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Rudy Giuliani's Shifting Stories; Kamala Harris Announces Presidential Run. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired January 21, 2019 - 16:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Both women in the other car did suffer minor injuries. One passenger says police have not asked her for a statement.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

"THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: So, who has the low approval rating right now, the U.S. government or the NFL referees?

THE LEAD starts right now.

She is in. Senator Kamala Harris wants to be President Kamala Harris. Is she the one, in such a diverse and crowded field, with what it takes to beat Trump?

And breaking news in the Russia probe. For the second time just today, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, backing away from his own comments on the Moscow Trump Tower deal, and it's almost as if he's trying intentionally to confuse us.

Plus, ripping the riffraff surrounding President Trump. One of the president's closest allies and earliest supporters opens up about the trouble with a Trump presidency from the very beginning.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake today.

We begin with the politics lead.

It is only the first month of 2019, but the 2020 race is in full swing. Senator Kamala Harris is now the eighth candidate to join the group of Democratic candidates prepared to challenge President Trump for the highest office in the nation.

Today, on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the California senator and former prosecutor announcing her candidacy with a message that she is ready to fight.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's do this together. Let's claim our future for ourselves, for our children and for our country.


SCIUTTO: Senator Harris is now the fourth woman to declare either a run or exploratory committee for 2020.

And, today, Democratic hopefuls are spread out across the country, giving speeches, leading marches and holding town hall events with an urgency to get out ahead, with the presidential election still a year and 10 months away.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny starts off with our coverage with a look at the expanding presidential field.


HARRIS: Truth, justice, decency, equality, freedom, democracy.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With those words, Kamala Harris made it official today.

HARRIS: That's why I'm running for president of the United States.

ZELENY: The California senator making her announcement as the nation remembers the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., highlighting her own heritage as the first African-American woman in the race. Her mother's from India, her father Jamaica. They came together in the civil rights movement.

She rose from prosecutor to California attorney general, before being elected to the U.S. Senate two years ago.

HARRIS: I describe myself as a proud American. That's how I describe myself.

ZELENY: In her campaign video, she didn't mention President Trump, but she joined Democratic leaders in rejecting the president's proposal to end the partial government shutdown.

HARRIS: And those folks don't want a wall. They want a paycheck.

ZELENY: Harris joins one of the most diverse and crowded fields of Democratic hopefuls in history, one of five potential female candidates, on the biggest day of campaigning yet in the young 2020 presidential race.

A fighting theme emerged today among some contenders, from Elizabeth Warren in Boston.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We must fight back, because this fight is a righteous fight.

ZELENY: To Kirsten Gillibrand in New York.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fighting against this will take all of us. It cannot be left to people of color alone.

ZELENY: Then there are those still considering a run, visiting South Carolina today, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We are dissatisfied. This is not a time for us to rest in our country. The work is not done.

ZELENY: And in Washington, Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As vice president, I saw firsthand the courage of Barack every -- excuse me -- the president -- he's my buddy.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Whatever the next year brings for Joe and me, I know we will both keep our eyes on the real prize, and that is electing a Democrat to the White House in 2020.



ZELENY: And that was former Vice President Joe Biden's first public appearance of the year at an MLK breakfast today here in Washington.

As he inches closer to a decision about running for president, he expressed regret today about his support for the 1994 crime bill that led to mass incarceration. He admitted it was a big mistake that was made. He added a trapped an entire generation.

Jim, those are strong words of regret and a sign he's repositioning himself for a more progressive Democratic Party -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

Joined now by my panel here.

And really just a headline here, Amanda, and everybody, to the four women with me here today, the fourth woman already to join the 2020 race. This is a significant moment.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think even more significant is an aspect of it that's not being discussed, black woman running for president, but also probably in the top of the field.


I think everyone is widely recognizing that she is probably one of the most formidable candidates that we will see on the Democratic side. So I think it speaks to her strength that we're not even talking about that aspect of it. And I'm sure there's going to be a lot of things to pick apart.

