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Giuliani Tries to Clean Up Comments on Trump Tower Moscow; NYT: People Close to Trump Exasperated with Giuliani; Accused U.S. Spy Denied Bail, Detained in Russia Until Trial; Dow to Drop at Open, Worries Over Slowing Global Growth. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 22, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:22] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Tuesday morning to you. Welcome back from the holiday. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We're glad you're with us. Both Houses of Congress are also back in session today. Both Houses of Congress have measures to re-up government funding and both Houses plan to vote. Yet somehow on the 32nd day of the longest government shutdown on record we are no closer to a breakthrough than we were on day one.

SCIUTTO: Having laid low for basically 31 days now, the Senate majority leader is putting up a bill that melds the president's immigration offer with money to re-open the government and then some. But we should note it really has no chance. Just like a new batch of spending bills coming up in the Democratically controlled House have no chance as well. And that means that barring some virtually impossible grand compromise today, those 800,000 furloughed or otherwise unpaid federal employees which includes Coast Guard sailors, they will miss their second paychecks this Friday.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

So, Lauren, of course, this needs 60 votes to have a chance. The president's offer designed in part to bring some Democrats over the line. Is there any evidence that that's happening and it will meet the 60-vote limit.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Jim and Poppy. No, there is no evidence that any Democrats are going to get behind the bill at this point. Of course even if a few break off and vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell it wouldn't be enough probably to get it across the finish line to get those 60 votes out of the Senate. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is going to bring this bill forward regardless.

And here's a few things that it has in it. $5.7 billion of course for the president's border wall in exchange for three-year renewal of DACA as well as an extension of the temporary protected status for immigrants. And of course there are a few sweeteners in there for Democrats, trying to apply more pressure, of course. One of them is just an extension of the Violence Against Women's Act and of course more money from disaster relief. So Democrats probably are going to not vote for that proposal or not

in large enough numbers to get it out of the Senate. Then move over to the House of Representatives where Nancy Pelosi has her own show going on. It's going to be a list of spending bills that will come up in one package. Those bills include a billion dollars more in border security money, but not a single dime for the wall. An important distinction here this morning.

And it's the hold-up that has kept the government closed for more than 30 days now. And like you said at the beginning of this, we are no closer to the end of the shutdown than we were a month ago. Nobody is in a room talking. There is no -- virtually no evidence that this is going to end any time soon -- John and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: So those are basically performance art.

HARLOW: There you go. That's a good way to put it.

Lauren, don't go anywhere because there are some really important language buried in this legislation that Jim and I think is worth highlighting. And that is what it leaves out. The conditions would be for Central American migrant children to be able to apply for asylum at the U.S. border. It really changes things.

FOX: Absolutely. Because part of getting asylum in this country is that you have a credible fear in your own country. What this proposal says is that if you are a Central American migrant coming from one of those Central American countries you have to apply for asylum in your home country. And a lot of immigration advocates, you can see why they are arguing, you know, that's just not safe.

And in addition to that, there are new restrictions on just how many folks can apply and what the bar for getting into the country with an asylum claim would even be at this point. So a lot of open questions -- Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And something that's certainly will not attract Democratic votes as in effect snuck in there.

Lauren Fox, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: If nothing else the shutdown has reminded all of us of the vital work done by federal employees every day. Work that we often didn't notice until that work is not done.

HARLOW: That's right. Later this morning we'll hear in perhaps alarming details the effects of the shutdown on a truly vital group of federal workers, the FBI.

Let's go to our Jessica Schneider who has preview.

They are going to brief reporters on what this means for the FBI. Do you have any sense of what we'll hear? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I do, Jim and

Poppy. You know, FBI agents around the country, we know they're set to put out this urgent message this morning. They're going to say that the shutdown is not just affecting their financial security with this missed pay, but that it is also severely impacting national security.

So the FBI Agents Association this morning is set to release a 70-page report that will, for the first time, go into detail about how the government shutdown is impacting daily operations and investigations by the FBI.

Now the FBI Agents Association, they've really been sounding this alarm for the past two weeks. They first expressed concern that the shutdown was hindering narcotics investigations and surveillance. And now they're set to go even further, go into more detail about how investigations across the board are being negatively affected.

