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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Walks Out Of Shutdown Talks: "I Said Bye-Bye;" Interview with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D), New York; CNN Identifies Law Firm Involved in Mystery Mueller Subpoena Case. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 9, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:01] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Great reporting, as usual. Nic, thanks very much. That's it for me. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, walk out. The President literally says bye-bye to the Democrats, calling the meeting a total waste of time. Is the shutdown about to set a record with no end in sight?
Plus, live from the border. What wall already exists and what more can Trump actually build? OUTFRONT on the border, investigating tonight.
And Rudy Giuliani says Trump is done. No more questions from Bob Mueller, he won't answer anymore. Is Mueller about to issue his report? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, bye-bye. Those are President Trump's exact words. Trump walking out of a meeting with congressional leaders about the shutdown when he didn't get his way late today and the President walking out set the tone. Both sides addressing reporters afterwards with two very different versions of what went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: It wasn't even a high-stakes negotiation. It was a petulant President of the United States.
REP. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We saw a temper tantrum, because he couldn't get his way.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I saw Schumer continue to raise his voice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought the President was very calm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: As for the President, he saved his version of the meeting for Twitter. "Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what's going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up. Are you going to approve border security which includes a wall or steel barrier? Nancy said "no". I said, "bye-bye". Nothing else works."
The problem is, is that the person at the center of a negotiation, when the outcome is whether his government reopens can't just say bye- bye. Trump has to lead. I mean, just listen to Donald J. Trump on October 7th, 2013, talking about President Obama during a government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to get everybody in a room, you have to be a leader. The President has to lead. He's got to get Mr. Boehner and everybody else in a room and they have to make a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, according to his own standards, Trump failed today. And while his minions are making the case for a crisis along the southern border to justify the boss' wall --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Crisis, crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crisis.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, there is a crisis tonight, just not the one they're talking about. I mean, 800,000 federal workers haven't been paid for 18 days. It's not about whether they'll get paid eventually. I mean, think about this. According to Politico, at least 4,800 federal employees and contractors in the Washington, D.C. area have applied for unemployment benefits.
A spokeswoman for USAA, a federal savings bank, tells us thousands have reached out for help, because they're going to miss a mortgage payment, a car loan. Some of them can't even pay their utility bills. FDA employees tell CNN that the shutdown could cost lives, because crucial medical trials, you know, that have to happen, people who have tried every possible drug, right, then they get this life-saving chance to go on a trial, well that can't happen now. And yet the President today says that all of these people are going to be happy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you say to those federal workers, security guards, Secret Service agents, TSA agents who are now going without pay?
TRUMP: I think they have been terrific. These are terrific patriots. A lot of them agree with what I'm doing. And I hope we're going to have the situation worked out. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But these people have to go without their paychecks. They're being -- some are being forced to work without pay. Some have been furloughed. These are park rangers --
TRUMP: They're all going to get the money and I think they're going to be happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Abby Phillip is OUTFRONT outside the White House tonight. Abby, you know, in that meeting, right, we're all told, it was incredibly short, the President comes out and said, I said bye-bye. I mean, what exactly happened?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it started out well enough with the President handing out butterfingers and M&Ms to the people seated at the table. And after some back and forth over a number of different issues, it really quickly spiraled downhill. According to a couple of sources familiar with what happened in that meeting, there was a lengthy conversation between the two sides, about the fact that they don't agree about what's happening at the border.
The President, at one point, according to multiple sources, talked about women being trafficked across the border with tape across their mouths, so there's no evidence that that is happening quite the way that he described it. And so it was clear in that meeting that the two sides were really talking past each other, about the details of what the crisis is, and what the solution ought to be. The Democrats wanted to focus on ports of entry, where most of the drugs are being smuggled across the border, through at legal ports of entry.
The President, though, was focused on his wall. And that's at the point when he asked Nancy Pelosi, if I open the government right now, will you -- within the next 30 days, give me my wall? And at that point, Pelosi said, no. Now that's an offer that Democrats have rejected in the past. But it really, for the President was the last straw. He got up from that table and he left the room.
But what's interesting, Erin, is that after the President left the room, according to one source, the Vice President stayed in the room and asked Democrats, are you going to put an offer on the table? According to the source, Democrats did not. Their position is very clear and very simple. They want the government reopened right now. They want to talk about all of this other stuff, all of the border security issues, after the government has been reopened.
[19:05:10] So in other words, we are really right where we've been this entire time. Nineteen days and counting. There is no end in sight to this government shutdown.
