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U.S. Coast Guard Not Being Paid During Shutdown; Historic 2020 Presidential Campaign with 3 Democrat Women Running; Sanders Meets with Former Campaign Staffers Who Claimed Harassment & Sexism; Pelosi to Trump: Delay State of the Union During Shutdown. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 16, 2019 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here is part of what that notice said. Quote, "Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled paycheck. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our nation's history that servicemembers in a U.S. armed force have not been paid during a lapse in appropriations."

Nearly 42,000 U.S. Coast Guard personnel are also active-duty military. These men and women serve here at home and abroad. They have DOD e-

mails and badges, but their paycheck comes from the DHS budget and not from the DOD budget. That's why they're caught in this partial shutdown. Their families scrambling to make ends meet. Some of them asking for loans, asking for grants, going to food pantries.

Servicemembers are not allowed to talk to the media, but we have spoken to some outspoken spouses. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED SPOUSE OF U.S. SERVICEMEMBER: There's so much stress and it's not something that we should have to go through. I've spent so much time stressing about this, contacting people. At the end of the day, we're a military family and, yes, we're proud to be here and serve, but at the same time it's a little disheartening to have to reach out to people for money or take community resources.


FLORES: Kate, here is the bottom line. The most powerful country in the world with the largest Department of Defense budget has tens of thousands of servicemembers serving their country without a paycheck Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It makes no sense whatsoever.

Rosa, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. We'll stick on this.

The 2020 presidential campaign, coming up for us, is just getting started, but it is already making history. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest candidate to throw her hat in the ring. So how does she fit into the growing field?


[11:36:21] BOLDUAN: This morning the latest Democrat to jump into the race for president held her first public event since announcing her decision. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Troy, New York, where her campaign is going to headquartered. The lawmaker wasting no time today to take on the president -- let me play it for you -- a short time ago.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D), NEW YORK: President Trump has chosen to tear this country apart against all racial lines, all religious lines, every division, every line you can find. That is what we have to fight against. This is going to be a very different campaign because we're willing to take on those systems of power that do not want Americans to have that opportunity.


BOLDUAN: And 2020 will now be the first presidential race in U.S. history to feature two female Senators running for a party's nomination at the same time. Right now, three women have announced, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. That's not all, because Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar are also being looked at as possibly throwing their hats into the ring as well.

Joining me now to discuss this moment, Chris Cillizza is here, CNN political reporter and editor-at-large, and Lisa Lerer, a CNN political analyst and politics reporter at the "New York Times."

It's great to see you guys.

Chris, with every candidate that gets into the growing Democratic field, the question is, what's their lane, right? Elizabeth Warren is to the far left. If Joe Biden gets in, he's kind of the quintessential centrist. Where does Kirsten Gillibrand fit in?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's the fundamental problem and the question she has to answer, Kate. She's not terribly well known. She's not Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren or Beto O'Rourke in terms of name recognition with Democrats or nationally. She's got to solve that problem I think. What you've seen in both her announcement on Colbert and her announcement today is she's going to portray herself as a mother, someone who is looking out for the future of her young children, someone who has been a voice in the Senate standing up for women, and someone who won't be bullied by Trump. There's a line in her announcement video that she released on Twitter where she says I'm not afraid of him. You heard that echo in her announcement speech today. I think you'll hear more of that. The question is, can she emerge as the distinctive fighter, the person who's going to stand up against Trump in a field that's going to be massive, two dozen-plus candidates potentially?

BOLDUAN: Lisa, we are looking at history already. Already, there are three women in the race and there could be two more. What does this moment mean?

LISA LERER, POLITICS REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, as you point out, it's a historic moment. We've never seen a presidential field with multiple women running. Hillary Clinton was the first and only for a really long time. It's really difficult to understand how this is all going to play out, not only because I think the country's in a different moment in terms of our conversation about gender than America was even back in 2016, but also because Hillary Clinton is an imperfect test case for how gender plays in presidential politics because there's so much history there. She's been a public figure for so long and her political stature is really intertwined with that of her husband and of what they did in the '90s. So it's really difficult to separate out her gender from all those other factors. And I think it's going to be a much more robust conversation about gender. At the end of this primary, at least, we're going to have a deeper understanding about where the country is in terms of women in terms of breaking that, as Hillary Clinton called it, the highest, hardest glass ceiling.

