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President Trump Not Ruling Out Another Shutdown; Lawmakers Face February 15th Deadline Ahead of Another Shutdown; Howard Schultz "Seriously Thinking" an Independent Run for President; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 28, 2019 - 10:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Brilliant, important reporting. People, their families, their loved ones, all reeling when you look at those numbers.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It's a scourge. It's a national scourge.

Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right. Good morning, everyone. It's the top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto.

The work week begins and 800,000 federal employees, thousands more federal contract workers, they couldn't be happier at least for a time. They're back on the job with pay for the first time this year now that President Trump and congressional Democrats agreed to fully fund the government -- seems like a simple thing -- while they negotiate a compromise if they can on the border.

They now have 18 days left to do it. The president not optimistic, telling the "Wall Street Journal" he thinks the odds are less than 50- 50 and that another shutdown is, in his words, certainly an option. So is an emergency degree to build a barrier without congressional approval -- is that a possibility?

HARLOW: Also on the Russia front this morning, a longtime Trump adviser newly indicted by the special counsel says he'll, quote, "testify honestly" if asked about his communications with the president. But Roger Stone insists he knows of no wrongdoing by President Trump and says, quote, "There is no conspiracy with Russia."

And as the next election looms larger every day California Senator Kamala Harris makes her campaign official ahead of a town hall with CNN in Iowa tonight. Plus CNN learning Hillary Clinton is not closing the door on 2020.

SCIUTTO: Lots of news. Much more on all of this in a moment but we do want to begin with Abby Phillip at the White House. So the president already raising the prospects of another shutdown.

We know there is really no appetite for that among Democrats or Republicans. So is the emergency declaration, unprecedented mind you, back on the front burner here?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Jim and Poppy. It does seem that it is front of mind for President Trump at least at the moment just days after he announced he would reopen the government. The president is already threatening to potentially either shut it down again or use emergency powers to build the wall. And some of what we're seeing is a reaction to the negative coverage the president has gotten for what both Democrats and Republicans have been describing as a major cave on one of the president's signature promises which is to build his wall.

But in an interview over the weekend, the president told the "Wall Street Journal" that a group of senators and congressmen and women who have been convened to potentially work out a deal, he was not particularly optimistic that they would reach one. He says this, "I personally think it's less than 50-50. But you have a lot of good people on that board." And also this weekend, the president's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to keep the door very much open to using an emergency declaration to go ahead and build that wall. Listen.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: 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.


PHILLIP: Now there are already a lot of Republicans who are saying this is a terrible idea in part because they are concerned about the precedent of the president using emergency powers to fulfill basically what amounts to a campaign promise. But at the end of the day what is different about this moment is that for the first time the government is reopened, Democrats have said they want the government reopened first before they sit down at the negotiation table and talk about border security.

So this could be a real opportunity for them to hash out those differences in a regular order as they like to say on Capitol Hill. That being said, President Trump seems not only pessimistic but impatient about the prospects of this process will end with him getting money for his border wall -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Remember regular order? Distant memory.

HARLOW: Do you remember? I don't.

SCIUTTO: Well, am I old enough to remember? Sadly.

Abby Phillip, thanks very much.

HARLOW: So let's go to Capitol Hill now and talk a little bit more about what regular order looks like if they can get a deal. Manu Raju is with us.

Does anybody up there -- do the members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, put the odds of a deal at greater than 50-50?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Virtually nobody. People are pessimistic after what happened in the last 35 days. And what the president said in that "Wall Street Journal" interview last night, the president not only being skeptical but also throwing cold water about getting those so-called Dreamers citizenship or a pathway to citizenship in exchange for funding for his wall. That's something that Democrats will undoubtedly push in these closed-door negotiations.

And also the president saying that he does not want to necessarily accept anything less than $5.7 billion for his border wall. Of course, Democrats didn't want to give him a dollar for his border wall let alone $5.7 billion. So there is a lot of skepticism there. But behind the scenes, there will be discussions taking place over the next 18 days.

The House-Senate Conference Committee, roughly 17 members from the House and the Senate, will start to discuss mostly behind the scenes led by the leadership, led by the House and Senate appropriators try to figure out a way forward.

[10:05:05] Now the question is if Democrats will agree to anything for the president's border wall. On Friday after the shutdown was ended, essentially ended, I asked the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if there's any way that she would accept anything for the border wall now in these new rounds of talks, she would not necessarily rule that out.