BURNETT: All right, Abby, thank you very much. Although, of course, it's interesting when you say, OK, we open the government and then we'll talk about those things, but they're not going to talk about the one thing he wants to talk about. I mean, obviously, you can see, you've got some serious problems here. OUTFRONT now, the Republicans Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who also served in Congress during two shutdowns. So you've been through situations, of course, when we talk about time length here. We're about to hit a record, but you've been through similar. Look, the President gets up today, Governor, walks out of that meeting, tweets bye-bye. What do you say to that?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, Erin, look, I've been there when there's a lot of posturing, you know? I sat through many meetings. I can remember a couple that were really doozies, you know?
And where we are now is, nobody's willing to make an offer or a compromise, so let me propose one, OK? Why don't we take care of the DACA kids? They're not kids anymore, they're adults. And maybe some of these people who are facing deportation, temporary people who are here, and give them a couple more bucks, you know? He wants $5.6 or whatever.
I mean, everybody's for border security. You know, give them more than what you're offering, it's a nice little compromise, and then he gives you DACA or something like that. And then you get it solved. And at some point, they're all going to realize, OK, this doesn't make a lot of sense.
BURNETT: Right. But, I mean, he's saying --
KASICH: But I've been there. I've been in those rooms, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean -- But, you know, I mean, probably not a room quite like this one. You know, the President of the United States just gets up and walks out, calls it a total waste of time, goes on Twitter and say bye-bye. I mean, I've never seen anything publicly like what we saw today from the President. I mean --
KASICH: No, I agree with that. Well, I mean, he's -- there's a different sort. I'm just telling you, I've seen a lot of things, and it's just -- the problem is these folks are being hurt, when you think about it, you know, particularly medical trials or --
KASICH: -- Wall street can't function, you know, and all of that, but you're going to have to come together. What I was a little pleased about, and I don't know where he is, you can't lock yourself in a corner. And the Democrats can't lock themselves in a corner. So give them some more money, bring some expert in who says, OK, we're not going to have a wall, but we're going to have more secure borders. And this is what -- and let the expert figure out what it would look like.
BURNETT: I mean, for his base, though, he's got to have a wall. I mean, you know, he's pinned his whole presidency now on a wall.
KASICH: Well, and, you know, and the other side saying, we're not going to give you any wall. You know what I mean? It's just, come on. It's both sides -- you know what the people are saying across the country, if they're paying attention, and I'm not sure they are, they're like, come on. Can it just -- can you just do your job? That's what they're thinking.
KASICH: And, look, I mean, he's obstinate, they're obstinate. You know, I mean, I didn't actually see last night, but, you know, there he was, you know, I guess read a speech he didn't want to read, and I saw it looked like ma and pa kettle. It looks like they were, you know, I would say were so glum.
BURNETT: Referring to Nancy and Chuck, as he calls them.
KASICH: I mean, let's just get this done, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, how much longer do you think this will go on? I mean, you know, we're talking here 19 days. You're about to set a record in American history for a shutdown. And you've got both sides saying, uh, my number's zero or my number's -- there is no -- I mean, how long does this go on?
KASICH: Until both sides say enough. And that's how you get a compromise. When you have a situation where both sides are just being obstinate, and you know, if you're the President -- you know, if I were President, I would say, come on, let's not do this. Let's get through this, you know? But I've been experienced enough to know that you just cannot say, you know, it's my way or the highway. It doesn't work in life. Where does it work, Erin? In life, where you say --
BURNETT: Trump thinks it's worked for him. He's in the White House, that's the only way he's ever operated. Yes.
KASICH: I understand that. But, you know, when both sides realize it isn't working to their advantage, when both sides realize that, then there'll be a willingness to cut a deal. But until that happens, you know, the Democrats think they're winning -- the Republicans -- Trump thinks he's winning. Nobody knows who's going to win at the end.
But what we hope is we get it done soon, we have border security, and then we move to a bigger immigration policy. Because all of these problems can't be solved just at the border. They've got to be solved in the neighboring countries where all of these people are coming from.
BURNETT: And you point that out, of course, accurately, you know. But you end up, you know, you set the parameters of the debate, and all of a sudden, it's everything outside, which maybe much more significant doesn't matter, because the debate is in this little tiny, tiny space. I mean, you do talk about, though, as you mentioned, drug trials and, you know, I mentioned those as well, thousands of federal workers. I mean, there's 800,000 of them right now who aren't getting paid. The President keeps focusing on, well, eventually, they will, as if it's some paid vacation. The problem is, they have to pay their bills.
KASICH: Yes. [19:10:01] BURNETT: I mean, you know, Speaker Pelosi spoke out today.
KASICH: I know.
