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Federal Contract Workers' Pay Impacted by Shutdown; Trump Says He "Can Relate" to Workers Not Getting Paid; Justice Ginsberg Misses 1st Oral Arguments of Tenure; Local Vermont Paper to Bernie Sanders: "Don't Run"; Trump Will Address Nation Tomorrow Night on Shutdown; Kevin Spacey Arraigned Today on Assault Charge. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 7, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] JULIE BURR, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT WORKER: I'm an administrative assistant at the admin pool for the region Department of Transportation in Kansas City.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You're a contract worker. You are not a federal employee who is on furlough. You will not get back pay for the hours you're not able to work. But you are not getting paid for a lot of hours you have already worked but you are not able to submit your time sheet for.

BURR: Yes, that's correct. The pay period of the 16th through the 31st, I had 63 hours that we did work before the shutdown, and I have not been able to submit my time sheet that I know of because there's no one to approve it in the office where I work.

KEILAR: So essentially this was like losing a job, losing your pay even before the Christmas holidays and having to figure out a way to make it through. So what have you been doing? How have you had to adjust your family budget to make ends meet and pay your bills?

BURR: Right. Fortunately, I was given the advice to set up a GoFundMe, and I made a goal of approximately two months of salary because I wasn't sure how long this would last, and I have met my goals, so I appreciate everyone helping with that. That's going to help get us through. It helped with my January rent and more than likely will have to help with February rent also. So right now I'm relying on that. I know that there are many that don't have that option, though.

KEILAR: And they don't. And if you didn't have that option, what kind of -- I'm sure you set that up knowing you would have to make some really tough decisions. What were you looking at? What kind of things is that helping to pay for, and are there other things you're going without?

BURR: Right. Well, it helps basic bills, rent, electric bill, water bill, your basic Household expenses that that's going to help with. We did stop some subscriptions. My Netflix is stopped, some different subscriptions that we had. I'm just going to let those go for a while. Those are kind of frivolous expenses right now that we're going to have to do away with. KEILAR: I want to get your reaction to something the president said.

He was asked about people who are in your position, who are in the position of federal workers that are out of work. Here's what he said.


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. But many of those people that won't be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I'm doing.


KEILAR: I mean, I wonder, do you agree with what he's doing? Do you feel like he relates to you? Do you feel like he's in a position to tell you to make adjustments?

BURR: Well, I find it hard to believe that a billionaire could relate to anyone who lives possibly paycheck to paycheck, which many of the American people do. So that's hard to relate to him saying that. I just want to get back to work. I just want the government to be back up and running and I want to get back to work and earn my paycheck and I think that's what a lot of people feel like.

KEILAR: When you think of your elected officials in Congress, do you think they understand what you're dealing with?

BURR: No, I honestly don't. They're still getting their paychecks and we're going without.

KEILAR: The president -- this is the sticking point, as I'm sure you've been tracking. The president wants $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Democrats are saying no. And so because of this they're at an impasse and there's this shutdown. There are some possible solutions to this, and I wonder if there's one you think might be better. You have Democrats who could say, OK, we'll go for your wall money and then reopen the government. Or Republicans in Congress could join Democrats. They could actually override the president and reopen the government without wall money. Is there one solution that you would rather see?

BURR: Well, of course, I want to see everyone working together. I am not sure that a physical wall is the answer and would work, but I'm not an expert on that. But I would like to see everyone work together and come to a compromise and just get us back to work as soon as possible.

KEILAR: All right, Julie Burr, we really appreciate it. You are one of the lucky ones setting up this GoFundMe page. You've exceeded your target. What was your target?

BURR: My target was $5,000.

KEILAR: To pay two months of your expenses.

Julie, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

BURR: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is missing oral argument for the first time as she continues to recover from surgery. We'll talk about the significance of her absence ahead..

[13:34:43] Plus, don't run. That is the message that Senator Bernie Sanders is hearing from the editorial board of one his home state's newspapers. Why they believe he should stay out of the 2020 race.


KEILAR: An unprecedented day at the Supreme Court. For the very first time, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed oral arguments. A spokesperson for the court said Justice Ginsburg is still recovering from surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her lung.

Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic, is here.

