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Trump Says You Can't Impeach Someone Who is Doing A Great Job; Trump Says I Did Say Shutdown Could Last for Months or Years; Washington DC District Court Extends Mueller Grand Jury's Term Six More Months; Federal Employees Are Suffering from Government Shutdown; Dow Searches on Surprisingly Strong Jobs Report. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 4, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: After an historic day for women on Capitol Hill, newly sworn in Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is facing major backlash after saying this about President Trump at a major victory party.


RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: When your son says, ma, bullies don't win and I say, baby, they don't because mama is going to go in and impeach the mother "f-er."


President Trump was asked about that message just last hour, he was his response.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what? You don't impeach someone when they're doing a good job. And you don't impeach people when there was no collusion. Because there was no collusion. Her comments were disgraceful. This is a person I don't know. I assume she's new. I think she dishonored herself and she dishonored her family, using language like that.


BALDWIN: Symone Sanders, she is a former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Scott Jennings is back with us. He's a former special assistant to President George W. Bush. They are both CNN political commentators. Good to have both of you on. Let's just dive right into it. Simone, starting with you, I want to take this in two parts. I want to take the Congresswoman's word choice first. What did you make of that?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Folks may not know, Rashida Tlaib represents the 13th Congressional district in Michigan, which encompasses Detroit and Wayne County. Part of the criticism during her campaign that her opponents lobbed at her she was too rash because she had been an activist who repeatedly showed up to heckle then candidate Trump in 2016. She was too rash and not befitting of the temperament of a member of Congress. So, say that to say the comments this we saw from Congresswoman Tlaib yesterday will be fodder for her opponents what is sure to be a primary challenge in the 13th Congressional district of Michigan. That being said, I don't have any children, if I'm blessed to be a mother, I wouldn't talk to my kids that way. I don't talk to my niece and nephew that way. So, my issue is that she uses the "m-fer" in terms of her son. But in general, Rashida Tlaib, if she wants to curse, if any other woman would like to curse, they can curse. Talking about her temperament and what she had to say, Donald Trump has said way worse. So, he will not be the arbitrator.

BALDWIN: For him to say it was disgraceful, I made that point a while ago.

SANDERS: But there will be people in her district who use anything he says as fodder for why again they can take her on. In many people myself included believed that if there would not have been, If the black vote wasn't split in the 13th Congressional district, she wouldn't have been elected anyway. This is going to continue to come up in Detroit.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Scott, what did you think of her words?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not particularly offended by salty language. I thought it was noteworthy that she was bragging about having used that language in answering a question about our nation's political affairs to her own child. I think a lot of people probably feel the way she does. In CNN's own exit polls from the midterms, nearly 80 percent of Democrats said they want to impeach the President. She is doing here what they say in Kentucky. I'm sure they say this in Nebraska. You can't hide what's inside. Democrats want to impeach the President. Now, she did it in saltier terms. I thought it was weird that she said I am saying this to my child. So, look, a lot of folks in politics use salty language, Trump does, a lot of people do. I thought the "I'm talking to my children" this way was frankly strange.

BALDWIN: We're all on the same page in how you speak to your children, but her message, Symone, isn't that feeding into the Republican narrative, these Democrats, a lot of them freshmen members rolling up thinking impeach, impeach, impeach. And that's it.

SANDERS: It is absolutely feeding into the Republican language. Democrats did not run on impeachment. Not even Rashida Tlaib. OK. Democrats ran on putting a check on this President and doing their job, they ran on legislating, they ran on executing oversight. I think that's the real reason why many top Democrats and political operatives today were so concerned with Congresswoman Tlaib's comments. Every time a Democratic member of the House of Representatives uses the term impeachment, it means the entire political press corps will be talking about impeachment and it puts all of the other House Democrats in that caucus having to answer for the words of one member. That is a struggle that many new Democrats coming into the 116th Congress will have to deal with. They're just not activists anymore, they're legislators who have to work on a team. BALDWIN: If you take the President at his word, Scott, the President

in talking about this conversation he had with Speaker Pelosi and the other Democratic members, he says that Nancy Pelosi straight up told him we are not looking to impeach you. I don't know how that will sit with some Democrats, but what --

SANDERS: But that's not what she said.

