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Reporting Indicates FBI Opened Investigation into President Trump's Ties to Russia after Firing of James Comey; Missing Girl whose Parent were Killed Found in Wisconsin; Government Shutdown Continues over Border Wall Funding; President Trump's Comments on Mexico Paying for Border Wall Examined; Megyn Kelly Paid Full Contract upon Leaving NBC. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 12, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: One more quickly. Do we have time? "You have lost your GD mind." Yes, I have. "the privacy rights of this poor woman?" What about the privacy rights if there are 500 people who are forced to give DNA? I'll see you next week.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and happy new day to you. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you this morning.
The president says it was a great day for America when he fired former FBI director James Comey, but for the FBI, it was another red flag.
PAUL: We have now learned the Bureau opened an investigation into whether his actions were a threat to national security. As first reported by "New York Times," this counterintelligence probe was happening simultaneously with the obstruction of justice investigation.
BLACKWELL: The president is defending himself in several tweets this morning, saying the probe started, this is a quote, for no reason and with no proof. He also called Comey a crooked cop.
PAUL: The investigation was eventually handed to Robert Mueller, of course. Not yet clear what happened after that. Joining us to help explain, CNN reporter Erica Orden. Erica, good morning to you. What are you hearing this morning?
ERICA ORDEN, CNN REPORTER: Good morning. As you mentioned, the counterintelligence probe was taken over by Robert Mueller after his investigation began, and the counterintelligence probe really puts I would say a finer point on the Mueller investigation, which has of course been investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and of course the counterintelligence investigation was specifically into whether Trump had been or was acting on behalf of the Russian government.
We may never know what became of this counterintelligence probe. It's possible when Mueller writes his report, when the Mueller team issues their report, that there may be some information from that investigation or some conclusions that were drawn from that inquiry in the written report.
PAUL: All right, Erica Orden, appreciate it so much. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: With us to discuss this case and what it means for the White House, what it means for Washington, CNN security analyst Samantha Vinograd, former adviser to President Obama's national security adviser, CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson, and CNN intelligence and security analyst Robert Baer, former CIA operative. Welcome to all of you.
And let me start with you, Bob. The president is tweeting this morning that this investigation was started for no reason and with no proof, and the FBI tried to, quote, do a number on him. Reconcile the president's framing of this with the threshold that an investigation like this of the president of the United States, no less, would have to cross.
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: A lot. The FBI, the last thing it wants to do is investigate a new president. In order to open that investigation, it had to have solid proof. Counterintelligence investigations like this are very serious, and they have to have something very substantial to open this, and they did with Trump. Let's not forget, his relations with the KGB go back to '87 when he goes to Moscow, that was a visit sponsored by the KGB. So you have to put that in context. And all of the Russian money, a lot of KGB money, going into Trump properties. And the FBI had more than enough reason to go in and investigate this guy, and it's not because of Comey. It's because of the agents on the ground who know what they're doing.
CAMEROTA: Samantha, the president also weighing in, saying "I have been far tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton, maybe tougher than any other president. At the same time, and as I've said often, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect someday we will have good relations with Russia again." That is a tweet from just a couple hours ago. Your thoughts?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Christi, the president's tweet trying to make the case that he is not a Russian asset really just undercuts his own defense. The president's tweet couldn't have been scripted better if it was written by Putin himself. Someone has to have told him that undercutting the FBI, insulting past presidents and members of the U.S. government, and criticizing their actions to keep us safe is really advancing Russia's mission.
Our own intelligence community has said that those very things are exactly what Russia is after. So in the president's response he's really just making Russia's job easier while at the same time really showing that he is going to continue to undercut our law enforcement community. And the question really is why. Is he trying to obstruct justice and thwart an investigation that may still be ongoing, or is he just so manipulated by Russia that he can't see past his own ego to let the law enforcement community protect us?
