Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

WH: Senate on Track to Introduce President Trump's Shutdown Proposal Tomorrow, Democrats Say It's a Non-Starter; 2020 Field Grows With Dems Vying to Take on President Trump; Senator Kamala Harris Enters 2020 Race; Fuller Picture Emerges on Students Encounter With Native American Elder. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 21, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:01:33] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Chris Cuomo is off tonight. Top in this hour of 360 late developments in the battle over the government shutdown after weeks of refusing to make a move on his own, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell is preparing to introduce legislation to end the standoff over funding for the border wall the President want. Our Phil Mattingly has been working his sources for us in this fast moving story.

So Phil, Mitch McConnell is likely going to introduce legislation to end the shutdown tomorrow, is that right?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And it's going to be a proposal that largely mirrors what the President announced on Saturday. The key proponents being $5.7 billion for the border wall, the trade off that they're trying to lower Democrats into a deal with will be temporary protection for DACA recipients, those DREAMers. There are currently DACA eligible, plus the temporary protected status as well or three year to pray (ph) for them.

What is most interesting about this proposal is it actually goes broader than that. It's a full spending package. It's a number of elements that Republicans want to try to use to pressure Democrats. The key issue, though Anderson, is Republicans control 53 seats in the Senate. To move this bill forward, they're going to need 60 votes in favor of it. Democrats have made clear they are opposed to it. So as it currently stands, even though this proposal be introduced tomorrow and it will be at least according to the White House, a trade off of sorts, Democrats are saying no, which means it, it's not unlike everything we're seeing to this point is likely to failed.

COOPER: McConnell though, I mean he said for weeks, he wouldn't bring anything to a vote until the present Democrats agreed to a deal, so I mean what's changed?

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's a clear shift. But there's a reason for it, at least according to Republicans, who have spoken with the majority leader. This all goes back to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision last week to tell the President he needed to find a new date for the State of the Union. It was at that moment, I'm told that the majority leader recognized that Democrats simply weren't going to move. It wasn't the 28 days, prior to give them that indication, it was that letter. And when that started and administration officials started talking about their own proposal. The one Jared Kushner and vice President Mike Pence brought to Capitol Hill, McConnell decided that something needed to change, something needed to jar something loose.

Now, the proposal with Jared Kushner and Mike Pence put together was basically the trade off you heard the President talked about. McConnell added a few other items as well. It's basically a full spending package that was agreed upon and negotiated by House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, also $12.7 billion and disaster aid and Extension of the Violence against Women Act. What he's trying to do, he recognizes the votes likely aren't going to be in his favor, he's going to try and ramp up pressure on the Democrats. So will this proposal might not be the one that actually solves the issue, the hope from McConnell's side of things right now is this at least gets Democrats to the table or forces their members to tell their leaders it's time to negotiate.

COOPER: I mean, the Democrats over the weekend rejected the President's plan before he even announced it. And when was the last time they actually put a deal on the table?

MATTINGLY: So there's two things here that I think are important to know. First and foremost, House Democrats will tell you, look, we have been putting proposal after proposal and voting and passing on proposal after proposal to reopen the government for the last several weeks, but Democrats have made clear that their baseline here is they need to reopen the government before they have any discussions or negotiations about border security. Once the government's reopen they're happy to have the discussion.

And the reason why, since been explained to me, is it's more the long game, Anderson, they recognize that if they give in on policy issues right now, if the President gets something out of the shutdown, he's more likely to use this strategy or tactics in the future, say on a debt ceiling increase later in the year or when the government runs out of funding again at the end of September. What they're trying to do is to dissuade him of the notion that he can never do this again. And because of that they're not willing to even have the policy discussion.

[21:05:02] The question now is how tenable this is as this continues. Keep in mind 800,000 federal workers will miss their second paycheck on Friday while Republicans are largely being blamed for this, the President in particular in public polling. Democrats have constituents that our federal workers. They're feeling this, they're feeling the bite, they're seeing pain. Is it a sustainable position? Democratic leaders say yes, absolutely. They think Republicans will break but as this continues on it will be interesting to see especially now that Republicans have a proposal and they're going to be voting on that proposal later this week, Anderson.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Let's get some added perspective on this. Joining us now Former Obama White House Communications Director, Jen Psaki, also Former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent and Republican Strategist Adolfo Franco. Congressman Dent, the fact that Mitch McConnell is planning to introduce the President's proposal as part of a broader package tomorrow, is that at least a step in the right direction?

