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Senate to Vote on Dueling Bill to End Shutdown; White House Says Trump to Deliver SOTU Speech on January 29th; Interview with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Paul Manafort's Legal Team Misses Deadline; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 23, 2019 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:26] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. It's Wednesday, shutdown day 33.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Wow. I can't believe we're saying that. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto.


HARLOW: Want to let you know who we are. The state of the shutdown, the state of congressional efforts to end the shutdown, the State of the Union, we expect to hear about all three minutes from now when Democratic leaders from the House and Republican House leaders step before cameras, separately of course, on the Hill.

SCIUTTO: Separately again. To be clear, real negotiations among people that actually make a deal, they don't exist so far as we know, but it is hoped that they could resume that after two votes tomorrow in the Senate on competing bill that each stand almost zero chance of passing. That's Congress in the year 2019.

HARLOW: I know. Yes.

SCIUTTO: What is certain is that 800,000 federal employees will see another payday come and go this week without pay. And the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard is understandably appalled.


ADM. KARL SCHULTZ, U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: You as members of the Armed Forces should not be expected to shoulder this burden. 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 service members.


SCIUTTO: Get through day-to-day life. CNN's Phil Mattingly is on the Hill.

Day 33, Phil. So, Phil, you hear this idea, that by putting this Republican proposal forward and it not passing, that that messages the president that the deal he wants does not have the votes. Does that move the ball forward?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a combination. Right? Not only does that or that proposal from the president not have the votes, or at least that's the expectation from aides in both parties going into the vote tomorrow. But a Democratic proposal, a House-passed proposal by House Democrats will also get a vote on the floor. And it is expected to fall short as well. At least as we currently understand.

And the idea, it seems trite, and it's not very complicated. It's the idea of showing these were the two issues, these were the two bottom lines that both parties have had. Now you have shown that they do not have the votes to advance on the floor. Now lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers, can actually sit down and have real negotiations.

Because remember, above all of this is the very divergent bottom lines. Democrats made clear, they will not have negotiations on border security until the government is reopened. The president has made clear he will not sign anything reopening the government until he gets funding for his border wall and border security negotiations actually take place.

Somehow that bridge needs to be -- that divide needs to be bridged. And I think the hope, at least among the optimistic individuals on Capitol Hill, is once you show these bills fail, these two proposals from both sides fail, that those negotiations can happen.

I think the difficult part right now, at least according to people I'm talking to that are involved in the talks or lack thereof up to this point, is there's no plan B right now. There's no clear pathway out. There's no proposal that can thread the needle and there's no sense right now that at the top levels people are willing to come off their stated positions.

There is, however, a lot of grumbling in the rank-and-file, there's a lot of frustration in the rank-and-file, and there's a lot of kind of desire to get a green light to try and make a deal. They just need the folks at the top to give them that. And at this point, at least before these votes tomorrow, that doesn't exist yet -- guys.

HARLOW: OK. Wish you had better news. Phil, thank you.

As for the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has not held a press briefing since the shutdown began.

SCIUTTO: She is this morning confirming that the president is pressing forward with preparations for his State of the Union speech. Not clear what form that's going to take.

Boris Sanchez is at the White House with more.

So, Boris, what are the options here beyond doing it as per tradition from Capitol Hill? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Jim and

Poppy. Yes, the White House is looking at several options. Ultimately what we're watching here is a slow motion game of chicken that will ultimately be decided next Tuesday when the president is scheduled to give his State of the Union address.

So far the White House has said that they are moving forward with the plan as is and that they haven't heard from Nancy Pelosi directly on this. Remember that her letter didn't formally disinvite the president from giving his State of the Union on Capitol Hill but rather simply asked him to delay it. She has yet to actually take that step. But the White House says that if she does, they will be ready.

Listen to this from Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaking on FOX News this morning.


SARAH 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 whether he does that in another location. The president will talk to the American people on January 29th.

STEVE DOOCY, HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": One way or the other.

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


SANCHEZ: Now specifically outlining those options, Jim and Poppy, there are a couple that the president could move toward.

[10:05:05] One of them, as you heard Sarah Sanders there suggesting that the president could still speak at the Capitol Hill only not in the House of Representatives but rather in the Senate's chamber.

We've also heard from several sources indicating that aides here at the White House are exploring the possibility that President Trump could use any number of rooms here to deliver that address. Also we're hearing that the president could speak at a rally. We know how much he loves to be around his supports. So that is certainly a plausible option.

We've also heard from lawmakers in North Carolina or Michigan inviting President Trump to give his speech in their states. It does not appear the president is going to move that direction. He formally turned down the invitation to speak in Michigan. And the last option, of course, for the president to speak at the source of all the dysfunction behind the shutdown, at the southern border where the president has long railed and called for a border wall with Mexico -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thanks very much.

