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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Battle Over Wall Funding Keeps Government Shut Down; Current Government Shutdown is Second-Longest in U.S. History; Trump Demands a Wall While No End in Sight for Shutdown. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 7, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts right now. Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

This shutdown may be the worst one ever. We're going on three weeks. No paychecks for hundreds of thousands of American families. This is the emergency, not the border. I'm going to show you the difference between the farce of this new wall and the facts of this shutdown.

We have a Democrat who actually supports the President's wall here. We'll go one on one with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. And then, we have what this shutdown is really about. People, families who don't have an adjustment they can make. The President said, he can relate, they can adjust. They can adjust. He can't relate. I want you to see who's paying the price for our politics. And this all comes to a head when the President speaks to the country about the border tomorrow night.

Our first closing argument of 2019 is a letter to our leader. The time is now, my friends. Let's get after it.

Day 17 of a government shutdown that should have never happened. My New Year's wish was that this Congress do their damn jobs, find solutions, keep the government open. And if you have to, find a veto- proof majority. Cut out the President if you think his politics are dominating instead of what the American people need.

The President is addressing the country tomorrow. He's going to go to the border later this week. Is his best solution going to be to declare an emergency that defies the facts and maybe the law? Let's talk about this with a senator who is in the mix. In fact he voted to fund the President's wall last year. He's a Democrat from the deep red state of West Virginia. He just had a big win. His name is Joe Manchin and he's always welcome on "Prime Time." Happy New Year, senator.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Happy New Year, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So this is why I'm saying farce versus fact. And please, as always you correct me where you disagree and then we'll get to how we get for forward on this. There was never going to be a new wall. It worked in the campaign, it was a gimmick. Somebody gave it to the President, it resonated, it worked.

Good for him. But he was never going to build a big concrete anything. Mexico was never going to pay for a damn thing, and everybody new it. The Ballard fencing that they have there, that you guys gave, not enough money too during the Obama years is what they need and they want more of it. That's the reality. Not new, not his idea, not his design. Why would you vote in favor of that wall when that's not the reality of the situation on the border and what's being built?

MANCHIN: Well, first, everything you said was accurate. I've always known it wasn't going to be a wall, it wasn't going to be a China wall or any other type of a wall. If you listen to the Customs Border Patrol people, the professionals, they're there no matter who the President is and no matter who Congress is. They're people doing their professional job every day and they tell us what's the safety, what they need, where they need it and how much they need.

CUOMO: Yes.

MANCHIN: If we'd pay more attention to them and quit paying politics, we're going to have to secure the border. We've always said that. You go clear back to the 2013 immigration reform bill that we did in the Senate. And we passed it with a majority of Democrats and Republicans, I think it was 68 votes.

It was a tremendous piece of legislation. If the President would say this, Chris, we're going to bring that 2013 immigration reform bill back up within the 30-day trial period, within 30 days it has to be voted on, it cannot be filibustered, cannot be blocked out, we're going to have to take a vote on the floor. If he would do that, he would get what he needs.

CUOMO: But he won't do it.

MANCHIN: Give us a chance to vote that up or down. Well, there's going to have to be some give and take.

CUOMO: And McConnell won't even put it on the floor. Explain this one dynamic and then we'll get back into the show. I want people to understand this.

MANCHIN: Sure.

CUOMO: My understanding is, and you tell me senator, if this is right. The McConnell has said basically forget about the Constitution, here's how it's going to work. I'm not putting anything on the floor on this matter, on this issue, unless the President says he likes it. Is that true?

MANCHIN: Well, it's a shame. That's not our job. I think you're exactly correct, that's what he's been doing. That's what it seems he's done anyway. And I keep saying what in the world are we hired for? Why were we elected?

CUOMO: You can't get two-thirds of you guys -- MANCHIN: -- the Constitution is very clear.

CUOMO: -- two-thirds of you men and women down there in the Senate can't agree on what's good for America?

MANCHIN: Yes, we can do our job. And basically if we disagree with the President we have the ability to override a veto if we think it's the right thing. Chris, we have six bills up right now, these are Republican, by the Republican majority both in the House and the Senate, six appropriation bills. If we could pass those six bills, the five we already have passed, that would be 96 percent of all the dollars spent to keep America safe, would be in place.

CUOMO: Right. What's holding you back?

MANCHIN: 90 percent of all workers -- 90 percent of all workers would be working. All we have is the homeland security. We'd extend that for 30 days, work through our differences.

[21:05:06] CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: If we couldn't do that, then he can do whatever he wants do, call a national emergency. Do whatever you have to do, Mr. President. You're responsible as the chief operating officer of our country basically to keep us safe.

CUOMO: But why can't you get those bills done?

MANCHIN: I'm fine with that. But I have -- well, I'm ready to vote on them. I'll vote for these bills. That's ridiculous --

CUOMO: But McConnell won't put them on the floor.

MANCHIN: Well, then basically we have to see if there's a wedge that we can move. Basically his own party, the Republican Party in the majority has to be willing to buck their leadership.

CUOMO: But we're not seeing it. And also you say the President should declare a national emergency. Do you see any legal or rational basis for this being an emergency?

