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Supreme Court Moves on Cases Involving DACA, Trangenders in Military, Russia Investigation, Gun Rights; White House Says Senate on Track to Introduce Trump's Proposals Today; Former Coast Guard Chief Says Shutdown is "Disgraceful"; Giuliani Tries to Clean Up Comments on Trump Tower Moscow Project. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 22, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:30] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

We have breaking news this morning from the Supreme Court that we are following. Major moves on some of the biggest and most-heated issues right now, from immigration to the Russia investigation, from gun rights to the ban on transgender people serving in the military. It's all happening in some way shape or form today.

Let's get over to CNN's Joan Biskupic. She's in Washington with many details.

Joan, there's a lot I want to go over with you. Let's talk about the big news when it comes to immigration on DACA. The court deciding not to take up any of the cases that were before it. What does this mean?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes, Kate, I feel like we are on a lightning round here with action, inaction, and baby steps in between by the Supreme Court. It was inaction on the case involving nearly 700,000 people who came here as young immigrants without documentation who were protected from deportation and allowed work permits under the policy of President Trump that President Trump is trying to phase out. What the administration obviously -- wants to end that program and it is all caught up with the negotiations right now on the Hill, too. What the Supreme Court has done is nothing yet and is effectively allowing the Obama-era policy to stay in effect for now. So that is really important for nearly 700,000 people who want to be protected under the Obama-era policy for young immigrants without documentation. That was number one. Just so you know, it doesn't mean that the Supreme Court will never enter this dispute, but for now it's not. That's very important to many people.

BOLDUAN: It means at least for 10, maybe 11, 12 months the government must continue to allow for the renewals under the DACA program. That is a big move.

Second, the justices are also allowing the president's ban on transgender people serving in the military, allowing it to go forward. What are the justices saying? What are we hearing from the court on this?

BISKUPIC: This is one where the Trump administration gets a win. We're talking incremental steps. This is a very important incremental step because this policy is being fought out in lower courts. It's subject to litigation from people challenging this policy that the Trump administration put in place back in summer of 2017 that forbids openly transgender people from serving in many cases. What the court did is, in a brief order, protested by four liberal justices, lifted an injunction and it lets the policy take effect. But at the same time, it allows the litigation in lower courts to go forward by those challenging it. But this is a really important signal from the Supreme Court because it took five votes and the five conservative justices sided with the Trump administration saying that policy should take effect, that transgender -- openly transgender troops should be barred from serving in many, many cases while the litigation continues.

BOLDUAN: How many servicemembers this impacts, current or new? There's a lot of questions actually surrounding this one that we need to weed through. But an important announcement regardless.

Also, now, Joan, on Russia. This mystery company from a mystery country in a legal battle with Robert Mueller's team. We've been watching this play out. They may now be allowed another day in court. Tell me about this.

BISKUPIC: Right. This one stays at the Supreme Court. This one really is incremental. This is one where we know that is a corporation, foreign government connected, owned, that is fighting a subpoena from a lower court and came up here earlier to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied an initial appeal or stay of that order on the subpoena and related fines. Now the court is saying -- and again, I just want to caution this is incremental -- saying that this entity can file a full appeal with the court under seal. The whole thing has been under seal. So we are not exactly sure what the conditions are. But it doesn't suggest that the court is going to take up the case or further protect this entity. At least it is slowing down the process and at least allows the company to make this full appeal under seal. But also the court said that a redacted version of the filing had to be made public, but redacted.

[11:05:09] BOLDUAN: Definitely allowing the mystery to continue even more.


BOLDUAN: And for the first time in almost a decade, the court has agreed to take up a gun rights case. What is the case they'll be taking up?

BISKUPIC: That's a great question. This is a piece of action, a case that will be heard in the fall by the Supreme Court, revisits Second Amendment rights. You referred to 2008 when the Supreme Court first declared, by a narrow 5-4 vote, that individuals had a right to own a handgun. And then in 2010, the court expanded that ruling beyond just federal claims to all states. That has been a very big deal for people. What exactly is the scope of Second Amendment rights? The court has spurned appeals through the years not wanting to get into it again. Now in the fall, they hear a case from New York involving rules for the transportation of handguns.

BOLDUAN: Where exactly in New York you can transport --

BISKUPIC: Yes, New York.

BOLDUAN: -- where you can take it.


BOLDUAN: All right, Joan, thank you so much. Lightning round. Joan has us jumping today. That was amazing. I really appreciate it.

Meantime, on Capitol Hill, we will see dueling proposals and votes this week to end the month-long government shutdown. And barring a miracle, none of them is going to succeed. Miracles happen, just not in our life-times right now. The Senate is going to take up the president's proposal that includes money for a wall and some temporary measures intended to entice Democrats. Democrats say it is a nonstarter. That is just in the Senate.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is keeping an eye on it all. The man, the myth, the miracles, Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

What is going to happen today, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm going to take it from Supreme Court lightening round to Senate speed, Kate, which you know well, means something will be introduced today but there won't be votes on it for at least another couple of days.

