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STATE OF THE UNION

Trump Backs Down to Pelosi; Interview With Interview With Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Interview With Presidential Candidate Julian Castro; Interview With Jerome Corsi; Discussion of Budget Deal and 2020 Election. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 27, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:13]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Trump backs down. The federal government is back open, after a sudden concession by President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will sign a bill to open our government.

TAPPER: But without getting a single dollar for the wall, what was the point? Republican Senator Marco Rubio weighs in next.

Plus, dirty trickster? Mueller indicts President Trump's longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone.

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I know that I'm innocent.

TAPPER: Why did so many Trump associates lie about dealing with Russia or WikiLeaks? Person No. 1 from Mueller's indictment, Jerome Corsi, is here to answer our questions.

And getting to know you. The 2020 Democratic presidential field grows.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president of the United States.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: It's time for a new generation of leadership.

TAPPER: How are they pitching themselves to defeat Trump?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I see myself as the antidote to Trump.

TAPPER: Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro will be here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is open, at least for now. The U.S. government is back up and running, after five weeks that left

hundreds of thousands of Americans without pay and agencies starved for resources.

On Friday, President Trump gave in, announcing he would sign a temporary spending bill to reopen the federal government, without any funding for the border wall. The move was a win for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who maintained she would not even discuss border security until the government reopened.

The president defended himself against critics from the right, tweeting, the move was -- quote -- "not a concession."

But, on its face, the president retreated from his demand, and the deal was essentially the same as what the Senate unanimously passed in December, before the president forced the shutdown.

Lawmakers now face a ticking clock, of course. They have three weeks to make a deal before the government runs out of funding again. President Trump has already said he will shut down the government or declare a national emergency if he does not get funding for his wall.

Joining me now is Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. He's also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, I want to start with the shutdown.

The president did not get any wall funding in this short-term deal. S&P says the economy over the last 35 days lost billions of dollars because of the shutdown.

Was this whole strategy by President Trump, with Republicans in the House and Senate going along, was -- was it a huge mistake?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don't think shutdowns are good leverage. It's a lesson I have certainly learned in my time here.

Look, there's been two shutdowns since the time I have been there, and the aggressor in neither one was the winner.

I think it's important to separate the tactics from the goal and the policy aim. And what the president wants is not unreasonable. It's a fraction of what Democrats have voted for in the past. And, more importantly, I think, at least for me, is achieving border security is the key that unlocks the door to doing other things on immigration that he's expressed a willingness to do, the extension of TPS, dealing with the DACA population.

I believe he's willing to go even further and do something reasonable with people who have been here a long time unlawfully, but are not criminals. But all of that is being held up by the inability to get agreement on border security, which the president campaigned on.

So, I hope people will separate the tactics from the policy, because I think the policy is reasonable and solid. TAPPER: But, as you know, the Democrats voting for more money in

border security in the past, especially in 2013, the immigration reform bill that you helped push, that was in exchange for a lot of other things having to do with undocumented immigrants, having to do with a path to legal status. It wasn't just given out willy-nilly.

You see there's an opportunity here over the next three weeks to get something done? Where does that optimism come from?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, we shouldn't be trading border security for anything, because it's something we're all for.

If you are for something and I'm for something, why do we need to barter and negotiate over it? And the second part about it is, they don't have to leverage the president on what to do with people in DACA or TPS, because he's already expressed a willingness to do things on that.

And I think people will be surprised at how much this White House is willing to do, maybe not as far as the Democrats want to go, but how much certainty they're willing to provide people under DACA, under TPS, people that have been here for a long time, but aren't criminals, if the president can get his primary promise, which should be something we all share.

And that is that we want to protect our borders in a way that's effective. And that's why, to me, apart from the fact that we should protect our borders and everyone should be in agreement with that, is the fact that it opens the door to doing much more on these other issues and finally beginning to solve this -- this issue of immigration that for 20 years people have talked about, but no one has done anything about it.

TAPPER: But, Senator -- and I don't want to spend the whole interview on this issue -- you know that the only reason that these individuals under TPS and DACA are in this unsettled and insecure status is because of President Trump, President Trump taking away the protections that had previously existed for them.

[09:05:05]

RUBIO: Yes, but understand those programs are called temporary protective status for a reason.

And if you just were to look at it from a hard, cold, analytical perspective, the -- the controversy, the crisis that justified those TPSes had long ago passed.

So, at this point, the reason why people like me want to see TPS extended and perhaps even provide permanency for people from Haiti, from Honduras and other places, is, they have been here a long time. Some of these people are business owners. They have children that are U.S. citizens. They have children that are deployed on behalf of this country.

