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Castro: I'm a Contender for the Presidency; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces Run for President; NYT: FBI Open Investigation on Trump Possibly Working for Russia; Miami Airport Closes Concourse Early Due to TSA Shortage; Trump Still Considers Declaring National Emergency, Law 100 Percent on His Side; Fashion from the White House Shapes the Country. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired January 12, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER & ANALYST: And I think that's quite a difference to the president of the United States. Remember, they're trying to determine who is going to be the Democratic nominee to go against Trump come November 2020 and trying to differentiate himself and say, look, we want to take it to President Trump, I will present a different America than President Trump is presenting, and we'll see if it works. He's being honest with everybody. Saying he's a long shot. He certainly is. You know what, you run, you run, you run, you run, and you never know what might happen.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Mustafa, we heard again Castro has been able to attract, you know, some pretty heavy hitters in the political, you know, sphere to join him.

MUSTAFA TAMEEZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, one thing we often don't talk about the 38 electoral votes from Texas. Texas has been a Republican state. Democrats have been winning the popular vote but we struggle with the electoral votes. If the electoral votes, the second after California, go in the Democratic column, you change the electoral map forever. That is the key thing. Julian Castro is an exciting candidate with a great narrative. If he can move Texas for Democrats, not only we change from red to blue, but we change what we talk about in this country.

WHITFIELD: Let's take a pause. Let's go back to Castro, who is talking about something so topical now, immigration.

JULIAN CASTRO, (D), FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR: Talking about how she came to this country as a child, separated from her dying mother. Even as a 70-year-old woman, when she remembered those moments, she would cry, like the 7-year-old girl she was when it happened. Because she never had a chance to say good-bye to her mom. Yes, we have to have border security. But there's a smart and humane way to do it.


CASTRO: And there is no way in hell that caging babies is a smart or a good or a right way to do it.

(CHEERING) CASTRO: We say no to building a wall and yes to building communities.


CASTRO: We say no to scapegoating immigrants and yes to DREAMers, yes to keeping families together, yes to finally passing comprehensive immigration reform in this country.


CASTRO: If we all work together, we can build a nation more prosperous not only for those already doing well but for everybody else. We can raise the minimum wage so people don't have to work two or three jobs just to put food on the table.


CASTRO: We can protect a woman's right to make her own decisions about her body because --


CASTRO: -- for women, access to reproductive care is an economic issue.


CASTRO: We can protect the right of workers to organize in an economy that is quickly changing and leaving too many workers behind.


CASTRO: We can protect people from discrimination no matter who they love or how they identify.


CASTRO: And we'll work to make sure every American has a safe, decent and affordable place to live in this country.


WHITFIELD: Back to my panel. So he's touching on a very topical issue right now, immigration, the wall, et cetera.

Alice, you've got Castro saying, yes, we have to have border security. No to a wall, yes to keeping families together. He's not just engaging in Democrats to appeal to him, this is a widespread message.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Certainly. Immigration is very big issue for him and very topical with what's going on. He clearly based on how he referred to in the speech, he's making it an emotional issue and not talking about the facts and figures --


WHITFIELD: It's a message to the sitting president, to the sitting president, to Republicans.

STEWART: It absolutely is. It's one that he's in a good position to convey that message. I think what he's doing today is really positive for him, given he doesn't have the name I.D. other Democrats do. He is telling his personal story. I think this is tremendous. This is a good way to get out there and really establish himself in the field. And there's three "P"s when you start to run for president. You tell your personal story. You outline your political ideology. You show your through the campaign your power to connect. If he's able to connect with voters, that will go a long way in making him -- as he sees himself now, as a long shot, that will put him in the running, if he's able to pull all those factors together.

WHITFIELD: Another "P" word.

So, Rebecca, you've got to be persuasive, you know, if you are running and if you are, you know, the sitting president, you have to be able to sell, you know, your idea, sell your point, et cetera. How persuasive can Julian Castro be to America?

