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ISIS Claims Syria Blast; Pelosi Asks to Move State of the Union Address; Gillibrand Announces Run; Shutdown Enters Day 26. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired January 16, 2019 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:31:35] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: This just in to CNN. ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the attack targeting a patrol by U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria. We should note that you should take those claims of responsibility always with something of a grain of salt.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

SCIUTTO: But that is a new claim from ISIS.

HARLOW: It is.

We do have some new video also in. I want you to take a look at this. So this obviously purports to show the moment, you know, here you go, of the attack. There you have it, in Manbij in Syria.

SCIUTTO: Looks like would be a suicide bomber --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: In that you don't see it emanating from a vehicle there. But there's a crowd of people there.

What you can't see in that video are U.S. forces, but we do know that a U.S. patrol took place in the city of Manbij today.

HARLOW: Right. And that's a big answer we need right now as we go to the Pentagon.

Barbara Starr is there and joins us again.

There's a question about whether we know at this point whether or not U.S. forces were injured or killed in the attack.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning.

We want to make sure everybody knows everything we know. And what we do know is at this hour the U.S. military is working on a statement that they expect to make public shortly about what they know about what happened in Manbij earlier today and the impact on U.S. forces because there are dozens of U.S. forces that have conducted security patrols on -- with vehicles in this area, joint patrols, with Turkish forces in this region. And, in fact, earlier today the U.S. spokesman for the coalition put

out a statement saying that they were aware of these reports and that the coalition forces were conducting a routine patrol. So we are awaiting a statement from the U.S. military and the coalition with further information if there was any impact on forces in the region and whatever they can, of course, tell us about civilians in the region who may have been injured in this pretty horrific-looking attack.

Manbij is a very difficult area right now for U.S. troops. They've been patrolling. But they may be leaving that area in the coming weeks under President Trump's withdrawal proposal.

Poppy. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, we know you're going to stay on top of it for all the latest updates there. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

HARLOW: This just in. Nancy Pelosi is asking President Trump to move the date of the State of the Union. We'll tell you why, ahead.

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[09:38:22] SCIUTTO: Well, this just in to CNN. There's a lot of news this morning.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has sent a letter to President Trump asking to move the day of the State of the Union Address citing security concerns resulting from the ongoing shutdown.

HARLOW: We were sort of shocked when we heard this, but this can happen.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Let's go straight to The Hill. Phil Mattingly joins us.

So, technically, she has to invite the president to deliver the State of the Union, which she did two weeks ago. This is a letter asking him to move the date. Can she actually disinvite him?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're about to see, apparently.

Look, guys, I think we've all been waiting to see kind of what the next step is from either the president or leadership in trying to shake free the current impasse and shutdown negotiations. And I think this is it. Nancy Pelosi writing this letter to the speaker basically saying the two key agencies charged or tasked with security for the State of the Union, which is a major security event that requires kind of all government resources given the number of VIPs that are in the room, are the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service. Those agencies are currently not being funded. They're either furloughed or people are not being paid to come to work.

Because of that, Pelosi writes, sadly, given the security concerns, unless government reopen this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union Address in writing to Congress on January 29th.

I'm assuming the latter is not exactly what the president and his team would like to do. This has been viewed as an opportunity, particularly if the government is still shutdown, to really kind of have the mantle to really kind of attack Democrats, make his case again for the border wall.

The big question now is going to be, how is the president going to respond? I'm told Pelosi just read this letter off to Democrats in a closed door meeting. They're very supportive of it. Now, next move, the White House, guys.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I like the understatement there, Phil, that the president might not welcome this opportunity being taken away from him.

[09:40:04] HARLOW: Maybe not. Maybe not.

Phil, thanks very much.

Also, it's official, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand entering the 2020 presidential race. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I'm filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States tonight.

I'm going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own, which is why I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Hot off of Gillibrand's announcement there came news that her colleague, Senator Sherrod Brown, is launching a listening tour to make his own decision to run. The pair now joining these already existing five contenders. The field only set to get much more crowded from here.

HARLOW: Joining us now, chief political correspondent for "Esquire," Ryan Lizza, politics reporter for "The Guardian," Sabrina Siddiqui.

Good morning to you both.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

HARLOW: So there are those names we just mentioned. Then there's someone who hasn't thrown his hat in the ring but there's a Draft Beto campaign. Julian Castro. You were just in Texas doing some of this reporting. It's really early -- LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: But, you know, Gillibrand made this announcement on Colbert. A big, national stage. What's your read?

LIZZA: My read is that the field is going to be enormous. The Democrats haven't had a field of this size since '92. It will be bigger than '92. But '92 and '88 were the last two Democratic primaries where you had a big, big field and no really obvious front- runner. If Joe Biden gets in, he'll enter the race as someone, I think, who will be called the front-runner, but not in a way that, say, Al Gore started in 2000 or Hillary Clinton in 2008 where you had a single, dominant candidate and everyone -- that was sort of like a planet that all the other ones circled around. This is going to be a wide, open field. Very, very, very difficult to predict anything until it sorts itself out later in the year.

