Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Faces New Reality as Democrats Take Control of House; Government Shutdown Enters Day 13th With No Deal in Sight; Democrats Take Control of House as New Congress is Sworn In; Nancy Pelosi: Democrats will Give "Nothing for the Wall"; Government Shutdown Enters Day 13 with No Deal in Sight; New Congress Brings More Democrats, Diversity and Women; More National Parks, Landmarks and Attractions Close Amid Impasse; Apple Warning Shakes Markets Ahead of Open. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 3, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] BERMAN: We've been nagging for three hours. And only now --

CAMEROTA: Well, some -- I mean, that's what the "Good Stuff" shows every day, that people are wonderful. And so are you.

Thank you for watching. President Trump faces a divided Congress for the first time today when the new Congress is sworn in.

"CNN NEWSROOM" begins right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. A barrier breaking Congress, a new era of division and a shutdown stalemate. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim has the day off.

An historic day on Capitol Hill as Democrats, more of them, more diversity, and a record number of women begin to serve in the 116th Congress. And it is a game-changing day for the Trump presidency. That is for sure.

Hours from now Nancy Pelosi will become the new speaker of the House. And that changes, well, a lot for the White House. Democrats gladly taking on the role of the opposition and the investigative thorn in the president's side. As for your government, it is still partially shuttered for the 13th straight day.

Let's begin with my colleague Sunlen Serfaty. She's on Capitol Hill with the latest on this incoming Congress. So much changes today and history is made.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. It is a historic day, a new day for Congress, a new face on Capitol Hill. Many of the new members will be arriving into Washington later this morning where they'll be sworn in. And with that they are ushering in all sorts of historic firsts. And we talked about this in the aftermath of the midterm election, but first and foremost, the record breaking number of women who will now be in this Congress. 102 women now just in the House of Representatives alone. That's up from 85 women in the last Congress. And this will be the most diverse Congress ever. 56 African-

Americans, 42 Hispanic and Latino members, and 10 LGBTQ members. And I want to highlight just one touching moment that one of these new members posted on Twitter last night. Ilhan Omar, she is one of the first Muslim American women won her election coming into the House. She posted this picture with her father last night. She says, "23 years ago from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived in an airport in Washington, D.C. Today we returned to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress."

And much of the day today of course will be devoted to these new members. In the tradition of this moment later today we will see Nancy Pelosi of course reclaim her title as the speaker of the House as the Democrats retake their majority over there. We will see her speak. Other newly elected leaders in the House speak, as well as the traditional swearing in of all the new members. Vice President Pence will be up here to swear in the new members -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. It is a really important day for all of those reasons.

Sunlen, thank you for laying out all the history that's been made for us.

Let's talk about this. Julie Hirschfeld Davis is with me, congressional correspondent for the "New York Times," and Errol Louis, political anchor for Spectrum News.

Good morning to you, guys.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

HARLOW: I remember interviewing Ilhan Omar when she was a local representative of my home state in Minnesota, Minneapolis, representing the Somali community there, and thinking, you know, will there be a day when she is elected to Congress. And look, today is that day when she will serve along with Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, who's another first, the first Palestinian American woman, Julie, elected to the House. She plans to wear a Palestinian gown known as a thobe at the swearing in today. Instead of a bible, she will take the oath on the Quran.

You have Ilhan Omar. She will become the first U.S. lawmaker to wear a head scarf or hijab on the House floor. Those are visuals and they're symbolic, but they're more of course, right, Julie?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, absolutely. I mean, I think these new members bring a totally different perspective, a totally new voice to the Congress that we haven't heard before. It's part of the debate. And while, of course, you know, there have been members on the Democratic side of the aisle for a long time who tried to give voice on both sides of the aisle really to some of the issues that these Muslim American -- Muslim women, who are the first to be elected to Congress who are being sworn in today and some of the other firsts represent, it's something different to have members of those communities on the House floor voting in the committee rooms and mark-ups with the ability to shape legislation and to lend their voices as members to the debate.

I mean, I was struck by the picture the White House put out yesterday of that meeting in the situation room about the shutdown where everyone around the table was -- almost everyone on the table was a white man, except for Nancy Pelosi.

HARLOW: Right.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Nobody appeared to be a person of color while they're debating immigration and how people who are coming over from Central America and from Mexico should be treated in this country. There is going to be big debates about refugees and immigration and all sorts of issues where having those people at the table is going to just make for a different visual and also a different substance.

[09:05:01] HARLOW: Right. If you lived it, you know it in a completely different way. Right? You can't debate with that.