MANCHIN: Here's the thing, Chris. We have $69 billion, we passed on the Department of Defense, appropriation's bill, $69 billion for overseas contingency funding.

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: Overseas, we call it OCO money. It's there. He's cutting back in Afghanistan. I agree with a cutback in Afghanistan. I don't know if we'll ever make a difference there and there's no end game and there's no win in the end.

Now, with Syria it's a whole other story, I don't agree there. I think now that they have come to their senses a little bit and slowed this thing down and now we're working on a more methodical way, I think it's a better approach. But with that, there has to be some savings. There's money there.

It doesn't have to come out of programs or out of more debt and that's what I have been saying. Use the money you have before you, in front of you. Use that money if we need to. But let's get a vote on fixing our immigration problem. We're going to go down this path every six months to every year it seems like.

CUOMO: Right, but if the President were to say, I'm declaring an emergency -- senator, it's not about the money, right? I mean, it is on one level in terms of how much money goes to what aspect of the different parts of the complex problems that make up, comprise our immigration system and the problems with it.

But if he were to declare an emergency and go around you guys, you would have a protracted legal battle because that was never contemplated by any national emergency act. And it's not about the money, it's about his authority, and you guys doing your job, not having him do it for you.

MANCHIN: Absolutely. Well, I'm just saying we have the money in the military. The money is there in the military. If those people who don't want to spend money because it's being taken away from programs or adding more to debt, whatever the reason may be, we have already voted in 2013 bill for over $40 billion of border security. We have voted many times. Chuck Schumer put a bill on the table with $25 billion for the DREAMers or DACA. It's been out there many times.

CUOMO: So why can't a deal be made right now?

MANCHIN: We know, we need to spent money to secure our borders. I don't know why it can't be made. As far as not -- it's not because of me. People are so -- they're so absolutely entrenched with this -- the facts. Whose facts? I said, you know what, you're entitled to your opinion, you're just not entitled to make up your own facts to support your opinion. So let's get a group of bipartisan people in a room and see if we can agree on the facts. You know, you're talking right now $5 billion for 215 miles of border. I think that's what $23 million a mile?

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: It seems pretty pricey.

CUOMO: Yes, it absolutely is. But it's not about money, it's about what the border needs. The President is selling the American people we're a wall away from safety. You know that's not true. You know that the CBP people, they have a whole list of items they need as much or more than physical barriers to make this safe.

MANCHIN: Oh my goodness, we're talking about drones, we're talking about more agents, we're talking about basically new X-ray machines at our ports of entry with all the containers coming in, and then also in our mail system where most of our fentanyl and illegal drugs are coming. There are so many things that we need to secure this border. But a fence or a secured border, a fencing of some sort is needed also. CUOMO: Sure.

MANCHIN: They have said that, 700 to 900 miles.

CUOMO: It's just not a fantasy.

MANCHIN: I've said this. People have come -- there's people come to the country for two different purposes. They come here the wrong way for the right purpose. They come here the wrong way for the wrong purpose. We want to get rid of those people that came here the wrong way for the wrong purpose.

The people who came here for the right purpose but the wrong way, they will pay their fine, they will get in the back of the line. They want to be productive, they want to be Americans. We should have a pathway for that to happen. But the bottom line is if you throw the people out, you have to have a secured border or they keep coming back. We've got the same people coming back coming back --

CUOMO: Right, but you have to have the resources to process these people and make the process work.

MANCHIN: True.

CUOMO: And make the rules clear and have a consistent policy.

MANCHIN: All of this.

CUOMO: And all we're hearing about is this wall. So it seems like this shutdown is just going to continue, Joe. You don't see any way to a quick --

MANCHIN: Chris, let me ask you this. Chris, would you support if you were voting, would you support basically making a deal if we could get a vote on major immigration reform, if we could be guaranteed a vote, Mitch could not stonewall it and play god what this is, as far as what he wants to put on the agenda for us to vote on.

[21:10:06] CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: And that was in order to get the money that he's wanting, the $5 billion to the security, we get a vote on this to really change the immigration and fix it.

CUOMO: Sure. Do your job, vote.

MANCHIN: Would you think that would be a good deal?

CUOMO: Yeah. I think they should vote. I think if the vote being held hostage is making such a difference in people's lives here. This shutdown is not one of these one or two day things that we just let go, this is the real deal for families. That's why I wanted you on, Senator, to give us the state of play. Thank you for laying it out.

MANCHIN: I don't know how my Republican -- Chris, I don't know how my Republican friends, I surely don't know how my Republican friends, and these are all good people, I get along with everybody and work well with them, but how they can look at themselves now saying that we've got six of their own bills, these are their bills, six of their bills ready to go.

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: Opens up 90 percent of all the workers in America that are working for the government, 96 percent of all the dollars, and that can happen tomorrow. We can fight and fight and fight on the border security and on immigration.

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: But why should you make everybody be punished. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.

CUOMO: It doesn't make sense to me either. Senator, they can be good people but whether or not they're good at their job is about what they do. So we're going to see about that. Thank you, I'll check back with you on this. The best for the New Year. Make something happen, Joe, people need better than this.

