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Senate to Vote on Dueling Bills to End Shutdown; White House Still Plans for Trump to Give SOTU; House Oversight to Investigate White House Security Clearances; Poll: Majority of Americans Say Wall not Worth Shutdown; Interview with Senator Chris Van Hollen; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Enters 2020 Presidential Race. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 23, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:00] PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, MAYOR: -- to look for fresh voices, new leadership and big ideas. I think that's what 20 is going to be about.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Making the field more crowded, really interesting. He is the ninth Democrat to either, file or officially announce candidacy.


HARLOW: We'll watch.

Thanks for joining us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

There's a lot that is supposed to be happening these days. Paychecks are supposed to be going out on Friday for federal workers. The State of the Union is supposed to be happening on Wednesday of next week. And the federal government is supposed to be open and functioning. But as we have all learned in the last 33 days of the government shutdown, a lot of things that are supposed to be happening are not. In the absence of functioning we are dysfunction. Congress set to hold votes that have very little chance of passing, very little chance of the president signing on to it.

As the warning signs and ripple effects from the shutdown get worse, I want to play you the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard whose 40,000 members are serving without getting paid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADM. KARL SCHULTZ, COMMANDANT, U.S. COAST GUARD: We're five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse. You should not be expected to shoulder this burden.

Ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day to day life as servicemembers.


BOLDUAN: And it should be unacceptable.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill.

Phil, can you talk us through what is going to happen or rather not happen today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Something is happening, which is a significant improvement from the baseline of nothing is happening, which has essentially been our set course for the last 33 days. But something is not enough. Basically what's happening right now is there's an agreement to have votes on proposals that are likely going to fail. The president's proposal of wall funding for temporary protection for DACA recipients on the one hand, the Democratic House proposal to reopen the government until February 8th on the other hand.

Here's the positive news to failure on the Senate floor, if there's one. You know these things can work. Sometimes you need to show proposals can't pass before you get in the room and start negotiations.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

MATTINGLY: So I think there's some optimism that if they prove that neither can get the 60-vote threshold required. Remember, on the Republican proposal, it doesn't look like they'll get the seven Democrats. On the Democratic side, only 47 Democrats. Very unlikely to get 13 Republicans. So maybe that will bring folks into the room. On the rank-and-file side of things members are frustrated and ready for talks and ready to reopen the government. On the top line, this is the key thing you need to remember. For Democratic leaders, the baseline is this, reopen the government. Then they're happy to have discussions about border security. In their view, the president took them right into this shutdown, it was his decision. The president has made clear I will not reopen the government until you fund the wall and talk about border security. That needs to shift. Whether it's the pain you outlined from the Coast Guard, to the food banks, in D.C., the protests you'll see today or just the general frustration from rank-and-file that sparks that change, that is what people are waiting for. There's a sense we're starting to reach that tipping point, but it's been 33 days. The fact it's gotten this long is kind of absurd. There's now an understanding that it has to end. People just aren't totally sure how yet.

BOLDUAN: The monotony of this is what I think is becoming so unsettling. It's just day 33 doesn't sound as horrible as it should be sounding to everybody of the government shutdown.

It's great to see you, Phil. We'll see if these votes shake something up.

That is the state of play on the shutdown. What does that mean for the State of the Union? White House officials are saying they are moving forward with plans still for the president to deliver an address next week even though the speaker of the House has final say on that and has said it's not happening if the government remains closed. In the midst of this, there's reason for the White House to want to get the president out there. Look at the polls. CNN's latest poll shows his job approval rating has taken a hit since the shutdown, 37 percent approve compared to 57 percent who don't. His disapproval up six points since November and December. And a new CBS poll shows more Americans think Speaker Pelosi is doing a better job negotiating than President Trump at this point.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House.

Boris, what are you hearing there about the State of the Union next week?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. At this point, we're still waiting to see which side is going to move on this first. The White House has laid out that they are ready to press forward with the State of the Union as planned, essentially ignoring the request from Speaker Pelosi last week asking the president to delay his State of the Union. She still hasn't formally disinvited him. So the White House is going forward as if this is still the plan. Though, this morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged there's a plan B, several plan Bs for this White House.

