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Trump Addresses Nation From Oval Office; Fact-Checking President Trump's Address; Democratic Leaders Respond To Trump's Immigration Address; Trump Argues For Border Wall In Primetime Address. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 8, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And some of the folks told the President that is not going to work. It won't work probably won't work from a legal standpoint, but the President I'm told is looking for a political win right now. He's concerned about what might be unfolding soon in terms of the Mueller investigation and what might come out in the Mueller report.
But, Chris, what I've been told by an adviser close to the President earlier this evening is that there are real concerns about this re- election campaign in 2020 if he doesn't get this wall and doesn't get this promise that he talked about out on the campaign trail that was based. One of those advisers told me earlier this evening that, that could be a big problem heading into 2020, Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But it's interesting, this notion that the President may try to redefine what he wants, as you use the word humanitarian aspects of this. Not just a wall. That would be interesting. What's the chance that we actually hear that?
ACOSTA: Well, I think he's going to try to fold this one into one big I guess reveal. If you want to put it in reality TV terms that he's going to talk about this in terms of being a national security and humanitarian crisis to see if they can entice those Democrats to meet him halfway at the negotiating table.
But as I think we're going to hear from the Democrats when they speak after the President is that this is a crisis they feel that he created himself. An emergency he created himself and that's more of a political emergency because he's not been able to get this wall that he wants on the Southern border up until this point and he manufactured this crisis in order to try to get the wall.
But at this point, Chris, it's unclear whether the President can really sell the country on this tonight.
CUOMO: Now, we're hearing these are prepared remarks about seven to maybe eight minutes, maybe longer. And here right now live from the Oval Office, President Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans: Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border.
Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.
America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.
Our Southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our Southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.
In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don't act right now.
This is a humanitarian crisis -- a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.
Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States -- a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.
This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our Southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end.
My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. It's a tremendous problem. Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the Department of Homeland Security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe. In fact, safer than ever before.
The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband, and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges, and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy. Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support.
[21:05:18] Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home. Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It's also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense. The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year -- vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for, indirectly, by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.
Senator Chuck Schumer -- who you will be hearing from later tonight -- has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected President. Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis. And they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation.
The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.
My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation. But the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and re-opens the government.
This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited Congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.
Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don't build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized. America's heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.
Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders. In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.
Over the last several years, I've met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I've held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls.
How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?
[21:10:03] To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: Imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken?
To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis.
To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.
This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.
When I took the Oath of Office, I swore to protect our country. And that is what I will always do, so help me God.
Thank you and goodnight.
CUOMO: All right. There you have it. There's President Donald Trump, first address to the nation there in the Oval Office. Went about nine minutes or so. It's time to check the facts. See if he was compelling and was what he said correct?
We'll going to have a response from the Democratic leaders coming up, but right now let's bring in Chief National Correspondent, John King and we have one of the best fact checkers out there, Toronto Star Washington Correspondent, Daniel Dale. First to you, did he get it done?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He created a sense of crisis and urgency. Along the way, he also created a lot of business for the fact check machines. The President says a wall will stop the drugs, the heroin, the fentanyl, the other opioids. Most of the drugs his own government says, coming through legal points of entry where there is commerce, where there is crossing, a wall will not block the legal points of entry.
The President said again the New Mexico Free Trade Agreement will indirectly pay for the wall. It's not how it works. Money creates trade deficits, trade surplus, doesn't go to the United States treasury for free spending on other programs.
The President also said, this is powerful, when he talks about these heinous unacceptable reprehensible crimes, murderous assaults committed by people illegally in this country, no question, they're heinous and reprehensible but the statistics show you that the crime rate among immigrants is actually lower than the crime rate among non- immigrants so that's cherry picking and seizing and trying to create an emotional response.
He also talked about the economic impact. They're taking jobs from, especially African Americans and Latinos. A lot of corporations will tell you right now they can't find workers. They're desperate for workers, in part because of a strong economy this President should be claiming credit for. So on the one hand he's kind of biting into his own success to make this point.
CUOMO: What came out to you? You were looking in the right and wrong category?
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: Well, you don't have me, have John King. He did a great job there. But there are couple other, you know, he said at the Democrats' request we will make this a steel barrier.
This is not a Democratic request. This is something that Trump has claimed will satisfy Democrats. You know, it's not going to be concrete, it's going to be steel. Nobody asked for this. Democrats' problem is not the material, it's the project. He also impressively referred again to the Obama's House, didn't name them but it's a powerful --
CUOMO: People who build walls and gates outside their homes, why did they do it?
DALE: Yes, the Obama of course still have significant secret service protection. They do have some fencing as their neighbors do. They do not have a giant wall around their house or compound as Trump calls it.
He also referred to children being brought over the border by nefarious people who supposedly smuggling them in. He's never presented any good data for how common that is. But that we've seen suggest that is uncommon but most of the cases are legitimate families, legitimately seeking asylum.
CUOMO: The idea of having kids fate --
CUOMO: -- and cycled and taken by coyotes as he says, you're laying that out in context for people, how significant is it?
DALE: Yes, the numbers I've show, I've seen suggest that it's minimal. It's less than 1 percent of the family units that are encountered --
CUOMO: The overwhelming majority are actual family units.