Errol, conservative pastor, radio host, E.W. Jackson, accused Ilhan Omar of making Congress look like, quote, "an Islamic Republic." She responded writing, "But the floor of Congress is going to look like America."

How much does this diversity do you believe actually change laws?

LOUIS: We know it does change. Just in the case of women, for example, there is a ton of research. It's a much deeper sample that you can use when compared with some of the new immigrant groups that are also electing people for the first time. But if you look at women over the last several decades, they're more activists, they bring more money back to their districts, they're more legislatively productive. They pass more bills than their male counterparts.

And there are a couple of different reasons for that. I mean, one thing, they tend to be excluded or discouraged, girls and women, from even going into public service so that the relatively small handful who do tend to be superstars. So I think, you know, anybody who thinks they're going to turn back the clock, anybody who thinks they're going to sort of push women out, push people of color out, stop the aspirations of all of these different groups that want to be involved in the American conversation, they're in for a rude awakening.

And, you know, I love that imagery of the white guys bunkered down in the situation room, wrestling with the seemingly intractable problem, while you have this exuberance going on down Pennsylvania Avenue where all kinds of people are coming into the capital, the people's House.

HARLOW: Yes. The people's House, there you go. So putting it away so well like none of us can is my colleague Chris Cillizza who writes in his latest column, our editor at large, that today is the day that Donald Trump, the president, changes totally. And here's his analogy that I love. It's about parenting, quote, "To me, it's like people who are about to have a baby saying they're totally ready for it. Then the baby comes and they realize like every parent that has gone before them no amount of planning or bracing could fully prepare them for their new reality."

Julie. I think that is true. And I wonder how analogous do you think it is to what President Trump is in store for because as Chris writes, he says Democrats are about to make the president's life, quote, "a living hell."

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, I think that's true. I'm not sure that the president has come around to fully appreciating how much things are going to change, although I think he's started to. I mean, yesterday and the last couple of weeks back and forth with Democrats on the wall and the shutdown I think has opened his eyes to the fact that there is a new political reality here. But there is no question that there is nothing that prepare you for the changeover of power when you have held the White House, the House and the Senate for two years, although I will say that this president has struggled even with the Republican Congress to get his agenda through, to figure out how to position himself vis-a-vis his own party.

So I think that's only going to get more difficult when he has a group of Democrats who are very focused strategically on being an effective counter to him, and not just legislatively but also on the oversight side as well.

HARLOW: Sure. And on the oversight, Errol Louis, Nancy Pelosi gave this interview to Savannah Guthrie of NBC, and she said look, Impeachment should never be political, but then she also said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he is no longer president of the United States.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: What about a sitting president?

PELOSI: Well, a sitting president when he is no longer president of the United States.

GUTHRIE: A president who is in office. Could Robert Mueller come back and say, I am taking an advisement?

PELOSI: I think that that is an open discussion. I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: How significant is it that she said it is an open discussion, Errol?

LOUIS: Well, it's very significant because what happens in this Trump White House and Trump as a politician and certainly as president has thrown out all of the rules in all of the rule books and he sort of gains his advantages that way.

Well, Nancy Pelosi is going to meet him on that terrain and match him toe to toe. If we're going to play by no rules, Nancy Pelosi is here -- what I hear her saying is that we're going to throw out all of the rules about decorum and about civility and about institutional respect. Well, you know, all we've got is a Justice Department guideline that came about in the Watergate era and was refined in the Clinton era with the Clinton impeachment that you don't indict a sitting president.

But there is no law about that. And the person now who holds the gavel -- is going to hold the gavel to initiate laws and have her own say on policy is Nancy Pelosi. So Donald Trump, you know, that was -- he may not perceive it just yet, but that was a very loud warning shot across the bow about what kind of a new era we're entering.

HARLOW: A very loud one. Thank you both. Errol Louis, Julie Hirschfeld David. Happy New Year.

LOUIS: Happy New Year to you.

HARLOW: Thirteen days in. So far no way out of this shutdown mess. Both sides are digging their heels in.

[09:10:02] Jessica Dean is live at the White House with more.

I was hoping around 4:00 or 5:00, you know, yesterday afternoon reading the headlines coming out of this meeting, I'm thinking maybe, maybe there will be progress for the American people. But literally none.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing, Poppy. Absolutely nothing. The one thing they all seem to agree on is that no progress was made. In fact everybody just seems to be, as you said, digging their heels in even more when it comes to the shutdown and really the feud over this border wall and the funding for it. They are entrenched. How entrenched? Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUTHRIE: Are you willing to come up and give him some of this money for the wall?

PELOSI: No.

GUTHRIE: Because apparently that's the sticking point.

