Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

U.S. Debt Reaches New High (Trump Campaigned on Cutting It); Pelosi: "Open Discussion" If President Trump Can Be Indicted; Pelosi Holds News Conference After Trump Makes Surprise Remarks; House About To Vote To End Shutdown As Trump Vows To Veto Bill And Digs In Over Border Wall; US National Debt Reaches New High Under Trump. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 3, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN OUTFRONT ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Breaking news, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calls a last minute news conference fighting back against the president on day 13 of a shutdown that seems to have no end in sight.

Plus Trump's reality show calling a so-called press conference that was just a publicity stunt. He's trying to take the spotlight back from Pelosi.

And the national debt at a new dangerous record under a president who has called himself the King of Debt but promised, promised this wouldn't happen. It's a promise he's broken. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. Breaking news. Newly elected speaker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fighting back in Primetime, you were just watching a last minute press conference by Pelosi, calling the last minute briefing just hours after retaking her position as speaker, vowing to re-open the government which has now been closed for 13 days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER: We are diligent, diligent and persistent in trying to open up government. As I said today on the floor, we will take ideas, good ideas from wherever they have come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: She's trying to, well, push the whole blame thing back on to President Trump. The President today, scrambling the White House press corps. Now, his briefing was only a five-minute warning. And the President came out to the press briefing room taking the podium for the first time since becoming president of the United States, all in a propaganda show trying to steal the spotlight from Pelosi and pound the table for his wall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: On and on about the wall. The President even parading out border patrol agents you saw them behind him to echo one of his most prized fear mongering lines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HECTOR GARZA, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL AND BORDER PATROL OFFICER IN TEXAS: I just want to talk about some of those criminals that border patrol agents apprehend on a daily basis. We're talking about murderers, rapists, people that commit very serious crimes in this country.

TRUMP: They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They are rapists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Abby Phillip is at the White House. And, Abby, I mean this is the duel, right? The President with the scrambling that this propaganda briefing and then Nancy Pelosi trying to host a Primetime briefing to get it back. And now Democrats trying to, you know, pass this bill, right? And say, OK, look we're re-opening the government. But the White House is now saying they are going veto it?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. This is truly divided government that we're seeing play out here in really public fashion. The White House and Senate -- and the House Democrats are really nowhere near each other when it comes to the border wall and now the White House has officially issued a veto threat saying that whatever they pass out of the House tonight they will reach, the President would veto it.

Now it has become pretty easy, much easier for President Trump to run against Democrats, to rail against Democrats and blame them for the shutdown now that Nancy Pelosi has the gavel. That's part of what this press conference earlier this afternoon was all about. It was about President Trump making Nancy Pelosi once again front and center in his argument against whatever is going on Capitol Hill. Prior to this point, Republicans controlled Congress on -- in both chambers.

So, tomorrow they are going to be back here at the White House, having yet another meeting. The Democrats have now said that they will, in fact, attend. But the real question remains what are the dollars and cents here?

We don't really have any idea right now of what the president is willing to accept in terms of a compromise. There is no indication that proposals are going back and forth and, in fact, President Trump is digging in his heels talking over and over again about his border wall and really trying to win a public relations argument about who is to blame for the shutdown, really trying to also gin up his base when he talks about getting more and more support for himself over the last several days. BURNET: Yes.

PHILLIP: That's because his supporters, Republicans in Congress and Republicans perhaps throughout the country do, in fact, support him in this endeavor.

The question is does the rest of the country and I think polling that we've seen in recent months have shown that a majority of Americans do not support a border wall but President Trump is eyeing 2020. Eyeing his support from his base and really digging in on this front, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Abby. I wonder how many of his supporters realize that the money he is asking for is $5.6 billion, doesn't even, some would even drop in the bucket from what his own administration says an actual wall would cost.

Now though, Ben Ferguson joins me. Radio host to The Ben Ferguson Show, CNN Political Commentator Symone Sanders is here with us. Former National Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders and political commentator for us here and Mark Preston our Senior Political Analyst.

I mean, Mark, literally what we're seeing here today, you know, Nancy Pelosi is all eyeballs are on her, right, getting sworn in again as Speaker of the House.

[19:05:01] And so, that's not something the President wanted, right, as he's trying to win this battle over the wall and the government shutdown, so he has this five-minute warning and comes out to the podium, parades his border agents. Now, she's dueling back. And it is really a dog and pony show.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Look, we're talking about optics at this point. And if you saw what happened and you take what happened in the White House briefing room today, Donald Trump surrounding himself by supporters, union leaders who endorsed him for president.

Let's be very clear about who was running him now. Those are two organizations, they represent somewhere between 20,000-25,000 either border agents or ICE agents which is customs and immigration.