BURNETT: I wanted to play it for you, Governor. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: The President seems to be insensitive to that. He thinks maybe they can just ask their father for more money. But they can't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, that was a big slam on the President.
KASICH: It's really a problem.
BURNETT: But he has been very lackadaisical about, you know, caring about them, at least showing any empathy.
KASICH: Yes. Maybe he doesn't get that. I don't -- maybe he doesn't get that. And -- But here's the thing. I mean, it's a real problem. If you don't make your mortgage payment or these clinical trials. You know, I read about that today.
I mean, you're ready to go into a clinical trial, you're holding your breath, your family is holding your breath that you could be in a situation where your life could be saved or you could lose your life and they can't have the trial because things aren't open. I read that. I hope that's true. So there is a real problem here with keeping the government shutdown. And frankly, nobody wants to see it.
There are times when your principles say, OK, we cannot make a deal. It happens at times. But at the end of it, don't lock yourself into a corner. Put the people first. Put the country first. Because there's so much that needs to be done. Beyond just the border. Beyond it. I mean, so --
KASICH: -- let's see. I'd love to go down there and negotiate it. You know, I've been negotiating lots of things in my life. And it would be interesting to get them together, at some point, it will happen. But why we keep an eye on it, huh?
BURNETT: All right. Governor Kasich, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
KASICH: Or maybe you ought to go, Erin, you'd do great down there. You'd fix this.
BURNETT: All right, thanks. And next --
KASICH: All right. Donald (ph) says workers.
BURNETT: -- Donald Trump Jr.'s warped interpretation of the wall. He compared the southern border to a zoo.
And Rudy Giuliani says the President is done talking to Bob Mueller. So is that a threat or is that, Mueller's done.
And a story you'll see only OUTFRONT. Ed Lavandera back to the southern border to see if the President's claims add up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a crisis, it is a -- we would say, it is an occasional problem, but not a crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:15:41] BURNETT: Tonight, a revealing comment that says a whole lot about President Trump and the shutdown. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin telling CNN that Trump said in the middle of his meeting with Congressional leaders, "I don't know what I'm doing this. I didn't want to do this meeting. They told me I had to do this meeting". "They," it's like, some people.
We also know the President told a small group of reporters that he did not really want to even give the speech last night and he doesn't want to go to the border tomorrow. I thought you cared about the wall, President Trump. Well, the President said, "It's not going to change a damned thing, but I'm still doing it".
OUTFRONT now, John Avlon, Senior Political Analyst, Van Jones, Host of the "VAN JONES SHOW" and Former Special Adviser to President Obama, and Stephen Moore, Author of "Trumponomics", Informal White House Adviser.
All right, John, so it's pretty clear from what he says himself and Dick Durbin saying he's going through the motions. And why is he just going through the motions? This is his signature, passionate issue.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's almost like the President doesn't want to lead. Look, this whole thing is a sand box politics slap fight. And the President is acting like a petulant child, who's being forced to do something he doesn't want to do, which is act like a President. If he actually wanted to step up and lead on this issue, we could actually have some kind of breakthrough.
Just a year ago, there was a bill for 25 billion for border security the Democrats were onboard with, because it helped bring the Dreamers onboard.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes.
AVLON: So --
AVLON: -- you know, that is all just wasted opportunity. It's the opposite of "The Art of the Deal."
BURNETT: Right. So it's no winning. You wouldn't somehow have that 25 which, by the way, it's still cost and it's so, you know, they would do over several years. But --
BURNETT: -- they went from 25 at one shot to zero.
BURNETT: That's not really winning if you're the person trying to get the number up.
JONES: That's the opposite of winning.
BURNETT: I mean, Steve, that does seem to be a good part of the issue. And then, you know, he also, Steve, said something today that was pretty revealing about his motivations, you know. Why he is just now saying, bye-bye, when he doesn't get his way. Here he is today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Right now, if I did something that was foolish, like gave up on border security, the first ones that would hit me are my senators. They would be angry at me. The second ones would be the House. And the third ones would be, frankly, my base and a lot of Republicans out there and a lot of Democrats that want to see border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I don't know about all of those people, Steve, but it does sound like he cares a whole lot about saving face.
STEPHEN MOORE, INFORMAL WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, let me just go back to something that John just said. Because if I understand what he was saying correctly that, you know, that the Democrats had put up $25 billion on the table for border security. I mean, my goodness, John, if that were on the table right now, I think you could get -- you know, you could get this whole thing resolved in two hours. You could also probably get Trump to agree to legalize the DACA --
BURNETT: Yes, but he wouldn't do the deal then for DACA. I mean --
MOORE: Right. But I'm saying, I mean, there's a lot of room, I think, for a deal right now. And why not do that? Why not do the border security for the legalization of, you know, the DACA --
AVLON: You should talk to the President and suggest that, Steve.
