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Feinstein Says She Would Back Biden if He Runs; Kim Jong-un Letters to Trump "Predictable Effusive"; Rep. Nancy Pelosi Elected House Speaker; 116th Congress Becomes Most Diverse in U.S. History; On First Day, Liberals Protest Nancy Pelosi's Rules. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 3, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] SALLY KOHN, PROGRESSIVE ACTIVIST: I mean, good on her, but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Look, Joe Biden has name recognition, people like him and in fairness he's the most sort of populist-seeming of a long legacy of centrist corporate Democrats. He talked tough, he's from Scranton, he talks about that all the time. And so, he sort of seemed like the most -- bearing in mind he's from the great banking state of Delaware. But he earned that reputation.

But in fairness, the country -- look, the country never really should have had corporate centrist Democrats but certainly in this moment, that is so tone deaf and out of step, not only with what the country needs but with what the American people across the aisle want. And it turns out we are a fundamentally more progressive, inclusive populist country that wants things like higher taxes on the rich and solutions to climate change and corporations and big business to be held accountable. And we need Democratic candidates who, I don't know, actually side with the majority of Americans, not to mention the majority of Democrats as opposed to siding with big business and Wall Street.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Yes, but -- here's my yes but -- and Alice this is to you, do you think that Joe Biden could actually give Trump a run for his money?

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It remains to be seen what happens with the Mueller investigation and the economy between now and then. Look, the Iowa caucuses on February third of next year, that's going to be a huge milestone for this campaign. It is so early. Biden is certainly polling well because a lot of people know him and certainly Feinstein knows him and he's doing well. But there's a lot of territory that will be made on the back roads of Iowa between now and then.

And I agree with Sally, I expect to see more fresh faces. Hearing from the Beto O'Rourke, and the Pamela Harris's, and the Cory Booker's and these other people. The new fresh faces I think are going to be more of a standout with the Democratic Party. I think Joe Biden would be a tremendous candidate but I have to say that they have quite a bench that certainly as we're seeing, I was down at the Capitol today for the swearing in, a lot of fresh faces and they are going to be in my anticipation the faces certainly of 2020 going against Donald Trump.

BROWN: Alice and Sally, thank you ladies very much. Good to see both of you.

KOHN: You, too. Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We are getting new details now about where the White House stands on nuclear talks with North Korea. This is just coming in. Find out what CNN has just learned about the chances of a second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We're back, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We are getting new information about a letter that Kim Jong-un has sent to President Trump and where this whole situation stands as far as a potential second summit between these two leaders. So here is what the President revealed yesterday about getting this new letter from Kim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just got a great letter from Kim Jong-un, and those few people that I've shown this letter to, they've never written letters like that. This letter is a great letter. We've made a lot of progress with North Korea and Kim Jong-un. Chairman Kim has been -- we've had a -- we've really established a very good relationship. A lot of good things are happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's national security reporter, Kylie Atwood, is with me now from Washington, D.C. And so, Kiley, you've been digging into this. What have you learned about why Kim is sending these letters?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Brooke, as you could see in the oval office yesterday, Trump was quite proud to talk about this letter that he received from Kim Jong-un. And sources have told CNN that it's similar to the past letters he's received from the North Korean leader. That it was predictably effusive, offered compliments and appealed to President Trump's ego.

It's also important to note that these letters often come when there is a stall in U.S. and North Korea diplomacy, and that is the case right now. Steve Biegun, who is the U.S. special representative to North Korea over at the State Department, hasn't met face to face with North Korean initials officials yet. The last time he met with North Korean officials was back in October. And he was alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that was the last time he met with them. He's been hopefully trying to meet with them. He even waited for over a week in Vienna at the end of last year and that meeting didn't come to fruition. So this letter is really trying to pull Trump back in at a moment when diplomacy is continuing to kind of fall apart.

BALDWIN: So, pushing it forward, what is this White House doing to prepare for a possible second summit?

ATWOOD: Well sources tell CNN that the White House is actively engaged in searching for possible locations. They've actually sent teams to locations around the world that they consider to be on their list for the possible second summit. And they haven't, however, sat down with North Korea and compared notes. So what's going to be the real test here is what the North Koreans want to do. Where they want to have it. And that might take a while for the U.S. given the stalled diplomacy to have those conversations.

It's also important to note that Kim Jong-un is particularly frightened of flying. We know that.

[15:40:00]And he is a person who during the last summit received some criticism because he used an Air China flight to get to Singapore and because of that criticism, he might be a little more hesitant to want to travel for this next summit that both sides are really hoping for.