Joining us now the former director of Legislative Affairs for the Trump administration, and that is Marc Short.

Marc, as always, thanks for taking the time with us.

MARC SHORT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for having me on.

SCIUTTO: So, Marc, let's for a moment declare a talking points-free zone if that's possible.



SCIUTTO: And paint for me a compromise that would get through both Houses of Congress to reopen the government and make the president happy.

SHORT: Jim, I know there's some conversation this morning about extending green cards to those who are DACA recipients. I think that's a positive development step. Certainly something that I would encourage the administration to support --

SCIUTTO: It's a non-starter with Democrats, though. You know that. They've already said it's a non-starter. So what would work?

SHORT: Why would providing a green card that is not just a three-year extension a non-starter for Democrats?

HARLOW: Well, it's actually a non-starter for the Republican congressman we just had on.

SCIUTTO: And the -- you split up like we had Clay Higgins on, Republican as you know.


SCIUTTO: He said I'm not going to support amnesty. And you've heard that from the Laura Ingrahams and the Anne Coulters of the world, too.

SHORT: Yes, I don't -- I accept that there's going to be some on the right that oppose it. I don't think that means it's a non-starter, Jim. But right now, I mean, I think the reality is what we face is you're going to see the votes this week that I think put people on record which is, as Phil was explaining to your audience, I think is a positive development to step forward. But ultimately I think that we're still more likely to head toward a declaration from the president to just get this over with because I think that it's gone on too long. I think people are suffering too much. And it's apparent that Congress is not going to find a resolution so I do --

HARLOW: A national emergency declaration? Is that what you're saying?

SHORT: I think that that's probably a more likely pathway forward. Yes.

HARLOW: So we just had Kevin Hassett on, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, who rightly points out he's not -- you know, he's not in the cabinet. This isn't a political role. It's a numbers role. And he just told us unequivocally that yes, if this shutdown continues fully through the first quarter the U.S. economy could see zero growth in Q1. Now he hedged it a little bit, says usually Q1 growth is a little bit less but, I mean, the White House hears a headline like that, that's got to be concerning, right? Because the president has consistently polled higher on the economy than anything else. Promised 3 percent to 4 percent growth quarter by quarter. If you get a quarter zero, what are you thinking?

SHORT: Yes. Well, Poppy, a couple of things. One, I don't see how this could extend throughout the entire first quarter. I think too many people are hurting, too much pressure is going to be applied here to actually get this resolved. So I don't think that's a scenario that can unfold. Certainly shutdowns don't help anybody. It's not good for either side to be in this position. And I think if you look at what the economy has done in the last couple of quarters, there were 4 percent, there were 3 percent growth, I think it's -- I'm not going to argue with Kevin, he's a better economist than I'll ever be, but I don't see a scenario where you go through a shutdown the entire first quarter.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. So you say national emergency declaration is the way out. And I know there are some Republicans who privately say, yes, it will get us out of this, and there might even be some Democrats. Right? But Republicans are not fans of unchecked executive power. They certainly weren't happy with the president using executive orders during -- President Obama, I should say, during his administration.

What kind of precedent does that set going forward that if a president can't get what he wants through Congress just declares a national emergency and he can define what the emergency is? Because, as you know, the numbers don't support an emergency today anymore than there was last year when Republicans controlled Congress or 10 years ago and the numbers were far higher at the border.

SHORT: Well, fair point, Jim. I think it is a bad precedent. I think it's a fair criticism that Republicans complained about the executive orders of the Obama administration and I think it's been too frequently relied upon in this administration. So I think that's a very fair criticism.

Having said that, I do think there's justification to say there's a crisis. And I don't think you have to go back, you know, to just this year. In fact, it was President Obama who used that terminology humanitarian crisis in a Rose Garden speech in 2014. So both sides at different times have acknowledged that it's a crisis.

[10:10:02] So I do think there's a precedent for it but I'm not suggesting either this is the right way normally to go when Congress can't solve it but I do think it is something that's significant and in this case merits it. SCIUTTO: Crisis is different from an actual national emergency. I

mean, a national emergency it's a legal definition empowered by Congress, you know, declared after 9/11 for instance. I mean different from a crisis.

HARLOW: It's a good point.

SHORT: That's fair, Jim, but I think that this is a -- I think that there's plenty of evidence to suggest that this is an emergency that's been going on for quite some time. Both sides have acknowledged it in different times in the past. And I'm not going to -- I'm not sitting here and tell you it is a good thing to be declaring this. I agree with you. It's something that should be fixed legislatively and not by the executive branch. But at some point too many people have been hurting when this gets extended as long as it has.