What we are going to see today was released last night. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to take it up today, and that is a Senate proposal that closely mirrors what the president announced on Saturday. That is the Republican proposal. That's what they're willing to move forward on. What it is, is $5.7 billion for a wall. The tradeoff is, according to the administration and Republicans, is a three-year extension of DACA protections, a three- year extension of temporary protected status, $800 million in humanitarian aid. They believe that is a compromise. Democrats reject that proposition entirely, saying on the first front, they don't want to negotiate anything on border security until the government is reopen. That's been their baseline from the beginning and it continues to be their baseline now. They are rejecting it on those grounds and rejecting it on policy grounds.

Look, you just saw the Supreme Court decided not to deal with DACA. The idea of moving something temporary when the goal is to get a permanent on both TPS and DACA, just doesn't fly with Democrats. It is something they were in favor of before when they thought the program was going to end momentarily. Now that there's a lot of space there, they are not willing to do that. You have the idea that Mitch McConnell and Republicans need seven Democrats to come aboard -- they control 53 seats -- to be able to advance this proposal. We are hearing is they are well short of that. Democrats are united in their front. In the Senate, that is likely to die. In the House, they will move their own proposals supported by Democrats that the Senate will not take up and the president opposes, and that leaves us in the same place we have been now for 32 days or so.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely no urgency, which is the most unsettling part about this whole thing. Where is the urgency around it?

Great to see you, Phil. Thank you so much.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are going to miss a second full paycheck as the shutdown drags on by the end of this week. That includes some 40,000 active-duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard currently serving without pay. Volunteers and nonprofits are trying to step up in the face of this, opening food banks to help the families.

The former head of the Coast Guard says the fact that this is even necessary is a disgrace. The 23rd commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, who led it from 2006 to 2010, retired Admiral Thad Allen, is joining me right now via phone.

Admiral, thank you so much for coming on.

ADM. THAT ALLEN, FORMER COMMANDANT, U.S. COAST GUARD (via telephone): Good morning, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate your time.

I was reading an interview that you did with NPR. You call this an outrage how this has played out. Why does this upset you so much, what you're seeing happen to the U.S. Coast Guard right now?

ALLEN: I'm upset for the Coast Guard but I'm also upset for all federal workers. I'm not trying to single one out for special treatment. But the fact of the matter is, if you read the preamble to the Constitution, we are supposed to provide general welfare and the common defense of this country. In my view, the elected leaders are failing to live up to their responsibilities.

BOLDUAN: Failing to live up to their responsibilities. Coast Guard members are looking at missing a second paycheck at the end of this week, Admiral. What does that mean for Coast Guard families?

ALLEN: It's difficult enough but two paychecks in a row becomes devastating. Another thing kicks in at the end of the month if this thing is not solved and that is retirees and surviving spouses that get a payment once a month. Some of these people don't have access to the Internet, are not mobile, and may not even know the situation exists. And it's going to get, in my view, much worse.

[11:10:11] BOLDUAN: You just told me that the leaders are failing to live up to their responsibilities as laid out in the preamble of the Constitution. Who is to blame for this, Admiral?

ALLEN: I'm not going to portion any particular individual, but between the branches of government in total, they are acting irresponsibly and need to get this problem fixed.

BOLDUAN: I think the saddest part about all of this is this is a political fight. This is not a policy one at its core. One would think that 40,000 members of the military going without pay would be enough -- I don't know -- to scare them right, to end this, but it has not been. What do you think, then, it is going to take to spark a sense of urgency among these leaders to end this?

ALLEN: I don't think it is well known the reach of Coast Guard activities that are impacted by this. We have people that are stationed at embassies and bases overseas that aren't getting paid while they're there with their armed forces counterparts. The Coast Guard is the maritime equivalent of FAA, so vessel inspections, licensing of mariners. Things that are basic safety for the transportation system and commerce of this country are slowly going to be eroded due to the lack of resources and personnel. This will have far reaching economic impacts.

BOLDUAN: You also said something in an interview with the "Huffington Post" that caught my attention. I think you were just about to get to it there. You said this, "If you get to some point where you have people required to work, not being paid, their families subjected to stress, I think sooner or later you have to expect there's going to be a problem with readiness and ability to respond."

What do you fear is going to happen if this continues to drag on?

ALLEN: What if you don't have enough money to put gas in your car to go to work? What is your status at that point? You didn't elect to do that but you can't report to do your job. At some point, you have to buy fuel. There are supplies needed for operations. You can't spend money you don't have. Sooner or later, these life lines that have been established are going to dry up.

BOLDUAN: What is your message then to the U.S. Coast Guard if they are watching this morning?