[09:05:05] Now I have reached out to the FBI for comment. But we haven't heard anything back yet. But we do already know that the financial impacts of this shutdown as it pertains to the FBI have already led to food banks being set up at FBI locations around the country. All the help the agents and the support staff who, like other federal workers, just aren't getting paid. So that's on the FBI side. We expect more information this morning.

But we're also watching for another shoe to drop with the shutdown. The courts. The judiciary really warning that if the government doesn't re-open by Friday, funding will be even more significantly impacted and additional court-related payments could be shut off. Now the courts, they've already sounded this alarm as well, issuing statements saying that their funding has been cut back. But really, they've been able to keep most of their operations going. But as of Friday, just a few days from now, it is a whole new ball game.

Jim and Poppy, the courts are warning really that funding could run out. They say the trials will still be going.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: But they say they've already had to cut back on payments to jurors. And interestingly, you know, that could impact the grand jurors who are seated for the Robert Mueller probe. So a lot affected at the courts. And really Friday is this big day where even more funding could run out, guys.

HARLOW: I hadn't even thought about that. But this is uncharted territory.

SCIUTTO: Courts with ongoing investigations against folks who have broken the law or alleged to, the FBI, TSA agents, Coast Guard sailors.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Right. HARLOW: And again we haven't been here before because we've never

been in 32 days into a shutdown.

Jess, thanks for that.

Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and White House reporter for Bloomberg News, Toluse Olorunnipa.

Thank you both for being here.

And Toluse, let me just go to you on the Democrats because, I mean, you have an interesting read on, obviously, you know, we don't think this is going to get certainly not enough Democratic support. We'll see if any Democratic senator vote for this. What Joe Manchin and some of those others do. But how long can the Democratic Party and lawmakers be the party of no? Because even if you don't like this proposal it is the White House and Republicans putting something on the table.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes. Democrats have realized that even though they have a strong position in the shutdown because the polling shows that people are blaming the president and the Republicans for shutting down the government, they realize that they cannot only -- they cannot stand in place and not take active measures to try to make sure they are showing the American public that they do believe in border security, they are not the party of no. They're not the party of open borders.

And they are trying to make sure that the American people know that they are putting forward proactive bills to open up the government. So you're going to see from Democrats later this week, bills that add money for border security, not for the wall but make sure they are putting forward a plan to shore up the border, shore up the ports of entry, maybe add more judges, things like that to show that they actually do care about border security.

They do want to make sure they're securing the border but not giving in to the president's demands for a wall. And I think that's part of what you're expecting to see from Democrats this week, showing that they're not just rejecting the president's offer, but offering a plan of their own to secure the border and making sure that people believe that, you know, you can't have this fight until you open up the government.

HARLOW: Yes.

OLORUNNIPA: Negotiating --

SCIUTTO: Right.

OLORUNNIPA: -- with a gun to your head is not something that they want to do.

SCIUTTO: So, Ron, let's look at the numbers here because both parties are looking at polling numbers. So on the one side you have a series of polls, and we'll put this up on the screen showing that a majority of Americans blame the president and Republicans for the shutdown, all in the 50s there, and then the 30s, even the 20s for Democrats.

But let's look at this other poll because of course this is one I imagine the president looking at. And that's what Republican voters. So these are Republicans. They say who is most responsible for the shutdown? 71 percent, very large percentage there, shows that they blame the Democrats. It strikes me that there's sort of no -- never the twain shall meet between those, right?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Because the Democrats feel they have their backers and the Republicans feel he has his backers.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And, you know, where is the room for compromise then?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And in fact, I have a piece out this morning on CNN.com. If you look at the underlying attitudes toward the wall, support and opposition to the wall closely tracks, closely tracks, how people think about the broader underlying cultural and demographic changes in the country. People who support the wall are much more hostile to legal immigration as well, much more dubious of claims of racism from African-Americans, even much more dubious of changing gender relations.

And so you do have a big underlying split. But I would say that they're really, Jim, are too distinct issues here. I mean, one is whether you can find some sort of compromise that balances the president's demand for border security with the Democratic desire to extend more protection to larger groups of undocumented immigrants.

