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State of the Union Moving Head; GOP Questions Cohen Testimony; Trump Sees Wall as Monument; Harris Proposes Tax Plan; Ex-Trump Aide's New Book; Giuliani Changes Statements. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired January 22, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES." The better lines in person are much more about substance and policy than just about whacking Trump like that. It's fascinating.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's -- it's a part of the campaign we're now getting into.

MARTIN: It's now. Sure.

KING: Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow.

Brianna Keilar starts right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, nearly a million federal workers hours away from missing their second paycheck since the shutdown began. And now a legislative duel in search of a deal.

There are tapes. Wait, no, there are not tapes, but I've listened to them, so says Rudy Giuliani in his new efforts to clean up a wild mess.

Plus, the 2020 race has officially gone nirvana. Why contenders are making more stops on the all apologies tour.

And in the case of a confrontation between Catholic high school students and a Native American elder, should school chaperones have stepped in?

Another pay period without a paycheck. That is the situation that more than 800,000 federal workers are facing as the partial government shutdown stretches into day 32 now. There's a midnight deadline for the government to make payroll. And if that deadline is not met, there will be no paychecks this Friday for workers affected by the shutdown. And that means they will miss their second paycheck since this shutdown started. So the last time the most of them got paid was in late December.

The political stalemate over the shutdown and the border wall is showing no sign of ending any time soon. The Senate convening this hour. Live pictures here of the Senate floor. The House went into session last hour. Expect some competing proposals to reopen the government as each side tries to force the other to make a move.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to bring President Trump's proposal to the floor, hoping to increase the pressure on Democrats. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have already rejected that very plan. The House will vote on a package of spending bills to reopen the government, and that includes about $1 million for border security, but no money for President Trump's border wall.

The president is moving ahead with plans to deliver the State of the Union speech from the Capitol next Tuesday despite Speaker Pelosi's request to postpone it or deliver it in some other form, perhaps in writing.

White House reporter Jeremy Diamond has been following this for us.

What have you learned here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Brianna, well, the White House has sent an e-mail to the House Sergeant at Arms to try and reschedule this walkthrough of the chamber of the House of Representatives for the president to deliver his State of the Union Address. What does this mean? It means that the White House is moving forward as if that speech, scheduled originally for January 29th, for the president to deliver his State of the Union to a joint session of Congress, they're moving forward as if this is happening.

That, of course, is despite the fact that the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, last week asked the president to reschedule this address to Congress or deliver it in writing. The White House hasn't responded directly to that. Of course there was that response by way of the president canceling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Afghanistan, but they haven't actually respond to whether or not they would agree to reschedule it. And now we're learning of this e-mail sent from the White House's director of advance to the House Sergeant at Arms to schedule this walkthrough, indicating that they are indeed moving forward with this.

At the same time, we do know that the White House has been preparing contingency plans in the event that the president cannot deliver this address to a joint session of Congress and instead preparing for the possibility of a rally perhaps for the president to deliver his message to the nation.

Again, what we do know is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ultimately the one with the keys. The House and the Senate both do need to pass this resolution to hold a joint session of Congress in order for the president to deliver the State of the Union at the Capitol.


KEILAR: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House. And this also just in. Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are expressing concern over the upcoming testimony of President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

CNN's senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is with us from Capitol Hill.

What's their issue with it?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, actually intriguing details about this highly anticipated testimony on February 7th when Michael Cohen, the president's former fixer, long time attorney, will testify before the House Oversight Committee in open session.

Now, according to this letter that the top Republican on the committee sent, Jim Jordan, along with Mark Meadows, another Republican on the committee, to one of Michael Cohen's attorneys, it says that they -- their staff had met with another Cohen representatives, Lanny Davis, in which Davis made very clear there's not a whole lot that Cohen would be willing to -- be able to testify to when he actually appears before the House Oversight Committee.

Now, according to this letter, that he's not going to be able to discuss things that are under investigation. Now, that includes things that are under the purview of the U.S. district for the Southern District of New York. That's the prosecutors -- the federal prosecutors in that district, as well as the U.S. -- as well as Robert Mueller's investigation looking into special counsel, looking into Russian interference in the election, as well as what the state -- the attorney general of the state of New York is looking into.

[13:05:17] Now, what can he actually testify to? Now, that's the big question. According to this letter from Jordan and Meadows it says, we will not be hearing testimony about why Cohen intentionally provided false and misleading testimony to the United States Congress in previous appearances. We will not be able to learn more about Cohen's role in federal campaign finance law violations. In fact, according to Davis, Cohen's testimony will be circumscribed to what he and you are comfortable with him addressing.