But I keep seeing these things bubbling up. Oh, she has problems with her record as a prosecutor. I don't see anybody raising their hand to land that blow themselves. They think, oh, this opposition is just to come.

Let me see if Elizabeth Warren makes that charge. Let me see if Cory Booker makes that charge, because I think she's one they're scared of.

SCIUTTO: Symone, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, nonetheless.

And this week, it makes 47 years ago that Shirley Chisholm, the first woman, first black woman, to run for president on any major party ticket, launched her campaign. So it is not lost on many people that this is a historic day for so many reasons.

I'm happy to see so many women in the race. I'm happy to see Kamala Harris in the race. I think there are -- my father before he passed was a 64-year-old black man from Mound Bayou, Mississippi. I think if you told him in 2019 that a black woman would be a very viable candidate for president of the United States of America, he would have told you, take that thing back somewhere else.

So I think this is a -- this is a great day for all Americans.

SCIUTTO: And Amanda makes a great point too, that that's not the first phrase out of your mouth about Kamala Harris.

SANDERS: It's not the first phrase.

SCIUTTO: It's about her record as a prosecutor.


SANDERS: Can I think one thing about the question, though, that she had at her Q&A today?

She did a Q&A. She did a press avail at Howard University. She's an alum of Howard. And a reporter asked, how do you identify yourself?

Now, look, this is going to be a long primary. I hope we're going to ask everybody how they identify themselves. And Senator Harris answered, as an American.

I think they were getting at her racial makeup. And so I think, look, unless we're going to be going down the line asking Joe Biden, Senator Gillibrand and everybody else how they identify themselves, let's just get that done right here and be done with it.


SCIUTTO: Jennice, there's a lot of talk about the coalition that Senator Harris brings to this, talking about black Americans, but talking about millennials as well, talking about women, and groups that Hillary Clinton underperformed on in 2016.

Do you see that coalition behind a candidate like her?

JENNICE FUENTES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, yes, I see that and much more than we don't know yet, because one thing she's for sure, is, she's very qualified.

There's not forget she started at 26 being a district attorney in Alameda County. And she's been going through that path growing professionally, right? She's an attorney that Jeff Sessions was even afraid of, right?

As a prosecutor, she's created a certain, for better or for worse, she has a certain reputation, and yet she's not in any box. She doesn't go left, left like Warren against Wall Street, and Bernie Sanders. And she's kind of straddling. There's a lot we don't know for sure.

So I think that space that she's created and left for interpretation is open to bring a lot of those members of that coalition. And let's not forget that, according to Obama, she's a very attractive person, right? And that's something that President Trump does consider important.

So that could be by itself just for him a threat.

SCIUTTO: He would probably like to forget that line, I imagine.

Mary Katharine, from seat, so you hear others here assembled saying, well, she's pretty centrist, from your point of view, as a Democratic candidate in 2020.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She ain't going to look centrist in this race, because that's not the idea here.

I am shocked, shocked to find there's an exploratory community -- or committee going on here. I mean, this is not a huge surprise, but I think a really nice moment on this day, I think a well-done announcement.

But it's all fun and games and historic times and back-slapping until they have to start drawing contrasts. And that's what Amanda refers to. And somebody is going to have to take those steps at some point.

And as the Republican Party found out last time around, it's a very clean process, ends with a great, very clean ideological result. And everything works out fine.


HAM: It will be rowdy.

SCIUTTO: Let's look at the policy here.

She's talked about a middle-class tax plan. I mean, that clearly aimed at a group they did not perform well with in 2016, but also Medicare for all. That takes you to the left certainly of center here.

But to both of you, because I'm curious, from different ends of the ideological spectrum, or not quite as, but different sides, perhaps, give me your review of that policy mix, and you as well, Symone.

CARPENTER: So I would say I think it's very interesting that all the Democratic candidate seem to be holding hands and jumping in together on Medicare for all.