BALDWIN: Kylie Atwood, thank you so much for that. Stay on top of it. Coming up next, a look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rose to power. CNN's Dana Bash talks to her in this in-depth conversation on her career in Congress and why she never backs down from a fight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:45:00] REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D) CAUCUS CHAIR: Let me be clear, House Democrats are down with NDP, Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi, the once and future Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. I proudly place her name in nomination, may God bless her, may God bless the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Democratic caucus chair, Hakeem Jeffries there making it official. Nancy Pelosi becoming the first woman to reclaim the speakership after first winning it back in 2007. Now Pelosi's future was somewhat uncertain after those midterm elections last fall because some Democrats thought it was time for new leadership. And our own Dana Bash sat down with Speaker Pelosi to find out how her background and her story and political career helped her count the votes she needed to retake the reins of power.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is your hood.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes.

BASH (voice-over): To really know Nancy Pelosi, you go where it all started, Little Italy, in Baltimore, where she was born to Congressman Tommy D'Alesandro and Annunciata D'Alesandro. When she was six, her father became Baltimore's first Catholic mayor.

PELOSI: He leapfrogged over the Irish. That was a big deal. But it took a political organizing to do that.

BASH: Much has been made of Pelosi's father's influence on her. Less known is her mother's.

(on camera): Your mom actually patented a device, the first device to apply steam to the face.

PELOSI: Yes.

BASH: Basically an at home facial.

PELOSI: That's right.

BASH: That's incredible.

PELOSI: That's incredible.

BASH (voice-over): Pelosi says her father and the times held her mother back in many ways but Annunciata D'Alesandro was a quiet force in politics.

PELOSI: My mother was very much a part of the organizing. My father was the orator, the public servant.

BASH (on camera): And your mother got stuff done.

PELOSI: Well, my brother called it her moccasin brigade, all of these women who would be part of getting the message out, being at events.

There are two things about what I bring with me from my family in this regard. One is to know how to count. That's very important. Count your votes to win the election. Count your votes to win a vote on the floor. But the other is, listen to the constituents.

BASH (voice-over): The D'Alesandro home was at the center of this Italian community. A vivid childhood memory helping new immigrants who knew where her father, the mayor and his family lived and would regularly knock on their door asking for help.

PELOSI: Since I was a little girl, I knew how to tell somebody how to get a bed in city hospital. How to try and get housing in the projects -- because that's right here next to us. And because I heard my mother say it so many times.

BASH: After college, she wanted to go to law school. Instead, like many in her generation, she got married, and started a family.

PELOSI: When I got married, and I had a baby and another one, five and six years, people are always were saying, oh, she knew when she was a little girl, she wanted to run for office. I never thought of that at all, ever, until I did.

BASH: The Pelosi's moved back to husband Paul's hometown, San Francisco. She became more and more active in the Democratic Party. But it wasn't until her youngest daughter was a senior in high school that she ran for an open House seat.

PELOSI: I went to her and said, you're going to be a senior, mommy has a chance to run for Congress, I don't know even know if I'll when. BASH (on camera): She said get a life.

PELOSI: She said get a life. And I did.

BASH (voice-over): When she first ran for House leadership 18 years ago, her male Democratic colleagues didn't get it.

PELOSI: When people said oh, there are a lot of the women are supporting Nancy, to run. And they said well why? Do the women have a list of things they want us to do? Why don't they just make a list and give us the list? This is the Democratic Party in the year 2000.

BASH: She attributes her boundless energy to Italian genes it's certainly not a balanced diet. Dark chocolate and ice cream. Vaccaro's has been her favorite since she was a little girl.

PELOSI: The chocolate. Not chocolate chip, but chocolate. I like my chocolate unadulterated.

BASH (on camera): How do you think that you wield your power as a woman differently than a man does?

PELOSI: Other people tell me if you're at a meeting or something, they'd say, do you understand how different that meeting would have been if a man were conducting it?

BASH: Do they explain how?

PELOSI: Well you listen, you build consensus.

BASH: That's exactly what she did to get what she hopes will be enough votes for speaker again. Make compromises with Democratic doubters looking for someone new, not her.

PELOSI: None of us is indispensable. But some of us are just better at our jobs than others and I have a following in the country apart from anybody who has run for president.

BASH (on camera): For most women, frankly, you know, myself included, it is hard to say those words, I am uniquely qualified. I deserve this. I earned this, I can do this better than anyone else. But you can say that.