The thing is, though, a couple of years ago, Donald Trump, which had received their endorsement went out and said that he had receive the unanimous endorsement of all the agents of ICE, and all the agents of customs and border, and guess what? That is absolutely not true. They did get it from the leadership but not everybody.

So even though we saw the optics of that White House briefing today or news conference or however you want to describe it, campaign event, what that is, is a small amount of those agents who would actually support and that being leadership and President Trump.

And then the optics of Nancy Pelosi holding a news conference in the hallways of Congress, not so big, glamorous press conference which she's going to talk about things, in the hallways of Congress, very sullen, very dark, trying to get things done. Again, if not planned, it was a very smart way for Nancy Pelosi to come out and do her first news conference.

BURNETT: Right, sullen and dark to first capture the vote. I mean Ben, the president doesn't like to not be in the spotlight. But it doesn't seem to look like it's coming from a position of strength when the first time you go to the podium is on a day like today with no warning, right? Clearly unplanned scramble, scramble, scramble. Is that not how you see it?

BEN FERGUSON, RADIO HOST, THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW: No, I don't see it that way at all. I see the president of the United States of America that looks at what Nancy Pelosi has to say as she's being sworn in, listening to what Democrats are saying today, looking at the issues. Then, basically making clear that the Democrats agenda is to come after him, to destroy him and anyone around him and subpoena them and even impeach this president.

And he said, all right, I got something to say to the American people while the government in day 12 shutdown. I'm going to walk out to my podium and I'm going to tell the American people what this is all about and then I'm going to stick by the border wall and this is how this is going to will work. And if Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to work with us and so be it but this --.

There was a huge opportunity for the president to remind the American people that he's been in Washington the entire time while Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats are gone. And the first thing they come to Washington to do is to come after him and anyone connected with him and say the words impeachment and go after day one. They are not concerned about the government being shutdown. They want to spoke political point to get --

BURNETT: Stance, that's not true.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They are moving ahead here with something to re-open the government which he said he's going to veto.

FERGUSON: Right. And which is a non-starter. It's a meaningless -- it's a meaningless gesture when you know that you have to have something that the Republicans will agree to it. It has to be bipartisan, the president is going to veto this.

SANDERS: They agreed to it in the United States Senate. It was bipartisan. Here's the fact, Erin.

FERGUSON: And again, but without the border wall funding in there, it's meaningless.

SANDERS: Let me just -- Let me just pull back and get to the facts. The facts of the matter are 57 percent of Americans do not support a government shutdown over the border wall. And the facts are also that, again, 57 percent of Americans don't even support building a concrete border wall Game of Throne style wall along the border with Mexico.

The facts are that Donald Trump, it was Game of Throne he keeps playing with that poster (inaudible) we've talked to the president. The facts also support, Erin.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Erin, the facts also support that the President said that he will shutdown the government over not getting funding for his border wall. Not border security which Democrats are all but more than happy to fund and fund these agents.

FERGUSON: No you're not.

SANDERS: And the president said, he would shut down the government over his border wall funding.

FERGUSON: You're not.

SANDERS: That's what this is about, Ben Ferguson. Let's not be in selective dishonest when we're talking about what --

BURNETT: So, Mark, Mark, Mark, let me get you in here because I want you give you a chance to talk about the significance of what Trump did today though. Of all the moments that he's had, he chooses today to go to his press briefing room for the first time. Sure he's talking about the wall. But what people should have heard is it seems like, look he's -- he should be afraid of what the Democrats are about to do right?

Ben, you say it's BS that they're going to do it but that is what they're going to do, right? Investigation after investigation, subpoena after subpoena.

FERGUSON: Yes, I hope they do it.

BURNETT: I mean, Mark Preston, that's what he's looking at now.

PRESTON: Yes, right. So there are a couple of things. One, is I think our colleague suggest only really summed it up earlier today. This is the second half of a entire new game. And Donald Trump doesn't necessarily know what's going to hit him. And I don't say that with any glee. I don't say that with any bit of anything except reality.

Democrats now have the ability to go after President Trump in a way that we hadn't seen Congress do so because he was as we expect in many ways a -- the same political party to do. But, yes, he is very much in trouble in the fact.

Forget about impeachment. Let's just take the idea of impeachment off the table because you're not going to see Nancy Pelosi allow that to move forward. You're not going to see Elijah Cummings allow that to move forward.

[19:10:04] BURNETT: Not until I see more report, right? I mean, you know.

PRESTON: And I think unless -- unless -- right unless.

FERGUSON: And they might --

PRESTON: No, but wait a second, unless, unless if that report comes out and does so, I think he must be more concerned about these investigations by this oversight committee. Could you say one thing about the government shutdown, because it's ludicrous to think the government shutdown.

BURNETT: Yes.

