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Elizabeth Warren Backs Decision to Pull Troops Out of Syria; Apple Blames Trade War for Slowdown; Democrats Take Control of House of Representatives. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 3, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:22]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Of course, we're keeping a close eye on our nation's capital, where a historic day is unfolding, where Nancy Pelosi has reclaimed the speaker's gavel, along with her spot as one of the most powerful people on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our Congress will be refreshed and our democracy will be strengthened by their optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class.

Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And for the first time since he took office, President Trump will face a divided Congress. More on that later.

The Congress will also be tasked with finding a way out of this shutdown stalemate. We will get into all that too.

But, right now, I just want to stop and mark this moment, because, for the first time, so many Americans are going to look at these members of Congress and think, finally, a member of Congress who is just like me.

For starters, the 116th Congress will be the most diverse in history, 56 African-American members, a record, 53 in the House, a milestone also for Hispanic and Latino members with a record 42 elected, and with 10 members in the House and Senate, this the most openly LGBTQ Congress.

But there is another reason today is groundbreaking, or, should I say, 127 reasons, because 127 is the number of women -- again a record -- who will be heading to Congress today.

And to paraphrase Helen Reddy, that's a number that's too big to ignore. So are their stories.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar will be the first Muslim women on Capitol Hill. Omar, like many of her fellow freshmen, documenting her incredible journey on Twitter.

She wrote: "Twenty-three years ago from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at 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."

Massachusetts and Connecticut are sending Ayanna Pressley and Jahana Hayes to the House, the first African-American woman to ever represent those states, while Sharice Davids of Kansas right here and Deb Haaland of New Mexico will make history as the nation's first Native American women Congress members.

And just to put this in perspective, when Nancy Pelosi arrived on the scene in Washington back in 1987, they were just 23 women in the House, 23. And, today, there are more than 100.

Over on the Senate side, Arizona and Tennessee have elected their first female senators, while Mississippi sends its first woman to Congress in the state's history. And there are a lot of firsts, especially actually for President Trump, who for the first time in his presidency will be held accountable by Democrats, who now control the House.

So let's go to Capitol Hill on this opening day.

CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is there.

We just listened to the speech from now Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But talk to me about today and what bills these House Democrats plan to run with?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly a historic day, a barrier-breaking day, a lot of pomp, a lot of circumstance, if you will, but there's also a recognition inside the Democratic Caucus, the new majority in the House, that they actually need to get things done, they need to produce for the people that gave them the majority.

And they're not going to be wasting any time. One of the first things they're going to move forward, kind of keep priorities, they're going to put together a large package of a single bill that includes ethics and campaign finance reform, a bill that includes a requirement that any presidential candidate produce 10 years of tax returns, really a focus they made during the campaign, something they're going to try and deliver on early in the Congress.

You also have a rules package that is coming up, Brooke, that there will be voting on tonight that will give the House Democrats the opportunity to basically play a role in any lawsuits that are going after Obamacare. So, obviously, health care was a huge issue on the campaign as well. They will be focusing on that. And also today, Democrats will introduce a bill to protect the special

counsel, Robert Mueller. It's unclear when they're going to move forward on that. They certainly have the votes to move it through the House.

What they're going to try and do, Brooke, is show that, legislatively, not just on the oversight side of things, not just on investigations, they can get things done.

But, Brooke, it's worth noting one of the other votes that they're going to be having tonight is something that's far more urgent. As you noted, the government is shut down. It is in its 13th day.

Democrats will put on the floor later tonight two bills that would reopen the government, one that would package together six funding bills, kind of the non-controversial funding bills to reopen the large portion of the government through the fiscal full year until the end of September, and then a short-term bill for the most contentious issue here, the Department of Homeland Security, where the president wants his wall funding.

[15:05:17]

They are basically sending a message over to the United States Senate, which still is run by Senate Republicans, that they can do something to reopen the government.

Now, it's worth noting, Senate Republicans have made clear, if the president doesn't support it, they're not willing to put it on the floor. And the president doesn't support that package, but Democrats making clear that they're going to have votes early, they're going to have votes often, and they're going to try and move their legislative priorities as quickly as possible to try and underscore that they believe they were sent here not just for investigations or oversight, but also to produce legislation as well, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Speaking of that shutdown -- Phil Mattingly, thank you very much for me -- just down the road, we have got some news just in from the White House.

They are now looking to have another meeting with congressional leaders to try and end this partial government shutdown now in day 13. The last one just a day ago with these members of Congress ended with absolutely no progress.