[11:40:07] BOLDUAN: I wonder, Lisa, why -- you've done reporting on this. Why are candidates like Warren and Gillibrand and Tulsi Gabbard jumping in so early?

LERER: Look, putting together a presidential campaign is a really hard and complicated thing to do. You can't really hire people or spend money or go travel with funds you're raising for that purpose unless you declare and get in the race. There are federal campaign laws around that. I think people want to build a robust operation. I think for Gillibrand, as Chris points out, she does not have a high name I.D. So there's an advantage for her getting in there, getting her name out there, building an operation. She does have a pretty robust list of supporters because she has been involved with promoting female candidates for many years. She has an extensive e-mail list of people. But she doesn't have the national name I.D. of some of the other candidates.

BOLDUAN: Chris, also happening today Bernie Sanders is meeting with former campaign staffers who say that they have faced harassment and sexism during his 2016 campaign. His initial apology in some ways required a redo. Let me play what he had said to CNN about this.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT: I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the need that I'm hearing from now that women felt disrespected, that there was sexual harassment which was not dealt with as effectively as possible.


BOLDUAN: With this meeting today, is he going to be able to move past this if he gets back into the race?

CILLIZZA: I don't know the answer to that. He has a committed group of supporter supporters, Kate, no question. Lisa mentioned this. This is a different time for candidates, even than 2016. We're two and a half years on from it. It's very different in terms of the culture and what people are going to be asking of their candidates. The fact that Bernie Sanders in his 2016 campaign was unaware -- at best of situations of sexual harassment going on in his campaign is of concern. His apology in which he essentially said, look, I was traveling around the country, I'm sorry if this happened, but I was traveling around the country, I was busy, I was unaware of it, that doesn't cut it. I think he knows it doesn't cut it. He's trying to fix this problem now. We'll see. But 20 years ago, sure, maybe this would be, well, a blip on the radar. I'm not sure that we can dismiss anything of this nature. I know we shouldn't have done it then. I'm pretty sure that now it's a very different world that he is existing in, unless he's made that adjustment politically speaking.

BOLDUAN: Chris, Lisa, thanks, guys. Really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Coming for us, speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to President Trump citing security concerns. She is asking him to present, offer his State of the Union address either in written form only or postpone it to another day after the government reopens. What does this really mean? It's coming up.


[11:47:39] BOLDUAN: Now entering its 26th day, the partial government shutdown is still the longest in history. It's still causing very big problems nationwide. A new wrinkle in the standoff now is the State of the Union address. A short time ago, we learned the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, asked the president to postpone his address to Congress scheduled for later this month or offer it in writing only due to security concerns. So what does this mean for the fight now between Democrats and the president over the government, over the border wall?

Joining me is House majority leader, Democratic Congressman, Steny Hoyer.

Thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Congressman, you just came out of meeting with other Democratic leaders. Do you have any updates for us?

HOYER: We're working towards -- we've cancelled the recess. We'll come back next week. We've already passed seven bills, which would have opened up part or all of the remaining parts of government shutdown, put people back to work and, more importantly, as importantly, pay them, give them a paycheck so they can put food on their table, can pay their mortgage, pay their car payment and live, and not have great anxiety about not getting paid the next week. So we're going to come back from recess. We're not going to have it. And we're going to come back and, on Wednesday, we're going to put on the floor full appropriation bills for the remaining part of the year, which have already been essentially agreed to between the Senate and the House. We hope that we can pass that. That assumes that we don't open up government before then. We would urge the president to --


HOYER: -- open up government now because we have seven bills they could pass.

BOLDUAN: It seems a safe assumption the government right now -- that things can change but it will still be closed when folks get back.

HOYER: Well --


BOLDUAN: I do want to ask you, though, Congressman, you said --


HOYER: Kate, can I just make a point? Can I just make --

BOLDUAN: Of course.

HOYER: -- make a point? While people will be leaving, they are subject to a 24-hour call that any time we can in fact if the Senate acts, if the Senate sends a bill back to us, we will be prepared to pass it and open up the government.

BOLDUAN: I did want to ask you that, because they're leaving on Thursday, coming back on Tuesday. That's the latest I heard.

HOYER: Right?

