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CNN NEWSROOM

Washington Post: Trump Concealed Details On Putin Meetings; Pompeo: NYT Report On Trump "Silly" "Not Worthy Of A Response; NYT: FBI Feared The President Could Be Working For Russia; Pompeo Says He'll Press Crown Prince Over Journalist's Murder; Graham Urges Trump To Reopen Government "See If We Can Get A Deal"; Trump Blames Democrats For Holding Up Talks; AG Nominee Barr Prepares For Tuesday's Confirmation Hearing; Congressional Black Caucus Condemns Rep. Steve King; WSJ: White House Asked Pentagon For Iran Attack Plan. 3-4pm ET

Aired January 13, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:04] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with an alarming new report detailing the extraordinary lengths President Trump has gone to in order to keep the details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin a secret.

"The Washington Post" reports in one instance, the President even took possession of notes by an interpreter telling that linguist not to discuss the meeting with White House officials. That story comes on the hills of the explosive "New York Times" report that FBI started investigating whether President Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia back in May of 2017.

And now "The Washington Post" reveals there are no detailed reports of Trump's five face-to-face meetings with Putin. Reportedly, senior administration officials at the time were frustrated and uncomfortable being in the dark about these meetings. In "The Washington Post," one said, "God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to."

The White House and President Trump are pushing back on both reports. Here is President Trump, his response to the latest report on his favorite television network.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a conversation like every president does. You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries. We had a great conversation. We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things, and it was a great conversation. I'm not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn't care less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And this was the President's answer when he was directly asked, are you now or have you ever worked for Russia? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked. I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written. And if you read the article, you'd see that they found absolutely nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, let's check in now with CNN's White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez. So, what are you hearing from the White House?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good afternoon, Fred. President Trump and other administration officials have suggested that these reports in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" are insulting, ludicrous, and not worthy of a response. You saw there President Trump dismiss both of these reports last night on Fox News.

I wanted to point to these statements put out by the Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders. In responding to both of these reports, she used very similar language. In the first, responding to "The New York Times," she suggested the story was absurd and called James Comey, the former FBI Director, a disgraced partisan hack.

In the statement from "The Washington Post," if you could put that back up, she writes, "'The Washington Post' story is so outrageously inaccurate it doesn't even warrant a response. The liberal media has waster two years trying to manufacture a fake collusion scandal instead of reporting the back that unlike that unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia."

That's almost identical language about President Trump or President Obama that she used in her response to that "New York Times" story about the FBI opening up a counterintelligence investigation into President Trump.

The White House continues to try to drive this point home, their belief that President Trump has been tougher on Russia than just about anybody, when we've cited time and time again examples of the President actually being quite friendly to Russia, not just that meeting that we mentioned yesterday that President Trump had Russian officials here at the White House the day after he fired James Comey and telling him that now the pressure was off him, but also that press conference we saw in Helsinki where President Trump failed to confront Vladimir Putin over Russian election meddling.

And of course as "The Washington Post" story points out, we don't know what conversations those two men have had in private. So we don't really know if, in fact, President Trump has been tougher on Putin in private than he has in public, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez from a snowy White House, thank you. All right, it's important to keep in mind that we're talking about Russia, the country that meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, the country that's at the center of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

And now, we are learning of the glaring gap in records of the private conversations between President Trump and Putin. All we know is the President's word of what happened at those meetings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We had direct, open, deeply productive dialogue. It went very well. Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.

President Putin and I have been discussing various things and I think it's going very well. We've had some very, very good talks. We're going to have a talk now and obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:05:02] WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now, former Assistant Secretary at Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem, and Defense Attorney Ross Garber. Good to see you both.

OK, so Juliette, you first. You know, how concerning is it, you know, to you that the Kremlin knows more about these meetings than any U.S. officials?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, it's -- I mean, it's absolutely disconcerting. It's embarrassing. It is also just very, very -- I guess I would say speculative as to why, in fact, Donald Trump wants it to be this way. He must know that the Russians know more about those meetings than any of his key advisers.

