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Trump to Address Nation Tomorrow and Visit Border Thursday; Trump Escalates Crisis with Threat to Declare National Emergency; Bolton Contradicts Trump on America's Exit from Syria. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 7, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you so much. Hi, everyone. You're watching CNN on this Monday. Here's what we have for you. President Trump is now announcing that he will address the nation tomorrow night as the government shutdown drags now into its third week. The shutdown is now on track to become the longest in U.S. history. As of today, it is tied for second place along with an impasse from way back in '78. And with 800,000 federal workers not knowing when they could see their next paycheck, the White House has announced plans for the President to head to the border this Thursday to, quote, meet those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis. Now, this trip no doubt will give President Trump another chance to show that he will not approve any funding deal in a didn't include money for his border wall. A wall that we know now the President wants made of steel. He stipulated that in a letter to the Senate. For more, we turn to Pamela Brown. And Pamela, talk to me first just about addressing the nation tomorrow night and also this visit to the border Thursday.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, the President just recently tweeted saying that he will give an address to the nation on the, quote, humanitarian and national security crisis on our southern border. He said that address will happen tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. eastern. What is unclear is which networks if any have accepted the White House's request for this primetime address. The President using his bully pulpit to make his case to the American public for border wall funding. Of course, that is the main sticking point as this government shutdown goes into its third week. It is unusual for the President of the United States to make a primetime address on a partisan issue such as this. Such as a border wall funding. And so, we will have to wait and see what exactly will happen, which networks if any have accepted this request. This comes as we are also learning that the President plans to visit the southern border on Thursday. The White House says that more details are to come on that. But again, Sarah sander, the press secretary, framing this as a national security issue saying that the President wants to go to the southern border to see those on the front lines of this humanitarian crisis and national security crisis. Of course, all of this happening as there is really an impasse still on this third week of the government shutdown in terms of what will both sides come to, what will they agree to. There were these negotiations over the weekend between Mike Pence and leadership on both sides of the aisle, but sources are telling CNN that basically both sides are just sticking to their talking points. But there is a real human impact, these nearly 100 million -- sorry, 1 million rather I should say federal workers who are impacted by this. Some telling CNN that they are concerned about making ends meet. The President in response to questions about that said that those federal workers will make adjustments.

BALDWIN: We'll talk to one of those workers in a minute. Pamela, thank you. And in talking with this negotiation that went over the weekend and this impasse, Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill for us. Where do the negotiations stand?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This new offer isn't going far with Democrats up here at all. It is simply put filled with a lot of nonstarters for Democrats starting with that number amount, the $5.78 billion requested by the White House for the steeled barrier, no longer a concrete barrier, at the border wall, including a whole list of other things. We'll pull it out screen. $571 million for additional I.C.E. workers, $563 million for additional immigration judges, 211 for additional Border Patrol agents. Democrats have made it clear that they want the government to be reopened before they even address any sort of border security issue. Nancy Pelosi will make her move on that again to pass individual appropriation bills not related to the border wall funding, breaking out parts of the shutdown, reopening parts of these noncontroversial agencies not related to the border. The White House though on the other side, they have been very clear they want to address border security first and the government will not be reopened before any deal. And as Pam said those talks over the weekend, yielded very little if any progress short of the actual paper statement, opening point if you will, come from the White House on what they want.

[14:05:00] BALDWIN: Thank you. So that is Congress and the White House, but what about the folks this affects? If Congress won't agree to build the border wall, the President says he may go out on his own to have it done.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may declare a national emergency. I think that we will have some serious talks come Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.


BALDWIN: With me now, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero, former counsel for the Assistant Attorney General for National Security. She is currently adjunct Professor of law at Georgetown Law. Carrie, welcome back. First things first. In terms of a national emergency, can President Trump even do this, is it legal?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: A President does have very broad authority when it comes to national and homeland security and the ability to designate national emergencies. So, there is an act by Congress, the National Emergencies Act, which provides a process by which the President can make these types of designations. So, there is a lawful avenue for him to declare a national emergency. BALDWIN: OK. And the legalities of this before we dive into this. So, if we can just point out, that on Friday, the President acknowledged what we had initially heard from leader Schumer that the President did indeed say in this meeting that he would keep the government shutdown for months or even years. How can you declare such a sense of urgency that needs to be built right now if you are willing to wait months or years in a shutdown to get what you want?

CORDERO: Well, here is the problem from a national security perspective. The problem is that the President, this specific President, has a demonstrated history throughout his campaign and his presidency of using national security as a pre-text to achieve political objectives.

BALDWIN: Is that dangerous?

CORDERO: As a national security policy professional, I can't begin to tell you how dangerous I think that is. Because it has different effects. One hand, he has the potential to abuse national security legal authority. So, the Constitution grants the President and certain acts grant the President wide latitude of authority to act in a real national emergency. A real national security threat. The trouble is there is no information that has been provided in the public domain indicating that the border wall, the $5 billion that he wants, actually would achieve a national security or homeland security objective. There is certainly a humanitarian problem. There certainly needs to be more immigration judges and there is a whole host of border and immigration security legislation that is likely need. But the border wall money is a political issue for the President. And what concerns me is that he is going down the path once again, because we saw him do this with the travel ban, of trying to use his broad national security executive authorities in an abusive way.

