going to go where the facts take us. If they take us there, great. If not, that's fine, too.

So they are really trying at this point, day one, not to overreach.

KEILAR: But if the facts take them someplace -- and we're still waiting to find out what the Mueller report says, but if the facts take them someplace and Republicans don't go with them, that's going to be a very tough spot for Speaker Pelosi and Democrats.

KUCINICH: Yes, it will be.

But, again, since we don't know what those facts are, we don't know what kind of case that Mueller may or may not build, so we will just -- we are going to have to wait and see.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I don't like to deal in ifs or maybes, but I will say that, look, if the facts do support and if the facts do take them towards the realm of impeachment, that means they are facts, that means there's something of substance there.

And if the Republicans do not join them for the impeachment ride, if you will, I think that's something that the American people will really have to look at and say, look, the United States Congress is supposed to be the greatest deliberative body in the world.

This is supposed to be the place where we can address our differences. The founders wrote impeachment into the Constitution for a reason, and if this is part of your duty, you should execute it. But, today, the Democrats are...


ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought her answer was very prudent, very political and very responsible.

Look, it's premature to say that you're going to impeach Donald Trump. It's also premature to rule it out, because you don't know what the Mueller investigation is going to ultimately show.

You don't know what the facts are going to be. And, frankly, I think -- I think she's got to do what she's got to do and what Democrats have to do, regardless of what Republicans do, because I think what we have seen in the last two years is that Donald Trump can get away with doing an awful lot without triggering Republicans' reaction.

KEILAR: But you look, Ana, at the new chair of the Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, he's saying it's not too soon to discuss impeachment.

You have Congressman Brad Sherman filing, introducing the articles of impeachment today. For what, you might ask? What's the basis for that? They are not on the same page, Democrats.

NAVARRO: Nobody is ever on the same page, right?



KEILAR: You answered that with a sound.


NAVARRO: There's been all this talk about Nancy Pelosi not getting the votes.

And do we not remember two years ago when Paul Ryan was going through the same thing? And Paul Ryan went through nothing in comparison to what John Boehner went through from his right flank.

So, yes, it's like herding cats, whether it's Republican cats or whether it's Democrat cats. It's herding cats, because it is not one homogeneous blob of people who do the same thinking and same speaking and represent the same districts.

I think Democrats have to be very careful not to look petty, premature and political. They have got to go where the facts take them, not before, not after, when they call for them.

KEILAR: Speaker Pelosi was asked about the possibility of indicting a sitting president. Here's what she said.


QUESTION: A president who is in office, could Robert Mueller come back and say, I am seeking an indictment?

PELOSI: I think that that is an open discussion.


KEILAR: All right. I do want to say that the White House has just announced a briefing. Sarah Sanders will come out for the first briefing of the year, not yet, but we're keeping an eye on when that gets going, so we will take a look at that.

You heard what she said, Symone.

How big of a deal is that for her to say it's an open discussion?

SANDERS: Look, I think now Speaker Pelosi is doing exactly what she's supposed to do. You can not simply shut the door on a number of things that have not been asked and answered.

It still is a -- there's something to discuss. That is an open question. But, again, today, I think what we have seen from Democrats is going into today, again, this historic day, more than 100 women will be sworn in, in the United States Congress, more women than have ever served at one time.

Today, we're highlighting the historic day, but Democrats want to get the government back open. And so while, yes, Speaker Pelosi will answer questions about indictment and impeachment all day long, what folks are very concerned about is the fact that we are now going into the second week of a government shutdown.

Folks are not getting paid. The president is unwilling to move. He's been unrelenting for wall that more than 57 percent of the Americans say they don't want the government to shut down over. And that's what Democrats are focused on.

They are going to put the bill on the floor. The Republican appropriations -- the Republican Senate appropriations bill, mind you, that was put on the floor before Christmas, they're going to put that bill on the floor to open the government.

The ball will now be in Mitch McConnell and President Trump's court.

KEILAR: Soon, they won't be paid, January 11. Right? That's the date that we're moving towards. And there should be some pressure then.