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER CONGRESSMAN, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I would just say this he's laid down a marker. Everybody knows that this proposal will not pass the Senate. So he just lay down a marker, so what I think is going to happen now is that if I were the Democrats, I would simply throw $1 to $2 billion on the table right now and give a permanent solution to DACA and TPS as a counter measure. That's what I would do but I understand the thinking here.

These shutdowns usually end the same way with a clean funding bill. So this whole exercise will have been pointless. So there's going to be some posturing but I don't think the Democrats are going to make many concessions on policies as long as the government is shutdown.

COOPER: Jen, I mean what do you think? I mean, even if this doesn't pass and it doesn't seem like it will, does it put pressure on Democrats to come up with a counter offer?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think as was just outlined in Phil's report, the Democrats have passed several bills that they sent to Mitch McConnell that he has refused to bring to the floor. So their argument as he also outlined as, let's get the government open. We have 800,000 federal workers who aren't getting paychecks. We're seeing the impacts on TSA and then let's have a discussion. Democrats have every incentive to have a discussion about border security, they are not against border security, they just have different views on how it should be funded and how it should be approached and they certainly want to help DREAMers.

So there's a lot of incentive for them to actually do that but they want to open the government first. And as Charlie Dent just said and I lived through a number of shutdowns myself, they often end in a clean bill that goes through and then they can take the issues forward. So I think the pressure is going to be on a lot of the Republicans, including Mitch McConnell who's been largely absent from this the debate to just have a clean vote and move forward to this negotiation after, whether or not President Trump allowed for that, that's a big question.

COOPER: Adolfo, to support of the President I wonder, do you think we've seen the great deal maker that the President, you know, believes himself to be?

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think he's offering a good deal. And I think it's getting some traction. One of the things that Senator McConnell had said repeatedly is that he would only put something on the floor that the President would sign, so this, we have an opportunity. Beyond this, though, yes, I think he is a good -- very good negotiator, but the problem with what Jen has said and frankly the congressman has said is the following is, I think the President would actually enter into good faith negotiations but you have the Speaker saying very clearly, Anderson, she's not going to appropriate one dollar for the wall. That's one component. So I think that's the nonstarter and I'm not just saying this as a talking point or Republican point of view is that you have someone that has said she is not going to appropriate one dollar. Not that she's going to sit down and have a negotiation over the wall the government is open but not appropriate $1.

So I think this it's more than a marker. I think it will be the beginning of a negotiation I think in the Senate. Mitch McConnell is a savvy leader. He's been around for a long time, almost four decades in Washington, and I think what's going to happen here as he's going to allow a number of things and maybe even more than semantics talk about border security that includes wall funding without calling it a wall. Possibly even setting up a commission, for example, of advisers that we can appropriate $10 billion to be decided of recommendations of any commission -- bipartisan commission on how the border security funding should be allocated including and partially a wall funding. So I think there's movement and I think the President has advanced the agenda.

COOPER: It's an end, Congress -- Go ahead, Jen.

PSAKI: I was just going to say, it's also the problems with what you're saying is if we were in a normal circumstance. Look, I think we all know we're not in a normal world where there was a Republican President and there was Republicans and Democrats negotiating. There certainly would be a back and forth.

But the issue if you're Speaker Pelosi or majority -- or Minority Schumer is that this is not on the level. The President shutdown the government to satisfy a campaign pledge, they know that. And also it was just in the reporting they know that they don't want to give in to this bad behavior because they know who keep repeating it.

So, yes, there can be negotiations on a lot of these issues, border security is something everybody wants to do. But not under these circumstances and it's just not -- we're not business as usual here and that's the issue of what you just said.

[21:10:05] FRANCO: Well, I had to say very quickly, Jen, and I have a lot of respect for you, but I think there's a political equation. Most of this show was dedicated to Democratic candidates running for president in 2020. I think the Democratic tune has changed from full border wall funding even a year, year and a half ago to now nothing for the wall because they want to use as you just said to deny their President a centerpiece. Not just a campaign promise, a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in 2016. So the Democratic politics of 2020, this isn't Donald Trump. Donald Trump wants to do what's right for the country, in my opinion, but the Democratic Parties are already looking to the Presidential election. COOPER: Congressman Dent, do you agree with that? That basically Democrats just do not want to give him any wall because it is such a central tenant of his campaign?