PRESTON: What we're doing is we're delaying paying federal workers and not letting them go to work. That's exactly what's happening. They are going to get paid. They should get paid. But they're not going to work this week. And by the way, they want to go to work this week. The idea this is called a government shutdown is ridiculous. What it is just despite between Democrats and Republicans to try to get to some consensus.

BURNETT: And Ben -- go ahead, Symone.

SANDERS: But in fact and say -- but, Erin, the fact of the matter is that the only reason that the government is partially shutdown, we're talking about the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security which is ironic because he's talking about -- he's talking about securing the border.

The Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, the only reason these entities are partially shut down and they are " non- essential workers" who are at home and not getting paid and contract workers, mind you, will not get paid regardless when the government opens back up is because Donald Trump threw a temper tantrum over his border wall.

He told us Mexico will pay for the wall, so I am -- I am really not interested in the -- in both making --

FERGUSON: Let me explain it to you.

Sanders: In making this of both sides arguments. This is not both sides. Donald Trump told us Mexico will pay for this. We'll raise this wall and now he's asking the American taxpayer to pay for it.

FERGUSON: I'm going to quote, Erin, from earlier. We're talking about $5.6 billion which is not all the money we actually need. Don't lecture me or anybody else about trying to come together when you guys are not allowing $5.6 billion to use for border security in a way that clearly needs to be done.

SANDERS: No, we are not allowing money for a wall, Ben Ferguson. Do not say, do not say, we do not comply with the issue.

FERGUSON: Let me first. Let me finish. Right, because you guys don't care if these government workers are not having be able going to work. You care about beating Donald Trump. You don't care about border security. You care about beating Donald Trump.

BURNETT: Nobody seems to care about that. SANDERS: No, no. Democrats, this is not a both side argument. This is -- everyone, it is not fair to insinuate that both sides talking in here.

FERGUSON: You holding America hostage over $5.6 billion.

BURNETT: Democrats, the president --. Democrats do care me. Me -- Democrats do care. That's why they are going to put the Republicans appropriations bill (inaudible) Senate floor.

FERGUSON: You guys only care about beating Donald Trump. No, that's it.

SANDERS: That is why Nancy Pelosi continues to in good faith when the President will responds to her, will talk to her, to negotiate. The fact of the matter was Donald Trump (inaudible) protect us. I just want appropriate (inaudible) there, which is from on the lead yesterday.

FERGUSON: There's no good faith. Let's not act like there's good faith. There's no good faith. Nancy Pelosi's own daughter said that she would cut your head off.

BURNETT: OK, OK, go ahead.

SANDERS: On the lead yesterday said that the President is not moved by empathy. The president -- I was watching, with my own two eyes. I heard from my own two ears. He said the President really doesn't necessarily care about these government workers. The government workers will not going to move the President. He wants his wall. That's an ally of the president, Rick Santorum, the Senior Political Commentator say, he doesn't care.

FERGUSON: The president cares about security.

SANDERS: He's willing to shut down the government over this wall that nobody wants.

BURNETT: (Inaudible) workers are Democrats. Ben, let me give you a chance to response.

FERGUSON: Yes. Let's be clear. The President cares about the issue of national security. He cares about the police officer who was killed by an illegal immigrant in California the day after Christmas. He's cared about this issue before he became president.

It's what made him become president. And Democrats are holding this country hostage over a measly $5 billion because all you really care about is not these government workers, stop lying to them. You care about beating Donald Trump and if you have to keep the government shutdown to beat Donald Trump that's the entire agenda that the Democrats came out with today. They said, "We're coming after you, we're coming after Trump". Do it, impeach him. Go after him. It's $5billion.

BURNETT: Ben, do you think that the (inaudible) have any idea? He's acting like they're going to get a wall.

Ben. Ben, I have a serious question. He's acting like he is going to get a wall and keep rapist out, right? That's what the border patrol said, that's what he said when he's running for office. He's going to get a wall for the shutdown. Do you think his base has any idea that they're not going to get a wall for this shutdown? Even if he got every dollar he asked for. It's less than 20 percent of what his one administration said they would need to build a wall.

So it's incredibly intellectually dishonest for him to say that he's doing it for the wall but he's not going to get his wall.

FERGUSON: I think the President understands asking for $5 plus billion is a realistic compromise number to get border security going in the right direction. And I think the President is very clear he wants the wall built. He also is a realist here. He knows he can't get the total sum, because again Democrats will never allow that to happen. He knows how the votes work to get even partial funding done.

So when they say that the President is being stubborn he's literally only asking for $5 billion to let everybody go back to work and Democrats say, "No, we hate you so much and we don't care about border security we're going to screw you".

BURNETT: Well, I'm going to give you (inaudible) -- I'm going to give (inaudible) one point here I want to make, Mark Preston, that one point to what Ben just said. Democrats were willing to do $2.5 billion, OK? Which Ben, maybe isn't the only why they willing to do $2.5 billion.