Listen to what Sarah Sanders said this morning.


[11:05:20] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We always like to have a plan B, but the president should be able to address the American people. Whether he does that from the halls of Congress or another location, the president will talk to the American people on January 29th --

UNIDENTIFIED FOX HOST: One way or the other?

SANDERS: -- as he does nearly every single day. We're going to continue moving forward with the State of the Union and we'll see what happens.


SANCHEZ: A close ally of President Trump, Representative Mark Meadows, laid out the White House's thinking this way. They're waiting on Pelosi. If she rescinds that invitation to President Trump, they'll go from there. But it's possible they might make a decision beforehand. In the meantime, House Speaker Pelosi, according to sources that heard from were in a private caucus meeting this morning, told her Democratic colleagues to keep their families at home next week. Typically. members of Congress invite their spouses and family members to be in Washington, D.C., for the State of the Union. So perhaps that gives us an indication of where her mind stands on whether the president will speak to the nation next Tuesday night -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: You can see this is becoming yet another game. The White House sources are saying they're waiting on Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is waiting for the White House to respond to her original letter still. We see the game once again playing out.

Thank you, Boris. I appreciate it.

Sarah Sanders says the president will be talking to the country next week one way or the other, if not from the traditional venue of the House claimer, then where?

CNN's Chris Cillizza has some ideas. He's joins me now.

Chris, you write that there are four possibilities, two in D.C. and two elsewhere. Where?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: There's probably more than four but I came up with four that I think make some sense.

Let's start with the Senate. Obviously, the Senate is a place presidents have spoken in the Senate before. Nine past presidents have spoken in the Senate. None of them delivered a State of the Union address in the Senate. There's a logistical issue that it's just too small. You have to fit 535 members of Congress, plus Supreme Court justices, administration officials. It's not big. But, theoretically, you could do it. Republicans control the Senate.

The other option is just stay home. President Trump lives in the White House. He could certainly give a speech from the White House. We have seen him give an Oval Office speech about the border. It wasn't great. It's hard to give a speech from the Oval Office. He could do it from the East Room. That's the place he did his press conference the day after the 2018 election. Those are two options which would keep him in Washington but not on the House floor.

BOLDUAN: If he leaves Washington, there are obviously a million options. What do you think are the best options?

CILLIZZA: He could literally go anywhere in the United States to do it. Two I think would make some level of sense. Number one, the border. Obviously this government shutdown fight is about Donald Trump saying we absolutely must have a border wall, I need $5 billion to build it, Democrats saying no. He was in McAllen, Texas, a week or so ago, meeting with border officials, talking about the wall. Not bad imagery if you're Donald Trump and you really want to drive this idea home. It would be quite a political venue and political speech. State of the Unions often are but are not always that political.

The other option, there are 23 freshmen Democrats who won districts that Donald Trump also won in 2016. If there's any Democrats that are going to break ranks, it's going to be that almost two dozen. Maybe go to one of their districts, give the speech there, and say your member of Congress is not standing with me.

I suggest Iowa. There's two districts in Iowa, who both are Democrats, freshmen who represent districts Trump won. Maybe that's a place that he goes.

BOLDUAN: Talk about a pressure campaign.


CILLIZZA: No kidding.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, we'll see which of your pieces of advice the president takes.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, man. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: We have some breaking news. CNN has learned that the House Oversight Committee, now obviously in control of the Democrats, is about to launch an investigation into White House security clearances.

Let's get over to CNN's Lauren Fox. She has the details on this.

Lauren, what are you hearing about this?

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Kate, what we're learning is that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is launching a formal investigation into how the White House security clearance process has worked over the last two years. I want to read you part of the statement from the committee chairman about what he plans to do. He says, "The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and transition team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, to evaluate the extent to which the nation's most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and to develop reforms to remedy the flaws in the current White House systems and practices."