DENT: Well, I think that's true of some or perhaps many Democrats, but I think we have to be very honest about what's going on here. One of the challenges in negotiating with President Trump is that he does not have fixed policy positions, and they shift. And Mitch McConnell already been burned once back in December he put forward a clean continuing resolution funding bill, which passed to Senate only to have, you know, his legs taken out from under him by the President.

And nobody is empowered to negotiate on behalf of the President. The President wants $5.7 billion. We know that. The question is, what is he willing to give up? What is he willing to give up, you know, for that $5.7 billion? Nobody is really quite sure. He put that temporary -- He put a little bit on that -- a little bit on there in terms of TPS and DACA --

FRANCO: Yes.

DENT: -- but it's going to require much more than that --

COOPER: Yes.

DENT: -- to get $5.7 billion.

COOPER: Jen --

FRANCO: When has the President ever retreated from his stance that we needed to border wall? Maybe I missed it.

PSAKI: Never that, but I think the point is that he flips around his positions and there's nobody you can negotiate on his behalf. So sending Vice President Pence and Jared Kushner to the Hill is meaningless. Because nobody thinks that they can come with a deal that he'll actually sign.

FRANCO: But Jen he's the guy that stayed in Washington through December, through January. It was that I'm sure the press would have been scaring him but had criticizing him even on Mar-a-Lago on a vacation saying, hey, I'm ready to sit down and talk to anybody at any time. He is the chief negotiator and there were no offers forthcoming from the Democrats.

PSAKI: I think the issue here is that funding for this wall $5 billion is a lot of money. There's an irony here that the members of the party who are opposed to spending are for it now and, you know, President Trump is somebody who wants to get this done just so he can have a big placard at campaign rallies and nobody likes that.

COOPER: Yes.

FRANCO: But Jen, do you really think in a multi-trillion dollar budget that $5 billion is a lot of money when it's 1/10th of 1%?

PSAKI: I don't have it in my pocket as also. Nobody does.

DENT: What does he want to do with $5 billion? I mean, I think really that's the question.

PSAKI: Yes.

DENT: I was one of the original co-sponsors of the secure Fence Act. But how much -- How many border agents does he want? How many extra miles of wall does he want? How many access roads? I mean -- but I can quantify those things. We can quantify that.

FRANCO: But they are.

(CROSSTALK)

DENT: He has not layout a coherent plan. He has not laid out a coherent plan for operational control of the border other than just saying I want a wall from sea to shining sea. Now I think --

(CROSSTALK)

FRANCO: Border agents.

COOPER: I got to jump in because we're out of time. But Jen Psaki, Congressman Dent, Adolfo Franco --

PSAKI: Thank you.

COOPER: -- thank you very much.

Much more on the shutdown and what it's doing to hundreds of thousands of people, one in 10 TSA screeners called in sick over the weekend. That's up to three times the normal percentage. According to the agency itself, many employees are saying they just can't go on working without pay. In Friday our Randi Kaye sat down with five federal workers, one from the EPA, two from the Bureau of Prisons, one from the TSA and one from an Air Traffic Controller. Four are working without pay, one is for load, two are Democrats, one Republican, and two are independent. Here's their report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): How many of you are running out of money? Raise your hand.

All of you.

KAYE (voice-over): Marah Pearlman's son needs medication for ADHD.

MARAH PEARLMAN, FEDERAL WORKER IMPACTED BY SHUTDOWN: I don't know how I'm going to pay the $250 a month for his medication. My husband and I have put ourselves on a macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwich diet so therefore the kids can eat.

KAYE: Tom Ruiz is picking up extra cash playing guitar at a coffee shop but that may not be enough to afford his regular MRIs for M.S. TOM RUIZ, FEDERAL WORKER IMPACTED BY SHUTDOWN: Those three added up to out of pocket costs $550 that's -- and that's with insurance, but I have to get them. I have to make sure that this disease is held in check.