BURNETT: OK, I'll tell you guys why, though. I'll tell you guys why. Because border security is just not a real word anymore. The problem is, is that only one word matters to his base and therefore to the President ban (ph) and that word is wall. So you can't get away with calling it border security and trying to sneak something else through anymore. Van? MOORE: Erin, I worked on the campaign. And from the moment that Donald Trump glided down that escalator two and a half years ago and announced that he was running for President, one of his central themes was that he was going to build a wall and with his voters, it was an extremely popular one.
Now, look, I don't think he -- I mean, I think if he could get money for border security and some of it goes to some kind of structure, I've been to the southern border a number of times, by the way. I mean, there is just -- there's some improvement, but there's still gaping holes. But the other point here is look --
BURNETT: OK, hold.
MOORE: -- why is Nancy Pelosi --
BURNETT: Hold on. Let me give Van a chance to respond to that.
MOORE: Yes, OK. Yes.
JONES: This is not the way to do business, period. The problem that you've got now is, it's not just the issue. I agree, there's a deal out there that could be struck. There was a deal on the table this summer that could be struck. But it's the hostage taking. It's that you cannot get into this posture now where you reward this kind of behavior. And so we're going to be at this crossroads, we're going to be at this loggerhead, and the problem is that you've got 800,000 people who work for America's government who are suffering every day and there's no way out for them.
MOORE: So, you know, I mean, are you saying, Van, that it's more important for Democrats to score a political point here --
[19:20:05] JONES: No, I'm not saying at all.
MOORE: -- than to open up the government and put these 800,000 people back on the job?
JONES: Thank you for asking that question. No, I don't think that -- I think that we should reopen America's government and let people go back to work and then deal with the issue. And the problem you have right now is that you're about to give me exactly what I want. You're going to say, I can't do that, I going to have to have my hostages. And that's exactly the point.
MOORE: But Van, if -- what was reported today by the Republicans, I wasn't in the room, none of us were. But what the Vice President and others said was that Donald Trump said, look, Nancy Pelosi, if I agree to open up the government right now, will you work with me over the next 30 days to build this wall and for border security, and she, reportedly, said no. What kind of a negotiation is that?
AVLON: Well, I think the problem is that when everybody had the deal last year, Republicans had unified control of government. Now Democrats control the House. So there's got to be a carrot and a stick -- MOORE: There is.
AVLON: But Trump seems to be arguing solely for sticks, border security, and not wanting to attach the obvious compromise that could lead to a deal. So, come one, let's reason together, people.
MOORE: It sounded likely Pelosi was the one who said, no, I don't want to do any deal.
JONES: The reporting is still coming out on that. The reality is, this is not the right way to do business for America's government.
BURNETT: Well, right. I mean, if you're -- you know, there's the guy who said, right, a few years ago to Greta Van Susteren, right, a President has to lead. Go in the room, lead. I mean, saying bye-bye on Twitter, yes, talk about passive aggressive. OK, what about also the President's son, Donald Trump Jr., Van, goes on Instagram last night after his father's speech. You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work.
JONES: You know, I just think that, I mean, ill considered, at best. Racially insensitive. I mean, part of the problem that you have is that if you're a person of color, this whole thing around being compared to animals, being compared to savages, all that sort of stuff, that is a real thing.
Now, I don't know him, and I don't know if he meant to do that. I don't know if he's out there, I'm going to do something that's explicitly racist. But I'm going to tell you this, if you have the slightest bit of sensitivity on these types of issues, the one thing you don't do is compare low-income, Latino brown people to zoo animals if you're trying to do anything to bring the country together.
AVLON: Yes. That sounds pretty basic. But I think probably the original scene here in the tweet is impulse to own the libs. Is that you're sort of being defiantly anti-PC. And what it does is, you may not be thinking you're consciously being racist, but you're playing with those fires, stoking the fires.
And there is some degree of irony, by the way, that folks in Washington and across the country can't go to the zoo today. The national zoo is closed. But I think this is a case more of the culture that creates the impulse to offend rather than being intentionally racist.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, that's -- Steve, what do you say to that? I mean, at least stoking the fires? If someone is racist, they see this as an OK to be racist.
MOORE: I certainly wouldn't have said what he said. I don't think he meant it as racist, but it was probably an insensitive thing to say. But I think the larger point here is the case that Republicans are trying to make is that walls and fences make a lot of sense. I mean, you heard Donald Trump the other day say, look, Nancy Pelosi has a wall and fence around her compound. I mean, that makes a lot of sense to people.
