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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
WSJ: President Trump Told Lawmakers He Didn't Like the Word Shutdown and Preferred the Word "Strike"; Interview with Congressman John Katko of New York; How Shutdown Is Impacting Families; Dem. Congresswoman Speaks About Her Salty Words About President: He Has "Met" His Match". Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired January 4, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
The president of the United States, who is a billionaire, says the 800,000 people who aren't getting paid because of the government shutdown are OK with that. Just ask them, he says. He also says he thinks their landlords will be OK with them not paying the rent.
Those are a couple of takeaways from President Trump's press conference on the shutdown. And keeping them honest, that and some other things he said today deserve a closer look because of what they say about a chief executive who is asking others to make sacrifices for him to go without pay, perhaps, he says for months. He also says this all may be over soon.
However long he is asking people to go without. And when presidents traditionally do that, it means they are taking responsibility for the outcome. It's the least they can do and it's such an obvious thing. It often goes without saying. And to his credit, President Trump did exactly that, took full responsibility on camera for the shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the border security. The people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: His mantle, his shutdown, his responsibility for the consequences. He said that three weeks ago before the shutdown. It turns out, it was easier to say before the fact, before the consequences, before TSA screeners who have been working without pay began calling in sick today. Some in protest, according to supervisors. Some, according to their unions, so that they can find other jobs to feed their family or pay their rent.
So, that buck stops with me moment from the president that we showed you, the moment he wanted you to see, that's what it was. He wanted you to see it because he called the cameras into the White House. Now, maybe not so much anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you still proud to own the shutdown?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I appreciate the way you say that. I'm very proud of doing what I'm doing. I don't call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country.
So, you can call it whatever you want. You can call it the Schumer or the Pelosi or the Trump shutdown. It doesn't make any difference. Just words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Who is responsible? Makes no difference to him. It's just words. Sort of like saying that construction on the wall is well underway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We have been working very, very hard. The wall is -- we have done a lot of miles of wall already. So, we're not just starting off fresh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest, unless, the president means repair and renovations on existing pieces of fencing and barriers, what he said is simply not true. He's also recently claimed that much of the world is already built. And that's not true.
But, look, just words. Maybe these are just words, too. Here is the president talking about who pays for the wall. The answer used to be easy, Mexico. That's what he promised. Now, he says a trade agreement will pay which doesn't have the same ring. But listen, it makes no difference. It's just words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Earlier this week, you repeated your claim that through the USMCA, Mexico will pay for the wall.
TRUMP: That's right.
REPORTER: Can you describe the specific mechanisms in the trade deal that will --
TRUMP: You'll be seeing it very soon. We made a new deal, a new trade deal. NAFTA has been one of the great disasters of all time, probably the worst deal ever made, maybe. And now, we have a deal that's great for our country. And, by the way, good for Mexico, good for Canada also, as you know, the three countries.
We will be taking in billions and billions of dollars more money for the United States, including jobs, including companies that won't be leaving us anymore and going to Mexico and in some cases Canada to a lesser extent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The question was, can you give us specifics. It's hard to know what the president is actually saying there. If you think that's because we have chosen the one clip where he gives a confusing and rambling answer, here is what he said when another reporter asked the same question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Very nice question, so beautifully asked, even though I just answered it.
REPORTER: You didn't.
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. Are you ready? I just told you that we just made a trade deal. We will take in billions and billions of dollars, far more than the cost of the wall. The wall is peanuts compared to what the value of this trade deal is to the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, just to be clear, the wall may be peanuts, as the president said, but the notion of a trade agreement somehow paying for one, it's apples and oranges. For starters, the treaty hasn't even been ratified yet, right? It's not in effect. Even when it takes affect, the gains from it will be going to the businesses that import and export goods and services.
To the extent that more tax revenue from them offsets the expense of a wall -- I mean, it offsets the expense of a new post office in Missoula, Montana, or a highway in Duluth.
[20:05:07] The president has never explained how it all adds up to Mexico paying for the wall. And his press secretary, by the way, hasn't been able to do that either. Only words or perhaps in this case word salad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: If the deficit ballooning to over $1 trillion under this president, where are the additional monies for this wall going to come from? And why is he asking American taxpayers for them when he promised Mexico was going to pay for it.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, we're not asking taxpayers for that. We are looking at existing funding through other agencies that we can draw on to do that immediately. The president has been clear that the USMCA deal would provide additional revenue through that deal that would show that Mexico is paying for the wall.
REPORTER: That's the treasury. The trade benefits, if there are any, don't go to the treasury.
