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Lindsey Graham Says Trump's Syria Statements Have Emboldened ISIS; Pence Declares ISIS Has Been Defeated on Same Day of Terrorist Bombing; Negative Impact of Shutdown Spreads Coast to Coast; British Prime Minister Survives No-Confidence Vote After Brexit Rout; Father of Jake Patterson, Jayme Closs' Kidnapper, has A Letter for Her Family. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 16, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: But this is the first major attack inside Syria since President Trump shocked the world last month with his plans to withdraw U.S. troops there. As I mentioned, ISIS has taken responsibility, but there's no hard proof of ISIS involvement as of yet. Just less than a month ago, President Trump declared that is has been quote, " beaten badly" in Syria, but today Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned that President Trump's comments and abrupt policy decision may have emboldened the enemy.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R). SOUTH CAROLINA: My concern by the statements made by President Trump is that you set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we're fighting. You made people we are trying to help wonder about us and as they get bolder, people we're trying to help are going to get more uncertain. I saw this in Iraq. And I'm now seeing it in Syria.


BALDWIN: Let's go straight to our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward live for us in northern Syria. Clarissa, you were just there in this city two days ago. The site of this blast, there's a significant U.S. military presence there. Can you tell us more about that area of Syria and the role of U.S. military there?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, the town Manbij, Brooke, was actually liberated from ISIS back in September 2016 by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is a Kurdish-led militia fighting on the ground with U.S.-led coalition support. Since then it's actually been doing fairly well as a city, roughly 100,000 people living there, a lot of them went back to their homes. When we were there just a few days ago, we were right in the same area where this restaurant. It's on a very busy and bustling street. There's an old supermarket next to it. We saw a lot of signs that daily life was getting back to normal. However, I would say it was very clear to us when we were on the ground that there were definite tensions at play here. It did not feel to me to be a totally secure place.

Part of the reason for this, and this is something we have been told by Kurdish military leaders, by Kurdish civilian leaders is that ISIS still has sleeper cells across this country. Kurdish-led forces can try to clear the territory, take back the towns, but difficult for them to try to alter the ideology or the mentality of some of the people who are still sympathetic to ISIS. Right near where this took place is a U.S. base on the outskirts of Manbij. We drove by it and saw the United States flag flying above the base. The fear now for these Kurdish forces is that with the U.S. withdrawal, you're creating a power vacuum. When you do that, that invites groups like is to reconstitute, to regroup and to launch some kind of an insurgency to try to take back some of the power.

BALDWIN: And precisely on that point and your point a second ago about the sleeper cells, juxtapose that with what the Vice President said just this morning.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are bringing our troops home. The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated.


BALDWIN: As we mentioned, this is a month after the President declared on Twitter that the U.S. has beaten ISIS badly. How do you reconcile what we're hearing from this White House and what you know to be true on the ground in Syria?

WARD: We were down right by the front lines of the war against is today. This is near the Iraqi border. The caliphate has not crumbled. It's nearing collapse, but there are several towns, there's still fierce resistance and everyday fighting and casualties on all sides happening every single day. And more to the point, what did the commanders tell us when we were down by the front lines? They said, listen the next few weeks or couple months, we'll probably take the next few villages but we can't take the minds and hearts of the villagers with us. A lot of these areas have been reduced to rubble. These people have been living under ISIS rule for years and years.

And the militia, the U.S.-led coalition is working with on the ground is Kurdish led. There are Arab towns, there are a lot of sectarian and ethnic tensions bubbling beneath the surface here. The minute you have a power vacuum, you can be sure that ISIS will be back.

[14:05:00] BALDWIN: Clarissa Ward live in Syria, thank you very much.

Here at home, it is day 26 of the longest government shutdown in history. It may impact one of the most precious perks President Trump values, his face time during prime time. The state of the union. Nancy Pelosi is asking that the President either move the January 29th date of the address before Congress or do it not in person, but through a written statement. Something Thomas Jefferson used to do. But no modern-day U.S. President has ever done this. The House speaker says the shutdown is hindering the job of staffers who must secure the space, which will contain the most important government officials in the entire country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: We would have the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, entire Congress of the United States, House and Senate, the Supreme Court, joint chiefs of staff, the cabinet of the United States, did I say that? And I diplomatic core all in the same room. Hundreds of people working on the logistics and the security of it. Most of those people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown. But that isn't the point. The point is security. This is a Housekeeping matter so we can honor the responsibility of the invitation we extended to the President. He can make it from the oval office if he wants.


BALDWIN: Let's talk to chief political analyst Gloria Borger. There was the issue of is she asking or really telling him. Then saying he could submit the whole thing in writing. Is this her trolling Trump?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, to a degree. But she's got a good argument to make, which is, look, we don't have the resources here. This is a big deal. It's called a national special security event, which requires a lot of security from the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security. Now I should note they both put out statements saying, we can handle this, which is not surprising. But she said, OK, why don't you do it from the oval office, which by the way knows is not his best format. Or do it in writing, but during the middle of the shutdown we're not going to approve that. An invitation to a State of the Union has to be approved by both Houses. So, it's clear that the Democrats would say, no thank you, you're not invited. So, is it politics? Yes. Does she also have a legitimate point, yes. You judge.