BALDWIN: No one was in the room.

JENNINGS: We can't say, we weren't in the room. We know what the President said.

SANDERS: But Drew Hammill, Nancy Pelosi's deputy chief of staff has tweeted. I asked him myself. He said that Donald Trump opened the meeting talking about impeachment in his opening comment and Speaker Pelosi responded and said we're here to today to talk about reopening the government, we're not here today to talk about impeaching you, we're not here today to impeach you. Donald Trump is a master of trying to manipulate folks to believe a conversation was one way when it was really something else. I think if I believe Drew Hammill when he says that's the characterization of the meeting and Speaker Pelosi's comments and I agree with her. Today we need to get the government reopened. It's 14 days of government shutdown --

BALDWIN: It's a different interpretation than what we heard from the President --

SANDERS: Well, he's a liar, Brooke. Those are my words, not yours. He's a liar.


JENNINGS: I think the Democrats want to impeach the President. Most of the new freshmen definitely want to impeach the President. Most of the activists and people who voted in the midterm according to CNN's exit polling want to impeach the President, 6.5 million Democrats have signed a petition to impeach the President. If Nancy Pelosi thinks she is going to be able to tamp this down and keep it on the back burner, there's no way. These people are desperate to impeach Donald Trump. They are going to impeach Donald Trump, they will find something in the Mueller report no matter what it says to hang their hat on among other things. I think we are not just going to be talking about this today. This is going to come up again and again and again because these folks who went to Congress reflect the people who voted for Democrats in the midterm and the Democrats spoke loud and clear, we want impeachment, we're going to be talking about it for two straight years.

SANDERS: Brooke, I just had to laugh because Democrats did not run on impeachment.

JENNINGS: Simone, read CNN's own exit polls. 80 per cent want Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings.

SANDERS: People can say whatever they want in the exit polls about what they feel. That's not what Democrats ran on. And I would like to note an impeachable offense, what happens the House of Representatives decide is an impeachable offense at any given time. If we want to just be frank. Bill Clinton was impeached for a blow job, lying about a blow job. We just want to be clear. The fact of the matter is Republicans and Democrats talk about impeachment but Democrats today and every other day until the government is open want to be talking about reopening the government. Why don't y'all want to talk about reopening the government, Scott? What's the problem?

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: let me just jump in because I need to wrap -- no, the President wants to reopen the government, the Democrats want to reopen the government. It's a matter of how the heck they're going to do it. They are going to meet with some folks this weekend. Let's hope this gets back open, 800,000 people not working right now. Simone and Scott, thank you and we're going to leave it.

Thank you very much. Let's get you back to our breaking news here. President Trump telling Democratic leaders he is prepared to keep the government closed for months and even years. More than 800,000 employees impacted by this, so many struggling to just pay their bills, living off of savings. One of them will join me next to talk about what it's like caught up in the middle of this political game.


BALDWIN: We are two weeks exactly into this government shutdown and the President just said he is prepared that it could last for months or even years. His words will likely add to the anxiety felt by the hundreds of thousands of federal workers affected, obviously they like the rest of us have bills to pay, mouths to feed and some have actually used the word pawns, as in that's how they feel, bargaining chips in this bigger political gain. One of them is with me now. Terry Scott is a furloughed IRS employee and he is also the Atlanta Chapter President of National Treasury Employees Union. Terry, welcome sir, nice to have you on.


BALDWIN: So, all of these words that have been flying, Political chess game, pawns, hostage is what we heard from Chuck Schumer. You tell me how you feel through all of this.

SCOTT: Used. This has nothing to do with federal employees. The President taking the position that he wants a wall and then furloughing us in order to get it, that's very insulting. It is very possible that they could have their separate discussions about building this wall and 800,000 employees be at work. But to just carve us out and to his use us till he gets what he wants, that's very hurting and very insulting to the average federal employee.

[15:45:00] BALDWIN: What about just in terms of pennies, nickels, dimes. I know this is really hard for single parents. Are you spending your savings because of this?

SCOTT: Yes. I mean -- BALDWIN: Tell me more about that.