Pence came and told them they were willing to do. The President was willing to do $2.5 billion. And then Mark, the president came out and back stabbed his own vice president, said he wouldn't even do that.

FERGUSON: That's the difficulty of working with administration.

PRESTON: That's because (inaudible) it serve as emanative.

FERGUSON: Ben, hold on a second. But that is the difficulty of working in the Trump administration that you go out with orders or direction to try to get something done and that could change on a turn.

[19:15:01] One thing we should note these are appropriations bills that are from last year. They should have been passed back on October 31st, right, the New Year, or rather on September 30th, and you start on October 1st.

Republican majority in House and Senate, obviously they needed a Democratic support. Or, not even they couldn't get this done. So, I just don't know how they're going to get it done now, why done of something it's going to happen there.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much, right.

SANDERS: I just want to note that the Democratic gave Donald Trump money for his "wall" including and additional border security earlier last year. And he still can't us tell what happen to that money for why should Democrats cuts out. So, temper tantrum from a president that doesn't know what he wants.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And by the way I should point out none of this is money that we even have because President Trump has now increase the national debt to an all-time record and we're going to talk about that very, unfortunate, and bad headline that just happened today. And next, the new Assistant to House Speaker Ben Ray Lujan, on the vote that they are about to cast to re-open the government literally to go into those votes right now. And Nancy Pelosi today on this issue of indicting, she says it could be possible to Indict President Trump. Is she right?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news. The New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi making it very clear where her party stands tonight as the government shutdown is entering its third week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NACY PELOSI, NEW HOUSE SPEAKER: Not doing a wall, does anybody have any doubt that we're not doing a wall?

(ENDS VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Got it. OUTFRONT now, the newly installed Assistant House Speaker, Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. I appreciate your time, Congressman. All right. So, when she says not getting a wall, you hear me, no wall, no wall, you guys are now down to zero dollars, right? No compromise on it?

REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D), ASSISTANT HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, Erin, look, I've never supported the President's wall. I've not supported putting one penny towards that. But, here we are in the midst of a shutdown that President Trump took credit for. He actually said over 25 times that he wanted to shut the government down and now he did it.

There's no reason that we can't open up the rest of government. Have a continue resolution for homeland security. But, we continue to negotiate but, if you're asking me if I support a penny for the wall, I don't.

BURNETT: But, you're willing to negotiate. I mean -- I guess the question I have, when you have the speaker saying no wall, no wall, you know, using the hand gestures here, not going to happen and we got a shutdown entering its third week. Am I right in saying this shutdown is now Indefinite. We're not anywhere close? We're done.

LUJAN: There's no reason that this shutdown could not end tomorrow. Once we in the House pass these pieces of legislation today, continue resolution to keep the Department of Homeland Security open through February 5th and then six other appropriation bills to open up the rest of the government that, by the way, all passed the Senate Appropriations' Committee overwhelmingly, the President could sign them today so that we can continue moving forward and doing it in a way that is not hampering the economy. It's not hurting 800,000 workers that are not getting paid including about 5,000 in my home state of New Mexico.

BURNETT: Of course, the issue is there's no border wall money in it. The president is going to show it as is already made that clear. Is this just politics this entire vote you're doing right now because you know that what you're passing is not going to become -- he's going to it.

LUJAN: Erin, I don't believe that this is politics because the bill that Mitch McConnell put on the senate floor before the end of the year was to keep the government open. And I can't imagine that Mitch McConnell the Republican leader in the US Senate would have done that if the president wouldn't have signed off.

What happened is the president decided to turn on Fox News and start listening to Sean Hannity and changed his mind. We should open the government up. It could happen immediately and that continue these negotiations to do this in a responsible way. Not of the reckless fashion that is playing out.

BURNETT: So, Congressman, the President today you know, when he did that in press senate and going to the podium and speaking, he spoke, about why he wants a wall, right not just border security of wall or barrier, he said whatever you want to call it, he wants his wall. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Having the drone fly overhead and I think nobody knows much more about technology, this type of technology certainly than I do. Having drones and various other forms of sensors, they are all fine. But, they are not going to stop the problems that this country has.

(ENDS VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Says nobody knows more about drone technology than he does. Do you think that is true?

LUJAN: Erin, I actually do not believe that's true. Just this last week President Trump proclaims that he knows more than the generals within the Department of Defense and Armed Services. It's untrue.

Look, I was down in Antelope Wells, just after we lost young Jacquelyn, 7-year-old, who was the first child that we learned about who lost her life and then now young Felipe. But, I was down and Antelope Wells at one of the port of entries, they don't even have the access to water.

The water was contaminated. It was not drinkable. They could not cook with it they could not bathe with it. And not just for those who are seeking asylum but, for the agents themselves. The President should understand the infracture investments that are needed at the ports in not just on the southern boarder with Mexico. The ports in Canada and the water ports as well, that's where these dollars should be going as opposed to this reckless, ridiculous wall that the President continues to advocate for.