So, CNN's Abby Phillip is live for us this afternoon at the White House.

Abby Phillip, did the White House invite the same folks? And is there any sign that the president has something new to offer from the last one?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Brooke.

Well, there might be another face-to-face tomorrow at the White House. There has been a formal invitation sent over to congressional leaders, which includes Democrats and Republicans on both sides, both chambers on Capitol Hill.

But it's not clear whether that has been accepted, particularly by the Democrats, because, as you suggested, there isn't really anything new on the table that the White House is putting out there in terms of offers that would end the government shutdown.

A White House official was asked this morning just not long ago about whether or not the president was still, at this moment, whether he was willing to move off of his $5 billion demand for border wall and border security.

And here is what Mercedes Schlapp had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Again, we're not going to negotiate in public. This is a conversation that we know Vice President Mike Pence has been having with the Democrats as well.

I think what's very important for Nancy Pelosi is that she's going to have to see if she can get a handle on the radical progressives in her caucus who are basically pushing for open borders, pushing for abolishing ICE, and not protecting the American people.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SCHLAPP: This is called a negotiation. As the president has said time and time again, he is willing to negotiate with the Democrats. We gave them an offer. They refused it. They're stuck on the $1.3 billion and less. We need to -- we need to get to a better place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: So, Brooke, I'm going to translate that for you quickly. And that basically amounts to nothing has changed between yesterday and today.

And it's not clear anything will change tomorrow. The White House still is not willing to say whether the president is still willing to accept less than $5 billion. Democrats have said pretty clearly they're not giving him any money at all for the border wall.

And so I think we are back at square one. In the meantime, one other thing that Mercedes did say was that they are not interested in a short-term bill, like the one that Phil just described. They are not interested in signing something that only funds the Department of Homeland Security in particular for a short period of time.

So, again, we're waiting to see if any more concrete offers come across Pennsylvania Avenue from one side to the other. But, so far, I think we are still where we have been for some time now -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I was afraid of that. Abby Phillip, keep us posted. Thank you very much at her post at the White House. Meantime, we are closely watching the Dow right now. At one point

today, it plummeted -- and, actually, it's down 617 points there with just about 50 minutes to go with the trading day, this after the big news from Apple.

Apple is warning that it will badly miss its quarterly sales forecast because of a slowdown in China's economy. Apple CEO Tim Cook today blaming U.S. trade tensions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: If you look at our results, our shortfall is over 100 percent from iPhone. And it's primarily in greater China.

And so as we look at what's going on in China, the -- it's clear that the economy began to slow there for the second half. And what I believe to be the case is the trade tensions between the United States and China put additional pressure on their economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, with me now, Yahoo! Finance columnist Rick Newman. He is also the author of "Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success."

Rick Newman, nice to see you.

The Apple news, how worried should we be?

RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO! FINANCE: We not be worried about Apple. It's -- the stock is obviously down by a lot. It's down about 9 percent today. But Apple's going to be fine. We're not talking about layoffs. They're not losing money.

This is still a high-flying technology company.

BALDWIN: It's not a harbinger of things to come with regard...

(CROSSTALK)

NEWMAN: Well, it's a harbinger of a slowdown.

And this is what -- this is why we have seen all this volatility in the stock market for the last couple of months. It's -- there's nothing terrible in the underlying economy. But there are concerns that we're going to have an economic slowdown in the United States and in other countries.

[15:10:00]

And all big companies in the stock market are global. They're not just in the U.S.

BALDWIN: Sure.

NEWMAN: And that -- when something -- when the Chinese economy slows down, that does affect us here. We are all in this together in some sense, and you can't separate the two economies.

BALDWIN: What about this headline on the debt? The Treasury Department today announcing it has increased $2 trillion since Trump took office.

That is obviously the opposite of what he promised during the campaign. In a 2016 interview, Trump told Bob Woodward -- quote -- "We have got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt."

Woodward responds: "How long would that take?"

Trump says: "I think I could do it fairly quickly because of the fact the numbers."

Woodward: "What's fairly quickly?"

Trump says: "Well, I would say over a period of eight years."

So that would mean that Trump has six of those eight years left to eliminate the debt.

NEWMAN: I'm trying not to laugh.

BALDWIN: You're trying not to laugh, because you...

NEWMAN: Because when he said that, everybody knew there was no way that would happen.

(CROSSTALK)

NEWMAN: The economists who said, look, here's what's going to happen if you cut taxes the way they're talking about, you're going to add to the today, you're not going to subtract from it. And if there's any impact in higher tax revenue over time, if there is, which there probably won't be, it's going to come years later.