[11:10:25] Now, Kate, one thing we're learning is that Elijah Cummings has asked specifically for information about Michael Flynn, John Bolton, Jared Kushner and Rob Porter, among others. When I sat down with the chairman last month, he told me this was a topic he's interested in. But this is just a sign of exactly how vast this slew investigations are going to be on Capitol Hill. Democrats trying to get on with the fact that they have subpoena power and investigative authority into the Trump administration right now -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And getting onto something they wanted to do last Congress when they were in the minority. We'll see what happens now, with the subpoena power, this time around.

Great to see you, Lauren. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us, is the border wall worth shutting down the government? A new poll asks that very question and the results are very important. Details ahead.

Plus, Paul Manafort's major deadline. The former Trump campaign chief had until 10:00 this morning to respond to allegations that he had breached his plea agreement, that he lied and broke his deal. Last time this happened, you remember his team accidentally leaked out crucial details in the case. Remember the formatting error? What could happen today? Stay with us.


[11:16:03] BOLDUAN: Some 800,000 federal workers are about to miss another paycheck as the government shutdown drags into its second month. It was sad even when we said second week and now we're saying second month. A new CBS poll asked, is the border wall worth a government shutdown. Look at how Americans respondent, and 71 percent said no, not worth it, 28 percent said yes.

Joining me right now, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland.

Senator, thanks for coming in.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D), MARYLAND: Good to be with you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: In that poll, there's some support in the polls for what you all are saying, seven in 10 Americans don't think the issue of the border wall is worth the shutdown. But you can't open the government with just polls. You need the president to sign onto something. So what is it at this point, Senator? What is it going to take?

VAN HOLLEN: You're right. When the president said about six weeks ago that he would be proud to shut down the government, I hope he didn't mean that he would be proud to have 800,000 federal employees going without pay and harming the U.S. economy.

Here's where we are. The best way out of this, of course, would be for the Senate to take up the bill that the House passed way back, a bipartisan bill to open the government through September. We don't have that option right now. Tomorrow, we do have an option -- I don't love it at all, but it's the only plausible option right now -- which is to reopen the government for two weeks, until February 8th, let federal employees get their pay so they're able to pay their bills which have kept coming in. And allow the Small Business Administration to make loans to small businesses and use that two-week time to find a way out of this madness. Again, it's not my top preference, but it is the best alternative before us now to vote tomorrow on that interim government opening proposal.

BOLDUAN: Right now, it seems that is the votes aren't there for either of the proposals that will be coming forward. On the most basic level, when you've now mu moved into your second month of a shutdown, why is $5 billion too much to get something you support very much, protections for DACA recipients?

VAN HOLLEN: Kate, this is not just about $5 billion. At the end of the day, the wall --


BOLDUAN: Isn't it, though?

VAN HOLLEN: No, no, no.

BOLDUAN: I get it. Believe me, I totally understand there's a lot of politics at play.


BOLDUAN: But if you give him $5 billion, you don't think he'd sign onto the government opening?

VAN HOLLEN: Actually, if you look at his proposal that he made the other day and the proposal we'd be voting on tomorrow, the Trump proposal, it's much worse than that. He actually takes back a lot of existing protections. For example, for child victims of sex trafficking seeking asylum, he would make it much harder under this proposal to do that. He didn't talk about that in his Oval Office address. The more you look at the details of the bill, the more you see Steve Miller's fingerprints all over this thing, Kate. It's not just about $5.7 billion. Of course, the wall ultimately would be $30 billion and the president will just say, oh, hey, it worked great to shut down the government to get the first thing I wanted, I'm going to keep shutting down the government in the future. That's why a two- week timeout would be a good thing.

I think Republicans are going to be hard pressed to explain why they're not going to take a neutral two-week timeout. It doesn't prejudice anybody. It gives us time to try to work out some of these issues regarding border security and immigration that should never have been part of the government shutdown to begin with. But it gives us a little breathing space. I don't know how they're going to look at their federal employees who can't pay the bills and say, OK, we couldn't even open the government for two weeks to talk.

[11:20:03] BOLDUAN: Senator Graham, he's got another idea. He's talking to the president this morning about it. Open the government -- you talk about a pause, right? He says open the government for a short period of time, if Nancy Pelosi would agree to take up whatever bill would pass the Senate in a bipartisan way, using Trump's proposal as the base bill, but open it up for amendments. Could you support that process?