That is an argument we've been having in one form or another since 2006 when George W. Bush and a bipartisan Senate coalition passed a comprehensive reform plan that House Republicans wouldn't take up. So there is a debate to be had there.

[09:10:02] But the second distinct issue is it reasonable in any definition to try to solve that during a government shutdown that is denying pay to 800,000 federal workers and deteriorating critical services.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, we've been arguing about this for almost 15 years. And the idea that you're going to solve it in 20 days, you know, while in effect holding this gun at the head of the federal workforce really does kind of strain credulity.

HARLOW: And by the way, as you know, in your piece in both the prior administrations, the Senate passed reform and only to be, you know, not acted on by the House of the opposing party.

Toluse, to you, Matt Viser has a great piece in the "Washington Post" over the weekend that talks about really important places for the president, like Macomb County, Michigan, right? Which he flipped from blue to red. He quotes a lot of different folks. Let me just read you one Jeremiah Wilbur, a 45-year-old operating engineer who says, I was doing fine with him being Trump until the government shutdown. It's ridiculous. You're not getting the wall built for $5 billion. Mexico is not paying for it. We all know that. Meantime it's starting to turn people like me away.

How concern should the president be about that? And reading this, how likely is it for Republican lawmakers to be steadfast next to him in this?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, I think that's why you're seeing the president start to put out different offers and try to end this government shutdown because he realizes that this is not a strong political position to be in. Even though, you know, polling shows some minority of voters do support the wall. Even a smaller number of voters support shutting down the government over building the wall.

People don't believe that it's that big of an issue that you have to shut the government down over it and deny federal workers their pay for 800,000 workers for, you know, months on end. So people -- even the president's supporters, even members of his base who support the wall do not support him going about trying to get the wall in this fashion. He campaigned as a deal-maker and he said that, you know, he didn't have these ideological positions and he'd be willing to get Democrats and Republicans in a room and work out deals that previous administrations were not able to do.

But we're not seeing that. We're seeing the government shut down for weeks on end. And I think that's why people in places that the president is going to rely on in 2020, Michigan, Pennsylvania, are likely to potentially drift away from the president if the shutdown continues for months on end. And several of these people rely on some of the benefits that the president's shutdown has restricted.

So I think this is something that the president is aware of. And he's seeing the numbers and he realizes that the numbers softening in some of these key states could make it very difficult for him over the long term politically.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

OLORUNNIPA: So he's trying to find a way to get out of this shutdown, but Democrats and Republicans have not been able to get in a room and work it out just yet. And I think that's -- those types of messages are --

SCIUTTO: It seems like he -- the bigger risk to him is caving and he tweeted again about that today.

Ron Brownstein, Toluse Olorunnipa, thanks very much.

So much for cleaning up problems for the president, Rudy Giuliani playing damage control after a string of interviews sparked major questions about the administration.

HARLOW: And the attorney for the U.S. citizen accused of spying in Russia is now detained. Paul Whelan was found they say with, quote, "state secrets." We'll have the latest from Moscow.

Plus, CNN obtains a confidential Uber memo overworked internal investigators struggling to handle nearly 1200 cases a week, cases that include verbal threats, sexual assault, rape, and theft. It is stunning and we have it all for you ahead.

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[09:15:00] SCIUTTO: Rudy Giuliani; the president's lawyer is doing damage control again. Now saying that the "New York Times" and others got it wrong when he said that the president was working on getting a tower in Moscow right up until election day though they quoted him directly. So I don't see how they got it wrong.

HARLOW: Not sure, I do. But some of his attempts at clarification are frankly just even more confusing. Let's bring in our reporter Kara Scannell from Washington. It is really important what the lawyer for the president of the United States says, especially on things like this. And we're just so unclear at this point.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. I mean, this is the president's attorney speaking publicly for the president. And beginning on Sunday, we went from this "New York Times" interview where Giuliani is quoting Trump as saying that he was aware of these discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow up until he won the election.

Then yesterday, he started -- Rudy Giuliani started back-tracking, saying that, you know, the president didn't remember, he had no recollection of this. Then he said, Rudy Giuliani, that this was a hypothetical that he was talking about. Now, he tells "The New Yorker" that "The Times" got it wrong.