And I do think, Van, that the Democrats, they may have an upper hand right now, because Trump is painted into a corner. But to what end? I mean, if the Democrat message is, we don't think there's a border crisis and there's not a problem at the border, that's just not a winning issue, to me, to the American people, to say, oh, we're just going to do sanctuary cities and catch and release and these kinds of things and not do anything about illegal --
BURNETT: You know what --
MOORE: -- and I'm very pro-immigration. I think immigrants are great for our country, but they have to come in legally.
JONES: Every Democrat in the country has said, repeatedly, border security is an issue --
MOORE: But they say it, but they don't do it.
JONES: Well, hold on a second. We just established that there was a deal on the table, literally, six months ago that --
BURNETT: OK, and you know what, as for what it is, what's it like down there and what's really there? Well, Ed Lavandera is down there again tonight. If you've seen his incredible reporting over the past few months, he's down there again tonight. You're going to see that just a couple of moments.
And thanks to all of you.
Next, breaking news. Trump advisers tonight reportedly bracing for Bob Mueller's report to be submitted, next month. I mean, you're talking about a couple of weeks here, a few weeks. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, is OUTFRONT.
Plus, the mystery company whose identity Mueller is trying to protect even as it spurns his subpoena. Exclusive reporting tonight on the possible connection between that company and a Russian VIP.
[19:28:01] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, telling Reuters that Trump is done answering questions from Special Counsel Bob Mueller, saying, "As far as we are concerned, everything is over". And "The Washington Post" reporting that some Trump advisers believe Mueller is done, could deliver his confidential report to top Justice Department officials next month.
Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT. I mean, Jim, pretty incredible when you put this together. And we're learning the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the entire Mueller investigation is going to leave the Justice Department.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's a pretty big indicator, possibly, of where the Mueller investigation stands. Because, Rosenstein had told colleagues he would not leave, he would not step down until he was confident that the probe was protected and at least close to completion. That's an indicator.
But think of how central a role Rosenstein has had throughout. He appointed Mueller, right? You know, this probe started because of his decision there. He, therefore, became a target of this President, repeatedly, for months and months, and yet survived.
And don't forget, he also, according to the New York Times reporting and others, he questioned Trump's fitness for office, even discussing, you know, getting Cabinet members together to use the Constitution to remove him. He later said he was joking. But a central figure in this.
But I do want to make this point, Erin, that though he's been portrayed by this President as a partisan from the very beginning, he has said, when he took a role early on, that political affiliation is irrelevant to my work. And, in fact, he served both Republicans and Democrats, served in the bush administration, and final note, the President's choice to be the new attorney general, by the way, William Barr, Rosenstein supports him in that role.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jim Sciutto.
All right, so in this context, let's bring in the Chairman of House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Congressman from New York, Jerry Nadler. Chairman, look, you've got a lot going on here tonight. And now the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is leaving, right?
[19:30:01] He's overseeing the Mueller investigation. You know, people inside the White House now say, oh, Mueller's going to be done. Does the departure of Rod Rosenstein concern you or not?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, it certainly does concern me, because he has shown himself to be an honest man. And he has, by all accounts, defended the Mueller investigation against all kinds of attacks by Trump and by his minions, who have tried to sabotage the investigation in various ways.
So, yes, that disturbs me, especially in view of the fact that the new attorney general or that the acting attorney general, Mr. Whitaker, has expressed great hostility and pre-judged the outcome of the investigation. And the nominee for attorney general, Mr. Barr, has said that the very idea that the investigation was wrong.
So that makes me very nervous that Mr. Whitaker or more likely Mr. Barr, depending how long Rosenstein stays, will be supervising the investigation.
BURNETT: Now, you know, President Trump has submitted written answers to questions from Bob Mueller, as you know, right? That was in November. Now, "Reuters" tonight says that Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, says Trump will not answer any additional questions and the quote was, as far as we're concerned, everything is over. They could try to subpoena him if they want, but they know we could fight that like hell. They say they haven't asked anymore questions. If they haven't asked
anymore questions and Rod Rosenstein says he's leaving, do you think Mueller's done?
NADLER: I don't know. But the -- all I do know is that whether he's almost finished or not, the indications are that he may be, but whether he's almost finished or not, we must protect his investigation, make sure he can do what he thinks proper and report it to the attorney general and make sure that the report then goes to the Congress and to the American people, which is the whole purpose of it, to start with.
BURNETT: Now --
NADLER: And that may be a battle.