Now, that first point, we will not be hearing testimony about why Cohen intentionally provided false and misleading testimony, that is in reference to him being -- to lying to Congress about those Trump Tower Moscow project, all the discussions that occurred in the run-up to the 2016 election. So if he can't discuss that, what can he say about his conversations with the president that occurred at that time?

They also raised concerns that they say that Lanny Davis pushed Michael Cohen to testify and that Cohen did not initially seem to want to do that. So they raised a whole range of concerns about this and say that people will not be able to learn what they want to learn in this testimony, even those hush money payments that occurred to silence those Trump's affairs that allegedly occurred. We may not -- we may not be able to learn a whole lot according to this testimony.

We'll hear what Davis and Cohen have to say. We've reached out to them for comment, Brianna. Still have not heard back yet.


KEILAR: All right, hopefully we do. Manu Raju on The Hill, thanks.

Nearly 300 furloughed federal workers were ordered back to work today by the Department of Homeland Security, but they're going to be forced to fill positions that they were never trained for. They will be getting paychecks, but still no immediate back pay for the month of work that they lost. And all of this stress and hardship for federal workers is over the funding for a wall.

We have Gloria Borger here.

The president, Gloria, as you note in a column, a great column that you have out today on --


KEILAR: He talks about how his wall is for national security, securing the border, stopping crime, stopping drugs, stopping people from crossing the border illegally. You say it has much more to do with him.

BORGER: Yes, I have a little bit of a different take on that. And what I want to do is play for you that -- something Donald Trump himself said in August of 2015, because he often tells us the truth when he speaks publically before an audience. Take a look at this.


PRES: Look, I want it to be so beautiful, because maybe someday they're going to call it the Trump wall. Maybe. So I have to make sure it's beautiful, right? I'll be very proud of that wall. If they call it the Trump wall, it has to be beautiful.


BORGER: So my theory is that this is a monument to Donald Trump that he is building for himself. It is something concrete, or maybe slats, we don't know --

KEILAR: But tangible no less.

BORGER: But tangible. Not like, you know, a trade bill or not like tax reform. This is something that if he could put his name on it in gold filigree, I bet he would, because it is something that would be there for generations. You could fly over it and say, see what I did, I built this wall.

KEILAR: So has he factor that and other reasons that he alleges he wants the wall, and he factors the politics into it as well.


KEILAR: What about the furloughed workers, the out-of-work contract workers, how does that factor into his calculous?

BORGER: Well, as you know, because you've been covering this, we don't hear a lot from the president about the furloughed workers, other than saying that they support him and they're all for him. And I looked back to Atlantic City when he was building another monument, the Tahj Mahal Casino, and he had a lot of trouble at the Tahj Mahal. And he didn't pay his workers what they asked for. He -- they'd say you owe me x, he'd say I'll give you one half of x. So this is something we have seen in Donald Trump before because the monument, the building, the branding is much more important than anything else. So that goes for the furloughed workers in the government shutdown and it went for the workers who built those huge, massive monuments to Donald Trump in Atlantic City. The same thing.

KEILAR: Yes, it's a good point. Gloria Borger, thank you.


KEILAR: Now that we know that Senator Kamala Harris officially is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, the big question is, what platform will she be running on? So far she's been pushing her tax plan.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What it does is this. If you are a household, if you're a family that as a household is earning less than $100,000 a year, or you're an individual that earns less than $50,000 a year, you get a tax credit. So for the households earning less than $100,000 a year, you get a tax credit of up to $6,000 and you can elect to receive that in $500 increments every month.


[13:10:06] KEILAR: Well, it's estimated that this plan could cost as much as $3 trillion over ten years.

We have David Chalian with us now to go over this.

What she's really trying to use to distinguish herself as a candidate. It does make her unique, having this, along with her Medicare for all proposal.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure. Although you would imagine we're going to see every one of these 2020 Democrats come out with a tax plan that is skewed more towards helping the middle class and lower income Americans than helping the wealthy, which is the Democrat's biggest complaint of the Trump tax plan that passed through the Republican Congress a little over a year ago, Brianna.

