Return to Transcripts main page


ISIS Claims Responsibility for Bombing Killing U.S. Troops; Nancy Pelosi Delays State of the Union Address. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired January 16, 2019 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The state of our union is, we don't even know if we're going to have a State of the Union.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The state of our union is a stalemate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling President Trump to take his speech somewhere else, as the damage inflicted by this long government shutdown gets even more severe.

Hours before the White House repeats that ISIS has crumbled, a massive suicide attack in Syria, four Americans killed, including two service members, in a marketplace explosion. And ISIS is claiming responsibility.

Plus, women already making history in the 2020 race,Senator Kirsten Gillibrand making three already declared candidates. More are coming. Can any of them beat Trump?

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin with our politics lead.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sending a clear message to President Trump: This is my House.

Pelosi telling the president to postpone the State of the Union address currently set for January 29, or deliver it in writing, as presidents of yore once did.

The speaker citing security concerns, due to the government shutdown. The annual address is traditionally given following an invitation from the speaker of the House, which she once extended. Pelosi insisted today that she was not disinviting the president.

But that message seems to have eluded other members of the House Democratic leadership, such as Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.


QUESTION: The State of the Union is off?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: The State of the Union is off.


TAPPER: Hoyer's staff tried to walk that back. But Hoyer is not alone.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries tweeted President Trump -- quote -- "will not be permitted to deliver his State of the Union address until government is reopened. Welcome to life in the new Democratic majority. Get used to it."

We're on day 26 of the partial federal government shutdown, nearly one million Americans not getting a paycheck, with the ripple effects felt throughout the nation. Reminder, this is economic pain that the federal government of the United States is willingly currently inflicting upon its own citizens.

The Republican-controlled Senate had passed a government spending bill. The president said he wasn't going to sign it. He demanded funding for his border wall.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins starts off our coverage from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The State of the Union to be determined, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested President Trump postpone his scheduled address until the government reopens or deliver it in writing.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is -- requires hundreds of people working on the logistics and the security of it. Most of those people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown.

K. COLLINS: Pelosi citing security concerns in her letter to the president, adding he's still welcome to make the address, just not on Capitol Hill.

PELOSI: He could make it from the Oval Office, if he wants.

K. COLLINS: The Department of Homeland Security secretary pushing back on Pelosi's claims, tweeting that the department and Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.

Canceling the State of the Union means Trump won't be able to make his case for the border wall during the prime-time television address, as aides were planning on if the shutdown was still going.

But Pelosi's letter, which she said was just a suggestion, creating confusion on Capitol Hill.

HOYER: She has said, as long as government is shut down, we're not going to be doing business as usual, and...

QUESTION: So, the State of the Union is off? HOYER: The State of the Union is off.

K. COLLINS: Despite CNN reading the letter to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the congressman's aides now saying he misspoke.

On day 26 of the record-breaking shutdown, Trump lunching with a group of bipartisan House members named the Problem Solvers Caucus, though officials weren't expecting a breakthrough, and the White House only issued this statement after, saying: "We look forward to more conversations like this."

As the shutdown starts to take a toll on the country, even Republican lawmakers are getting frustrated.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I am sympathetic to strengthening our security at the border. But shutting down government is not the way to achieve that goal.

K. COLLINS: That frustration causing senators to circulate a letter on Capitol Hill today, calling on Trump to reopen the government for three weeks, and then debate funding the border wall. But that proposal doesn't look promising.

And sources tell CNN White House officials were privately urging lawmakers not to sign it.

QUESTION: Do you know what the White House strategy is to end the government shutdown?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: No. I don't there is a strategy by either President Trump or Mrs. Pelosi.


K. COLLINS: Now, Jake, Nancy Pelosi had invited President Trump to speak on January 29, but she hadn't introduced the legislation to make it official for the time and the date, something that has to pass both the House and the Senate.

Now, if Nancy Pelosi doesn't introduce that resolution, there will be no presidential address to Congress. It has been several hours since Nancy Pelosi publicly released that letter this morning. And the White House has still had no response, Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

Let's discuss this.

First of all, I don't even know where we are on whether or not there's actually an invitation to the State of the Union because of all the mixed messages.

But let's assume that Nancy Pelosi is actually saying, you're not going to have a State of the Union until the government's reopened. This is depriving the president of a big national platform, which we know he likes.


First of all, we are edging dangerously close to my having to confront a longtime promise that I would probably vote for anyone who submitted the State of the Union in writing, instead of doing this.


HAM: So, for me personally, this is an issue.

