Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Says Obviously Mexico Isn't Going to Write A Check for The Wall; White House Is Preparing A Legal Justification for A National Emergency; A CNN Exclusive -- Mueller Interviewed A Trump Pollster; Trump Says He Will Declare A National Emergency If I Need To; Pelosi Says Trump Meeting Was Set Up So He Could Walk Out. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 10, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me today. President Trump, there he is, will fist bump, shaking hands there in Texas. Just arrived at the south border town of McAllen. Today is day 20. The shutdown talks between the President and Democrats over the President's push for $5 billion to pay for a wall or steel barrier along the US border with Mexico is going nowhere. Plus, the President admits he thinks this trip will not change to quote him, a damn thing. Worst of all, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will not get paid tomorrow and when tomorrow ends, it will mark the moment when this shutdown has become the longest in U.S. history. Now, one possible exit strategy here for the President declaring a national emergency. The President said today and quoting him, I probably will do it, maybe definitely. Sounds like a definite maybe, just in case, though, he has brought his White House lawyers with him on board Air Force One. And remember who's going to build the wall, Mexico. That is how Trumped revved up crowds both during and after the campaign, but today came this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mexico is paying for the wall indirectly and when I said Mexico will pay for the wall, in front of thousands and thousands of people, obviously they're not going to write a check but they're paying for the wall indirectly --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Obviously, he says. Quick fact check, here, the President says his trade deal with Mexico will pay for it, but the problem is, the new trade deal hasn't yet been ratified by Congress and even if it does, none of the money is earmarked for this wall. On top of this, the Coast Guard advising its employees to hold a garage sale, go baby- sit to make ends meet. All the while leaders in Washington both sides are arguing over temper tantrums and slammed fists to which 20 days in they're saying bye-bye to any deal. Let's go straight to the border where President Trump is live for us and Polo Sandoval tell us about the President's plans and how people there are receiving him.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I think what the President will get to see in the next few hours will be just as important as what the President will actually hear from those who have been selected to join him at a roundtable which is where he's headed right now after arriving at McAllen international Airport. It's going to be extremely crucial, obviously he hear from as many people as he can. These are people that have been selected and invited to attend this event in a few hours at a Border Patrol location not far from where he landed. I say that because spending some time here and hearing from some of the stakeholders from McAllen's mayor and also from catholic sister who's been a big humanitarian in the efforts to take care of many people that have been apprehended and released and there is a lot of disagreement about the border communities, that the President is described. We heard it again just yesterday and over and over again, this rhetoric coming from the President describing some communities like this one as a place that has been struggling as he describes it, resulting violence from illegal immigration, but when you hear from people here and they say the crisis, the real crisis is thousands of miles south of here in the countries of origin for these men, women and children who have been pushed by violence to the area here and then you here from the sister who says this is a humanitarian crisis that needs more assistance in dealing with the flow of people. I think that that is going to be crucial now that the President has arrived here.

Obviously for the President optics matter and him being on the border as he's stuck in this back and forth with Democrats back in Washington for his base, it could be a positive image but at the same time when you talk to the people who are in the middle of it all and in this case in the major city that's in the busiest Border Patrol center in terms of apprehension, when you talk to them they say that what they see, what they live every day doesn't necessarily mirror what they have heard from the White House but as we saw in the pictures on the tarmac, it doesn't necessarily mean that the President does not have support in what is a predominantly blue part in a large red state.

BALDWIN: Sure. We've got eyes on the President. Will roll with him for the next few hours. Polo, thank you so much. Polo mentioned Capitol Hill. So, behind the scenes there's obviously this last- minute push from a group of senators eager to find a way to end this whole thing. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pulling together a group of more moderate colleagues on the Senate side talking about ways to restart negotiations, Senator Graham's brainstorming session also attended by a very prominent Trump White House insider, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. So, let's go to our Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly and, Phil, take us behind the scenes and tell me what sweeteners, what last minute deals might these Republicans be offering to Democrats?