Joan, this seems natural if you're not talking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

[11:39:52] JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's exactly right. Two pieces of context here. The surgery was 21 days ago. For most people, individuals wouldn't be back on the job. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg always thought it was important to show up, through cancer surgery in 1999, more surgery in 2009, and then in 2010 when her husband, Marty, died, the very next day. Even though the justices weren't even holding oral arguments, they were announcing the final decisions of the term, she showed up to announce a decision the day after he passed. So she's always believed in being visible and being out there when she can.

The other piece of context is how closely divided this court is. We already have two appointees of Donald Trump there, a hardening 5-4 split. So everybody is watching to see what happens with this senior liberal justice.

KEILAR: Will she be playing catch-up, do you think?

BISKUPIC: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is all about doing homework, anyway --


KEILAR: You think she's doing it at home?

BISKUPIC: We know she's doing it at home. She has the surgery on Friday, she comes back over the weekend to Washington, D.C. It's relatively smooth to catch up. The justices who can't make the oral arguments can still read all the briefs, they can read through the oral argument transcripts. It's happened many times before. And you might remember when we learned about her early life, she often got by with just two hours of sleep or something. So she's all about reading, catching up --


KEILAR: Night owl.

BISKUPIC: Yes, she's very much of a night owl. It used to be hard for her to show up for these 10:00 a.m. oral arguments.

KEILAR: She was up so late. That's true. That is known about her.

Joan, thank you very much --


KEILAR: -- for the update. We appreciate it.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

KEILAR: More on our news. Just in, as the shutdown drags on with no deal in sight, CNN has learned that President Trump is asking about a primetime address tomorrow night as he heads to the border on Thursday. Are the networks going to give him the air time?

Plus, the editorial board of a Vermont paper is begging Senator Bernie Sanders to not run. The paper's editor is joining me live, next.


[13:46:29] KEILAR: Leader Kim Jong-Un may be on his way to China for his fourth summit. This is according to South Korean media. Unidentified sources have told news agencies there that a North Korean train possibly carrying a high-level official had crossed the border into China. On previous occasions, Kim has made this journey in a distinctive army green train similar to that one that was spotted today. And keep in mind, President Trump says the two sides are negotiating over round two of their own summit.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has not said whether he will run again for the Democratic presidential nomination, but just the idea that he might is already creating some divisions. A prominent newspaper in Sanders' home state, the "Barre-Montpelier Times Argus," is begging Sanders to not run saying, quote, "We fear a Sanders run risks dividing the well-fractured Democratic Party and it's one thing to start a revolution, but at a certain point you need to know when to step out of the way and let others carry the water for you."

Steve Pappas is the editor at the "Times Argus" and the "Rutland Herald," and he wrote this editorial.

Steve, I want to give context here because the paper did endorse him as Senator, but the paper is saying he should not run for reelection. Why did you write this editorial?

STEVE PAPPAS, EDITOR, RUTLAND HERALD & EDITOR, BARRE-MONTPELIER TIMES ARGUS: We've been consistent on this all along. We feel Senator Sanders, being the Senator of Vermont, needs to pick. The last time around he missed 30 votes when he was running for president, and we feel like his role needs to be for the state of Vermont first. While he shows up and he does what he says is the people's work, we feel like Bernie Sanders is more inclined to go to the limelight and to make decisions that are for Bernie Sanders. And the mantel of the progressive movement, then, for the state of Vermont. While we support him as a U.S. Senator, we don't really want to be able to support him for another run for president.

KEILAR: You take issue in this editorial, actually, with his personality, right? You say his personality is abrasive. It seemed -- yes he is abrasive. I don't think he's going to dispel anyone of that notion. He's brash. He says what's on his mind. It seems that's what drew a number of reporters to him. They said, hey, he's being true to himself and they felt that was authentic. What do you say to voters when they say, actually, Steve, this is what we wanted out of Bernie Sanders?

PAPPAS: We're getting a lot of pushback on that very point, that Bernie is very genuine in what his position is and how he conveys it. The problem is that I'm not sure that we need more abrasive right now. I feel like what we have is pretty abrasive and politically charged. And we're very fortunate as a small-town newspaper to be able to point to both sides of this and say, you know, maybe there's something in the middle that is better than the extremes that we're seeing on both sides of the political spectrum. And we admire Senator Sanders for the work that he's done, but we're just not sure that he's the guy who should be the standard bearer for the

[13:49:59] KEILAR: Your concern, as you say in your editorial, that he is divisive and is this a fragile Democratic Party. Just to play devil's advocate, if Bernie Sanders doesn't fulfill that role where clearly there are these warring factions within the Democratic Party, the more centrist members and the more liberal members like Bernie Sanders, but you're getting a number of new voices and voices that we've seen before like Elizabeth Warren, newly to Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who really has a lot of potential 2020ers speaking up. If Bernie Sanders didn't fulfill that role of trying to pull the center to the left, isn't someone else just going to do it?

