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Trump in Letter to Pelosi: "I Look Forward to Seeing You" On January 29th in the House Chamber; Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg Jumps into 2020 Race; Manafort's Attorneys File Sealed Response to Mueller. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired January 23, 2019 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You've heard Democrats say that they don't believe there will be a State of the Union unless the government has re-opened.
Now to get technical with you here, technically Nancy Pelosi has to introduce a resolution formally inviting the President to have the State of the Union address on January 29th at the scheduled time and that is something that has to pass both the House and the Senate.
John, she hasn't introduced that yet and it's unclear if she's still going to introduce it given the President's latest letter saying that he intends to show up on Capitol Hill on January 29th, but really, if you don't want to read this whole letter, what it is if the President daring the House Speaker to uninvite him officially from giving the State of the Union address next week if the government is not open.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: No negotiation on the shutdown specifics but clearly this is a play by the President to try change that. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate the breaking news.
Let's bring it back into the room. To that point, this is not going to re-open at least in the short term. I suspect the speaker's gut response would be, "Mr. President, you reopen the government, you're more than welcome". But this is a power play by the President now.
Nancy Pelosi went first. She said, this is my house, you're not coming if the government shut down. The President saying, "I'm coming. Where do we go?"
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANCHOR: Yes, I mean, in some ways this is the pettiest part of this whole debate but in some ways it's sort of the least important because it doesn't look like she's going to be able to use the State of the Union to actually re- open the government.
The State of the Union is a big, political spectacle, it doesn't really do anything, it doesn't change minds. It doesn't have, you know, sort of the pool of policy or anything like that.
So I imagine if you were Nancy Pelosi, you know, she soon have gave away and said, oh he can give it in the Oval Office. It seems like, she might still be there. And remember, I mean, in the intervening part of this kind of petty play, the President also canceled her trip, right? She was supposed to go abroad with a group of Democrats to go to Afghanistan and other places, cancelled that trip. I don't think that trip is going to be back on at any point. So, it seems like --
KING: It is a tradition and a major event for any president to take away that national platform that we always joked when I covered the White House -- The Clinton administration, you know, my god this is never going to end and yet, it always help the president. He would speak for more than an hour and always helps -- it's always important and all Americans should listen to their president, outline his priorities and one would think all Americans want to at this moment and we're back in the world of divided government.
However, in the context of the shutdown, this is the president saying, prove it. Prove you have the spine to say no to me.
TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And this is the President of the United States and the only direct communications with the Speaker of the House that they've had in like two weeks have been this tit-for-tat, back and forth about the State of the Union and not even about the government shutdown.
And, you know, the State of the Union is supposed to be a speech where a President, as you say, outlines his policy priorities. President Trump has only talked about one policy priority for more than 35 days and that is the wall and border security. I'd actually be kind of curious to hear what else he's working on.
KING: And Democrats didn't want to be lectured. They thought the president would recommit to their House, it's their new House,. They just retook it and lecture them and you can't -- you obviously you want decorum. You don't interrupt the President. We saw some of that happened, Republicans and former President Obama at times in the past. You don't want to do that.
So they thought at the office is right. If you're looking a public opinion going (ph) for any guidance, welcome to America and this say new CBS poll. Should Trump give the State of the Union if the government still shutdown? Yes, he should, 48. No he should postpone, 48.
So welcome to America. Are all Democrats confident in this play by the speaker, to say no? In this sense let me ask it in this context. The president gave a speech from the Oval office in the wake of the shutdown. It didn't do him any good.
The President this weekend, you know, got national press attention not a nationally televise address but got national attention when he outlined his proposal to break the compromise and the polls show that didn't do him any good.
So, why are Democrats worried about him talking again if his numbers goes down every time he talks? KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it's a good point. Except that they have to sit there and watch him for those two hours. And I think that, I mean, look, you asked if Democrats are as confident as Pelosi? I think generally speaking, Pelosi is the most confident Democrat in the House right now and she is calling this shut, and if she doesn't feel like caving on this. She's not going to.
It's not like she's denying the President a plot like his inauguration or something that would actually matter for like him being able to do his job. He has -- he still has the Oval Office. He still has a Twitter account. He still has a way to communicate with the American people that doesn't have to go the House.
But what the State of the Union often is, it is just like visuals of the President speaking to a divided chamber that is sitting or standing depending on when they hear what they want. And so the -- it's not just about really the President's speech because everybody is watching the individuals, too. And to have that sort of face-off at this point when everything else is iced over would be weird. And I think that it's so funny --
HENDERSON: It's sort of optics of it. Yes. It's sort of a business as usual even though there isn't business as usual because, you know, partial government shutdown.
KING: This though it's just puts it right here on a piece of paper. If you didn't believe it, this is not just about the border wall. This is about a test of wills between the new speaker and the President who has to deal with divided government.
Hold on the tussel (ph), we come back, a new candidate in the race for the Democrats. They're up to nine now. And guess what? Double digits will happen soon.
[12:34:30] KING: Welcome back. For a guy who's only 37, Pete Buttigieg who's boasts an impressive resume. He's now looking to add President of the United States before he hits 40.
