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Interview With Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath; British Prime Minister Survives No-Confidence Vote; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Bombing Killing U.S. Troops; Nancy Pelosi Postpones State of the Union Address. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 16, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin with a new tension rising out of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, now in day 26. This just in. The top Republican in the House is calling Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- quote, unquote -- "unbecoming," unbecoming, after she urged President Trump to push back the State of the Union or even deliver it by written statements, skipping the public speech altogether, or perhaps deliver it out of the Oval Office.

That is because Speaker Pelosi says the shutdown is getting in the way of security preps.


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, the president's shutdown.

But that isn't the point. The point is security.

This is a very big deal. It is a special security event.


BALDWIN: Now leader McCarthy is saying that the request shows -- quote, unquote -- "She's playing politics," adding that the president should -- quote -- "come here, give this speech, and tell Pelosi to act like a speaker."

Also breaking, Homeland Security and the Secret Service have just come out with their own statement saying that there agents and their officers are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.

So let's discuss with the Dana Bash, our CNN chief political correspondent. And so, Dana, first, just on Leader McCarthy's words. He said to change course is just unbecoming of the speaker. What did you make of that choice of words?


Look, I don't -- I genuinely don't know that he meant it this way, but I don't think you would use the word unbecoming about John Boehner or if he were speaker or so forth.

BALDWIN: Totally agree.

BASH: Which I think is where you were -- where you were going with that, Brooke.

But I -- having said that, I really do think that his comment, in general, the spirit of it and what's going on here is very much gender-neutral. I mean, this is about a genuine standoff, very, very deep policy differences between the president and the Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives.

And it is just a fact that it is up to the speaker of the House to do the inviting when it comes to a State of the Union address. That's the protocol. That's the way it is.

He's coming to their House, literally. And so it is her prerogative. She gave -- the reason she gave was probably an excuse when it comes to security. So I think maybe that's what Kevin McCarthy was trying to get at there.

And it's just -- it's a power play. And there are lots of other probably real reasons Nancy Pelosi decided to do what she did.

BALDWIN: But just when I -- when I first read about this, I mean, this to me seems like she's not asking the president to change the date.


BALDWIN: She is telling the president to change the date, and she has the power to do so, correct?

BASH: She does. She does.

BALDWIN: Yes. She does.

BASH: She does have the power to do that, because it is -- it doesn't officially happen, the State of the Union doesn't happen formally until the speaker of the House makes a formal request.

And then there has to be, I believe, a resolution, which is perfunctory generally, to have the president come. I mean, it is by modern standards tradition for a president to come and deliver a State of the Union address.

After a president is inaugurated, they usually just kind of deliver an address to Congress, because they don't know the state of the union yet. And then every year after, they deliver a State of the Union.

But before modern times, I think before Franklin Roosevelt -- and somebody might want to correct me if I'm -- if I have my history not entirely right -- but certainly the latter half of the 20th century that's, when you started actually to see presidents physically go up to Capitol Hill and give addresses.

It wasn't unusual before that just to give a written report.

BALDWIN: So, this is all, of course, because of the shutdown.

And we have some news just in from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who says that he now has 10 signatures on this bipartisan letter to end the shutdown. Do you see that as progress?


BASH: Sure. Absolutely, it's progress.

What they want to do is reopen the government and then negotiate while the government is open, have about a three-week window to do so. That's better than not talking. That's better than not trying to find some solution, absolutely.

But the person who hasn't necessarily agreed to this is the president of the United States. And all of this hinges on him and, to be fair to him, on the House speaker to find a way out of this, but, really, mostly, when it comes to the president, because, remember, go back now to the end of December.

The Senate, led by the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, did pass a bill that funded the government. It didn't have the wall money in it, but they did pass it. And it was because the president basically blindsided the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, that we are in this situation to begin with.

BALDWIN: To be continued.

Dana Bash, day 26, thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I want to get to Syria now, where American service members have been killed today in a blast carried out by a suicide bomber.

ISIS has claimed responsibility. I want to play you some video. And I just want to warn you some of the video of the explosion you're about to see is indeed graphic. But this is the first major attack inside Syria since President Trump shocked the world just less than a month ago, when he announced his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from there.

The president declaring ISIS had been -- quote -- "badly beaten in Syria." That's what he said about a month ago. The Turkish president, President Erdogan, says that today's attack in the Syrian town of Manbij will not change Trump's decision. And I talked to CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa

Ward, who visited the front lines of this town, happened to be there two days ago. Here she was.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, we were down right by the front lines of the war against ISIS today. This is near the Iraqi border.

The caliphate has not crumbled. It is nearing collapse. But there are several towns there's still fierce resistance. There is still everyday fighting. There is still casualties being -- casualties on all sides happening every single day.

There are a lot of sectarian and ethnic tensions bubbling beneath the surface here. And the minute you have a power vacuum, Brooke, you can be sure that ISIS will be back.


BALDWIN: With me now, CNN's global affairs analyst Susan Glasser, staff writer for "The New Yorker."

And so, Susan, good to see you.