SANDERS: He is saying the revenue provided and the money saved through the USMCA deal we can pay for wall four times over, and by doing that new trade deal, we have the opportunity to pay for the wall.
REPORTER: Trade benefits go to private citizens. They don't go to the Treasury.
SANDERS: He is talking about the general revenue that comes from that.
REPORTER: So, you're going to tax --
SANDERS: No, we're not taxing. We're talking about revenue that wouldn't have existed without the president getting a new deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did you listen to that? It does not make sense. That would be not a tax to fund a not yet wall that the president has said is either well underway or almost fully built. That's not. This non-tax money will come not from Mexico but from a trade deal with Mexico and Canada, which I suppose could mean that Canada is going to pay for the wall. But it's just words, like the president says. It makes no difference.
Except he is asking a lot of people not in Mexico, but right here, to pay for the wall and pay up front for the shutdown, and they are paying for it right now. Then again, he's got the answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It does have a higher purpose than next week's pay. And the people that won't get next week's pay or the following week's pay, I think if you ever really looked at those people, I think they would say, Mr. President, keep going. This is far more important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: If you ever really looked at those people. Later in the program, you will meet some people who are not getting paid right now. They've got bills to pay, credit cards, groceries as well, health insurance, mortgage payments, the rent.
The president has words for them, too. Words for that. Let them eat wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What is a safety net for federal workers? You say months and possibly a year for the shutdown. Do you have in mind a safety net for those who need their checks, those who need SSI, those who need Medicaid, what-have-you?
TRUMP: The safety net is having a strong border. We will be safe. I'm not talking about economically but ultimately economically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's the safety net, the wall. To those words, you can add these words, the president suggesting creditors are also happy to sacrifice for the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You are a landlord. For people worried about paying their rent checks, employees worried about bill collectors, would you ask the landlords to kind of go easy --
TRUMP: I think they will.
REPORTER: Would you --
TRUMP: That happens. You know, I've been a landlord for a long time. When you see there are problems out there, difficulties out there, you now, the people are all good for the money, they work with people. They work with people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They work with the people. They're all magnanimous landlord looking out for his tenants who can't pay. As you heard on that question, Mr. Trump was a landlord. So, he must have been that kind of a landlord, right?
Well, he actually talked with "The Washington Post" about his early experience as a landlord with his dad in Brooklyn. Part of what he said is here. Quote, you know, he says: When you collect rent and you may have heard this, but you never stand in front of the door and you always knock this way, because you get bad things coming through that door.
Does that sound like he was offering a few more weeks or months to pay? He did not, by the way, announce any plans or orders or propose legislation to either provide relief to tenants or to landlords. And when asked whether he would tell his senior staff to refuse the $10,000 pay raises that they are due to get tomorrow, the president said he might consider it but made no commitment. And then moved on. Just words.
More now on the shutdown and the standoff all this, I want to go to Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
So, it's still an impasse. And now, the president is threatening to declare a national emergency to somehow build the wall. How does that work?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was really the conflicting stances you saw from the president in that press conference in the Rose Garden, because at some points, he would say that he felt he had a productive meeting with Democrats and he felt the shutdown could be over in days. [20:10:06] But then he would switch to saying, yes, he did tell Chuck
Schumer and Nancy Pelosi that the shutdown could go on for years and he might have to use emergency powers to get this long promised border wall built.
Now, Anderson, the president has been saying the situation at the border is a national emergency since back in October. He hasn't declared it one since then. Of course, that still is something he could do. But he hasn't done so yet.
And judging from what we heard from sources inside the White House, that has not been a topic of discussion, though the president did leave it on the table today.
COOPER: And you pressed the president on his campaign promise of the wall being made of concrete. He said he never said that. That is not the case. I just want to play this for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A wall. I build buildings that are 94 stories tall. And that's tough stuff. You know, this is -- this is so easy.
Think of it. Some of you are in the construction business. Think of garages. The concrete plank that goes 60, 70, 80, 90 feet, right, concrete plank, for garage floors. It's precast.
You put a foundation, you put a rut, you put up -- you make it beautiful. You put a little design in the concrete.
It's got to be made of hardened concrete. When you build buildings, like I build buildings, believe me, walls are easy. No windows, no nothing, precast concrete, going very high.
You have to be kidding. Concrete plank. You have to be kidding. Precast. Precast, right? Precast, boom. Done. Keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Bada bing bada boom. Precast concrete. A lot about concrete in there.