DALE: Yes, or at least not determined immediately to be fraudulent.
CUOMO: One in three women are sexually assaulted some way on the journey.
DALE: I don't know about that stat. I can't weigh in.
CUOMO: In terms of what was new, what was different, we did see him try to grow the argument, this is humanitarian. Did he go far enough? KING: That's a question where the Democrats would support much of the
money. The Democrats don't want the beds. They don't want the big camps. They think that's inhumane, but could the President have a conversation with Democrats about more border security money? Absolutely.
CUOMO: And now we'll see what the Democrats say in rebuttal.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly to the American people tonight about how we can end this shutdown and meet the needs of the American people.
Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice.
The President has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts.
The fact is: On the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to re-open government and fund smart, effective border security solutions.
But the President is rejecting these bipartisan bills which would re- open government, over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall, a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.
[21:15:19] The fact is: President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation, many of them veterans.
He promised to keep government shutdown for "months or years" no matter whom it hurts. That's just plain wrong.
The fact is: We all agree that we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values: we can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry; we can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation; we can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border; and we can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings.
The fact is: the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge, a challenge that President Trump's own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.
And the fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must re-open the government.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. My fellow Americans, we address you tonight for one reason only: the President of the United States, having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill has shut down the government.
American democracy doesn't work that way. We don't govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage.
Tonight and throughout this debate and his presidency, President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity.
Make no mistake: Democrats and the President both want stronger border security. However, we sharply disagree with the President about the most effective way to do it.
So, how do we untangle this mess?
Well, there is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security. There is bipartisan legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans to re-open government while allowing debate over border security to continue.
There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference. Federal workers are about to miss a paycheck. Some families can't get a mortgage to buy a new home. Farmers and small businesses won't get loans they desperately need.
Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This President just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his Administration.
My fellow Americans, there is no challenge so great that our nation cannot rise to meet it. We can re-open the government and continue to work through disagreements about policy. We can secure our border without an expensive, ineffective wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security.
The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a thirty- foot wall.
So our suggestion is a simple one: Mr. President: re-open the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now.
CUOMO: There you have it. There are the arguments from both sides. Let's get analysis here. We have John King and Daniel Dale and now let's bring in Gloria Borger, Dana Bash and Nia-Malika Henderson. It's good to have here everybody. Welcome.
Here's the first thing we know. Not the most compelling venue from either side.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you're safe with your job.
CUOMO: So far, on that level. I was at that lunch this morning with President Trump and the Vice President, the content was off the record but I will tell you he's much more compelling making this case in person than he was on the teleprompter tonight. That's going to matter. On the good side for him, though, John, is they're not going to blow anybody away with their presentation either. So this comes down to who did more to assure their base that they're fighting the right fight?
[21:20:03] KING: But is that all this is about? That's the key part of the question? Did anybody move anybody who counts? Did the President either solidify his support? We've seen some cracks. I don't want to over magnify them.
It's just a handful right now. But some cracks among Republican senators, some cracks among Republican leading organization like the Chamber of Commerce saying stop. This is starting to hurt the economy. Do what the Democrats say essentially. Reopen the government and negotiate over the border. It's cracks.
It's a -- did the President help his cause there? We'll find out as he goes to Capitol Hill tomorrow. Did the Democrats lose it? Did the President win over any Democrats or Democratic minded voters or institutions? I think not.
BASH: That's really the key question is whether or not the President could use this very important event that's supposed to be saved for big national or international events to explain to not his base who already believes him but the people who aren't sure what this is all about and don't really get what this is all about, explain to them and convince them or at least let them -- make them start to look at this in a different way and that wasn't -- but that wasn't what he did. That wasn't what he did at all.
CUOMO: Hold on one second because we fact checked the President. Let's be fair on both sides. Did anything stand out to you what we heard from Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer?
DALE: I didn't hear any factual errors. I missed about the first 30 seconds but the rest of it, you know, it was standard political rhetoric and I think the thing about the President that's so different is that in these kinds of addresses that are thoroughly vetted, written by teams speech writers he still will include you know, five, six, seven, misleading dishonest claims.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But there was a different tone to me. I mean, what was interesting to me about Donald Trump tonight was the wall didn't come first. It came last.
CUOMO: And no national emergency.
BORGER: No national emergency. Exactly. But normally when you hear the President giving political speeches and everything it's the great big beautiful wall and maybe it's not a wall, it's slats or whatever. But this was last because he talked about we want to give you more money for the things the Democrats want.
They want more agents, more immigration judges. They want more humanitarian assistance. No Democrat is going to say no to that. In fact, they have already shown that they will approve money for that.
KING: In fact, a lot of Republicans have said no to that in the past.
BORGER: Right. But then he went through his entire list and then he said as part of overall security we also want 5.7 billion for a physical barrier. A steel barrier which is what the Democrats want.
But it was last. It was not first. And I think that's part of what Dana is talking about. The question of who is he trying to appeal to here. It's not the base. He was trying to sort of make his case that I'm not just about a wall, when, in fact, he is.