SCOTT: Well, I mean, let me say this. I speak for some 750 federal employees that's within my chapter. We have single parents, parents -- I spoke to a parent today whose daughter's tuition is about to become due. People would have to dip into their savings because there is no paycheck. Now the question becomes how long must this go on? You have parents with more than one, two children within the house. It is a huge impact when people are uncertain about when we're going to return to work, how long they're going to have to continue to dip into their savings in order to make ends meet. People being confronted and faced with mortgages becoming due, those who don't own a home, rent, car payments, just everyday living. That's impacted by the mere fact that we are now unemployed, no paycheck coming in but guess what, the bills don't stop because we're furloughed.

BALDWIN: No, they don't. No, they don't. It's so important for everyone to hear stories like yours. I was talking to you briefly in commercial break so when we were listening to the President last hour answering a bunch of questions from the White House reporters, he was asked about landlords, essentially asked, Mr. President, would landlords be -- would you ask landlords to be more lenient on folks like you, Terry, federal employees whose paychecks are obviously zero at the moment and he said, yes, that he would encourage landlords to be nice and easy.

SCOTT: To even ask an employee to approach his or her landlord, it's an insult.


SCOTT: We should not have to do that because employees themselves have nothing to do with him wanting the wall built. And for him or anybody else to ask us to go make a deal in order to keep a roof over our heads, that's an insult.

BALDWIN: Yes, but why is a landlord -- unless you're living with mom and dad, why is a landlord -- maybe some landlords, bless them, would say, sure, but I don't know if the President has that kind of control over all the landlords who may give you all a deal. Let me end on this because obviously this is both Democrats and Republicans, you know, neither side seems at this point willing to budge, what would you say to them right now?

SCOTT: What I would say to them is this -- we should be taken out of this war between the parties. We didn't start it, it's not our fault, and we should not be held accountable and we should not have to suffer and face these challenges that they are actually presenting for us as federal employees. There are -- the President's concern is about getting construction for his wall when in reality is there is destruction within the homes of employees who can't pay their bills. So, he wants construction and as a result of that he is causing destruction.

BALDWIN: Terry Scott, thank you, sir, for speaking up.

SCOTT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We are getting some breaking news now on the Russia investigation. A judge just granted a request from the special counsel to extend the grand jury. He's been hearing evidence in these cases. We'll explain what this all means next.


BALDWIN: Here's breaking news on the special counsel investigation. We are learning a judge has granted Robert Mueller's request to extend the grand jury. CNN's Kara Scannell is with me now. What does that mean for the investigation moving forward?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Brooke, it means it's going to continue without any disruption. The chief judge had approved the special counsel's request to extend this grand jury by another six months. It was initially seated in July of 2017 for 18-month term. That term was set to expire in the coming days. And so, by the judge now saying he would extend the grand jury's seating for another six months, which he can do under the federal laws, if there is substantial public interest. So now we know that the grand jury investigation will continue. And this grand jury has heard all of these cases, these indictments that we know about now from Robert Mueller's investigation, as well as heard a lot of witness testimony we've seen circling around Roger Stone. So, it's pretty important this grand jury has given this extension. It means this investigation is continuing, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Got it. Kara Scannell, thank you for that. Our other piece of breaking news this afternoon.

[15:55:00] The tale of two meetings. Democratic leaders calling talks with the President over the government shutdown calling it contention. President Trump calling it productive. Live at the White House, coming up.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump now says he's ready to keep the government closed for years? "THE LEAD" starts right now. No progress made almost 1 million Americans not getting a paycheck and President Trump saying those federal workers are OK with it. Are they?

She went there with an exclamation point. Democrats being peppered with questions about are they going to impeach President Trump, thanks to a freshman Congresswoman who brought it up and capped it off with the queen mother of curse words.

And, so, it begins. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren facing her first crucial test in the state that starts the Presidential election as the race to court Hillary Clinton also revs up.

Welcome to "THE LEAD," I'm Jake Tapper. We begin with breaking news on our money lead. You hear the bell there, stocks roaring back today. Closing the more than 740 points higher after a surprisingly strong jobs report.