BAIER: Doing more, Stephen, of exactly what and in part got to the investigation, slamming law enforcement and saying nice things, trying to get closer and closer to Russia.
[10:05:01] Let me talk to you about what popped through my head this morning, and often when we get these new revelations, is that the House Intelligence Committee, when it was under the control of Devin Nunes, closed an investigation into potential collusion. Again, this investigation we're talking about with Robert Mueller is not completed, we don't know if the president actually was working with or for or if there was any collusion. But that closed so quickly with saying there was no evidence potentially of anything happening, and now we continue to get the drip, drip, drip out of the FBI investigation. What's this mean for Capitol Hill now that we're seeing Democrats take control of that committee?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think it gives added impetus to the Democratic oversight and investigative operation that's beginning to ratchet up. Adam Schiff, who will be the new chairman of the intelligence committee since the Democrats took over the House has raised questions in the past about the president's relationship with Russia.
I think we have to take a little bit of a step back. When this headline, this "New York Times" headline flashed up on your phone, it is a surreal moment that the FBI would open investigation into the president of the United States to see if he was acting on the interests of Russia. But if you think about it, it's a question that's been at the center of the Russia investigation all along. And Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, put out a statement last night saying, as you said, that the Trump administration's policy towards Russia has been quite a tough one.
All along there's been this other policy towards Russia that's been pursued by the president. We saw it in the Helsinki summit when he appeared to cozy up to Vladimir Putin. We saw it as recently as last week when he was talking about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 where he appeared to take the Russian view. There's been this long mystery as to why Donald Trump often takes the interests of Russia as his starting point rather than the point of view of his own intelligence agencies and U.S. foreign policy. That doesn't mean that he's acting as an agent of Russia. It could be just his worldview, but it's been a real curiosity that's been the center of this presidency and his relationship with Russia since the start.
CAMEROTA: Out of curiosity as well, when you look at the people around him between Manafort and Papadopoulos and Flynn, and all the people that have shown that they have connections to Russia, I heard one analyst earlier this week say what else was he going to do in terms of getting somebody on his team? He couldn't get people on his campaign team. These are the people he could get. Is he, Bob Baer, do you get a sense that he is guilty by association, or is there something more to the connections that all go back to President Trump?
BAER: Well, a Russian fingerprint is all over his campaign, especially Paul Manafort, who was in Kiev working with two Russian intelligence officers, staff officers. Paul Manafort takes polling data and gives it essentially to Russian intelligence. And if you're in the FBI or the CIA, there would be a strong presumption that Trump is under some sort of control of Russia. And everything he has done since does not detract from that, and that's when you would open an investigation and keep it open. And by the way, the FBI investigation is still looking into his connections with Russian intelligence. They haven't made a conclusion yet, but they are trying to collect evidence.
BLACKWELL: Samantha, Stephen did talk about when you get the alert, especially the headline and the way it was written, that the president was being investigated to see if he was working on behalf of Russians against America's interests. That is a jaw dropping moment. But considering all that's known, at least publicly, there's a line in this story that says that investigators who were aware of the evidence thought that sitting on it and not investigating would be an abdication of duty. Based on what is public, are you surprised the investigation was launched?
VINOGRAD: I'm not surprised at all. We knew even before this "New York Times" reporting that Putin, at least, considers President Trump an asset. We know that Vladimir Putin wanted President Trump to be elected. He was Putin's preferred candidate because Putin thought that he would be an asset to Russia, he would be helpful to advancing policies that were beneficial to the Russian state and not to the United States. So he has been an asset for Russia for a long time.
The question becomes whether President Trump was being manipulated by Russian intelligence, whether knowingly or unwittingly, to serve Russian interests. And based upon how easy it is to get the president to respond to a tweet or a critical headline or to flattery, it seems not unlikely that Vladimir Putin, a trained KGB agent, could very easily manipulate the president of the United States.