COLLINS: Yes, that was something he promised repeatedly on the campaign trail to people who voted for him. A large swath of people that voted for him because of what he said that Mexico is going to pay for the wall and it was going to be built of concrete.
Now, if the president changed his mind on that, it's one thing. But when his outgoing chief of staff, former chief of staff, John Kelly, said in an interview last week that the days of a concrete wall being built were long gone, someone who previously served as the DHS secretary, the president shot back on Twitter and said a concrete wall had not been abandoned. That's not what he argued today in the Rose Garden when he said it was going to be built of steel and it could potentially produce manufacturing jobs if he did decide to construct it of steel. Anderson, I talked to several people close to the president asking him
what is he going to built it of and what is the reason for his changing logic behind this. Essentially, they said it has to do with the president wanting to make sure he doesn't seem like he is back- pedaling off of that promise to his supporters that he is going to build a wall that's going to be made of concrete.
COOPER: OK. It remains to be seen. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.
And breaking news right now. That adds another view inside today's meeting with lawmakers. It's reported in "The Wall Street Journal," Michael Bender is on the byline, and he joins us now by phone.
Michael, a few lines in your piece, I'm hoping you can expand. The president, quote, opened Friday's meeting with lawmakers with a 15- minute profanity-raced rant about impeachment, according to people familiar with the meeting. What more do you know about that if anything?
MICHAEL BENDER, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (via telephone): Yes, this from what we understand is the president upset about quotes last night from inside the Democratic Congress, the explicit quotes from some of the new members saying that they were there to impeach Trump. He was hot about that last night. He was hot about it today and came into the meeting hot, and wanting to complain about that.
We saw a little bit of that during the news conference. Remember that Trump said that Pelosi told him, they weren't considering impeachment. Well, it's not quite the case from what we understand from both House and White House officials. What Pelosi told Trump inside the room when Trump was complaining about some of her members was she said that they were there to talk about the shutdown. They were not there to talk about impeachment.
When she said she wasn't considering impeachment, from our understanding is what that meant was in the moment, in the meeting about a shutdown, she wasn't talking about -- she didn't want to talk about removing the president from office.
COOPER: So, according to your article, the president said -- the president told, not quoting the president but quoting from the article, quote, told lawmakers he didn't like shutdown and preferred the word strike. Do you know if anyone interpreted that to make sense? Because a strike is obviously, you know, when people refuse to go to work out of protest. It's the exact opposite of what's happening here.
BENDER: Right. Which would -- the only thing we could piece together on that was the context you were talking about earlier about all these federal workers, the president is talking about, who want him to keep holding their paychecks until he gets funding for the wall.
[20:15:07] I mean, that was the only way we could make sense of what that meant. You did hear him say during the news conference, he didn't use strike there, but did say that he doesn't like calling it a shutdown.
COOPER: Which is obviously at odds with three weeks ago, where he said he would be happy to take that mantle. You also --
COOPER: Go ahead, go ahead.
You also have more detail on what Pelosi called sometimes contentious meeting. You write the speaker told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, quote, I reject your facts. The secretary replies, these aren't my facts. These are the facts. Obviously, it's an administration famously, you know, right out of the page, said there was alternative facts.
What more do we know about that back and forth?
BENDER: Well, from what I understand, this has happened a couple times now. When lawmakers were over Wednesday, there was a similar exchange. Nielsen tried to go through a presentation about the threat on the border, and Schumer and Pelosi sort of shut it down to move on to a negotiation with Trump.
I mean, this has really frustrated the White House. They -- you know, say what you want about Trump's performance, how articulate he is about this issue, I mean, he and White House really do believe they can win this argument on the policy. They -- you know, we saw Trump do that today. He ran through a laundry list of issues from illegal immigration to federal workers getting paid that he believes can be solved with a wall.
So, they bring in Nielsen to run through the facts. In Wednesday and again today, Senate and House Democrats just stopped it because they know those numbers. And from what they are telling us, they are there to find a negotiation.
Anderson, there's real frustration inside the White House right now. There is about the messaging on this shutdown, you saw it with Trump. You mentioned him, whether he wants to own the shutdown anymore or not, there's a feeling they are getting outmaneuvered by Congress on this, by Democrats on this.
And, you know, there's no sense that Democrats are closer to making a deal. The White House thinks they are a week away from making a deal. And, you know, I mean, a week away, then we start talking about the longest shutdown since the 21-day shutdown in 1995, which is not going to help them in messaging either.
COOPER: Yes, it's fascinating. Michael, I appreciate your reporting and calling here with us tonight. Michael Bender, thank you. The articles from "The Wall Street Journal."