[13:05:14] REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I'm glad you're highlighting that question, Fred. Because in a field that is going to be so big and so competitive in this Democratic presidential primary, where we're expecting potentially two dozen candidates here, but at the very least, certainly a dozen at least, this is going to be an election where these candidates are challenged to set themselves apart from the other Democrats who are running. Really find an issue they can home in on and distinguish themselves from these other candidates and persuade Democratic voters they're a compelling candidate. And one of the big issues for Democrat primary voters we hear time and again talking to people in Iowa, New Hampshire, some of these key states, is who is going to be best positioned to take on Donald Trump in the general election and who would have the best contrast as the Democratic nominee with president. That's something Democrats are looking at closely. The challenge for Julian Castro and others is to show them they're that Democrat.

WHITFIELD: And he's not alone because now we've got other prominent Democrats who are throwing their hat into the ring. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is the latest. She made her presidential announcement to our Van Jones last night. Listen.


REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D), HAWAII: I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week.

Issues relating to making sure people who are sick get access to the health care they need. Making sure that people who are stuck in our broken criminal justice system and the families that are torn apart are being helped, that are being served. Making sure we're taking action to protect our planet for us and for the future. There's a whole host of issues that I'm looking forward to addressing, and there's one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace.


WHITFIELD: Harry, you've got Tulsi Gabbard, you've got John Delaney, who made his announcement, and now you've got Julian Castro, and then you've got Elizabeth Warren, who has her exploratory. But with her visit in Iowa and New Hampshire, the feeling is she, too, might be making it very formal. So when the field is this, you know, varied, this soon, is that a real attribute or detriment to those running for the Democratic ticket?

ENTEN: I would say there's a reason why Julian Castro got in so early. He's recognizing that Beto O'Rourke, his fellow Texan, may also get into the ring. That's why a lot of candidates get in early, they want to get the press now. It's going to be very difficult for these candidates to bleak through. I think you'll have some big names, whether it be Biden, Warren, Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, a whole host of people who will run. These lesser-known candidates are going to have more difficulty. We'll have debates and we'll see what eventually occurs. At this point, this nomination process is so wide open, I would honestly answer even the best-known candidates have no more than a 20 percent chance of winning a nomination.


ENTEN: So it's really wide open.

WHITFIELD: Alice, given there are maybe three or possibly four this early in the game, it's starting to look reminiscent of the Republican field of '17. Eventually whittled down. How are you reading the tea leaves when it potentially could have just a multitude of contenders?

STEWART: Fred, I think the more choices any party has, the better. May the best man or woman win in a situation like this. When you go back to four years ago, who was leading in the polls at this time on the Democratic side, we had Hillary Clinton. We certainly had Joe Biden. We had Elizabeth Warren, right out there at number two. On the Republican side, look, we had Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee. These were the people four years ago leading the people that least, on the Republican side, weren't the ones that finished the race in the end.

So as Julian Castro said, he didn't say it's a race or a marathon, he said it's a relay. But it is a marathon. It's who can maintain their momentum, who can continue to get their message out, and who really has the fire in the belly. And that is one of the -- a big factor in who's able to do this. Certainly, raising money is another factor. This is not about who gets in first and who gets their name out there in front first. It's about who is able to maintain this momentum all the way through the primary and certainly the general.

WHITFIELD: And, Mustafa, usually, a candidate tries to keep it very positive. On the issue of the relay, Julian Castro saying the relay isn't working, you know, we're falling backwards, you know, instead of forward. So has he just, you know, embraced, you know, an uphill battle. Is he essentially saying that, you know, it's going to be difficult for him to make promises? [13:10:10] TAMEEZ: Look, I think that -- I think he's look at a

forward-leaning effort, an optimistic message. He's always been a scrappy guy. He comes from the west side of San Antonio, made his way to an Ivy League education. He brought early childhood education to San Antonio, which people thought couldn't be done. He's got an uplifting, positive message. At the end of the day, the person that can move Texas, changes politics nationally. I think Julian Castro has a lot to offer but you'll also see Beto O'Rourke jump into the race very soon.

