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Trump To WSJ: "Less Than 50-50" Chance Of Wall Deal In 3 Weeks; Mulvaney: Trump Willing To Shut Down Governement For Border Deal; Senator Kamala Harris Launches Presidential Campaign; Graham: Trump Discussing Military Option In Venezuela; Former Starbucks CEO Might Run As Independent; Senator Kamala Harris: "America, We Are Better Than This"; New York Times: Trump Insiders Fear Primary Fight After Shutdown; Opposition Calls For Anti-Government, Protests This Week. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 28, 2019 - 11:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, ANCHOR, CNN: Hello , everyone. I'm Kate Dolduan. Back to work but definitely not back to normal, if it may ever be that again. Beginning today, all 800,000 federal workers are returning to their jobs after the partial government shutdown that dragged on for 35 days finally came to an end on Friday. But the light at the end of this tunnel is quite dim with the short-term deal set to run out in less than three weeks, which means, yes, another government shutdown looms large already. The President telling the Wall Street Journal in a new interview that he, at least himself, is not optimistic with this one quote "I personally think it's less than 50-50, but you have a lot of good people on that board."

That board he's talking about is a committee of 17 lawmakers, a bipartisan group that are now tasked with coming up with a long-term deal. If not, not Trump says, another shut down in his words is quote "Certainly an option." That is comforting not the least. The President also not closing the door on declaring a national emergency or taking some kind of executive action to get the border wall that he wants something he has threatened all along. But is there support for that, a new CNN poll of polls will show - it shows the President's approval rating took a real hit during the shutdown, standing now at 38%.

CNN's Abby Phillip, she's at the White House for us. Let's get right over to her. Abby, what are you hearing from the White House today about all of this?

ABBY PHILLIP, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, welcome morning, Kate. The White House seems to be leaning into the idea that President Trump is very much still thinking about using his executive authority to build the wall. In fact, just days after deciding to reopen the government with no wall funding as part of that deal, President Trump Seems to be talking a lot about His powers to do this without Congress, even yesterday his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney spoke on the Sunday shows and insisted that President Trump would do what it takes to build the wall and address the crisis at the border. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the President really prepared to shutdown the government again in three weeks?

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, I think he Actually is. Keep in mind, he's willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border. He does take this very seriously. This is a serious humanitarian and security crisis and as President of the United States, he takes the security of the nation as his highest priority. He doesn't want to shut down the government down. Let's make that very clear. He doesn't want to declare a national emergency.


PHILLIPS: But both the President and White House aides this morning are expressing a lot of pessimism that this process on Capitol Hill is going to end with the President getting what he wants which is that money for a border wall. With that being said, they are saying that they are waiting for this process to play out. I think the President recognizes that his leverage is almost non-existent at this point. Democrats still have control over the House. Nancy Pelosi has now won one major victory over President Trump very early in her tenure as Speaker and I think the President is expressing some frustration that he's been criticized on the right, in particular for his willingness to cave on Friday, reopen the government without that border wall funding and with no prospects really in the near future that he will get that funding from Congress, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and one wonders what the criticism on the right actually means now for the President, because it had a big effect the first go around first time around. Great to see you, Abby. Thank you so much. I want to talk more about this, John Kasich is joining me now. He's the former Republican Governor of Ohio and CNN's new Senior Political Commentator. It's great to see you, Governor. Thank you for being here.


BOLDUAN: So the President, he is now putting it at less than 50-50 that a deal can be reached to prevent another shutdown. What do you put the chances at?

KASICH: I think this is a lot of posturing right now. So you got these members of Congress who are going to try to work out something out. I think there will try, the question is are there people in that room who are willing to make some compromises. We're not going to shut down the government down again. That's just not going to happen. I mean, the President couldn't take that. The people don't want it. So if he doesn't get any agreement here, he'll probably declare some kind of a national emergency. It'll go to the courts and it'll be fought there and then that'll kind of be the end of it.

But the other likely scenario, Kate, is that he want this wall, wall, wall and you're going to end up with something along the lines of a smart wall because the Democrats know the border needs to be protected. I mean everybody believes that, the question is how. So I think they'll figure out something here and if they do not, he'll make some probably limited executive order and life will go on and I think the people who are either in - if I were a federal employee and I was watching this, I wouldn't be laying awake at night. I think there'll be a way to keep the government open and move forward.