[10:10:08] And when we see tweets from the president like we did this morning denigrating the U.S. law enforcement community rather than talking about an attack by a hostile foreign hostile power, it really does all seem to advance the idea that he is again being manipulated or used by Russian intelligence.
PAUL: And Stephen, last thought here, what about Rod Rosenstein now? He is set, he says, to leave. What does that mean for this whole investigation at the end of the day?
COLLINSON: Well, he has been overseeing the Mueller investigation from the start, given the fact that the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was recused and wasn't able to oversee it. I think he has acted as a shield for this investigation. We're going to have confirmation hearings next week for a new attorney general, and this is going to play into the intensity, I think, of those confirmation hearings, and it is going to be I think a real Washington event in the next few days, and the Russia investigation, even as we're in the middle of a government shutdown, is going to take center stage yet again. It has been a shadow over Donald Trump's presidency from the start, and he cannot escape it. It keeps coming back. And I think that's going to be the case again here.
PAUL: All right.
BLACKWELL: Samantha Vinograd, Stephen Collinson, Bob Baer, thank you all.
PAUL: So the president is pushing back strongly, obviously, on this news. From the White House now, CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. We read some tweets from the president, also hearing from press secretary Sarah Sanders. Sarah?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Christi. President Trump and the White House are slamming the FBI in the wake of reports that counterintelligence agents were looking in why Trump did things that seem to benefit Russia in those hectic days between when Trump fired former FBI director James Comey, and when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel.
As you know, that counterintelligence probe was just an aspect of the obstruction inquiry that was folded into Mueller's broader investigation of Russian meddling in 2016, so it's unclear how long that counterintelligence probe actually went on. But nonetheless, the White House is responding forcefully to news of its existence in the first place. Sarah Sanders saying in a statement last night, "This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he is a disgraced partisan hack, and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI. Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia."
President Trump obviously weighing in himself this morning on Twitter, claiming that the FBI opened this counterintelligence inquiry with no proof, calling those former FBI leaders corrupt, and despite criticism that his tone toward Russia has been too deferential, Trump also making the argument that he's been sufficiently hard on Russia, tweeting, "I have been far tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other president. At the same time, and as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again."
This latest revelation comes as the White House legal team is bracing for the release of the Mueller report potentially soon. Sources tell CNN that the White House legal team is staffing up in anticipation of the release of that report, adding 17 new lawyers ahead of what could be dramatic conclusion to all this Russia intrigue in the next few months, Christi.
PAUL: Sarah Westwood, always good to have you. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Coming up, new details in the case of Jayme Closs. She was a missing girl that was found alive in Wisconsin. Hear more from neighbors about how they found her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got close to her, she leaned into me and just said I'm Jayme. And I knew right away who it was because if you live in Wisconsin, you've seen so many pictures of Jayme.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLACKWELL: New details this morning about the suspect who allegedly kidnapped 13-years-old Jayme Closs and killed her parents.
PAUL: According to police, Jake Thomas Patterson planned his actions and took proactive steps to hide his identity from law enforcement.
BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, Jayme Closs has been reunited with her aunt, you see them here smiling in a photograph with the dog. CNN correspondent Jean Casarez is in Barron, Wisconsin. Jean, what more are you learning there?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning today is an important day for crime scene processing. We are here in Barron, Wisconsin. This is the justice center right behind me. The local jail is on this complex, too, and this is where the suspect is being held until his court hearing on Monday.
About 60 miles away, and so that is the distance that she was abducted allegedly by this suspect, is the crime scene processing continuing of the home where she was allegedly held. Last night, 30 to 40 local, state, and federal law enforcement officials were executing a search warrant. That will continue today because for any prosecution, it is an extremely important time period to collect that evidence and collect it so it's good evidence that can be presented at a trial.