Even Trump's own economists acknowledged that.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: What does he do? How does this turn around?

NEWMAN: At some point in the future -- nobody knows when -- we're going to have to make some very hard decisions about raising taxes and cutting spending.

But, of course, no politicians in Washington are going to do that until there's no other choice. Right now, the bond markets, which is the real arbiter of this, are saying, we're OK with. This is a high level of that, but we're OK with it.

When you start to see interest rates go up, which means the U.S. government has to pay more to borrow, we have to pay, we taxpayers have to pay more to get out of this hole, when that starts to go up by a lot...

BALDWIN: You need much more than we...

(CROSSTALK)

NEWMAN: Oh, yes.

Interest rates remain almost close to record lows. And that means borrowing costs remain low. When those borrowing costs get higher, and they will someday, that's going to be the crunch point at which we're all going to have to do something.

And all of us are going to be involved in that.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: OK. Rick Newman, thank you very much. Happy new year to you.

NEWMAN: Thanks, Brooke. Same.

BALDWIN: We're going to talk live in a moment here to one of those 92 freshmen Congress members ahead this hour.

Plus, as Nancy Pelosi has just become speaker, on the same day, she also becomes the highest ranking official to float a possible indictment against President Trump.

And Senator Bernie Sanders now responding to allegations of sexual harassment on his 2016 presidential campaign, but is his response adequate? You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:42]

BALDWIN: She's one of the president's harshest critics. He has taunted her with nicknames and mockery, but Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is actually stunning a number of supporters by aligning with President Trump on this one key issue on the heels of announcing her exploratory committee for a presidential run.

Senator Warren said this about the president's decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think it is right to get our troops out of Syria. And let me add, I think it's right to get our troops out of Afghanistan.

I think that everybody who keeps saying, no, no, no, we can't do that in the defense establishment needs to explain what they think winning in those wars look like and where the metrics are.

What seems to be the answer from the foreign policy establishment, stay forever. That is not a policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Hagar Chemali, former spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and a former Treasury spokeswoman on terrorism and financial intel, with me now.

And good to see you.

HAGAR CHEMALI, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, U.S. MISSION TO UNITED NATIONS: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: To listen to Senator Warren, you were just saying to me as we were chatting in the commercial break she's not the first Democrat even to side with the president on this very issue.

But it is stunning, especially for some of her supporters. And how do you think Democrats should play this moving forward? Because I bet we see more and more of them who actually side with him on this very issue.

CHEMALI: Right.

I'm not surprised that she came out with this policy. She's not the first. I heard Ben Rhodes, for example, last week say that having an exit plan and withdrawing from Syria might be a good idea, that there just needs to be a plan in place and a strategy.

BALDWIN: And not just like...

CHEMALI: Right, and certainly something with our allies.

I am the believer, and I think most in the foreign policy world are the believer that -- of the belief that now is not the time to pull out, six months is not the time to pull out and a year is not the time to pull out. It's just too premature.

It is, first of all, a very low-cost effort. You have about 2,000 troops in areas that have already been liberated. They're there to make sure that things are rebuilt, that refugees can go back. And we know that ISIS is not completely defeated.

"The Washington Post" just last week published a piece saying that ISIS has hidden money, they have buried money, they have put money into seemingly legitimate businesses, and that they're doing it to fund a resurgence.

This is something that we have to stay on top of and that has a direct impact on our national security objectives, whether it's related to containing Iran, fighting terrorism, protecting the Kurds, protecting Israel.

I mean, the list goes on. It's, to me, and I think from both Trump's decision and Elizabeth Warren's decision, a lose-lose situation.

BALDWIN: Sure.

So you're on the other side of this. Let me ask you about Paul Whelan, the U.S. citizen who is being held right now in Russia.

CHEMALI: Right.

BALDWIN: We learned today he's been formally charged with espionage. This is according to his lawyers.

Why do you think the president hasn't said a word about this yet?

CHEMALI: I mean, it's -- there's a lot of -- it's hard to speculate as to what goes on behind the scenes.

Often, in the experiences I had when I was at the National Security Council, when things like this happen, and sometimes the U.S. government won't come out loudly, it is because sometimes there are backdoor negotiations. And sometimes speaking publicly might...

BALDWIN: Worsen the situation.

(CROSSTALK)

CHEMALI: Yes, it might worsen the situation.

Something like this, usually, the practice would be that the White House at least comes out or the State Department comes out with one strong statement, because they have to.