The mayor of South Bend Indiana today launched a presidential exploratory committee, and with that becomes the ninth Democrat to enter the race and yes, it's only January folks. Back to that resume.
Take a look, Buttigieg first elected mayor of his hometown at age 29. A Harvard educated Rhodes Scholar, as well as lieutenant in the Navy reserve who previously served in combat in Afghanistan.
Of historical note, Buttigieg now the first openly LGBTQ elected official to run for president. Today the candidate says, yes he's young but his age the generation distinction is one of his assets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:40:13] PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND INDIANA: The case here is simple, that it's time for a new generation of leadership in our country. I have served my city as a mayor. I've served our country as a military officer and now I'm ready for a new way to serve the American people.
And I'm thinking about what the world's going to look like when I reach the current age of the current president which is the year 2054. And if you're thinking about what you'll be doing in 2054, the world just looks a little bit different to you because you know that you're going to be picking up the pieces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do we think?
HENDERSON: Twenty-fifty four, I mean, that's a long way away, but -- I mean he -- my first impression is he looks even younger than 37 and my goodness, he does have an impressive resume and you think about this field, a lot of talented folks who do have impressive resumes. One of the most diverse fields, he's obviously the first openly LGBTQ person to run for president.
And I think, there is this hope that someone rises out of the Midwest. Right, you got Jared Brown who maybe run. Somebody who can appeal to sort of the Midwestern, kind of leave it to beaver feeling in the Midwestern part of the country and appeal to those kind of voters who switched over from Obama to President Trump and we'll see if he's able to do that.
KING: Let's just show, we have nine so far and the nine so far, it is a remarkably young and remarkably diverse field as you look at it so far. This is nine. There are at least, 10, 15 more people, maybe 20 more people thinking about it. So this field is going to grow without a doubt.
You mentioned the Midwest and maybe Senator Klobuchar runs, maybe Senator Brown runs. We're waiting on that. Not to be -- do not underestimate the idea that in small town, small city America they feel forgotten.
KING: Don't underestimate that in farm country they're under a lot of stress right now not just because of the President's trade war but because it's always a tough economy for that. And so a guy who speaks the language, you know, is he going to rocket to the top of the field? Who knows? But do not underestimate the appeal of a local guy who speaks the language in Iowa?
MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes and why not at this point? It's a wide-open field. He can throw his name in there. Get some attention, get some of his issues talked about right now.
If he's talking about his resume, you know, we sat around the State we'll talked about it before what Democrats want. You know, look back a few years ago, Hillary Clinton was -- you could make a straight-faced argument, she was the most qualified. She had the best resume on paper of any candidate maybe in our lifetimes and it didn't do Democrats many favors there.
But there are, you know, is it going to be -- is it going to be the resume? Is it going to be authenticity? Is it going to be a particular issue? What Mayor Pete's candidacy here does is sort of add more questions to that at this point and not narrow exactly (ph).
KING: And to your point about Senator Clinton before you jump into your point about Senator and Secretary Clinton after the election, listen to this interview from a year ago with CNN. Pete Buttigieg said listen, yes sure she spent the whole campaign saying Trump is a bad guy. Trump can't be trusted. Trump doesn't tell the truth. Trump's not honest. He said, that's simply not enough. She didn't make a compelling economic message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUTTIGIEG: Still got to learn that trying to convince everybody that Donald Trump's not a good guy or not an honest person is a waste of time. So many people around here already know that he's not a good guy, believe that he doesn't tell the truth and voted for him anyway. This idea that we're finally going to find some magic bullet after all this time is somebody who's a voter for Trump through all of the things (ph) now will suddenly be flipped by some revelation that he's not an outstanding person is totally missing the point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEMIRJIAN: He has a point to make. Definitely, that it's true if you spend all of your time saying not that guy people will ask, well, why you?
But there is a part of the Democratic base also that is going to have to feel somewhat electrified by whoever the candidate is and for that you have to have somebody who doesn't just play the -- I'm just going to speak with a positive message.
There's too much anger on the country right now to do that. So, you know, Buttigieg will have to get some fire in him of that if he's going to small towns matter, yes. But we're talking about the presidential race right now and the electoral college map. And the middle of America doesn't usually vote Democrat. You have get urban voters out too and they're going to hear message that makes them more invigorated.
KEITH: And if you look at that field, the field that's going to get even larger. One thing is clear. These Democrats believe that it's an open race, that all of these people are running for President means that they think that they could not just win the primary, or maybe not win the primary but that they could beat Donald Trump. So that is one signal.
Another signal is, if you look at that graphic of those people who are running for president, a lot of them don't look like the people who've been president of the United States since the founding of our country. The Democrats are putting up candidates who are more diverse, who are women.
They didn't get away from Hillary Clinton losing thinking, well I guess women can't be president we shouldn't run, instead, we're getting a record number of women running for president.
KING: All right, a quick break we'll be right
[12:49:28] KING: Back to the breaking news we reported just a few moments ago. The President of the United States defiantly sending a letter to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying sorry, madam speaker, I plan on coming to Capitol Hill Next Tuesday to deliver my State of the Union address. Speaker Pelosi had said no, Mr. President, not as long as the government is partially closed.