And, you know, we should also note that the tax plan, this potentially $3 trillion tax plan that Kamala Harris rolled out last fall as a senator, there may be tweaks to it when she formalizes her tax plan as a presidential candidate, which now she has been for all of a day. But clearly this is going to be a centerpiece of her message, this notion of trying to give tax credits to middle income and lower income Americans, to be a direct contrast from what she believes the Republican tax cut plan did, which was skew all of its benefits to the wealthy.

KEILAR: All right, let's talk about a new book that we have been getting glimpses of, right? So it's a former special assistant to the president, Cliff Sims, who has this book out called "Team of Vipers." It's an interesting, unique take because of the position that he's in as someone who's still a fan of Trump, doesn't seem -- he just seems to kind of be telling it like it is, but this is some juicy stuff.

CHALIAN: Well, no doubt that it's juicy, I mean especially the excerpt that we read in "The Washington Post" today about just how humiliating an experience it must have been to be Paul Ryan on the receiving end of some pretty harsh criticism from Donald Trump, who was none too pleased that Paul Ryan, in the aftermath of the way Trump responded to the Charlottesville incidents, that Paul Ryan was not sort of there backing him up.

He -- I mean Trump laid into him according to Sims in this account. I do think you're right to note the perspective here. We have seen a lot of books from Trump critics. We've seen books from Trump supporters. This is somebody who clearly is a fan of the presidents, but seems to be telling a story of just like an unvarnished, behind-the-scenes look of what it was like in that first year or so of the Trump presidency inside the West Wing.

KEILAR: Yes, I can't wait to read it.


KEILAR: David Chalian, thank you.

CHALIAN: Thanks.

KEILAR: So what the heck is going on with Rudy Giuliani? Is that what you're asking too? Because he is now suggesting that there are tapes that prove the president's innocence, but then he denies that there are tapes?

Also, I'm going to speak live with a priest who says the chaperones get some blame here in that confrontation that sparked this viral video.

And, the Supreme Court handing President Trump a victory, allowing his controversial ban on transgender people in the military to go into effect.

You're watching CNN.


[13:17:23] KEILAR: If it feels like we have been down this road before, it's because we have. The president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is once again playing cleanup and muddying the waters at the same time. And this time it's about the Trump Tower Moscow project. It's the proposal that would have made the Trump Organization millions that included a hotel spa named after Ivanka and a penthouse gifted to Putin according to someone working on that project.

So let's go back to when this all started. On Sunday Giuliani admitted that Trump was involved in discussions to build that skyscraper in Moscow throughout the entire 2016 campaign. In an interview with "The New York Times" he even quoted the president saying the discussions were going on from, quote, the day I announced to the day I won. Now that means, according to Giuliani, that Trump was negotiating a massive business deal with Russia leading up to the election, something voters did not know as he took a lot of pro-Russia positions. At the same time, Trump was publicly pushing for a better relationship with Russia.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (August 2, 2016): If we could get along with Russia, wouldn't that be a good thing instead of a bad thing?

TRUMP (September 27, 2016): If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him.

TRUMP (April 4, 2016): I like him because he called me a genius.

TRUMP (May 27, 2016): Putin did call me a genius and he said I'm the future of the Republican Party. So, he's off to a good start.


KEILAR: But then one day after Giuliani gave that specific timeline, he told CNN the president has no recollection about how long the Trump Tower Moscow discussions went and there's no way to determine that because there's no record.

And then later Giuliani releases a statement saying that his comments were, quote, hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president.

And today he told "The New Yorker," even if Trump did have conversations until the election, quote, it wouldn't be a crime. So that's a big flip from directly quoting the president on a specific date to saying that this is all hypothetical.

Giuliani is also creating some confusion about Trump's conversations with his former attorney Michael Cohen about this project. You'll remember that Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project's timeline, and Giuliani responded to the allegations made by "BuzzFeed" that Trump directed Cohen to lie in that testimony. The special counsel issued a rare statement rejecting the central claim in the "BuzzFeed" article.

Here's what Giuliani told CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: As far as I know, President Trump did not have discussions with him, certainly had no discussions with him in which he told him or counseled him to lie. If he had any discussions with him, they'd be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them, which they all believe was true. I believed it was true. I still believe it may be true. If Corsi --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": But you just acknowledged that President Trump might have talked to him about -- about his testimony.

[13:20:04] GIULIANI: And so what if he talked to him about it.

TAPPER: Well, is it not --


KEILAR: Well, now Giuliani told "The New Yorker" that he knows the president did not direct Cohen to lie, quote, because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails and I knew none existed.