This all started Thursday afternoon, about 4:30. And it was the very icy cold, snowy area of Douglas County where a neighbor was walking a dog, and she sees a young woman come out of the forestry area. And she's disheveled, she's cold, she doesn't have a coat on. She has shoes that are weigh too big for her feet. And the young woman walks up to her, she said she instantaneously recognized her because of all the posters that have been around. Listen to what she had to say once they went to the neighbor's house and 911 was called.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:20:09] KRISTIN KASINSKAS, WOMAN WHO HELPED JAYME CLOSS AFTER SHE WAS FOUND: Absolutely knew it was her. We've seen her picture a million times around here. She looked exactly the same as she did in her picture, a little bit thinner I would say. And then she looked really tired, like she has been fighting a battle for weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CASAREZ: It was that neighbor right there that asked her, who have you been with, what type of vehicle does he have? And she actually communicated that to the 911 operator. At the same time they were coming to get Jayme, the suspect was pulled over about 10 minutes later. And you know Victor and Christi, this community has cared so much. They have believed she was alive, they didn't want to give up, and posters have been everywhere.
And I stopped at a store yesterday on the way in, and I said to the clerk, it's amazing she's alive, she was found. The store clerk didn't know yet, and she got so emotional hearing the news from me. I thought she would know, and she started to cry. And she was so overjoyed. And when they say this community is emotional for everything, that is exactly the case.
Also heard one other thing from the sheriff this morning that I think is very interesting, that Jayme lived allegedly with this abductor in captivity about two houses down from where she came out through the forested area. So I was very happy to hear that from the sheriff because she didn't have to walk too far before that neighbor with the dog found her. And I think in this weather, that is a critically important issue.
PAUL: No doubt. And you know what, this goes to show, we cannot give up on these people that are missing. We just can't give up on them. Jean Casarez, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: We're also getting more following Jayme's escape. The woman who found her spoke with CNN last night and described the moment Jayme approached her while she was walking her dog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE NUTTER, FOUND JAYME CLOSS: I had walked my dog about a mile and a half. The area where our cabin is and where Jayme was is like a loop. So I just finished the walk with Henry, and I was at the end of my driveway. And I saw a young woman coming towards me, saying I'm lost, I don't know where I am, and I need help.
And so I went toward her. The roads are very icy. And I knew right away when I first encountered her that she was in trouble because she wasn't dressed for the weather. It was very cold here. She just had on some leggings and a sweatshirt and shoes that were not hers, so I knew wherever she had come from, she had left in a hurry.
And when I got close to her, she leaned into me and just said I'm Jayme, and I knew right away who it was because if you live in Wisconsin, you've seen so many pictures of Jayme. So I just walked really quietly with Jayme, told her everything was going to be all right. And I just kept saying to myself, just be calm. You don't need her to get upset or excited. I didn't ask her any questions about anything except I wanted to know if the person she has been with, was he gone, was he in a car or whatever. And she said yes, he was gone in a car. I said what color is this car, because I wanted to be aware if I saw a car of that color coming toward us we needed to do something different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So smart there. Police haven't revealed, as Jean was talking about, haven't revealed a motive, but they say Closs was the suspect's intended target the night he allegedly killed her parents.
BLACKWELL: All right, it is now the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees go without a paycheck. Mothers, fathers, some with kids on the way, struggling as they ask the question when will I be paid? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[10:28:38] PAUL: So 28 minutes past the hour right now. Welcome. We're so glad to have you. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. President Trump is lashing out at the FBI this morning, reacting to news that the FBI opened an inquiry into whether the president of the United States' actions were a threat to national security. "The New York Times" broke the story last night. The FBI's counterintelligence probe was prompted by the firing of former FBI director James Comey. That was May 9th, 2017.
PAUL: Today, Meanwhile, marks the longest shutdown of the federal government in U.S. history. We're talking about more than 800,000 federal employees who do not have a paycheck now, nor is there one in sight. And we're hearing all of these stories of people selling things that are very valuable to them, their cars, their mementos, their books, whatever it takes so they can pay their bills.
CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher with us. Dianne sat down with one TSA worker who did not get paid yesterday. That had to be a jolt to get a paycheck and see a zero.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And most people don't look at the paychecks, right. It just shows up in their bank account. But you notice when your bank account is light an entire paycheck. And more than half of those 800,000 workers are still going to work every single day and not getting paid, including those at the TSA. I went to Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday, and I spoke with Aria (ph) Smiskolis (ph). She's been with the TSA for 13 years, one of many veteran officers there.
[10:30:05] She's six months pregnant and unsure what exactly she's going to do. Unlike others, she can't just call out sick to try to get other sort of odd jobs to do, driving Uber, Christi, some of them are doing odd jobs, painting and things like that, to supplement their income, because she's got to be there at work. She can't give up the insurance.
She has already had complications in her pregnancy, and now stress of not getting this paycheck and she says not knowing when it's going to come. Thirteen years at the TSA, like many, she has been through shutdowns before, but says what's most unnerving about this one is that, in her view, nobody has moved, and she doesn't see an end in sight. We're seeing the ramifications of this in Miami where today, tomorrow, and Monday, you're going to see one of the concourses close early because of TSA agents calling out sick.
PAUL: Thank you so much, Dianne, for bringing us her story, because that's something I don't think we all thought about was the insurance aspect of this. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When during the campaign I would say Mexico is going to pay for it, obviously I never said this, and I never meant they're going to write out a check. I said they're going to pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That was President Trump Thursday, insisting that he never said that Mexico would make a direct payment for the border wall, and obviously he never said that Mexico would just hand over billions. Did he?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who is going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: And by the way, by the way, 100 percent. You know, the politicians say they'll never pay -- 100 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not going to write us a check.
TRUMP: They'll pay. They'll pay, in one form or another. They may even write us a check by the time they see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: And that direct payment plan was more than an offhand response during a campaign rally, it was his official strategy. This didn't get a lot of attention during the campaign, but 22 days now into this government shutdown, we need to revisit it. It's this two- page memo first published by "The Washington Post" dated March 31st, 2016. It was sent to Robert Costa and Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post" from Donald J. Trump on campaign letterhead. The subject, "Compelling Mexico to pay for the wall."
It is then candidate Trump's three-day plan to force Mexico to, quote, "Make a one-time payment of $5-$10 billion to pay for the wall." That's back when Trump claimed it would be built for $10 billion. Estimates are roughly double that now.
According to the memo, on day one, Trump said the U.S. would suggest redefining it and invoking part of the Patriot Act to take a portion of money that workers in the U.S. send to Mexico and block all payments sent to Mexico by workers in the U.S. illegally. It's not clear whether the president can really do that. But then on day two of the plan, Mexico would immediately protest, the president wrote, because so many people rely on those remittances as they're known.
Now it's day three of the plan, and the U.S. would, quote, "tell Mexico that if the Mexican government will contribute blank billion dollars to pay for the wall, the regulation will not go into effect." Simple. Day one, day two, day three.
It's day 722 of the Trump administration, and it has not happened yet. In the memo to the post, Trump also threatened cancelling visas or a small increase in visa fees would pay for the wall, or enact new tariffs. In the memo Trump says that the U.S. has the high moral ground here and all the leverage, and it's an easy decision for Mexico, he wrote. The president has not executed his plan, and Mexico has said emphatically that it is not going to pay for the wall. So the president is demanding that you, the taxpayer, you pay for it instead, while simultaneously claiming this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made called the United States Mexico and Canada, USMCA deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: The USMCA deal, that's the trade agreement the President Trump hopes will replace NAFTA. He and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, signed this deal in November. I said hopes, because that's not law. Congress has not ratified that. And with Democrats running the show in the House now, there's no guarantee that it will.
And remember, any direct benefits of the deal will be reaped by individuals in the U.S. and American companies, not the U.S. government primarily. And the White House argues that, yes, more money for American companies means more tax revenue, sure. But it would be nearly impossible to track which dollars are the direct result of the new trade deal, and it's up to Congress to allocate that money at the end of the day anyway, and you see how that's working out right now.