WHITFIELD: So actually on that point, let me just interrupt you, because in that "Washington Post" article, you know, it says Trump, and I'm quoting now from the article, it says "Trump allies said the President thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency." So, does that make it more understandable, in your view?

KAYYEM: Well, that's a convenient explanation. And if we were a government of one, you know, only Donald Trump, that would make sense. But we're the United States of America in which there are a lot of implications for what and how a president has a relationship with a country like Russia, which is an enemy because of what they've done in the past and certainly 2016.

We have allies who are dependent on us being strong with Russia. Donald Trump cannot do it alone. I know yesterday he tweeted that he was alone and it's only about him in the Oval Office, that is absolutely not true. So, but I don't even buy that explanation. Something is very, very odd here that there's not even after action reporting that there's not even notes regarding what, in fact, the rapport was that Donald Trump established. He's got to get people to work, you know, work the relationship after he's done. And this is not -- I mean we're not a monarchy. We are a democracy of this stage.

WHITFIELD: So "The Washington Post" reporter, you know, who broke the story, you know, talked to CNN this morning. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": If you go back to Clinton, Obama, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, their meetings with their Russian counterparts involved senior aides, often multiple aides taking detailed notes. In fact, you can go through the Clinton archive and read almost verbatim transcripts of his meetings with Boris Yeltsin. Those just don't exist for Donald Trump because he's excluding people from -- in his own White House from seeing what's happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Ross, I know you're about to say something. Go ahead and say that and then I wonder, you know, if any of this puts the President in parallel, you know, legally in any way?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does. And I actually, excuse me, do buy in some ways the explanation. We have a president who has --

WHITFIELD: You mean like the paranoia type of thing?

GARBER: Well, he has an ego. He's been used to running a company with his name on it where he is the big boss, he's the decision maker. He has not had a trusting relationship with his aides. So, look, I buy the, you know, the explanation in some ways.

The problem is it was still an awful idea. As you pointed out, you know, Putin knows what happened in that meeting. There could even be recordings of what happened in that meeting. It's possible that others including, you know, other Intel services have recordings of what's in that meeting.

And so, you know, even if you buy the explanation, it's still a very bad idea. What I sometimes tell clients is, look, you need people you can trust. You need a lawyer you can trust. You need advisers you can trust. If you don't trust, you know, the ones you got, get different ones. And I'd suggest the same thing to the President. He needs people that he can trust. He cannot do this job alone.

WHITFIELD: The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been asked about it. You know, he's almost kind of defending, you know, this response from the President or at least his, you know, behavior. And this is what he had to say when asked about "The New York Times," you know, reporting also that came yesterday, or within the last 24 hours. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to comment on "New York Times" stories, but I'll certainly say this that the notion that President Trump is that a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous.

MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Just so clarify, since you were CIA director, did you have any idea that this investigation was happening?

POMPEO: Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, I've answered this question repeatedly, indeed, on your show. The idea that's contained in "The New York Times" story that President Trump was a threat to American national security is silly on its face and not worthy of a response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Juliette, you know, he's talking about "The New York Times" reporting which talks about the FBI, you know, two pronged investigations criminal and counter intelligence as soon as he, you know, took office but immediately, you know, just preceding the special counsel investigation. So, your response to the way he's handling it.

KAYYEM: So this is just an interesting aspect to the story on Friday with "The New York Times" because what we don't know right at this stage is to what extent of the CIA director or others know about the investigation.

[15:10:04] I think Pompeo is sort of, you know, punted that answer, nor do we know how much the Gang of Eight knew. That's the leadership in the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. That would include people like Devin Nunes whose character and behavior over the last two years has been really bizarre.

So I think we're going to learn more about what the FBI did and this counter intelligence investigation. And I think we have to assume at this stage that because the bar would be so high to certain investigation like this, what we know from "The New York Times" is probably just a small piece of both what the FBI knows and Mueller knows.