But, no, I think it's problematic for him, because obviously he wants that platform. I think there are some options for him that would be unconventional, as this is unconventional, we're having this fight is unconventional for this long, that he could perhaps go to the Senate or he could do it from the Oval Office.

I think he will likely end up doing it on the date because he gets national TV coverage. And that's what he wants.

TAPPER: But listen to Nancy Pelosi. She had an alternative suggestion for the president.


PELOSI: This is a housekeeping matter and the Congress of the United States, so that we can honor the responsibility of the invitation we extended to the president.

He can make it from the Oval Office.


TAPPER: "He can make it from the Oval Office."

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It would cost less, and it would certainly not extend and stretch so many federal agencies.

I think the important thing that we're losing here, because it's like, does it add more drama, I think the practical aspects of what she submitted to him, which was a recommendation -- it was not a reneging of an invitation -- it was a recommendation that, until government is fully open and agencies are fully funded, perhaps we should postpone the State of the Union.


TAPPER: Yes, a suggestion. I would suggest.

RYE: A firm suggestion.


RYE: And I think that what is important here is, the Secret Service was designated as a part of standing up the Department of Homeland Security as the agency responsible for national special security events.

Secretary Nielsen decided that the State of the Union is one of these events. They are the lead agency in charge. They are not operating fully, just like most of -- many other government agencies are not, and haven't been for 26 days.

TAPPER: Right, Nielsen says, Secretary Nielsen, says that they can do it. Now, they're not being paid.


RYE: ... resources, though.

TAPPER: Well, they're working without pay, is what she says.

I mean, I'm not supporting it. They should all be paid. Everybody who works for the government should be paid. But, that said, I mean, she says they can do it.


Well, listen, the speaker is basically saying not in my House, not on my watch, as long as the government is shut down. You have other leaders within her caucus saying something totally different than what she's saying, just basically making it clear, Mr. President, you're not welcome in this House until the shutdown is over.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And she is right. Speaker Pelosi is right. That is her House and she is the speaker of the House.

However, it is our Constitution under which this president is required to update members of Congress and America on the state of the union. And it doesn't necessarily have to be in this particular forum, but that's traditionally how this has gone.

I completely understand what Speaker Pelosi was trying to do. However -- and security is an important issue. However, she may want -- should have called Secret Service before and even raised, hey, is this a problem?

Because based on what I'm hearing from folks here in Washington, she didn't reach out. She didn't say, hey, is this a concern? And she went ahead proactively and made...


STEWART: ... and made that assumption.

But they're going to do their job. That's what they do.

RYE: I think -- so I worked for the Homeland Security Committee on the Hill.


RYE: The chairman of the homeland security committee, Bennie Thompson, who has responsibility for overseeing the Secret Service, as well as the full Department of Homeland Security, is saying that he fully supports this recommendation of Pelosi.

So whether Pelosi herself checked or not, I can guarantee you that Congressman Thompson is talking to the agency.

TAPPER: Well, let me take it a little broader right now.

In a way, Mary Katharine, are we not -- is this not what Donald Trump wants? We're all sitting around this table talking about Nancy Pelosi vs. Donald Trump, whether or not there's funding, whether or not the Secret Service can do this, blah, blah, blah, as opposed to real hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans who are legitimately suffering, Coast Guard personnel, FBI agents, et cetera, because the Republicans passed a bill to fund the government, and President Trump says, no, I'm not going to sign it because it doesn't have border wall funding?

HAM: Yes.

Do I think more drama generally works to his advantage? Yes. Do I think he planned it that way? No, I don't think he had a strategy for that.

And I do have -- I have a lot of confidence that the Secret Service can pull off a giant event, even in the event of a shutdown. So that, I'm not as worried about, even though I do not always have the greatest faith in all government agencies.

But I do think that they can handle that job, even in the event.


TAPPER: But it's what you said.

TURNER: It's about the shutdown, period.

I mean, if I were to speaker, I wouldn't have said it's about security. It's about the almost a million people who don't have a job. Let's just be crystal clear about what this is about. This is about the president abdicating his responsibility to take the deal that will put people back to work.


So you have people, their families suffering. The economy is suffering. Everybody is suffering, because the president continues to have a big temper tantrum over a wall.

So let's just be plain. It's about the people.

STEWART: And I think clearly we can all agree, everyone will agree no one wins in a shutdown, the people that are out of work, the people that rely on their work, and many people here in government that need the services of those who are out of work.

And the reality is, Republicans and Democrats here in Washington need to agree on two things. This is not about Trump's big beautiful wall that Mexico's not going to pay for. This is about border security.

And to the degree they can agree, that is the issue. That's what they need to do. And compromising is not caving. They're so worried about appearing they're caving, when they're avoiding the real need here, is what -- to compromise.