And he goes on to say that even if there were discussions that it wouldn't be a crime, here is exactly what he told "The New Yorker". He said, "I am not saying that he did it. I've just told you he didn't do it. I'm telling you that their investigation is so ridiculous that even if he did do it, it wouldn't be a crime."

Now, that's an open question here. I mean, the reason why we're talking about this is, you know, Michael Cohen admitted that he lied when he testified before Congress. And this is all about conversations about this Trump Tower meeting.

You know, another thing here is that, you know, is it a crime? Well, Giuliani has put now so much confusion, you know, both putting new information out there and then back-tracking and making all these confusion, it could give Robert Mueller's team more ammunition to push for a sit-down with the president.

They had asked Giuliani -- excuse me, they asked the president about this in their written questions, and now Giuliani has muddied the waters a bit that Mueller's team may seek to request an interview with the president to try to clarify some of what is now very confusing. Poppy, Jim --

HARLOW: Wow, yes.

SCIUTTO: Possibly deliberately so. Kara Scannell, thanks very much. Let's talk this over now with our panelists, Cnn chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; former federal prosecutor and Andrew Kirtzman; he's the author of "Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City", he's president as well of Kirtzman Strategy; it's a political consulting firm.

Andrew, if I could begin with you because you covered Giuliani for 25 years, you say quote, "he was known for his detailed mastery of facts in his eight years of mayor and six years as U.S. attorney. I just wonder, you know, often times he'll say, oh, Mr. Giuliani, he's confused here.

[09:20:00] But I wonder if there's a deliberate strategy here in your view to deliberately muddy the waters because that is a tactic that the president himself has used with this --

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR: Right --

SCIUTTO: Investigation.

KIRTZMAN: Right, well, and he may be trying to soften the grounds for future revelations. But he's botching it so badly he's almost making the case against the president. And it's kind of unfortunate because Giuliani was always known for his precision.

I mean, he is -- not to mention his, you know, magnificent larger- than-life heroics, I mean, this is a man who still has an honorary knighthood from the British order. His kind of legacy as the man who rose above everything on 9/11 seems very far away this morning.

HARLOW: Jeffrey, as underwrite, we know, I mean, this is America's mayor, this is a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District, all that he did for this city and this country after 9/11. So he's quoted in a "New Yorker" piece saying, "I'm afraid it will be on my gravestone, quote, 'Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump.

Somehow I don't think that will be it, but if it is, so what? Why do I care? I'll be dead.'" What changed?

KIRTZMAN: Well, I think what's going on here is that he's got one big problem which is it's increasingly clear that the president lied throughout the campaign about his relationship with Russia, that these negotiations were going on and he said, I have no relationship.

The president just handed in these sworn statements in which, presumably, compelled by his lawyers, he told the truth that these negotiations were ongoing.

HARLOW: Right.

KIRTZMAN: So Giuliani is trying to do two things. He's trying to say the president didn't lie, but the president did lie.

SCIUTTO: Right.

KIRTZMAN: And that's why he's getting caught in this -- in --

SCIUTTO: Right --

KIRTZMAN: All these statements because he's trying to do contradictory things.

SCIUTTO: So beyond the repeated lies that the president made, and continues to state about his discussions with Russia, the other Giuliani revelation or argument at least, was that if he was, in effect, attempting to tamper with Michael Cohen's testimony, if he was speaking to him prior to his congressional testimony and if -- he doesn't confirm that it's true.

He says if that wouldn't be a crime, legally, you are a lawyer, is that -- is that true?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's completely untrue.

SCIUTTO: Right --

TOOBIN: Because telling someone to lie in a sworn proceeding is a crime.

SCIUTTO: Telling somehow to lie --

TOOBIN: We're in a bar --

SCIUTTO: But what if you are a president, you're having a conversation, you don't explicitly tell them to lie prior to, but you say, hey, Michael, remember how we had that deal? You know --

TOOBIN: You're right there --

SCIUTTO: Could you have an attempt short of explicitly telling them to lie which counts as witness tampering?