PELOSI: No, nothing for the wall. We're talking about border security.

GUTHRIE: Nothing for the wall, but that means --

PELOSI: Well, this has been going back and forth, no. How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He's not going to sign a bill that doesn't have money for the wall. If he gives in now, that's the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That's probably the end of his presidency. Donald Trump has made a promise to the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: So there you go. Very far apart on this issue right now 13 days in to this shutdown. And we got some reporting yesterday out of that meeting, the bipartisan meeting, that was in the situation room. It was billed as a border security briefing. And what Democrats want to do is today they are planning, House Democrats, to vote on a package of bills that would reopen the government, would pull out funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and continue it at $1.3 billion. No border wall, no border wall funding so they could continue to negotiate but re-open the government.

That's what they proposed. And the reporting that we got from someone familiar with the meeting yesterday is that Senate Schumer kept asking the president why not do this? Why not reopen the government and continue negotiating. He asked three times and were told on the third time the president told him I can't do that because I'll look, quote, "foolish if I do that now."

So, listen, they're all supposed to come back on Friday. The president has invited them to come back Friday. We heard from a White House official yesterday that they expect this to go on for a while. And the White House saying that they're afraid they have no indication from Democrats they are going to come up from their $1.3 billion for border security, not to mention the wall, Poppy. So, in short --

HARLOW: Jessica Dean, thanks very much. The question is, who's going to blink, who's going to give. Maybe both sides could give a little.

Next, we talk to a Democratic lawmaker on what it will take to hash out a deal with the president. Also the president trying to change the facts. Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns in protest, and now the president says he, quote, "essentially fired Mattis." And China makes history after landing a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] POPPY HARLOW, HOST, NEWSROOM: Welcome back. Today is the day that House Democrats have been waiting for, for a long time. They are soon, in a matter of hours, in control of that chamber of Congress, ready to take on the Trump administration.

Let's talk to one of them. Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont, he serves as Chief Deputy Whip. Good morning and happy new year.

REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Thanks, the same to you.

HARLOW: It's a new Congress, it's a new day, history has been made. What is your number one priority this Congress?

WELCH: Well, it's to turn the lights back on. I mean, we've got to get government functioning. It's very exciting, and the renewal of the American voters sending new members to Congress, having a Democratic majority is really important. But we come back with this pall hanging over the country, the

government is not open. So that's got to be job one. And then job two, we did get a majority, but I think we have to acknowledge some humility here. We have been given an opportunity to earn people's trust by how we govern.

And we have to govern in a way where we focus on bread and butter issues for everyday Americans, whether they're in Trump America or Clinton America, whoever --

HARLOW: Yes --

WELCH: They voted for, bring down --

HARLOW: That's --

WELCH: Prescription -- go ahead.

HARLOW: That's really interesting. You know, I know you were going to say bring down prescription drug prices. That has been something you've been championing. And you really can't get to that or get to anything until you have the government fully up and running.

And so, when you talk about showing humility, right, in the way you govern, and governing not just for those who voted for Democrats, but for those who voted for Republicans and for the president as well, you heard her this morning, Nancy Pelosi, your leader, said not a dollar for the wall. No, nothing for the wall. Is that -- is that governing with humility and really trying to make a deal?

WELCH: Well, you know, we're in this shutdown that was initiated essentially by President Trump. We support border security. We do. And, in fact, there's $1.6 billion that the president already has that he hasn't spent on whatever he deems to be security.

There's another --

HARLOW: Well, he can't use that on the wall. Just a point of fact here, he -- actually, that money, that was allocated in fiscal '18, he can't use that for a wall. It has to only be used to fix existing barriers.

WELCH: That's correct, and there's another billion and a half or so that was already in this bill. And on the question of border security, we've got to have a secure border. We understand that. But we also have to have a comprehensive approach to immigration.

We've got to deal with these status of the dreamers, people who served in the military and have been law-abiding citizens brought here by their parents. We have to have a path towards some legal status for the people that are here.

We have to deal with our economic challenges. You put all --

HARLOW: So --

WELCH: Those together, you're having a conversation.

HARLOW: Well, I hear that --

WELCH: That's really what it's about --

HARLOW: OK, so I wonder, then, if your position has changed, Congressman, because in 2017, and I know you've been to the White House to talk to the president about things, including opioids. But in 2017, you actually made the argument that a DACA solution should not be attached to anything else, should not be attached to wall funding.

[09:20:00] You went as far as to call it a huge mistake in politics to link things like that together. Has your position changed?