KAYE: Kyle Coats a divorced dad may have to skip the 300 mile drive every other week to see his daughter.

KYLE COATS, FEDERAL WORKER IMPACTED BY SHUTDOWN: I wouldn't have the gas money.

KAYE: As of today Kyle is broke.

KAYE (on camera): You ran out of money today.

COATS: Today.

KAYE: What are you going to do?

COATS: I absolutely did. I had like $20 left in my bank account, so I called my parents and they're going to put in $300 for me today, so.

[21:15:02] NICK DANIELS, FEDERAL WORKER IMPACTED BY SHUTDOWN: When you know you have zero income but there is no end in sight, that's what becomes the problem.

KAYE (voice-over): And when a top economic adviser in the Trump administration suggested this is a paid vacation, this furloughed worker was furious.

RUIZ: And that's what really boiled my blood. But you got to understand, the psychological impacts of this. Being at home we feel undervalued, we're, you know, unappreciated and that results in this low morale of course.

KAYE (on camera): Kyle, do you think that President Trump can relate to the situation that you're in?

COATS: I mean, will he ever relate to a guy that's living paycheck to paycheck. I don't think so. I don't think anybody in Congress could relate.

KAYE: As Trump voted you don't agree 100% with what he's doing about?

COATS: I don't agree 100%. I don't believe in holding anybody's paycheck hostage. Democrat, Republican I don't care who you are.

KAYE: What about Speaker Pelosi. Do you think she can relate to the position that you're all in?

PEARLMAN: No, and honestly I don't think she cares. Every interview she does she's got this smirk on her face like she's winning. She's not.

KAYE: Who do you blame for the position that you're in? PEARLMAN: Congress as a whole. I would love to really point my finger a lot right now to Mitch McConnell who refuses to allow a vote in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I blame the entire leadership. As a leader, you don't get a chance to shift the blame, you have to take responsibility, period.

KAYE: You did vote for Donald Trump. I mean, do you feel betrayed by this?

COATS: I definitely feel betrayed by him. You know, he talked about, you know, supporting law enforcement. I'm a federal law enforcement officer not receiving pay. How is that supporting law enforcement officers, you know? So I blame him and the Republican Party, blame the Democratic Party.

DANIELS: You know one of the hard parts about is none of us are asking for handouts. We're just asking for our paycheck.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Dallas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Oh, we're going to keep telling the stories of people like this as long as the shutdown continues. We have a lot more ahead tonight.

Coming up next, Rudy Giuliani weighs in on the President and Russia and once again what he's saying, he's confusing a lot of people. Not only that now he is saying that he wasn't really saying what we all heard him say. Is that clear? We'll try to clear it up when we come back.

Later the story that chances are you've been talking about that scene at the Lincoln memorial. And video of a kid in a Trump hat and a Native American elder and now fresh insight on what actually may have happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:20:20] COOPER: Well, he's done it again. And Rudy Giuliani, the President's TV lawyer, things over the weekend that are making people do double take, a while back, he let it slip that President Trump had in fact paid off Stormy Daniels. Then last week he said the President's campaign may have colluded with Russians, just not the President himself.

And then over the weekend, he spoke to the New York Time's Maggie Haberman about business dealings with the Russians during the campaign. And I'm reading from the story, "The Trump Tower Moscow discussions were, 'going on from the day I announced to the day I won," Mr. Giuliani quoted Mr. Trump and saying during an interview with the New York Times.

So, that's what he told the Times, a direct quote from the President. The very same day told CNN Jake Tapper that his client "wasn't talking to people in Russia about anything. He didn't talks to people in Russia at all." That was yesterday. Today, Giuliani tried to walk it back.

Jessica Schneider joins us now with all of that and more it's hard sorting through all this. So what did he say today and how many different answers had Giuliani given about this over the course of the last 36 hours?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, he's gone to a big flip flop. Rudy Giuliani, he spoke to at least three news outlets on Sunday and then, Anderson, he tried to clarify today. So, let's go with yesterday. The takeaway, throughout all the interviews yesterday seemed to be the same. And the takeaway was that was possible that Donald Trump had discussions relating to Trump Tower Moscow throughout 2016 during the campaign and up to the election itself.