So what now? CNN's Manu Raju joins us now live on Capitol Hill. A test of will between the President and the Speaker, Manu.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL, CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right in order to get to allow these to move forward -- actually the House and the Senate want to pass a joint resolution to allow the President to speak on January 29th as the president is demanding. So, him just saying that he would come does not necessarily mean that the actual State of the Union will take place.
[12:50:09] In fact, John, I am told that it's a closed-door meeting this morning Nancy Pelosi told her members, advised them not to bring their family members to Washington next week.
Now, that was viewed by people in the room as an implication that the State of the Union will not take place since members often bring their family members to Washington to either attend some of the festivities around the speech or even sit in the galleries and watch and address take place. But she suggested that would may not necessary because of the expectation and the State of the Union would actually not happen.
Now, we have not gotten a formal response yet from the speaker's office to the president's letter which just came out. But in order for this to go forward, the President and the White House, the Republicans know you need to have cooperation from the speaker support from the Democrats allow this to happen.
So even if the President wants to do it, it's uncertain that they'll actually happen. The ball is in the speaker's court. We'll wait to see what she has to say in the coming hours here. John.
KING: And we will wait, the State of the Union stare down part of the government shutdown as we go to break, I want to show you some pictures live on Capitol Hill right now. Some furloughed government workers, see they're protesting on Capitol Hill. They would like, it's understandable, they're about to miss a second
payday. They would like a check. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[12:56:02] KING: Fields following today from Paul Manafort's attorney to answer accusations from the Russia Special Counsel. Special Counsel Robert Mueller says, the former Trump campaign chairman lied repeatedly after signing a plea agreement setting the terms of Manafort's cooperation.
Manafort's lawyer said, their client's statement are not inconsistent with the truth and Mueller fall along the lines the lawyer said, misunderstandings caused by their client's faulty memory. We expect soon to see reductive version of the document that was filed in D.C. Circuit Court this morning.
Joining us now to discuss former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu and CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. What is the biggest question we're waiting to have answered assuming we get?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, it's the defense of Manafort how far can they go -- can his attorneys go in defending Paul Manafort, certainly on those revelations about collusion and the polling data that he gave to the Russians. It's going to be a shame to see whether or not they try to defend him certainly, politically. Publicly, he's taken a lot of heat for this. The President's campaign has taken a lot of heat for this. I want to see if any way they're going to try to find a way to defend his action through this court file.
KING: And the lawyer -- they're Manafort's lawyers, do you expect them to try to help defend the president here? One of the accusations, why is he given this polling to the Russians but the Russians have used their polling in their internet operation. Or, what do you think will they be explicit in saying no, he was trying to do this guy a favor or, no, just an old business friend?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They're going to focus on defending Manafort and they're going to try and push back but it's really an unfair fight here. I mean, the prosecutor has the full discretion. They have all of the evidence.
I think, actually one of the biggest questions is whether they've gotten better at doing the reactions this time around. They will be able to see the specially classified information or confidential information.
But it's so hard for the judge to make these determinations. I mean, there is just mountains and mountains of evidence that the Special Counsel's access to. You can't really do a trial of all that information even if they put on witnesses, probably courtroom would be closed for that. It's just very difficult. The judge tends to have to go with what the prosecution says.
KING: You mentioned the redactions. This is a government document that they found in this case. It's going to be hard to see television I'm going to try to show, you see this. This is what happens. And yes, there's just throughout. So you're trying to figure out what's going on in the case and you see this. More lines redacted.
In the Manafort case they made some mistakes in how they formatted the document so you could see some of them and that's where we learned about this polling. Paul Manafort is the campaign chairman in the last file and so the same is true with regard to the government's allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about the polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 Presidential campaign. Why is that so important?
PROKUPECZ: Because that goes to the heart of the collusion I think in terms of the Special Counsel's investigation. There are people who think that the Kilimnik fact, this person that he shared, that Manafort shared the polling data with could be the collusion in this entire investigation. And if that theory holds up, it's going to be problematic obviously for the campaign for the President.
So, I think Manafort's attorneys have a different view of this probably about what was going on here. So that's why I'm wondering if somehow they need to get this out there and they probably can't right now. But I think they may try to somehow. It's very important, I think, for the Special Counsel's investigation this aspect of the sharing of the polling data.
KING: Put yourself in their shoes. Your client is convicted. Then he cuts a plea deal to cooperate and then the government says we've caught you lying repeatedly when you're supposed to be cooperating with us. How do you get out of that box?
WU: You try to establish some sympathy for the client. He's an older person, by his information, terrible pressure and you're already got him on all of this stuff. How much worse are you going to it form? So cut him a break, judge, he made some mistakes.
PROKUPECZ: We'll see if on Friday the judge that they maybe able to call witnesses when Manafort is actually in court, we may have a little mini trial here on Friday.
KING: On Friday. So it's an interesting week and again you look at the question of Paul Manafort and the bigger question is how does it impact the campaign itself from the president. We'll sort of learning a little bit as we go. We'll see if part of that filing comes out.
Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here at this time tomorrow. Have a great afternoon. Brianna Keilar starts right now.