This is, as -- I was listening to Clarissa also saying that this is the worst attack we have seen in Syria in quite some time. There was a significant U.S. military presence in the city of Manbij. Can you just tell me about the region and the role of the U.S. military there?


So this is essentially one of the enclaves that the U.S. had effectively been in charge of security, not a massive U.S. military presence on the ground overall, by the way. We're only talking about a U.S. military contingent of around 2,000 U.S. troops that Trump has said will be pulled out of the country, although the timetable, as you pointed out, remains very unclear in this area of Northern Iraq.

It's where the U.S., along with its Kurdish allies, almost every side in the Syrian war has occupied this town at one point or another. This was apparently part of a routine patrol by the American service members who were caught up in the attack.

We're still waiting to hear the exact details, but it appears to be a significant escalation. Overall, there's only been two U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Syria since the U.S. deployment there. So this is a significant moment.

And, by the way, it comes exactly four weeks to the day since President Trump tweeted that ISIS was defeated. And Vice President Pence actually repeated that even as the first reports were coming out today.

BALDWIN: Let me get to that. Thank you, because you are exactly right, Susan.

So we learned today, first of all, when Trump -- speaking of the president, when he was over in Iraq -- after he made that withdrawal announcement, he was over in Iraq, the surprise visit at Christmas. And he was actually warned at the time that ISIS wasn't defeated in Syria, despite what he had said.

And to your point on what the vice president said today, here he was.


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


BALDWIN: So let me update that, because we now have a statement from the vice president on the attack, of course, thanking the courage of armed forces and condemning the terrorist attack.

And he said, "We will never allow the remnants of ISIS to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate, not now, not ever."

But how do you reconcile the message of ISIS that you're getting out of the White House vs. what's happening on the ground?

GLASSER: Well, first of all, it underscores the peril of any politician of any party having a mission accomplished moment.


And both Vice President Pence and President Trump have stumbled into that over the last few weeks. They should have gotten George W. Bush's advice about whether that's advised or not.

But, by the way, Barack Obama also claimed that al Qaeda in Iraq had been defeated not long before it was roared in the form of the Islamic State. So it's a risk for any politician.

I think that the danger now is the vacuum and the uncertainty and the fact that we actually have no idea what America's Syria policy is. Both the secretary of state and the national security adviser were in the Middle East last week and talking about a Syria policy that bears little resemblance to the announcements by President Trump and the strong statement of departure reiterated by Vice President Pence today.

So, I follow foreign policy, and I can't tell you what our policy in Syria or in the Middle East today is.

BALDWIN: That and, just lastly, from Clarissa, she said, Brooke, you can take ISIS -- you can liberate a city of ISIS, but you cannot take ISIS from the hearts and minds of so many of these villagers who've been living under ISIS rule for so long.

Susan Glasser, thank you very much. GLASSER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news in the U.K., where the British prime minister, Theresa May, just survived vote to keep her job, despite a crushing, historic defeat to her Brexit plan just 24 hours ago. We will have more on that.

Also, jaw-dropping testimony from the trial of former cartel leader El Chapo that he allegedly paid a $1 million bribe to the former -- excuse me -- $100 million bribe to the former Mexican president. So we will take you live to Brooklyn, where this courtroom drama is all unfolding.

And just in, Interpol says it has received a -- quote -- "red notice request" asking for the arrest and extradition of an NBA star from the New York Knicks. More on this straight ahead.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right 306, the no's to the left 325.



BALDWIN: And there you have it. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May survives this vote of no confidence. She remains in charge of her troubled government, for now.

But the future of Brexit, the contentious referendum that nearly cost her, her job, remains unresolved.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The House has put its confidence in this government. I stand ready, 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.

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOR PARTY: Before there can be any positive discussions about the way for the government, the government must remove, must remove, clearly, once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit of the E.U. and all the chaos that would come as a result of that.

And I invite the prime minister to confirm now that the government will not countenance a no-deal Brexit from the European Union.


BALDWIN: So the prime minister says she will immediately began holding cross-party talks with the M.P.s there.

But opposition party leaders also say that they will not meet with her until she takes the possibility of a second referendum off the table.

So we have Britain's government in disarray, the U.S. government barely functioning. And when two of the world's greatest democracies are mired in chaos, it is a mess for everyone, except perhaps for this guy, the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

With me now, Stephen Collinson, CNN White House reporter.

You wrote this piece today talking about why this is all such a great week for Russia. Why is all of this, as you wrote, music to Putin's ears, Stephen?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, I think if you accept the idea that Vladimir Putin's core foreign policy goal is to restore Russia's influence and prestige that it lost at the end of the Cold War, at the expense of the West, this has been a very good week.

As you say, the two principal adversaries of Russia, the United States and Britain, are embroiled in polarization and dysfunction and are basically ungovernable. In the U.S., we have got the shutdown. It looks like we're not even going to be able to have a State of the Union address, which I guess is an ultimate symbol of a functioning government.

In the U.K., the government and Parliament can't even come together to decide the most crucial issue in Britain regarding its relations with the rest of the world since the Second World War.