WHITFIELD: Rebecca, last word?

BUCK: Beto is the big question for someone like Julian, right? The question is, is this primary going to be big enough for two Democrats from Texas? I mean, Julian's message is so much more unique if Beto is not in the race. If Beto decides to get in this race, it could be a whole different ballgame in terms of Julian Castro's candidacy.

WHITFIELD: All right. Rebecca Buck, Mustafa Tameez, Alice Stewart, Harry Enten, good to see all of you. Thank you so much.

BUCK: Thank, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, an explosive report from the "New York Times." The FBI opened an investigation into President Trump to see if he was working against American interests on behalf of Russia. The president is lashing out at the allegations. We'll break it all down, next.


[13:15:40] WHITFIELD: Now to an explosive new report from the "New York Times." After Trump fired former FBI Director Comey in May 2017, the FBI started investigating if the president was secretly working on behalf of Russia. I know. You heard that right. The FBI opening an investigation into the president of the United States to see if he was working against American interests on behalf of Russia. Law enforcement officials were said to be so concerned by the president's behavior, they launched a counterintelligence investigation that also included a criminal aspect, whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey.

It was moments like this that sparked the FBI's interest back in 2016.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.


WHITFIELD: "The Times" says the FBI held off, quoting now, "Held off on opening an investigation into him," they said, "in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude," end quote, from the "New York Times." But then two specific instances where President Trump tied Comey's firing to the Russia investigation helped spark this counterintelligence probe. Here is one of those moments.


TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, an excuse by Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.


WHITFIELD: The second instance is a draft letter that president intended to send to Comey listing the reasons that he was firing him. But his lawyer successfully blocked Trump from sending it, according to the "New York Times."

The White House is calling this bombshell report, quoting now, "absurd." And it sparked an angry tirade from the president via Twitter this morning.

So let's check in now with CNN's White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez.

So what more is being said from the White House, Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred, yes, President Trump unleashed this barrage of tweets we saw this morning attacking current and former members of his own Intelligence Community. The president sending out tweets with claims that are either unverified or out-right false claims. You can see there, the president tweeting about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, suggesting that Mueller is protecting James Comey. Also suggesting that no one has been tougher on Russia than Trump. You can actually make the case that would one has been friendlier to Russia than Trump.

Of course, we shouldn't forget one day after the president fired James Comey, he had Russian officials visiting him here at the White House and he told them that the pressure would be off him now that he fired Comey. He also shared with them classified information about American intelligence assets overseas.

Let's not forget the side by side press conference we saw in Helsinki with Trump and Putin. The president failing to confront Putin over Russian election meddling.

On top of all of that, even as the president tries to discredit the Mueller investigation, we should not forget, just this week, the attorneys for Paul Manafort revealed that the former campaign chairman had shared private, sensitive polling data with a suspected Russian intelligence agent.

Even as the Mueller investigation moves forward as the president tries to discredit it, he's still faced with details that continue to come out that raise questions about collusion.

One last quick point, Fred, in the middle of all this, the president is fighting another P.R. battle over the government shutdown. He tweeted about that as well. We're now facing the longest continuous government shutdown in American history -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

So one of the reporters who broke the "New York Times" story talked to CNN about why this is so significant.


ADAM GOLDMAN, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES (voice-over): The way these things are supposed to work is we're not supposed to find out about it, OK, that the FBI investigates somebody. Maybe they suspect an individual might be working for Russia. They investigate. They do it quietly. And it goes away.

Obviously, the firing of Comey and the referencing of the Russia investigation of the president (INAUDIBLE). The second aspect of that was the leader, the next day, the Lester Holt interview on NBC News, he said he did it because of Russia. And, you know, the FBI's watching this and they say, well, he's telling us why he did it. He did this on behalf of Russia. And, you know, within days of that, they've opened up this -- they've opened up this multi-tiered investigation that has a criminal aspect and a counterintelligence aspect to it.