BURNETT: You know, I don't know if you just heard Ben Ferguson but, you know, he was echoing what many thinks who support Trump right what it is now, that you Democrats I have the power you are going to use it to try to oust the President from office prematurely. Congressman Adam Smith who is taking over the House Armed Services Committee talked about impeachment today and here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: It's not too soon to be talking about it, we'll have to decide whether or not it's a correct course of action. But, certainly we should be discussing it and asking those questions and figuring out what's the best course of action is.

(ENDS VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He said it's not too soon to be talking about impeachment. Do you agree?

LUJAN: I personally believe that when we need to ensure that special counsel, Mr. Mueller, is able to conduct his investigation, he is able to complete his work. And I would hope that Mr. Ferguson would agree that he should be able to conduct his investigation unimpeded and present the facts not just to the Congress but to the American people, and only then we'll we find out where those facts lead.

So, that's my position on this and I fully support making sure that the special counsel can conclude his investigation, present his facts and then we'll have a conversation and see where those facts lead us.

BURNETT: Congressman Lujan, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

LUJAN: Thanks for having me, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next the United States debt $2 trillion higher tonight than when President Donald J. Trump took office. What happened to his promise?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:20:25] TRUMP: We're going to start paying down debt. We have a lot of debt. We're going to start paying down debt.

(ENDS VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, then Robert Mueller indict, Trump while he's President. Nancy Pelosi today opening the door to that being possible but is she right?

(COMMECIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: New tonight, stocks plunge again. The Dow down 660 points today. This as we learn the United States debt hit a record high. Stocks down. Debt up. It's a pretty toxic combination. And one that the President today when he went to that podium for the first time chose to completely ignore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The economy is bringing people in because we're doing so well with the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And here is what we learned today. The United States debts stands at $21.97 trillion, yes, that is trillion. That is nearly$2 trillion higher than when President Trump took office. And that is a promise broken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And then you look at our debt $19 trillion going up to $21 trillion in a very short fashion, so we're going to straighten things out and we're going to straighten them out correctly.

We're going to start paying down debt. We have a lot of debt. We're going to start paying down debt.

We're going to pay down debt. Does anybody not want it, please raise your hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURBETT: OK, just to deliver the point, he has done the opposite, right? Running up the tab and not paying down the bills and frankly this is one campaign promise that no one should be surprised that Trump has broken so far because here is Trump.

[19:30:01]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am the king of debt. I do love debt. I love debt. I love playing with it.

I'm the king of debt. I'm great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me. I've made a fortune by using debt and if things don't work out I renegotiate the debt. I mean that's a smart thing not a stupid thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I'm sorry. Right.

OK. So, Stephen Moore joins me now, informal White House adviser, and author of "Trumponomics", and Keith Boykin, Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House aide.

Steve, I laugh because those sound bites are so absurd and no one can say it better than Trump but the bottom line is, Steve, this is a president who does love debt and he has not kept his promise so far.

STEPHEN MOORE, INFORMAL WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, you know, Erin if you look at the preceding president this is a president who, you know, talked about how horrible the national debt was when he was a senator.

KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Stop right there.

MOORE: Let me make that point.

BURNETT: No, no, every single president runs up the president. They are terrible. But this one went out and said again and again --

MOORE: So did Barack Obama.

BURNETT: Why is your answer to why Trump broke his promise, Barack Obama did too.

MOORE: Look, the point I'm making is every president going back to Lyndon Johnson has promised to balance the budget. We only balanced the budget four times in the last 60 years. You can make that criticism of virtually every president we've had since then, including Barack Obama, who, you're right the debt has gone up by $2 trillion in a -- little less than $2 trillion in Trump's first two years. Under Barack Obama it went up by $3 trillion in his first two years.

So, the debt went through the roof under Obama at a time when we already had a debt crisis. This is what happened to the debt under Obama. It went way up.

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: Steve, OK, you said every president since Lyndon Johnson had the debt go up. Yes the debt repeatedly goes up. We know that, but Lyndon Johnson balanced the budget, something that Bill Clinton did. He balanced the budget.

When Barack Obama was in office he cut the federal deficit from $1.4 --

MOORE: The debt went up by $10 trillion.

BOYKIN: Listen closely, I listen to you. He cut the federal deficit from $1.4 trillion in 2009 to $585 billion when he left. He cut it by more than half. Yes the deficit rises even as the deficit goes down and that's important. You should understand that as an economist or economic person.

We also know that you can't cut taxes and expect revenue to be magically made up which is what Donald Trump did in December of 2017 with a Republican Congress. They passed that $1.5 trillion tax cut. It blew a hole in the deficit. We have higher deficit as a result.