And then just to this point about why is Donald Trump keeping all of this closed holed. I think I would buy that argument if that's the way he conducted himself with other leaders. I think what's interesting that Greg Miller in "The Washington Post" who broke that second story over the weekend said that there is no evidence that, you know, this is how Trump behaves in other instances.

And so, you know, to certain extent, you know, this is a unique way, right, whenever he's with Putin and then you have to ask yourself why.

WHITFIELD: Ross?

GARBER: Yes --

WHITFIELD: I won't cut you off this time. See, go ahead.

GARBER: No, that's OK. So, look, I think the secretary's comments were concerning and they mirrored in some ways about the President's comments and the press secretary's comments. And that essentially the answer has been, look, there is nothing to see here. Go away. He's the president. You're not. This is all silly. And I think that's one of the big concerns here.

You know, one of the most telling parts, I thought the most interesting part of "The New York Times" story was sort of buried, which was that in that -- there was an episode, the episode where the President fired James Comey and drafted a letter justifying it.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GARBER: And the President's drafted a letter, he actually disclose and want to be honest that the Russian investigation was one of the reasons and --

WHITFIELD: And if people protected him on that.

GARBER: Well, it was interesting. It was actually -- and this was the episode that in some ways started the counter Intel investigation according to "The New York Times". That's right, his people, including the deputy attorney general said, "Mr. President, don't be that honest about it. Don't disclose that. Let's keep that, you know, under wraps. Let's, you know, couch this at different way."

And I think part of what's going on is the lack of sensitivity by the President to how his actions, how his words are perceived by people, including those in law enforcement.

WHITFIELD: Yes. But then he would still slip up, right? Because he would still express that when he had that sit down interview with --

GARBER: Sure, exactly.

WHITFIELD: -- you know, Lester Holt. I mean, it's just -- he still believes.

KAYYEM: Yes. Or even --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: I mean, if you're paying at the picture earlier, he's still believes that he knows better than everyone else and he's going with his gut and he admits to that all the time. He's going with his gut.

GARBER: So it may turn -- yes, it may turn out that there's not that much there, there in terms of the Trump-Russia connection and he's just created an awful set of appearances.

WHITFIELD: Right.

KAYYEM: So, I would disagree with that. I mean, I think, you know, one, when you say there's no there, there that sort of ignoring all of the indictments, ignoring what's going on with Mueller, ignoring the line, the obstruction of justice. All of this, you know, all the couple dozen people around Trump and the Trump campaign who have essentially lied about Russia.

So the no there, there I think you just have to be blind to the indictment to say there's no there, there. But I think the most important thing is also -- this is not about Trump being careless about his tweets or what he said to Lester Holt. You also have to look at the policies. I mean, we still can't explain Helsinki, right? You just cannot explain why a president would hand America --

GARBER: I agree.

[CROSSTALK]

WHITFIELD: Why there isn't more outrage that this much time has elapsed and still nobody knows, especially the people who really need to know still don't know what was said promised.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: You know, what was conveyed during that meeting. Sorry, we got to cut it off for now. But we'll have you back, Ross Garber, Juliette Kayyem. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Bye.

WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touches down in Saudi Arabia just months after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered what Pompeo said that he will say when he talks to Saudi officials. Also, a new CNN poll shows who Americans are blaming for the U.S. government partial shutdown. Spoiler alert, Trump takes the lead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:18:39] WHITFIELD: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia right now. He is expected to hold a controversial meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after saying that he would address the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Pompeo has promised to press the crown prince on the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POMPEO: I'll say what we have said consistently, America's position both privately and publicly is the same. This was an outrageous act, an unacceptable murder. Those who were responsible will be held accountable by the United States of America. We're determined to do that.