BALDWIN: And the conversation over the weekend between Sarah Sanders and Fox News' Chris Wallace I think proves that the point you are making. And we'll play that for you in a bit if you missed it. But let me play this, as we are talking about national emergency, let's look through the nation's history. And Adam Schiff put it this way.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: If Harry Truman couldn't nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this President doesn't have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion- dollar wall on the border. So that is a nonstarter.


BALDWIN: So, if President Truman couldn't do it in wartime, how can this President? What are other examples with previous Presidents who have declared a national emergency?

CORDERO: Well, there are other examples. For example, for hurricanes and things like that where the President can -- when the federal government wants to assist local or state governments respond to a specific national emergency. So, the difference is when there is an actual emergency that the President is responding to versus in the current circumstance or I would also again with the travel ban, the President's first attempt to implement the travel ban, where he just orders something. And then what happens, here is how this will play out and I think this is what Congressman Schiff is getting at, which is that the President if he were to declare a national emergency, then he would have to report the justification to that for Congress. So, Congress would have an opportunity to take further action. In addition, in this particular circumstance, I think it is likely that it would be legislated similar to the travel ban where there would be challenges to his exercise of his authority.

[14:10:00] Which has an ironic result which is that at the end of this President's term in office whenever that may be, we may find that his aggressive use of executive power will be more limited and he will leave the presidency much weaker than when he found it because there is going to be continued litigation and pushback from the two other branches of government.

BALDWIN: A great point. You are a wealth of knowledge. Thank you very much for coming on. And as we talk about this shut down here, the impact is hitting so many people including our airports across the nation. TSA workers are on the job without pay to keep us safe. And some aren't quite sure how they are going to make ends meet.


BRIAN TURNER, TSA EMPLOYEE: I live about a half hour from work. And it will come to a point where you say, do I put gas in my car or feed my family. You feel hopeless. And you feel helpless. I'm not in Washington. I don't have the influence that these people of power have. And we rely on them. We elect them to these positions to get a job done.

BALDWIN: Hundreds of TSA workers have been calling out sick as the shutdown drags on. The TSA of course insists the impact is minimal, but the Air Line Pilots Association which represents 61,000 pilots is warning, quote, the shutdown of government agencies is adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system. So, with me now, air traffic controller, Andrew LeBovidge. He's a Southwest Regional Vice President of their National Air Traffic Controller Association. Andrew, a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much for all that you do.


BALDWIN: I was talking to a federal employee on Friday who told me that he felt used through this whole process. It is day 17. How do you feel?

LEBOVIDGE: Well, the men and women that we represent, nearly 20,000 aviation safety professionals, are diligently working through the shutdown to be guardians of our skies. And they have the uncertainty of not knowing when their next pay check is arriving. I mean the shutdown to us is unacceptable and it needs to end.

BALDWIN: We are talking about our nation's airports, right? And this is where your expertise lies. And all these people who you represent, can you help explain to us how detrimental this could be to our security and our safety?

LEBOVIDGE: First off, just the immediate human toll that this shutdown engenders. We have safety professionals who need to be hyper focused in their work every day and the angst is becoming palpable. They are living with a fear and uncertainty of when their next paycheck is and they are having to have the difficult conversations with their families on how they will get through the very tumultuous times.

BALDWIN: Beyond that, of course that is excruciating for them, but in terms of the safety issue, what if TSA workers, air traffic control folks just decide not to show up to work for a chunk of time because they need to put meals on the table and pay for their child's tuition? What does that mean for all of us?

LEBOVIDGE: Well, men and women will continue to come to work and perform the public service that they need to perform. The more insidious effects are the longer-term aspects of the hit where we are already in a critically staffed situation and with the shutdown, the training pipeline has been cut short. And there is no relief in sight. Training has stopped. The FAA Academy in Oklahoma City has been closed. And we will feel the ripple effect of the lack of personnel for months if not years to come. Additionally, the system works as a very integrated web of technologies and procedures that were currently in development and the modernization endeavors that the FAA have been undergoing have ground to a halt. So, we will start seeing future changes not manifest in a timely manner.

BALDWIN: So last question. You know what the air industry is up to. But what is the one thing, day 17, what is the one thing that keeps you up at night overall of this?

LEBOVIDGE: The one thing that keeps me up at night is dramatic effect on the people of the air traffic control system. They are left to drift. They don't know when they are going to be able to be paid and that creates an exceptional amount of consternation, frustration and grief.

[14:15:00] BALDWIN: I can't imagine. We want to keep hearing their stories. Thank you so much to coming on. I appreciate you. Coming up next here, just weeks after President Trump declared victory over ISIS and U.S. troops were quote/unquote coming back now, National Security Adviser General Bolton is offering a very different version of how U.S. policy in Syria is likely to unfold. So, who should U.S. allies and foreign leaders be listening to?