MANCHIN: I'm trying, Chris, I'm trying, buddy. I will, I'll give it all I got.

CUOMO: All right. Look, this is the urgency for me, all right. This is why this is a bothersome situation. This is not just politics. Some things are. The President said, you know, I can relate to those working for no pay during the shutdown.

I know that they'll make adjustments. That is B.S., all right? He can't relate. There is no adjustment. I want you to meet the face of the reality right now. Right here, right after this. This mother, this baby on her lap, this is who's paying the price for this shutdown, and it needs to end, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The President of the United States suggested that the shutdown could last for months, even years. Now, those are the words of a man who doesn't get what that means to families that are living week to week.

More than two weeks into this stand-off, a lot of Americans are already wondering how they're going to survive. This isn't theoretical, this isn't statistical, it's real. I want you to meet Fran Orellana. Now, her husband is working right now without pay for DHS. And she has a story to tell. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[21:15:05] CUOMO: Fran Orellana and Tristan, thank you so much for joining us.

FRAN ORELLANA, WIFE OF DHS EMPLOYEE WORKING WITHOUT PAY DURING SHUTDOWN: Thank you so much for having us here. CUOMO: Your husband works for Homeland Security.

ORELLANA: He does.

CUOMO: You had a different job. You had to stop working so you could take care of the baby. Now with the shutdown, you don't have any other option because you don't have the money for the child care, and now with the shutdown you're worried how you're going to pay your bills. Having a preemie is expensive, having a new house, you have a mortgage payment.

ORELLANA: Yes. We have a little bit more of doctors' visits that we need to worry about, we have formula to buy. It's really devastating and I feel like we're not alone in this. There's a lot of families that are going through the same problems.

I mean my husband is one of 400,000 that actually have to work, continue work -- continue to work without pay. So there's other that are furloughed. And most of his co-workers cannot afford child care either, so some of them really have to stay at home. So it's been quite a nightmare for everybody.

CUOMO: Now, the idea that, well, you're make adjustments, that's what happens, the President understands. He knows what you're going through, you'll make adjustments, he gets it. What adjustments can you make? Do you have lots of savings and money ready to pay all these expenses?

ORELLANA: We thought we were responsible. We had a little bit of savings. Obviously not as much as we would have liked because we were not expecting him to be premature, we were not expecting my hospitalization. But even then we feel like we really don't know what's going to happen next month.

We were able to make all the payments right now but we just had a scare. He had a fever and it was the first time that we were -- it wasn't just a concern of his health, but it was more are we going to be able to afford taking him to urgent care if in fact this is more than just a fever.

CUOMO: God forbid.

ORELLANA: We really are -- yeah, exactly. So we really don't know what's going to happen.

CUOMO: What does time, Fran, mean to you? Like how long can your husband work but not get paid and you guys stay on top of the situation. Are we talking weeks? Can you go another month? I don't want to scare you about it, but I just want people to understand.

ORELLANA: Yeah. We definitely have this conversation. I mean, right now we are not doing anything. We are not getting out of the house, we're not using the car if we don't need to because it's gas. We're changing our eating habits.

We're really trying to do meals on a budget because we really don't know how much longer this is going to last. I mean, we're thinking that we're going to barely make it by, by February. But after that we really don't know. And as a wife, it's very demoralizing to see your husband getting ready to work every morning.

He goes to work, he shows up, like all his other co-workers, and there is no pay. They're just there. It's their duty, and federal employee, and that's something people don't understand is that, they have a commitment to the country. And most people that go into these jobs have a very deep commitment and no matter what happens, they have to be there.

When you hear the number 800,000, you just think, oh, 800,000, that's it, it's a number. But it's really all the families that depend on these workers. So we're talking about millions of people that are affected.

CUOMO: He understands these issues. He worked in the Department of Homeland Security. We're being careful about him because frankly he and you are afraid that if people know who he is within the government, maybe they'll take some action against him for speaking out about this. But when he considers the politics of it all and that he's the one and you're the one and little Tristan are the ones paying the price, how does that feel?

ORELLANA: I've been using the word "demoralizing" a lot and I think that's the word that comes to my mind. It's knowing that you are not being considered or that you are being used as a negotiation piece and that your family and everybody else around you really doesn't matter. It's devastating.

CUOMO: Thank you for having the bravery, the time and the patience to come forward and tell us your story. And hopefully it makes the people in power realize that they may be talking, but you're paying the price for their talk.

ORELLANA: Yes. If I can just leave you with anything --

CUOMO: Please.

ORELLANA: A call of action for everybody to contact their legislators and let them know that we matter. And these are people's neighbors, people's family members. And we matter. And we really need this to be solved in a different manner, in a different way.

CUOMO: They certainly have to figure it out. We'll stay in touch with you. I want to see how you guys are doing. And I appreciate it. God bless with the little guy, he is a beauty.

ORELLANA: God bless you too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: She's not a partisan, she's a parent. Why should she have this worry and the irony that her husband works for DHS and the guy is too afraid for you to know his name about this. And why? Because the GOP in Congress won't do their job until the President tells them to? And he won't let them do the job because he wants to push this wall on you that's a hoax? Come on.

