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Rudy Giuliani's Changing Stories; Government Shutdown Continues; Supreme Court Lets Trump Military Transgender Ban Take Effect; Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 22, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Day 32 of the government shutdown, and it is the show part of showdown playing out right now in Congress. The two parties will present show votes this week, one in the Senate, the other in the House.
The dueling bills aim to reopen the government, but both are set for the same fate, nowhere, since the House proposals won't pass the Senate and the Senate probably won't even make it to the House.
Still, as the Senate reconvenes this afternoon, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today saying legislation mirroring the president's offer over from the weekend will get a vote on Thursday.
The Senate proposal along its items seeks $5.7 billion for a border wall, but also establishes three years of legal status for dreamers and some asylum-seekers.
But that is a nonstarter for Democrats, who say no to any kind of negotiation until the government is back open.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us.
And, Kaitlan, the White House is still trying to press forward, holding the State of the Union address a week from tonight, taking the tour up on Capitol Hill. Where do we stand on that, by the way?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they requested the sergeant at arms to do a walk-through that they were initially scheduled to do before Nancy Pelosi sent her letter essentially uninviting the president from doing his State of the Union address on January 29, as she had initially invited him too.
But that request from the White House to do that walk-through was denied and they never did it. But behind the scenes here in the West Wing, White House officials say they are still forging ahead with that plan to hold a State of the Union. But, Brooke, whether or not it's actually a State of the Union address is still to be determined, because if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't introduce the resolution formally inviting the president on January 29 at the scheduled time, then the president will not officially be addressing any kind of body of Congress.
Now, the White House is aware of this. They're trying to figure out a backup plan to this, something that could include giving a speech, outside of the nation's capital. But that would be more in the style of a campaign rally than it would be a traditional State of the Union address.
Now, what the president is going to say is also something that's up for discussion, because as our reporting has shown, White House speechwriters have been working for weeks on what it is the president was going to say in that speech, and they even debated crafting it around the government shutdown before the latest drama between the president and Nancy Pelosi.
And now that it seems that there's still no end in sight to this shutdown, that seems like that that might be guaranteed that that's going to be his messaging.
BALDWIN: We will stand by for more on that.
But, Kaitlan, I have to ask you, because normally right around this time for months and months and months, you and I were post-gaming all these, you know, White House press briefings. And where have they gone? You have new reporting on that.
COLLINS: They have.
And we saw the president's tweet this morning saying essentially that Sarah Huckabee Sanders doesn't come out and do press briefings anymore because he doesn't like the way that the media treats her.
You can see there. He said: "They cover her so rudely and inaccurately."
But, actually, based on our reporting that we have done with nearly a dozen either former or current officials inside the Trump White House or advisers to the president outside the White House, there's actually a big communications problem here at the White House that's being really highlighted by the government shutdown.
We have talked to several officials over the last several days who feel frustrated because they don't feel that the White House communications team and press office have been effectively message the shutdown to their advantage.
And that's shown in those polls that show more Americans are holding the president responsible for the shutdown than they are Democrats. And that really speaks to a larger problem that's existed inside the walls of the West Wing for some time now, and that is a power struggle for someone to lead the communications team.
Now, based on our reporting, in several meetings that the president attends, whether it's a hurricane briefing, an interview with reporters from newspapers, or even those Situation Room meetings with Democrats going over the shutdown negotiations, there are four senior officials who are widely seen by their colleagues as communications officials that all attend these meetings.
That's Bill Shine, Sarah Sanders, Kellyanne Conway and Mercedes Schlapp. Now, despite the fact that those four senior communications aides constantly are around the president and involved in all sorts of meetings, White House officials that work alongside them do not feel like there is some kind of cohesive strategy for -- not only for the shutdown, but for the White House overall.
They feel that it's been detrimental. And one staffer even told me that they felt that the White House communications team was irrelevant, Brooke. They don't think that they're effectively able to help the president not only with the shutdown, but also messaging his strategy overall.
Now, Brooke, the president hired Bill Shine, this former television executive, several months ago, and he thought he was going to be able to bring him in and get him better press coverage, because that's been a complaint of the president's for some time now, that he doesn't feel he gets good press coverage.
But based on the sources we have spoken with, he doesn't feel that Shine has been able to get him the coverage that he's wanted. And White House officials who were looking forward to having someone like Shine, a TV producer, who they felt was perfect to be his communications director, they say that his strategy has largely consisted of telephoning FOX News hosts or FOX News executives, but it hasn't really honed in on a strategy that they feel has able to effectively able to help them here in the White House, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I'm still back on the coms crew feeling irrelevant. That's a strong word.