SCIUTTO: Yes, not unlike the huge field you had for Republicans in 2016, right?

LIZZA: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: When you look at -- when you look at the folks there, you see quite a spread in terms of the ideological spectrum. I mean this sort of Warren wing of the party, very liberal, reform minded. Sherrod Brown, a red state, in effect, sitting senator there.

I mean it's going to be a battle, is it now, for the direction of the party, but also for who Democrats think would pose the greatest challenge to President Trump?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE GUARDIAN": Absolutely. And you have what is shaping up to be a very vast and diverse field of likely candidates. But what's interesting for Democrats is, there are some issues that have effectively become a litmus test for the party. So you've seen many of those contenders or likely contenders already embraced Medicare for all. Most of them support raising the minimum wage. You have a lot of them who, of course, recognize the need to address Me Too and sexual harassment in the workplace. They've taken a much more expansive view of tightening laws around guns in this country.

And so I think that you have seen the Democratic base obviously move in a form of progressive direction. So you might have someone like Beto O'Rourke, like Joe Biden, making those appeals to, you know, the centrist wing --

SCIUTTO: Right.

SIDDIQUI: Of the party, but the extent to which what we used to refer to as centrist still exists, that's an open-ended question. There will also be a challenge for Democrats not to let President Trump very much dictate the narrative and soak up all of the oxygen in the race.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. LIZZA: That -- I think that's a really interesting point. Huge field, but not maybe as much ideological diversity as in some of the Democratic -- in the Democratic Party say in the '90s and early 2000s. There's a lot of consensus on the big issues.

HARLOW: True.

Let me ask you about this, Ryan, because not on 2020 but on the current disaster of the shutdown that is.

LIZZA: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Interesting what it is meaning for the president and the economy. I mean on the economy is where the president has consistently polled high.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: And much higher than his overall approval rating.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: That is now taking a hit.

I had Kevin Hassett, the head of the White House Council on Economic Advisers tell me yesterday, every week we're shut down, it's shaving another 10th off GDP.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: And the polling numbers are showing that for the president. You've got the new Quinnipiac poll. The president's handling of the economy down below 50 percent, down 4 percent since November.

LIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: If you're sitting in the White House in the West Wing, what is this making you think?

LIZZA: Well, one -- the one thing that has -- Trump has low approval ratings for the -- considering how good the economy has been for his first two years --

HARLOW: Yes.

LIZZA: His approval rating should be a lot higher, right? Presidents that preside over an economy -- the kind of economy that he's presided over -- not to say that there haven't been weak spots, but GDP has been good, the unemployment numbers have been very good. Generally, if you're presiding over that kind of an economy, your approval rating should be above 50 percent, right? Trump, given that, has had abysmal approval ratings. So the economy has been held -- holding him artificially aloft.

HARLOW: And now that's slipping. LIZZA: And if once that is threatened, everything about Trump is

threaten, his re-election is obviously threatened. That's the number one thing that would help him get re-elected is a good economy. And so he, at some point, has to look at that data and say, wait a second, this shutdown is --

HARLOW: Interesting (ph).

LIZZA: Just a gun to the -- you know, a self-inflicted wound. It's not just -- it's every time -- every slice off GDP is --

[09:45:08] SCIUTTO: It may also help explain why such a focus on the wall as an issue. You know, kind of clinging to that as a way to kind of keep the base -- keep the base (INAUDIBLE).

LIZZA: That's true.

SIDDIQUI: It is ultimately about delivering something he campaigned on to his base, but a majority of the American public, according to most polls --

SCIUTTO: Right.

SIDDIQUI: Increasingly blame the president for this shutdown. And that's why the key people to watch are those Senate Republicans who aren't necessarily aligned with the president on dragging this shutdown in the pursuit of a wall.

SCIUTTO: Well, they can complain all they want in private. Until they come out in public and actually vote against the president, different story.

HARLOW: There you go. Yes, right.

SCIUTTO: Ryan Lizza, Sabrina Siddiqui, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you both.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back. Lots of news we're covering this hour.

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[09:50:08] SCIUTTO: Less than two hours from now, President Trump is set to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who call themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus. This in the Situation Room in the White House. And the topic, of course, the shutdown.

HARLOW: Let's hope they can solve some problems.

The question this morning, will the Democrats come -- physically come to the table? They didn't yesterday. Democrats declined the invitation to sit down with the president at this working lunch.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Susan Brooks of Indiana, who did show up at that meeting. She's also, I should note, one of the first members of Congress to say, I won't get paid during this shutdown. I will decline my incoming paychecks.

Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.

REP. SUSAN BROOKS (R), INDIANA: Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: All right, so, walk us through yesterday.

BROOKS: Well, I was invited to a bipartisan lunch, which, by the way, is not the first time I've been invited to a bipartisan lunch at the White House. I was invited to a bipartisan luncheon at the White House when tax reform was being discussed. And so I had high hopes, quite frankly, that maybe some members would come to the table and have the president and some members of his negotiating team really try to begin some discussions with members of the Democrat caucus.