He's also increasing military spending. And on top of that he's proposing space force and all sorts of other spending that he doesn't have any idea how he'll pay for. The guy is not serious about cutting the debt. He never was. You admit that. MOORE: First of all, the debt has stabilized under Trump. That's the

important measure. What is your debt?

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: He said it's going to go to 96 percent of GDP from the current 78 percent. How is that stabilizing?

BOYKIN: Thank you.

MOORE: The debt as a share of GDP has stabilized under Trump in the first two years where as it doubled under Obama.

BOYKIN: That's not true.

MOORE: It absolutely is. It's basically stayed level when you look at the publicly traded debt as a share of GDP.

Now, the second point I would make is if you look at the tax cut, you're acting as if the tax cut contributed to the deficit. In 2018, Erin, the United States government collected more tax revenues than any other year in history with the tax cut. So, how in the world can revenues be the problem?

The problem it's because we're spending too much money. I'm willing to blame the Congress on this. They are spending way too much money.

BOYKIN: The problem is we're not collecting revenue.

MOORE: We do in record amount.

BOYKIN: We're not collecting revenue. We had a smaller percentage of corporate revenue last year in 2018 than in any year in decades.

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: That's important because of corporate tax cuts. We had corporate tax cuts for the wealthy.

Now, one thing I want to make clear is, obviously, the debt is a problem but I think the reason why we created the deficits and the debt that the Republicans are no longer caring about suddenly is because they want to use this as an excuse to cut Social Security, as excuse to cut Medicare, as excuse to cut entitlements.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Can I just for one second, let's have the sound bite again where the president promised that he was going to pay down the debt. Can we cue that up? I want you to hear it. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:35:01] TRUMP: You know, you look at our debt, $19 trillion going up to $21 trillion in a very short fashion. So we're going to straighten things out. We're going straighten them out quickly. We're going to start paying down debt. We have a lot of debt. We're

going to pay down debt.

We're going to pay down debt. Does anybody not want it? Please raise your hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Steve, does he have any intent ever of paying down debt?

MOORE: I would love to see this happen. I would love to see the economy continue to grow. If we continue to grow at 3 percent, 4 percent per year this debt will fall. This is what Larry Kudlow and I told Donald Trump. Grow the economy and bring the debt down.

BOYKIN: It hasn't happened. You're preaching trickle down economics again, same economics that has failed repeatedly. When I was in the Clinton administration we raised taxes, to 39.6 percent. Guess what? We paid down the deficit and we created a surplus.

In contrast, when Bush came in office in 2001, 2003 and cut taxes we created more deficits. Don't preach trickle down economic philosophy.

MOORE: Let's establish one thing. The king of the national debt is Barack Obama.

BOYKIN: The king of debt is Donald Trump.

BURNETT: King of debt is Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: -- $10 trillion under Barack Obama.

BOYKIN: Nobody knows more about debt than Donald Trump. Donald Trump, that's what he himself said.

MOORE: There's a thing --

BURNETT: I'm going to leave it.

MOORE: The economy grew at 3 percent this year for the first time and that never happened once.

BOYKIN: We actually don't know --

BURNETT: Nobody knows the debt better than me. That drone and other things. Thank you all very much.

OUTFRONT next, Nancy Pelosi on whether President Trump could be indicted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think that's an open discussion. I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And the new women in Congress sworn in today making history, including the one you see there, first Somali American reflecting on that by returning to the same airport with her father as they arrived into this country from 23 years ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:01] BURNETT: Tonight, an indictment for Trump. New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi starting out with a bang, saying it's a, quote, open discussion today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he's no longer president of the United States.

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

PELOSI: Sitting president when he's no longer president of the United States.

GUTHRIE: A president who is in office, could Robert Mueller come back and say I'm seeking an indictment.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, former White House ethics czar for President Obama, Norm Eisen, and David Rivkin, who served in the Justice Department and White House counsel's office in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, also, former deputy director for office of legal policy.

Norm, let me start with you. You are convinced that President Trump can be indicted, why?

NORMAN EISEN, WORKED INVESTIGATIONS WITH AND AGAINT MUELLER: Well, Erin, I think Nancy Pelosi was right. It's an open question. I do believe the correct answer to that question is that a president can be indicted. There's nothing in the Constitution that says a president cannot be. There's nothing in the policy behind Constitution, Erin.

After all, the whole idea of America is we didn't want King George, we don't want a monarch. We want a system in which everybody is subject to the law. If the president breaks through he should be prosecuted.

Now, there is a DOJ opinion to the contrary. I think that opinion got the law wrong.

BURNETT: David? DAVID RIVKIN, SERVED AT DOJ & WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE IN REAGAN

WHITE HOUSE, BUSH ADMINISTRATIONS: Nothing open about it. It's not just one opinion. DOJ has revisited this question three times. Twice in 1973. And once again in 2000. It concluded and, by the way, with respect to Norman's truism to say nobody is above the law, et cetera, et cetera. The question always is -- how does the law apply to a given person?