We're determined to get at the facts just as quickly as comprehensively as we can. We've had a policy that's been remarkably consistent with respect to those. We like the rest of the world value human rights all across the globe and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was outrageous and we'll hold those responsible accountable. And then we'll talk about all the important things we do with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all of the support they provide to keep Americans in Kansas and Colorado and California, and in Washington, D.C. safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Last month, the U.S. Senate passed the resolution condemning the crown prince for the murder. Saudi Arabia has denied the crown prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime.

National Security Reporter Kylie Atwood is with me right now. So, Kylie, in addition to this controversial meeting, why is Mike Pompeo stopped in Saudi Arabia so important?

[15:20:05] KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, of course, at the top of his agenda in Saudi Arabia and as Secretary Pompeo has been meeting with U.S. allies in the entire region, Syria is front and center. That's because the decision announced by President Trump to pull out of Syria in the middle of December was a shock to many U.S. allies in the region.

And, of course, the U.S. has to consider the logistics. They have to consider the safety of U.S.-backed fighters as they pull out. But there's also diplomacy, right? And Secretary Pompeo, he is the diplomat in chief of the United States. He needs to explain this decision to allies and also shore up their support.

Given the fact that Saudi Arabia is one of the primary financial backers of stabilization efforts south -- in Syria, he's going to have to discuss with them. Can they put up more money to ensure that stabilization in Syria continues when the U.S. pulls out? And that's something that Pompeo spoke about when he gave his speech in Cairo last week, which largely laid out what the U.S. is going to do policy- wise under the Trump administration in the Middle East.

Now, regarding Jamal Khashoggi, that wasn't even mentioned in that speech. But as we've heard before from Pompeo, it's going to come up in his conversation with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

And it's very important to realize that the U.S. has kind of steered clear of placing any blame on the crown prince for that murder. But just last week, the State Department said that their investigation into the murder has not hit a threshold of credibility and accountability.

So what questions is Secretary Pompeo going to be asking about this investigation and what more could we learn about the investigation that Saudis are carrying out after Pompeo has these meetings in Saudi Arabia?

WHITFIELD: All right, Kylie Atwood, thank you so much.

All right, up next, the U.S. government shutdown is now in its 23rd day. Ahead, a Democratic lawmaker who says she's ready to fund border barriers. I'll speak with Congresswoman Katie Hill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:26:47] WHITFIELD: As the longest shutdown in U.S. history enters its 23rd day, Congress is set to return to the nation's Capitol tomorrow. You see there's a lot of snow in Washington, but that is the plan. But the two sides appear no closer to a deal to end the standoff. 800,000 federal employees remain in limbo and without paychecks.

President Trump continues to demand more than $5 billion for a border wall. So far Democrats have refused to back any wall funding. With me now is freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill from California.

Congresswoman, congratulations on the new position.

REP. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And I'm glad you could be with us. So you have said that you are willing to vote for some funding of a physical barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border. What does that mean? A fence, a wall, steel barriers? And would it be in the same places that the President wants?

HILL: Well, listen, where I stand and where I think the majority of Democrats stand is that we've always been for border security. And the fact that he's kind of taken that narrative is not doing us any service.

WHITFIELD: But there seems to be a real demarcation between border security and the wall. The President is focused on --

HILL: Correct.

WHITFIELD: -- the language of the wall.

HILL: Right. And he has backed away from that, so we should see that as a victory because his advisers had told him a very -- I mean, a physical wall is never going to happen. A 2,000 mile concrete wall is literally impossible.

WHITFIELD: But he is still asking for that $5.7 billion for the wall.

HILL: Correct, and that's not going to happen until -- unless and until, and even then we don't really know, the government is open again. So that's really what we're about. It's what we're saying that open the government again and then let's talk. Let's go through the process of deciding what makes the most sense in terms of border security, how we can get somewhere with immigration reform, and have negotiations in a way that is not holding the American people hostage, which is --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So then, (INAUDIBLE) correct with what I just reported earlier that you were for the funding of a wall or physical barrier. So you're for --

HILL: No. I'm --

WHITFIELD: -- the funding of a wall, a barrier?