Kaitlan Collins, thank you for that update.
The price tag of this record-breaking shutdown is on track to be more expensive than the border wall itself. Let me just repeat that. The price tag for the shutdown is going to be more than the border wall itself. These are the numbers.
President Trump is asking for $5.7 billion for the wall. By this Friday, if the government is still closed, the shutdown could have cost the economy roughly $6 billion. That is according to estimates by S&P Global. That cost is twice as steep as even the White House originally thought.
The administration estimated growth would slow by 0.1 percentage points biweekly, but that loss now is being felt week after week, something White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett signaled earlier this month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We made an early estimate right at the beginning of the crisis that was a little bit lower than the estimate you just cited, and have been studying it hard as this has gone on, and have found that actually the damage is a little bit worse because of government contractors, something that was excluded from our first analysis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: It is not just financial, but physical distress this shutdown is inflicting on so many people and their kids.
I speak not only of the 800,000 federal workers, but also an estimated two million federal contractors, contractors who will not get paid for their time not working.
Yvette Hicks is one of those contractors. She's a security officer at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
And so, Yvette, thank you so much for coming on. Nice to meet you.
YVETTE HICKS, SECURITY GUARD, SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: So, I was talking to -- and, again, your -- like we said, your situation is different. You won't get this back pay.
But I was talking to a federal worker last week who said to me, Brooke, I'm going through the various stages of grief.
How are you feeling about this?
HICKS: What I'm feeling about this shutdown is it's basically starting to depress me, my family, because, as I said before, I'm the head of the household in my home.
And I have children that provide for me. I have children that have medical needs. And I just moved my mom into the home. She's losing her eyesight. So I'm taking care of my mother now.
And for me to just start at my job, and the next day, this shutdown comes, it's been a lot a hold -- a lot of buildup and a lot of hold on with me and my family.
But it's just actually tearing me down, to where, though, I'm trying my best to hide it from my children.
BALDWIN: That's what I wanted to ask you about, because you have two kids with asthma.
And from what I read, they need their medicine every couple of hours every day, but you have been stretching it out to once a day because that medicine is not cheap. And you're not letting them play outside as much as a result, so it doesn't trigger an asthma attack.
BALDWIN: How do you explain this to your children? HICKS: I just let them know that we have to budget funds, because,
right now, mom is not working. I don't sugarcoat anything with my children. I don't let them know too much, but I let them know that mommy has to budget money, and this is how we will have to do -- this is how we are going to have to live until I go back to work.
Like, today, I was just sitting at home thinking -- I have grandkids, too. I was sitting at home literally thinking, which child, which of my kids or my grandkids, whose life insurance do I need to cash in to stay above water?
BALDWIN: Wow. You seem so stoic. You seem so strong and tough. Have you had a moment that has just made you crumble?
And I try my best not to do it in front of my children, especially my 8-year-old son. He's very observant. He knows when I'm happy. He knows when I'm sad. He knows when I'm just upset. And he always tell me: "Mommy, God got us."
And I'm trying to build on that. I'm trying to stay strong on my faith in God, like I tell my children to keep your faith in God. He -- Trump might've shut the government down, but he can't shut God down.
BALDWIN: Do you feel like it's Trump? In your angry moments, Yvette, who do you blame?
HICKS: I blame Trump. I don't blame no one else but Trump.
BALDWIN: Not the Democrats?
HICKS: Not the Democrats.
BALDWIN: Just Trump?
HICKS: No, that's politic stuff right there.
I blame Trump. I definitely blame Trump, because you're stating that this shutdown will stay as long as it can, until congressmen give you $5 billion for this wall?
I'm not just thinking about federal and government workers. I'm also thinking about the low-income people that literally live off food stamps, TANF, low-income homes.
You're taking away people's homes that went from being homeless to having a stable home, and now they have to go back down that road again, all because of this government shutdown.
BALDWIN: Do you know someone like that?
HICKS: Yes, I know a lot of people like that. BALDWIN: Do you think the president does?
HICKS: He stated at one point in time he could understand what we're going through, but I don't think that he clearly understands what we going through, especially if he was born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
BALDWIN: Both sides, they haven't spoken in 10 days.