[21:20:05] What needs to happen to fix this mess? That's the great debate, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: You've got to remember what happened here. Don't get caught up in the noise. President Trump said on live television to your face that he would carry the mantle of the shutdown because his border wall mattered that much.

Now he says it's on the Democrats. Now, where is the left on what they would do to end the shutdown, and will the right, especially in Congress, will they die on this wall if need be? Does it matter that much to them? That's the basis for a great debate. Let's bring in Luis Gutierrez and Amy Kremer. Amy, great to have you back.

AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Great to be here.

CUOMO: Luis, great to have you here. Congressman, welcome to the family.

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.

CUOMO: Now let's see if you can get after it. First let's see who's got a problem with what I just said. Amy, I had Joe Manchin on here, senator from West Virginia. He says they will not put up the appropriation bills until McConnell gets the OK from the President. How is that OK? Forget about the constitution and that's not the way it's supposed to work, but why should McConnell freeze any votes on the floor until the President gives him a pat on the head?

[21:25:06] KREMER: Look, the President is standing firm and he wants to secure our borders. And he wants to deal with the crisis that is going on, on our border, Chris. It doesn't matter if you're talking about people coming across the border, drugs coming across the border, there's a crisis going on there and it needs to be dealt within Congress --

CUOMO: But is it a crisis just because you call it like that?

KREMER: Chris, you know what? When one life is lost, I think it's a crisis. You can talk about murder --

CUOMO: Then you have crises all over this country that you don't seem to give a damn about.

KREMER: No. What about the opioid crisis, what about the human trafficking that's going on? Atlanta is one of the number one cities in the country that is dealing with this issue and it's happening across our southern border. Why would you not want to deal with that?

CUOMO: The question is not about what you want to deal with, it's how. So, Luis, here's the thing. On the left they say we're not going to give you the wall. Now, what does that mean, what does it not mean, because Democrats like you have voted for the Ballard fencing and the technology and they met not enough.

You know, you can make that argument not enough. But you've voted for exactly what they want to build many times. So what will you vote for, what will you not vote for?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I'm not a member of Congress, so I can't speak for what they're going to do.

CUOMO: But you were.

GUTIERREZ: But here's what --

CUOMO: And we all remember. So that's what I'm saying.

GUTIERREZ: So here's what I will say. I think what we need to understand, and I know you've said it, but it got to be repeated. This is the President's shutdown. He can open up the government tomorrow and then we can negotiate. I think that's the fair way to move forward. I think that's the logical way to move forward. Everybody wants to talk about a crisis.

You know, Chris, tonight one out of six Americans going to go to bed hungry. That's a crisis. Instead of resolving it, we're probably going to cut off their assistance to nutrition. Tonight, there going to be millions of families still wondering whether one of -- American citizen, whether their aunts, uncles, children, husbands, can be deported.

Let's deal with that, right? I mean there are so many issues, income inequality in this country and people not being able to pay their bills. Instead we have a President that causes more crises which we were evidenced in your segment that we just heard.

So here's what I would say. Let's sit down, open up the government once again because they say this is about border security. Well, let me just say this to you, Chris, I sat there with John Kelly, the general. He was the chief of staff of the President of the United States. And here's what he said to me and this is a widely published report.

He said the President has evolved with the wall. It isn't a cement from sea to sea. That's what he said. And he said it could be the desert because you can't get through. It could be more border security. It could be more cameras. It could be more technology. Let's sit down.

But here's what we're doing. They think that Mexico, because this is anti-Mexican rhetoric, right? Mexicans are murders, rapists, killers, and so we're going to build a wall. But let's -- what's the fact? That today there aren't as many TSA agents as there should be, there aren't as many people at Homeland Security as there should be.

Because how do you enter America, how do millions of people enter America legally? Through airports. So our airports are now being weakened and our defense, and let's remember --

CUOMO: Right. But these are all manifestations, we got problem that we need to solve.

GUTIERREZ: -- that the tragedy of September 11th --

CUOMO: All right.

GUTIERREZ: -- happened through our airport, not through the border.

CUOMO: Right, but these are all manifestations of a problem -- what I'm looking at is for a solution here, Amy, especially because if you were watching the show, Amy, you saw the mother that we just had on. And by the way, she's not a one-off, all right? It's not right for American families to pay the price for our politicians not being able to cut a deal, Amy. I don't see how this shutdown is an acceptable mechanism for change for this President. You tell me why it is.

KREMER: So this President has been trying to deal with this issue for the past two years. And last year in the spring he brought Democrats and Republicans to the White House and the Democrats wanted no part of it. Chris, this is --

CUOMO: Not true, they offered him a deal with the money for the wall.

KREMER: No, no. This is the thing. Is that first of all, the President is not just saying he wants $5.7 billion for the wall. I mean I can go through, there is a list that the White House has released that they want to deal with this. They want $563 million for immigration judges, they want another $571 million for 2,000 more ICE agents, $211 million for 750 more border patrol agents. Then they need two -- 4.2 billion --

CUOMO: Then why does the President only talk about the wall all the time?