ALLEN: The U.S. Coast Guard will do their duty. You will see their leaders, as they have repeatedly in the last several weeks, reinforce the fact that what they are doing is critical for the country's safety. They will continue to do what they need to do to do their jobs. They will be loyal. And they will do what they can for the American public because that is what they put on the blue uniform to do.


ALLEN: There's no better leadership.

BOLDUAN: Admiral, because it just happened, I did want to get your reaction. The Supreme Court has handed down a decision allowing President Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military to go into effect. The concept of exactly what it means for current members is a bit of a question. But what is your reaction for what it means for the Coast Guard? ALLEN: It means the same for every service. What it means is we made

a contract with our people and now that will be broken in some way. When you create a policy, you create expectations, and people swear an oath and decide to serve. And then you say, well, that is not good enough, we will break the contract because of your status. That is not the way to run military.

BOLDUAN: You are disappointed in that, Admiral?


BOLDUAN: Admiral, thank you so much for coming on. I always appreciate your time. Thank you especially today.

ALLEN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Admiral Thad Allen, the former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, right there.

Coming up, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, attempting once again to walk back a bombshell that he dropped. He dropped it himself, let's be honest. What Giuliani is saying now about the proposed Trump Tower deal in Moscow, how long they were talking about it, and what he would like to say about it today.

Plus, officials at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky canceling classes today. If would have been the first school day back after some of the students appeared in the viral video with a Native American elder. Why is school closed today? What is the latest we are learning about this? Details on that ahead.





[11:18:32] BOLDUAN: President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, once again trying to clean up comments he made in connection to the Russia investigation. We are now in something like double-digit territory of how many times Giuliani has had to clean up for his own remarks. Regardless, this time, he is back tracking on statements made on Sunday about the Trump Tower Moscow proposal. Giuliani initially told several news outlets, including CNN, that talks about the project continued throughout the presidential campaign, possibly as late as into November 2016. Now Giuliani says that is not what he said. The latest rendition of this playing out in a wild interview with the "New Yorker."

CNN's Kara Scannell joining me now with details.

OK, Kate, what is going on here? KARA SCANNELL, CNN POLITIAL REPORTER: Kate, you said this, there's

more cleanup on aisle Rudy right now. We are seeing him try to fix the timeline that he laid out. This goes back to his interview with the "New York Times" on Sunday. In that interview, he gives a quote from Donald Trump in which Trump says that, "he knew that discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won." Ever since then, Giuliani has been walking that back. He told CNN yesterday that Trump had no recollection of the discussions. There was no documents or evidence to show him the day when it would end. He went on to say later that he was speaking hypothetically. Now in the "New Yorker" piece, he is getting into more detail about this where he is saying that, in fact -- he told the "New Yorker" that he didn't say this to the "New York Times," despite "The Times" quoting him in an on-the- record. And then he goes on to tell the "New Yorker" that, even if it was true, it is not criminal.

[11:20:12] That is all very interesting because Donald Trump answered written questions for Robert Mueller. We know the nature of the discussions of the Trump Tower Moscow deal were part of that. Giuliani has both given new information to the public and then back tracked on it, adding to the confusion. So it gives Mueller's team some ammunition to say that they want to interview with the president. That is the risk here, that they say the president should come in and clarify this information. We don't know if they'll go there, but the amount of confusion that Giuliani has entered into the public atmosphere in the past 48 hours certainly gives them this ammunition -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Giuliani was also asked whether there are tapes that prove that Trump spoke to Cohen ahead of congressional testimony or cleared him in regard to did not speak to Cohen ahead of congressional testimony. The reason he was pressed on that is because that is something he raised himself in this interview with the "New Yorker."

SCANNELL: That's right, Kate. This was something that Giuliani interjected into the conversation. The reason that they are talking about this evidence and whether there's evidence is relating to the "BuzzFeed" story on Friday, which said that the special counsel's office had evidence, witness testimony and text messages that Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie. The special counsel's office has come out and said that report was inaccurate. But Giuliani, in the interview with the "New Yorker," brings up the concept that there could be tapes.

Let's take a look at one of the exchanges he has with a reporter in which he says, "I know the story was false because I have been through all the tapes. I've been through all the texts. I've been through all the e-mails. And I knew none existed. Then, basically, when the special counsel said that, just in case there are any others I might not know about, they probably went through others and found the same thing." The reporter says, "Wait, what tapes have you gone through." Giuliani said, "I shouldn't have said tapes. There alleged there were texts and e-mails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the president never told him to lie. There were no texts. There were no e-mails. And the president never told him to live." Again, the reporter says, "So there were no tapes you listened to, though," and Giuliani says, "No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this."

He's not helping himself by introducing the concept that there could be tapes involved. Of course, the tapes that we know of that exist are the ones that the FBI seized from Michael Cohen's home office and hotel room when they raided him -- Kate?