CUOMO: Look, that's an interesting point. That is different. But, Nia, you know, it's also about what is the ultimate context of all of it? And he was still strong and harsh and partisan on this.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
CUOMO: There's bad people coming across. They're doing bad things and we have to stop them. So even though Gloria is right, there was an expansion here and that might be more difficult for Democrats to deal with saying no to those things, but did that really become the new narrative?
HENDERSON: No, because I think Donald Trump is stuck in the same narrative of these folks coming across the border, drugs coming across the border, a crisis. We obviously fact checked that.
You talked about heroin a bit. He did have this argument, the economic argument about African Americans which we haven't heard him say that much before. But all of this was -- I mean, if you look at Donald Trump's Twitter feed, if you paid attention to anything he has said over the last two weeks, even, it's all here, there's no real new material and in some ways we went into this speech knowing that there would be no new material and they felt like the setting, the sort of grandeur of the office would change it.
But the problem with the idea of the grandeur of the office is that Kanye West has been in that office.
HENDERSON: I think it just didn't work for him.
BORGER: Did he mention terrorism? Tell me if I'm wrong?
HENDERSON: I don't think so.
CUOMO: He didn't mention the numbers. He didn't quantify it the way they have been. I think they learned their lesson a little bit. So let's score one for accuracy in argument.
BASH: Just one piece of reporting I'm getting a note from somebody who is in the Trump world who sees data, who says that the data that they have inside Trump world shows that it is a win for him to talk about border security for people who don't -- even for people and especially for people that don't like him personally and that it is bad for those on the left who come up against that.
Now I'm not saying that that is data I have seen. I'm just saying that that's the kind of data that is driving the kind of message --
KING: That has been true. This is why he was the Republican nominee. All the Republicans thought he was overplaying this immigration thing. They were wrong. Immigration helped the President in the states like Michigan.
There's more jobs but immigration helped the top. This is what I don't understand about this two years in. He keeps snatching defeat or gridlock from the jaws of victory in the sense that he has every right. He won an election on immigration. Democrats were going to give it to him for DACA.
KING: Are there's other ways for him to get much of what he wants. But he won't take it. He walked away from the DACA deal and now he has, after losing election, the Democrats now have the House and he's asking for more than he was asking when the Republicans controlled the House and the Senate.
That's contrarian. Now, he's always contrarian, there maybe a (inaudible). He has surprised us before but it does not fit if you're looking at this new environment where Nancy Pelosi is speaker. She's not going to give him $6 billion for his wall, would she take? If Chuck Schumer said we're going to cut a deal, you have to give him 2.5 to 3, I don't know if she would take that in the House Democrats but that would put pressure on her.
[21:25:31] BORGER: Right.
KING: If the White House would do a conventional deal and say give us the money for the beds, give us the money for border. The President is in a strong place on border security.
CUOMO: Until the shutdown.
KING: The weak place on the wall.
CUOMO: Until the shutdown because where you have the Democrats as Gloria pointed out, who is not going to give him money for more x-ray detection so that we can stop drugs coming across the border, medical professionals and transportation so god forbid we find others kids in extremists like the two who passed away recently maybe they have a shot with better resources, maybe not. Those are tough for the Democrats to set aside but the shutdown has
now given them an opportunity to say reopen the government and then we'll talk. The question is, is there any chance?
BASH: And that's a really important point because that's a place where the President was incredibly disingenuous. Because he said that the shutdown is because Democrats will not fund border security.
BASH: That's just false.
BASH: What the Senate approved, Republicans and Democrats was over a billion dollars in border security. It didn't have the wall, but it did have border security. So that's just not --
CUOMO: Let's get something straight for the audience right now. Because this is one of those things that's literally been bothering me, almost ruined my vacation. There is a barrier system all along the Southern border. They need more.
Anybody that does the reporting, anybody who talks to the people down there doing the work, men and women, they need more of what the President is increasingly describing as his own idea for a Ballard fence. I'm sure they'll see roll at some point tonight of what is on the border right now.
It's exactly what the President is describing to you, except he's telling you it's his design. So where is -- how are the American people supposed to grasp the reality? He says I want a new wall.
There will be no new wall. The Democrats say he's never going to get his wall, but there is a wall that they have agreed to finance in the past but they're saying they won't agree to finance a new wall.
BORGER: And the Democrats are saying it's not necessary because there's other ways to attack the problem that are better. Technology --
CUOMO: But is that true? I have you hear for that. Who says a barrier isn't helpful in securing the border? Is there's anybody?
DALE: Sure. There's real arguments that barriers are helpful in certain locations and certain ways. Many experts argued that we don't need as much wall, as Trump does. We certainly don't need a 30 foot concrete wall. But he originally proposed --
CUOMO: That's gone. That's gone with the Mexico pay for it.
DALE: But is it though? We don't know. He said on Twitter I have never abandoned the all concrete wall. Even while saying as well that it will be steel slat barrier.
CUOMO: I bet you the concrete wall is gone. DALE: Who knows?
KING: His own proposal lasts for I think 235 miles of new wall. It's a 2,000 mile border. The governor of Texas would tell you I'm not going to take land from ranchers.
There's land rights issues here, Republican conservative, federalists, states rights, land rights, issues where the conservative Republican governor of Texas, no, no, the Republican governor of Arizona. Where is he tonight?