KREMER: -- for 52 billion beds. You know what, it's just become symbolic. But there's a lot --

CUOMO: What does that mean? Symbolic? This woman is going to worried about whether or not she can feed her kids --

KREMER: Chris.

CUOMO: -- because of his symbolism.

KREMER: You know what? First of all, I -- with all due respect, I don't think it's fair for CNN or any network to pit Americans against each other.

CUOMO: What are you talking about? Who am I pitting against anybody?

KREMER: Because you tell me that one person is more important than the other. What about officer Singh's wife that just buried her husband two days ago that was murdered at the hands of an illegal immigrant in California.

[21:30:06] CUOMO: Hey, if you want to talk about stopping wrongful homicides in this country, your big concern is not undocumented immigrants, all right? We've got huge problems.

KREMER: What about the fentanyl coming across?

CUOMO: But I got to tell you Amy, you've --

KREMER: What about fentanyl --

CUOMO: look, it's a New Year. Let's try to get away from the old tactics. Don't --

KREMER: What about the fentanyl?

CUOMO: I'm not your problem, all right? But Luis --

GUTIERREZ: Chris, Chris --

KREMER: The fentanyl that's coming across the border. That is affecting all lives. Human trafficking too, Chris, do you think these human traffickers stop and ask a kid, do you belong to a Democratic or Republican family, hell no.

CUOMO: I think that I haven't heard you guys talk about any human trafficking in any context that --

KREMER: Chris, last time I was on here --

CUOMO: -- except to motivate the wall and the border and there's tons of other things you can do.

KREMER: I talked about it. Last time I was on here.

CUOMO: I know you've talked about it. But it's how you talk about. Now, let's just slow down for a second because I want to get to solutions. The shutdown I posited to you is a lousy mechanism to get your wall and your money, you've got no answer for that. But Luis --

KREMER: No, I do have an answer.

CUOMO: -- this is going to fall to relapse.

KREMER: Let me answer real quickly.

CUOMO: Do you think they should reopen the government?

KREMER: I think that the objective is not to reopen the government, but to secure our nation. That's the objective.

CUOMO: But why do it on the backs of these American families?

KREMER: It shouldn't be done on the backs of the American families.

CUOMO: But you're doing it on their backs.

KREMER: No, Chris.

CUOMO: Yes. KREMER: This is a situation that needs to be dealt with it, and it needs to be dealt with now.

CUOMO: But not like this. That's my point. All right, Amy, I heard you. Now, Luis this is -- now it's going to fall in your lap.

GUTIERREZ: Sure.

CUOMO: You've got the power in the House. I know you don't have it in the Senate. I tell you what, it was very upsetting to me to listen to Joe Manchin. He's not the problem, right he's a Democrat but on the Republican side in the Senate you have the problem. McConnell won't put any votes on the floor until the President gives him a pat on the head. But what do the Democrats are going to do in the House? Is the move for them to get this government back open?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what I think, this is Donald Trump's shutdown of the government. And let's not keep talking about the violence, because if we want to shut down the government, I would understand if tomorrow the President of the United States said until the NRA releases its stranglehold on the Congress of the United States and we can finally have sensible gun control to end the vicious murder and killing on our streets across this country and in our schools, I would understand that.

So I think what the Democrats are doing is saying, Mr. President, you said you were going to shut the government down until we gave you the money for your illegitimate, illegal, immoral wall. We've done that before. I think the President of the United States and everything that's been said here tonight is about enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. It is the red meat right to Donald Trump's base in his Republican Party.

Let's move forward. Open up the government, once again, so that we can begin to negotiate. As you said, Chris, Democrats have offered $5 billion and then $25 billion to this President of the United States. If they offered it before, I am sure that we can find a solution, but let's find a solution so that we take care of millions of immigrants --

CUOMO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: -- that fear every day. Let's start with two -- how about this. Let's start with two million DREAMers that we should legalize in this country and then let's begin to talk about the ransom of the wall.

CUOMO: Well, you'll never going to talk about the DREAMers until you figure out the security piece. And look, I'm OK with that, that's the prerogatives of politics. I'm just saying --

GUTIERREZ: Sure.

CUOMO: -- best negotiation.

GUTIERREZ: I think -- I think -- but in negotiating -- CUOMO: To not be on the back of American people, that's all I'm

saying.

GUTIERREZ: -- but Chris, you asked me -- you said, Luis, how do we resolve this?

CUOMO: Right, I got you.

GUTIERREZ: By bringing some balance, right? You get something the others get something.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'm just saying doing it on the backs of American people with this shutdown, it should have never gotten to it --

GUTIERREZ: I agree.

CUOMO: -- and it's got to stop, Amy Kremer, I'm always happy to have you on the show to express your opinion even when you demonize me.

KREMER: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: I'm still happy to have you.

KREMER: I'm not trying to demonize you. I'm just --

CUOMO: Well good then -- then don't.