I haven't seen Kamala explain the economics of that. I don't know that she's the most well-suited to do that. That would seem to be more potentially Elizabeth Warren's lane, but I haven't seen any Democrat make the math work on that.

And so I think there will be some negotiation and waiting in a field this big to see who gets ahead of explaining hard issues like that first. And this speaks to the vagueness that you pointed out when it comes to Kamala Harris is that she will wait and see, I would expect.

SCIUTTO: You got to a do that with a lot of candidates.

But, sorry, Symone, how do you look at that platform as kind of a test case for a winner against Trump?



SANDERS: Look, I think Americans have spoken very clearly across the ideological spectrum that they believe that health care should be a right and not just a privilege.

And that's what Medicare for all speaks to. Now, when you get to talking about what a Medicare for all plan looks like, that's where folks start to draw blood, as M.K. talked about.

And so we will have to have a very robust primary on the Democratic side of the aisle. Look, I think Senator Harris, she came out and said she was a progressive prosecutor. And she's going to have to explain her record on that.

And I know folks will have questions. But, look, I'm excited about this field of candidates that have already announced and folks that have yet to announce. And I can't wait for that first debate in June, Jim, first debate, or the town hall next week.



HAM: No, I was just going to say, I mean, the key for any of these folks is to recreate the Obama coalition, which means like getting black voters very excited, getting young voters very excited, while also doing a little bit reaching across and repair with...

(CROSSTALK) HAM: And that's the question.

And I do think she has the ability to create that excitement with young people and with African-American voters, while being able to possibly cross that bridge.


SANDERS: ... Rand Paul.

I think she talked about this cash bail bill that she did with Rand Paul. And I was at an event she did in L.A. a couple weeks ago. And she said she called up Rand Paul the week after they did this op-ed, and she said, oh, boy, how are your people holding up?

And he said, actually, Appalachia loves this bill. So it remains to be seen. But perhaps this is one piece of the coalition.

SCIUTTO: Jennice, I would be remiss not to mention the former sitting Vice President Joe Biden, as he's pondering his run.

Just a quick clip of him discussing this and a little casual comment he made over the weekend. Have a listen.


BIDEN: I saw firsthand the courage of Barack every -- excuse me -- the president -- he's my buddy.


BIDEN: No, he you're is my buddy. All those memes are true, except he did the first friendship bracelet, not me.


SCIUTTO: His buddy. I should say that was actually earlier today.

An association that would be beneficial to Joe Biden, would it not, in his run, if he announces. Is he going to announce?

FUENTES: Joe Biden?


FUENTES: Well, why not, right?

I think that we need -- he has the experience and he is qualified. I think there is that concern perhaps about the age. And I think there's a concern also, perhaps, about the fact that he represents the establishment, whatever that is, these days.

I think we have learned the price of having someone totally inexperienced. We have learned the cost of somebody who's not only inexperienced, but doesn't listen to those more experienced than him. So Joe Biden is an extremely intelligent man, extremely qualified for

the job. Then there's the age issue, of course, which you have to worry about the next two years and the next four, right? But would he run, should he run? Of course, he should.

SCIUTTO: Well, we are going to see in the next couple of weeks.

Stay with us, more to talk about.

Also, be sure to tune into CNN next Monday night. Jake Tapper is going to host a live town hall in Iowa with Democratic candidate Senator Kamala Harris. It will be Senator Harris' first chance to connect with Iowa's Democratic caucus-goers.

You can see it live right here on CNN. That's Monday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time.

The Senate scheduled to vote on President Trump's proposal to end the government shutdown. But it may be too soon for federal workers to start planning on their next paycheck.

Plus, Rudy strikes again. President Trump's lawyer changing his story for the second time just today about Trump's potential Moscow real estate deal -- his latest claim -- hard to keep up, I know -- that's coming up.