So, any time you have these two great powers in such disarray, it's much more difficult for them to project their power and influence throughout Europe and the rest of the world. And that rebounds towards Russia's advantage.

BALDWIN: So Putin is pumped. Meantime, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, alleged that Congress illegally has tried to prevent Trump from pursuing his foreign policy.

And big picture, just, Stephen, how surreal is it that Russia is defending a U.S. president?

COLLINSON: It's very surreal, although it's not that unusual during the Trump presidency.

You have often seen a coincidence between the rhetoric of the Russians and President Trump on the Russia probe in particular. Lavrov, of course, is a past master at injecting a remark at the exact right time to cause maximum political discord.


But it's no more surreal than what we saw this week, for example, when the president was forced to come out and say he wasn't working for Russia, or more surreal than this debate we're having about whether President Trump actually wants to leave NATO, which, if it took place, would bring the whole structure of the post-Cold War and post-World War II international relations world crashing down.

So, I think that's one of the reasons. All of this is why it's important to get to the end of the Mueller probe, whether it absolves the president or condemns the president, because this question of how much did Russia influence the 2016 election and the Brexit referendum in 2016, incidentally, are going to fester in politics for so long.

They're going to infect the political systems of the United States and the U.K., unless there can be some kind of consensus into what exactly happened and people can actually begin to move on in the future.

BALDWIN: Yes, why the Mueller probe needs to run its course and also why a lot of these members on these committees up on Capitol Hill want to subpoena that interpreter.


BALDWIN: Stephen Collinson, thank you so much.

Coming up next: more on this fast-moving story out of Washington, as both sides dig in on this escalating shutdown, a new fight over the fate of the president's State of the Union address.

Plus, we will talk live to a woman who I have interviewed several times, ever since her son was killed by gun violence.


REP. LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA: And this is Jordan's room. The most special piece, this is the very last Mother's Day card that Jordan gave me.

"Thank you for bringing me into the world. I love you."



BALDWIN: Well, this time around, Lucy McBath is a congresswoman. The newly elected Democrat joins me live to talk about the gun control legislation that she just introduced and what she thinks should be done to end this government shutdown -- next.



BALDWIN: As the government shutdown enters its 26th day, it is not only stalling paychecks for federal workers. Newly elected members of Congress eager to get to work are seeing their initiatives placed on the back burner, members like Congresswoman Lucy McBath.

She just introduced her first bill, as a Democrat from Georgia, advocating for universal background checks on gun sales.

And back in 2012, just some -- some history on her -- McBath's son Jordan was shot and killed in an incident that came to be known as the Loud Music Trial.

And I interviewed Lucy McBath the first time a couple of years ago. She participated in this town hall I hosted for CNN full of family members who had all been touched by gun violence.

And so here is what she shared then.



MCBATH: I was visiting with my family for Thanksgiving in Chicago.

And I had just talked to Jordan Thanksgiving Day, and he was really excited about going to the mall the next day and shopping with his friends. And he made phone calls to all of his friends on Thanksgiving Day to tell them that he loved them and that he was so thankful to God that they were his friends.

And then, the next day, I received a phone call that said Jordan had been murdered simply for playing loud music in his car. And every fear that you have as a parent, every fear that you have that they'll be hurt while driving or be in an accident, it all comes crashing down on you at one time.

And I remember I was just completely numb.


BALDWIN: She has since turned her pain into advocacy.

Congresswoman Lucy McBath, the newly sworn in Democrat from Georgia, is with me now from Washington.

Congresswoman, nice to have you on.

MCBATH: Thank you, Brooke. Thank you.

BALDWIN: So let's first start just with this government shutdown, day 26.

Speaker Pelosi is suggesting that the White House work with her on finding an entirely new date for the State of the Union. You are getting to know the House speaker.

Congresswoman McBath, is she asking Trump, or is she telling him move the date?

MCBATH: Well, I think that what Speaker Pelosi is really trying to do is trying to find the best solutions possible for the American people, making sure that we get our federal workers back to work, making sure that they're receiving their paychecks. And we're trying to make sure that we're compromising, the Democratic

Party. We have tried to do so. The legislation that we reintroduced to them is basically simply what the Senate Republicans created in the first place. And we have just given it back to them, those same, very same measures.

But, also, we have worked very hard to create appropriations to make sure that we are funding government services and making sure that we're getting people back to work, because that's what the American public deserves.

BALDWIN: Well, let's talk about those workers. And I know you have been wanting to hear from your constituents.

We know that TSA has been hit incredibly hard. In Atlanta, an airport you know really well, they're saying that the line security are three hours.


BALDWIN: Before becoming congresswoman, you worked for Delta for 30 years.

What is your biggest concern here?

MCBATH: Well, my biggest concern is, you know, we had a bit of information that came to us from the Centers of American Progress.

And there was a breakdown state by state by state of the affected federal workers in each and every state. And, in my state alone, in Georgia, there are about 144,000 federal workers that did not receive a paycheck in December.