HARLOW: You know, I'm old enough, old enough to remember when the president walked away from a deal that it was believed that he would take for $25 billion for the wall, Marc. Remember that? I mean I think you were --

SHORT: I do.

HARLOW: And permanent protection for Dreamers. And now it seems like both Democrats and Republicans are going to get way less than what they wanted back then.

SHORT: That's fair, Poppy. But let's just be clear on what exactly that offer was because there was $25 billion and I think Democrats in the past have said that they're supporting the wall going back to 2006 Secure Fence Act. So it is confusing to how we're in this place now. But that offer as well, what it was was it wasn't just the DACA population.

The Democrats put on the table it extended to those who were parents of the DACA population and those who could have applied but didn't apply and maybe should have applied. And so all of a sudden that number was ballooning much beyond the DACA population. I think that's where that fell apart.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this before you go. You, the president's other supporters, the president himself have portrayed themselves as defending U.S. national security with this stand here. As the shutdown continues, we're getting hard evidence, the FBI saying they have to stop investigations, you have Coast Guard sailors going to sea without pay. You have air traffic controller who's got to work double jobs. I don't know, I don't want my air traffic controller driving Uber, you know, before a 12-hour shift. Right?

SHORT: Right.

SCIUTTO: I mean, there was hard evidence of real damage today to national security as a result of this shutdown. Is that a trade that you support? A tradeoff in effect that you support. SHORT: No, I --

SCIUTTO: Demanding the wall funding as there's real damage elsewhere?

SHORT: No, Jim. I think a shutdown is not a resolution that anybody should support, honestly. I think it's -- I think that what the White House initially that OMB put forth, $1.6 billion that the Senate had approved. But I think that the president is right to say there is a crisis at the border and there is national security concerns. And I do think that there's hypocrisy, you know, on this on both sides.

Democrat have said before they support wall funding and yet, you know, they don't now, and basically we're arguing over one-tenth of 1 percent --


SHORT: -- of the federal budget.

HARLOW: We have to go. People are forgetting, Nancy Pelosi voted against the Secure Fence Act.

SHORT: That's correct. And Senator Schumer voted for it.

HARLOW: She's one on the House side -- yes, I hear that. I hear that.

SHORT: As Hillary Clinton.

HARLOW: Let me leave it there.

Marc, you'll be back. Thank you.

SHORT: Thanks, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, we are watching Capitol Hill. We're after more shutdown negotiations. You're going to hear from both Republicans and Democrats. We're going to take you there live.

HARLOW: Also today Paul Manafort's legal team faces a new deadline. How they're responding to allegations that he lied to the special counsel's office and the FBI.

And the 16-year-old student at the center of that viral video that sparked major controversy, now speaking out. What he says the original video of the incident got wrong.


[10:18:02] SCIUTTO: We are now in day 33 of the longest government shutdown on record and looking ahead today 34. Tomorrow the Senate plans to vote on two bills that are both expected to fail, but they could possibly give rise to some substantive negotiations.

My next guest will be there, will be involved, Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey, and he joins me now live here in New York. Senator, thanks very much for taking the time.


SCIUTTO: So first, you're going to have these two votes tomorrow. Neither is going to have the votes necessary to break this. Is there any positive impact from having these votes?

MENENDEZ: Well, look, I would hope so. And I really do believe that while I don't believe that the president's offer is a good faith offer because it has a bunch of poison pills in it that he didn't speak about in his address.

That the two-week offer that Senator Schumer put on the floor doesn't advantage anybody, doesn't disadvantage anybody. The president still has the leverage in two weeks if he wants to shut the government down again to be able to do so. Democrats won't feel that they have a gun to their head and hostages to worry about. But they will have to figure out how they ultimately get to a permanent solution in those two weeks.

The one group that does get advantage is the federal employees who get back to work at their retroactive pay and ultimately can do the vital work that the nation needs.

SCIUTTO: You've heard this idea floated, Axios reporting Mr. Jared Kushner in particular pushing the idea of green card for the 700,000 DACA recipients. Is that a quid pro quo that you would support?

MENENDEZ: You know, first of all, Jim, this has never been about immigration. From our perspective as Democrats, this has been about funding the government. And for example there is no reason to shut down all elements of the government that have nothing to do with the border wall.

SCIUTTO: I hear you. But that's where we are.

MENENDEZ: So when you shut down the Department of Agriculture, when you shut down the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice and all these other departments that have absolutely nothing to do with the border wall, doesn't make any sense. So for us this is an immigration debate.

As it relates to any such offer look, you know, the president said that he was basically going to put the Bridge Act in his proposal.

[10:20:08] The Bridge Act is 1.8 million people, not 700,000. And so once again, even what he says is not what he does, and this is part of the problem of negotiating.