Where are the two Republican governors tonight echoing the President saying there's a national emergency. They don't agree with him. Now, they agree we should have border security.
This is again, why donors and the President could get more wall, probably get a couple hundreds miles a wall, definitely could have got it when the Republicans scroll the House and the Senate and the Chuck Schumer was ready to make a deal and the Democrats in the House were powerless to stop it at that point.
KING: Now we live in a different world. But I don't understand this guy who loves marketing and loves branding, build a couple of miles of wall, and then have Trump's lying wall, it drones, Trump 22nd century wall. It's new technology, and just change it and do the branding. He's a master of that.
BORGER: Fighting the fight.
KING: Had he backs off --
CUOMO: But I think that's what is happening with this evolving definition of what the wall is that gets closer and closer to what's there already. What he's trying to do is usurp the reality.
KING: It has to look like this, he backs down.
BORGER: It has to look like what Trump wants because it's his monument to Trump. He likes buildings, he likes walls, whether they're concrete or barriers. If he could put the name Trump all over it in gold, he would. But he can't. And can I --
CUOMO: But he has mentioned it -- he mentioned it less tonight that we've ever --
BASH: He explicitly said I'm going to call it the barrier now.
BORGER: Right. But he also said at the beginning and I'd be curious what everyone thinks, he called it a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul. And not a political fight, who doesn't have a good heart and who doesn't have a soul here?
I mean, this is -- and Nancy Pelosi came out and said that he was immoral and he was full of misinformation and malice and I mean, these were very strong charges these people were leveling at each other. In different ways than we have seen but a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul. Have we ever heard that from Donald Trump before?
[21:30:07] DALE: I think this is the particular group of people he uses to attempt to demonstrate empathy. So he says, I do care about people. Look how I treat these families. This angel families, down with the people killed by illegal immigrants, so I think this is the one group --
BORGER: This is the heart and the soul.
DALE: Yes, where we have seen him use that.
CUOMO: Well, let's do this. Let's get some context of how the White House feels that this went over tonight and whether or not this moved the needle for them. We have our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, what are you hearing? And what did you think from what you heard?
ACOSTA: Well, Chris, I think that address probably should have come with a surgeon-general's warning. It was hazardous to the truth. There were number of claims that the President made in that speech that just, are not going to stand up to the facts. You mentioned a couple of them. One of them being this thing that he said over and over again that the new trade deal with Mexico is going to somehow pay for the wall.
You know, Chris, this just goes back to what we were all anticipating before this address and that is that this was primarily going to be recycled rhetoric from the President's rallies and his immigration speeches and I think that's pretty much what we got.
He continued to paint immigrants as criminals and killers and so on when they come across the border illegally.
ACOSTA: And, you know, that's something that he has basically said since he launched his bid for the presidency when he described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals and he said and some I suppose are good people. Not much has changed in terms of the President's rhetoric on this and I think that was pretty clear in this speech.
Now, one thing I'll tell you, he did say at one point during the address, Chris, he said that Democrats asked for the steel barrier.
ACOSTA: He said, at the request of Democrats it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. I just talked to a senior Democratic aid up on Capitol Hill who said no, we as a party did not ask for a steel barrier as they have been saying time and again. They don't want a wall and they don't want to reward the President for the shutdown by giving him a wall.
CUOMO: Right. All though, they have finance steel barriers, which are the ones that are in place right now, it's amazing how everybody is trying to forget the history here. Ballard fencing.
ACOSTA: Absolutely. Democrats and Republicans have supported that kind of fencing along the border. And repairing the fencing and making these kinds of repairs along the border but has said tonight that Democrats made this request and I talked to a senior democratic aid and said that's just not accurate.
And so time and again and we anticipated this before the President address tonight, Chris, that that he would use this opportunity very valuable prime time programming and all the networks to once again recycle this rhetoric from the campaign trail, from the rallies and so on and also add into that which is brew a lot of claims that just don't turn out to be true and the President is guilty of it once again and for those folks that thought, you know what, maybe tonight he'll turnover a new leave and maybe they'll run this through the fact checkers, it just didn't happen, you know, blaming Democrats for the shutdown.
He said in the Oval Office he would take ownership of the shutdown. And when he talks about having a heart and soul, you know, a lot of Democrats and even a lot of Republicans would respond and they said this on our air, Chris, that locking up children in cages on the border, putting them in jail-like settings on the border, that is heartless. That is soulless.
And so my guess is after this address is chewed over the next couple of days, we're going to find ourselves basically right where we were, this shutdown dragging on, unless the President somehow caves in all of this. And I saw no indication of that in that address tonight, Chris.
CUOMO: In terms of process, I don't know that we're anywhere new other than the President saying I want to bring people in tomorrow and we can be done with this in 45 minutes. Let's bring in Maggie Haberman, and get a sense of what we're seeing here.
Is this a real evolution? This expansion of putting the wall last, talking about this being a crisis of the heart and the soul, seemingly morphing his wall idea into what is already there and steel barriers and fencing?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's certainly an evolution. I don't know how durable that evolution is as we have seen throughout this process. The President's advisers, even the Vice President will say something only to be undercut by the President a little bit later.