Joining us now is Congressman John Katko, one of few Republican House members who chose to vote for last night's Democratic legislation to fund the government but not the wall.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
Can you just kind of walk us through your thinking on why you chose to break ranks with fellow Republicans, which really only a few others did, and vote to reopen the government and not give the president funding for the wall, at least for now?
REP. JOHN KATKO (R), NEW YORK: Well, last week, I voted for -- a couple weeks ago I voted for a continuing resolution that included funding for the wall. I want to keep the government open. I think it's a fundamental responsibility of anybody in Congress to keep the government running.
So, I made a promise to my constituents long ago that I would vote I would never vote against -- vote for a shut down or continued shutdown and that's all that was last night.
But make no mistake about it, I absolutely believe that we need to secure our border.
COOPER: Do you believe that a wall needs to be built, like the president says and that Mexico will pay for it?
KATKO: Well, I guess that's part of what -- you know, I'm trying to break some line here tonight, is we are battling over semantics here. I mean, I saw Congressman Sarbanes on pervious hour talking about the fact that Democrats want border security. The president wants a wall.
But you can't have border security without barriers. And that's why we have already 700 miles of barriers. So, what we are talking about here is enhancing those barriers to make the border more secure. So, why can't both sides sit down and just hash out the terminology and get it done? I think we can all win on that.
COOPER: I wonder what you make of the new reporting that we just got from "The Wall Street Journal" that in today's meeting, the president told lawmakers he didn't want to call this a shutdown, would like to call it a strike. Is that -- does that matter --
KATKO: Well, whatever way -- the way I look at it, to me, it doesn't matter. What really matters is that there's people in Ohio and in my district and all over this country tonight that are planning funerals for their children who would die from heroin overdoses partly because the border is not as secure as it should be. And they don't care about semantics.
[20:20:00] They care about getting a deal done and make the border secure and also keeping the government open. And I think if the leaders on both parties would think along those terms a little bit more than worrying about semantics of what the terminology is, I think we would be better off and I think we'd get a lot more done in this country.
COOPER: The president said today that the shutdown could last months or years. Obviously, you know, that's not good for anybody and the hundreds of thousands of federal workers or federal employees not getting paid while bills pile up. He said he expects landlords as and creditors to go easy on those people. Can you foresee something like this lasting that long?
KATKO: I don't foresee it lasting too much longer because I think the pressure is mounting. And I think the longer the shutdown goes, I think it's more incumbent upon both parties to sit down and give a little. When you draw lines in the sand and you have this extreme position on both sides where we're not going to give a dime for funding border security or the wall or the other side saying we want a wall, you got to bend.
And, you know, quite frankly, like I said at the outset, border security is about securing the border. It's about providing barriers that keep the border safe in high traffic areas. I know this myself because I was a federal organized crime prosecutor in the southwest border in El Paso, Texas, for years. And I saw firsthand how much of a sieve the border is and how much of a detriment it is.
And, you know, even in California, if you took down the barriers that they have in California right now, California would be very concerned about that. And that's a much more liberal state.
The fact of the matter is, we need security. And the people could just sit down and dispense with the rhetoric and dispense with the heated back and forth, I think we would be a lot better off as a country, because America doesn't want to see people just throwing bombs at each other. They want to see people sitting down and getting things done and working and compromising.
You know, Ronald Reagan did it all the time with Tip O'Neill. They were politically and diametrically on different ends of the spectrum.
KATKO: And they still got big things done. That's what you got to do.
COOPER: Yes. Well, Congressman, I appreciate your time and talking with you. Thank you very much, Congressman Katko.
KATKO: Thanks so much.
COOPER: You take care.
Just ahead, Maggie Haberman joins us from "The New York Times". We will dig into the president's next steps. What is she hearing about inside the White House and inside what the president's state of mind is, how he is looking at things.
Also, the human cost of the shutdown. We will talk to the wife of a coast guard serviceman who has been working without pay and get into details of how they are making ends meet.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:26:38] COOPER: Before the break, you heard Michael Bender from "The Wall Street Journal" describing the highly contentious, highly charged, highly profane at times shutdown meeting today at the White House. Now, according to this reporting in CNN, the president opened the meeting with a 15-minute presidential rant over impeachment. And according to "The Wall Street Journal", the president told lawmakers in the room he doesn't like the world shutdown but instead prefers the word "strike", not sure that makes much sense, given strikes are voluntary and 800,000 workers who are not getting paid didn't sign up for this. They're not on strike.