[13:20:33] WHITFIELD: Joining me now, former White House counsel in the Clinton administration and CNN legal analyst, Jack Quinn. And former director of communications for the U.S. National Intelligence and CNN's national intelligence analyst, Shawn Turner.

Good to see both of you.


WHITFIELD: Shawn, you first.

How concerning should it be that there's a counterintelligence investigation of this caliber against the president of the United States?

TURNER: Fred, this is a big deal. When we think about what a counterintelligence investigation involves, this is a question of whether or not the president of the United States was either willingly or wittingly or unwittingly coopted by Russia. When we think about this investigation, there are three scenarios here. Either, you know, there's this idea that Russian interference in the election was something that national security officials should be concerned about. Or this idea they interfered in the election and U.S. persons helped them. And then this idea they interfered in the election and it wasn't just U.S. persons associated with the election, but it was the president who helped Russia. Either scenario is one in which there are significant national security concerns and they justify the FBI opening up this kind of investigation. WHITFIELD: And then, Jack, you know, we've heard from the president

who is -- and the White House. The White House, you know, in their statement saying this is all absurd, you know, and the president, you know, having his criticisms against the FBI, people working there. You worked as a White House counsel in the Clinton administration. And we know that in recent days and weeks, the White House has hired more than 15 new attorneys. When this information comes to light, what kind of advice likely will be given to the president? What other advice would there be in light of the circumstances that preceded the special counsel investigation?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let me start by saying the White House counsel's role in this particular aspect of Donald Trump's legal affairs would be somewhat limited. Because anything that took place before Donald Trump became president would not be subject, would not be within the purview of the White House counsel. That's for Giuliani and others on the personal legal team to be concerned about. In the event that any of this led to invocation of executive privilege or attempted invocation of it, in furtherance of suppressing a report that might come from the special counsel or from the Congress, that might legitimately warrant the involvement of the White House counsel. That would be dubious in itself. And --


WHITFIELD: His personal attorney stated the context of the article and said it's been a year and a half, so there really must be nothing to it so not a worry.

QUINN: Fred, that's classic Rudy. It could have been a week and a half instead a year and a half. Rudy Giuliani is prostrating himself again, doing whatever it takes to get a pat on the head from President Donald Trump. Look, the absurdity would have been had the FBI not launched this investigation. When you think about the stakes here, when you think about the fact that -- the one thing that Boris and Shawn didn't mention, and I can appreciate it because there's a ton of things that could be added to this litany is, you know, the fact that during the course of the campaign, number one, the Republican Party changed its platform on Ukraine and Russia. That was a startling reversal. And secondly, coincidentally or not, during that time, the Trump Organization was negotiating a terribly lucrative building project in Moscow which, of course, they initially said ended before the campaign ever started. Rudy Giuliani more recently says actually that went through the election. During the entire course of Trump's campaign for the presidency, he was compromised because he was negotiating a big business deal.

WHITFIELD: So Shawn, essentially, the president was voluntarily giving investigators more reasons to launch these investigations. Most people were aghast on the campaign trail during the convention, at the time that's about to get under way, the president would challenge Russia to go ahead and hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails. So, you know, speaking to the word Jack just used, wouldn't it be absurd if the FBI or law enforcement didn't follow up on that kind of material and behavior? [13:25:32] TURNER: Yes, I think Jack is absolutely right. The FBI

looks at all of the evidence. There's a body of evidence here, not only from the president but also from people associated with the campaign. When the FBI looks at what was available in the public sector, you combine that with what was available through legitimate foreign intelligence collection, you have some indications that people involved with the campaign and perhaps even the president may have been in some sort of relationship with the Russians. I think about this from the best-case scenario for the president. The best-case scenario for the president is one in which there are people who were around the president during the election who may have engaged with Russia and may have established some sort of relationship. And then the president found out about that and maybe the president was on board with that, but he was not directly involved. Then at some point, when this investigation started, when he realized the federal government was looking into this, then the president may have taken actions that would have protected those people who were engaged with the Russians. Even under that best-case scenario, the president would still be guilty of obstruction of justice if he took steps to prevent the FBI from finding out what happened. Even if the president never talked to a Russian, never got engaged, there's still a bit of concern here.