Yvette Hicks, we are thinking about you and your kids and your mom. Bless you for taking care of every single one of them, and I hope this thing is over faster than we can say. Yvette, thank you.
HICKS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Coming up next: Rudy Giuliani trying to clean up the confusion from his last cleanup. CNN's Dana Bash just got off the phone with the president's lawyer. What does Trump think about Rudy Giuliani's media blitz and mixed messages? We will discuss that.
And all apologies? Democratic field for 2020 is quickly becoming more crowded, but why are so many of them offering apologies for one reason or another, and how will that stack up against President Trump's no- apology strategy?
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: "I am not lying for the president," that is what Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Trump, just told Dana Bash, after several days of baffling, contradictory and hypothetical statements about his client and his ties to Russia.
All of this has more than a few of us asking one key question: What the heck is he doing?
Let's rewind. Last Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani talked to Chris Cuomo, where Giuliani pulled this 180 on the all-important topic of collusion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Yes, you have.
GIULIANI: I have no idea if -- I have not. I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United
States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The problem is, Giuliani did say there was no collusion.
And he kept talking, because, just a couple days later, Robert Mueller's office gave the White House a huge assist, publicly disputing this BuzzFeed article that claimed Trump told his former fixer to lie to Congress about that Trump Tower Moscow project.
And, again, the special counsel, which hasn't said a word about anything in two years, decided to publicly knock down this report that had some calling for the president to be impeached.
Now, after that, you would think team Trump might just lay low, take the win. Nope, not Rudy Giuliani. Here he is again on CNN, this time with Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: If he had any discussions with him, they'd be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them, which they all believed was true. I believed it was true. I still believe it may be true.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: But you just acknowledged that President Trump might have talked to him about his testimony.
GIULIANI: And so what if he talked to him about it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Hours later, Rudy Giuliani spoke with "The New York Times" and said Trump told him talks about the Moscow were, in Trump's words, "going on from the day I announced until the day I won."
The next day, Rudy walked it back, saying his comments were hypothetical and not based on real conversations with the president.
And that brings us to Rudy Giuliani's conversation with "The New Yorker" where he declared the BuzzFeed story was false because, plot twist, there are tapes. You can read this in this full exchange here there on your screen.
But let me just throw the CliffsNotes version on you. How does Rudy Giuliani know the BuzzFeed reporting was wrong? Because he says he listened to the tapes. Well, wait, what tapes, the reporter asked him.
"Just kidding. I shouldn't have said there were tapes." But Rudy says later, there are tapes and I have listened to them. They just aren't tapes about Trump Tower Moscow.
OK. Got it? Kind of?
Joining me now to try to make sense of all of this, Robert Bianchi, former head prosecutor in Morris county, New Jersey, and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.
So, gentlemen, OK, Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey, New York, all your ties for years and years. A lot of people think of Rudy Giuliani, this great mayor of New York City, got the city through 9/11, wrote a book I remember reading years ago on leadership.
And now he's the president's lawyer and is apparently on this clarification tour. What's going on?
ROBERT BIANCHI, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Brooke, as a person who led a prosecutorial agency, we have such respect for prosecutors and what Rudy Giuliani did when he was the United States attorney.
He put a lot of bad people in jail. He knows better than this. We would have expected him to be the pinnacle of lawyering, consistent and clear statements, so that the public understands what it is that he's saying.
And this vacillation and going back and forth is just so bizarre and peculiar. It's hurtful to his client. It's hurtful to his reputation. And that's irrespective of what the truth is or isn't.
And to me, it's just -- it's such a slippery slide from where he was to where he is now. And why he even, quipping, says, this is going to be on my gravestone. I think he even recognizes that.
BALDWIN: I want to come back to that in just a second.
But, Paul, just even to me that, part in "The New Yorker" piece about the tapes, no, there weren't tape, oh, wait, I did listen to the tapes, but they weren't on that thing, they were on something else.
Do you think all of this is strategy, or is he just going rogue?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it can't possibly be strategy, because a lawyer, particularly a lawyer for a politician like the president, is trained about messaging and about staying with the message.
And there's a message about a criminal case. Once you decide -- or a criminal investigation -- once you decide how to handle the defense that you're going to articulate for your client, you stay with that. You don't change the story repeatedly. Why? Because it makes you look like an idiot and it also makes your client look like a liar.
I think that Giuliani has morphed into Professor Richard Cory. Now, I don't know if you remember him, but he was a stand-up comedy in the late '60s whose shtick was, he would speak in total confusion. He would sound like a professor, but that was the way he operated.