BALDWIN: Given everything you just said, how is Trump responding?

BORGER: I'm sure he's not happy about this because he loves to get his face in front of the camera when he has something to say. I'm assuming he would talk about the shutdown and talk about the Democrats being responsible and all the rest. I bet at the White House right now they are trying to figure out how to respond and maybe they will say, fine, we'll do it from. The oval office or where we intend to come or maybe she did this to light a fuse under everyone to say et we got to get this resolved by the state of the union. If the government is shut down and the President is addressing his agenda, which is what the state of the union is all about, the government is closed.

BALDWIN: Both parties are telling their respective sides to hold the line, stay united, Trump is telling his supporters that this looks to go quite long. You even have Newt Gingrich who knows a thing or two about shutdowns, he is telling the President stop negotiating, ramp up the pressure on the rank-and-file Democrats. That's according to our reporting today. I mean, to me, it seems like we're in a dark, dark place.

BORGER: We are, but can I tell you. If I were going to get advice on shutdowns, Newt Gingrich would be the last person in the world I would listen to. It didn't work out so well for Newt Gingrich. So, look, each side is going to say hold firm. At some point, they have to figure out a way to reopen the government and figure out a way to discuss the wall and what happens with that and what happens with immigration reform as grownups. Because this is affecting everyone's voters. Not just the President's base, but also the Democrats. People want their government open. It does nobody any good, not any party, not any member of Congress to be a part of this. Even though the President is trying to. Keep his base. Happy, his base will grow unhappy when they see government services that they don't have anymore.

BALDWIN: I want to stay on this unhappy note. Gloria Borger, thank you. The White House is acknowledging it underestimated the economic impact of the government shutdown, which is forcing 800,000 federal workers to go without pay.

[14:10:00] Top Economic Adviser Kevin Hassett Said they predicted some, but all the federal contractors who will not get back pay were excluded from that first analysis. So, we have CNN crews across the country. So, CNN politics Zach Wolf reports on how more federal employees were forced to work without pay. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is that a free meal event for federal workers. But Ed Lavandera, starting with you at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, you are covering how all of these TSA officers are struggling. I see everyone shouting over your shoulder. What's going on?

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're hearing the chants of we need a paycheck. This is a group of American Federation of Government Employees Union that have been gathering here throughout the morning. Continue to be here throughout the afternoon. These are TSA employees, also air traffic controller employees and local pilots' unions and flight attendant unions to support these groups as well.

Everything we're hearing is that this government shutdown is really starting to put a strain on not only their personal lives, but the air travel situation across the country. Because of callouts from TSA agents across the country, long lines at airports like Washington, Miami, Atlanta, terminal B at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston has been shut down since Sunday afternoon. And the executive Vice President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says that flying today is less safe than it was a month ago because of this government shutdown putting a strain on the entire air travel system across the country. So troubling warning signs coming from various officials across the country as these workers are demanding paychecks.

I'm going to turn over to Suzanne Malveaux in Washington DC right now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey Ed, this is where Jose Andrea, the celebrity chef, has opened up an emergency kitchen here in Washington DC to serve federal workers and their families. We have seen many, many people in long lines, even 50 deep. The line is not so long right now, but they have come here just for a meal to take with them for their family, for their children, whether it's a cup of coffee or a hot soup and a sandwich. The celebrity chef known throughout the nation, but specifically here in D.C. saying no family should have to worry about their own children not eating. I had a chance to talk to so many people whether it's custodians or a guard at the Smithsonian or even an attorney at the Justice Department. They all have different stories talking about one who said she's got a child, a 6-year-old in private school. They have to pay the tuition. So, there's tough choices. Some a little embarrassed that they were in this line. It's the largest concentration of federal workers and also should note that inside of this kitchen, many of those federal workers volunteers serving their peers and co-workers. Just take a listen.


ROU BLUMENFELD, FEDERAL CONTRACTOR, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: I recently got engaged so was trying to save up for the wedding. Luckily, I have a little savings to get me through this. If it ends soon. But it's not a good time not to have money coming in.

CELINA MINGO, FURLOUGHED FROM U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: I don't understand why we as government workers are being penalized for a wall that we have nothing to do with.


MALVEAUX: Many people I talked to while they are frustrated just 20 minutes from the White House, 20 minutes from the capitol where this makeshift kitchen has been set up, they are trying not to blame either side. They want everyone to come together and end this as quickly as possible.