WELCH: Well, actually on DACA, I do think the right thing to do for all of us is to acknowledge the children who were brought here by their parents at age four or five years old, committed no crime and those folks should be given legal status independent of other issues --

HARLOW: But you want to link that now. You're willing now to link the two in a deal, maybe for wall funding for a DACA solution. It sounds like that, am I right?

WELCH: Well, you know what? You're partly right, and here is the bottom line. The immigration issue involves border security. It involves status for the dreamers. It involves status for folks who are not here legally, and how do we address that?

And it also includes addressing our labor issues like especially in the agricultural sector. So you ask me, do I think we should have any preconditions on DACA? I don't think we should. But on a practical level, there're a lot of people --

HARLOW: Right --

WELCH: Out there who have other legitimate concerns, and if that's going to helps us get to a status that works for everybody, then I'm willing to be part of that.

HARLOW: OK, so you recently had this message for your Republican colleagues. Quote, "we don't work for Trump." That's true. But you do work for the American people, and not all of your constituents voted for Democrats, right?

So when you look at those you represent, you said about 662 federal employees in your district have gone --

WELCH: Right --

HARLOW: Without pay since December 22nd. How do you explain to them we as party, Nancy Pelosi as our leader, we're not budging. We're not going to give a dollar toward the wall. And the White House says that's a non-starter, so where does that leave them? WELCH: Right, well, what I was saying that we don't work for Trump,

the "we" is the legislature. It's Republicans and Democrats who have an article one responsibility to be an independent branch of government. And the fundamental responsibility of the House and Senate is to pass a budget.

And we are going to pass a budget today, and we're going to send it over to the Senate. And it's one that the president, before he changed his mind, had approved it. So we can act independently --

HARLOW: But you know --

WELCH: And that's our responsibility --

HARLOW: Mitch McConnell says it's a show vote. I mean, you guys know that the president won't sign it. So --

WELCH: You know, I disagree with that. It's a show vote because we're doing our job. And if the president wants to veto it, he has the right to do that. And in fact, he has an enormous amount of authority, because with that veto pen, he can keep --

HARLOW: Well --

WELCH: Government closed even if they --

HARLOW: McConnell is not going to bring it to the floor. I mean --

WELCH: And that's his --

HARLOW: He's not going to bring it to the floor.

WELCH: That's right and --

HARLOW: OK --

WELCH: That's his call.

HARLOW: OK, before you go, something else. And I want --

WELCH: Yes --

HARLOW: Your take on this as a white man in Congress, right? Women, a record number of women are joining you today. What does that mean for this country?

WELCH: It's great for the country. It's great for the Democratic Party. I mean, the more diversity we have, and the more women we have, the more people that are representative of all of America to be part of the decision-making process, that's a great thing.

HARLOW: And Republican women as well. More Republican women, more Democratic women. It's a new day for sure. Congressman Peter Welch, good luck getting the lights --

WELCH: Thank you -- HARLOW: Back on. Thank you.

WELCH: Thank you.

HARLOW: National parks trashed in the middle of this government shutdown. How the stand-off is impacting the entire country, that's ahead. Plus, moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street where it could be a rough day. Apple, one of the biggest companies in the world warning about the impact that this trade war with China is having on its bottom line that is dragging down the markets.

The Dow futures pointing down 253 points right now.

[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back. The government shutdown stinks, literally. Trash cans and bathrooms overflowing in some national parks, sparking health and safety concerns. More national landmark attractions, museums shutting down.

At least 420,000 federal employees working without pay, over 300,000 more having to work or being furloughed and not working, they're not getting their paychecks right now. All 19 Smithsonian museums including the National Zoo are closed.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with me. I think we don't focus enough on the real people impacted.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes --

HARLOW: You're one of the nearly million Americans who rely on the federal government for a --

ROMANS: Right --

HARLOW: Paycheck. This really hits you.

ROMANS: Yes, and if you are true --

HARLOW: Yes --

ROMANS: If you're headed to a park or a museum anywhere in the country, check first because, you know, there are government agencies that often partner with a lot of these places. Tourists and government workers, the most obvious victims of the shutdown right now.

But there are also, Poppy, these ripples you might not see at first. It's a partial shutdown, many agencies are funded, the military is safe. But a quarter of the government is vulnerable.

And here are those departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State Transportation --

HARLOW: Yes -- ROMANS: Treasury. At Treasury, that means the IRS now lacks funding,

only one in eight IRS workers is on the job as tax season approaches, that means your calls, taxpayer calls go unanswered and a prolonged shutdown could delay your tax refund.

Over at Commerce, there's the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau. They provide critical reports on the economy. How is it going? Who are we trading with?