HILL: No, I've never been for the funding of a wall. I've said that in negotiations after we reopen the government that we can talk about potentially having some kind of physical barriers. I think that that's always been on the table.

A year ago, there was a piece of legislation that was introduced called -- by my colleagues, Congressman Aguilar and Congressman Hurd, it was a bipartisan piece of legislation, 25 Democrats, 25 Republicans that co-sponsor it originally. And it was funding exactly that. It was funding smart secure -- border security including technology, including personnel, as well as in places where it makes sense, physical barriers.

Then in exchange, we're getting additional resources to process immigration claims, to deal with sort of the route issues happening in Central America and to get protections for DACA recipients and other things.

So, with need that negotiation process to start again. I don't know that that's going to be the final answer. But what I do know is that none of that can even happened until we reopen the government.

WHITFIELD: So, today, Senator Lindsey Graham suggested reopening the government for at least a short-time to try to reach a deal. Listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Before he pulls the plug on the legislative option, and I think we're almost there, I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal. If we can't at the end of three weeks, all bets are off, see if he can do it by himself to the emergency powers. That's my recommendation, but I think the legislative path is just about shut off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:30:14] WHITFIELD: So, does that suffice? I mean, the reason why the government is closed is because there was no agreement on funding to, you know, some kind of gap measure to keep it going. So, is what he's saying possible, reopen for three weeks and hash all the stuff out?

HILL: I mean three weeks is an awfully ambitious time to solve a problem that hasn't been solved for decades. However, it's something and I think we would -- many of us would be very open to try to negotiate as quickly as possible so that we can get the government open again.

The issue that I see is that none of this can happen until the President -- and, in fact, at this point it's up to Mitch McConnell to actually have that vote to reopen government. Democrats have sent the bills over. They're the ones that the Senate already was in favor of almost unanimously. It's up to the McConnell to allow that vote to happen, Trump to sign it, and then let's go to the negotiation.

WHITFIELD: So, who is standing in the way in your view, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or the President of the United States?

HILL: Well, it's both. I mean, I actually think that if McConnell took it to the floor, there's a really good chance that we'd be able to override a presidential veto between the two Houses. But I think that, you know, we should look at both. Right now, McConnell is seating to the President, right, so.

WHITFIELD: You saw the tweets from the President all weekend long who said, "Hey, everybody has left, you know, for the weekend. And I'm still here, waiting, you know, to talk to the Dems." He's placing the blame on the Democrats.

HILL: Hey, I'm here. A lot of colleagues are here. I'm a Southern California girl, and it's snowing, but we're here. We're ready to talk. And it's not going to happen, though, until he opens the government.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Katie Hill, thank you so much --

HILL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: --for being with us in spite of the snow.

All right, we now know who most Americans are blaming for this longest shutdown in U.S. history. New CNN polling shows a majority of people, 55 percent, say President Trump is more responsible than Democrats in Congress. And we've gone 23 days now without a deal to reopen the government.

In a series of tweets, the President blames the Democrats, I just mentioned that, for the stalemate urging them to ante up five -- more than $5 billion for a wall along the southern border. The Democrats say they are willing to negotiate on real border security, the words of Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Put an end to the shutdown and put everything on the table. We are willing to talk about more border security when we're talking about DACA and Dreamers and coming up with the border security plan that made sense, not some median wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now is CNN Political Commentators Nina Turner and Doug Heye. Good to see you both.

So, Doug, you first. Americans, you know, blaming the President for the shutdown. Yet throughout his tweets over the weekend, he's pointing the finger at Democrats.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Unfortunately, this is the stalemate that we find ourselves in. And, you know, it seems obvious that the public is going to blame the President because the President said very famously in the meeting, "I'll own this. We can call it the Trump shutdown." And meanwhile, I think Democrats --

WHITFIELD: And he said he's proud of it.