They chose not to come yesterday. A number of Republicans -- we -- did go because it's very important that we continue this dialogue and we have more discussions about how to break through this impasse. So that's important.

SCIUTTO: Talking is nice, but talking is not going to get anywhere. I mean I talked to Democrats and Republicans on The Hill yesterday.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: I asked them, how are you going to get out of this. All of them threw their hands up in the air. The fact is, one side is either going to have to blink or you're going to have to talk compromise.

HARLOW: Or both blink.

BROOKS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: The compromise that had been discussed for a thousand years on The Hill -- OK, money, you know well, money for the border wall, long-term protection for the dreamers, is that at all on the table? Do you support that? Does the president support that?

BROOKS: I actually believe those types of negotiations could be on the table if we could bring the Democrats back to the table. And that's what I've been trying to do with members to bring them back to the table.

HARLOW: But you know the president can say -- he could say, OK, I'm open on DACA comm (ph), right?

BROOKS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I mean the thing is the president --

BROOKS: And I have brought that up.

SCIUTTO: McConnell won't bring in -- unless the president expressed support for a solution.

BROOKS: So I -- actually, before the shutdown began, I brought up DACA as a negotiating tool and to begin those discussions.

HARLOW: Yes.

BROOKS: And -- but border security, everything that happens at the border, this is all a part of it as well. And the president needs to have a true counter proposal come to the White House. And that's where I disagree. I think talking is very important. And when we sit down and actually talk and there is a -- actually an offer that's been given on border security, counter, and that's what we're waiting for from the Democrats, a counter.

SCIUTTO: I mean, as you know, there was, and it was passed by both houses of Congress about a months ago and, you know, months before that there were $25 billion for the border with protection for dreamers. Did the president say yesterday he would support such an exchange, protect dreamers for money for the wall?

BROOKS: We didn't actually get into those kinds of discussions. It's really --

HARLOW: But why? Isn't that like the core of it?

BROOKS: Well, part of it is -- part of what we need to do is to figure out how to even begin the discussions again. And that's what is not happening. And that is why we are imploring members to convince Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to go back, not to come in and say I'll give you a dollar. We're -- because right now we have 650 miles of current barriers, walling, fencing. This is an additional 234 miles more.

And what has happened, and what I'm so discouraged by in some ways, is that the facts -- the facts of the massive numbers in the last quarter, the last couple of months of 2018 and continuing are the massive number of children coming to the border, the massive number of families coming to the border, and we don't have the resources to care for them.

SCIUTTO: And that's a fair point because more people are coming in family groups.

BROOKS: It's a huge point. Massive numbers.

SCIUTTO: But I do want to look at the numbers here, because these are important.

BROOKS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: These are interdictions at the border since 2010, when Republicans took over control of Congress. You came in in 2012.

Why is it a crisis today and it wasn't a crisis in 2010 when the numbers were higher?

BROOKS: I will tell you what's (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: In 2013, 2014, '16. BROOKS: OK, here's what's different. In '14, actually, when President Obama was in office, we had a breakdown again. We were in the middle of immigration reform discussions then. And then that was when the massive influx of unaccompanied children began. And we could not take care of them. We couldn't figure out the resource issues.

HARLOW: Right.

BROOKS: And those numbers have increased, the number of children coming without adults, which, by the way, this is often led by the drug cartels on the southern part of our -- of Mexico and -- so this is -- it's different. Those were singles people that used to come. And now it's totally different what's happening at the border. And our -- we don't have the resources to house, to handle this massive influx of children and families.

HARLOW: It's not totally different. I mean the numbers Jim points out are really important and fact full. Look, the debate --

SCIUTTO: And Republicans had control of three branches of government --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Until a couple of month ago.

HARLOW: And to --

BROOKS: Very, very frustrating.

HARLOW: Look --

[09:55:01] BROOKS: Some of us did vote for it, by the way, to resolve some of this. If you look at the Goodlatte -- what we called the Goodlatte Immigration Reform bills, and McCaul's (ph), they -- we did try, but we didn't get -- have any real meaningful input from the other side of the aisle. It's very, very frustrating.

HARLOW: All right.

BROOKS: And in the meantime, our federal employees are suffering.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BROOKS: I'm a former United States attorney. I've lead an office of federal employees. I -- we know that they are suffering. And it is wrong. And while -- while I find it ironic, I just learned that Speaker Pelosi is asking to delay State of the Union because of security. That is what this essential argument is about. It is about border security. Border security is critically important. It is what the president and I believe the American people agree.

HARLOW: We have some -- I apologize for interrupting.

BROOKS: It's OK.

HARLOW: We have some unfortunate breaking news to bring to everyone.

BROOKS: Oh.

HARLOW: Thank you for joining us very much.

BROOKS: OK. Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: That's right, this just in to CNN. The U.S.-led coalition has confirmed the following via Twitter. U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information, says the coalition, and will share additional details at a later time.

We are on top of all the breaking details from this story and that sad news coming out of Syria for U.S. forces.

Please, stay with us.

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