Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand To Enter 2000 Race Today; Barr Says I Will Not Permit Interference with The Mueller Probe; British Lawmakers Reject Theresa May's Brexit Deal; House Democrats Decline A White House Invite, They Call It A Mess. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 15, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Capitol Hill in just a second. Breaking news, two sources tell CNN that Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to enter the 2020 Presidential race today. She did not personally announce she would be running as we mentioned earlier. Expected to announce. We are told she is launching an exploratory committee just days before she heads to Iowa. Let's go to CNN Congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty and she was one of the names floated out there, huge surprise or not so much?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not so much, certainly, Brooke. She had been staffing up in recent weeks, really filling out a skeleton of a campaign in waiting and that is essentially what she is right now. She's going to later today announce an exploratory committee, that's what two sources tell CNN and she will announce that officially later tonight on "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert. An interesting selection where she makes this big formal commitment, essentially, and certainly a big commitment knowing that this is going to be a very wide field on the Democratic side. Gillibrand up on Capitol Hill, someone who is known to take on President Trump at times, the two have sparred back and forth over Twitter so that certainly could get interesting. She's someone who had a very prominent role in the #metoo wave on Capitol Hill, it'll be interesting to watch as she makes her force out on the campaign trail whether that is the bench mark of the campaign and certainly, we'll get a taste very soon as she heads to Iowa this weekend.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about another member of Congress on the House side and this vote right now, this resolution of disapproval involving the recent statements, the racist statements from Congressman Steve King, certainly not the first time. This vote is under way. Explain what this vote -- this resolution of disapproval means?

SERFATY: This is basically a very public slap on the wrist for Congressman Steve King who is embattled certainly at the moment more than he ever has been. The resolution, Brooke, just passed through, there was only one vote against that and that came from a Democratic. This resolution of disapproval which is just that, doesn't go far enough. He wants Congressman Steve King to be formally centered on the House floor, a far more embarrassing thing to have happen to a Congressman, something that's extremely rare. He's saying we need to go farther basically chastising him and reprimanding him for his comments. Steve king voted for this resolution. He said I stand against white supremacy and white nationalists, so basically, he's being defiant here and we know pressure has been mounting on him. There are many calls from members of his own party for him to resign and we know that late last night his own party stripped him of committee assignments, stripping him of a lot of power on Capitol Hill. As these resolutions, center resolution goes forward, it'll be interesting to watch what he does and he has been absolutely mum on his next steps. He was asked multiple times from members of our team up on Capitol Hill whether he's considering resigning and he has been stone faced and silent.

BALDWIN: On Steve King, not the first time as we mentioned, he's made comments like these, he keeps getting re-elected by Iowans. Thank you very much for that and, again, we're live here in Washington, D.C. today covering this testimony on behalf of William Barr here. He would like to become the next Attorney General of the U.S. as would the President of the United States. This is his choice. Quick break. We'll be right back.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Two major stories we're following right now, the confirmation hearing for William Barr on Capitol Hill and breaking in the U.K., this massive defeat for the prime minister there, Theresa May, and her proposed Brexit deal. Just moments ago, members of parliament overwhelmingly rejected it. This is the biggest loss in British parliament since 1924. And with me now the prime minister's former spokesman Joey Jones. He now works for the Cicero Communications Agencies. Good morning to you there in London. I mean this was -- she lost, she lost badly. This was historic. Not -- not -- not a good look for the prime minister. How does she recover?

JOEY JONES, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR THERESA MAY: Well, it's an absolutely epic defeat and it really is a very momentous evening for us in the U.K. politics. I think that everybody knew that it could be bad but this is absolutely at the really ugly end of expectation and it leaves the prime minister and her cabinet colleagues and government colleagues completely shell shocked and it leaves British politics in total paralysis. Parliament has rejected the deal on the table so we know what parliamentarians don't want.