[14:05:00] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think in an ocean of nothingness which is essentially where we are right now, a ripple of something is something worth paying attention to. That said it's being described to me by people involved in it as a hail mary pass at best. Things are fluid right now. The group met with Mitch McConnell a couple hours ago and met with vice President Mike Pence, the outlines of things are trading temporary protections for DACA recipients plus $800 million in humanitarian aid in exchange for the wall money request that the President has said. That temporary DACA deferral would be about three years. It wouldn't be something that would be done overnight or over the course of the next couple of days. They would try and open the government for a month and two and try and work through regular order in the Senate. What we're hearing right now more than anything else is that Democrats are not keen on this deal. What matters more than anything else when you talk about immigration is just the lack of trust. The lack of trust based on the immigration debate we saw implode last year, the lack of trust with the White House about immigration just generally and so as long as no Democrats are in the room, this is a pretty tough sell, but keep an eye on the administration, keep an eye on people like Jared Kushner, if they start to get behind this and start to try and make it a thing, perhaps it has legs. Right now, still in the skeletal form and in the long shot phase at this point.

BALDWIN: A ripple in the ocean of nothingness so says Phil Mattingly, Phil, thank you very much. We'll stay in touch with you.

Let's talk about all of this. With me now chief political analyst Gloria Borger and so Gloria I have a lawyer waiting in the wings and so she can talk to me about the legal implications of this national emergency, potential national emergency. Politically speaking, if Trump, you know, goes this way, do you think this is his only real potential exit ramp?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's obviously one that they think might work for them inside the White House. It's very complicated. First of all, you have to make the case that there is actually a national emergency. That's why we've heard them use the word crisis so much over the last couple of days. It would a way for the White House to essentially shove this aside politically and say, look, I did my best, Congress just wouldn't cooperate with me and reopen the government and then it would, however, you know, the practical implication would be that it would be tied up in the courts possibly for years.

BALDWIN: So, if it were to work for Republicans, it kind of also works for Democrats, too, right, because they can say we didn't give him any money?

BORGER: Right, right. It does, but the problem is, you know, there's the short-term and the long-term and lots of times Congress thinks in the short-term when it should think in the long-term, it does set a precedent for going around Congress and so while members of Congress might be able to say, OK, this gets it off our backs also, the truth of the matter is that it would set a precedent that a President who didn't like what Congress is doing could just declare a national emergency when he or she wanted to and go around Congress which is probably a pretty bad way to do things. I know this has been done before. It's often done with hurricanes, for example, but this is a little bit more complicated.

BALDWIN: Sure. And just quickly following up, if he were to declare a national emergency, does that then mean he would quickly reopen the government, is that a given? BORGER: you can I think that's probably a given, you know. Maybe you

ought to ask the legal brains about that. I think that would be -- I think that would be the result you declare it, you declare it an emergency and then the government reopens and then the question of the wall remains, Yes.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's talk about when we heard from the President this morning as he was about to leave to Texas and he made this comparison about his -- the Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I find China frankly in many ways to be far more honorable than crying Chuck and Nancy. I really do. I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: China, Gloria, seriously?

BORGER: More honorable? I think what she is done is -- he understands how to flatter Donald Trump and therefore since Donald Trump is being flattered, he thinks that his opponents in child are more honorable and you know from watching Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, they are not flattering Donald Trump, not in the least.

[14:10:00] They're engaged in name calling back and forth and, you know, Trump -- Trump doesn't like it and it has a very hard time dealing with them because when he walks out of a room they don't fold, so I think that he responds to flattery and he's not getting it.

BALDWIN: And then just lastly, we played the sound bite a second ago of Trump talking about obviously Mexico's not going to write a check to pay for the wall. Trying to back pedal from what he said on the trail. They're not going to write a check.