WHITFIELD: There have been so many lies around, involving so many parties, including the president, that, too, kind of raises big question marks, like why, why, why. Why lying?

TURNER: Right.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shawn Turner, Jack Quinn, thank you so much. Good to see you both.

TURNER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, the longest U.S. government shutdown in history drags on. One of the impacts already felt in Miami where the international airport is temporarily closing a concourse. The latest developments in a live report coming up.


[13:31:58] FREDRCIKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The stalemate on the border wall has now created the longest U.S. government shutdown in U.S. history. For 22 days, 800,000 federal workers have been either furloughed or working without pay. Most of them saw zeros on their paychecks yesterday.

And as they struggle, members of Congress left Washington for the weekend without making a deal. President Trump urging them to come back, tweeting, "We have a massive humanitarian crisis at our border. We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their vacations and get back to work. I am in the White House ready to sign."

The president is demanding Congress include funding for a border wall in any shutdown deal. But he says declaring a national emergency is not off the table to get the $5 billion in down payments he wants.

The impact of the shutdown has touched millions, including thousands of TSA workers forced to work without pay. The staffing issues are so bad at the Miami International Airport that officials say one of the concourses will only be open half a day.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Florida.

Rosa, how is it affecting travel for everybody?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This concourse, Fred, is closed. The closure started at 1:00 p.m. This is Concourse G. No entry. All of the TSA agents working this particular checkpoint walked out in the past half hour and they moved on to the other 10 checkpoints at this airport. Now, all of the flights that normally exit from this particular concourse were reassigned to the other gates.

Walk with me because I want to show you the map of the airport. It's really going to give you an idea of what we're talking about here. This is Concourse G. And what -- this spokesperson from the airport tells us that normally they have about 40 TSA agents call in sick, and because now they're experiencing about 80 of them calling in sick, that's why they closed G, sent all of the agents to the other inspection points that are busier. We won't see any of the G gates in the flight information panels here because all of those were moved.

Now, the other important point is not only are federal workers impacted. Also nonfederal workers. Whenever you come to the airport, you go through security, go to your gate, you can stop by, get a little bite to eat. Perhaps if you forgot a souvenir for a friend, there's a gift shop. Well, the four dining locations and the gift shop in Concourse G also have to close. So all those individuals who worked in the establishments are also without work for the next three days because of this closure.

There's a bit of a silver lining. The TSA administrator tweeting that for the TSA members who worked on December 22th, they do get a $500 check, if you will. But, Fred, my big question when I saw that tweet, is that before taxes or after taxes. Because if it is before taxes, they might not get a full $500. If they've been working without pay, every penny counts -- Fred?

[13:35:22] WHITFIELD: Oh, my god. Yes, it does.

Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

Let's talk further about this. Let's bring in now Thomas Kaplan, a Washington correspondent for the "New York Times," and Elaina Plott, White House correspondent for "The Atlantic."

Good to see you both.

You heard that from Rosa talking about getting paid for one day, December 22, after the shutdown, and then $500 for working on the holiday.

So, Elaina, is that an indicator to TSA or even incentive for TSA workers to come back to work, even if they're not going to get paid?

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For a TSA agent reading the tea leaves, the president is more mercurial than ever over his decision to declare a federal emergency over the U.S./Mexico border or push for a negotiation with Democrats. The problem here, of course, is Mike Pence and Jared Kushner have been on Capitol Hill day in and day out this week negotiating with the Senate Republicans and Democrats and even the House to reach a package that they believe that Democrats also might sign on to. And so the problem is not necessarily the party, writ large, but, rather, Donald Trump. People like Kushner and Pence have gone back to Trump with a few different offers. Things they think Democrats might be on board with. What we're seeing now is President Trump saying no to every single offer. For the president to tweet that he's ready for -- he's in the White House waiting for Democrats to make a deal, it's not -- it's pretty disingenuous.