KREMER: -- I mean we don't need to pit Americans --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right, but I'm saying, don't accuse me of doing something that I'm not. I've never pitted anybody --

KREMER: Yes, but --

CUOMO: -- against anybody. You met that mother and her kid and there are many like her and she's doing this because the shutdown is hurting her family. That's not pitting her against anybody, it's putting the facts out against a farce. I'm out of time on this, but I'll have you back about.

KREMER: Thank you.

CUOMO: There are a lot of Americans hurting. It's not about pitting them against them one another, it's about not using them as a scapegoat for your inability to get a deal done. Luis, good first appearance. I'll see you again soon.

GUTIERREZ: I'll see you tomorrow night.

CUOMO: Best of both for the New Year.

GUTIERREZ: Thanks. KREMER: Thanks, happy New Year.

CUOMO: And look, it's going to get hot, I'm OK with that. Because we have to call things out for what they are, all right? The President is sticking to the wall as a panacea. Why? Because he's worried about his base, he's worried about these far-right wackos that are on him and he's responding to them. But is that him at his best?

Chris Ruddy, what does he think about this? He's the head of Newsmax. He knows the President. What does he think? Insight from a good source, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:38:13] CUOMO: The President not only said he was proud to own the mantle of the shutdown, as he called it, he made it happen. Remember, the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously voted to set aside the wall and keep the government open. The heat he got for seeming to agree to that deal is how we got here. Only those close to him can tell you where we might go from here, if at all.

One of them is the CEO of Newsmax, Chris Ruddy, friend of the show. Always good to see him. Happy New Year.

CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: Happy New Year, Chris. Thanks for having me on.

CUOMO: I don't really get what's happening here, I got to be honest, this shutdown, you know, we had a family on tonight. I wanted people to see who's bearing the price of our bad politics. This isn't a two- day shutdown. This is a long time people working without pay, I don't get how this works for the President. Help me understand it.

RUDDY: It's a very difficult situation, but let's -- you know, everybody talks about a national emergency. Let's talk about a national disgrace. It's called Congress. They've had 40 years to fix the border.

CUOMO: Fair point.

RUDDY: Every President has promised they're going to fix it.

CUOMO: Fair point.

RUDDY: You know, this is a President when he came in office he was told North Korea will never come to the table. 50 years since Truman nobody has gone to the table, he brought them to the table. They're actually denuclearizing.

CUOMO: That is not true.

RUDDY: Well, they're starting the process. But look --

CUOMO: I don't even know what that means, but continue.

(CROSSTALK) RUDDY: -- reform in 20 years he did it. Criminal justice reform for 25 years since the '90s, he did it. Veterans reform, he did it. Jerusalem embassy, he moved.

CUOMO: The veterans, he's got a long way to go on.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Every president -- so how does this relate to this?

RUDDY: But, but, but, my point is that he's finally confronting the fact that we have a border problem and he's holding the feet to the fire. Congress has done nothing all of these decades, not years, decades.

[21:40:02] CUOMO: Right, but how you do it matters?

RUDDY: The Democrats, it's the Republicans.

CUOMO: How you do it matters. He's holding on to this farce of a wall that was a campaign gimmick.

RUDDY: Look, we have a President that actually fulfills campaign promises. I mean I know that's pretty shocking to people at CNN. But I think it's admirable. And I think he's a guy that likes to get results.

There's a Harris Poll out today that says 70 percent of Americans would like to see the President and the Congress compromise on this issue. And I can tell you, I believe Donald Trump is a guy that likes compromise. He will do -- it's Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that won't budge one inch --

CUOMO: He shutdown the government. He didn't have to do it this way.

RUDDY: Well, I think he's making a statement because it's the only power he has is to say, hey, if you don't want to do a budget that includes -- they voted in the past for border, security border

CUOMO: That's right.

RUDDY: -- protective barriers, the Democrats have.

CUOMO: That's right.

RUDDY: Now all of a sudden it's somehow being racist if you want a border.

CUOMO: No, no. What's racist in their estimation is how he talks about the people who enter legally and illegally. How I -- how I refer to them, according to his own rhetoric, is the brown menace that he is falsely defining to the American people. It's a lie, we both know it is. You can play with the numbers any way you want, it doesn't change the reality.

The problem with the wall is that he was never going to build a new wall. Mexico was never going to pay for it. That was the promise. Worked in the campaign. Not working now. That's why he's refining it to the reality. It will be steel. It will be see-through. It will be in some places. That's called how it is right now.

RUDDY: Look, it will be a secure border, protective barrier, and I think at some points it may be a wall, some points it will be a fence.

CUOMO: Right, that's what it is right now. That was always the plan. It's not his idea.

RUDDY: And so I think he's more than willing. But when the Congress won't give him any money for that --

CUOMO: They did give him money for it.

RUDDY: You know, "The Washington Post" last week, I read you this quote, this is how they led their story. Record numbers of migrant families are streaming into the U.S. overwhelming border agents.

CUOMO: That's true.

RUDDY: And they talk about all the families, the young children being hurt.

CUOMO: True.

RUDDY: Don't you want to -- why would we keep a porous border in the era of 9/11.