BORGER: He's trying to reverse engineer everything he said in the campaign, I'm sorry. He said -- how many times did you hear it, Brooke, we're going to build a big beautiful wall and they're going to -- who's going to pay for it? Mexico's going to pay for it.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BORGER: Whether he meant they were going to write a check or whether he meant some other way, that was the clear message that he was sending and so now as he tries to reverse engineer what he said, it's quite difficult saying, OK, it's going to come through this trade agreement. It isn't going to come through the trade agreement and, you know, I think they ought to get off of that because I think people understand that, that the American taxpayers are going to foot the bill.

BALDWIN: Uh-hum. Gloria Borger, thank you very much. Gloria on the politics. We'll talk legal in a second. Here's what's happening right now. Anger is growing over this government shutdown. Protests have erupted

nationwide as hundreds of thousands of federal workers are about to miss their first paycheck as of tomorrow. Will have a live report on that ahead and breaking news. CNN is learning that Robert Mueller's team has questioned a Trump campaign pollster. Why that could be significant to the larger Russia investigation? You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Here's breaking news now. CNN has exclusively learned that Robert Mueller's team has questioned this man, the Trump campaign pollster by the name of Tony Febrizio. This news comes across as we're learning that Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort shared internal campaign data with the suspected Russian operative intended for two Ukrainian oligarchs. Let's talk all of this over. Michael Zeldin is with me and Carrie Cordero is also with us. So good to have both of you guys on. Michael, just starting with you, this -- why would Mueller want to talk to this man?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In follow-up to the information that Manafort shared internal polling data with foreign nationals, they would want to know whether or not those foreign nationals then in turn coordinated with the Trump campaign on ad buys or anything else. That coordination between the Trump organization and foreign nationals is strictly prohibited by the anti-coordination laws and could give rise to a criminal conspiracy to interfere with the federal election commissions honest and integrity sort of work. It's important for two criminal purposes not to mention just what the hell is going on there.

BALDWIN: Manafort shared this campaign polling data with this Russian with ties to the Kremlin, it wasn't necessarily illegal but maybe it was -- that might have made it more nefarious and illegal.

ZELDIN: Exactly. If they are coordinating, once they got it, if they're coordinating, then it's a problem.

BALDWIN: Carrie, what's your read especially in the wake of the Manafort news?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It goes to the central purpose of what the special counsel investigation is, which is whether or not there was actual coordination what we sometimes call collusion but coordination with the Trump campaign and the Russian government or Russian government surrogate. This is an additional piece of information that we've learned that the campaign chairman was giving polling data, what sort of the surrounding context of that was there information that he provided that then the recipients were doing something with that information? For example, were they helping to fund something related to the campaign, did they use it to affect their influence efforts against other candidates and in favor of the Trump campaign? Is there some way that data was used to actually buy ads or influence the domestic political conversation here in the United States? It goes to a central part of the connections between the campaign and Russian government surrogates. BALDWIN: Michael, what about what the President said today about how

he refused to say whether the Mueller report should be made public? If everyone is innocent, why wouldn't he want it out there?

[14:20:00] ZELDIN: If everybody is innocent, there are a lot of things that should have happened like a sit-down interview between the President and Mueller. However, that's not the operative theory here. The operative theory is to prevent public disclosure of what's going on here. That's why Congressional hearings were behind closed doors instead of in public as we saw in Watergate and in Whitewater. There's a big fear I think on the part of the Trump organization that Mueller's going to write a report that's going to say that maybe there wasn't collusion, maybe there was collusion, but there certainly was receptivity on behalf of the campaign to all of these Russian outreaches. They don't like that narrative one bit and they're going to try to fight it but I don't think they will be successful in the end, because I think that report is going to be made public by virtue of subpoenas from Congress.

BALDWIN: OK. Carrie, I wanted to ask you moving off of the Mueller news, we were just discussing, if President Trump declares this situation at the border and with the government shutdown a national emergency, if he actually does that, if it goes through the courts, what are the chances it gets totally hung up or succeeds?