[15:20:01]

BALDWIN: To condemn.

CHEMALI: Right. They have to condemn it. They have to call for what's right.

And then, from there, maybe they will ask that other validators and influencers not be to public about this, that there not be a lot of op-eds, that there not be a lot of public pressure on the Russian government, for example, in this instance.

BALDWIN: Sure.

CHEMALI: This happened a lot with Iran when Jason Rezaian and others were detained there.

BALDWIN: Being held.

CHEMALI: Yes.

So I wouldn't be surprised if there were some backhand negotiations, some third channel maybe, something like that. But they need to come out. They need to come out hard and strong, as always.

BALDWIN: Hagar, thank you very much.

CHEMALI: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Good to see you. CHEMALI: Always.

BALDWIN: Coming up next: Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders says he was not aware of sexual harassment inside his 2016 campaign, but he attempts to apologize anyway. We will play the sound for you. And you be the judge. Was it enough?

Also, Senator Dianne Feinstein this early declaring which candidate she would back in 2020. Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:25:37]

BALDWIN: Vermont Bernie Sanders forced to respond after several women who worked on his 2016 campaign have come forward to "The New York Times" alleging that they had experienced sexual harassment, pay disparities and targeted disrespect by other campaign members that was not adequately addressed.

So here is what Senator Sanders told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I certainly apologize to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately. And, of course, if I run, we will do better next time.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And just to be clear, you seem to indicate that you did not know at the time about the allegations. Is that correct?

SANDERS: I -- yes. I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Alice Stewart is a Republican strategist and a former Ted Cruz communications director. Sally Kohn is a progressive columnist and activist and the author of "The Opposite of Hate."

Ladies, happy new year.

Let's get right into this, Senator Sanders' response to Anderson.

And, Sally, just starting with you, we had many a conversation way back in -- a couple years ago. You were feeling the Bern, I remember, during the primaries.

But listening to his response to Anderson, "I was busy running around the country," what did you make of that?

SALLY KOHN, CNN COMMENTATOR: There's like no way to sugarcoat this. That was one of the worst apologies and excuses I have ever heard.

And, honestly, as a one-time Bernie Sanders supporter, I'm mortified and embarrassed. First of all, anyone who's gone through like rudimentary therapy knows that the way to apologize is not to say, I'm sorry if you felt that maybe -- like, there's that part of it.

But, also, if you're going to be a leader, you're accountable for the entire supply chain of your operation. Certainly, if you want to be president, you're held accountable for everything that's happening in the vastness of the federal government. Well, then you're going to easily be held accountable for what's happening in your campaign.

And this just goes to this ongoing lack of accountability that, frankly, is what tarnished his campaign when it came to not only sexual harassment inside, but also the sort of Bernie bro culture on the outside.

And it's just -- it's sad.

BALDWIN: On the Bernie bro culture, Alice, I mean, besides the stunning sexual harassment claims, there are also these allegations of serious pay disparity.

In one case, there was a female staffer was allegedly making less than half of what a male staffer was originally supposed to report to her was making. And just given what he was espousing as a candidate, what he espouses as a senator, how do you see it?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's -- first of all, sexual harassment and pay disparity, inequality in the work force shouldn't be tolerated in any way, shape or form, either in the public or the private sector.

And this shouldn't be tolerated. And, look, I have been on campaigns, as his, where it starts with three people and blows up to a couple hundred. And the principal or the candidate, I can understand how he was not made aware of this or didn't know about it.

But, that being said, now that he does know about it, the apology could and should have been much more heartfelt and efforts to address it should be more at the forefront. My understanding, these issues had been addressed and have been discussed and certainly apologies to the people involved.

But, that being said, he should offer much more of an apology. The silence actually of the Times Up and the MeToo movement is deafening with regard to this. I'm expecting them to get in anytime now, because we're in a point now where, when these things are brought to the forefront and are brought to the attention of people, they certainly should be addressed.

But I am encouraged that he did take steps on his next campaign -- on his last campaign in the midterms to really address that and put principles and practices in place for women to come out.

BALDWIN: Whether you're a D or you're an R, same goes for both -- for both parties, for both cases. Let's turn the page. And I know it's so early, but Senator Dianne

Feinstein says she would back Joe Biden if he ran in 2020. Have you guys heard this? And not only is it interesting, Sally, to you, that she'd say something like this so early, but also just keeping in mind Senator Kamala Harris is her fellow California senator.

What do you think?

KOHN: I mean, good on her, but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree.