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CNN NEWSROOM

Senate Votes on Dueling Bills Today to End the Shutdown; Trump Concedes, Won't Deliver Speech Until After Shutdown Ends; Senate to Vote on Dueling Bills to End Shutdown; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Cohen Postpones Testimony Citing Threats Against His Family; Dow to Slightly Rise at Open; Cohen's Lawyer Appeals to the House to Formally Disapprove of Alleged Trump Threats; Manafort Disputes Claim That He Lied to the Special Prosecutor. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 24, 2019 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00] CAMEROTA: -- charity is doing that.

BERMAN: 800,000 federal workers miss a second paycheck this week.

All right. That is it for us. New developments in the shutdown battle. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow begins now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Thirty-four days in. Thirty-four days and counting in this shutdown. And it is a first partial shutdown in history that has lasted this long. For the first time since 800,000 federal workers were either furloughed or forced to work for free, the Senate is going to vote on bills, plural, two bills, to fully re-open those workers' salary, to fully reopen the closed departments and agencies, and both bills will almost certainly fail.

That is the reality this morning. Few if any Democrats will vote for a measure including any money for the president's border wall and very few Republicans will vote for a bill that re-opens the government without that money.

SCIUTTO: All of this happens just hours after a separate but related war of wills in the House. Having insisted on delivering his State of the Union address next Tuesday night to a Joint Session of Congress and then being rebuffed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump -- listen to this -- he backed down, declaring that he will give a great address but when the shutdown is over.

In the meantime a CBS News poll shows that two-thirds of Americans want the president to re-open the government without his wall or barrier, whatever he or others call it at the time. And our own Poll of Polls, this is a compilation of five polls, shows that president -- the president's approval number is now just 37 percent. That is down four points since the shutdown began.

CNN's Lauren Fox, she's on Capitol Hill. So what are we expecting today, Lauren, with these bills? I mean,

you'll hear from lawmakers that this represents progress. Tell us why.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just a little bit of progress, Jim and Poppy. You know, starting today, the action is going to be in the Senate chamber this morning. First this afternoon, you will have a vote for a Republican proposal, to advance that Republican proposal that will include the president's $5.7 billion for his border wall as well as a three-year extension of DACA -- for DACA recipients as well as a three-year extension for temporary protected status immigrants. That bill expected to fail because it will not have enough Democratic support.

Then you move to the Democratic proposal. That proposal is very simple. It basically just re-opens the government until the beginning of February and includes some disaster relief money. But that proposal also expected to fail.

Now we do know there are two Republicans, senator from Maine, Susan Collins, she will be supporting that proposal and the "Denver Post" reporting that Cory Gardner of Colorado will also be crossing the aisle and backing that Democratic proposal.

But here's what's important. Putting those bills on the floor today essentially just shows the president, look, the border wall money isn't going to get through the Senate. So while these bills will fail and that certainly isn't a good sign for those federal workers, it certainly gives a situation where the president can see what's possible in the United States Senate -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: And, Lauren, just before you go, "NEW DAY" had Jim Clyburn on, Democrat, who, you know, had something to say about the $5.7 billion number. But it's certainly not a "oh yes, that's what we'll vote for for a wall." He's sort of threading the needle here. What is it?

FOX: Well, certainly. He's looking at more money for border security. So $5.7 billion to essentially strengthen ports of entry, border security and have some infrastructure. But not a border wall. And that has remained the key sticking point. And Democrats want to make sure that the government is re-opened before they're willing to negotiate anything more on border security. So a few stipulations there. But certainly perhaps a sign of progress from Democrats over in the House of Representatives.

HARLOW: OK. Lauren Fox, thank you for that update.

SCIUTTO: Let's go to Joe Johns now. He is at the White House.

So, Joe, to state in the simplest terms the president backed down to Nancy Pelosi on the State of the Union address. What led to that? Because leading up to it, all you've been hearing from the White House was he was going to stick to it and they were looking at other options in fact for the speech. JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, there's

simply no choice. And I think if you look at the big picture, there's just a lot of realities at play here. The reality of divided government, the reality that the party of the president no longer controls the House of Representatives. And the reality that the speech, the State of the Union address delivered in the chamber of the House of Representatives is an American tradition. And very hard to replace.

So that essentially is what the president admitted. All of our reporting at least so far is that it was the president himself who made the decision to cave in pretty much. And you see that quote in his tweet from last night. "This is her prerogative," speaking of Nancy Pelosi. "I will do the address when the shutdown is over. I am not looking for an alternative venue," the president writes, "for the State of the Union address because no venue can compete with history."

[09:05:11] He goes on to say he looks forward to giving a great speech in the near future. Now as you look at this from the perspective of the House speaker, one of the big things that I was interested in this morning was trying to find out when it was that she made her decision the president would not be giving the State of the Union address until this shutdown was over. And speaking with her staff, it's pretty clear that when she sent the first letter suggesting they might not do this for security reasons that was when she made her decision.

And speaking to Drew Hammill, the speaker's spokesman, one of the things he told me is that this was about the larger event, he said. Thousands of people. A good chunk of Washington, D.C. asking people to do extended hours without pay. Not a good security situation. Also he said an optics question. Not the perfect time to have a celebration of democracy which the State of the Union tends to be.

Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Joe Johns, thanks very much.

Let's discuss with Jeff Mason, he's White House correspondent for Reuters, and Damian Paletta, White House economic policy reporter for the "Washington Post."

Thanks to both of you for coming on this morning.

Jeff, let me start with you. You spent a lot of time in the White House here. This was a remarkable back down for the president. I wonder on the shutdown, though, because he has his chief of staff asking agency leaders looking into the effects of a shutdown if it continues as far into March.

Are you seeing any bending of the will of the president on the shutdown itself and on border wall funding?

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Well, yes and no. I agree with your first point, Jim. I think this was sort of a remarkable back down. And I think that reflects the fact that Speaker Pelosi has something that President Trump wants. And that is that space. That space in the House chamber to give that address which is historic and he likes that pomp and circumstance. And many presidents do.

As far as looking forward is concerned I think you only have to look at his tweets today where he talks again about the need for a wall. He said if there is no wall and then if there is a wall that crime will fall. So I think that's a sign that he's certainly sticking to that.

But your point about -- and your point about the chief of staff saying please let me know, agencies, how this is going to affect you going forward suggest that the White House is preparing for an even longer shutdown.

HARLOW: And Damian, that's your reporting. I mean, you broke this news that Mick Mulvaney is like, OK, we need to know what does this is going to mean. I mean, we already don't know what the true impact is on the economy because you can't get a ton of key economic data because you've got census and BEA all affected.

Does it tell you the White House was just unprepared and-or or both that they are prepared for a protracted shutdown?

DAMIAN PALETTA, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC POLICY REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Right. And I think they were definitely unprepared for even the initial stages of the shutdown. And I think between the Mulvaney request to agencies and also, Poppy, from your interview yesterday with Kevin Hassett, you can see the White House is starting to try to get to -- wrap their minds around what this would mean, you know, if this goes through, you know, three whole months at the beginning of the year.

Kevin Hassett told you there would be possibly no growth. The economy would stall. Now Mick Mulvaney is just trying to see like how bad would it be logistically if there is a shutdown. Obviously we know that in March there is no money to pay food stamps for 40 million people. There'd be a lot of things that would just stop. I mean, this would be unprecedented, the amount of, you know, government engagement with the public that would stop.

And so I think they are trying to -- it's not like they're trying to prepare, they're almost trying to just wrap their minds around what would happen and, you know, how the U.S. could possibly deal with it.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: You know, Jeff Mason, the president says that the Republican Party is united on this. And on that point, I mean, he's right. You have Cory Gardner but that's one senator.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: You need a dozen Republican senators to break with the president on this. Do you in your reporting see other Republicans who are wavering on this and willing to buck the president on money for the wall? MASON: Well, you mentioned one already that we know in the Senate.

Cory Gardner from the state of Colorado and also Susan Collins. That's certainly a sign that some more moderate lawmakers are willing to buck the president. And also coming from states like Colorado, for example, where there are a lot of government workers. So I suspect that the longer this shutdown lasts, the more pressure there's going to be on lawmakers like them who are representing districts, representing states where a lot of people are affected by the hardship of having the government shutdown.

HARLOW: Except for the -- you know, as Jim points out, the polling among Republicans. And there's this new FOX News poll this morning that shows among Republicans, Damian, 69 percent don't want the president to back down without any border wall funding.

But you know who does? His former chief of staff John Kelly along with four former heads of DHS with a scathing letter. Right? A scathing letter saying the shutdown must end, calling it unconscionable.

[09:05:01] I think it's interesting in this letter, Damian, not one mention of the wall.

PALETTA: Right. Yes. Absolutely. And I think, I mean, essentially the White House has been able to patch this together, relying on free labor across the government. You know, it's really interesting. I think we're all watching the Atlanta Airport which has had one of the worst, you know, impacts in terms of the TSA wait times. With the Super Bowl coming in about a week.

HARLOW: Oh, yes.

PALETTA: You know, it's going to be a lot of pressure on that airport. And I think as soon as those lines start really backing up, you know, all the lawmakers are going to come immediately to sort this out because they really -- you know, I think it's the public blowback they've all been kind of hiding from. And it seems like it's just a matter of time when you rely on free labor that -- you know, that that's not going to last forever.

SCIUTTO: The polls have been consistent, Jeff. And consistently heading down for the president. You had one put his approval rating at 34 percent, our poll of polls has it at 37 percent, down markedly since the shutdown began. But we just put that number up. I want to put it up again. This is about confidence in the economy. That number coming down to 37 percent believing the economy will be stronger a year from now.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I think we can show those figures again. Down from 55 percent. And that's -- no, different number. That's the approval rating. The economic optimism number is down to 37 percent from 55 percent just last year. And that's, of course, a figure that matters to this president. Why? Because, you know, he has had consistently high economic numbers or higher than his other numbers. Are these numbers moving the needle in the White House?

MASON: Well, I think they're certainly having an impact in the White House. Whether they have an impact specifically on the shutdown we'll have to see in the coming days. But the fact that you have someone like Kevin Hassett coming out and talking about how the economy is going to suffer from this and you also have a president who is clearly looking at his re-election in 2020 at the same time as many Democrats are coming out and talking about running against him.

His economic message has been one of his key arguments for being in office, for his accomplishments since he was elected in addition to the wall which is no doubt a reason that he has continued to press and continued to insist that a wall be built. But you can't imagine that these economic numbers aren't affecting him and affecting the people around him.

HARLOW: Good points. Jeff Mason, Damian Paletta, thank you very much for that this morning.

We have a lot ahead. Still to come, don't mess with the fixer's family. The president's former attorney Michael Cohen says he's positioning his testimony before Congress -- postponing rather -- citing threats against his family from President Trump. That's really significant. So where does this go?

Also unrest in Venezuela after President Trump officially recognizes the opposition leader challenging embattled President Nicholas Maduro. Maduro has a message for the diplomats, the U.S. diplomats in Venezuela, get out of the country now.

SCIUTTO: And a little more than two years after Michigan turned red for President Trump, what do voters there think about this record- breaking shutdown? We go there. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] POPPY HARLOW, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: All right, welcome back. Hours from now, two votes in the Senate but expect zero outcome. Zero. What 800,000 federal workers won't be paid tomorrow for a second time as well. Why? Because Congress and the president can't reach a deal.

Joining me now, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, Maryland, he also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. Good morning senator and thank you for being here. Let's start with where you were yesterday, OK? You spent yesterday at a food bank handing out food to federal employees in need. What did they tell you? Politics aside, what is their life like?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Poppy, it's good to be with you. This really hit me hard. Here you have federal workers, very patriotic people doing public service, showing up for work every day even though they're not getting paid.

Carrying critical missions to our national security and public safety. And they have to go in a food line in order to get food because they don't have money to buy food. It was heart wrenching. What they want, they government open. They want us to negotiate the way we should --

HARLOW: So --

CARDIN: On border security. They think this shutdown is wrong.

HARLOW: Yes, I mean, it is. It is, you can't debate that, they shouldn't live like this. So on that point, a few different things that could get the government open, obviously the president backing down from $5.7 billion for the wall is one.

Another option is you and fellow Democrats agreeing to some portion of money for wall funding, coming to the table with something. Are we at a point 34 days in where you could get behind that?

CARDIN: Well, there are Democrats and Republican senators that have been meeting, we're trying to figure out a path forward. We all agree that we're not going to be able to work out a comprehensive border security package while government is shut down. We have to get government open, that's got to be our number one priority.

So we're hoping today, understand --

HARLOW: But just to that question -- yes, could you get behind some money for a wall at this point?

CARDIN: We can't do that with government closed. Can we get behind a border security package that may be characterized differently by different people? Yes, we're for -- we're for border security. But it's got to be done through our normal process here in Congress do what's right for the American people and not waste money. We can get there, what we need to do --

HARLOW: So then, would you be willing to make a guarantee to vote on funding, some amount of funding for a wall or a barrier if the president -- you know, once the government opens because that's a guarantee that leader Pelosi has not given yet.

Do you think Democrats would be wise to give a guarantee that, yes, you know, we will -- we will vote on some amount of wall funding if you open the government?

CARDIN: I've listened very carefully to Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi. They both have said open government and we will negotiate in good faith border security issues. I have confidence in our leadership that they mean what they say. So we need to get beyond this impasse, find some way to -- at a minimum, pass a continuing resolution, keeping government open.

[09:20:00] And a process that will allow us to reach a satisfactory bipartisan result on border security, considering the president's request.

HARLOW: We've just learned in the last minute that Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine will vote yes on both proposals in the Senate today. The Democrat proposal and a Republican bill. Would you do the same, sir?