But at the very least, it's an indication of how divorced from reality the situation is quickly becoming. Perspective now on what the president may do next. Joining us for that, "New York Times" White House correspondent, and also CNN political analyst, Maggie Haberman, joins us.
Maggie, so -- I mean, knowing the way the president operates, is there any scenario under which you see him accepting a deal that doesn't give him full funding he's demanding? I mean, how does -- where does this go?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think there is a scenario where he would accept a lesser amount if he was able to claim it as a win. But we are a ways away from that right now. The president is very dug in, as Michael Bender indicated, previously with his reporting. My reporting is the same that the president feels very good about this. I don't think the entire White House feels good about it. I think the White House is conflicted about this.
His new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is in favor of this shutdown, has been supportive of it. I think that has helped propel the president forward each day. But a lot of people don't know what the end game is. That's because the president doesn't seem clear on what the end game is. They are going to have some staff meetings this weekend with congressional aides. There will be a meeting Tuesday as we understand it. The president has had his son-in-law Jared Kushner, because he recently helped push through this criminal justice reform bill with Democratic help on the Hill, had him involved making phone calls yesterday.
And my understanding of those conversations is that Jared Kushner was having loose conversations saying the president is dug in on this. You are going to need to give him funding and maybe you could get something in exchange like DACA, which is part of how this whole notion of a DACA for the wall compromise idea got floated in the first place in the last 24 hours.
That's not something the Democrats are interested in. Nancy Pelosi made very clear that the government has to get reopened. That's to make sure the president can't say what he has been saying which this isn't a shutdown or this is my shutdown or we're all here. We're going to be doing this for a while.
COOPER: Were you surprised today when the president owned up to saying during that leadership meeting that the shutdown could last for months or years? I mean, he also said people can call it the Schumer shutdown, Pelosi shutdown or Trump shutdown, he doesn't care. Is there a strategy behind that? Because before in that meeting, three weeks ago, he was saying he proudly takes the mantle of it being a Trump shutdown.
HABERMAN: Well, as you know very well, he tends to get carried away in the moment at the showy moments such as the Oval Office meeting or the press conference, where he is enjoying a lot of bravado (ph). And I think he confirmed it without thinking through what would matter, what implications would be today, confirming that he had said that, as he often does with these things.
He does feel proud of it. He is proud of showing his supporters his hard line supporters on immigration, look, I'm sticking to this. I'm not caving. I'm going ahead with it. But he is aware that the word shutdown is a problem to him. They are becoming more aware in the White House that the number of services that are being impacted is that.
[20:30:00] The president, to your point about just words, this has generally seemed to him like a game. Previous shutdowns have not had this kind of an implication. The government has reopened fairly quickly. This is starting to have real world impact and he is aware that that is problematic. Certainly his aides are aware. So he is trying to suggest that this is, you know, we're all in this together.
And, look, his supporters do feel that way. His supporters feel like Democrats are not bargaining but it is, again, really important to remember, there had been a bill to keep the government funded that had been agreed upon and passed through the Senate and then the President suddenly backed out of that compromise deal. Democrats don't feel like there's any percentage in going first in trying to give him a deal because they think that he just can't be trusted.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. The President is also talking about the idea of using emergency powers or at least talking about bypassing Congress unilaterally building the wall with military funding. How likely is that?
HABERMAN: It's not likely. But he is doing more than just talking about it. And our reporting is that this actually has been talked about inside the White House. The White House counsel's office has explored what can be done here. Certainly that got looked at a couple of months ago when he first started talking about this in the fall.
But more recently with the shutdown, they started looking at what can be done again because the President has been opining that, you know, this is something he would like to do or have an option open to him. But almost everyone I talked to think that it is almost certainly an illegal move and I don't think that he can realistically go ahead with it. The language itself from a U.S. president, however, is significant and it's a ratcheting up of what we have heard from him almost every day.
COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, appreciate it. Thanks. While President Trump tries to downplay the shutdown's human toll, one member of a coast guard family shares its personal sacrifices right down to using gift cards to pay for dog food and keeping their job out of day care. That story is next.