Now, when the reporter asked him what tapes he's referring to, Giuliani said he shouldn't have said tapes, but then said, well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.

Confused by where Giuliani is going with all of this? Well, you are not alone. John Avlon is with me now. He's going to explain it all to us so that we can be very clear.


KEILAR: Just kidding, John, OK, I mean that's an impossible task, so I'm not going to ask that.

But what's going on here? Is this some sort of strategy? Is there some method to the madness or is it really just chaos?

AVLON: Look, I think there have been times where Rudy and his role as attack dog and laying the court of public opinion as opposed to a court of law has gotten ahead, has gotten the truth out ahead while creating a lot of chaos, sort of in the mold of his new boss.

This does seem to be, though, a disassembling story over the last 72 hours where he's trying to do cleanup off statements he made that went too far. And he's being very loose-lipped for a former prosecutor who's very precise in his language historically, and as a mayor who, while he knows how to play to the crowds and get a reaction, wouldn't normally be this profligate with words that could create real legal problems for his client, in this case the president.

KEILAR: So you worked for Giuliani. Tell us a little bit about that as you reflect back on the person you worked for, and if it -- if it -- does it fit with the person that you see now on television?

AVLON: Look, I was very proud to work for Rudy Giuliani. I was his chief speechwriter in my 20s when he was mayor of New York through 9/11. And I think the big picture is, for me, that, you know, he talked yesterday in "The New Yorker" about whether this would be on his gravestone. And in a very Rudy-esque phrase, he said, well, you know, maybe St. Peter will forgive me.

I think that -- I hope that his career is understood in its totally because here's somebody who executed one of the most extraordinary turnarounds of any big city in American history, cutting crime and welfare in half before leaving the city through 9/11 and at a time when, you know, Donald Trump was -- you know would have auditioned to be on "Hollywood Squares," you know, recovering from multiple bankruptcies and then rebounding to become a reality TV show star.

This is not -- you know, it's the same person, but it's not the same level of discipline. And, frankly, statesmanship that I saw working with him closely. And I think that's unfortunate because it is obscuring his larger legacy. But he's made it really clear in sort of a fit of fatalism that he doesn't feel responsible for his legacy. And that's ultimately his choice. You take your own hide to market.

KEILAR: Yes, he --

AVLON: But it is -- what I'm hearing from him now, you get flashes of the real Rudy that I know, but a lot of times he's doing Donald Trump's bidding, and by his nature that's more Trump than Rudy.

KEILAR: And he did say in that -- to the reporter, he said, you know, basically, it will be up to St. Peter, right? He doesn't -- he doesn't care.


KEILAR: But he also, when asked by the reporter, look, you cover for Trump, and the reporter said, and you're not always truthful, and Giuliani didn't push back on that. You know, he basically -- he sort of accepted that as the rap on him. Do you find it disappointing?

AVLON: This is someone who really believed and believes, I believe, in the power of the law as a prosecutor who brought down the mafia, really historic U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and who always made it very clear that the law was a search for the truth. And so I think in his current role, playing to the court of public opinion, he has a very different responsibility to his client that is not leading him in that direction. And I think that is disappointing. It's one chapter to me, but it's a chapter in the context of his life, but it's not consistent with, I think, the highest principles that I saw him uphold in public and private over a long period of time.

KEILAR: All right, John, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with Rudy Giuliani with us.

AVLON: Take care.

KEILAR: Chaperones on that trip with Kentucky high school teens that went viral, video of it did, they're defending their students and their actions, but why didn't they step in?

[13:24:22] And why many of the Democratic 2020 contenders are seeming on an apology tour.


KEILAR: Covington Catholic School in Kentucky shut down today citing security concerns. The all-male school is at the center of a controversy over the actions of their students while they were on a trip to Washington, D.C. And you've likely seen the video, right? We've since learned, since seeing this initially, that it came after a group of black men who identify as the Hebrew Israelites taunted students with racial slurs and insults. And then a Native American elder and one student, as you see here, got into this stare-down, while you had fellow students chanting in the background, some of them doing the tomahawk chop, a gesture that Native American groups have lobbied against as demeaning.

And President Trump has tweeted now, more than once, his support for the school and for the teenager at the center of this video.

Father Edward Beck with us now.

[13:29:57] So you are a Roman Catholic priest with an opinion on how the school chaperones should have handled all of this. You say they shouldn't have allowed the boys to wear "Make America Great Again" hats on the school trip.