So, the longer time passes, the deeper roots people have in our country, the more sense it makes to allow -- allow them to say. But TPS, by name, by design, is supposed to be temporary. The president is simply following the law in that regard.

That said, he has said he is willing to extend it, maybe even find permanency. In fact, they've told me they're willing to provide permanency in some cases for these people, but he's got to get his first priority done. It's the way he can justify it. And it's the key that unlocks the door to everything else.

That's why I hope, tactics aside, we can all agree that border security is important for America and it creates opportunity to do more on these other issues.

TAPPER: That sounds like you think the tactic of the shutdown was a bad one.

Let's turn to the arrest of Roger Stone.

We now know that senior members of the Trump campaign were in contact with Stone, talking about how to get information stolen by Russian hackers released through WikiLeaks, information that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign.

We also now know that top members of the Trump campaign met with a Russian lawyer who had offered dirt on Hillary Clinton and that campaign chairman Paul Manafort offered internal polling data from the Trump campaign to somebody who has ties to Russian military intelligence, Konstantin Kilimnik. That's at least according to the FBI.

Based on what we know publicly, how is this not already evidence of conspiracy by members of the Trump campaign to work with Russians to influence the election?

RUBIO: Well, I have seen the same reporting and the same writing on all of that.

But my position on this all along has been, Mueller's probe should continue, it should be allowed to reach its full conclusion, and that we should all reserve judgment, no matter what little bits and pieces are coming out, until the entire thing has been presented and we can analyze it in its entirety.

The Senate Intelligence Committee continues its work. We're looking at a lot of the same things, not from a criminal justice perspective, but from an intelligence -- counterintelligence perspective. And we're going to have a report at some point this year, which I hope and expect will be bipartisan.

And when we have those two things out there, then I think it's an opportune time to sit down and make pronouncements about it. But I think it's -- I just continue to believe that it's a mistake to begin to sort of make these pronouncements until we have it all before us.

And I -- I really would caution everyone and advise, you are going to be a lot better informed and your opinion is going to be a lot more valid if you wait for all the information to be out there.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the political turmoil in Venezuela.

The U.S. has backed self-proclaimed acting President Juan Guaido against Nicolas Maduro.

Here's what freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who just landed a spot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had to say -- quote -- "A U.S.-backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump's efforts to install a far-right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region" -- unquote.

What's your response to the congresswoman?

RUBIO: This is not a U.S.-backed anything.

This is -- I didn't see any Americans on the street in Venezuela when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Venezuelans took to the streets on the 23rd.

This is Juan Guaido and the National Assembly, which was lawfully elected under the constitution of Venezuela, by the way, a constitution put in place by Hugo Chavez -- they followed the constitution that said, the election in January was invalid -- sorry -- the swearing-in in January was invalid because the election that put Maduro there was invalid.

When there's a vacancy in the presidency, the president of the National Assembly, which happens to be Juan Guaido, becomes the interim president, and in the next 30 days, he -- to 45 days -- he has to call for new elections.

That was all their law. They followed that. The U.S. simply supported the democratic institutions, along with, by the way, 16 countries in the region. This is not the U.S. This is Honduras. This is Guatemala. This is Canada, and Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, et cetera, et cetera.

So, this is not a U.S.-sponsored anything. This is us supporting the people of Venezuela who want their constitution and democracy followed. That's a fact.

And anyone who -- if people choose to ignore it because they don't like Donald Trump, that is silly.

TAPPER: I know that no decisions have been made and I know that efforts are being made to avoid any sort of military action by the U.S. in Venezuela.

But you have said that all options should be on the table, including potentially U.S. military force, if Maduro doesn't back down, if U.S. diplomats in Venezuela are at risk.

How would you explain to the families of American service members why it's worth potentially risking their lives to go to Venezuela? RUBIO: Well, first of all, I'm not -- no one -- I don't know of

anyone who is calling for military intervention.

What I'm calling for is for the constitution to be followed, for military officials in Venezuela to follow and uphold the constitution they swore allegiance to, for Juan Guaido to be able to act as interim president, until we have a new, valid election, so we can support that new democratic government.

[09:10:05]

That's what I'm calling for. The United States always retains the right, always, anywhere in the world, in any instance, to protect its national security.

So I'm not going to justify military intervention, because I don't know who is calling for that. What I have said is, everything is an option because we always have an option of defending our national security in cases where it's threatened.

Why we should care about Venezuela is a different top. It is in our national interest to care. Why? They allow the ELN and other drug trafficking networks to flood our country with cocaine and drugs. They have invited the Russians repeatedly to open military installations in our own hemisphere.

And they are destabilizing the entire region, 600,000, 700,000 migrants in Peru, over 1.5 million to two million in Colombia. This is not -- this a regional catastrophe. Another two million Venezuelans this year could go into different countries, further destabilizing these nations who happen to be allies and key partners in the anti-war, counterdrug effort.

So, this is in our national interest to care about what is happening there. And it's always in our national interest to support people, especially in our hemisphere, who are putting their lives on the line for democracy.

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, thank you so much for your time.

RUBIO: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Robert Mueller's indictment of Roger Stone listed two other individuals with whom he was working. The man who says he is Person 1 in the indictment will be here to take questions about his connections to WikiLeaks and more next.

Plus, we will talk to 2020 presidential candidate Julian Castro.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:27]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump's longtime friend and associate Roger Stone was arrested by the FBI on Friday and charged with lying under oath, obstruction and witness tampering.

And, according to the indictment from the Mueller investigation, Stone sought information from WikiLeaks about Hillary Clinton's hacked e- mails while in coordination with senior members of the Trump campaign. The indictment says that Roger Stone directed -- quote -- "Person No. 1 to get information from WikiLeaks about their plans to leak those e- mails."

Those stolen e-mails, of course, came from a Russian state hacker, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.

On Friday, Person No. 1 revealed his identity. It's Jerome Corsi, who joins me now.

He requested that his lawyer, Larry Klayman, be present as well.

Mr. Corsi, thanks for joining us.

I want to ask you. You say in the -- that the information in the Mueller indictment is accurate and that Roger Stone needs to tell the truth. He's facing serious consequences, of course, but he continues to insist he's innocent, he is going to plead not guilty.

What do you think his motivation is for not telling the truth?

JEROME CORSI, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I am not very good at telling someone else's motivation, so I can't really answer what Roger's motivation is.

I know my motivation is to tell the truth. And I will affirm that what is in the indictment about me is accurate. And I will affirm that if asked to in court.

TAPPER: One of the -- so, that means that you're willing to testify against Roger Stone, theoretically, if need be. You will affirm that the -- what's in the indictment is correct.

CORSI: I will be happy to testify, if -- I would suspect to be subpoenaed. And I will let the testimony fall wherever it falls.

I'm going to tell the truth, to the best of my ability. Even that's hard, given the amount of information and the fact that I have said from the beginning I'm not a human tape recorder. You can't push a button, and I can't recall precisely, in detail, granularly, conversations, e-mails, events from 2016.

But I'm going to do my best to tell the truth, without calculation of whom it benefits or whom it detracts.

TAPPER: All right, I want to get to your memory in a second.

But, first, one of the biggest outstanding questions from this indictment comes from a line that says -- quote -- "A senior Trump campaign official was" -- quote -- "directed" to contact Stone to find out about any additional WikiLeaks releases.

Do you know who directed that senior campaign official to talk with Roger Stone? Do you know who either of these individuals are?

CORSI: I really don't.

I mean, I -- I know what Roger told me, but I don't recall that Roger ever said that he was under instructions from anyone in the campaign to find out about what WikiLeaks had after July 22, 2016.

I do agree that Roger wanted me to find out from WikiLeaks. I never had any contact with Julian Assange directly or indirectly. So, my communications with Roger in July and August 2016 about what I thought Assange had were really speculation on my part, connecting the dots.

TAPPER: All right, let's dive into that.

According to the indictments, Stone e-mailed you asking you to -- quote -- "get" the pending WikiLeaks e-mails that could have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

You replied to Roger Stone a week later, saying -- quote -- "Word is friend in embassy" -- that's Assange -- "plans two more dumps. Impact planned to be very damaging. Would not hurt to start suggesting Hillary Clinton old, memory bad, has stroke. Neither he nor she well" -- referring to Bill and Hillary Clinton. "I expect that much of next dump focus setting stage for foundation debacle" -- unquote.

Now, sure enough, WikiLeaks later released e-mails about Hillary Clinton's health and the Clinton Foundation.

Now, I don't need to tell you, prosecutors do not believe that you conjured this information. Why don't you be honest with the American people right now about where it came from?

CORSI: This was really the subject of the last 20 hours of my 40-hour voluntary interviews with the special counselor.

And we went through -- I made an honest effort to go through everybody I was in communication with in 2016 to see if there was anybody directly or indirectly that was providing me information from WikiLeaks. And I can't find anyone, and the special counselor couldn't suggest anyone.

So I'm concluding that my recollection is correct, namely, that I did just connect the dots and figure it out on my own. And I admit, that's hard to accept. People are going to have a hard time understanding that.

But, throughout my life, I have been having this ability, deductively or inductively, to really understand situations. And, remarkably, often, I'm correct.

TAPPER: Well, according to the indictment, you did forward Stone's e- mail asking for the WikiLeaks information to an associate in the United Kingdom, who you have identified publicly and in your book also as professor Ted Malloch. I think I'm pronouncing that correctly.

[09:20:08]

Could Malloch have been your source for the information on WikiLeaks?

CORSI: Well, we examined that very carefully.

And as I point out again in "Silent No More," in the book, I don't believe that Malloch ever contacted Julian Assange. And I certainly don't recall any conversations from Malloch in which he told me about Assange.

So, while I did forward e-mails to Malloch from Roger Stone, saying, go see Assange, essentially, I never really expected that Malloch would do it, and I have no reason to believe that he did do it. So that did not influence my conclusions in July and August that, essentially, Assange had Podesta's e-mails.

TAPPER: So, you write in your book that the Mueller team was very frustrated with you and your interviews.

In reading your book, I can understand why, and talking to you right now, because you leave wiggle room here that maybe -- maybe you were talking to somebody, you just don't remember it.

You write in the book -- quote -- "Although I may have had a source to Assange, I could not remember a source" -- unquote.

That's very frustrating, because I think most people would remember if they had a source to Assange.

CORSI: Well, that's what's been frustrating for me, too.

That's why I made such an incredible effort to look through every one who showed up in my 2016 e-mails or the phone conversations I had. Verizon would not give me all my own records, although I assigned them over to the special counselor. They would have them.

We -- in fact, the FBI went and interviewed, I found out later, almost everyone who showed up in my 2016 conversations, e-mails, phone calls, et cetera. And I can't find anyone who provided me direct or indirect information from Assange.

And Assange himself has recently affirmed that, by name, Jerome Corsi had no contact with him or with WikiLeaks about the 2016 election or on the Podesta e-mails.

TAPPER: So, I -- there is just one other thing.

In your book, you say Roger Stone contacted you before the release of that "Access Hollywood" tape, the one with Billy Bush, and asked you to try to get word to Assange, release John Podesta's e-mails, so -- to change the news cycle. Now, you write in your book; "I believe I told the daily World Net

Daily news team conference call that the Billy Bush tape was coming. I'm sure I asked that if anybody had a way to reach Assange, we should pass the alert to Assange, so he could begin dropping the Podesta file right away."

As we know, on October 7, WikiLeaks did release those e-mails just half-an-hour after "The Washington Post" published the "Access Hollywood" story.

Do you take credit for that? Do you think what you said on that conference call got word to Assange?

CORSI: I doubt it very seriously.

I mean, my recollection and the records show I had three conversations with Roger Stone that day. I believe it was October, what, 7 or 8, at any rate, the day WikiLeaks released the first of the Podesta e-mails.

And it's my recollection that Roger mentioned that this Billy Bush was coming, and he wanted to know if Assange could begin dropping e-mails. Now, Roger may have a different recollection of that. I'm not disputing what Roger's recollection is.

I can only tell you what my recollection is. And I doubt that anything was able to be communicated by the World Net Daily staff.

TAPPER: Yes.

CORSI: In fact, as we looked through that day, it was a very, very busy day for me in New York City. I was working with a lot of conference calls and a lot of different meetings.

TAPPER: So...

CORSI: But I can't find anyone that I was communicated with who had any direct contact with Assange, as I didn't have direct contact.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Jerome, let me just...

CORSI: Sure.

TAPPER: Let me just ask you, because we're running out of time, last question.

You e-mailed Roger Stone to say you -- quote -- "should be given credit," according to an e-mail the prosecutors have.

Why would you say that if you don't think you deserved credit for the timing of the WikiLeaks dump right after the "Access Hollywood" tape?

CORSI: Well, I don't think it was specifically that, that I was referring to. I was referring to, I had, I believe, figured out that Assange had

Podesta's e-mails. And I did tell this, not only to Roger, but to others. And it turned out that I was right.

Now, that was deduction on my part, as best I can remember. It was putting together the dots. But I felt like that should have been valuable information, just that I figured it out, not that I had communications with WikiLeaks.

And I believe Roger worked with Roger Credico and -- or with Randy Credico, rather...

TAPPER: Right.

CORSI: ... because Roger, I don't think, ever really believed -- I certainly don't recall Roger thinking -- if I had a contact with WikiLeaks, I think Roger would have leapfrogged me immediately and gone -- taken the contact himself.

TAPPER: All right. Jerome Corsi, thanks for answering our questions today. We appreciate it.

Larry Klayman, thanks to you as well.

TAPPER: Coming up: Could a Democrat from Texas be the right candidate to take on President Trump in 2020?

Julian Castro will be here in moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:29:08]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

He was a young politician whose speech to the Democratic National Convention raised speculation that maybe he would run for president someday.

No, I'm not talking about a young state Senator Barack Obama. I'm talking about former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro. And it turns out, he is running for president, now, for 2020.

Democratic presidential candidate Secretary Castro joins me now.

Secretary Castro, thanks for joining us.

CASTRO: Good morning.

TAPPER: For weeks now, the Democratic Party has said that President Trump needed to open -- open the government, reopen the government, in order to then allow negotiations on border security.

As you know, the government is now open. You said on Friday that -- quote -- "Everybody should work to keep the government open." How far do you think Democrats should go to be willing to give President Trump at least some money for border security, including money for a fence or a wall, as part of negotiations?

CASTRO: Well, as you know, Jake, the Democrats have made clear that they're willing to negotiate on investing in additional funds for border security.

[09:30:07]

In fact, they did that in the legislation that they passed earlier this month. I think the difference here is the focus. We have 1,994 miles of border, of southern border. There are already 654 miles that have some sort of barrier or structure, fencing usually.

What Democrats oppose is a concrete wall or any kind of barrier that reaches across the entire border. There are better ways that we can ensure that we have a border that is completely secure.

And, by the way, as many people have pointed out, in many ways, our border is more secure today than ever. But there are investments that we can make in additional personnel at the border, in technology so that we can better monitor what's coming through ports of entry. And we can better secure those ports of entry.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

CASTRO: Nancy Pelosi said this the other day. She laid out where they're willing to negotiate.

So my hope...

TAPPER: Right.

CASTRO: ... is that we're not going to get back into this situation on February 15 where you have 800,000 families that don't get a paycheck.

TAPPER: Right.

Earlier this month, Speaker of the House Pelosi said that the wall was -- quote -- "immoral." As you know, as you just stated, there are roughly 650 miles of existing wall, barrier, fencing at the border. Are they immoral?

CASTRO: Well, I don't think it represents the best of what America stands for.

I think -- I believe that if we were to build the kind of wall that Donald Trump is talking about -- and, admittedly, as you know, sometimes, that's hard to figure out, because, some days, he says it's a beautiful big concrete wall, and, other days, he says it's steel slats, and then he says it's something else.

But I believe, fundamentally, that if we were to build that wall, that it would change the notion of America from the Statue of Liberty that stands for freedom and welcomes immigrants to a country that literally walls itself off from the rest of the world.

And maybe that wouldn't make much of a difference on day one when we do that, but I believe that, as years go by, it would change how we see ourselves as Americans and how others see us and have a real impact on who we are. And that's not a path that we want to go down.

So, yes, I agree that to do so would be immoral.

TAPPER: I don't want to spend the whole time talking about the wall.

But if there are already 654 miles of barrier, fencing, wall, why would adding 100 miles more change the nation of -- notion of this nation any more than -- I mean, we already have that. Why -- why would adding any more change who we are?

CASTRO: You know, I would say two things, number one, that that 654 miles was built out some time ago, and that was built out when the technology to be able to monitor what is happening at the border was not what it is today.

In other words, that's an old style of doing things. And we have a more effective way without that kind of barrier to do it.

The other argument that people have made that I believe is true is that we have addressed where we might -- where you might argue that, OK, you need a physical structure, a physical barrier, well, that was addressed in those 654 miles. And that's not the case for the rest.

TAPPER: Let's move on to your presidential campaign.

You have laid out a very ambitious agenda. It includes a green new deal. It includes Medicare for all. Obviously, you will need to raise revenue to fund some of these priorities.

If you were elected president, would you undo the Republican tax cut law and raise the corporate tax rate back up from 21 percent to 35 percent?

CASTRO: I absolutely would look at undoing the tax cuts that benefited the super wealthy and benefited corporations.

We also -- as you know, Jake, we are going to have to look at other things, other ways of raising revenue. But I have said very clearly that I believe that it's worth it. I believe that, in this nation, the wealthiest nation on Earth, there is no reason that anybody should go without health care when they need it.

And I'm under no illusion that that's going to be easy. And during the course of this campaign, I look forward to putting forth a plan on how we'd pay for that, because I do think that Americans deserve to know from candidates for president how they are going to do that, even though I will point out, as you all have seen, that Donald Trump went through an entire presidential cycle, not only not releasing his tax returns...

TAPPER: Yes. CASTRO: ... but never telling the American people how he was going to

pay for anything or what his plans were. I think that we need to do better than that.

And, during the course of this campaign, we will.

TAPPER: You said earlier this month that you want top earners to pay more in taxes.

And you pointed to the top marginal tax rate during World War II. It used to be 94 percent, the marginal tax rate. Just to clarify for people, that's not 94 percent of the income taxed. It's just the top rate, the top amount that individuals...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO: Thank you for pointing that out.

TAPPER: Well, I just want to make sure people understand that.

CASTRO: Yes. I mean, you have to point that out...

TAPPER: Right.

CASTRO: ... because people often make that mistake.

They think, well, if somebody is making $5 million, suddenly -- $10 million or 50...

[09:35:00]

TAPPER: Yes.

CASTRO: ... they are suddenly going to -- all of their income is -- you get taxed at...

TAPPER: Right.

CASTRO: That's not true. That's a marginal tax rate, the top tax rate.

TAPPER: But would you -- would you support it, raising it to the -- the top marginal tax rate to that level, more than 90 percent?

CASTRO: I would say this, that I support raising it. I think that we would have to negotiate on where that goes.

I also think that it was very telling that, after Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez mentioned the idea that perhaps the marginal tax rate could be as high as 70 percent, because it used to be -- in fact, if you think about it, Donald Trump often says that he wants to make America great again, which means we want to go backward.

I don't believe in going backward. I want to go forward. But if you did go backward, you would go right into a time where the marginal tax rate was higher. They did a poll. And 45 percent of Republicans said that they believe

the idea of that kind of top marginal tax rate was a good idea. So, I believe that we should increase it. Now, where it goes to, I think that would be a subject of negotiation.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

I want to ask you about Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, who says this weekend he's seriously exploring a self-funded independent bid for president. He told "60 Minutes" that he thinks both parties are engaged in what he called revenge politics and not acting in the interest of the American people.

Do you have any concerns that a very wealthy independent with a message like Schultz's could play spoiler in 2020?

CASTRO: Well, you know, first, I would say that I have tremendous respect for Howard Schultz.

When I was HUD secretary, I had an opportunity to visit with him. I know that, you know, he's done some impressive things in business. Obviously, if he runs, it's going to make an impression on the race.

But I do share that concern. I have a concern that, if he did run, that, essentially, it would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting reelected.

Just the other day, there was a fairly comprehensive poll taken that showed, essentially, right now, that the president has a ceiling of about 41 percent or 42 percent in terms of support for him, no matter which Democratic candidate they polled against him.

So his only hope, if things stayed the same -- and that's a big if -- is essentially to get somebody else, a third party, to siphon off those votes. And I don't think that that would be in the best interest of our country. We need new leadership.

And so, you know, I would suggest to Mr. Schultz to truly think about the negative impact that that might make.

The only other thing I will say about that is that we can't both-sides this to death. It's not -- yes, I agree that there are things that Republicans and Democrats do need to improve upon, but there's a real difference between any of the folks who have said that they want to run on the Democratic side and Donald Trump.

I mean, that's become so clear. So, it's not all the same thing.

TAPPER: All right, Secretary Castro, we hope we will have you on back -- back again sometime, talking more about the issues.

Thanks for joining us today.

CASTRO: Thank you.

TAPPER: President Trump says he didn't cave, but with zero dollars in wall funding, will his supporters see it that way?

Our panel will be here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:29]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: No one should ever underestimate the speaker, as Donald Trump has learned.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the president underestimated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Top congressional Democrats taking victory laps after President Trump seemed to cave on the wall and ended the government shutdown, at least for the next three weeks.

Let's discuss.

Secretary Chavez, is it true, is it fair to say that Trump caved and Nancy Pelosi won?

LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOME AMERICAN INITIATIVE: I think Nancy Pelosi did win.

And I don't know that we're going to see that he actually ends up caving. I think he'd still like to come back and do some sort of an emergency order and get his wall.

But he -- you know, he underestimated her, and she proved that a mom knows how to handle a 2-year-old brat. And that's the way the president acted.

(LAUGHTER)

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: This is -- this is -- as is always the case with the media, they overblow everything to try to condemn Donald Trump.

The reality is, Donald Trump did what the media and everybody was asking him to do, including Nancy Pelosi, which is give us an opportunity to negotiate and put people back to work.

Everybody criticized Donald Trump for not -- for being recalcitrant, and then they criticized him for saying, OK, I will -- I will take your deal. We will give you a three-week period of time. Now the -- now the burden is on you to come forward.

When Donald Trump sat in that meeting and said, as he did, I will give you everything you want if you will give me -- how much wall funding will you give me? She said not a penny. So, it's up to Nancy Pelosi at this point to say, OK, I will meet you

somewhere, because if her answer is, no money for the wall, I don't care how much you give us, which is what she told the president, then I think it's -- we're going to be either back with another shutdown or, more likely, an emergency declaration.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We can't lose sight that the president started all of this in the first place. We wouldn't be here if he hadn't done this.

And what -- yes, the speaker showed herself more than capable of handling President Trump. But, to me, it's not just about that. It really is about -- it should really be about the 800,000 workers, federal employees, public servants, and also the contract workers who actually lost pay while people were playing political brinksmanship.

So, am I glad that the shutdown is over for those folks, for our neighbors, our friends, our families, so that they can pay their bills? Absolutely.

TAPPER: Paul, would it be worth it for Democrats, do you think, to give the -- in the next three weeks, in this negotiation period, to give president some money for a wall, a fence, whatever you want to call it, and get some permanent...

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Permanent.

TAPPER: ... protection for TPS holders, dreamers, et cetera?

BEGALA: Yes. Permanent is the key word.

[09:45:00]

The president is just so ridiculous. He made an offer during the shutdown, I will give temporary protection to the dreamers if you give me a permanent wall.

No. If it's three years for the dreamers, you got to tear down your wall in three years. It's preposterous.

He did a really amazing thing in this, the president. And I want to give him full credit. This is hard to do. He united progressives, he -- he alienated moderates, and he betrayed conservatives.

That's a trifecta. It's very hard in America to do all three at the same time. And he did it. So, I -- I congratulate the president.

TAPPER: Don't forget, he -- he also empowered Nancy Pelosi. A few months ago, we were talking about, is she even going to be elected speaker? And now she is pretty strong.

BEGALA: This is why the Republicans demonized her, because they knew how effective was. This is why foolish Democrats criticized her.

They I mean, I -- I have known her. I know how formidable she is. Now Donald Trump does too. TAPPER: Senator Santorum, President Trump tweeted that this move was no way a concession.

But a lot of people on the far right, a lot of super conservatives don't see it that way.

Take a listen to Lou Dobbs on FOX Business Channel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL: This president said it was going to be conditional, border security, building that wall.

And he just reversed himself. That's a victory for Nancy Pelosi. It will be perceived as such on every television monitor and screen in the country. And to deny it is to try to escape from reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: This is just, again, overreaction. The reality is, we got three weeks. We have three weeks.

The bill is in conference. Now they can sit down and strike a deal, if they want to strike a deal. I don't think it's a concession whatsoever. It -- I mean, it is a concession, but it's not a cave. It's a concession to say, OK, I will -- I will accept your terms that you wanted in order for us to get a deal.

Now let's see whether you can get a deal.

CHAVEZ: I think one of the problems in the deal that's probably going to be fashioned, yes, it may include DACA, it may include the temporary protected status.

What it's not going to deal with is the one legitimate crisis at the border. And that is the families and the unaccompanied children who are there. And the president has been unwilling to spend money where it's needed in Central America to try to create an atmosphere where those people can stay where they are, rather than having to come to the border.

TAPPER: I want to change the subject to the fact that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is talking about running for president as an independent and a self-funded campaign, potential spoiler for Democrats.

You just heard Secretary Julian Castro basically plead with Schultz not to run.

Are you worried about such a race?

TURNER: I'm worried about the self-funding part. It just further feeds into, the more money you have, the money opportunity you have to buy off government, to buy a seat. We see happening all the time, whether people are self-funding or getting money from mostly mega- donors. In terms of the debate, both political parties have to go out there

and debate with the American people. So to say that, in a democracy, somebody can't run as an independent because it puts the Democratic Party at peril, to me, it's absolute nonsense. The Democratic Party needs to earn those votes.

BEGALA: They have to earn it. I'm not saying he can't run. I'm saying he shouldn't, unless he wants to reelect Donald Trump.

It's simple arithmetic. I'm old enough to remember, 18 years ago, Ralph Nader called me up. I went and had lunch with him.

He said: "I'm going to get 5 percent or 7 percent as a Green Party candidate, have a permanent left party, and Gore will still have enough votes to win."

I said: "Ralph, the arithmetic doesn't work. If you run, Bush wins."

Howard, if you run, Trump wins, if you run as an independent.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: This is a guy who was salivating that Ross Perot would run...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Not at all. I never supported Ross Perot.

SANTORUM: No, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: And he took equally from Clinton and Bush.

SANTORUM: Oh, I don't...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... true, Rick.

SANTORUM: So there's your point.

You are saying that Schultz would take from the left and just from the Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: I'm not sure that's true.

BEGALA: I am.

SANTORUM: I'm not sure that's true, any more than -- any more than -- we were concerned that Ross Perot was going to take from George Bush. It turned out, he didn't. He took from both sides, because there were alienations on both sides. (CROSSTALK)

TURNER: But, Jake, this is the thing.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Both parties -- both parties are private clubs. Let's understand this. The American people need to understand this.

Now, mathematically, the Democrats will have a challenge. But this is about the democracy part.

TAPPER: You talk about earning the vote. Go out and earn it.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Earn the vote. And don't be afraid. Or have a conversation with Mr. Schultz.

SANTORUM: Run, Schultz, run. Run, Schultz, run.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: No, but to totally just malign...

(CROSSTALK)

CHAVEZ: I would like him to run in the Republican primary. That's where I would like him to run. Spend his money where it can count.

TURNER: But he shouldn't be able to buy -- his example just -- in lies the problem in this country, that people can buy...

TAPPER: Also, speaking of running, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, she is going to formally announce her candidacy this afternoon in a speech that will embrace the conciliatory tone of the 2020 primary, embracing her past, but also apologizing for some of it.

In an excerpt, she's going to say: "If I have the honor of being your president, I will tell you this. I'm not perfect. Lord knows, I'm not perfect, but I will always speak with decency and moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect. I will lead with integrity, and I will tell the truth. My whole life, I have had only one client, the people."

[09:50:02]

She's been under fire for being a former prosecutor.

What -- what do you make of her, and what do you make of how much of that will hurt her potentially in the primary?

TURNER: I mean, the statement you just read, Jake, is absolutely the right tone to take.

Everybody around this table can say, God knows I'm not perfect. Nobody is perfect.

But in terms of -- especially in light of the last 10 to 15 years of really reinvigorating what happens in the criminal justice system -- it's always been there, but the light has been shined on it more, especially in light of Black Lives Matter.

The senator will have to talk about her record on that.

TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all.

President Trump says he is a master dealmaker, so what happened when he tried to negotiate with Speaker Pelosi? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoon-ion" -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:55:07]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

President Trump found himself outnegotiated by Speaker Pelosi, both when it came to the shutdown and the State of the Union address.

And that's this week's "State of the Cartoon-ion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): In a pointed letter he wrote to Speaker Pelosi this week, President Trump all but dared her to uninvite him to deliver a State of the Union address in the House chamber.

Pelosi took the dare and uninvited him. Pelosi has made it very clear how she sees President Trump throughout this confrontation.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm the mother of five, grandmother of nine. I know a temper tantrum when I see one.

TAPPER: For his part, the president also made clear this week how he pictures the most powerful woman in America.

TRUMP: The super left Democrats, the radical Democrats, what's going on in that party is shocking.

TAPPER: The president had been thinking of alternate sites for the speech. Perhaps he could have demonstrated the effectiveness of the wall, or steel slats, by delivering his speech while trying to climb it.

TRUMP: We don't use the word wall necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job. Steel slats.

TAPPER: Or, instead of looking out at the House chamber, maybe a sea of adoring supporters, an ocean of MAGA hats.

TRUMP: They all love me. They all love me. TAPPER: One thing that definitely didn't help the president in the shutdown battle, his bajillionaire commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, questioning why desperate federal workers were going to food banks.

WILBUR ROSS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: I don't really quite understand why.

TAPPER: Maybe it was tough to understand from Wilbur Ross' point of view.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Imagine finding out you're a triplet later in your life.

That's the subject of a fascinating CNN film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I tell people my story, they don't believe it. But it's true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have always thought, what would it be like if you turned the corner one day and you saw yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time the boys met, the three together, it was a miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing that can keep us apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's when things kind of got funky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something was just not right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to know the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was always a question mark. The parents had never been told.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to conceal what they did from the people they did it to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's still so much that we don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could you not tell us?

NARRATOR: "Three Identical Strangers" -- tonight at 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)