[20:35:22] COOPER: As we reported at the top of the broadcast, CNN has learned that hundreds of TSA officers at four major airports around the country have called in sick. This week as many as 170 a day at New York's Kennedy Airport, sick calls up to 200 percent to 300 percent at Dallas-Forth Worth. Some of the workers apparently can either no longer tolerate working without pay or can no longer afford to. And, again, here's what the President had to say when asked about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're saying months and possibly a year for the shutdown. Do you have in mind a safety net for those who need their checks?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the safety net is going to be having a strong border because we're going to be safe. Many of the people you are discussing, I really believe that they agree with what we're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the President offered no examples beyond the Border Agent Union officials he had at the White House yesterday, so we thought we might ask one of the hundreds of thousands of people directly affected by their shutdown what they think. Kayla is married to a coast guard serviceman. She doesn't want us to use her last name. She joins us tonight.
So, Kayla, you and your family, you're among hundreds of thousands of people directly affected by this shutdown. You know, financially, how are things right now?
KAYLA, WIFE OF COAST GUARDSMAN, FAMILY IMPACTED BY SHUTDOWN: Financially, it's a bit chaotic. My family personally is going through a lot of stress. It's a little panicky right now. We have called a lot of our creditors and talked about pushing bills back. Some of them were gracious to us. Others were not gracious with the situation. We're doing things like keeping my son out of day care until it's necessary, pinching every penny, grocery shopping with coupons and gift cards we got for Christmas.
COOPER: I mean, if this shutdown goes on for months, even years as the President said it might today, is that -- I mean, what would that mean for your family?
KAYLA: Well, that would mean budgeting a lot tighter than what we are right now and probably going back to my family for help. My family has been very understanding and supportive in this process. They have offered to help us with gift cards that we use to buy food for our dog, with a little bit of money as an extra Christmas gift, but it would definitely mean for us tightening our belts even more.
It's kind of hard for me because I am a full-time student and I'm an education major. So once the semester starts back up, I have to start working in the middle school here so my son is going to have to go to day care. So, you know, that's a bill that I can't really avoid.
COOPER: It's also important to point out that, you know, you're a coast guard family, that your husband is doing something which protects Americans and which is a national service and that we are all thankful for. It's not as if, you know, that this is just some job that somebody in an office has somewhere that, you know, doesn't have a direct impact on the national security. I mean this actually does impact national security.
KAYLA: Oh, absolutely it does. And, I mean, regardless of getting paid or not getting paid, I'm still proud to be a coast guard wife. My husband is still proud to serve. I know that it's a little bit of salt in the wound, I guess, to have some of the politicians or some of this news articles around Christmastime that were saying we appreciate the service of our troops. And I don't feel like people are counting the coast guard in that because --
KAYLA: -- you know, our coast guard is amazing and they're very supportive of our country and yet I feel like as a spouse, seeing it from the outside, I feel very forgotten during all of this.
COOPER: If you could say something to the President, if you could talk to him, if you could talk to members of Congress tonight who may be listening about the shutdown, about the situation, what do you want them to know?
KAYLA: I think the first thing I would want them to know is that regardless of what side you play for, regardless if you are agree or disagree with the President, the Republicans, the Democrats, this is not an issue of border security at this point. I think it's an issue of funding one of our military branches.
There are a lot of service members and a lot of spouses who work really hard. And for me personally, my holidays were very stressful. You know, I thought about returning my son's Christmas gifts because of all of this.
KAYLA: I would just like to call to think about all of us. And even if the shutdown doesn't have a resolution in sight any time soon, if they could please task something that would at least fund the coast guard. If one of the people in charge could at least recognize, hey, this is a part of our military that's not getting paid and they depend on these checks, I would be very appreciative of that.
COOPER: Kayla, I thank you for talking with us tonight. I hope the message gets through. And I wish you and your family the best.
[20:40:03] KAYLA: Thank you so much. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
COOPER: Well, I want to dig deeper now with Republican -- former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and also former Obama Senior Adviser Van Jones, host of CNN's Van Jones show.
Van, you heard how Kayla describes what her family is going through. Do you think the President has a sense of what the shutdown actually means for the federal workers and their families?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he apparently doesn't if you heard his comments today which were just so shocking and appalling, tone deaf and, you know, just disconnected. You know, you got -- and it's not just the coast guard. You have the federal workers who are not getting paid. They are having to make these phone calls. They are begging, begging, please don't cut off my heat.
And in the federal contractors, they're not -- (INAUDIBLE) and play, you might get back pay. You're a federal contractor, if you don't work, you don't eat. They're never going to recover, then you got all the private companies that contract with the federal government, they're not getting paid. They may have to lay off people. The cascade affect on ordinary people on this is extraordinary.
And I want to say this, we keep calling it the government, the government. This is America's government. Let's be -- we're not talking about the government on the moon or some other country. He won't keep America's government functioning. And I don't know how you say you're going to make America great again and you won't keep America's government open for business.