[15:40:00] We have no idea what they actually might agree to and this all as the clock is ticking down towards March 29th, when we fallout of the European Union and into WTO rules that by all accounts would end up with a really pretty grievous hurt to the U.K. economy. So, it's a grim situation that confronts all of us in the U.K. tonight.

BALDWIN: Let me just play what -- some of what the prime minister said moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, UK PRIME MINISTER: Every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more ranker. The government has heard what the House has said tonight, but I ask members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people who want this issue settled. And to work with the government to do just that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It's my understanding she has mere days to really explain herself to parliament. We heard Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party talking about this opposition vote. Explain to us, Joey, what is the likelihood she can actually go to Brussels and come up with a plan that could appease some of her critics or that she just loses her job?

JONES: Well, basically tomorrow you get a straight up and down no confidence vote and Jeremy Corbyn on the face of it doesn't have the numbers to overturn the government's majority. The only way the government would fall is if some Conservative MPs strip away from Theresa May and end up voting for a general election. That would mean tomorrow, 24 hours from now, we would be heading into a general election and more uncertainty at the moment we can afford it least. That seems implausible. Theresa May is basically saying the deal on the table, take it or leave it. They've left it and she cannot go back and transform it. The idea is that they confront parliamentarians with the stark reality that basically what is on the table is it but it's very hard to see how --

BALDWIN: But they don't like what's on the table.

JONES: That's right.

BALDWIN: And this has been something that's been excruciatingly negotiated for the last two and a half years, is it also in this era of uncertainty, is it in the realm of possibility that there is eventually a second referendum and the U.K. doesn't leave the EU after all?

JONES: It's certainly in the realm of possibility because the options are very narrow, so that is one of them. We do need to see other votes in the House of commons so-to-see whether or not there's any other pathways that MPs take more of a liking to, that has potential to drive some momentum. The biggest questions tonight are not necessarily for Theresa May because she has said that she will press on, she's shown that stamina and endurance and perseverance. Do they feel that actually somebody else has to have a go and that would mean a conservative leadership contest, that again, would throw us into another maelstrom of uncertainty but they may just be based on the really stark numbers tonight that she has run out of road.

BALDWIN: Extraordinary times in the United Kingdom and here in the United States. Joey jones, thank you so very much for your perspective and we'll be talking much about this tomorrow.

Back to our special coverage of the confirmation hearing for President Trump's Attorney General. We'll take you back to Capitol Hill after this quick break.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Let's take you back now to Capitol Hill and the testimony of the potential future Attorney General in this country, William Barr.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I met with the head of Customs and Border Protection. He said the number one thing we can do is to put technology in the ports of entry to scan the vehicles coming through. Currently, only 17 percent of trucks and cars coming through those ports of entry are being scanned, 17 percent. That means 83 percent of them are just flowing right on through their bringing narcotics to Iowa and to Illinois. Building a new concrete wall from sea to shining sea, doesn't even address this issue. Technology does. I want to reach the point where we open the government and have this honest conversation. Would you reconsider your earlier answer as to the fact that we need to build more barriers to stop narcotics from coming in to the United States?

WILLIAM BARR, NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: It wasn't tied just to narcotics. It was tied to overall border security.

DURBIN: You said a major avenue for how drugs come into this country, it's not.

BARR: I said -- wait a minute. Go back.

DURBIN: The border is the major avenue but your answer was we need barriers on the borders.

BARR: Right. We need barriers on the border for border security. Part of what we're trying to do is cut down on drugs. It's also illegal aliens, it's also other -- people from other countries who may wish to do harm in the United States that are coming in and barriers are part of the answer and from my experience, the threat is always dynamic.

[15:50:00] You put technology at the ports of entry, they'll shift somewhere else. It's a moving target. Always has been and I think we need a system that covers all the bases.