CUOMO: The wall is not the answer to that problem though, Chris. You're not a wall away from stopping those families. You've got to change the rules. You have to increase your resources to accommodate the flow.

RUDDY: Look, I think the President is making a point here. I do think that he should at some point compromise, as long as he gets some money for the border security and border protective barriers, semantics in my mind whether it's a wall, a fence, slabs, concrete, steel.

CUOMO: Whatever it is, it's only one aspect of the dynamic.

RUDDY: And there's a lot of -- I'm pro-immigration. I believe this country was founded on immigration. I'm the grandson of immigrants.

CUOMO: That's the reality of our existence.

RUDDY: And think the Cuomos are as well. And I think the President -- I think this issue on the border wall and security should be dealt with in the larger comprehensive immigration bill, which the Democrats say they want. The President got criminal justice reform, bipartisan bill. He brought the Democrats together with the Republicans.

CUOMO: That was easy compared to this. I give him credit for that. I'm not taking anything away from him but it's not this.

RUDDY: We have not had criminal justice reform since the 1990s.

CUOMO: That's a fair point. I take nothing away from it. I'm saying that tit was an easiest lift than this. And now with this shutdown, I just don't understand why make Americans pay for the price of not being able to negotiate.

RUDDY: But look, when you introduced the segment before I came on, you said that right-wing wackos the president was appealing to. You know, if you're looking at the polling data, Americans want border security. The recent Gallup Poll show that --

CUOMO: That's not what I'm talking about.

RUDDY: Border security is the second number of concern.

CUOMO: I'm not talking about border security, I'm talking about him indulging this bigoted, anti-immigrant, far, far right aspect of your party that he's catering to with this shutdown. I'm not saying that border security makes you crazy. I think barriers make sense. I've talked to the people that keep us safe. I know what they need and I don't reject it.

RUDDY: I think Donald Trump likes immigrants. His wife is an immigrant.

CUOMO: But he wants to cancel the mechanism that allowed her to bring her parents into the country. You see what I'm saying?

RUDDY: He wants legal immigration. He wants legal immigration and he wants a system that's proper. And I think, you know, if you go to Canada, Australia, England, they have a best and brightest system. We're the only country where everything is done by lotteries --

CUOMO: You can have whatever rules you want. You can have whatever rules you want, Chris. I'm not against any rules, I'm not against different changes of rules. I'm saying doing it this way with the shutdown doesn't make sense.

But I just wanted to get your sense on it. We need more facts. We've got to see where he's going to be tomorrow night. I'd love to have you back whenever you can make it. I know you're very busy with what you're doing with Newsmax. I appreciate all the time that you can give us. But I want to know --

RUDDY: Well, look, I appreciate you giving -- allowing the other side because CNN doesn't always do that, and the President has had an incredible record. I know you don't always agree with his approaches.

CUOMO: Right.

RUDDY: I don't always agree with his approaches.

CUOMO: I think you're thinking about another network that doesn't allow the other side. You're always welcome here. I always want both sides.

[21:45:01] RUDDY: Well, thank you.

CUOMO: That's the whole idea of --

RUDDY: No, it's true, your show -- your show you always invite me on to give another side and another perspective and I appreciate that.

CUOMO: Always welcome. God bless and good luck for the New Year. Let's get out of this mess.

RUDDY: Good. Great to see you.

CUOMO: Take care.

All right, there are lots of things in the world that this President can relate to, like what's happening in skyscrapers and what it's like at golf clubs, OK? But nobody buys that this President can relate to the woman you met tonight and her child. The idea that people can make adjustments when they're living check to check.

And we all know that this shutdown wasn't the right way to get this done. So we're going to take that on in the closing and we're going to check in with your favorite man on CNN, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: If you've been watching, you met the face of who's feeling the pain in this shutdown. Not someone in Congress, certainly not the President, a young mom, her husband is working to keep us safe, new baby, new house. The President, however, says he can relate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can relate, and I'm sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustment. They always do. And they'll make adjustment. People understand exactly what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Let's bring in D. Lemon. Don, look, that's what had me fired up about all of this. Forget about whether he can relate and his background. It's the nonchalance of who was going to pay the price for this inability to get a deal done. They make adjustments. She's not making any damn adjustment.

You know how she's making an adjustment? She's not leaving her house that often. They're changing how they eat and they're starting to figure out whether or not they have to leave their new house. That's not adjustment, that's desperation.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Listen, you say it doesn't matter. Yes, he cannot relate. Someone who can relate does not make that statement or those statements. You don't do that. People live from paycheck to paycheck and sometimes those paychecks are ones that were months before, you know what I'm saying? And so if you're not going to get one, some of these people aren't going to be paid back. They aren't going to get any money. I don't know if you saw earlier, there was a woman who was on said, listen, there was no one to approve her time sheet and she doesn't think she's going to be able to get back pay for this.

No, he can't relate. And if he could relate, he would understand this. This is my -- has been my point all along. You can keep the government open, up and running, and you can continue to negotiate for a wall or a fence or whatever it is, he's still the president.

[21:50:04] He's going to be the president for the next two years, so he can still negotiate that. I don't know why -- where this sort of line in the sand is. I know that the Democrats have taken over the House, but that's just the political reality that he has to live with.