This certainly was the goal of this speech, was to project more heart into it and aids had told most of us that throughout the day that he was gong to try to put more of a humanitarian face on this. Humanitarian has been the word Democrats have been using about there is a crisis at the border. They just don't agree on what the crisis is.
What I was struck by watching this speech, as I had heard from several sources throughout the day the President really was not that into doing this speech. A lot of his advisers were and a lot of his friends on Capitol Hill thought he should do this.
There's a reason he hasn't done an address like this in the course of the last two years and that's because he hasn't wanted to and I think you saw tonight why he hasn't wanted to. It's just not a natural setting for him and we didn't hear a whole lot new. We certainly heard a whole lot, although less than usual, of things that are not true.
They're still talking past each other these two sides and what the President didn't get into that Democrats have a lot of objections to is cuts to illegal immigration. So while he talks about the crisis at the border and he talks about the dangers of illegal immigration he's also trying to cut back on people who are coming in legally and that's a huge sticking point.
[21:35:15] CUOMO: So what was the plan you think, Maggie, in terms of how this would go? He gave the speech tonight. I agree with you. I don't think anybody did him any favors in terms of pushing for this particular thing.
Again, I was at that off the record lunch with him earlier today. Way more compelling in person in reading a room than he has reading a teleprompter.
HABERMAN: Which is, you know, better than anybody. He often is. In one-on-one settings and his individual settings, he's a much better sales man than he is in those kinds of teleprompter moments.
CUOMO: So ideally, what did they think would happen? Speech tonight and then what would happen?
HABERMAN: I think that they want to, A, I think that they are privately well aware that they're running out of time. I think that before we're on the verge of people missing their paychecks. They know the tied is going to turn.
And it's turning already but it's going to move much faster after that happens. They're aware and they are hearing from moderate Republicans on the Hill that they are losing this battle and so this was essentially a Hail Mary for lack of better way putting it.
There's not been a grand strategy covering much of this. I still think the likeliest end game him is declaring a national emergency at some point but he has a lot of advisers who are telling him to resist that among other reasons his conservative supporters really think it's a potentially dangerous world to go down.
CUOMO: He didn't do the typical President Trump three step on the national emergency tonight, which you've become familiar with at home, it goes like this. You know, some people say I should declare a national emergency, I could declare a national emergency, I'm declaring a national emergency. He didn't go anywhere near it.
BASH: But to Maggie's point, the advice that he was getting from some people I talked to today was to do the national emergency just for the pure political strategy of it. Meaning you declare a national emergency, you open up the government, it goes through the courts immediately and if the courts then overturn what he did, he can attack a judge no one has ever heard of, or do whatever -- but at the end of the day he can say, I didn't back down. I did everything I could --
CUOMO: You have to open the government, though.
BORGER: He still has it.
BASH: But he would open the government with the national -- declaring national --
CUOMO: Right. But if you declare national emergency and you open the government, the Democrats get what they want or they say you caused the shutdown. And now there's time and doubt in terms of what you get because the ground is not as sure legally as I believe the President thinks it is.
BORGER: It is not. But he does have the legal authority to do it. Obviously, it's going to wind up in the courts because there's lots of grey areas and questions about it.
CUOMO: Declaring an emergency you can do but if you use that to usurp the power of the person in Congress, you going to have a court battle.
BORGER: Yes, but where is the national security justification for it? Carrie Cordero was talking about earlier on our air, we don't have any of that at this point.
I think when the President feels like he's losing Republicans -- I mean, he has a bunch of moderates who are telling him we can't hold out for very long because we're hearing from our constituents and as Maggie points out after Friday it's going to get a lot worse. Maybe then he would do it. I mean, I still think it's in his back pocket. I don't think we've heard the end --
DALE: It would have made the most sense obviously to do it tonight because what does he do in a couple of days? Come back to the nation again and say, oh, yeah, I didn't want to do it three days ago but I want to do it now because it's a real emergency.
KING: And maybe it's on the off ramp. If he wants an off ramp, it may be the only one.
KING: Democrats have shown and the President, we'll see if anything changes in the next 24 or 48 hours, I don't think the President did anything tonight to convince Democrats outside of Washington, did Democrats inside of Washington were not going to be convince? Anyway, did he change the mood in the country? I don't see it.
Let's watch it play out. But otherwise, Makowski, Collins, Gardner, Tillis, more moderate, Tillis is more conservation but up in 2020, that's where it is right now. Is it grow bigger than that?
CUOMO: The question for you, Maggie is in House, in the White House, do they believe they're winning?
HABERMAN: Yes and no. Honestly, it depends on who you talk to.
CUOMO: As I expected.
HABERMAN: Right, and many other things. Look, some of them believe this is a winning battle for the President or at least a winning approach for the President. I think this is what he campaigned on.
He is facing a re-election battle. This is something where he needs to draw a line and dig in. You know, the problem for the President on this is that he had already indicated that he would sign the budget bill that McConnell helped clear through his own caucus.
And those Republicans are not (inaudible) and see him saw it off. Others in the White House are aware this is becoming, as I said before, a potentially problematic situation. Yes, shutdown have pain all around, nobody really wins in a shutdown at least recently. I think in the 90s you saw that more.