So, Thomas, the president is painting the picture that nobody is, you know, willing to bend when all of the reporting is he's the one who's not willing to bend here.

THOMAS KAPLAN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Right, that's exactly right. It's been very clear all along sort of the position, here. To think Nancy Pelosi is going to wake up tomorrow and say, all right, I'll give you the border wall that I think is immoral, it's just not going to happen. This idea -- first of all, Republicans in Congress are not here in Washington. The idea that this is Democrat's fault because they've left, it's very clear the president is demanding this thing that he's not going to get. And until something changes, we're going to be stuck in the stalemate.


So, Elaina, do you see that the -- I mean, it's incumbent then on the president to say, OK, let's work on the spending bill, deal with the border wall later. Are there any indicators he's willing to do that, especially if he says he's not looking for a reduction in price? He's already turned down the other offers from Republicans and Democrats on, OK, we'll give you this instead of $5.7 billion?

PLOTT: I have no indication or reporting to suggest that the president is willing to lower the price he wants on his border wall. And for that reason, a growing number of sources both inside the White House and outside the White House, who have consulted with White House aides on the shutdown strategy, people believe it grows more inevitable we'll be seeing a declaration of a national emergency. Of course, we've seen some of staunchest allies of the president, including Lindsey Graham and Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows say that they support the idea of that. When you have someone like Congressman Meadows, who has the president's ear, is talking to him by phone each day, that carries weight.

WHITFIELD: Thomas, are they saying that, including Lindsey Graham, go ahead and declare that national emergency, because that will mean the immediate, you know, impulse will be to reopen government while he tries to get that money, you know, from -- whether it's the Department of Defense or somewhere -- for the national emergency? I mean, would it be that succinct?

KAPLAN: I suppose that's the best-case scenario. It sort of provides an out, both for Trump and for members of Congress. There's really no certainty that's going to happen. If he declares a national emergency, Congress will be able to pass a bill or reopen the government. Who knows if the president would agree to sign it? Especially if Democrats say we're going to challenge this in court. It's unclear what happens then. I think there really is a reluctance amongst some members of Congress, even in the president's own party, to go to the emergency route just because it's such a slippery slope. I talked to Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, who said, you know, this is untested, this is not the way, you know, we normally do things. And he much preferred pay for the wall, for appropriations, the way these things are normally done.

[13:40:03] WHITFIELD: So, Elaina, the president said this could be months or years. With this digging in the heels, is that starting to look rather realistic?

PLOTT: I think the fact that you have Senator appropriations chairman, Richard Shelby, whenever reporters ask him exactly this question, Fred, do you think the president's words carry weight in this case, he says, yes, absolutely. I think anybody who tells you, at this point, they know whether we will go the route of a national emergency or pass appropriations bills as the Democrats want to do piecemeal is probably lying to you. There really is no --


WHITFIELD: Is McConnell blocking that?


PLOTT: Absolutely. A lot of those bill have passed through the House this week and Mitch McConnell is refusing to take them up. But you see a growing chorus of moderate Republicans in the House urging Senate leadership to take this up. But as Tom points out, there's never a guarantee the president will sign this. Under pressure from the executive branch, it's unclear whether they would have the votes to override that veto.

WHITFIELD: It gets curiouser and curiouser. Really, there are no winners. No winners.

PLOTT: No winners.

WHITFIELD: Thomas and Elaina -- I've been calling you Elaine --

PLOTT: No worries.


Thank you so much.

PLOTT: Thank you.

KAPLAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, next, President Trump is considering issuing a national emergency, as we've been talking about, as his battle over the border rages on. He says the law is 100 percent on his side. Is that true? We'll discuss that next.