So, minutes ago, the incoming House Judiciary chairman, Democrat Jerry Nadler, introduced legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. How worried should the president be about this new opposition in Congress, Bill?

KRISTOL: Well, he should.

He shouldn't be worried, because if he were, I think, a responsible president, he would accept this legislation, which is a reasonable attempt to make sure that political -- that the Mueller investigation is not interfered with for political reasons.

This legislation passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee with four Republican votes, along the Democrats. It will pick -- get some Republican votes, I suspect, in the House. And I think they should pass it quickly and send it over to the Senate.

And it will be interesting to see. I sort of wonder whether Mitch McConnell's -- Trump's holds Senate Republicans -- for me that's one of the biggest questions of the next few days and weeks and months. Does he continue to have the stranglehold that Ana correctly said he had over the first two years?

I think the November elections, the firing -- Jim Mattis resigning, the stock market, a lot of things have come together to weaken that hold now, and I have got to think that -- can McConnell just say, I'm sorry, I'm not bringing it to the floor? Really, if it gets 260 votes in the House, if it was reported out of the last Senate Judiciary Committee with four Republican votes?

And I think the same is true with the appropriations bills. Can McConnell just say, we passed these bills two months ago, but now I'm not bringing them? (CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: You think there's any doubt on whether he can say...


KRISTOL: Well, next week, when there's actual pressure from constituents about, hey, I need to do some work with EPA and they're not open and Agriculture and these actual agencies of the government that are being kept closed -- it's one thing to close -- to have a fight over the wall and have a short-term appropriation for Homeland Security, to have that fight.

It's another thing to close six other Cabinet agencies just because you're holding them hostage for the sake of the wall. I actually think the political pressure on Senate Republicans to break from Trump will be greater than people think.

NAVARRO: Look, I think this bipartisan bill to -- it was a bipartisan bill -- to protect Bob Mueller is a favor to Republicans.

The biggest favor they can do themselves is to give themselves this safety net, when they are dealing with an impulsive, impetuous, irresponsible, immature president who is given to temper tantrums.

This is the best thing they can do to themselves, because should he one day wake up without his baby bottle next to him and decide he wants to get rid of Bob Mueller, they're going to have a hell of a big problem on their hands.

And at that point, they're going to have wished that they had taken these steps to protect Mueller. They have got nothing to do. They have got nothing to lose from doing so, from going along with it. It was a Republican idea in the Senate. It was bipartisan, as Bill Kristol says.

It should be done. It's good for the institution. It's good for America. It's good for the process.

KEILAR: Are they worried about this being a preemptive rebuke, though, that gets them in hot water by bucking the president before he's done something?

KUCINICH: I don't think they want to do -- I really don't think they want to do anything to upset the president.

And this isn't the same Senate, by the way, that -- when we last left this program. It's a different Senate.

[16:15:01] The Republicans there are much more beholden to President Trump than the ones who left because he went and campaigned for a lot of them.

So, we don't even know what the support would be for a bill like that should it pass the House. I think in the House, we're going to see a lot of symbolic things pass in terms of oversight, but they will stay in the House. They're going to show that they're doing it.

KEILAR: All right. We're keeping an eye right now on the White House briefing room. We are expecting, just learned this moments ago, that there is going to be the first briefing of the year right there. Sarah Sanders will be taking the podium shortly. We'll go there live.

THE LEAD will be right back.


KEILAR: And we're back now with breaking news. The White House minutes ago saying that there would be an unexpected press briefing with Sarah Sanders.

[16:20:01] So, this is the first of the year, the first of 2019, and we're waiting for that to begin.

So, let's got to our Kaitlan Collins. She's at the White House, in the room, in the briefing room.

What is this about? Do you have any idea?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it's a great question. This is not something that was on the White House schedule today and they did not give much of a heads up, coming over the loudspeaker just a few minutes ago, announcing that there would be a press briefing with the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, in about five minutes.

Now, we're sitting here waiting in the briefing room, waiting for Sarah Sanders to come out. Of course, these briefings are not typical these days, and there's not been many held. It will certainly be the first one this year, but there were not many in November or December either, so that is what essentially everyone is waiting on. But, of course, one of the biggest topics that will come up is going to be that government shutdown and what's been going on with that.