TOOBIN: That gets into subtleties you would have to know the facts. I mean, that may be the problem with the "BuzzFeed" story. I mean, the "BuzzFeed" story says Trump told Cohen to lie. But what if the conversation was, come on, you remember, do the right thing. We've got to, you know, deal with the situation --

SCIUTTO: Sounds a lot like Trump's conversation regarding Michael Flynn with James Comey --

HARLOW: Find a way to let this --

SCIUTTO: Right? You know --

HARLOW: Go --

SCIUTTO: Does it not?

TOOBIN: It does, but that may be the problem with the "BuzzFeed" story which was too categorical about conversations that were more mob-boss like. In that, you don't have to give direct instructions that everybody knows what they have to do.

HARLOW: Help us understand, Andrew, as someone who -- I mean, there was much praise for Rudy Giuliani in your book, right? And there's a lot that you have admired about him. Help us understand why? Why would he do all of this for the president and how long do you think the president will --

KIRTZMAN: Right --

HARLOW: Live with it?

KIRTZMAN: Right, how long will he continue to be there before he wears out his welcome at the White House? You know, Giuliani said at the beginning that he was just going to be doing this for a short time, right? He was -- I think way back when he said, oh, he was just there to kind of arrange the interview and get the facts down when the president, he began.

Well, Giuliani is now kind of the center stage right now. He loves doing that, and is going to -- they're going to have to drag him off out of the limelight because he is just kind of a news element, and Giuliani has always wanted to be center of attention.

HARLOW: So it's the spotlight?

KIRTZMAN: It's the spotlight. Unfortunately, he's doing it so badly that as I said before, he's compromising what was once an absolutely heroic reputation. And it's a little painful to watch.

SCIUTTO: It's fascinating, Jeff, legal ramifications. You've heard Jeffrey Toobin, there's frustration even within President Trump's circle as to how Giuliani has handled this. Do you -- has he been a bad lawyer for the president in addition to a bad spokesperson?

TOOBIN: You know, it's hard to say because this is a public job. It is not really a lawyering job. This is a job about persuading the public. And the one thing we know about the Trump presidency is that no one ever changes their mind. The day --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

[09:25:00] TOOBIN: He was inaugurated, about 40 percent of the people thought he was great. We have spent two years saying, oh, this is a dramatic change and there was Charlottesville and there was Helsinki and there were the kids in cages at the border and nothing changes.

And Rudy Giuliani doesn't change anybody's position --

SCIUTTO: No, does it not?

(CROSSTALK)

I mean, there was a midterm election where a lot of those districts that went one way in 2016 went a different way in 2018.

TOOBIN: That's true, but in terms of the overall polling, in terms of sort of people's opinions --

HARLOW: On his numbers --

TOOBIN: About --

HARLOW: Yes --

TOOBIN: Donald Trump. The thing I always notice is that nobody seems to ever change their mind. And in that respect, I don't know if Giuliani has made much difference one way or another.

KIRTZMAN: No, we know that Trump hates being embarrassed. I mean, there are a lot of cabinet members who are gone now because Trump hates being embarrassed. Now, the lead story all over this morning is about Giuliani's gaffes. Like --

HARLOW: Although --

KIRTZMAN: People are laughing at Rudy Giuliani this morning --

HARLOW: Although he sees him as a fighter.

KIRTZMAN: He sees him -

HARLOW: And the president likes a fighter, right?

KIRTZMAN: Well, that's why he brought him on. But you know --

HARLOW: He's still punching.

KIRTZMAN: The question is, is how much longer Trump --

HARLOW: Yes --

KIRTZMAN: Will put up with this?

SCIUTTO: Are those punches landing?

HARLOW: Yes, great point, thank you both --

SCIUTTO: Thanks, guys --

HARLOW: Nice to have you, we appreciate it, Jeffrey Toobin and Andrew Kirtzman. So ahead for us, accused U.S. spy Paul Whelan has been denied bail in Russia. This just developing this morning. Now his court-appointed Russian attorney says that he was carrying state secrets, but didn't know it.

SCIUTTO: We are also just moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Dow set to drop at the open -- see the red arrow there? Investors on edge about new warnings of global growth slowing in part because of the trade war between the U.S. and China.

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