And as you mentioned there, Giuliani even quoted the President when he gave that interview to the New York Time saying the discussions were going on from the day Trump announced his candidacy to the day he won.

But then, earlier today the story started changing and evolving. Rudy Giuliani first told our Pamela Brown that the President had no recollection discussions went through the elections since there was just no records documenting any of these conversations. And then, of course, it was later that Rudy Giuliani released the full, more formal statement that said that his comments about the discussions, about Trump Tower Moscow and Trump were just hypotheticals and didn't represent the actual timing or circumstances.

Then, of course, Anderson, in that same statement Rudy Giuliani went back to insisting that the proposal was always in the early stages, never advanced beyond that nonbinding letter of intent. So finally trying to go back to square one but really creating a lot of confusion in the process.

COOPER: Do we know from the sources you're talking to, is there any strategy behind these quickly shifting narratives? I mean, is it just baffled old man and confusion on his part? Or is there actually a method to what he was doing?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think it's fair to say that people are really scratching their heads over whether there is any strategy because ultimately these changing statements could actually hurt the President's legal strategy when it comes to the Special Counsel and that's because the President answered questions about Trump Tower Moscow in his written responses to Robert Mueller that were submitted just before Thanksgiving.

Rudy Giuliani, he's alluded to those responses and previous interviews. But now that he is on the record, first, yesterday saying that the conversations -- actually first saying that the conversations ended maybe June or July 2016, then saying yesterday they may have gone all the way to the election and then today, slipping back on that saying no that was just a hypothetical. Those flip flops could really give Robert Mueller an opening to ask the President to answer even more questions or potentially even demand an in-person interview with the President to get this whole timeline issue squared away.

So, Anderson, this flip flop by Rudy Giuliani could really open a can of worms, possibly in this Mueller probe.

COOPER: Yes, fascinating. Thanks so much.

Joining us now, a member of the Intelligence Community that warned Donald Trump in 2016 about Russian interference in the election, former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, author of "Facts and Fears, Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence."

[21:25:07] So Director Clapper, I want to start by getting your take on what I asked to Jessica. Do you buy the theory that Rudy Giuliani is out there intentionally floating trial balloons on the president's behalf to see if certain explanations can diffuse things with the press and the public or confuse things, or do you think the former mayor is just a one-man gang that can't shoot straight?

LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, actually, more and more, Anderson, I'm falling into the camp that says there is perhaps a method to the madness here and I think what Giuliani is doing and he -- you know, he's a P.R. lawyer as Jessica alluded, not a real lawyer here. And I think he and the president think in the end this is all going to be decided in the court of public opinion.

And so, when he makes these contradictory statements, I think what he actually is doing is marginalizing whatever issue he's trying to obfuscate. And so in the case of contacts with Russia, to the extent that he can confuse that and obfuscate it, he's actually, I think, serving the purpose of trivializing whatever those relationships were. And I think he's also mindful of, as alluded to by Jessica, the questions that were submitted in writing which I would guess were written big enough to drive a truck through to preserve as much ambiguity as possible.

For people who follow this stuff day to day, it's confusing. For, I think, the great mass of the public that doesn't follow it in detail day to day, it gets very confusing and obfuscated. And, as I say, I think the purpose there is to trivialize these concerns.

COOPER: It's -- you know, put aside for a moment the question of whether or not Giuliani is serving as fine well with the shifting explanations. How much interest would it be just from an intelligence perspective whether or not candidate Trump was having these Moscow Tower conversations or people representing him were having these Moscow Tower conversations all through the 2016 campaign?

CLAPPER: Well, I think the -- it has great potential -- great implications from a counterintelligence perspective. If there was, in fact, a financial interest or hope for a financial interest, that could potentially have, I think, serious counterintelligence and national security implications. And certainly contemporaneously, those of us who were in intelligence leadership positions at the time in the last administration were not aware of the extent of what is now apparently emerging about just how extensive and how long this dialogue, business dialogue went on with the Russians.

COOPER: And basically, I mean, if the president or anyone in his circle has been untruthful publicly or privately about the extent of that project or the conversations about it, the Russians would know that and that would potentially be leverage that they can use.