BURNETT: So you sent the Acting Attorney General, Matt Whitaker, you brought him up a moment ago, sent him a letter and you sent it today and it demands that he comes before your committee, doesn't use the shutdown as an excuse, you're threatening to subpoena him if he does not do so voluntarily. The top Republican in the committee, Doug Collins, saw your letter, says he's dumbfounded by your request.
What's your response?
NADLER: Well, I don't know why Doug would be dumbfounded.
Chairman Cummings of the Oversight Investigation Committee and I had a phone conversation with Mr. Whitaker back on November 30th in which he agreed to come before the committee in January. I wrote him a letter on December 21st, and we started the -- on the staff level negotiating the time and they started dragging their feet. On December 21st, I wrote a letter to Mr. Whitaker, saying -- reinforcing that he should come before the committee in January, and listing various topics that we would want to discuss, including various aspects of the Mueller investigation and separation of children at the border and various other -- and the administration's -- the Department of Justice's decision to switch from supporting to opposing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in court, which is a very unusual decision for a Justice Department to make. We listed those.
And we've continued negotiating for a date and a place in January. He sent a letter to me a few days ago saying that he would -- offering himself only in February, and only two weeks after the government shutdown. Now, the government shutdown has no bearing on this whatsoever.
BURNETT: So it's just excuses, as far as you're concerned?
NADLER: And so we went the letter saying, no, no, we wanted you in January, January 29th. You'll be in town, it's the State of the Union Address, you'll be here. There's no reason you shouldn't appear on before January 29th. And if necessary, we will issue a subpoena in the next couple of days.
And I don't know why anybody would be surprised at the fact that after his ducking his promise for the last, since November 30th, we would be ready to issue a subpoena.
BURNETT: Right, and as you said, in the next couple of days.
Now, I want to ask you one more thing, Congressman, because you've spoken out about this. Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib last week used the expletive to describe the president and vowed to impeach him in the same sentence. You said of what she said, I don't really like that language, but more to the point, I disagree with what she said, it is too early to talk about that intelligently, referring to impeachment.
Last night, she was on this show and I asked her about the president and the language she used. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: She has to understand that the culture and this kind of dissent that he has for me is something that is felt across this country. I am not only one that is this angry and this upset.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: She's talking about things, something like impeachment. Is it possible that she's right and you're wrong? I mean, she has the pulse of America.
NADLER: I don't think either one of us is wrong. I think she is right to feel the way she does.
[19:35:01] I think she is right -- well, the fact of the matter is, I don't like that kind of language, but the president opened up that language, the president has used worse language, far worse language on occasion, so he has coarsened the discourse.
BURNETT: Well, when you said it's too early to intelligently talk about impeachment, she's saying no.
NADLER: Well, I think people can have different opinions on impeachment at the moment. Certainly, the more we learn, the worse it looks for the president. And especially when you look at the Manafort -- what we learned about Manafort offering private polling information from the Trump campaign to the Russians, and what use would they have, except to target their social media, more effectively, in interfering in our election. I think the walls are closing in and the noose is drawing tighter.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I appreciate your time.
NADLER: You're quite welcome.
BURNETT: And next, new details about the mystery company involved in Mueller's investigation. Could it be owned by a Russian oligarch?
Plus, President Trump warning of the security crisis along the border. So, we went to the southern border and this is what Ed Lavandera found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually do feel safe. We actually don't even lock our doors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:409:01] BURNETT: New tonight, a breakthrough in a mystery in the Mueller investigation. Tonight, CNN has identified one of the law firms representing the mystery company. This company is being fined $50,000 a day because it's defying a subpoena related to Mueller's probe.
Now, this law firm has represented Russian interests in the past. Obviously, it could be hugely significant.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.
And, Evan, what have you learned?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, as you said, one of the big mysteries here has been who exactly is willing to spend $50,000 a day in order to fight off this subpoena from the Mueller investigators? We now know that the law firm that's been representing this company, this foreign company, is Alston and Bird, and I think we have video of a couple of these lawyers leaving the courthouse. Ted Kang and Brian Boone are two of the lawyers.
Now, back in September, when there was a court hearing before all of this became such a big deal, I actually was just outside the courtroom where they were having one of these hearings. We were not allowed inside. And I followed them outside to try to ask them, who was their client, who were they representing. And then they refused to answer the question.
So at least now, we know, what's the name of this firm? It's a big law firm, obviously, Alston and Bird, and we know that these guys, this firm in particular has represented Russian interests in the United States.
BURNETT: Russian interests, including those of Oleg Deripaska, who, of course, is now sanctioned by treasury, but was one of the people that Manafort was dealing with and close to Putin, as well.