COOPER: Ken, I mean, you hear -- according to "The Wall Street Journal," the President saying he doesn't like to use the word shutdown now. He likes to use the word strike. Does that make sense to you?
KENNETH CUCCINELLI: Well, it's a private sector version of this, but this is an impasse. And I think that -- I appreciate Van's perspective. But, the President is the only one in this negotiation who signaled the willingness to compromise. And, you know, Nancy Pelosi is being asked very pointedly by media folks, will you give one penny? No, not one penny. And the President has not taken that tack. He said other things, some of which Van referred to.
He's also gone to bat for the coast guard in particular, but there are real people involved here. I live in Northern Virginia and, of course, the ring counties around Washington, D.C. get some attention because of the ties and reliance on the federal government and the employment there and the federal contractors that Van noted are in a different situation, I agree with him, that are different from federal employees who can expect, if history is any guide, back pay.
But around here, traffic is lighter. People have curtailed plans. People are staying home who aren't going to work. They're doing other things. And frankly when you hear the two sides negotiating about this, talking in the long-term ways they are, at least if you're a younger or -- you're a government employee with less years in, you might start looking around for another job, because this -- I could see how this could get old.
But the reality is, the President and not Nancy Pelosi, and I single those two out to the exclusion of Schumer at the moment, only the President has signaled the willingness to compromise here.
COOPER: Van, is that the case, that the President is willing to compromise?
JONES: Well, I mean, he's not willing to compromise and that's why we're here. I mean, we had a compromise. The Senate voted 100 to zero. It's hard to do better than 100 to zero to keep the government open because the President said that he wanted to do it. And then the President got scared by Rush Limbaugh and went running off in a corner into a (INAUDIBLE). I mean, now here we are.
And so the idea that it's Nancy Pelosi's job to sort of pull the President back to where he was by giving up stuff that, you know, we should be doing in the normal course of business, I don't think it's fair to Nancy Pelosi, certainly not fair to the country for us to be going through this.
And by the way, you know, we're not the only people watching T.V. here. America's enemies watch television. This might be a very scary time if you think about the vulnerabilities that we might have throughout the federal family when you know that people are calling in sick, they're not coming into work, they're dispirited, they're demoralized. You're weakening America's defenses from the airport, to the border, to the coast.
And, again, we're saying we're making America great. This doesn't seem that great and I don't think that the end of the day it makes a lot of sense for anybody -- Donald Trump said himself he wants responsibility. He should take responsibility and reopen the government.
COOPER: Ken, I mean, the President today saying that he might consider asking his cabinet and top administrators to forego their previously scheduled raises (ph). Should he do more than just consider that given that, you know, so many people are currently going without pay?
CUCCINELLI: Yes, I think that's the direction he's going in. It's interesting you see congressmen, women on both sides of the aisle who for years the numbers have gradually picked up that if we don't have a budget, we shouldn't be paid. I think you may see that this year again on a bipartisan basis. And I think it shouldn't just be during shutdowns, it should be once they get past September 30th without a budget, Congress shouldn't be paid in that and the President, too. This President wouldn't care.
[20:45:05] But I think that should be in place every year. This is a long-term failure. We should have these fights months before this point on the calendar.
JONES: I agree with that.
CUCCINELLI: And the Senate and the House under both Democrats and Republicans have failed to pass budgets in a responsible, timely fashion. Both parties have owned that, especially the leadership.
COOPER: I got to wrap it up.
JONES: I agree.
COOPER: OK. Van, we'll end on an agreement. Ken Cuccinelli, Van Jones, thank you.
Up next, a new House Democrat coming under fire for her profane remark about impeaching President Trump. Did she cross a line or was it no worse than language the President himself has used? That's what Nancy Pelosi said. We'll talk about that and show you what she just said about it.
COOPER: Well, Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib made history yesterday by becoming the first Palestinian-American woman sworn into Congress. Few hours later, she was making headlines for something else, sort of expletive about President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: And when your son looks at you and says, "Mama, look, you won. Bullies don't win." And I say, "Baby, they don't because we're going to go in there and we're going to impeach the mother (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:50:00] COOPER: Well, that language has created headaches for her party, but the congresswoman is not sorry for it. She's standing by it. Here's what she told CNN affiliate WDIV late today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TLAIB: I think no one expects me to be anything but myself, the girl from Southwest Detroit, the little sass and attitude. I think, you know, President Trump has met his match. I can tell you, I've talked to a number of my colleagues, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Al Green and others who were very, you know, smiling and telling me, "We love your spirit. We welcome it. You know, come to us if you ever need any help or advice." And they agree that we need to impeach the President of the United States.