[10:35:02] Bottom line -- when the president claims that he never said Mexico would make a direct payment for the wall, write a check, he didn't just say it, he wrote it down in detail. And when he says the new trade deal will pay for the wall, it won't.
PAUL: Thank you, Victor.
So he is a rising star in the Democratic Party with a uniquely American immigrant back story. Now Julian Castro is expected to announce he is planning to run for president.
PAUL: Julian Castro has been a mayor, a top housing official under President Obama, and next hour, he's expected to announce he wants to run for president in 2020. CNN's Dan Merica live from San Antonio. What are you hearing? And good morning, Dan.
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Christi. Good morning, good morning to you. So Julian Castro is expected to announce his presidential aspirations here in his hometown of San Antonio. It would make him be the first Latino in the race the race and one of the few Latinos ever to run for president.
[10:40:01] and it really sets up a matchup where Julian Castro is going to try to leverage his uniquely American immigrant story to compete and really to repudiate President Donald Trump and his vision of immigration and the wall that he hopes to build along the U.S.- Mexico border.
Possibly more than any other candidate who is considering getting into the 2020 race, Julian Castro's rise has really been tied to that story, to the fact that his grandmother immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1922. He was raised actually here where I am standing in the westside of San Antonio. He was baptized at a church right nearby. He went to middle school nearby. His childhood home is nearby.
So what Julian Castro is trying to do is center that race on his family story, on his rise from, frankly, a situation that not many presidential candidates come from to where he is right now. He acknowledges and he acknowledged this to me before that he is a long shot in the race. He is looking up at a number of other Democrats. Fundraising would clearly be an issue for him as well as just name. A lot of people don't know who Julian Castro is at this moment. He is going to try and change that, but as he told me, he has been a long shot his whole life and it doesn't scare him now that he's announcing his run for president.
PAUL: Good to know. Dan Merica, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Joining me now, A. Scott Bolden, former D.C. Democratic Party chairman and former chair of the National Bar Association, and Brian Robinson, Republican strategist, a former spokesman for Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Gentlemen, welcome back to the show. So Scott, let's start here right after Secretary Castro, that report there, he is going to announce likely he is running for president. He has a good personal story, personal narrative. What do you think his chances are in the primary?
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: It takes more than that with so many potential Democratic candidates for 2020. A great story, great following. But you've got to have three things in this packed primary, that's message, money, and be able to mobilize the voters. Message won't be that bad for him. He has a great message and a great story, but can he raise the money? And every day more candidates are getting in. There's only so much money on the Democratic side, and it will be difficult to compete, because remember, the big name Democrats aren't even in yet.
BLACKWELL: Yes, and some money might be sitting on the side waiting for them to get in, too.
Let me come to you with what the president has been tweeting in response to this major report from "New York Times" that the FBI, and we have got the headline there, investigated him for potentially working on behalf of Russia against U.S. interests. The president tweeted that this investigation was started for no reason and with no proof. Regardless of the outcome, innocent until proven guilty, obviously, do you believe this was started for no reason and with no proof?
BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let's remember that this is a year and a half ago. So this is breaking news that is 18 months old now. And as Rudy Giuliani pointed out, there's been no leaking coming out about the issue. We've had no new news on anything that they found. And also what Sarah Sanders said yesterday in response to these headlines, it should be the second line in every one of these stories, that during the Trump presidency, he has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor, President Obama. He has been tougher on fighting in Ukraine, he's been tougher on sanctions and going after Putin's cronies and the oligarchs. The idea -- if he is helping Russia, he's doing a really bad job of it.
BLACKWELL: But even this morning he started into the line it would be great if we could have a better relationship with Russia. And when you said Sarah Sanders's response, I thought you were going to talk about that line they were trying to sell about the reason the actually fired Comey when the president came out and said he was thinking Russia at the time.