BOLDUAN: I find that really interesting that you think that - do you think it's because there was a lesson learned or do you think because the President, I do not know, suffered a bruising loss?


KASICH: Well, I think that when - I mean, as I look at it, I'm just a citizen, Kate, just like you.

BOLDUAN: Because Mick Mulvaney said like, "For sure, they're going to -" go ahead.

KASICH: Yes, I'm a citizen like you are and when people like can't fly in New York, they can't get into LaGuardia or JFK or over there at Newark or whatever, and people are backed up, I mean it's a really crazy situation. And then it begins to affect lots of people and I think that was the problem.

BOLDUAN: Yes. So you talk about this group, the 17-member group. It sounds a lot like - oh, Governor, can you hear me? Governor? Governor, can you hear me? I think we lost the Governor for a second. All right, we're going to try to reconnect. We're going to try to reconnect and we'll get back with him. Coming up for us, also ahead is after a big national rollout, one Democratic presidential hopeful is taking her pitch straight to Iowa voters. Will Kamala Harris pass the Iowa town hall test? Details on that ahead.

Plus, food shortages, three-day waits for a tank of gas and a rising death toll in Venezuela after growing political prices threatens to spin out of control. Now, President Trump is talking about military intervention. Stay with us.



KAMALA HARRIS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are here because the American dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before. We must answer a fundamental question, who are we? Who are we as Americans? So let's answer that question to the world and each other right here and right now. America, we are better than this.


BOLDUAN: The gloves are off the hats, been thrown in the ring and the long journey to November 3, 2020 begins. Senator Kamala Harris has officially joined the list of Democrats who plan to challenge President Trump. She launched her campaign over the weekend officially from her hometown of Oakland, California. Before a very big crowd of supporters in front of the Oakland City Hall. But as more Democrats jump into the race, one more issue for you, what about an independent run? The former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, he's now openly

considering one. What does that do to the race? Joining me right now CNN's Senior Political Reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson in Washington and Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. He's in Des Moines, Iowa, who has spent - Jeff, I was thinking this morning you've spent so much time in Iowa. I actually convinced myself this morning that you are from there, but no you are Cornhusker, I will right myself.


BOLDUAN: Regardless, Des Moines, that is where Senator will be for a town hall, a CNN town hall tonight. So Jeff, what are we going to see there tonight? What do caucus goers want to know right now from the Senator.

ZELENY: Well, Kate, there's no question that this is a sense here when you talk to Iowa Democratic voters and independent voters. There is a hunger for this campaign to begin now. People may say, "Isn't this too early?" Actually, this is when campaigns normally begin but we saw the big speech yesterday in Oakland, California from Senator Harris. She'll be on this stage behind me here on the campus of Drake University tonight with Jake Tapper and she's going to be taking questions from Iowans and there is a sense here, the overall issue is, which candidate of this large ever growing field can take on Donald Trump.

That is a subtext to every conversation you have with voters to every discussion you have. Is it going to be a Senator? Is it going to be a Governor? There are a lot of senators in this race and she, of course, is getting a lot of attention here at this early stage. But she will have a lot of company and there are still some uncertainties about this race as well. Will Joe Biden get in? Well others get in?

But in terms of the meeting with Senator Harris here tonight, people really want to know where these democrats stand on a lot of issues and the big question hang over all of this is the Democratic Party moving too far to the left in terms of Medicare for all, in terms of some crime issues, climate change issues to be effective in the general election here. So it's the shopping season, if you will, people are looking for candidates and one will be here tonight.

BOLDUAN: He, for sure. Nia, she told the crowd yesterday, "We're better than this." She also hit on another theme, truth, over and over again. Here's an example, listen.


HARRIS: In this moment, we must all speak truth about what is happening. We must seek truth, speak truth and fight for the truth. So let's speak some truth, shall we?


BOLDUAN: When you combine kind of those themes, we have seen a focus on values and character from presidential candidates before in past presidential runs. What does it mean this time around though do you think?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIRO POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Well, I think it is different because we do have a President, if you look at the Washington Post, there have been thousands and thousands of misstatements and mistruths from this President. He's also a President who's under some scrutiny due to this business relationships and things that went on during the campaign with Russia? So I think that's one of the contrast you're going to see. I think for her it works especially well because of her background as a prosecutor, so she is running as the law and order candidate in many ways.