And every time Giuliani opens his mouth, he causes more and more confusion about the case. It's really astounding.
BALDWIN: You mentioned the grave site.
CALLAN: By the way, its Irwin Corey, not Richard.
BALDWIN: Irwin. Sorry. You're predating me. I was born in the '70s.
CALLAN: OK, Irwin Corey.
CALLAN: Richard Cory is another song.
BALDWIN: The "New Yorker" interview, you mentioned the gravestone.
So, Rudy Giuliani was asked about his legacy, and so he tells CNN he was joking -- that's the clarification since this came out -- that he was joking when he worried his gravestone might read, he lied for Trump.
Giuliani said his focus is on -- quote -- "making sure the president is on terra firma legally and trying to understand the political waters."
Do you think his comments are more for Congress, maybe the Republicans?
BIANCHI: Brooke, it doesn't make a difference.
The fact of the matter is, is that he keeps changing the goalposts. And I'm going to tell you why.
The question should be, as a prosecutor, this is how I would be looking at it. Why did Michael Cohen lie to Congress about these conversations with the Trump Moscow having ended in June? There's a reason for that.
They were concerned about that, because it goes to potential collusion. And that's a legal issue. It goes to the president saying he had no business dealings to the public. And that's just a public perception reason.
But they felt it was important enough to take the step to lie to Congress about it. And now what's happening is, they're changing the goalposts, maybe it was October, maybe it was November, maybe it was afterwards, maybe it was beforehand, because more evidence is coming out to show that their previous statements were inaccurate.
If this were in a court of law -- Paul, you know this -- a prosecutor -- the reporters aren't even cross-examining Giuliani and he's all over the place.
BALDWIN: But why is he all over the place? Shouldn't he have all this zipped up for Mueller and all the facts straight?
BIANCHI: They're changing this as the evidence comes out to contradict their previous story.
That is what a judge would say at the end of the case. If the statements are inconsistent, and it's not an innocent inconsistency, you can assume that there's a reason they're covering it up and can use that as motive as to why they're lying, and they may be lying in order to cover up that relationship.
So the more texts that come out, the more witnesses like Cohen that comes out, the more data that comes out that disputes a previous account, well, now we got to move the goalposts.
CALLAN: But here's the thing, I think that's the most astounding.
Giuliani and other lawyers for the president were involved in submitting answers to Mueller on behalf of the president.
BALDWIN: That's what I'm saying. Why wouldn't their version of facts already be out there and done?
CALLAN: You would be locked into that version.
Instead, you have Giuliani saying, well, the president said this, the president said that. And then Giuliani says, well, I was only talking hypothetically.
Well, how do you talk hypothetically about conversations you have had with the president of the United States?
BALDWIN: How often do lawyers speak hypothetically?
BIANCHI: That's, Brooke, a great point.
And to Paul's point a moment ago, if you're going to go out into the court of public opinion -- and there are reasons sometimes for lawyers to do it -- you button those facts down, so that they're unassailable, that they cannot be attacked, so that there's confidence in what it is that you're saying.
And if you don't do that, all you're doing is putting your client in more peril, because those statements can potentially be used as adopted admissions.
BALDWIN: They're missing buttons.
Bob and Paul, thank you, guys. Good to see you all.
BIANCHI: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next: The Supreme Court decides to let President Trump's ban on transgender troops take effect. We will explain what that means for people already serving.
And I will get reaction from the woman who became the first openly transgender person in the Army infantry.
Plus, a new twist in the controversy over the viral video of the confrontation between students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and this Native American elder -- why their classes were canceled today.
We will be right back.
BALDWIN: A major headline from the Supreme Court today.
Justices will allow the president's ban on transgender troops to take effect. The policy essentially blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria from serving, with limited exceptions.
It also specifies that transgender individuals without the diagnosis can still serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.
So, joining me now, Staff Sergeant Patricia King. She served in the Army for 20 years, and she actually attended the president's State of the Union last year as a guest of Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy.
So, Sergeant King, welcome back. And, as always, of course, thank you for your service.
STAFF SGT. PATRICIA KING, FIRST OPENLY TRANSGENDER INFANTRYMAN IN U.S. ARMY: Thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: So, on the news from the highest court of the land today, so these justices didn't decide on the merits of this case, but will allow the ban to go forward while the lower -- lower courts work through it.
When you heard that, how does -- how does that sit with you?