DURBIN: I think the reason we cannot reach an agreement with the Trump administration is fundamental to our exchange and it's this, I don't disagree with you with the notion that barriers from sea to shining sea will at least slow people down, but when it comes to the next marginal dollar to protect kids in Illinois and children in your home state, it's ports of entry. It's technology to keep these narcotics out of the United States and if we can't really start at the same premise based on reports from the President's own administration, we're never going to reach a point of bipartisan agreement on border security. Home state, it's ports of entry. It's technology to keep these narcotics out of the United States and if we can't really start at the same premise based on reports from the President's own administration, we're never going to reach a point of bipartisan agreement on border security. I hope -- I think we're close to agreeing and maybe it's semantics, I hope not, but I hope we can agree that if we're going to, I hope that we can move from there. The last question I'll ask you and limited time, they ask me about your statements this morning, your testimony. I thought thaw were good, responsive in most part. The one thing I'm stuck on and many are is the report you gave to this administration in June of last year about the investigation of the President.

BARR: You mean my memo?

DURBIN: Yes. The memo.

BARR: Yes.

DURBIN: And you said in there, dealers should not be permit today demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction. You volunteered that. I was trying to get around this. It sounds like an effort to with the administration which is nominating you for Attorney General. I'll give you one last chance.

BARR: First, what I was saying there was, again, based on speculation on my part, was that there has to be an adequate predicate. If he was relying on just the firing of Mueller to statement about Flynn in this specific statue, those two things I wasn't saying he may have other facts that may support it. I was pinpointing that.

DURBIN: I can ensure you I was not trying to ingratiate that. The first thing was coming back into government. I guarantee you that. If I want today to signal things there are a lot more ways to do that.

BARR: I think you meant firing of Comey. You said Mueller.

DURBIN: Yes. Comey.

BALDWIN: Quick break. We are back in a moment.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: 25 days and counting in the longest government shutdown. And President Trump try to test it another way to end it, meet with moderate Democrats. Specifically, those who might buck Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the plans and negotiations that they have presented so far. And these moderates that specifically represent districts that Trump won back in 2016. Apparently, no one showed up. In a statement about today's bipartisan meeting, White House press secretary stated no Democrats were coming so the

meeting would proceed without them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: The President's laid out what he thinks a good plan is. He put a deal on the table. The sheer fact that no Democrats are here shows the lack of willingness to compromise. The facts are the facts. We were here to negotiate and talk with our fellow legislators. Not a single one showed up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Some Democratic lawmakers that were invited told CNN they were given very little information about the agenda and called the process and I'm quoting them, kind of a mess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: We support the notion of continued dialogue. Every individual member will have to make a determination as to whether they believe it will be fruitful dialogue. The question I think everybody can reasonably ask is he inviting people to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to really try to resolve this problem or to create a photo op to create a

false sense of bipartisanship?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Since 9:30 this morning we have been listening to the man on your screen, William Barr who is the president's pick to become the next Attorney General. He has been asked all kinds of questions primarily as it pertains to the special counsel's investigation. He was asked about this government shutdown and here is what Bill Barr said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: People would like to see the shutdown ended. People want to see some kind of compromise. You know, you call it the Trump shut down. I mean it takes two to tango.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only because he called it that.

BARR: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Today is day 25 and these conversations between President Trump, Speaker Pelosi and leader Schumer haven't gone anywhere for more than three weeks. 800,000 federal workers continue without pay and for the first time U.S. Coast Guard will not be getting paid. The commandant sending a remarkable statement to the men and women who serve. This is what he wrote.

[16:00:00] He writes: "I am grateful for the outpouring of support across the country, particularly in local communities for our men and women. It is a direct reflection of the American public sentiment towards their United States Coast Guard. They recognize the sacrifice that you and your family make and service to your country. It is also not lost on me that our dedicated civilians are adjusting to a missed paycheck. We are confronting this challenge together. The strength has and always will be our people. You have proven time and again the ability to rise above adversity. Stay the course. Stand the watch and serve with pride. You are not and will not be forgotten. Thank you so much for being with me.