Again, that might be a problem for her in a democratic primary. We can already see some people pick a part her of record as Attorney General. But I think it holds it different way, because she is somebody who has been an officer of law. She's called herself the top cop of California. So I think there's a contrast there. She doesn't even have to say Donald Trump's name when she talks about, she would be somebody who's seeking the truth and speaking the truth because of Donald Trump's well-known record having a difficult relationship with the truth, we can say that.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you definitely can say that. Jeff, this high profile rollout for Harris, I mean in the first 24 hours after the Good Morning America announcement, she raised like $1.5 million, but how does a big national rollout play with Iowa Democrats?

ZELENY: Look, there's no question that Iowa Democrats and democratic voters and other early voting states want to see these candidates. And, again, they want to find someone who can win. But this is at the very, very early stages and history will show you how dangerous it is, how perilous it is for a candidate to get hot too early, if you will. This is a very long, long race. The most recent example, of course, 12 years ago during the beginning of the 2008 campaign another junior Senator from Illinois, Barrack Obama, was announcing.

People think, "Oh, he had it easy. He won that nomination." Go back and look at the history books. He was not really a favorite in that race until far at the end of that year. Hillary Clinton was the presumed favorite. So this is a long race filled with obstacle courses and other matters. So as Senator Harris will see, every day is not going to be like her rally yesterday in Oakland. She knows that, of course. That is a day where she controls. But there are going to be other Senators in the race, others in the race by the end of this week, others could also get in like Bernie Sanders, possibly like Cory Booker.

So this is a crowded field, a diverse fields. Most Democrats say for now that's a good thing. We'll see how big it is a year from now, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Nia, there's also then Howard Schultz considering an independent run. With that news, the head of the Democratic Party in Washington State put out this message, this quote was pretty jarring when I saw it. "Howard Schultz running as an independent isn't about bringing people together. It's about one person: Howard Schultz." What does this wild card do to the 2020 race?

HENDERSON: It's really hard to know at this spot. If you think about somebody like Howard Schultz, obviously, a businessman, it's hard to know who he would draw voters from. If you think about Democrats in 2016, one of their big problems was they weren't able to get enough of their voters out. African-Americans, young people, all Latinos, they just didn't show up in the numbers they needed in the mid west states like Florida as well.

So if you think about Howard Schultz, he would probably appeal to you kind of Chamber of Commerce Republicans. You had Donald Trump tweeting this morning that he doesn't have the guts to get in, almost daring him to get in and you have Democrats, obviously, nervous. Democrats are always nervous about everything, but it's hard to know sort of who this would benefit in a general election, depending on who the candidate is for Democrats. Obviously, the candidate we think at this spot will be Donald Trump, so we'll just have to see.

BOLDUAN: We'll have to see. It's great to see you guys. Thank you so much.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Kate.

ZELENY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: On that note, I want to bring back in former Ohio Governor John Kasich who I think we reconnected and I believe we know can hear other which is a wonderful thing.

KASICH: Yes, I thought I was cyberspace for a second, but I'm back.

BOLDUAN: It's the Russians, I'm just going to say it. Anyway, Governor, I want to play for you what former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, what he did tell 60 Minutes about the potential of an independent run.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER STARBUCKS CHAIRMAN AND CEO: I am seriously thinking of running for President. I will run as a centrist independent outside of the two party system. We're living at a most fragile time, not only the fact that this President is not qualified to be the President, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what's necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged every single day in revenge politics.


BOLDUAN: I was struck when I heard that. You had said similar things about the parties, what do you think about a Schultz independent run?

KASICH: Well, Kate, listen it gets to be that big middle ocean. So if the democrats go hard left and if you promise everything, Medicare for all, 70% tax rates, and all of those kinds of things, that moves way out here on the edge, and then you have Donald Trump who's out on the right, and the question is there's a middle ocean. But here's the thing you have to ask yourself, voters today are polarized, and it's almost like we have a Super Bowl coming up, right? So I'm for the Rams or I'm for the Patriots and so we stick with our team. The question is are people willing to leave their team to vote for somebody who's not affiliated?