ROBINSON: Look, his record on Russia is what matters here. This is a year and a half old story that people are finding out about now.
BLACKWELL: Even the part of the record where he stood next to him in Helsinki and said I believe Vladimir Putin over my own intelligence?
ROBINSON: You're standing there on that stage. Look, Trump respects President Putin in a way that makes a lot of Americans uncomfortable.
BLACKWELL: Reagan wouldn't have done that, Bush wouldn't have done that, neither Bush would have done that, right?
BOLDEN: Obama wouldn't have done that.
ROBINSON: He didn't spring this on us in Helsinki. He was very transparent. He was very clear that he respects President Putin and he wants to have a better relationship with him. And you don't do that standing there side by side and saying this guy is a criminal and a liar. That's not what you do in diplomacy.
BLACKWELL: Unless he actually is. Scott?
BOLDEN: Here's the deal, in 2016, we know during the campaign that he was trying to do a business deal in Russia. We also know that during the same period of time, which the FBI started to investigate -- remember, the FBI started investigating these context and connections under Brennan.
And so then he goes to the White House, and he has the Russians there. And what he does with the Russians, I fired Comey because he is crazy and this Russian investigation. He does it on national TV, and then later on national TV during another interview. That is more than enough, and I am a former prosecutor from New York, that's more than enough for the FBI and the DOJ to start investigating.
[10:45:00] Then you couple that with Comey's firing, and then look at Trump's public statements during the campaign, that's more than enough to investigate to say, wait a minute, who do we have in the White House? Do we have a Russian agent in the White House or not? Whether it goes somewhere or not is a whole other thing. So he dives this narrative. Trump drove this narrative. It didn't go
anywhere, and we have heard about it before because Rosenstein was accused of it by the Senate GOP and House GOP that perhaps he would wear a wire during the investigation. But the FBI and DOJ represent the United States of America, not this president, and that president, any president, could be investigated when you make statements and have evidence like that.
BLACKWELL: Let me turn to the shutdown. The president is tweeting also this morning about Democrats, why have you gone home? I'm sitting here in the White House? Did they hand him at least a rhetorical or optic, not victory, but advantage here by not staying in Washington and pressing the point?
BOLDEN: No, and stewing in their office, like the way he is stewing in his office like a seven-year-old. He walked himself into this box.
BLACKWELL: But let's just say Democrats have held sit-ins on the House floor in the past. And that was obviously --
BOLDEN: Something that they deeply believed in. The Democrats have done everything they can to open up this government. They passed legislation. They said you're not getting the wall. If you keep negotiating with me and you keep telling me you want a wall and I tell you that it is off the mark or it's off the table, then that's not good negotiation. That's being hard headed.
ROBINSON: Right. Saying the wall is immoral is being hardheaded.
BOLDEN: It's ineffective.
ROBINSON: And being unable to compromise. Last week we had an address to the nation by President Trump. He was the only person that night who said the word compromise. Chuck and Nancy went on in the world's most awkward news conference of all time and never used that. They said we saw not going to bend on this at all. The wall is immoral. When you use that kind of language, what sort of flexibility does that leave you to negotiate? Only Trump is talking about compromise.
BLACKWELL: You can say compromise, but he's not. He is holding the $5.7 billion. But Democrats are not compromising either. So whether you use the word or not, it doesn't matter.
BOLDEN: Wait a minute. He offered $1.3 billion on border security.
BLACKWELL: Not for a wall.
BOLDEN: Because it makes no sense. The wall is not going to stop drugs or crime or terrorism. Independent empirical data supports what the Democrats are saying.
BLACKWELL: I hear what you're saying, but the wall here is the only point of contention. So unless you compromising on a wall, whether the president or Democrats, then that is the point on which people need to compromise. So saying it means nothing, right -- let me ask you this, because I know we've got to wrap. Do I have any extra time, guys? Let me ask you this. He used every tool in the box, every tool in the box, the Rose Garden speech, the press conference, the tour, the Oval Office address. What's left?