[13:45:49] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Declaring a national emergency to get a border wall built. President Trump says he's not ready to do that right now. He calls a declaration the easy way out. And says it's up to Congress to provide wall construction money as part of a deal to end the government shutdown. But the president insists he is still willing to declare an emergency and will fight any legal challenge all the way to the highest court of the land.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the absolute right to do it. It says as clear as you can. Now what will happen? I'll be sued. It will be brought to the 9th circuit. And maybe even though the wording is unambiguous, just like with the travel ban, it will be appealed to the 9th circuit and we'll probably lose there, too, and then, hopefully, we'll win in the Supreme Court.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk about this. From Cleveland, here's Avery Friedman, civil rights attorney and law professor.


WHITFIELD: And in New Orleans, criminal defense attorney, Richard Herman.

All right, good to see you in the Big Easy.

Even though the president says this is the easy way out, Richard, is it? The president insisting an emergency declaration over the border wall, 100 percent legal. Is he right?

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's right. There's been 58 declared emergencies since 1978, Fred.

FRIEDMAN: That's right. That's right.

HERMAN: The great bloviator and deflector will never do it. Because, in reality, not the "Twilight Zone, in reality, there's no crisis. There's no national emergency. And this will be the first time Congress will seek to overturn a national emergency if Trump decides to call it. He's doing it to bluff. He's doing it to bluff Congress and make a deal for him. There's no way, Fred, he's going to actually do it. It's just a threat. It's a bloviation and deflection.



WHITFIELD: Still, it's hypothetical, but the president keeps putting it out there. Although he says maybe not right now.

Avery, if he were to declare an emergency declaration and there were a legal challenge and he says, hey, if it goes up to the highest court of the land, I'm OK with that. Who would issue those filings, Avery? How would be challenging him in court?

FRIEDMAN: There's wonderful constitutional history on the very issue. It was before the enactment of the National Emergencies Act, which was in 1976. In 1952, President Harry Truman tried to do the same thing. He tried to shut down the steel mills in Youngstown because he said it would affect the war effort in Korea. It went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court said, 6-3, no, Mr. President, you can't get away with it. He was shut down. The law has changed a bit, but the president may declare, Fredricka, may declare an emergency, but ultimately he has to prove it.


WHITFIELD: How long does that take usually?


FRIEDMAN: That's my point. My point is, by the time it is filed in the federal district court, it gets to the United States Court of Appeals, and gets to the Supreme Court, at best, he gets to start the wall, if he wins -- big question -- probably in about 2020.


OK, so then if that were the case, you're talking about that two-year span if it got caught up in the courts, meantime, government is up and running all that time or is that a different topic for you?

HERMAN: No, no, they have to come to some sort of decision here, Fred. So 400,000 people are not getting paid right now. It's affecting 800,000 federal workers, forcing people, TSA, Bureau of Prisons, Border Patrol, forcing all these people to go to work without pay. It's unconscionable. There has to be a resolution here. It has to be quick. Congress has to wake up and get often their spineless butts and make a deal here that everyone can live with. -


HERMAN: Border security is important. Everybody wants it. But not archaic, 14th century principles of a concrete wall or slats or whatever it's morphed to today.


FREIDAMN: It doesn't matter. Everybody --


HERMAN: Campaign promise, that's all it is, Fred.


HERMAN: A failed campaign promise by Trump.

[13:50:09] FRIENDMAN: Everybody supports.

HERMAN: A failed campaign promise by Trump.

FRIEDMAN: Every supports border security, there's no question about that. And I don't know --


HERMAN: That's what I just said.

FRIENDMAN: So $5.7 billion, includes the moat and the draw bridge, but at the end of the day, you really can't connect, shutting down the United States government, and the services which it needs to provide, to our citizens, over this kind of a battle. And that's where, politically -- I hate to talk about politics -- but the political piece is that Congress has to deal with this. You just can't match up the two, because they don't match, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: You will, I guess, agree, or see that the president has been, you know, trying to make his campaign, right, that there's reason for this national emergency declaration. He's been ramping up his language, crisis, invasion --

HERMAN: Fred, it's language, Fred.