I think it's different now because of polarization but he's still the President and he's still pitched himself as the ultimate deal maker and it's going to be hard to keep explaining it.
BASH: And the person that matters more than anyone else, you have heard this, I have too, the President, he's confident that he's doing the right thing. At least was going into tonight.
[21:40:04] CUOMO: Right.
BASH: I'm not sure how he's going to feel when he sees the coverage of the speech.
CUOMO: Well, he's probably watching right now so Mr. President and the rest of the audience, we're going to give you a quick break on two big questions. The President is confident, but was confident tonight?
Was this a win for the President? And then, the big story of the day is not about the wall. It's about the case Mueller is making in the probe. And that seems more like a case of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians that we've ever seen before. The new evidence of that, next.
CUOMO: All right, we heard from President of the United States from the Oval Office, we heard the Democratic leaders, so who came out on top? We fact checked for you tonight but politics is largely about persuasion. And both sides are so dug in. How do we move forward and get out of the shutdown and get better policy for our border security?
Let's bring in Ana Navarro, Luis Gutierrez and Rick Santorum. It's good to have you each here. So what did you take away from tonight?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he wanted to sound softer and fluffier. A little bit more like downy fabric softener on this issue that he has sounded extemporaneously.
We didn't hear him say we can keep the shutdown going for weeks and for months and for years if we need to. He was a lot softer. I think he tried to show the empathy gene which we have talked about him missing genetically.
[21:45:25] I also think there's so much that they're both saying in common, except for the wall, but in terms of border security. This idea that Democrats don't want border security is false. And this idea that, you know, Democrats don't want to support things like drones, like technology, like more border agents is also false.
And so there's this much commonality about border security but for the wall, for the love of god get together on what you agree on and open up the government.
CUOMO: The President put the wall last, he didn't call it a wall, he called wall the Democrats was to call this steel barrier so it will be, I mean, to be accurate but that was a shift. Do you think what the President said tonight increased the chances of bringing Democrats to the table? I didn't pick that up in the Democratic leaders' remarks but that is what was said publicly.
LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I didn't think so. I think if anything Senator Santorum made a compelling argument that the President is missing that gene which is called empathy, which is called caring about other people and that they saw, he really sounded very phony in his presentation to the American public.
Wasn't the President of the United States out there saying what are we going to build? A wall. To the cheers of the audience. Who's going to pay for it? Mexico because we're going to keep those Mexican chemicals, rapist, murderers out of the country.
Now, he did refer to them. And saying that the people coming, the fact is a humanitarian crisis. We should work together on that crisis. Secondly, I just want to make it very clear, he tries to talk about politicians building walls, right?
There are people in jail tonight because they have threatened my life and the security of my family. We don't have a wall in front of my house.
What we have is cameras, technology, and lights and lots of protection and that protects -- and do you know what we also have, we have the fine men and women of the Chicago Police Department watching out for them so we're using smart technology, right, in order to keep the family safe. So I think that that is what we should --
CUOMO: Democrats have funded that Ballard fences down there --
GUTIERREZ: I have never voted for one fencing. That's not to say --
CUOMO: Democrats --
GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. That's not to say that if he came and said hey, guys, there's two million DREAMers out there, we're going to give them a pathway, right, to freedom and no more fear of deportation I'm going to tell my attorney general to stop going to court and eliminate DACA. If he's going to say to KPs (ph) Haitians and other from central American, you're no longer at risk of your legality in the United States.
GUTIERREZ: There is a place for us to reach a deal.
CUOMO: Right. But that's not the state of play, Rick. The state of playwright now is end the shutdown and we'll talk to you about all of these other things. The President said it's a nonstarter because I'll lose my leverage. So where should we go?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think anybody that honestly looked at what was said tonight, this was a win for the President and on several fronts. Everybody can -- Luis is criticizing the President for being insincere and all that but President did something he doesn't do very often and I thought he did it for him very well, which was to show a softer side. To make a more compassionate argument and to tone down the rhetoric.
That's why I disagree with you that having him more spontaneous This is not the spontaneousness we need from Donald Trump. We need this. The presidential Donald Trump. The Donald Trump who actually thought through the speech, worked with people, worked with his homeland security people and put a presentation today.
NAVARRO: But here's the problem.
NAVARRO: But the problem is people don't buy it anymore.
SANTORUM: Hold on, let me just -- I wanted to make two points. That was one. The second point is if you look at what he said or what he's asking for, most of which Democrats support. And so he's saying, look, I'll go -- I'm going along with you. I'll be for all of these things, which a lot of Republicans in the past haven't voted for. He is already crossing --
CUOMO: They were wrong not to vote --
SANTORUM: Well, you may say, they were right or wrong. The bottom line is he is now --
CUOMO: How were they right to not vote to x-rays, to not give him more manpower to deal with medical emergencies they're dealing with, with the system that you guys set up to create this?
SANTORUM: The bottom line is you can make the policy arguments. I'm making the political argument here. The political argument is if I'm Joe American sitting here looking at the at the President, the President has now gone and crossed Americans on three or four things, said I'm willing to do those things, just give me a little of a wall, and they're saying, hell, no.