[16:17:36] TAPPER: So, some good news with really mostly bad news in our national lead.

While Republicans and Democrats in Congress do plan to vote to reopen the government this week, the bad news is that both of the bills they're voting on are incredibly different and have little to no chance of passing both chambers. That's the key. This comes as President Trump offered up temporary protections for some young immigrants brought to this country by their parents as children in exchange for the $5.7 billion he wants for his border wall.

And as CNN's Abby Phillip reports, it is designed to put pressure on Democrats.



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump marking Martin Luther King Day with a two-minute visit to the civil rights leader's memorial in Washington as Democrats take aim at the president's latest proposal to end the government shutdown.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: It's a non-starter us because he's not addressing real border security.

SEN. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Now, he's really offering to go back and solve the problem that he had already created.

PHILLIP: Trump's plan, linking government funding to $5.7 billion in border security and wall funding. Plus, three years of temporary protections for Dreamers and other immigrants.

TRUMP: That is our plan, border security, DACA, TPS and many other things -- straightforward, fair, reasonable and common-sense, with lots of compromise.

PHILLIP: His proposal now heading for a vote in the Senate tomorrow that few think will pass.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: A vote this week in the Senate is not to pass the bill. It is to open up and say, can we debate this? Can we amend it? Can we make changes?

PHILLIP: Especially since no Democrats have said they would support it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this is a genuine attempt, why weren't any Democrats included in the consultations for this?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Margaret, we've been talking to Democrats over the last four weeks.


PENCE: Well, first, the president's met repeatedly with Democrat leadership all the way through week ago last Wednesday.

PHILLIP: In the House, Democrats are planning to put their own proposal up for a vote this week, offering Trump an additional $1 billion in money for border security and more immigration judges, but leaving out the wall. Neither plan bringing Washington any closer to ending the month-long shutdown as food bank and airline security lines get longer and longer, and Coast Guard service members continue to be deployed without pay.

The president tweeting praise for the great patriots affected by the shutdown. But for federal workers on the verge of missing a second paycheck this year, that message is cold comfort.


[16:20:07] PHILLIP: And adding to the ongoing stalemate, President Trump is actually now getting pressure from the right. Some who say his proposal to end the shutdown is actually amnesty. Now, the president says he's saving amnesty perhaps for a bigger deal down the road.

But it just goes to highlight how difficult it will be to end this shutdown. This week is likely to be a pivotal one as both sides try to put their proposals forward, neither of which are likely to go anywhere, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, we'll see if that moves the dial at all. Abby Phillip at the White House, thanks very much.

Back with the panel now.

So, I mean, you got these two competing plans. One that's going to come before a Democratic-controlled House pass, and one to come before Republican-controlled Senate pass. But is this really a case of never the twain shall meet? I mean, what's the middle ground going to be, Jennice, here that moves us forward?

FUENTES: I would love to see where the middle ground is. I mean, that right now, we have the third shutdown of this presidency and the longest in history.

And, you know, it's interesting how politics keeps breaking down in interesting ways. Back in 1995, when we would have thought of seeing ourselves this day, the Republicans wanting to that showdown when their numbers were down. They were being accused of being stubborn. They had a lot not a lot to win and Clinton could have hold his own, and yet, he given significant concessions with the balanced budget.

So, if you think of it, how much this president would have to win by giving some concessions in what we're talking about the consequences of the end of the day are a lot more enormous than the issues that have brought us to this point. So, you would think at some point he will look at his own numbers and say, wait a minute, let me, let me, let me, let me play the field and let me say -- let me, let me do the art of the deal the way it's supposed to be. Let's negotiate the right way, not the Trump way.

SCIUTTO: MK, Vice President Pence was asked about this as he's been plugging the president's immigration plan and on Fox News, Chris Wallace asked if the president was willing to negotiate more from this position. Have a listen to his answer.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: When you say work together, does that mean that you're willing to negotiate from what the president sad or is that the final offer?