ROBINSON: I think what we're going to see here, Victor, is who has the highest tolerance for the pain that the shutdown is going to inflict. And I think it may be Trump, because the Democratic base is going to be more hostile to the shutdown than the Republican base. One thing that Trump has going for him is that his voters support him in this.
BLACKWELL: When you say his voters support, we have got to wrap it there. But you talk about tolerance for pain, I think we need to talk about the tolerance and pain of the 800,000 people who are not getting paid.
BOLDEN: And Trump acknowledged that.
ROBINSON: Schumer and Pelosi have a role in that, too.
BLACKWELL: A. Scott Bolden, Brian Robinson, thank you both.
PAUL: Thank you, gentlemen.
Former NBC anchor Megyn Kelly departing the network not before a pretty large pay day. How much is NBC paying to keep her off the air? We're going to have that for you, next.
PAUL: So former television host Megyn Kelly will receive all the money from her $69 million contract with NBC. She and NBC officially parted ways yesterday, Frida. That departure put into motion when Kelly was taken off the air this past fall when she defended Halloween costumes that incorporate blackface during a segment on the talk show. So I want to bring in CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy. Oliver, any indication as to where she might be going?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, let's just wrap things up and bring viewers back. These negotiations for Megyn Kelly's exit, they started last fall when she made those controversial blackface comments. And so they have been going on for quite some time. And there were a couple of things at stake here. There was first, the money. How much money was she going to walk away with? She was halfway through a $69 million contract, like you said, and so money was a big question.
The second thing was, what was she able to say about her experience at NBC after she left the network. In terms of money, we know she's going to be walking away with the entire sum of her contract, so about $30 million was left. She's going to walk away with that.
And she is going to be subject, however, to a standard industry non- disparagement clause. So I wouldn't expect to Megyn Kelly on television talking about her experience at NBC or with executives, at least in a disparaging way. That said, to your question, she was confronted this past week on New
York City, on the streets, a group of celebrity photographers asked her will we see you back on TV, what's next? And she did say that they would see her back on TV sometime this year. It is really unclear what she meant by that. I talked to her one of her representatives yesterday, and there was no more information or details. But she did say that that was going to happen, and it is noteworthy, she is not subject to any noncompete. It's not thought she's subject to a noncompete. So in theory, she could be back on TV sometime this year. She says she is going to be, but there are really no details about that, and it's really hard to see where she would go.
PAUL: No doubt about it. Oliver Darcy, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
DARCY: Thank you.
PAUL: We'll be right back.
[10:59:00] PAUL: Quick programming note for you. Join fashion and cultural experts like Tim Gunn, Christie Brinkley, Diane von Furstenberg, even more, for a front row seat to the runway of American history. "American Style" premiers tomorrow night, 9:00 eastern, right here on CNN.
BLACKWELL: Now to this story out of Mil Waukee. A bus driver saved a one-year-old girl who walking on a freeway, and this was an overpass in freezing temperatures. You see her there in red. The driver pulled over after she saw the baby running barefoot towards an intersection wearing a onesie and a diaper.
PAUL: I know. Officials believed the girl disappeared after her mother had a mental health crisis. That child, I'm happy to tell you, is OK, and she's with her father. And kudos to that bus driver. Thank you, thank you.
BLACKWELL: Yes. That's so great. Another person on the bus gave her a coat to keep her warm. So they took care of her.
PAUL: Thank you so much for spending time with us. Make good memories today.
BLACKWELL: There's much more ahead in the next hour of CNN News. We turn it over now to Fredricka Whitfield.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much. But this is you all's special day, happy anniversary, five years.
BLACKWELL: It is, thank you.
PAUL: Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: What is it, wood, cotton, something like that?
PAUL: I think it's wood.
WHITFIELD: OK. I'll find some woodworks coming your way.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much. Have fun today.