OK, Kara, thank you so much. Your job here is done.

Joining me now to discuss this -- oh, yeah, there are more quotes I will bring to you guys -- Garrett Graff, CNN contributor and contributing editor at "Wired" magazine, and Jennifer Rodgers, a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Great to see you guys.

Jennifer, let me start with you.

What do you make of Giuliani's -- let's call it cleanup attempt here? Every time he cleans up, there's a question. Do you see a strategy, a P.R. strategy even behind this? Say one thing and then say another then go back again. Or do you think it is something else?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do think it is a strategy. I don't think it is a sound legal strategy. I think they are playing the impeachment game now at this point because, as a legal strategy, it is a dangerous and poor legal strategy. The comments that Rudy Giuliani is making can be under the rules of evidence attributed to his client if they ever end up in court. So saying one thing and saying another thing is very dangerous for the obvious reasons in the court of law. I don't think that is what they are doing. They are putting all their eggs in the impeachment basket, thinking that if they can just confuse the issues and say one thing, say the other thing, throw up their hands and say, fake news, fake news, then that impacts the American people in a disturbing way. People are paying enough attention, it seems, to pull their support from him when he does this sort of thing.. And they are hoping that Congress goes along with it because there will be people who stick with the president no matter what. That is what I think they are doing.

BOLDUAN: No matter what is said and comes out, people say it is baked in.


RODGERS: I think that's right.

BOLDUAN: Everyone has decided and that might be what it is attributing to it.

There's also this, Garrett. Maggie Haberman reporting in the "New York Times" the following, that, "Several people close to Mr. Trump have grown exasperated with Mr. Giuliani's public appearances. They also expressed concern that he is increasing prosecutors' anger with the president and potentially creating a misimpression about the Trump Tower project in Moscow."

So then I wonder if Rudy Giuliani is confusing the public, and he's exasperating the folks close to Trump, what is his job?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Confusing the public. To echo a little bit of what Jennifer was saying, I think it is part of the strategy. Donald Trump's team wants all of this to seem pretty muddy. They don't want the facts to be black and white. They want it to seem partisan. They want you to think that you knew the stuff before, even as it comes out anew. And the goal for so much of this is to just create confusion. This is the way that I think Rudy Giuliani is looking at it as he plays Donald Trump's lawyer on TV is to think of this as a political problem, not a criminal one. And that the court of public opinion, the court of Capitol Hill is where this legal battle will be ultimately won or lost. So to the extent that he can sort of, bit by bit, move the goal posts or make you think you might have known that already or confuse you about who said what, when, that ultimately, I think, rebounds over time to the president's political benefit, leaving aside the criminal legal questions, which as Jennifer said, is a terrible strategy. And Rudy Giuliani is doing harm to that basically every time he opens his mouth.

[11:26:03] BOLDUAN: Jennifer, one thing that Giuliani disputes is a quote from the "New York Times." Kara mentioned it but I want to put a fine point on it. The quote is that the "New Yorker" presented to him, "Discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won." He was quoting Trump to the "New York Times" at the time. Then Giuliani told the "New Yorker," I did not say that. The reporter asks, "'The Times' just made that quote up?" He says, "I don't know if they made it up. When I was talking about this, if he had those conversations, they were not criminal."

Why does this moment matter?

RODGERS: The reason that the initial admission that the conversations took place, all the way up to the election, matter is -- again, you have to be talking in a legal sense now. This is not just about the president lying to the people during the campaign and saying he no dealings with Russia. This is about whether there's a quid pro quo going on. This is about whether, at the time that he is calling on them to find and release those e-mails, you know, at the time he is saying that the sanctions are not valid, this is what you might be looking at as the other half of that quid pro quo for the Moscow project that he is seeking. That is why it is important as a legal matter. Again, Rudy backing off of it is, again, not just that he is saying, oh, now I have a different take for you. He is saying, I didn't say that. You talk about muddying the waters, you have a quote. and then you have, no, no, I didn't say that at all. Again, he is basically saying fake news when he says that.

BOLDUAN: There's a favorite term of my friend John Berman, which is gas lighting. Sometimes it feels like that.

I will leave you with one more when it comes to -- I'm just got to read this for you and take what you will. The "New Yorker" asking Giuliani, "Saying things for Trump not always being truthful about it, do you worry that this will be your legacy? Does that ever worry you in any way?" Giuliani, "Absolutely. I am afraid it will be on my grave stone. 'Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump.' Somehow," Giuliani says, "I don't think that will be it. But if it is, so what. So what do I care? I'll be dead. I figure I can explain it to St. Peter."

I'm just going to leave that there.

Garrett, Jennifer, great to see you guys. Thank you.

Coming up for us, new fallout from that viral video of a group of high school students and a Native American elder. The school the students attend was closed today. Why? That's next.