VAN HOLLEN: So Lindsey Graham made a similar kind of proposal a couple of weeks ago, which is at least a path forward. It was to open the government for three weeks and allow the process to go through the regular order in the Senate. So, yes, the president's bill would be referred to the committee. It would be subject to amendment so everybody could make their proposals. We'd have a transparent vote. And that bill would go to the House. And obviously, to reopen the government, it would need a majority vote in the House. That is the kind of thing many of us have been talking about as a way to move forward.

BOLDUAN: Right. And also something the president rejected out of hand and Lindsey Graham --


VAN HOLLEN: And that's important to note, Kate. Again, reopening the government for just two weeks is not the best alternative but it is the only viable option right now to ending the shutdown. I hope Lindsey Graham will vote in favor of that amendment tomorrow. It's very similar to what he proposed.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the ripple effects, the fallout here. The current commandant of the Coast Guard has spoken out today saying it's totally unacceptable what's happening to the Coast Guard. I spoke to a former commandant yesterday who called it an outrage that active- duty servicemembers are going without pay. When I asked who he blames, he blames all of you. He blames all of the leaders.

Let me play for you what he said.


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

ADM. THAD ALLEN, FORMER COMMANDANT, U.S. COAST GUARD (voice-over): I'm not going to portion any particular individual, but between the branches of government in total, they're just acting irresponsibly and they need to get this problem fixed.


BOLDUAN: That's Admiral Thad Allen. What do you say to him?

VAN HOLLEN: We do need to get the problem fixed. There's no doubt about it. I would ask the admiral, and you should ask the admiral the next time you have a chance, does he support the Lindsey Graham proposal, does he support a proposal to open the government for two weeks to give us a little breathing space. Everyone in the Coast Guard would get paid and get their back pay. So I'd be interested in what we had to say to that, because, in my view, anybody who opposes a two-week neutral government opening to try to work this out is clearly responsible for the continuing damage being done. Because that doesn't accept anybody's arguments. It just says let's open the government for two weeks and use that space, a little breathing room, and try to come up with a permanent solution to end this madness. Again, I can't answer any reason to be opposed to that other than people who want to continue to impose pain on the Coast Guard, want to continue to impose pain on folks throughout the federal government and throughout the country. Because why else would somebody not support that very simple proposal that's been made?


VAN HOLLEN: It's a neutral proposal, right? It doesn't -- nobody is sort of --


BOLDUAN: The argument is you'd lose the leverage when it opens.

But I do want to ask you about 2020 politics.

VAN HOLLEN: So when you say leverage, you mean all those Coast Guard folks who are hurting, right?

BOLDUAN: Look, I'm not making the argument. I'm saying --


VAN HOLLEN: I know. I'm saying to the commandant of the Coast Guard, he would ask him, he'd have to say that would be a way to move forward.

BOLDUAN: So 2020 politics, Senator, another Democrat is jumping into the 2020 field today, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg. He's 37 years old. He's three decades younger than the president. He served in Afghanistan. He's openly gay. He's been the mayor in Trump country for eight years. Could you see him as a standard bearer for your party?

VAN HOLLEN: We've got lots of candidates jumping in, lots of very strong and talented candidates. I'm looking forward to a very healthy debate going forward. I would encourage all the candidates to do what Kamala Harris did, which is move her campaign headquarters to Baltimore, Maryland. Anywhere in Maryland will do it. We want all the presidential candidates to have their base of operations in our state of Maryland.

BOLDUAN: An unbiassed real-estate suggestion from Senator Chris Van Hollen.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Senator.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

VAN HOLLEN: You, too.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

VAN HOLLEN: Good being with you.

[11:25:00] BOLDUAN: All right, thank you. Coming up for us, did Paul Manafort make his deadline? The former Trump campaign chief was ordered to respond by 10:00 a.m. this morning to accusations he broke his plea deal with the special counsel. Any formatting errors this time? We'll find out. Details ahead.


[11:29:56] BOLDUAN: We're waiting a new court filing from Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Meantime, there's another development with the special counsel.