CARDIN: No, I don't support the president's proposal. What it does on border security, I don't support, what it does on the immigration issues to me is inadequate. So no, I don't support it on substance what the president has brought forward.

And also, I don't believe we should be taking that up while government is shut down. Give us a chance to negotiate that in good faith, have our committees, the experts weigh in. Let's do this right. Give us --

HARLOW: Why --

CARDIN: I said to the president, give us a short time to work the process. Put --

HARLOW: Yes --

CARDIN: Charge us --

HARLOW: Lindsey Graham said that, and he said no --

CARDIN: To get border security package --

HARLOW: I mean, Lindsey Graham proposed that --

CARDIN: Yes --

HARLOW: A Republican --

CARDIN: Right, and as Democrats --

HARLOW: Here's the rub for a lot of Americans who aren't, you know, particularly partisan one way or another, but they feel the pain of their neighbors or they're living this pain as federal workers. They look back to, you know, whether it's the president a year ago rebuffing $25 billion for the wall for DACA protection.

Or they look back five years to 2013 and every Senate Democrat including you, voting for legislation that approves $7.5 billion for fixing existing fencing and for building 350 miles of additional fencing. Yes, I get it, it's a fence, it's not a wall, but it's a barrier.

Isn't it just politics, senator, that has changed now, and Democrats having more cards in their hand now?

CARDIN: Poppy, look how we got here. First of all, you know, the Republicans control both the House and Senate in the last Congress.

HARLOW: Yes --

CARDIN: And we work together on border security issues, we took the president's proposal for FY-19, we acted on it in a bipartisan way, we provided the money for border security. Then all of a sudden, at the 11th hour, the president says, no, I want more, I want more money for our wall.

After he had told the leadership in the Senate that he would go along with a continuing resolution. The president changed his whole position on this. We need to be able to consider the president's requests, but in a proper manner, if we have a --

HARLOW: But how do you --

CARDIN: President to hold America --

HARLOW: How do you explain that to Americans who say I don't get it.

CARDIN: I think Americans --

HARLOW: You and every Senate Democrat voted yes for a barrier, additional barrier in 2013, and now you're not even willing to say you'll consider a dollar for a barrier.

CARDIN: Yes --

HARLOW: How should they --

CARDIN: And that was under --

HARLOW: Understand that?

CARDIN: That was with a comprehensive border security package. We now understand that, what is the top needs or in technology and personnel. And yet, the president is talking about a wall. So let's be clear about this. We believe in border security.

But we don't believe that you get there by the president holding America hostage. And if you -- if he gets his way, even if it's wrong, he gets his way, he'll do it again and again. We need to have an orderly process, Congress is a co-equal branch of government, we need to do our work.

Our first order is to get government open. Remove the threat against the American economy, the American people and the important mission that our patriotic public servants are performing. Let us get on with the business, give us a deadline.

And yes, I am committed to making -- do everything possible so we have a bipartisan border security package that Americans will feel comfortable will keep them safe.

HARLOW: We wish all of you luck in that, Senator Cardin --

CARDIN: Thank you.

HARLOW: And thank you --

CARDIN: Thank you, Poppy --

HARLOW: For joining us.

JIM SCIUTTO, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: Now, 800,000 people are still waiting for that --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Solution. The president's former attorney Michael Cohen postpones his testimony before Congress. But are Democrats going to force him to speak? And we're just moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. The Dow expected to rise, actually looking like down now at the start.

Decelerating global growth, trade war fears and fluctuating oil prices all worries for investors.

[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Michael Cohen's attorney is calling on Congress to reprimand the president for allegedly intimidating Cohen and his family. The accused action supposedly led Cohen to postpone his testimony before the House Oversight Committee originally scheduled for next week. Here is Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANNY DAVIS, LAWYER: The House of Representatives now has an obligation. A resolution of censure when the president of the United States indisputably intimidates and obstructs justice to prevent a witness from testifying is in order.

So is a federal criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani for witness- tampering, calling out a man's father-in-law and wife in order to intimidate the witness. It's not fair game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: At the same time, former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is disputing allegations that he lied to the special counsel Robert Mueller. A judge has ordered Manafort to appear in court tomorrow. Joining me now is former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. Renato, thanks as always for joining us.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Just -- I want to play this sound of Giuliani; the president's lawyer discussing Michael Cohen's father-in-law, just so folks at home understand what threat he's talking about here, and I want to get your reaction. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you make a deal to keep his wife who supposedly -- maybe I'm wrong, but you can check it. Did he keep -- make a deal to keep his wife out of trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) TRUMP: He should give information maybe on his father-in-law because

that's the one that people want to look at. Because where does that money? That's the money in the family.

(END AUDIO CLIP)