PELOSI: You know why I do it? Dana, I do it because I want women to see that you do not get pushed around. That you don't run away from the fight.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Baltimore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: Dana, thank you. And you just saw it. Nancy Pelosi swearing in the first African-American ever to be elected to Congress in Colorado. We will ask him about his experience. There he is with his baby girl in his arms. Will asking about the President, the current shutdown. Plus, we are moments away from the closing bell, and as the Dow

plunges yet again, this time over Apple's bombshell warning about what the trade war is doing to its bottom line. Stay here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: His parents fled the East African nation of Eritrea during the country's war of independence and now he is making history as the first African-American to be elected to Congress from the state of Colorado.

[15:55:02] With me now Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse. Congressman, congratulations. Welcome, we saw the picture of you, the wife, the four-year-old baby girl. So, what a big day for you, sir. You know, and just for many you are the embodiment of the American dream. Son of refugees, member of Congress now and when you look at all of the diverse faces around you today, I want you to tell Americans who are watching what does this 116th Congress stand for you to you?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D), COLORADO: I think you said it best. This class in many ways embodies the American dream. There are a lot of historic firsts. You have the largest freshman class since Watergate. Some 80 odd new members of Congress, young, engaging, idealistic, excited to get to work for the American people. So it's been an exciting day today being able to visit with my colleagues and enjoy this moment, of course, of being sworn in. And now to get to the work of the people's House so we're excited to do just that.

BALDWIN: Let's get to the conversation about the world and not to be, you know, to bring up the buzz kill. But it is day 13 of this government shutdown and so the main sticking point is, of course, President Trump's border wall. And so he refuses to budge off his signature pledge. Apparently, he's bringing some folks over to the White House I believe tomorrow or the day after. Of course, Speaker Pelosi says Democrats will give zero dollars to build this thing. Neither side is giving in. Neither side may eventually get what they want, so what can your side bring to the table to end this?

NEGUSE: Well, look, I agree with the Speaker. I think that this shutdown is ludicrous. I do believe it is a Trump shutdown. Fundamentally later today we're going to vote on a series of bills here in the House that passed the Senate with near unanimous Republican support, appropriation bills that would reopen the government, that would ensure that our federal work remembers treated fairly and justly and are paid for the incredible work that they are doing. And that would stop the terrible economic impact that this shutdown is currently having across our country. Including in my district where thousands of federal workers in our national parks and our federal labs do incredible work for the people of this nation.

And right now I'm being imped from the ability to get their paychecks because of the shutdown. So I am optimistic that we will pass those bills in the House, that we will send those bills to the Senate. I'm hopeful that the Senate Majority Leader will ultimately put those bills to a vote and that cooler heads will prevail in the White House. Of course, it's day one and hour one so more to come on that front. BALDWIN: Yes. Cooler heads in the White House, we'll see. We hope or

we're hopeful. Congressman Heguse, another key policy issue facing I know your party today, this rules package including pay go, this provision that requires new spending be offset so it doesn't increase the deficit. We know the package is backed by Democratic leaders, but some progressives in your party, they are fighting this. They say it puts restraints on spending, and I want to know will you vote with Speaker Pelosi for the passage of this rule?

NEGUSE: Well, so, a couple of things. One, we're a big tent party. This class is historically large, and we're ideologically diverse. And so, it's important to have robust debates like we were having in the caucus about this package and many other bills. With respect to this particular issue, I oppose pay go statutorily and will be supporting Representative Jayapal and Representative Pocan's effort to essentially repeal pay-go. But I will be voting for the rules package today. It includes a number of really important provisions. The establishment of the first diversity office in the United States Congress, a select committee to deal with the climate crisis. So many other important components and so ultimately, I'll be voting yes.

BALDWIN: I've got 30 seconds left, Congressman. Joe Biden endorsed your bid for Congress. What are your thoughts about a potential 2020 run for the former Vice President? Would you return the favor?

NEGUSE: Well there are a number of incredible candidates that I believe will run for the Presidential nomination, Brooke, and so I'm excited to visit with each and every one of them. And more importantly, to make sure that they get a chance to visit with the citizens of the second district. At the end of the day their voice is what matters to me the most.

BALDWIN: Very diplomatic of you.

Welcome to Congress. Congressman Neguse, thank you very much, good luck to you and all the folks there, Republicans, Democrats, the new 116th congress. Appreciate you.

We're going to send it to Washington early here as I know they are watching the market very, very closely. For now I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" starts right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: 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.