That doesn't sell in the long run. You say Trump's going to lose this argument. If the Democrats are going to say, you can give us the world and we're still "no" because you're not giving us one inch of wall, the President's going to win this argument.
[21:50:11] NAVARRO: I think it works with ways, but listen, I think here's the problem. When you have a President who lies consistently and pathologically, and then you see him scripted once every blue moon, you don't buy it.
You don't believe him. You know he is scripted. And I think the majority of the American people have now come to understand that this is a lying President. He lied today.
It's not inaccuracies, it's not facts and alternative facts, it is downright lies to try to make a political point. How do I know it's a political point? If it was a genuine national emergency, would he be fund-raising, doing political fund-raising off of it?
He sent it to his e-mail list today, asking for raise half a million bucks. You know how I know? Because Kellyanne Conway's husband put it on Twitter, the e-mail that he sent to his entire mailing list. That is unconscionable.
SANTORUM: -- is not going to solve this. I mean, the fact that everybody hates Donald Trump is not going to get us through this problem.
GUTIERREZ: Look, he is right about one thing. There are tens of thousands of Americans who are losing their lives because of drug addiction. But they -- the drug addiction comes from hopelessness, despair, a sense of, there is no future for me.
SANTORUM: It's multifaceted.
GUTIERREZ: It is multifaceted. It isn't simply the border.
GUTIERREZ: You know how you respond to that? By giving people hope. Let's retrain them, huh? Let's give them decent -- let's give them good, decent jobs. Let's put money into education, so that people don't have that sense of despair. Soy share that with the President of the United States, but attacking Mexicans and children coming across the border --
SANTORUM: They're not mostly Mexicans.
GUTIERREZ: Fleeing. Fleeing. Fleeing. That's what he says. Most of the people at the border are fleeing the same drug cartels, right, that are feeding the drugs that are killing Americans. We should have a common purpose in all of this. And to say though those children are just as affected by the drug cartel and the consumption of drugs by American citizens, by American citizens, let's go after the cartel. Let's go after the true --
SANTORUM: I don't think that's a winning argument. I think the winning argument there, and I agree with you that they're fleeing a lot of horrible things.
GUTIERREZ: You think we should create jobs?
CUOMO: Go head, let him get in. Go ahead.
SANTORUM: You're talking about our responsibility to those who are coming here. And I think our responsibility to those coming here is to actually work in Guatemala and Honduras and Mexico and other places --
CUOMO: The President says he wants to pull funding from those places.
SANTORUM: Yes, but this administration and the past administration, as you know, Luis, did a horrible job. Let Venezuela disintegrate before our eyes.
CUOMO: The President says he wants to pull more funding from them to punish them.
SANTORUM: I think that's the wrong approach. But the bottom line is this has been going on for a long time. The reason they're coming here is because of neglect by multiple administrations going back.
And I don't think you're going to win. I could be wrong, but I don't think you're going to win an argument to the American public. It's our responsibility to take all of our people -- it's not our responsibility.
NAVARRO: I think you were in the Senate when the U.S. passed plan Columbia and did a very targeted program to address drug trafficking and narco-terrorism in Columbia. I think we need to get to the root cause of this humanitarian crisis, which is --
SANTORUM: It's socialism! That's the root cause. It's Venezuela, it's Ortega. Of course it is!
NAVARRO: Rick, Rick --
SANTORUM: It's is a failure of -- NAVARRO: I'm from Nicaragua. I know what's happening in Nicaragua.
The Venezuelans are coming by plane and overstaying their city in my city, Miami. The Nicaraguans are mostly coming by plane and overstaying --
SANTORUM: The wealthy ones are, but the poor are starving.
NAVARRO: Well, they're not walking from the border of Venezuela, it's for the border of Mexico and then flooding the gate. The problem here Is Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It's a problem, because when we did fund Colombia, the cartels then found an alternate route through central America.
NAVARRO: And I think in the same way, that we address the root cause in Columbia --
SANTORUM: No problem.
NAVARRO: We have to have a strategic --
SANTORUM: Senator Rubio has been pleading for us to do that for a long time.
GUTIERREZ: But we are to say that the consumption of the drugs by American citizens bears no responsibility on debilitating society in central American countries and thereby causing --
SANTORUM: I'm not saying that.
GUTIERREZ: Causing power to the drug cartels, which they then abuse --
CUOMO: Everybody knows you have to deal with the demand. Everybody understands that. That's part of the complexity.
GUTIERREZ: That is why people come. There's a humanitarian reasons.
CUOMO: That is one of the reasons.
GUTIERREZ: That is a principle reason for the large number.
NAVARRO: Luis, I don't think it has to be one or the other.
NAVARRO: I mean, I think we can address --
GUTIERREZ: It doesn't have to be one or the other, but we have to have --
NAVARRO: -- providing hope. GUTIERREZ: We have to have a holistic approach. So one of the things
I just wanted to say here tonight, Ana, is I think the President is right. Tens of thousands of Americans die because of drug abuse and drug addiction. Let's deal with that. What you're doing by going to the wall, what you're doing the not really --
NAVARRO: Well, so many of those drugs come through legal ports of entry.
[21:55:03] GUTIERREZ: Sure.