Also 2020 decision time. With his official announcement coming soon, potentially, why the former Vice President sees himself as the party's best hope for defeating this current President and what makes him so skeptical of the other contenders. And she was a teen sentenced to life in prison after killing a man who

bought her for text. And today a governor in Tennessee takes dramatic action just days before leaving office.


BALDWIN: More mixed messages coming out of White House on Syria. President Trump's own national security adviser now says that there will be no rapid withdraw from Syria until ISIS is defeated and the safety of the Kurds a key group of U.S. allies is guaranteed. John Bolton's words directly contradicting the President's vow to immediately bring home U.S. forces in Syria. Pres. Trump even told troops during that surprise visit over Christmas when he was in Iraq that Bolton was in agreement with his decision to tell his generals the time had come to leave Syria.


TRUMP: And they said again, recently, could we have more time, and I said nope, you can't have any more time, you've got enough time. We've knocked them silly. John and I agree on all of this and I think John will say that we went through numerous extension, extension, extension. And John's pretty strong on the subject. He is pretty hawkish on everything having to do with the military.

BALDWIN: In a tweet the President is blasting reports that Bolton is contradicting his plans claiming nothing has changed, tweeting, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary. So, with me now, Phil Mudd, a former CIA and FBI official, now our CNN counterterrorism analyst. And Phil, you hear John Bolton, you hear President Trump. My question is, because they are saying two very different things, who should the rest of the world be listening to?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think I'd be listening to the Secretary of State and John Bolton right now. It is pretty clear what happened, the same thing that happened with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he got sideways with the President. You will recall Rex Tillerson was talking about talks with the North Koreans and the President said nonsense about talks. And look where we are now with North Korea. After saying that he knows more than the generals, the President is now in the position of having the generals and his national security team walk in and say if we move as quickly as you say we should move, number one, we're going to get some of our allies killed in Syria and number two, we're going to give an opportunity to Iran which is something that obviously the President doesn't want to do. He had to listen to people who knew more, that is about it.

BALDWIN: And so, the United States will pull out of Syria only with these assurances Turkey will not attack Kurdish allies. John Bolton told journalists that on Sunday. So, do we just take Turkey's word for it?

MUDD: I don't think that that will work. Let me make this simple. Let say we get those assurances. And last reports have the National Security Adviser John Bolton going to Turkey tomorrow. I'm sure that he will be asking for those assurances. A couple things. How do we police those? Let's say the Turks say, yes, but then

violate whatever agreement they have with us. Will we move back in at this point, are we going to try to fight the Turks who are a long-time ally? And what if the turns walk in and say -- or the Kurds are fighting the Turks and the Turks say we have no option but to defend ourselves. I think even if you get an agreement, my point is I'm not sure it is policeable.

BALDWIN: What about how John Bolton has said that U.S. is not pulling out of Syria until ISIS is defeated? How does one determine ISIS being defeated?

MUDD: I don't think that you can do that. I mean one of the things that you will look at is something that we've opposed all along that is when does Syrian forces and Syrian government start to governor all those places controlled by ISIS, which would be us acknowledging that President Assad will be there forever. If you see the Syrians move back into Syria, you will still have a question of whether there are pockets of is, and I think even if the geography changes, that is if the Syrians take over are more of the country, there will still be a question about whether there is ISIS there and whether we have to stay.

BALDWIN: And I want to ask you about the topic du jour, this government shutdown. We've been reporting now and the President will be addressing the nation tomorrow night, heads to the border Thursday. I was talking to Carrie Cordero making the point that it is like, how can you say something is a national emergency? And I think that you will agree.

[14:25:00] How can you say that it is a national emergency but also acknowledge that shut down the government for months or years to get what you need done? How does that make sense?

MUDD: Let me give you two contrasts. This drives me nuts. After 9/11, I was at the White House office and you didn't have to tell people. I was evacuated on 9/11. We had a national emergency. I think every American, Democrat, Republican, Martian, all of us said we have a national emergency. In my short life of 57 years, I can remember a few instances where politicians had to repeatedly try to persuade the Americans of a national emergency. Think Vietnam, think Iraq, think now the wall. In all the cases the more you try to persuade us, the more I say this is about politics, not about national security.

BALDWIN: That was point one. Were you going to make a second point? I'm hanging on your every word.

MUDD: No, my point is if you have a government that is spending so much time trying to persuade people that there is an emergency, you'd think that people would be looking around -- I'm in Memphis -- looking around saying where is the emergency?

BALDWIN: I gotcha. Phil Mudd, thank you very much. Good to see you.

Coming up next, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a lot to say to voters in Iowa over the weekend, but there was one subject she did not want to talk about. Also new credibility questions about the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and now even fox news is calling her out. We'll talk about the latest efforts by the White House to scare you into wanting the wall.

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