HEYE: Absolutely. And I think Democrats are, in some cases, trying to be reasonable here. Congresswoman Hill, who is a real rising star in the Democratic caucus, is willing to support some funding. Democrats are talking about that. But as long as Democratic leadership doesn't change its position, the President is not going to change his position, at least in the short-term. So we're not only going to -- I've been in this situation for a while. It looks like this is going to continue for some time now.

WHITFIELD: So, Nina, do you believe that the President will resort to this national emergency? He is being urged by some Republicans to go ahead and do that.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he may, Fred. But as we know, as soon as he pulls that lever, lawsuits will abound. Meanwhile, back in the mainland, on Main Street rather, I should say, you know, over 800,000 federal employees. We know that we have contract workers who are impacted by this.

Fred, people are in a real crisis right now. We know that the great deal of majority of folks who are considered in the middle class, who consider themselves in the middle class, people live paycheck to paycheck. I believe the last stat I saw was over 80 percent of Americans in this country live paycheck to paycheck.

So while folks are talking about, let's open it up for another three weeks, if that is going to cause them to shut it down all over again and take the people who serve the federal government on this roller coaster ride of disaster, I say not. Nobody in Congress should go home. The President definitely owns this hook line and sinker. It is very clear as Doug laid out, we all saw him say this, "I will own this. This will be the Trump shutdown."

But at the end of the day, we need some adults to get in the room, stay in the room. Don't go anywhere. Let's just lock them all up in the room and not allow them to go anywhere because too many people in this country are suffering because of this games that people are playing.

WHITFIELD: And then, Doug, coming from Senator Lindsey Graham would say, you know, in three weeks, we can hash this out. Why not, you know, let government, you know, run for another three weeks and then we'll hash it out when three weeks preceding this now, three-week shutdown, you know, there was a stalemate.

[15:35:07] So, why is he so optimistic that it could be worked out in three weeks? And, you know, who knows if the shutdown will resume, you know, pick up after three weeks?

HEYE: Yes. You know, I think one of the failures here in the shutdown is Congress has a very good ability to kick -- to can down the road. That's not a positive statement, but so often the Congress comes at the deadlines, passes a short-term C.R. and then we readdress this issue in three weeks or three months. And that certainly seems to be part of a situation that Senator Graham was talking about.

But I would say, Fredericka, I disagrees with Senator Turner on this a little bit. I want members of Congress to go home, because when they go home, they hear from their constituents in a very up close and personal way that they don't in Washington. And members of Congress and Senators are going to spent time in the airports where they'll see TSA workers who are -- or they won't see TSA workers because some of them aren't showing up. They'll be subjected to longer lines, angrier constituents if that kind of pressure points that members of Congress need to feel for this to come to an end.

WHITFIELD: Nina, what do you think?

TURNER: Well, Fred, I mean people protested out in front of the White House just this past couple of days. So in the pressure, they're getting the calls. They're not feeling the pressure enough. I say that if they stay in D.C. in one room, not to be able to leave out. I hear what Doug is saying very clearly. But if 800, 000 employees and their families don't move you, if contract workers don't move you, if the fact that CNN have done an extraordinary job putting real faces on this pain, if that kind of stuff don't move you, being all cozy up back in your district is not going to move you.

It does not let them out of the room and see how that feels. They are still getting paid, but meanwhile, people are suffering in this country because of this shutdown. And, yes, the President owns it. But we need adults in the room to change this thing around.

WHITFIELD: And actually, you know --

HEYE: I was just talking that if your constituents are costing you at grocery stores or restaurants or at the bank or wherever you go, you feel that a lot more personally than you do a protest in front of the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: But we just had someone on early today, Sandy, I mean she, you know, says she is being felt like a pawn. She's feeling like nobody is hearing her. Josephine was saying we have ton of people on the air --

TURNER: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: -- contractors, federal workers, family members, et cetera, who are all saying, you know, we are hurting right now. How is it with that? Because it does seem as though no one is empathizing with their pain, meaning the people who have the power to cut a deal, make a deal, et cetera. So, people are telling us on the air, you're hearing them, they feel like they're invisible. They're being ignored. At what point will they be heard? And will that be incentive to get government up and running, figure these things out?