The president occupies a unique constitutional perch. Like multi member bodies like Congress and the judiciary, president is not just the head of the executive, he is the executive. What all see in three occasion, the Supreme Court has embraced the same methodology has concluded --

BURNETT: What about the point that he's not a monarch? The president is not a monarch?

RIVKIN: Forgive me, Erin, that's irrelevant. He is the head of unitary executive. To preserve a constitutional fabric, the constitutional architect that you can't disable the president. And I think everybody would agree just like -- let me mention the Supreme Court one second.

If you subject a president to criminal indictment, a criminal prosecution, that would debilitate his ability to be a vigorous executive and perform the functions only he can perform. That's not through members of Congress, that's not through judges, that's why it could be done.

BURNETT: Let me interject. The president once famously said I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue, we're not even talking about Russian conspiracy. I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. You're saying if he did that, if he murdered somebody he still above the law, still can't indict him?

RIVKIN: No, he's not above the law. He can't be indicted for murder. There's only one Constitution proper way to deal with an aberrant president. And that's what the framers intended, beside from elections. And between elections, you got the impeachment process which features political accountability.

Hold on, if Congress were to proceed with impeachment that American people would not support, they pay the political price, as frankly being Republicans paid for impeachment of Clinton. If they don't, they don't.

BURNETT: Norm, you heard David. Even in murder, he would put it to the political process of impeachment. Not indict somebody for murder?

EISEN: The murder example explains why this is so wrong, Erin. Those OLC opinions, I tangle with that office all the time when I was in the White House because they are too protective of the president. It's like Rudy Giuliani saying a president can't be indicted. The courts have never decided it.

I must disagree with David because his arguments have been tried and rejected twice by the Supreme Court.

[19:45:03] And I think they would do the same --

RIVKIN: On the contrary.

EISEN: David, let me finish.

A similar argument was launched in United States v. Nixon to prevent the president from being subject to subpoena. It failed. It was tried in Clinton v. Jones. It failed. The constitutional trajectory points to the president being subject to the same laws as the rest of us. That's the idea of America, David, please?

RIVKIN: This is rhetoric. You know perfect -- forgive me, you know perfectly well that in 2000, OC looked at the three Supreme Court cases, the very ones you mentioned, both Paula Jones case and Nixon case, and concluded that the Supreme Court were using the exactly same paradigm. All the Supreme Court said in United States versus Nixon, that the particular imposition of the president, subpoenaing certain documents against the generalized assertion of executive privilege are not sufficiently weigh.

It intimidated, there's more particularized assertion of privilege particularly when national security variety would have ruled differently. In Paula Jones the only reason the court went forward they said it was a small case. It was not a big deal. And it said, if it was otherwise the case can be stayed.

So, look, you know perfectly well since you read those opinions, that OC drew a lot of comfort from the fact that in three leading Supreme Court cases, the United States versus Nixon, the jail (ph) versus Nixon, and Clinton versus Paula Jones, the Supreme Court validated the balancing approach starting from the proposition you can't incapacitate the president by destroying this country.

BURNETT: Norm, before we go, I would as you, you brought up Rudy Giuliani. He says Mueller's team admitted to him that they can't indict. He said all they can do is report. They can't indict. They acknowledged that to us.

Do you think Mueller actually said that to Rudy Giuliani?

EISEN: No, Erin. I suspect that there is a lot of spin in that.

Now, I will say in fairness, Bob Mueller may feel that he is confined by that. I think the wrong OLC opinion.

And, Erin, it's not just me saying that. Conservative legal scholars disagree with David, like Ken Starr himself said a president could be indicted. But Mueller has a variety of ways of dealing with that. I think he could ask, for example, I want to indict the president but then stay proceedings. He could say OLC is wrong just like I'm saying.

Contrary to David, the Constitution says in no place that a president cannot be indicted, and there's the 25th Amendment which has a mechanism for dealing with a president who has to deal with an indictment.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. Much more to discuss on this. I hope to have both of you to do that.

Next, we travel with two of the women who are new to Congress today, their first day sworn in. There they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your hope when you land in D.C.?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Playing nice isn't something in my vocabulary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And Rudy Giuliani responds to Jeanne Moos after her story about witches upset with Trump's use of the word witch-hunt. Jeannie fights back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:51:07] BURNETT: Tonight, it's her house, Nancy Pelosi taking the reins as speaker of the house, paying historic to the class of new lawmakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed and our democracy will be strengthened by their optimism, idealism, and patriotism of this transformative freshman class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It is transformative. This is Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, fighting back tears on the House floor, embracing each other. They are the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

And Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American sworn into Congress, there she is. Yesterday, Omar returned to the same Washington, D.C. airport with her father, that they arrived at 23 years ago, when they first came to the United States from a refugee camp in Kenya.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT with two more women who are part of this history-making class.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A predawn flight for Katie Hill, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., a journey that's turning this citizen into a congresswoman.