We haven't heard from President Trump much today, just a little bit on Twitter, but we have not seen him here at the White House, even though the Vice President Mike Pence was on Capitol Hill earlier today swearing in the new members of the Senate as you saw on camera earlier, when that was playing out. But a lot of questions are going to revolve on how much closer we are to come to a compromise between the White House and Democrats to reopen the government. Those talks here yesterday in the Situation Room largely went nowhere according to people who were in the room, and so that's really going to be the question of have we made any progress with that and have we gone any further?

Now, Brianna, the president largely spent the Christmas holiday here at the White House virtually alone and that was pretty evident yesterday by that cabinet meeting where the cameras came in and the meeting went for almost two hours with the president talking and going around the room and taking questions from reporters at the end. So, we'll see what he has to say or what his spokesperson has to say when she comes out here in a little bit. KEILAR: And what do you make of the fact that this is something that

is such a surprise? We've seen the focus so much on the Hill today. There seems to be at least a respect for getting through the announcement of Speaker Pelosi before whatever this briefing is about, but, still, it seems to be pulling the spotlight back to the White House.

COLLINS: And that is probably something intentional by the White House because as we've heard from the president and his aides in recent days, they've been trying to say that Democrats didn't want to come to a compromise to reopen the government because Nancy Pelosi wanted to make sure she could secure the votes to become House speaker, even though she was running unchallenged. And then we saw the president shift the message a little bit today when he was blaming it on the politics of the upcoming 2020 presidential election, even though that's still a ways off as well.

So, look for the White House to try to send a message on the shutdown and try to make it away from what we've been watching play out on television all day, which is the coverage of those new Democrats who are going to be in power in Washington and really change the trajectory, not only for White House aides here but for President Trump as well.

Of course, Brianna, with the White House calling this briefing so last minute, there are a lot of empty seats here in the room because reporters aren't always just hanging around the White House waiting for a briefing to take place, especially because there haven't been that many briefings to begin with lately. So, still, probably a dozen seats open in the briefing room right now and we are still waiting on Sarah Sanders to come out here to this podium and to likely deliver some message about the latest update on the government shutdown and where the White House stands.

KEILAR: But our Kaitlan Collins was ready, and that's what matters. Keep an eye on things for us and give us the sign when things are getting under way and should start any moment now.

COLLINS: We will.

KEILAR: As I bring the panel back in to talk about this.

KRISTOL: Can I just make prediction for --

KEILAR: All right, do it.

KRISTOL: They would no put it out at 4:20 in the afternoon, just a regular briefing with Sarah Sanders. So, there will be -- either it will be the president himself or some announcement about the shutdown or maybe a nomination for secretary of defense or maybe something about the American who's being held in Moscow. I mean, I think it would be ridiculous to have Sarah Sanders come out and answer questions on a day of the new Congress at 4:20 in the afternoon.

So, I'm guessing --

KEILAR: Do you think --

KRISTOL: I'm guessing a surprise.

NAVARRO: Whatever it is, I just hope it does not make the Dow and the markets fall even further.

KRISTOL: The markets are closed, so everything is fine.

KEILAR: It's only down about 700 --

NAVARRO: Tomorrow.

KEILAR: I mean, what is -- what do you think, Jackie, about this sort of surprise briefing. I also wonder when it comes to the shutdown, the president tweeted where he was blaming politics on Democrats, and I wonder if he's feeling and if you get the sense that he's feeling like this may not be a full-on win for him in this and he needs to be taking steps to at least to appear to be doing something.

KUCINICH: Well, it's pretty clear he's in a corner at this point because you're starting to hear the members that speak with him often, someone like a Lindsey Graham who a couple days ago was talking about how the president was amenable to a deal, perhaps with a DACA fix. And now, I think a day or two ago, Lindsey Graham was back on TV saying that it's about -- the president's presidency is over if he doesn't win this fight.

So, it does seem like the right wing has pulled him into a place that's really hard to get out of because Nancy Pelosi is holding firm, and there's a reason she's doing that. She knows politically that she's on -- she's winning this right now, right now.