He and his supporters and his administration have always said elections have consequences. Well, elections do have consequences and there's a Democratic House now, and they're saying no. So he can't relate.

Here's something I think that you can relate to, my friend. I spoke with Kevin Hart --

CUOMO: Oh, did you?

LEMON: -- this weekend. And we've been talking, and you'll be interested to hear what we spoke about. I'm going to have that on the show.

CUOMO: Oh, very good. This has been good of you to champion this discussion in advance of the way you have. I'll be checking that out for sure and I hope the whole audience as well. I'll see you in a little bit.

LEMON: See you.

CUOMO: Good for D. Lemon.

All right. So the closing argument that's coming up here, I've been saying all night farce versus fact. You have to understand the reality of what's on the border right now in terms of the security structure, the apparatus, and what the need is.

And then it will start to click in about what's being played at here. But tomorrow is a really big moment for this President to address you and provide a message and a direction. And that's what the closing is about, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Farce versus fact. The President has created an entire farce around the wall. Farce by definition, a dramatic work including crude characterizations and ludicrous, improbable situations. Angry hordes are headed this way, and a wall will save us. [21:55:02] The alleged problem and the solution are bogus. It began as a campaign gimmick, right? He didn't even think it up. It was never meant to be real. There would never be a new concrete anything, and of course Mexico would never pay for it. The rationale, well, he's fighting for this because he keeps his promises. But that part about Mexico paying for it, well, that wasn't really a promise. Oh, B.S.

The real problem is why he keeps the farce up. It's more troubling. The President is more tied to a political perception of a promise that matters not so much to voters like you or even to the base if you're out there watching, but to the farthest right, most anti-immigrant people in the game. There is no poll that says most of you want his wall.

And he is choosing that far-right contingent over the truth, over compromise, and certainly over the families like the one you met tonight. They're bearing the burden of this shutdown that he started.

Be clear. He is not redefining his idea of the wall to compromise. This slide from, well, it won't be concrete. It will be steel. And we won't call it a wall. Call it whatever they want just so we can get it done. No, no, no. This isn't him compromising. This is him knowing what he's talking about now, and he's adjusting his ruse to the reality.

Show these guys the wall that he's pretending now that he created and started, this bollard fencing. You remember I was down there on the border standing in front of it. They have been doing this since the last administration. It's not this president's idea. It's not his idea. It's not his design. It's not new. He's hoping you'll see it as that, but he's playing you for a sucker.

He's also selling you on a consensus that doesn't exist. Most Americans want the wall. Show me. I haven't seen it. And he says every other president wanted to build a wall too, and they told him that. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me, and they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Who? Ex-presidents Carter, Clinton, W. George, W. Bush, and Obama. The truth is, none of them spoke with the President about it. That's what they say. So don't be a sucker, and don't fall for a farce. But also be aware of an important fact. Do the people who keep us safe want more bollard fencing, those big steel barriers? Yes, they do. Do they believe we'll be safer if they have them? Yes. But they have never told me it's a panacea, not even close.

They need other types of technology for different areas, manpower for different areas, money for places to keep kids and families, for judges, for case workers. Now, I know the White House will say, well, we put that all out there that we're asking for that. You've never heard the President talk about it.

A wall would not have kept the kids who died recently alive. That's the truth. Better resources for emergencies, medical personnel, a process that set reasonable expectations for people -- those changes may have. We'll never know.

But he only talks about that wall as a solution, as a cure all, a panacea, to hold back the brown menace that he wants you to believe in, like we're living in some bizarre "Game of Thrones" drama, except the walkers are brown, not white of course.

But here are the facts. Most of the terror suspects caught are caught at airports. Most of the illegal overstays now are from people who fly in and overstay their visas. Most of the drugs come across in vehicles through ports of entry. Almost all of the crime in this country is committed by citizens. There is no brown menace.

Now, tomorrow night the President is going to speak. He clearly thinks he needs a win, and to him a win is a wall. If he's listening -- and there's a chance that he is -- Mr. President, Happy New Year, I think that you're wrong. Don't take a step further into the farce. Barriers matter. They always have, which is why we have them. They've been built and changed for years.

If you want more, fine. It's probably a sound judgment. But we're not a wall away. And if you say we are, you lose for sure. You need to address what the system needs, and you need to allow the system to treat people with decency even if they don't warrant entry. Don't make this a power play that sets up a protracted legal and political battle. You'll almost certainly lose. There is no national emergency except the one you're making.

Someone in the White House must be telling you that the legal basis for a national emergency and going around Congress is weak, and the political rationale is weaker still. This shutdown is on you because you told us that. You said it.

So here's the biggest point. Making families pay for your promise is a mistake. There are too many Americans hurting now. It's going to get worse. That's not how you get a deal made, not any politician. Certainly not the best deal-maker we've ever had as president. That's what you say you are. Now was the time to show it.

It's great to be back with all of you. Thank you for watching. Tomorrow we will bring you the president's Oval Office address live during CUOMO PRIME TIME, 9 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. And we will have a Democratic response. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.