BOLDUAN: Why let folks go home at all? I know they can be recalled in 24 hours. Why let folks leave?

[11:50:05] HOYER: Because just having them sit here is not productive. And we want --


BOLDUAN: But when Republicans were in charge, I remember Democrat after Democrat saying, we're here, we're ready to work, why are we going on recess for a variety of reasons. So now --

HOYER: We are here essentially, 24-hour call is here. We're ready to work. We've told members that there was no recess next week, you're going to be ready to come back at 24-hours' notice because - we could do it at 12-hours' notice but west coasters can't get here in that period of time. We want people going home talking to their people, talking to federal employees, talking to people who rely on the government for services every day, and doing the stories that what this shutdown, which is the total responsibility of the president of the United States, and frankly, Senator McConnell, who thinks this is a failed policy of shutting down government -- Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, said it is unacceptable that we have 800,000 people being unpaid. He is absolutely correct. McConnell is absolutely correct. Those two simply, as equal branches of government, ought to pass bills to open up the government, which we passed to the Senate and not just have McConnell say that if the president won't sign it, we won't do it.


HOYER: The president has a responsibility. We have a responsibility. We ought to exercise that responsibility.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about the State of the Union. The speaker cites security concerns for wanting to postpone it. Is this about security concerns or is this about not wanting to give the president a platform in the middle of this fight?

HOYER: I think this is about opening up government and saying, we're not going to have business as usual as long as this government is shut down, as long as 800,000 people, 440,000 people being required to work but not getting paid. And now the president is asking people to come back, not get paid, but to work so that the tax refunds can get paid. I think that's right that we want to get the tax refund sent out, but what is wrong is that we don't open up government and facilitate that happening. The president's trying to ease the pain for the public so they'll stick with him. Shutting down government ought not to be, must not be a strategy of negotiations in a democracy. I don't know any government in the world that shuts itself down because it can't reach political agreement. And this president is unlike any president with whom I've served in his willingness to say, I'd be please to shut down the government," then shut down the government, and after he made an agreement with McConnell and the United States Senate, I'll pass the bills to keep government open if you pass them. And 24 hours later, he changed his mind.

BOLDUAN: I do have another question about the State of the Union.

HOYER: Sure.

BOLDUAN: The letter from Pelosi says that she suggests we work together to determine another suitable date. That's how she wrote it. The letter sounds like she is asking him, but isn't she just telling him that this is off until the government is open?

HOYER: Yes. Yes. The speaker is the one who invites the president to speak to the joint session and she has said, as long as the government is shut down, we're not going to be doing business as usual, and --


BOLDUAN: So the State of the Union is off?

HOYER: The State of the Union is off.

BOLDUAN: What if the president -- I don't know -- responds with, no, he wants to keep the date? Any chance that he could convince you otherwise? HOYER: No. Our response will be, Mr. President, if you want to open

up the government, the Senate has seven bills they can use, and we'll send an eighth bill tomorrow -- today to them that will include disaster relief -- and there are two disasters. And the disasters that were caused by natural causes, natural phenomena, and the disaster that has been caused by the president of the United States of shutting down government and locking out 800,000 people from getting paid the money that they have earned.

BOLDUAN: So, Congressman, leadership, you guys are not speaking, if you will, negotiating at the moment with President Trump, but there are some Democrats that are over at the White House meeting with the president, members of the Problem Solver's Caucus today. Do you support them going over to the White House and meeting with the president?

HOYER: Yes. A couple of them talked to me and I said, look, if the president of the United States wants to meet with a group as opposed to individually, if he wants to meet with the group, he's the president of the United States, we ought to -- I certainly have no objection to your going over and talking to him. I think that --


BOLDUAN: Have you given them authority, did you empower them to strike a deal?

HOYER: No. They don't have the authority to strike a deal. But they have the authority to do -- and all, each of us have the authority to do is go and listen to proposals. But I know the message that all of them have sent out is the government needs to be open now and it needs to be opened first.

[11:55:14] BOLDUAN: Congressman Steny Hoyer, thank you very much. I appreciate you coming in.

HOYER: Kate, thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, sir.

Breaking news this morning, we have American servicemembers on patrol in Syria killed in a possible suicide blast claimed by ISIS. We have the shocking video of the attack coming in and the latest reports of what really happened. That's next.