ZACH WOLF, CNN DIGITAL DIRECTOR FOR CNN POLITICS: A lot of government workers, those right there are presumably furloughed. They are not being paid and not working. But we see a lot more government workers being called essentially back into service but not being given a paycheck. Yesterday, we learned that 46,000 IRS employees would be brought back in to do tax returns. The government wants to make sure they get refunds out on time otherwise the effects of the economy of the shutdown would be even worse. Safety is becoming a big issue. The FAA has recalled 2200 safety inspectors.

Also, at the FDA where they have brought back hundreds of food inspectors. Other agencies are shaking the couch cushions to find money to keep funding workers through the shutdown. The court system has twice now found ways to make money work. So, they can keep paying their employees. They will do that now until January 25th until they find more money. We have heard examples of this at the IRS where the mortgage industry asked them to keep an income verification group to not slow down mortgages for people who were trying to buy houses who aren't involved with the government. So, all of this keeps compounding and compounding.

BALDWIN: We're talking about members of the military, a spouse in the coast guard and how this is affecting her life with three little ones and they are constantly moving. It's tough to get a job and make ends meet. Thank you so much. Just wanted to get a sliver of the stories across the country. We'll take you back and continue to tell these stories. But breaking news. Critical no confidence vote is happening right now for Theresa May. This is just one day after her Brexit plan suffered that historic defeat. The question everyone is asking is will she survive this. We'll take you live to London.

With political chaos unfolding on both sides of the Atlantic, is the Russian President Vladimir Putin smiling through all of this.

In a surreal moment, why is Russia today actually defending President Trump? We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Theresa May will keep her job for now. Moments ago, she managed to survive this vote of no confidence. The vote was 325-306. This coming after her crushing, epic defeat over her Brexit plan. She lost by the biggest defeat in modern British history. They have not had a margin like that since the 1920s. Her colleagues apparently so disapproved of her plan but disapprove of the alternative even more. The Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is the one who called for this no confidence vote. So here was the prime minister moments ago.


THERESA MAY, UK PRIME MINISTER: The House has put its confidence in this government. I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit and ensure that this House retains the confidence of the British people.


BALDWIN: British newspapers are calling the prime minister's defeat historic and humiliating and the fact, this no confidence vote is taking place is hugely damaging to a sitting prime minister. So, let's get perspective from Nic Robertson, our CNN international diplomatic editor outside of 10 Downing. Talk to me about this vote, the vote margin and what this means for the prime minister.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: 19 to win that vote by wasn't a bad number for her. There was a feeling that it might have been even smaller. It could have been in single digits because that's the nature of her majority. So, I think she'll feel quite comfortable with 19. But already the sort of fire and fury has erupted in parliament again. Theresa May has outlined that she has to provide a plan B. Plan A was voted on and lost yesterday. A plan B has to be articulated by Monday. She's going to reach out across party lines so the leaders of the parties, we just heard now from Jeremy Corbyn speaking out saying the only way he will deal with the prime minister on this issue of Brexit is if she rules out a no deal Brexit. Which of course, is looming at the moment and would be very economically damaging potentially for Britain and the European Union as well. So, we're now back into the sort of real heated arguments and debates about how Britain can get. Itself out of the European Union. This is an incredibly divisive debate. It's divided the parties. It's divided the parties among themselves in themselves as well. So, trying to find consensus on any point to try to get out of the European Union seems hugely difficult at the moment. We can expect more potential votes of no confidence in the government to come. BALDWIN: Dead line of March 29th. We'll continue this conversation

to see if they are going to meet that now. Nic Robertson, thank you so much. 10 Downing Street in London.

Back here at home, why is President Trump still silent on the fate of Republican Congressman Steve King, who has been highly criticized for his racist remarks. We will ask Congressman Gregory Meeks next.

And climate clash, Trump's pick to lead the EPA seems to be at odds with the President's opinions. What Andrew Wheeler said at his confirmation hearing today that caught some by surprise.


BALDWIN: We are learning more and more details about 13-year-old Jayme Closs' harrowing 88 days in captivity. And now we are hearing from her kidnappers' father for the first time, Jake Patterson confessed kidnapping Jayme after shooting and killing her parents in their own home. Patterson told investigators he had been to the Closs house twice before the October 15 incident.

Now Patterson's father says he wants to get a letter to Jayme's family. Jean Casarez actually talked to Patrick Patterson and [14:30:00] has more on that.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday at the justice center, I saw the father of the defendant Jake Patterson walk into the courthouse. And so, I went up and I introduced myself. He was extremely emotional. He is still very, very affected by this. And he said to me, I can't talk to you. I'm sorry. I can't say anything. I can't talk. He said, all I care about right now is Jayme's family. I want to get a note to them. The emotion that I saw in the courtroom the day before where he was sobbing in that courtroom was still with him today. As I stood there and we spoke a little bit, a deputy came up to him. When he left, I asked if he got the note. He wouldn't respond but had a half smile and just sort of a nod on his head and he left. CNN was able to talk with a neighbor of the defendant's mother.