You know, look, it's probably exactly how my grandmother if she was alive would say it. Obviously, you know, I am a member of Congress and things that I say is elevated on the national level and I understand that very clearly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, here was the President's reaction earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I thought her comments were disgraceful. Using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was there, I thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family. I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He also said you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job. Speaker Pelosi said she would haven't used Congresswoman Tlaib's language but said it's nothing worse than what the President himself has said.
I want to bring USA Today Columnist and CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a CNN Senior Political Commentator.
So, Kirsten, do you think it's the word, the message or the person saying it that's really upsetting people here?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this was a private event. It's not like she did it on the floor of the House. The President himself -- I mean, the idea that he's sitting here and criticizing this language is ridiculous if for no other reason there's a clip of him during a campaign rally using the exact same word. She's using it at a private event, he's using it at a public event and yet somehow it's completely disgraceful when she does it.
I think that, of course, you know, it's probably better for a member of Congress not to talk like that, but it's not quite the crime of the century that it's being made out to be and I think that she's being held to a much higher standard, frankly, than any Trump supporter holds the president to who has, you know, uses vulgarities all the time and it's completely unapologetic about it.
COOPER: Governor Granholm, how do you see it?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, I -- when he uses words like it was a disgrace the language she used and this guy has used the "P" word, the "C" word, the "F" word, I mean, you name it. I actually retwitted a montage today of all of -- not all, some of the profanities that he has used.
But, you know, what is really profane, I mean, I think Kirsten has it right that she's held to a double standard and no one is clutching their pearls about what he has done and said, but what he's done is profane. What he's done is obscene, meaning separating children from their parents --
GRANHOLM: -- at the borders or putting kids in cages at the border. I mean, that is what's obscene. This is -- you know, Rashida Tlaib is reflecting the anger of her constituents. I totally understand that. But I would love to see the President held to the same pearl-clutching standards that she's being held to.
COOPER: Kirsten, does it help Democrats, though, to have, you know, somebody who's just started in Congress and with all the concerns about impeachment, whether or not it's good for Democrats, bad for Democrats, whether it's something they are going to pursue or not going to pursue coming out and saying that granted? As you said, it was a small event but in -- as we know, in any event now everything is videotaped.
POWERS: Right, yes. Look, until this happened, most people had no idea even who this person is and now everyone is acting like she's the leader of the Democratic Party and everything she says becomes law.
She's one member of Congress. She has an opinion. There are other members of Congress who hold this opinion and that's perfectly legitimate. But she's not in the leadership of the Democratic Party and what's happened is a right-wing rage machine. It has -- the outrage machine has started and they're trying to, you know, put all this attention on it and claim that this is the plan for the Democrats when at this point it's not.
I'm not saying it never will be, but at this point, it's just simply not the plan for the Democratic Party. And I think, you know, Jennifer is exactly right. I mean, what's so problematic about this is the things that outrage people. So the people who aren't offended by children being tear gassed at the border are offended by this. And so people need to try to take a step back and say what's really offensive here?
[20:55:01] And I will say the President's potty mouth is the least of my concerns about him. It wouldn't even make my top 100 list of complaints about him. My complaints are about his policies. And even the "P" word, you know, incident that we had, my issue isn't the use of the word, my issue is him talking about grabbing women. So, you know, it's not about being -- clutching the pearls and being upset about potty language.
GRANHOLM: Anderson, can I just --
COOPER: I'm sorry. Yes, go ahead, Governor. No, go ahead.
GRANHOLM: I just want to say one quick word about the impeachment question, because the swearing is one thing, the impeachment issue is another and my worry about it is that I don't want to set up an expectation that what the House can do to bring impeachment charges is going to lead to the President's outer. I worry that the call for impeachment suggests that he's going to be removed from office by the House. That's not going to happen.
GRANHOLM: You need the Senate and you need a supermajority of two- thirds.
COOPER: Right, that's not going to happen.
GRANHOLM: So, Democrats need to wait for Mueller. That's all I'm just saying.
COOPER: Governor Granholm, appreciate it, Kirsten Powers as well.
Ahead, a lot more. If Congress won't give him the money for the wall, the President is threatening to declare a national emergency to get it built. Would he actually do that or could he? Is the shutdown posing a threat now to our safety? As we mentioned, hundreds of TSA workers are now calling out sick. We'll get the latest on that and the standoff in Washington, next.