CLAPPER: Well, exactly. And that's -- that is, I think, under the rubric of potential counterintelligence implications is exactly the point. And this is what, you know, standard operating procedure for the Russians is to seek and exert leverage if they possibly can. Now, I, again, don't know the details here but this -- just from what is out there, this to me is something to be concerned about.

COOPER: Yes. Director Clapper, always good to have you on. Thank you. Coming up next --

CLAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: -- a 2016 candidate's take on the latest 20 presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:32:33:] COOPER: Well today, Kamala Harris became the latest Democrat to run for president. The California senator is the first African-American woman to announce a 2020 bid. It's not an easy thing to take on President Trump. Obviously, we have someone here who knows firsthand, former Ohio governor and new CNN senior political commentator, John Kasich.

Well, governor, first of all, welcome to the CNN family. We're very excited to have you with us. Let me ask you, as someone who went through a crowded presidential primary process, what do you make of the growing democratic field with Senator Harris's entrance just today?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well -- and there's like 20 people talking about running again and I understand that they're going to try to figure out a way to have discussions or debates that's going to be different than the way we did it which was really kind of crazy. And I don't know quite how they're going to do this. I think they're going to have seating somehow and they'll have discussions and we'll see how that works out.

The interesting thing to follow, Anderson, is this. That where is the energy, you know. A lot of people will tell you that the energy is on the left, and then you have other people that say, well, if they go to somebody who's really on the left, I mean, significantly on the left, you know, that won't work and they need to pick somebody who's more moderate.

COOPER: Right.

KASICH: So it's going to be an interesting discussion because what we have to realize is the country is not left. The country is sort of center right and that's going to be the big challenge for the Democrats. Where is the energy? And if the energy is on the hard left, then I think it hurts their ability to win, but I think we have a long way to go for anything to be resolved. Because they're going to talk about what their message is. They got to raise the money, they've got to be out there doing all the events and we have to see how it all works out. It's early. But some are getting out early. I mean, getting out into the race early.

COOPER: Right.

KASICH: I don't mean out of it.

COOPER: Not yet. But I mean, one of the things that I guess, another open question is, does any candidate at this point, does anyone know how to run against President Trump? I mean, you had an incredibly talented field of Republicans last time around, yourself included, and, you know, people tried to take the high road. Marco Rubio --

KASICH: Right.

COOPER: -- then tried to, you know, go toe to toe with Trump. And nothing seemed to work. Do you think it's clear at this point how to campaign against President Trump?

KASICH: Well, I think the first thing they're going to think about is how they win the nomination, Anderson, and that will include how they're -- they could get elected. I mean, how can they beat Donald Trump will be the issue.

[21:35:10] But, you know, the other issue is, you've got all these people they're running against. And so it becomes almost like a beauty pageant, you know, you go out to Iowa, you test your message. The thing that I find interesting is they're all announcing in different venues trying to capture attention, get a little lightning in the bottle, but I would say that right now what they initially are thinking about is who am I competing against? What is my lane? Who are the people that I have to be?

I can tell you back, you know, when I was a candidate, I knew who was in my lane and I knew kind of what I needed to do was never really thinking about the general. Now, in this case, I think they will think more about it -- and part of the litmus test is going to be who can beat Donald Trump. And that brings up the issue of do you go to the left?

COOPER: Right.

KASICH: Do you find somebody more moderate. So it will be interesting.

COOPER: Do -- who do you think of the household names, some declared, some not. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, whoever else may cross your mind as of now, is there -- do you have anybody in your mind that on the Democratic side might have the best chance of beating President Trump in a general?

KASICH: I think that Joe Biden is a very interesting candidate. The issue is about his age. And even if he's older, does he have something that he's going to going to say or some ideas that he's going to have that can make him look fresh, because age has changed in politics, in television, in business and everything. Age is not what it used to be. You can be a lot older.

So the question is can he look fresh? But you never know who can catch fire. So you have to keep your eye on all of them. And what I don't want to do is take somebody who we not -- may not know yet and just -- to kind of dismiss them, because that's not fair to them and their families.

COOPER: Yes. Well, there's a long way to go. Finally, I actually want to ask you we're approaching the 32nd day of the shutdown, also of course Martin Luther King Day. Just yesterday, Vice President Pence compared President Trump's push for a border wall to Dr. King's push for equality. Is that an appropriate comparison?