(on camera): What is your hope when you land in D.C.?

REP. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: Playing nice isn't something that's in my vocabulary. I just do what I think is right. We are regular middle class people. We're young, we look like, speak like the people that we're in to represent. I just think that's different from what it's historically been like.

LAH (voice-over): The 116th Congress is different and historic. Younger, more racially diverse, and more female, a record setting 127 women elected. Among them -- 31-year-old Hill.

She ran as an unknown, first-time candidate, and defeated a Republican male incumbent, flipping her California district. In true millennial form, Hill has been sharing her ride on social media since her victory.

HILL: Hey, everybody, last day of first week of training here and orientation here in D.C.

LAH: from meeting fellow new members to being selected for the house majority leadership, and adjusting to fine ding while flying cross country.

(on camera): Does that all mean you'll govern differently? Will government be different now because of people like you?

HILL: I believe so, and I believe we're a big enough class, we dropped the average age of Congress by 10 years, more than 10 years, more women than ever. So the face of Congress is changing. And it literally is far more diverse than it ever has been.

LAH (voice-over): Hill, who had never lived outside of California, or even traveled with so many bags, is now sharing an apartment with fellow Democratic Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois. She also unseated a man, a four-term Republican incumbent, becoming the youngest black woman ever elected to Congress.

(on camera): Neither of you guys look like the traditional members of Congress.

REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D), ILLINOIS: Isn't that something?

LAH (voice-over): Together, they're the third and fourth youngest women members of Congress.

(on camera): What does all of this mean for governing moving forward, having women like you in Congress?

UNDERWOOD: I think it's going to be hard. We don't walk in and everything automatically changes.

HILL: It was definitely a wow, this doesn't feel like me. My office was in this shady part of town. This is definitely different.

LAH (voice-over): Inauguration morning.

HILL: Hi, how are you? Great to see you.

LAH: A crush of cameras welcomed her.

(on camera): From congresswoman-elect to dropping the elect.

HILL: It feels good.

[19:55:00] It feels like we can get to work.

LAH: Hill's cross country journey ending today, marking the beginning of her new role as a congresswoman.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: So, a historic day here at the U.S. Capitol. Those gains being made, though, only on the Democratic side. The number of women who are GOP representatives, that actually dropped. There's only one incoming Republican freshman member, Erin, and it does not appear that is going to turn around any time soon, the money, the organization, the energy is almost exclusively among Democratic women -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much. A fascinating story.

And we keep hearing about the year of the woman. Now to see them and watch them coming in, it is incredible to see.

And for more on Katie Hill, who you just saw there with Kyung, "CNN TONIGHT" will have her as a guest with Don tonight.

And next, Jeanne Moos gets the last laugh after Rudy Giuliani's late- night strange rant about Jeanne's story on witches.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, a sequel to a story Jeanne brought to you last week. Rudy Giuliani explains to witches they shouldn't be offended by Trump's use of the word witch hunt.

Here's Jeanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a witch story that continues to cast its spell. The other day we told you about self- proclaimed witches peeved at President Trump for always saying --

TRUMP: You know, I call it a witch hunt. This is a witch hunt like nobody's ever seen.

MOOS: We interviewed a couple of witches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does demonstrate his ignorance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really disgraceful.

MOOS: And thought we were done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the witch is back.

MOOS: After all our toiling over the subject --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Double, double, toil and trouble.

MOOS: -- the president's son took the trouble to retweet our story, dismissively. Derangement is real, folks, #TrumpDerangementSyndrome.

Maybe Don Jr. was unaware that Fox News had done two segments on the same story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now upsetting actual witches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some real-life witches are angry at him.

MOOS: Talk about hocus pocus, Fox News even had part of my piece.

Which is tend to side with liberals.

CNN and Fox bewitched and bemused by the subject.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joining me now, our go-to witch (INAUDIBLE).

MOOS: Next, Rudy Giuliani jumped onto the broom stick with his seemingly earnest tweet. There is no reason for the witches to be offended because "witch hunt" derives from, for example, the Salem witch hunts were people were executed unjustly.

The president's lawyer tweeting about witches raised eyebrows. Rudy, sir, just stop.

Even Kellyanne Conway's husband, George, took a swipe. Remember, this is the best lawyer whom Donald Trump could persuade to represent him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

MOOS: But this cauldron has bubbled enough since "The Daily Beast" first featured the story last month.

Time to break the spell --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm melting, melting.

MOOS: And kill the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wicked witch is dead.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cauldron, bubble.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: One of Rudy's best. Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.