CORDERO: So, there would be a process. The process that would take place is if he designates the national emergency, part of that designation has to include specific reference to actual statutes that would be triggered, in other words, what type of authority he'd be using. One example we read about in news reports is that he would use funding that is supposed to go to the department of defense in order to direct them to build the actual wall. So that then, if he files that emergency and he cites those statutes, there could be claims that are filed against that and then that would go into a litigation process. It would be a lengthy process and so the question would be then, would a judge who would receive those initial challenges to his use of that authority and his invocation of those specific statutes, would a judge issue an injunction that would then stop the activity and then we're in to many months of litigation over the scope of the national emergencies act and the specific statutes that he would try to use.

BALDWIN: OK. Again, we're still in the if scenario. We don't know if he will do this but that seems to be politically it might be a pretty strong exit ramp for him. Thank you very much. Good to have both of you on.

Coming up next as we continue to watch President Trump along the border there in Texas, we'll talk about the battle he has waiting for him back home in Washington. Speaker Pelosi now says she believes yesterday's meeting was staged so President Trump could walk out. We'll take a look at what went on in the situation room from the candy to the chaotic ending. Was this all straight out of the art of the deal" playbook?

[14:25:00] COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: The President says if he can't reach a deal with Democrats to reopen the government, he will declare a national emergency if he needs to do so. The President reiterating that point today after shutdown talks with Democratic leaders in the oval office yesterday went nowhere.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MAJORITY SPEAKER: Our meeting did not last long.

CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY SPEAKER: The President walked into the room and passed out candy. We saw a temper tantrum.

TRUMP: I don't have temper tantrums. I really don't.

SCHUMER: He sort of slammed the table.

TRUMP: I didn't smash the table. I should've.

SCHUMER: He just got up and said, then we have nothing to discuss and he just walked out.

TRUMP: I very calmly said, if you're not going to give us strong borders, bye-bye and I left.

PELOSI: Not only was the President un-Presidential, surprise, surprise, I think the meeting was a set up so he could walk out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Soon after the President called that meeting a quote/unquote, total waste of time, your tax dollars hard at work, folks just as 800,000 people won't get their paychecks tomorrow. Let's discuss with me now CNN political commenter Mary Katharine Hamm and "USA Today" Politics Reporter Eliza Collins. Let me just start with you Mary Katherine. Speaker Pelosi saying this whole meeting was a set up so the President could just up and walk out. The move seems like straight out of art of the deal," Trump's M.O., what do you think?

MARY KATHARINE HAMM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND SENIOR WRITER FOR THE "FEDERALIST": This does look very art of the deal." I want to know what kind of candy. If it were Reese's cups then the Democrats are being unreasonable.

BALDWIN: I'm more of a Twix gal.

HAMM: The issue is that there is a line that he is drawing which is the physical barrier and there has to be money for a physical barrier. I think it's actually decent negotiating which I don't always think he does to say that's my line, if indeed representative Pelosi says, no, we cannot do the physical wall, we cannot do money for that, then bye, that's his line and they know it very well.

BALDWIN: Say the President does declare a national emergency, Eliza, to you, at the end of the day, what do Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer do?

[14:30:00] ELIZA COLLINS, POLITICS REPORTER, "USA TODAY": They vote to reopen the government. It kind of takes some of the heat off them, right? They can take this to the court. It gets caught up for months or years and then they can say they pushed through legislation to reopen the government and McConnell will take that up because the whole point of contention, the wall money, is not going to be in those appropriations bills.

BALDWIN: Let me play some sound. We've heard from Jim Darling. We know the President is on the border right now and this mayor has hosted a lot of politicians at the border lately. Here he was.

COLLINS: Most Republicans come down right on the river boat and do that kind of stuff and then leave and the Democrats go to detention center and leave and not talk to each other when they get there about the two things they really need to talk about is immigration reform and border security in a compromising fashion.

BALDWIN: Mary Katharine, if they can't even agree on what the problem is, how are they supposed to find a solution?

HAMM That's part of what's frustrating about this is about.