PAPPAS: We want somebody else to do it. That is kind of our point. We feel like Bernie Sanders has been saying the same thing for so long, that maybe somebody else needs to carry the water. You opened the piece by saying that -- by quoting the editorial suggesting that good leader needs to know when it is time to step aside. And we feel that Senator Sanders needs to do that and put his focus back on Vermont.

KEILAR: Steve, we appreciate you being with us. We'll see what happens. It such a key point in time here for the 2020 field. We'll see what Senator Sanders decides to do.

PAPPAS: Yes. It will be interesting.

KEILAR: Sure will be.

Thank you. And just in, President Trump confirming that he is going to address

the nation tomorrow night as the shutdown drags on.

I want to go so Sarah Westwood at the White House.

Sarah, what do we know?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brianna, President Trump just announcing that he does plan to speak in primetime tomorrow about the shutdown, about border security, tweeting I'm pleased to inform you that I will address the nation on the humanitarian and national security crisis on our southern border tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Now, this comes shortly after press secretary, Sarah Sanders, announced that President Trump will be going to the border on Thursday to meet with people she said are working on, quote, "the front lines" of the border security crisis. And obviously, this comes amid the stalemate in negotiations over the shutdown.

Now, it is not yet clear that the networks have agreed to take this primetime address since the border security crisis a pretty partisan issue, but this is something that President Trump is doing to try to get his message out front as he tries to pressure Democrats into accepting a deal on border security funding.

KEILAR: All right. Sarah, thank you so much.

Actor Kevin Spacey in court a short time ago. He is facing a sexual assault charge after posting a bizarre Christmas Eve video as his old "House of cards" character, Frank Underwood. Let's see what happens.

Plus, just in, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee asking the TSA for information after CNN's reporting that workers are calling out sick as the shutdown drags on and they go unpaid.

Stay with us.


[13:57:27] KEILAR: Kevin Spacey is pleading not guilty to charges he groped an 18-year-old bus boy at a bar in Nantucket in 2016. We saw Spacey appear in court just hours ago for his arraignment. And this is really just the latest allegation of sexual assault or harassment against the former "House of Cards" actor. Spacey's career collapsed after multiple accusations came to light one year ago.

Let's go ahead and check in with CNN's Jean Casarez. She's outside of the courthouse.

Jean, tell us what happened.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually some significant things happened because we heard basically argument between the defense and the prosecution that agreed to what the defense was saying. But according to the criminal complaint -- and this is what separates this case from the allegations. This is now a criminal case where Spacey could potentially serve five years in prison, would have to be registered as a sex offender. And the defense attorney said in court that there were texts according to the complaint for the three-minute period that the alleged assault took place, texts between the accuser and his girlfriend and the defense wants a copy of those text messages. Remember, it is from 2016, a long timing ago. But they would them preserved, also for the six-month-period afterwards. The prosecutor admitted that there could be some exculpatory information to help the defense, so they would work to have them be preserved.

But the story line happened right here on the island of Nantucket, a couple blocks away, a local restaurant. Everyone knew in summer of 2016 Kevin Spacey was on the island. He was going to come to the restaurant. And the bus boy who was very excited, got off work at midnight, changed his clothes, wanted to meet Spacey, did. Spent a little over an hour with him sitting at a table, going to the piano bar, singing to the piano bar player, going outside for a cigarette. But alcohol was involved here too, because Spacey, according to the complaint, asked the accuser, are you of legal age to drink. And the accuser said, yes, I'm 23. He was actually 18. Kevin Spacey bought him, according to the complaint, four to five beers and then four to five shots of whiskey. And after that is when the accuser says that he was touched inappropriately by Spacey and then Spacey went to the bathroom and he left. And it took him a while to go to police, but that is why we have an indecent assault and battery. Kevin Spacey faces prison time.

KEILAR: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you.