TAPPER: I don't doubt that you four could negotiate an opening of the government. But that's not where we are.

Everyone, stick around.

The shutdown is terrible right now for nearly one million Americans and millions more who depend on those one million Americans to be paid, but we could be on the verge of it suddenly getting much, much worse for all of us.

Also, a suicide blast killing four Americans, including two service members in Syria, and even a very close ally and golf buddy of the president today saying Trump's sudden announcement that he was going withdraw all U.S. troops may have emboldened ISIS to attack now.

Stay with us.


[16:15:16] TAPPER: In our national lead today, the White House is admitting that the economic impact of this partial government shutdown President Trump said he would be proud to own is worse than initially expected.

Charities across the country are now helping federal employees with groceries and food here in the D.C. today. Furloughed workers and contractors lined up for a free meal from humanitarian and chef Jose Andres as the Department of Agriculture revealed it may not have funding for food stamps if the shutdown continues past February.

The Trump administration meanwhile, in an attempt to blunt the impact of this all on the public, is starting to call employees back into work without pay, making it impossible for workers who have taken up second jobs to pay the bills. Again, this is economic pain inflicted on American citizens by the American government.

As CNN's Tom Foreman reports, as bad as things look now, they're about to get a whole lot worse.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The money is missing for training some firefighters, for upgrades or hurricane prediction models, for inspecting all foods, and for hundreds of thousands of federal workers such as Lynn Stratton in Utah who sees an economic cliff coming. LYNN STRATTON, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER, OGDEN, UTAH: I have enough for one more mortgage payment and I got to go to CarMax tomorrow and sell my car.

FOREMAN: She's not alone. Analysts say the slow economic erosion of the shutdown could collapse into a fast-moving landslide of problems if the D.C. stalemate continues.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need border security. We have to have it.

FOREMAN: At national parks, winter preparations for the busy summer season are on hold. No thinning of brush to prevent catastrophic wildfires. No stopping of damage by tourists still using the land.

JONATHAN JARVIS, FORMER NATIONAL PARK SERVICE DIRECTOR: This will have a ripple effect through operations for at least a year and beyond.

FOREMAN: Think those security lines look bad at airports now, fears are mounting that many more essential federal workers could soon start seeking other employment, especially since a federal reserve survey found in 2017, 40 percent of American adults did not have enough to cover even a $400 emergency.

ANGIE ACKLIN, FEDERAL PRISON WORKER, TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA: We have creditors. We have medical bills, and we have mortgages, we have rent. We have things that we need to take care of.

FOREMAN: Plenty of services have already been entirely or partially shut down. Investigations of fatal transportation accidents, road and bridge projects, mass transit maintenance, pollution inspections, agriculture reports and the whole Smithsonian, including the National Zoo's panda cam.

ADAM DUNCAN, FURLOUGHED WORKER, PHILADELPHIA: Paying for daycare and all those things, you just don't know what's going to happen.

FOREMAN: Expected to run out of money soon: federal court offices, rent assistance for thousands of low-income families, food assistance for 7 million low-income pregnant women, new mothers and young children. And while the food stamps program is OK now, next month, it may not be.

So much seems on the brink of rampant collapse and it's such a distraction for the workers still on the job, the head of the federal law enforcement officers association sent a letter to the president and Congress too, saying: I implore you to find a solution before an unnecessary tragedy occurs.


FOREMAN: This is not fear-mongering or anything like that. Economic analysts say the point is this will not continue to be a slow burn. Many federal agencies are patching things together with whatever funds they can find so are contractors who rely on government business. But as they run out of options the impact will increase rapidly producing far-reaching effects which may be very hard and very expensive to reverse -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

The latest workers forced to work without pay, 46,000 IRS workers. This move means Americans will get their tax returns on time, but it does seem with the Trump administration calling back and this is, all of a sudden, people are now essential employees, and they're no longer furloughed, not working without pay, now they're working without pay, it does seem like they are trying to -- you know, play with the categorization so as the likes of us, people who are not furloughed, or not the federal employees are not hurt by this.

RYE: Well, I think that that can only go for so long even just going through the airport, you see the impacts of this. There are TSA workers, even if they're present, I'm not saying all of them, but even if they're present, they're not completely active. You can see despondence on their faces, like this is a very, very tough shutdown especially again we're 26 days in for those who are not doing the math.

I think the other part of this is people are not calculating how this has disastrous impacts on the economy overall when you consider the number of people who are contractors for the federal government, there's well over 10,000 companies, and that's going to be costing the economy overall more than $200 million a week.