HEYE: You know, the first day that members of Congress come back from a recess working -- having worked in Republican leadership, there is a meeting of Republican leadership members and the first thing that they do is they go around the table and each members says, "Here's what I heard what I went home."

And there's a difference between what you hear when you were home and what you see on T.V. and what you get in e-mails and phone calls. When you're home and you feel that acute pressure, you react very differently.

WHITFIELD: So you think when people come back to work tomorrow, they'll have a new perspective?

HEYE: Perhaps, yes.

TURNER: If it was an incentive, they wouldn't have shut -- they wouldn't allow this to happen in the first place.

HEYE: I don't disagree with that.

TURNER: So when you talk about you've seen those people's pain, the pain that people are feeling and the pain that people have expressed about this is not enough to move these folks. They should have taken care of this a long time ago.

And the point about continued resolutions, Fredricka, this Congress has failed time and time again, not just during this Congress and this President, but previous once who budgets like that.

That is one of the reasons why we're in this conundrum, because you haven't passed comprehensive immigration reform, number 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and this -- the Congress continues to budget by continued resolution, which is a failure. News flash to the members of the Congress and the Senate and the House, people are hurting.

So if going into your district is not enough for that, hear this right now real clearly. People are hurting. I don't know what else they need to know, Fred. They know all they need to know to do the right thing.

WHITFIELD: I got you. And really, some people may not be able to recover.

TURNER: That's right.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nina Turner, Doug Heye, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

HEYE: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right, another confirmation battle is brewing in Washington. We're on near eve of it. President Trump's new pick for Attorney General Bill Barr heads to Capitol Hill this week for his scheduled hearings. And he's stepping in to what's sure to be a partisan fight given some of his past comments on the Mueller investigation. More coming up.

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[15:43:40] WHITFIELD: U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr could face a contentious confirmation hearing when he goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Democrats are almost certain to focus on criticisms. President Trump's pick made about the Mueller probe in a memo written last summer. In that memo, Barr called Mueller's obstruction inquiry into the President "fatally misconceived".

Let's bring in former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu. So, Shan, you know, what are some of the biggest obstacles that Barr faces heading into this confirmation hearing?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the biggest obstacle is the memo that you mentioned. I mean, it's a very bizarre situation that he unsolicited put forth this memo, basically putting a legal defense forward for the President saying that it's impossible to charge him with obstruction that the special counsel should not be interrogating him.

And, you know, that's really -- he's a proponent of that unitary executive theory that the President is the complete boss and absolutely cannot be charged. He can't be found to have committed a crime. So, really, he's saying hands off to the President. So I think he's going to undergo a lot of questioning on that.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And that memo was unsolicited yet at the same time there are folks who've looked at and said that was like an audition, you know, letter.

WU: Right, exactly.

WHITFIELD: So, here's what Senate judiciary member Dick Durbin had to say about what he expects to hear from Barr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:45:02] SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Number one question on everyone's mind, will Bob Mueller be allowed to complete this investigation without political interference from the attorney general or President? I'm worried about it. I mean, clearly he's a good lawyer, no question.

But when it comes to this delicate political situation, the power of the presidency, whether this investigation is warranted, Bill Barr had better give us some rock -- ironclad rock bottom assurances in terms of his independence and his willingness to step back and let Mueller finish his job. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So just last week Senator Grassley said, you know, he sat down with him, asked him the same kind of things. And he was assured that, you know, Barr would respect the special counsel's probe. But, you know, how much scrutiny will that memo and what he has said, you know, prior really kind of be an obstacle for him, potentially?

WU: Well, I think most likely, Fred, he's going to be confirmed. I mean, they're going to -- his supporters and he will really focus on the fact that he is a former attorney general already, so they'll say he's obviously qualified for the position.