PEREZ: Exactly. Oleg Deripaska is an oligarch, as you said. And so we don't know whether or not that's significant in this case. We only know that this is a company, according to this court ruling that has come down, this is a company that is at least state owned, and that this company is fighting off, it says, this subpoena, because it says that it cannot provide this information to the Mueller investigators or it would be violating its own domestic laws. Again, a lot of mystery, but we have precious few new crumbs to try to figure this all out. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan. But obviously, a big
breakthrough, Evan, recognizing who those lawyers were, who they represented, have a history of representing Russians.
Anne Milgram is OUTFRONT, former federal prosecutor and attorney general for New Jersey.
I mean, what do you make of that? Obviously, this company is paying 50,000 bucks a day and have been doing so for weeks and weeks and weeks. They really don't want people to know who they are, and now, we know this law firm.
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: They definitely don't want people to know who they are and also don't want to comply with the subpoena. So, whatever request for information, whether it's financial information or otherwise, they don't want to come forward with that.
This is a fascinating story because this is very unusual. We don't see this happen, commonly. And, you know, my bet, before we knew it was Alston and Bird, would have been either Russia or turkey. They're state-owned companies. They've been the subject of the investigations we've seen publicly reported, related to Mueller.
Now it looks -- you know, we're speculating, but it looks a lot more likely that it does involve the Russian government. And again, we don't know for certain yet, but it would be unlikely in a case like this for -- it's very likely that they're representing people who they previously represented and as has been reported, they have represented Russian oligarchs and others from the government.
BURNETT: Right. And I mean, it doesn't mean they were in this case, but you don't just pick a new firm if you're a Russian oligarch that you're not familiar with. Just to be clear here. Right.
BURNETT: Now, we're also learning Paul Manafort, of course, has had close ties to Oleg Deripaska, was eager to curry favor with him, right, and give him whatever he wanted, ostensibly. We do know that Paul Manafort was sharing polling data with a guy that Mueller says was a Russian operative.
BURNETT: With the intent of, hey, go ahead and pass this along. Mark Warner, the top Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee spoke out about that today to our Manu Raju. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: To me, this appears as the closest as we've seen yet to real, live actual collusion. Clearly, Manafort was trying to collude with Russian agents. And the question is, what did the president know? What did Donald Trump know about this exchange of information? (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is this the closest to collusion thus far?
MILGRAM: I mean, this is absolutely stunning. And I think it was -- it's just one of those things that came out of nowhere yesterday, where we saw it.
But you have solid evidence now that's admitted by Paul Manafort's lawyers that he was providing information, internal information, non- public information, to close associates of like the Russian government or Russian intelligence asset, literally letting them direct potentially their social media campaign in the states to influence the election for Donald Trump. This, you know, it appears as close as we have seen to a conspiracy.
BURNETT: And you used the word "conspiracy," which is the legally -- but that's the important word. You don't charge for collusion, but you can for conspiracy.
MILGRAM: So, we have the piece now between Manafort and the Russians. The question is, we know there are a huge number, almost a hundred contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign. What we don't know is, was this just Manafort or were there others who were involved?
[19:45:03] BURNETT: Right. And how far down the quid pro quo go? But now you've got what appears to be the close toast a quid pro quo and certainly with Manafort.
BURNETT: Anne, thank you very much.
And next, President Trump shutting down the government for the wall. OK, so Ed Lavandera went back to the border to look at what a wall would actually do, or more of a wall than we actually have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When they say, well, we need to put a wall here, what do you say to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just money spent -- it won't help for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Jeanne on Schumer and Pelosi's response.
BURNETT: Vice President Mike Pence tonight says no wall, no deal. This as the president goes to the border himself tomorrow to make the case for the wall. What will he see there?
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you cross the bridge from Mexico into El Paso, this is what you see -- thousands of people walking back and forth across the river every day. Life is laid back. No sign of a crisis here.
But up and down the Southern U.S. border, tension is growing and many residents feel threatened by the Trump administration's push for a border wall.
[19:50:03] In the past week, Armando Rios Jr. noticed pink survey markers pop up in his neighborhood in the border town of Roma.
ARMANDO RIOS JR., ROMA, TEXAS RESIDENT: We're at the most a block and a half away from the river and you can see border patrol there patrolling.
LAVANDERA: City officials tell us these markers are the beginning of planning for 12 miles of steel, see through fence that would be built through the city. Rio says he occasionally sees migrants crossing, but it doesn't bother him.
RIOS: It's not a crisis. We would say it is occasional problem, but not a crisis. I actually do feel safe. We actually don't even lock our doors. The doors are always open. We don't fear getting robbed or anything.
