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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump: GOP "Totally Unified" in Supporting Shutdown; Trump to Meet with Congressional Leaders over Shutdown/Wall Fight; Lindsey Graham Talks Wall/Shutdown Negotiations; Putin and Erdogan to Meet in Russia Amid Syria Exit Confusion; New Manafort Revelations Hint at Collusion with Russians; Arrest Warrant Issued for R. Kelly's Former Manager. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 9, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Tiffany, you have that on one side. The president is about to roll back down Constitution Avenue and head, you know, back home to the White House and meet with Chuck and Nancy, meet with congressional leaders. Does that -- if they know he said that, does that make him more vulnerable or not?

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING EDITOR, THE BEAT, D.C.: I think it does make him more vulnerable. I think we've seen in recent polling that more and more people are putting the blame of the shutdown on Donald Trump. He said himself in that meeting in the Oval Office with the leadership that he will own the shutdown. It doesn't matter, that he decided to change his mind a few days later. He's known for speaking these mistruths.

He just said that the Republican Party is unified. We know that not to be true. You've got Gardner, who bucked the party, and you've got Susan Collins, who's also saying that she wants to get the government running again. It's going to be a challenge. I think both sides have dug in their heels.

And I want to point out the fact of why this shutdown is happening. The shutdown is happening because of mistruths that this president has stated. I just wrote this morning that Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member on Foreign Relations, he just penned a letter to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking, what is up with the administration giving all these false numbers, you guys are saying stuff that is not true based on reports coming out of your own State Department during your tenure, you're saying things that run contrary to that, where do the answers stand?

I don't think the president realizes that there's going to be checks and balances within his party and outside of his party. I think we're going to be in the situation a while longer. It's going to take Republicans, though, to buck the party, to move past this statement.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I'm listening to you, Tiffany.

Let me hit pause because here is Senator Lindsey Graham speaking. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think that's pretty well-

known. Before the president would comment, I think he'd want to know how many people believe this is a good idea other than me. If you can get a bunch of us saying it, then I think he would change his mind.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Doesn't that exchange one problem with the sort of hard right on immigration for another? I already heard Ted Cruz say that would be amnesty.

GRAHAM: We won't get everybody. We won't get Democrat, every Republican. But I do believe there's a critical mass for the idea that the DACA population, a renewable work permit is a pretty good solution for their situation right now. The TPS population is going to lose their legal status and a lot of these people have been here for 20 or 30 years. So there's a lot of desire on both sides to fix that problem. You combine that with border security, I think you can get a lot of votes but not all the votes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But did he indicate at all when he would use a national emergency --

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can I ask you a different question?

BALDWIN: All right. Jackie, let me use that reporter's question on national emergency, right? This is something that the president has vocally flirted with. This is a potential option for him of the menu of options that the president has. Can you just walk me through whether it's a national emergency, emergency funds at the Pentagon, actually getting everyone on the same page? Of all these options, where's he going to go?

JACKIE ALEMANY, ANCHOR, WASHINGTON POST POWER UP & FORMER WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CBS: That is a great question, Brooke. And truth be told, you know, with this president, it's always unpredictable. But I think it's an important thing to point out here that your colleague and I were talking about a few days ago, why has it taken the president 19 days to come to the collusion that, oh, now this is a national emergency?

But it is something that the Office of Budget and Management, allies like the acting director, and Mick Mulvaney have been looking into, how they can use this pool of funds that are unallocated at the Pentagon and transfer it towards building the wall. But there are a lot of legal questions. It's still murky territory about whether or not Congress would still need to approve of this reallocation of funding.

It does seem like no matter what the president does, it still might require some congressional oversight. But, you know, I think the broader picture is that using the term "national emergency" helps bolster the president's argument that this is a crisis, whether or not it is actually one.

BALDWIN: It's a word, it's a word that's being thrown out a heck of a lot from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tiffany, what's the breaking point? If neither side is budging, and this could be -- this is about to be the longest shutdown in American history, what's the breaking point?

CROSS: I think we're at the breaking point now. Friday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will not get a paycheck. And I think some of those people are solidly planted in Donald Trump's base. I don't believe he's hearing from hundreds of people who are supporting him outside of his Twitter followers.

I do think -- there are maybe 800,000 federal workers, but it's really millions of people when you think about their families and the wide net that it cast of people who aren't getting a paycheck. I'm not sure that this president is going to be able to sustain this much longer.

[14:35:20] And to your point, I'm not sure Republicans who are up for re-election are going to be able to explain to their constituents why this is still happening.

I want to say quickly, Brooke, that this president, when he explores his options, this is not someone who operates out of logic, as we see. He's also talked about closing 2,000 miles of the border. That's not a realistic solution. And $1.7 billion worth of goods cross that border every day. Hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants cross that border every day. And 44 percent of our produce comes from Mexico.

When he throws out claims like he's going to declare a national emergency, I don't think that he's thought through logically what that looks like and how that works. And that will end up in the courts if he tries to bypass Congress and do that.