KEILAR: But soon, in a few days, there's going to be a lot of pressure because even at this point, you have -- you have hundreds of thousands of Americans, those are federal workers, not to include the people who are contract workers, who if they don't get paid, they are never going to get paid. There's going to be no back pay for them.

SANDERS: I have friends sitting at home right now doing talking about they did arts and crafts this morning -- this afternoon because they literally have -- have been no work. But the fact of the matter is --

KEILAR: They might need that calming nature considering a lot of people --


KEILAR: -- they worried about real things. I mean, we've seen reporting, people are like --

SANDERS: Paying their rent.

KEILAR: Can I pay for my insulin? Can I pay my mortgage? I'm going to have to defer my car payment and pay interest.

SANDERS: These are real things Americans are being confronted with. But the fact of the matter is this is on President Trump and Republicans. Donald Trump can get the government open any time or, fine, if Donald Trump refuses to sign a bill, then Congress needs to do its duty and make sure that they have a veto proof majority and get the government back open.

This business about kowtowing to the wills of the whims of a tantrum- throwing president, I just do not understand, but difference is, Nancy Pelosi is now in that room as the speaker of the House, and she is not playing games. She's made very clear, she did an interview the other day saying isn't it on you, the reporter asked her, isn't it also on you, don't you have some responsibility if you won't compromise? And Nancy Pelosi said, no, I do not have any responsibility because the people do not support a government shutdown over this wall. The government's campaign promise was that Mexico would build the wall, now, you're asking the American people to pay for it.

This is crazy. Donald Trump is not about to drag me down the crazy hole. They need to get the government back open and Democrats are going to do their job.

NAVARRO: Donald Trump and his White House, they are masters not of the deal. They are masters of deflection and distraction. And today has been a pretty good day for Democrats. It's been a pretty good day for Nancy Pelosi. If you've been on the Hill at all like I have, look, people are practically playing tambourines and chanting happy songs, and you can sense and see with your own eyes the change that is happening there.

There's women all over the place. There's children all over the place. It's a stark change from what a Republican, you know, administration and a Republican leadership looks like and I think -- I think this might be some attempt to take away from the spotlight that the Democrats have had today with all of these historic firsts.

KEILAR: All right. Let's listen to Sarah Sanders.

KRISTOL: Here we go.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Give a few of my friends a minute to get in.

Thank you all for coming on short notice and certainly happy New Year. Welcome back. It's good to be back.

We're going to kick 2019 off just slightly differently, and would I like to welcome a very special guest for be a appearance here in the briefing room, our very great president, Donald J. Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, everybody. This is a beautiful place. I haven't seen it.

Happy New Year. Happy New Year to everybody. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.

I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected speaker of the House. It's a very, very great achievement, and hopefully, we're going to work together and we're going to get lots of things done, like infrastructure and so much more. I know they want to do that very badly and so do I.

So, hopefully, we have a lot of things we can get done together and I think it's actually going to work out. I think it will be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking.

So, I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement.

And I just wanted to explain to folks that I'm with you today, people I've known very well over the last two years, people that have been extremely supportive of what we're doing on the border. They are tough. They are smart. They think. They love our country.

They -- they have every quality, and I'll tell you what. I really know them well, and they have the kind of qualities that we need in our country, and they have done a fantastic job at the border. It's ICE and it's Border Patrol and a man who has really become a friend in a sense Brandon -- I will say this, Brandon Judd has been a stalwart in terms of justice for people, in terms of fairness and in terms of the toughness you need. You have some pretty tough situations. It doesn't get much tougher.

So, I just want to thank Brandon and all of the folks. I'll have them introduce themselves right now and also say a few words now about the wall, about -- you can call it a barrier, you can call it whatever you want, but essentially, we need protection in our country. We're going to make it good. The people of our country want it.

I've never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control and for frankly the wall or the barrier. I have never had anything like it in terms of calls coming in, in terms of people writing in and tweeting and doing whatever they have to do. I've never had this much support, and we've done some things, as you know, that have been very popular.

So I'm going to ask Brandon Judd to just step forward and say a few words.