FRIEDMAN: Fredricka --


WHITFIELD: -- et cetera. So is that, Avery, the prelude to what kind of legal argument he and his people will be making?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. You got political on one side and legal on the other side. At the end of the day, whether or not there's an emergency -- again, he can declare it, he can declare it. He's got to prove it. He's not going to be able to do it. He will wind up Harry Truman, in 1951. Supreme Court will say, no, you can't do it.

HERMAN: Look, Fred, it's so pathetic --


WHITFIELD: Richard, this is another word that the president just added. This was Friday.


TRUMP: We have a country that is under siege. You can actually -- you know, a lot of people don't like the word invasion. We have a country that's being invaded by criminals and by drugs. And we're going to stop it.

WHITFIELD: I should say words, under siege.


HERMAN: Right, Fred, and another caravan is forming to come. That's what he is throwing out there. It is outrageous, Fred. It's just bloviating. It is all fake. It's all just to force Congress into making some sort of resolution. He is never going to enact this power. He won't do it. He will get annihilated in court. It will drag on. He'll be out of office or perhaps arrested before this thing comes to fruition.


FRIEDMAN: Take it easy. No one will be arrested.

HERMAN: You don't know that, Avery. You don't know that.

FRIEDMAN: Oh, I do, too.


FRIEDMAN: I absolutely do, Richard. He is not being arrested. Take that to the bank.


HERMAN: You take it to the bank. I'm not.


WHITFIELD: All right, Richard, Avery, thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

FRIEDMAN: See you soon.

HERMAN: Take care.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you.

We got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, the way we dress is the way we live. And now, the new CNN original series, "AMERICAN STYLE,", takes a look at how fashion has helped shape our country, and that comes all the way from the White House.

Here's CNN White House correspondent, Kate Bennett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MELANIE TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish people would follow close what I do, not what I wear.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A fair request, but not always easy when, like it or not, what a first lady wears has political messaging of its own. That "I really don't care, do you" jacket, Melania Trump wore to and from the trip to the border or the stilettos heading out of town to help with hurricane relief, or even that helmet in Africa, clothing that stirred controversy.

But thoughtfully, fashion diplomacy can be a help. Trump's homage to Middle Eastern style in Saudi Arabia, yellow for friendship in Helsinki and Dolce & Gabbana in Italy.

TV ANCHOR: The United States elected its 35th president in 1960.

BENNETT: It was Jackie Kennedy who really ushered in using first-lady style to create a feeling, showing women chic simplicity was part of Camelot. And America followed.

JAY LENO, FORMER HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: I want to ask you about your wardrobe. I'm guessing about 60 grand?



BENNETT: Approachability and accessibility. Michelle Obama dressed as a realistic image of a working mom, appealing to a broad base, with moderately priced outfits reflecting the tighter economic times of the country, proving she was paying attention to the political climate.

(on camera): Now, whether or not what a first lady wears should matter is still up for debate. But one thing is clear, what she wears, how she wears it, what her style says, all of those things are a window into her personality.

Kate Bennett, CNN, Washington.


[13:54:36] WHITFIELD: And watch the all new CNN original series "AMERICAN STYLE" tomorrow night, 9:00 eastern, only on CNN.


WHITFIELD: The significant trees at Joshua Tree National Park in California are among the unintended victims of this partial government shutdown. The park is still open despite a lack of funding. But with fewer rangers patrolling the area, some visitors have -- get this -- cut down the park's famous trees to go off-roading and set fires in illegal campsites. Those campgrounds were closed just after the New Year, due to health and safety concern, including overflow in garbage bins and dirty restrooms. Now to a story of a Good Samaritan, in Milwaukee. A bus driver saved

a 1-year-old girl who was walking on a freeway overpass in freezing temperatures. The driver pulled over after she saw this baby running barefoot towards an intersection wearing only a onesie and diaper. You can see right there. Officials believe the girl went missing after her mother had a mental health crisis. The child is OK and now with her father.

[14:00:08] And before we go, be sure to tune in tonight for a CNN original film, "RBG."