(CROSSTALK)

ALEMANY: Brooke, I just

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Quickly, quickly, yes.

ALEMANY: I want to provide a counterpoint to what Tiffany said.

BALDWIN: Yes, sure.

ALEMANY: Because I actually think this could stretch on for quite some time. I think we're underestimating really how the president functions in general as a human. I talked to just a handful of his allies, who have worked with him previously and still work for him, and one quote that really stands out to me is that the president is a honey badger and he doesn't care what people think. He --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Except for his base.

ALEMANY: Right.

BALDWIN: He cares -- he cares about his base. He admitted that. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CROSS: And he cares about conservative media. I know a lot of people call him a dictator, but a dictator tells the media what to do. Here, the conservative media is telling Donald Trump what to do. But I don't think -- when I said we're at a breaking point, that something is going to move, Jackie, but I do think the American people are fed up with the current state of affairs. So I'm not sure that the problem will be resolved, but I think, in terms of a breaking point, we're certainly here now.

BALDWIN: Let me just quote the president and close this out, he said, right now, if I did something that was foolish, like give up on border security, he's worried that it would cost him. Specifically he mentions his base.

Ladies, a pleasure. Nice to have both of you on.

CROSS: Thank you.

ALEMANY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: As we're talking about the president and the government shutdown, the other big story, explosive accusations about his former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and what Paul Manafort said to this Russian regarding the 2016 campaign.

A new sign that Vladimir Putin is trolling the U.S. One day after the president of Turkey blasted the Trump administration's shifting policy on Syria, Russia is now inviting President Erdogan to hold talks in Moscow. Will this further complicate the U.S. strategy in Syria? David Sanger is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:42:13] BALDWIN: The Kremlin today is revealing a high-profile face-to-face meeting between Russia and Turkey. And that it's set to happen, quote, "soon." Turkish President Erdogan is set to visit Moscow, although no date has been announced.

But all of this is coming less than 24 hours after Erdogan slammed the Trump administration. Erdogan saying national security adviser, John Bolton, made a, quote, unquote, "serious mistake" when he said Turkey must agree to protect the Kurds once the U.S. withdraws from Syria.

So with me now David Sanger, the "New York Times" national security correspondent and CNN political and national security analyst.

Always a pleasure.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Great to be with you.

BALDWIN: This invite from Russia to Erdogan, what did you think?

SANGER: Putin is playing this all pretty well from a pretty weak hand. If you step back and look at what's happened, the president of the United States has agreed to pull back from Syria. There may be some good reasons for that. But it essentially leaves Syrians to the Russians and Iranians. Now he's using the split between the U.S. and Turkey to carve off the weakest member of NATO, a country in which the United States keeps nuclear weapons, that Russia hates the fact that they are there, right, a country that the U.S. needs in the Middle East.

And he just sees a moment to sow more doubt about what the state of the U.S./Turkish relationship is. And, you know, Mr. Bolton came in and basically walked into a buzz saw. His goal here, Brooke, was to walk back what the president had done with a rapid withdrawal. He ends up getting a set of conditions that Erdogan says he will never meet.

BALDWIN: So Putin's basically trolling the U.S.?

SANGER: Uh-hum.

BALDWIN: And all of this just -- I bring this up again, James Mattis, the now former secretary of defense, he resigned over all things Syria just a few weeks ago. We've since moved on because there's so much going on.

SANGER: Yes.

BALDWIN: We don't even fully know where the U.S. stands, where Trump stands on Syria.

SANGER: We don't. We know a little bit of a timeline. President Trump made what appears to have been a somewhat impulsive decision after talking to Erdogan on the phone to pull out within 30 days, and that's what led to the Mattis resignation, that you would do something so abruptly.

And had it not been that, I'm fairly well convinced that Mattis would have left over something else. They were at the end of their rope. Then what happens? The president is then told, you can't pull out in 30 days, so they extend it to 120 days, right? Then he says, I never said that we're going to do this in a rush. Of course, you did. He said we're coming back now. It's on tape. You played the tape many times.

BALDWIN: Yes.

[14:45:02] SANGER: Then, Bolton goes out and he says, there's no timetable here except that these conditions have to be met, and the conditions included that the Turks would agree not to go in and kill the Kurds, the American allies over the border, and that's not happening. So if you had to tell us right now what are the conditions under which the American troops would leave --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Question mark, question mark, question mark. That's where we are on that.

Lastly, just because I wanted to ask you this huge news regarding Paul Manafort in this accidentally unredacted portion of the filing that indicated when he was Trump's campaign chairman, and he was in Madrid having this meeting with this Russian with ties to the Kremlin, he tells this person key polling data from the 2016 campaign. Now, we don't know if he was told to do that. We don't know -- we kind of know some of what the Russians did with regard to the campaign. But when you first heard that, David sanger, what the heck did you think?

SANGER: The first thing I thought was, if you're running a presidential campaign, how do you have time to go off to Spain and meet some Russians? The second question was, if you're running a presidential campaign, why would you go off and meet some Russians?

BALDWIN: Yes.