PENCE: Well, of course, the legislative process is a negotiation.


SCIUTTO: Of course, of course, the president -- do you see him willing to give more?

HAM: No, I don't think it was a bad move him to come out and say, look, this is this is the thing that I'm offering, I'm offering a few concessions, but his line and -- look, he's gotten flack in the past and I have given it to him for being really unclear when he's negotiating and actually being fairly bad at it. In this case, he's been very clear, the line is the physical barrier, we can talk about what it's made up of, how long it is, but the physical barrier is going to be the line. Now, he's trying to put pressure on some Republicans obviously, but also like the Joneses and the Manchins (ph) to say like, who tweeted a semi approvingly, like this is a promising step. But, yes, I don't know how they meet in the middle because the left understandably is like we gave y'all the House for a reason, right?

I do think there's middle ground. There has been in the past. Democrats have voted for physical barrier. I think he's probably willing to move.

But finding that physical ground and about that compromise ground in this environment is extremely difficult.

SANDERS: You know where the middle ground is?

SCIUTTO: Do you see it?

SANDERS: Yes, I see the middle ground when the government is reopened.


SANDERS: That's all the Democrats are asking for. So, we talked about negotiations --

HAM: All the leverage --


SANDERS: The Democrats were just saying, why are we holding the American people hostage? If the president was truly, truly wanting to enter in a good-faith negotiations, if he really wanted to talk about DACA and TPS, things he took away, mind you, and now all of a sudden, he's putting them back on the table.


SANDERS: So, he's going to --


HAM: I just think it's important --

SANDERS: I'm just saying if the president really wanted to negotiate, he would open up the government and then not have to have --

CARPENTER: I think this is where --

SCIUTTO: The president sees him as losing -- as MK losing his leverage once he opens the government.

SANDERS: The hostages.

CARPENTER: This is a sign to open the door. They did put temporary amnesty in the form of 3-month reprieve for DACA on the table. Democrats say no. SCIUTTO: Three years.

CARPENTER: Excuse me, three years. So, maybe the counter offer is permanent wall, permanent amnesty for DACA. I think that's where --


CARPENTER: But, publicly, the Democrats are not going to go there because --


FUENTES: There's no way to call DACA amnesty. That doesn't even -- that's like --

SCIUTTO: But a permanent Dreamer deal would not be as soon as the win by --

FUENTES: A permanent, but that's not what's being offered.

SCIUTTO: As I'm saying, but Amanda said, if it was not three years, if it was permanent, would that be --

FUENTES: But let's not throw the word amnesty out there because that's an enormous word and that has enormous --


CARPENTER: Well, that is -- if everyone recognized it was amnesty.

SCIUTTO: Protections, extend the protection.

FUENTES: Legalization, we need as I've said every time I'm on this show, we talk about immigration. Comprehensive immigration reform is really what's sorely needed.

SCIUTTO: That'd be nice, but short of that, would you -- if you saw permanent protections for Dreamers, would you say that's a deal Democrats take?

SANDERS: There was a deal that did have protections for Dreamers not that long ago. My mind --

SCIUTTO: No, but here we are now is a question.

SANDERS: But Donald Trump went back on that original deal that he had and it had much more, $25 billion for the border wall. So I'm saying that to say, Donald Trump is not a good faith negotiator. Democrats have no real incentive to believe that he is going to hold his line because the moment Ann Coulter comes out and says she don't like it, his mind changes, open the government. This is the hostage situation.

[16:25:01] SCIUTTO: There you are. My bet is shutdown is not ending any time soon, at least based on those positions.

A head spinning walk back from the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, saying one thing about Trump's Moscow deal, then walking it back and then changing the story altogether. That happened within the last 24 hours. We're going to straighten it out if we can. We're going to try. We're going to do that next.


SCIUTTO: We're back with breaking news in the politics lead. Rudy Giuliani today playing clean up but seemingly making things even more confusing.