That's the big question for an independent candidacy and I think it's yet to be determined because we do not know who the Democrat nominee is and we don't know what the play is going to be. If somebody like Joe Biden were the nominee for the party more moderate, it probably makes it harder for an independent run, so we're just going to have to wait and see. And by the way at the last panel, when they said it's not really good to be hot as a candidate early, it's good to be hot, hot, hot beginning, middle, and end and the day you announce is like such a great day. I mean I've been there.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you've been there.

KASICH: You get so excited, you get so thrilled, you've got so much momentum, you try to capitalize on it, and what you're really trying to do at the end of the day is to capture people's imagination, and that's what we have to look for in terms of this presidential election, who can capture the people's imagination with not just their issues but the personality they have. Can they communicate the people that we get them. I mean that was the reason why Schultz was up in that apartment complex yesterday was to say, "I came from very humble beginnings. I get you." And that to me is going to be such a critical message here in 2020.

One other thing, Kate, when Donald Trump ran as a kind of a negative populist, he said, "I get you." His solution though was you're a victim. That I do not like. But the idea that you must communicate to people in this country that we understand your struggles, healthcare. The fact that you're not getting ahead with your income, the fact that your kid can't get a job, that's what people, I believe, want to hear. And we'll see who can articulate that.

BOLDUAN: Look, this is something - these very questions you have taken on, you have faced as Governor of Ohio, are you still considering primarying Donald Trump?

KASICH: Well, look, I said all my options around the table and I'm not prepared to make a decision, so I just can't tell you what I intend to do. Though I have not given up or closed the door on anything. We just have to see how things develop here.

BOLDUAN: One person who is definitely sticking his neck out and making a statement about - with the Howard Schultz announcement as Chris -- heard him on ABC this morning. And he said, "Howard Schultz is the best news for Donald Trump that he's gotten in a long time. It's great news. Second only if Hillary Clinton would be running again in terms of good news for Donald Trump. Do you see that statement? Do you understand what's going on?

KASICH: Look, the only thing you have to consider - Kate, the only thing you have to consider is, look, they're about ready to roll out this thing called 5G, which is technology related to our phones and robots and so many things. We're talking about putting people on the moon. We're talking about exploration of Mars. We're talking about incredible advancements in medicine. We're talking about so many changes, cars that can drive themselves, this is not yesterday. This is today and tomorrow.

And where the people are going to be in this country in an unsettling and dramatically changing time is not predictable. Do I think that politics could be changed dramatically? Absolutely. Everything else is changing, why couldn't it change? So, again, it's about who, who can capture people's imagination and get them excited about the fact that we could have a leader that really gets me.

BOLDUAN: It's good to hear from you today, Governor, and all options remaining on the table. Thank you.

KASICH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. Don't forget CNN's town hall with Kamala Harris moderated by our Jake Tapper airing tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Still ahead for us, Venezuela is at a breaking point as a growing political crisis there triggers food shortages, big spike in violent crime. Just look at the scenes that you're seeing on the ground. One Senator says President Trump has talked about military option there. Details a lot ahead.


Venezuela is in crisis. A power struggle at the very top is plunging the country into humanitarian disaster. Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting President, Juan Guaido, he's on the left of your screen that you see right there. He's telling the Washington Post right now that he's in talks with the military and civilian officials to try to force President Nicolas Maduro, the man on the right side of your screen out of office. He's also calling on the public to rise up and demand new elections as food shortages and inflation get worse by the day.

Maduro blames what he calls a U.S.-led coup for all of this turmoil. It's prompted President Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton to warn against any violence or intimidation against American diplomatic personnel or Juan Guaido. Joining me right now is CNN Global Affairs Analyst and former Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama, Tony Blinken.

BOLDUAN: Tony, Thank you for coming in. What do you think is happening here? Do you think Guaido and the military are going to be able to push Maduro out?

TONY BLINKEN, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Kate, the situation is incredibly fraud. First, I think we should applaud the administration's leadership on this backed up by Senator Rubio. They have focused in on the fact that Maduro is illegitimate. They built up a legitimacy. The National Assembly is the only democratically elected institution and they rallied in other countries to take the same position. [11:30:00]

The question now though is whether there is a strategy to actually advance a peaceful transition and a plan B if Maduro digs in and lashes out, and that's what we have not seen yet. I hope it's there.