SANGER: The third question was, if you're running a presidential campaign, why would you be sitting around discussing a potential peace plan that would bring a pro-Russian leader back, who had been run out of the country, to Ukraine, which was part of the discussion? And then the further question is, did this polling data in any way provide the Russians with any information that they used in the course of the hacking? We don't know that. And there's probably not much in that polling data that the Russians couldn't have learned in some other way, including probably from their embassy in the United States.

BALDWIN: Sure, but --

SANGER: But it is strange. Remember where we were a year and a half ago, the White House saying, the White House saying, no one in our campaign talked to any Russians, full stop.

BALDWIN: Not true.

SANGER: Not true. On multiple occasions with multiple people.

BALDWIN: Not true.

David, thank you very much.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Breaking news now, back on the government shutdown, President Trump and congressional leaders just minutes away from yet another meeting in the Situation Room. The pressure is mounting on two fronts, this growing humanitarian crisis at the border, and growing anger from a lot of people who will not be receiving paychecks Friday.

Also ahead, investigators starting to take some action after that documentary, "Surviving R. Kelly," aired. Right now, we're learning more about an arrest warrant issued for one of the people closest to R. Kelly. Stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:51:51] There's anger and mounting disgust against R&B singer, R. Kelly, an industry titan who worked with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga. But now there are demands to mute him and his music. The public outcry follows this explosive six-part "Lifetime" series called "Surviving R. Kelly," where multiple young women and even his ex-wife come forward detailing years of alleged graphic sexual abuse and domestic violence and how people, for years, for decades, covered it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would feel isolated. I would feel like a prisoner. I didn't have any one to talk to. It was just me. I went into a depression. I was mentally drained because he would break me down then build me up and make me feel like (EXPLETIVE DELETED) again and do it all over again. He would really manipulate my mind. The breaking point for me was when Rob slapped me and he choked me until I blacked out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now R. Kelly's home state of Illinois has asked possible other victims to speak out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM FOXX, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: Please come forward. There's nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses. We cannot seek justice without you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The state's attorney reports numerous calls are starting to come in. And CNN has learned that, in Georgia, Henry County officials have issued an arrest warrant for Kelly's former manager. This former manager allegedly threatened to kill the father of the women who appeared in this "Lifetime" documentary series.

Kelly's camp is speaking out. His attorney sent this statement to CNN. Let me read this in full: "Prosecutors are supposed to investigate the crime after the crime is reported. My understanding is, in the documentary, there's no criminal activity so now they are soliciting people to make things up. They have never started any investigation of criminal activity because there has been no criminal act. But when you proceed in this manner, calling out for people to step into the publicity's limelight, you run the tremendous risk of false accusations. And it will become false because he has done nothing wrong."

Joining me now, someone featured in that "Lifetime" series, writer and cultural critic, Jamilah Lemieux.

So great to have you back on the show.

You are a Chicago native, you have heard all the stories of R. Kelly growing up. First, just your reaction to hearing about possible investigations probes being opened up and more young women coming forward.

JAMILAH LEMIEUX, WRITER AND CULTURAL CRITIC: I'm very excited to hear that he's being investigated again. I think that's one of the outcomes that the producers of the film knew was possible and they have produced a body of work that certainly gives investigators a lot to consider at the very least, so I think we're moving toward justice for the victims of this man, for the first time in nearly three decades.

BALDWIN: Three decades. Why do you think it's been that long and nothing has happened?

[14:55:03] LEMIEUX: Robert's primarily the victims have been black and brown girls, many of them from working class backgrounds. And this is someone who was incredibly influential and powerful, particularly in Chicago, for a very long time. There were people who took the money and ran, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: No matter what?

LEMIEUX: No matter what. And there was just -- our society does not value the humanity of little girls and it certainly doesn't value humanity of little black girls.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you this. After the series aired, calls to domestic violence hot lines had spiked, so did online streams of his music. Why do you think that is?

LEMIEUX: I'm sure that there are people that went back into his catalog out of curiosity to see what kind of Easter eggs were there. On his first solo album, you have a song called, "Seems Like You're Ready." The message is, it seems like you're ready to go all the way. Not something that you have to say to an adult woman with a lot of experience and who is used to doing these sort of things.

BALDWIN: These girls were very young.

LEMIEUX: These girls were very young. These girls were very young. And there are people that are not willing to part ways with this man's music. And I think some of them took to streaming services to, you know, voice their opinion and their support.

BALDWIN: Jamilah Lemieux, in the series on CNN, thank you for your voice. LEMIEUX: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Back to our breaking news, President Trump taking the shutdown negotiations into the Situation Room as he meets, moments from now, with leaders of both parties from the House and the Senate. Is Republican support starting to crumble for him?

This is all unfolding amid dramatic developments involving the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his contact with a Russian operative. We've got all of that for you coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:59:50] BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Let's dive into it. Right now, President Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders, including Democrats, in the White House in the Situation Room. This is his latest attempt to end this partial government shutdown now in day 19.

Just a short time ago, the president emerged from a meeting with Senate Republicans.