KASICH: Well, there's no connection to that. But two things. First of all, I felt as though the President may have created some space, but where he -- what he has proposed is not going to be acceptable. That's where negotiation begins and we'll see if the Democrats who going to -- now be casting votes on a bolder plan -- you know, what I'm hoping is that they will sit down in quite, that's what I did with the Clinton administration for a long time, to Senator Domenici to negotiate in quite and then come out with something. Because it's going to ultimately embed everybody's interest to be able to get the government open.

COOPER: Well, Governor Kasich, appreciate your time. Thank you.

KASICH: Thank you.

COOPER: As the government shutdown continues, there's another standoff in Washington that leaves many Americans divided, but a fuller picture is now emerging of what happened between a group of MAGA had it teens and then native American elder. You may want to reserve judgment until you hear both sides of this controversy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:41:44] COOPER: It was a confrontation that caused a fire storm across social media and beyond that contentious encountering Washington involving different age groups and races outside of the Lincoln Memorial last Friday. We're now learning much more about it was there a rush to judgment as to who is on the wrong? Sara Sidner tonight has the update.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are now hearing from the chaperones of the Covington Catholic students who came face-to- face with a Native American elder. The chaperons are defending the actions of the students and putting the blame on this group of black men hurling insults at the boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See how you got these pompous bastards come down here in the middle of a native rally with their dirty ass hat on.

JILL HAMLIN, PARENT/CHAPERONE, COVINGTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL: I can't believe they even stayed and listened to the hatred that was being shouted at them. As a mother, it was horrible. Horrible.

JIM WILSON, PARENT/CHAPERONE, COVINGTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL: And our boys did nothing. No violence. They did not attack those gentlemen. They stood there waiting for their bus.

SIDNER (voice-over): Indeed, a small group of black men who identify as Hebrew Israelites did say hateful things to seemingly everyone around them. First, the priest, then the students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats. The students watch but do not engage. But more and more students gather and the taunting gets worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunch of incest babies. A bunch of babies made out of incest.

SIDNER (voice-over): Nick Sandmann, the student at the center of the viral video says the rhetoric was startling. Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin spirit chants to counter the hateful things that we're being shouted at our group, he said.

At one point a student removes his shirt riling up the crowd in their school chant. Two minutes later you hear a drum beat. That is where Nathan Phillips, the Omaha tribe elder and activist comes in. He is no stranger to conflict. He protested with thousands of others at standing rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Philips had just attended the indigenous people march and said, he thought things were getting out of hand so he tried to use his Native American music to quell the tension.

NATHAN PHILLIPS, NATIVE AMERICAN DRUMMER: Then there is -- this young group of young students that came there and were offended by their speech and it escalated into a -- an ugly situation that I found myself in the middle of.

SIDNER (voice-over): The kids dance and begin chanting. Some do a tomahawk chop. Something the Native American community finds offensive. Phillips moves around the group beating his drum and soon comes face-to-face with Sandmann. I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation, Sandmann says. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict.

Both Sandmann and Phillips had every opportunity to separate. Neither do. The Hebrew Israelites continue taunting the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a bunch of future school shoot.

SIDNER (voice-over): As the groups separate, you can hear someone in the Native American group say you stole our land.

[21:45:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because you stole the land don't make it yours.

SIDNER (voice-over): And a Catholic student from a different school responds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Land gets stolen, that's how it works.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sara Sidner joins us now with more. It seems like there were certainly a lot of sides in this story. Is there any consensus at all between the students and Native Americans as to what actually happened?

SIDNER: Anderson, ultimately the Native Americans and the students see things very differently, but one thing that they do agree on is that the source of the tension that created this situation is fully put on those black men that were standing there who call themselves the Hebrew Israelites screaming obscenities at every one and really targeting the students for almost an hour before you see them come face to face with the Native Americans.

We have gotten some new information. We have now seen a letter that was sent to parents of the Catholic school of the students. Basically the Catholic diocese has sent out a letter saying, look, we have started an independent third party investigation into what happened there in Washington D.C. on this school sanctioned trip. They also talk about the fact that they had involved the police and local authorities to make sure that the students are safe because at least one of the students has said that he has been threatened and his family threatened and is concerned for his safety.