SCIUTTO: We had Marc Short on a short time ago. Until recently he was the president's legislative director. He's been involved in a lot of legislative negotiations. And he said he doesn't see a way out of this, he said eventually in his view the president is going to declare a national emergency to get out of this.

What would your reaction be if the president declares a national emergency?

MENENDEZ: Well, look, there's no question in my mind that I believe this does not rise to a national emergency. The president has tried to make that case. The statistics don't generate it. We just had a meeting, Senate Finance Democrats had a meeting with the head of Customs and Border Protection. Had more people coming over the northern border who were potentially on the terrorist watch list than the southern border.

But if he does that, it will be litigated in court. The government would open up and at the end of the day then we would be able to determine whether he has that power in court. If he doesn't, then he will learn that he just has a separate coequal branch of government he has to deal with.

SCIUTTO: That sounds like you wouldn't mind seeing that.

MENENDEZ: Well, I -- I reject the idea that he has the power for this purpose. But if he wants to do it and litigate it in court and get the government open, well, that's his decision.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you about another topic because of course your position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Syria, as you know the president's decision to withdraw troops led to the resignation of Secretary Mattis, Brett McGurk, who was the ISIS coordinator. Despite speculation that the president is reconsidering the fact is the military is pulling out in April. You know that. They're making plans already to do this.

No one I've spoken with, either inside or outside the administration, believes Turkish promises to protect the Kurds. In your view, by the U.S. forces withdrawing, are they leaving Kurdish allies who spilled blood on the field to help fight ISIS -- is the U.S. leaving them to a slaughter here, a potential slaughter?

MENENDEZ: I fear that's exactly what President Trump is doing. He's leading them to a slaughter. I don't believe that Turkey will keep its words in this regard. It has broken its words as various other iterations. Secondly it sends a global message don't fight for the United States or with the United States because when they're finished using you, they'll let you die on the battlefield. That's a terrible global message to have.

And lastly we are empowering Iran and Russia. And Iran is a threat to our ally, the state of Israel, and all Iran has sought to do beyond, you know, prop up Assad, is to have an opportunity to attack from Israel's northern border. In every respect this is a terrible policy.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because of course, in the last week alone you've had two ISIS attacks on U.S. forces in Syria. One thankfully did not kill or cause casualties, of course lost four Americans and there's another American fighting for his life right now as a result of that attack.

By withdrawing U.S. forces, who've been helping fight against ISIS, is Trump enabling ISIS to come back? MENENDEZ: Well, first of all, ISIS has had some significant blows to

it, but it's obviously not defeated in Syria. And so when the president says the job is done and ISIS is defeated in Syria basically -- and we are leaving, he's basically giving a message to those elements of ISIS that still exist, hang in there and you'll be able to come back to the battle. The problem is, is that affects our national security interest as well as of our allies in the region.

SCIUTTO: Final question I want to ask about NATO because as you know the president has made many public comments undermining NATO and he's -- there's a lot of reporting that he considered withdrawing the U.S. unilaterally. So you have this unusual step of the House having to vote in effect to express support for a 70-year-old alliance, and yet 22 House members, all Republicans, voted against that very simple expression of support.

I'm just curious, in your view, does Vladimir Putin read the signals from the president and from those Republicans that NATO is a paper tiger and that he can challenge it and invade a NATO ally on the eastern front?

MENENDEZ: I think Vladimir Putin thinks I made the best bet ever when I tried to help Donald Trump become president of the United States. In every iteration what happened in Kerch Strait, in international water, the continuing violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, the engagement in Syria unchallenged, and at the end of the day a president that can't seem to find his spine as it relates to Vladimir Putin and his violation of the international order.

He gets messages that are very simple and he only understands strength. And right now he's seeing weakness and the result of that is we will see him expand even more.

SCIUTTO: Senator Menendez, thanks very much for taking the time.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Appreciate it.

Paul Manafort's legal team facing a deadline to respond to Robert Mueller's allegations that their client breached his plea agreement and lied. We're going to have that next.


[10:29:34] HARLOW: All right. So Paul Manafort's deadline, his legal team's deadline, to respond to allegations that he lied and breached his plea agreement with Special Counsel Bob Mueller, that deadline has come and gone. The former Trump campaign chairman's legal team had a 10:00 a.m. Eastern limit today to answer Mueller's factual allegations that he lied to investigators, breaching their plea deal. It's now 10:29 a.m.

SCIUTTO: Interesting. Does the special counsel like when these deadlines are missed? We're going to find out.

Let's discuss with Elie Honig, he's a former assistant U.S. attorney and CNN legal analyst.

So a lot of things unusual about this case. Right? I mean, first of all, missing a deadline, don't know how significant that is. Is it?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not a smart idea.