I think one of the problems that we face nowadays is that the whole idea of confirmation hearing has really de-evolved into a situation where it's just a game of gotcha. And the nominees, if they're all well prepared, will completely avoid being caught in anything. They will distance themselves from any aspects in their prior record that could -- they could be questioned on, and that's wrong.

I mean, the point of a prior record is to get a sense of how this nominee will behave. And I think there are real questions about what Barr has already said to indicate that he would not be a good person to oversee this sensitive issue, which really goes to national security.

WHITFIELD: And so in light of the recent reporting from "The Washington Post" this weekend and "The New York Times" raising questions about the President's meetings with Vladimir Putin, you know, those meetings being undocumented and the FBI looking into, you know, whether the President, you know, was working in some fashion, unwittingly or otherwise, you know, with Russia.

So, how do you suppose that might change or alter some of the questioning, you know, or some of the real focus of this upcoming hearing?

WU: I think that's a very rich area of explanation for him to be questioned on, particularly by the Democrats. One thing that's interesting is that when Barr was attorney general, that was a very different world, very different Department of Justice.

Since that time, the department has a much greater responsibility on national security. And that's an area of potential weakness for him. I mean, he was not overseeing that kind of department. And because of what you're pointing out, which is that the Mueller probe originates in this counterintelligence probe, national security issues, he had some vulnerability there and he has to show that he's able to balance those issues in light of what he's already said about how he views the Mueller investigation.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shan Wu, thank you so much.

WU: Good to see you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you as well. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:52:28] WHITFIELD: All right, top stories we're following for you. The Congressional Black Caucus is calling on Republicans to go beyond condemning Congressman Steve King for his latest offensive comments.

In an interview with "The New York Times" last week, King complained that the label white nationalist and white supremacist had become offensive. The CBC says they want the GOP to back their words with actions.

In a statement aimed at Republicans, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass said, "They must actually condemn Mr. King by removing him from his committee assignments so that he can no longer affect policies that impact the very people he has made it clear he disdains."

And this morning, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy says he will address King's comments with him directly this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MINORITY LEADER: That language has no place in America. That is not the America I know, and it's most definitely not the party of Lincoln.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he be --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: I have a scheduled meeting with him on Monday. And I will tell you this, I've watched on the other side that they do not take action when their members say something like that. Action will be taken. I'm having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, King has not apologized for his remarks. Though, in a floor speech Friday, he rejected the label that he is a white nationalist and said he regretted "the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district."

All right, the White House asked the Pentagon last year for plans for launching a military attack against Iran. That's according to a "Wall Street Journal" report citing current and former U.S. officials. The request came from the National Security Council led by John Bolton and came after the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was attacked by a group aligned with Iran.

The report says an official characterized the attack as an act of war. This comes as Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been visiting U.S. allies in the Middle East to discuss Iran and the pullout of U.S. troops in Syria. Still so much more straight ahead in the "Newsroom." But first, it's how we express ourselves, how we work, and how we play. Now, the new CNN Original Series, "American Style" takes a look at the role fashion has impacted our country.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: '40s and '50s were definitely America finding itself.

[15:55:03] TIM GUNN, FASHION CONSULTANT AND AUTHOR: Americans felt very second rate when comparing ourselves to Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sports wear became the defining style of the United States.

GUNN: The bikini was the biggest thing since the atom bomb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through the '60s and '70s, our style and fashion represents freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at hippie culture, it's really oppositional to the Vietnam War.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disco was very important in terms of people being free to express themselves.

CHRISTIE BRINKLE, MODEL: In the '80s, it was a lot of excess in every way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had our Calvin Kleins and our Ralph Laurens and our Donna Karans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calvin Klein's advertising is rather scandalous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's underwear at stop traffic in Time Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the '90s and 2000s, things have become less formal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supermodels really brought fashion into every household.

JOHN A. TIFFANY FASHION HISTORIAN: Now, what's embraced is being yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Style gives you a voice. It's freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "American Style" premieres tonight at 9:00 on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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