CUOMO: The overwhelming majority comes through ports of entry.
CUOMO: They know that. That's why they want the x-ray detection device, if they get less than two percent of the vehicles that come through, that's why they want the equipment that gets conflated with the wall and was stop within pass.
CUOMO: Hopefully they'll find a way past it. We'll see what happens with this 45 --
SANTORUM: The border agents want the wall. You've heard that over and over again.
CUOMO: The border agents want physical barriers, they want technology, they want manpower and all of these other things. They don't say they're a wall away. His mistake was making it all about the wall, Rick and you know it.
SANTORUM: But he's not saying that now.
CUOMO: Well, but that's a little --
SANTORUM: That's why I said was a good night --
NAVARRO: But he'll say it tomorrow, when he's not scripted.
CUOMO: Let's talk about what I believe honestly was the biggest headlines today. And I don't want to let it get away from us. From the beginning we've heard, show me the collusion. Show me the collusion with the Trump campaign.
There's nothing, the President said. None of my people ever met with anybody, talked with anybody, he was wrong, many times over, but never as much as today. Well, that meeting that they had, all of the different meetings, all of the indictments on people lying about what they did. Certainly, there was a lot of context, but nothing like we've seen today with Manafort.
SANTORUM: I would say, this was the first piece of evidence that I've seen that strikes --
CUOMO: Right. Let me tell people what it was.
SANTORUM: Go ahead.
CUOMO: So these legal papers come out today, they screw up with the redaction, maybe. I'm always about the conspiracy like the President in that regard. I don't know how they screwed up the redacting in this day and age.
But anyway, in the legal papers that Manafort's lawyers file, it comes out that Mueller believes they have proof that there was contact and communications between Manafort and his own friend, Kilimnik. So the Trump campaign in the form of Paul Manafort, Russia in the form of Kilimnik, that they gave him polling data and met with him to talk about how to change policy with the United States and Ukraine to benefit Russia. That smells like collusion.
SANTORUM: The biggest vulnerability of the Trump -- of Donald Trump in this whole investigation is the fact that "A," "B," and "C" list players who were political players in the Republican Party would not go to work for Donald Trump in the primary. No one wanted to work for him. So he had to go and get a lot of the -- you know, Paul Manafort, who hadn't been active in Republican politics in forever.
And was not well respected, had all sorts of issues. The bottom line is, he had some people around him --
CUOMO: He came in like the messiah to help you guys in the convention.
SANTORUM: He had some people around him. And if there was one person -- I've been from the beginning, is Manafort. And the bigger question here and I think the real question was Manafort working on his own doing his own thing, for his friends in Russia, or was this something coordinated d by the campaign? I don't know for sure, but I think 99 percent chance that we're looking at a lone wolf here.
NAVARRO: You both have been in Congress, and I've said this so many times. Every time the people around a principle is a very accurate reflection to that principle. The reason Paul Manafort went to work for Trump, and remember, Rick, he didn't come into the Trump campaign at the beginning when nobody thought he could win.
He came to the Trump campaign almost around the convention time, when he had already knocked off most of the, what we thought were the credible candidates. And you know what, today is a win for Trump despite this farce of an address to Trump nation.
Because instead of this being the lead story, we are talking about his narrative that he put out with this, you know, with h address to the nation. The same way that he did last week, let's remember, when he had that fake press briefing, which wasn't a briefing, where he took no questions.
CUOMO: But he didn't know about the Mueller stuff. NAVARRO: He has figured it out.
CUOMO: That was the serendipitous that he was talking about something.
GUTIERREZ: Absolutely right.
CUOMO: I don't think there's any evidence that this was artificial tonight.
NAVARRO: Listen, can I tell you something?
GUTIERREZ: Ana's right about one thing --
NAVARRO: He needs to stage something every day, because every day --
CUOMO: We had no reason to believe he knew --
GUTIERREZ: He wants to talk about a wall, because the news nose is tightening in the Mueller investigation.
CUOMO: He wants to talk about the wall because that's what won the primary.
GUTIERREZ: In order to divert attention from real serious constitutional crisis that we have.
CUOMO: Look, and that's fine. You can cast it that way. But here's what we know for sure. The idea that there's no suggestion or proof that the campaign had anything to do with Russian interference efforts can no longer be said without any type of check --
SANTORUM: If it's true.
CUOMO: If what Mueller says happened happened. And Manafort's lawyers didn't push back on saying, no, he didn't give him anything.
NAVARRO: But Chris, there was so many different things before this that already led to that.
CUOMO: True, true, but this was the most --
NAVARRO: The Russian lawyer, the Stone --
CUOMO: This was the most we've seen. But a fair point back.
NAVARRO: Flynn lying to the FBI. I mean --
GUTIERREZ: There was an evening in the White House and attorney general was there and the FBI director was there and the Vice President was there and the President said, hey, Mr. Vice President, leave the office. And new attorney general, leave the office. CUOMO: But that's not this --
GUTIERREZ: But I think that is part --
CUOMO: We've got to go. Luis, we've got to go. Ana, Luis, Rick, thank you very much. One point, as we get to Don Lemon tonight, there was no charges against Manafort for this behavior, at least not yet. That's it for us. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.