LAVANDERA: Rios told us he's even removed some of these markers put in the ground by government contractors.
(on camera): Since President Trump has taken office, some new border structure has gone up. Last year, the president signed an executive order that allocated more than $73 million to build this. It's a 20- mile stretch near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. And when you look at it, the question is, is it a wall or is it a fence? And does that question even really matter?
(voice-over): According to Customs and Border Protection officials, there are currently eight border wall projects already in the works, covering about 120 miles. The Trump administration's request for $5 billion more would pay for an additional 215 miles of new and replacement fencing in various locations along the southern border, that could include areas like this, where miles of long standing wall end.
But critics of the wall say there are vast regions of the border that are so remote and filled with such rugged terrain that wall is unnecessary.
ADOLPHO TELLES (R), EL PASO COUNTY CHAIRMAN: The buildings you see out there is Mexico.
LAVANDERA: Republican Adolpho Telles lives in El Paso, where a border fence already stretches through much of the city. He says Trump the right to shut down the government to get fund border wall funding in hopes of controlling illegal immigration.
TELLES: This doesn't end it. It will never be ended, but it has slowed it down significantly compared to what it was before the wall was here.
FRED CAVAZOS, MISSION, TEXAS RESIDENT: I'm 69 years old. We never had any problems with all these people.
LAVANDERA: Fred Cavazos and his family have owned 64 acres of land in Mission, Texas, along the Rio Grande since the 1950s. They live off the rent money dozen of people pay to live off the water's edge.
(on camera): When they say we need to put a wall here, what do you say to that?
CAVAZOS: It's just money spent. It won't help for us. It's not going to help -- the wall is not going to help at all.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): But construction is slated to start in February, which will leave their property sitting in a no man's land between the wall and the river. Essentially cut off from the United States.
(on camera): So you're running out of time.
CAVAZOS: Yes. What can you do? You can't fight the government.
We'll try. We'll try to stop them. Stall them. A little bit. We can't stop the government. They'll do what they want to do.
BURNETT: It's pretty incredible, Evan, when you look at that report, give people a sense, you're giving up territory of the United States to put a wall up. You're taking that away from people who own it, who live there. I mean, it's incredible.
And you've got to president going down there tomorrow. He says he doesn't want to go, but he's going. He picked the Rio Grande Valley. Why?
LAVANDERA: Well, this is a significant stretch of the border, Erin. This is where you see a vast majority that the apprehensions that the Border Patrol is involved in, compared to the rest of the U.S. southern border.
So this is really kind of ground zero. This is also an area in the various cities that dot the border here, there's a patchwork of fence work that's been put into place in the last 15 years and border officials have really been calling for a closing that gap so the president comes here, meets with those folks to make that case, but it is falling on kind of deaf ears around here as many people are skeptical about the plan overall -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Ed, thank you very much. As Ed continues his incredible work from border. And next, don't blink or you'll miss Jeanne on the Schumer-Pelosi
[19:58:03] BURNETT: The Chuck and Nancy moment that's worth a thousand words goes viral. Here's Jeanne.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Good evening.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Democratic leader shared six American flags, but only one podium. Guys, I think we found our Oscars co-host, read one tweet.
PELOSI: President Trump has chosen to hold hostage.
MOOS: Actually, Chuck Schumer looked like the one being held hostage when you get back at 4:00 a.m. and your parents are still up.
Other rebuttals have had more dramatic faux pas. Most memorably, Marco Rubio desperately gulping down water mid-speech. But Nancy and Chuck were so static they reminded folks of the paints American gothic. They became the painting in memes.
Not that President Trump was exactly a ball of fire.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a humanitarian crisis.
MOOS: Insults he used to hurl at rivals boomeranged back at him. Low energy, no stamina.
JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I've been more excited about colonoscopies than the speech tonight.
MOOS: He did that sniffing thing he sometimes does.
TRUMP: Our southern border. Ends this crisis.
MOOS: MSNBC harkened back to when candidate Trump disdained stiffs.
TRUMP: How easy it is to be presidential.
I'm very presidential. My fellow Americans, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight.
Tonight, I am speaking to you.
God bless you.
So help me God.
Thank you very much. MOOS: If you wanted to avoid the speech, Stormy Daniels provided
counterprogramming on Instagram sorting laundry, matching socks, folding lingerie. Tweeted one viewer, educational, too. I learned how to fold a thong.
Stormy snacked on Cheetos when she was done. The ending was hardest to nail, so we helped Chuck by replacing the word shutdown.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: But end this --
MOOS: Rebuttal --
SCHUMER: Now. Thank you.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And thank you for joining us.
"ANDERSON" starts now.