TAPPER: And they're not going to get back pay, contractors.

[16:20:01] RYE: No, they don't get that. Even with those bills that were signed, it's for federal workers, not for federal contracts.

TAPPER: And this -- I wonder, if at this point, at one point, you know, the president so let's just put it as charitably as possible, he doesn't have the largest compassion gene inside him, but when the economy -- when the economic numbers start to really show slowing down if not worse, will then he be prompted to?

HAM: I think the possibility of economic consequences are the most likely to be a pressure point on him of anything. But that being said, when it comes to something like tariffs, he's been advised that this could go badly for the economy as well and he digs his heels in.

The bottom line is that federal workers out of work or furloughed for Donald Trump is not a political pressure point. Just pure politics, it is not a pressure point for him. It is a pressure point for Democrats. So, that is why I have thought that unless he just up in caves tomorrow because he decides to -- because sometimes he does weird stuff like that -- that they would likely have to give some physical part of border security in a package but -- and I see you shaking your head with good reason -- the left has said, we gave you the House and this is your first fight with him, you can't cave, then we're at an impasse.

(CROSSTALK) TURNER: -- because I know what Mary Katharine is saying about the president is true, but how disturbing. I mean, I want the American people to wrap their minds around this, that the only pressure point for him is what impacts him directly. But he doesn't care about people not being able to feed themselves and their children, he doesn't care that 70 percent of this economy as a consumer-based economy. So, you know, this -- he has never suffered materially a day in his life, he is a selfish, selfish man.

STEWART: I think it's easy for a lot of conservatives to say, well, this is a partial government shutdown. This doesn't affect the entire government. This is just a percentage.

But if this is your paycheck, this is 100 percent a big problem. So, it really didn't hit home with a lot of constituents and reaching out to members of the house and Senate and their leaders until Friday when they first we've got that goose egg on their paycheck and they said this is real.

TAPPER: Zero point zero, zero.

STEWART: So, now, they're speaking out, which I think goes a long way to why we're now seeing progress. We had the problem-solvers come today and they say they have made progress. They're -- finally, they're getting together and having some consensus. There's going to have to be some horse trading. I believe DACA has to be part of the deal.

But what they are having conversations on, has moved progress on is there's a bipartisan effort, let's open up this government and then we'll worry about securing the border.

TAPPER: But the White House won't do that because they think the only leverage they have is the government shutdown.

Take a look at "Washington Post" reporter Bob Costa tweeted: Couple senior Republican lawmakers tell me the only way this breaks open is if TSA employees stay home and Americans get furious about their flights. That's the only out they say, and they're close to the White House.

And then you also heard in the piece by Tom Foreman, there is this fear maybe it's going to take a tragedy. I mean, you have law enforcement agencies not working at full capacity, et cetera, and hopefully, that won't be it. Obviously, not none of us want that to happen, but it -- but will it take something like that?

RYE: And I think that's exactly the point, bringing this full circle back to the State of the Union Address too. That is and it's a time where all the Supreme Court justices, everyone in the executive branch except for one, you put all of the members of Congress, you have those number of people present and that -- with the significance of their roles in one building, that is scary, and it is a severe threat given the circumstances right now and that government agencies aren't operating at their full capacity. TAPPER: A suicide bomb in Syria kills four Americans the same day the vice president restates the president's claim that ISIS has been defeated. A look at how they tried to clean that up, next.


TAPPER: Our world lead now. Four Americans, including two U.S. service members were killed in a deadly suicide attack in Syria today. I want to warn you, the video of the blast that we're going to show you is graphic. ISIS has claimed responsibility but at this point has provided no proof of responsibility. Bizarrely hours after this horrific attack, Vice President Pence declared that the ISIS caliphate had, quote, crumbled and that ISIS had been, quote, defeated.

The vice president, of course, was following the script of President Trump on December 19th declared all American troops would immediately withdraw from Syria because ISIS had been defeated, a claim rebuffed and rebutted at the time by both the State Department and the Pentagon.

After that presidential pronouncement, during a Christmas visit to Iraq, U.S. commanders told President Trump that ISIS had not been entirely destroyed and apparently was an eye-opening revelation for the president, according to sources.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham today directly tied the president's inaccurate "mission accomplished" declaration to today's bombing.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: My concern by the statements made the President Trump is that you set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy were fighting you make people were trying to help wonder about us. I saw this in Iraq and I'm now seeing it in Syria.


TAPPER: CNN's Barbara Starr picks up the story now from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without warning, a massive suicide blast on the busy streets of Manbij in northern Syria, killing and wounding U.S. troops and civilians, people suddenly thrown to the ground.