So we are getting that just now and information that there has been a letter sent to parents that there is a third party independent investigation. However, the diocese did not retract its statement that's been on its website since Saturday saying that they do condemn the students' behavior toward the Native Americans in particular and in particular toward that elder, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Sara Sidner, thanks very much.

Up next, an exclusive investigative report on the Uber unit that deals with the most serious allegations of criminal misconduct by its drivers and passengers and what an internal memo reveals on just how many claims are made against the ride-sharing company every week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:50:45] COOPER: Tonight a CNN exclusive. When an allegation of criminal misconduct is made against an Uber driver, including claims of sexual assault, there's a special unit at the ride-sharing company expected to investigate each claim. We've obtained an internal memo that raises a lot of concerns. Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has been reporting on the dangers faced by Uber passengers for more than a year. Here's his new report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This internal report obtained exclusively by CNN says Uber's SIU or Special Investigations Unit, manages nearly 1,200 cases per week. Sources familiar with this unit say those cases include fights, serious traffic accidents, and deaths, but many of them involved sexual assaults, sexual misconduct, and rape by Uber drivers.

Uber has responded to CNN saying the number in its own internal memo is not an accurate reflection of serious safety incidents that occur on the Uber platform because it includes reports that, following investigation, are found to be unrelated to Uber, withdrawn, and/or fraudulent, and adds we are working with experts to audit our safety incident data so that it can be responsibly released this year.

CNN has been requesting the number of alleged rapes reported to Uber for more than a year. A CNN investigation of public records, lawsuits, and police files last year exposed more than 100 documented cases where drivers were accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers. Sources continue to tell CNN the true number of reported rapes to Uber is much higher. A second CNN report detailed thousands of convicted criminals, even sexual offenders and felons, were approved to drive for Uber.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're putting safety at the heart of everything we do.

GRIFFIN: The company has launched several changes aimed at improving safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With just a single tap, let loved ones know you're on your way.

GRIFFIN: But former Uber employees CNN spoke with say it's not enough, and the problem is much larger than Uber is willing to publicly admit. Uber's internal report completed in May, after CNN'S expose, warns of the consequences should the full scope of the problem emerge. We know from the underreporting of incidents by CNN, the report concludes, the cost to the brand and reputation of Uber by a single case can cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue from riders who hold a lasting impression that we are unsafe and not worthy of their trust.

The report was conducted to analyze workloads and stress levels of the 60 Uber investigators and shows how the company struggled to handle the nearly 1,200 serious allegations of inappropriate or illegal conduct per week. One worker quoted in the report said the number of cases in a week is crazy.

According to the document, the SIU staff are mostly in their 20s and 30s, underpaid, overworked. Some have little relevant experience according to a half dozen former Uber employees CNN spoke with. One Uber investigator went from being a Starbucks shift manager to handling calls from victims. Another was a kitchen manager at Chipotle according to a review of online resumes though the report cites many have law enforcement investigations and military backgrounds.

It says most love working for Uber but also details the serious level of stress and anxiety. The staff directly interact with perpetrators and victims, discuss deeply disturbing sexual and other assaults. The report documents untreated depression and profound stress, requiring clinical care in at least six of its workers and warns of the potential for suicide.

In the month since the report was done, Uber tells CNN all key recommendations in the report have been acted upon or are in the process of being acted on, including counseling, better work schedules and conditions, improved training and hiring more experienced investigators. Uber says its transparency report detailing sexual assault and misconduct cases by Uber drivers will be released this year once the audit process is over.

[21:55:01] But sources tell CNN Uber could tell most of the story right now. One former manager telling CNN it's a technology company built on data. The numbers are known.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew Griffin joins me now. Since you started asking Uber about their rape cases, they've made extensive safety changes. Are your sources saying more could be done?

GRIFFIN: Yes. And you're right, Anderson. Uber has strengthened its background checks of U.S. drivers. It's launched some new safety features on its app. It says it's committed to safety. But former employees and managers say the company has the ability to do more, starting with a better acknowledgement of the sheer numbers and warning potential victims, women, about this issue. The company says that's all coming when it releases this transparency report sometime later this year. Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Drew Griffin, thanks very much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The news continues. I want to turn things over to Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT."

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Happy King Day. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you for joining us.