RAJU: Speaker Pelosi, I just want to be clear on your position. Are you no longer ruling out any money for the wall? Are you now -- are you now open for money for the wall?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Have I not been clear on a wall?

RAJU: You have not been clear.

PELOSI: OK. No, I have been very clear on the wall.

RAJU: For over the next three weeks, are you open to one?

PELOSI: Yes, have been very clear.


RAJU: So she wouldn't say what about the next three weeks whether or not she would be open to any money for the wall. Reporters tried to ask about that afterwards, too. She wouldn't say. But that even so, the belief about getting a deal very pessimistic on both sides about whether they can thread the needle here. And Republicans in particular want to avoid a shutdown. Senate Republicans are growing very inpatient on Friday. That's one reason why it led to the end of this fight. We'll see if -- how they resolve this.

The president may believe the shutdown is on the table. But Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans certainly don't want it to be on the table going forward -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Manu, thanks for the update from Capitol Hill.

With us now, former Republican congressman Charlie Dent, former Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez.

So I bet you guys could reach a deal by the end of this five-minute segment.


HARLOW: However, you're not in power at this point to do so.

So, Congressman Dent, let me begin with you. Government open, 18 days and counting. What's your over-under here on a deal by February 15th?

CHARLIE DENT (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I'm not optimistic that there will be a deal. Remember, Congress's default position is always to do nothing. Now there is a deal to be had of course. The deal is some money for border security, maybe $2 billion to $3 billion, permanency protections for the TPS and Dreamer populations. That's the easy way out.

The president is also toying with the idea of an emergency declaration. This would be a catastrophic mistake. I think it's a nonstarter, diverting moneys from vital military construction projects to take care of our service members and their troops and their families for vital housing, education needs, infrastructure needs or taking it from the natural disasters is also a nonstarter. So over- under, I'm not optimistic. But if Congress is able to negotiate this, they can do it. The problem is the president gets in the way. And they could send him something, the question is, would he sign it?

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I'm reminded of an "Onion" headline a number of years ago.


SCIUTTO: Which was Elvis dead, is he alive? You know, it's shutdown over, will it be a shutdown?


SCIUTTO: Because we're basically back to where we were in terms of negotiating positions here. But I wonder, Luis Gutierrez, if you're concerned because ABC News-"Washington Post" poll out today shows the danger for Democrats here as well. If you look at these figures, confidence in Donald Trump to make the right decisions for the country. You see Trump's deep underwater there, only 35 percent say yes, 64 percent. But Nancy Pelosi in similar territory.

What are the dangers here for yet another lack of agreement for Democrats?

LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think Nancy Pelosi proved that she was going to take very seriously that she is an equal power. That is the legislative branch is an equal power to the executive branch. And she put kibosh on Donald Trump's wall. It's a good thing.

SCIUTTO: I know that's a conventional --


GUTIERREZ: Excellent. Applause.

SCIUTTO: And there's a conventional wisdom but border --

GUTIERREZ: Let me just finish. Let me just -- let me finish. That's good. Now what she has to demonstrate is that she can reach an agreement because anytime there is talk about enforcement procedures when you talk about immigrants you should always talk about how you humanize immigrants and how you make sure that our immigration policies keep families together. So it's not just Dreamers. Important place to go, that they go to citizenship, that those members that are in the TPS community, that they be granted a permanent situation in the United States.

But also let's remember, there is a humanitarian crisis at the border where they are stopping people from legitimately requesting asylum to the United States. And that also should be part. So I'd like to see an agreement in which there is more border security given to Donald Trump and to the Republicans, but there is also more humanity given to our immigrant community.

HARLOW: Congressman Dent, I mean, back to your, you know, first point there, the sort of the natural state for Congress is to do nothing. I wonder if what exacerbates that right now is that we are, even though you might not feel it, very far away from the 2020 election. Right? So the political consequences for both parties aren't as extreme as, say, we were, you know, a month or two out.

DENT: That's correct, but look, if Congress is smart about this, they will try to narrow this agreement on the border and the TPS.

[10:10:04] The bigger this deal gets, the harder it is to do particularly within three weeks. And by the way, shutting down the government on February 15th would just be doubling or tripling or quadrupling down on stupid. I mean, it would absolutely be another catastrophic error. So bottom line is keep the deal as narrow as possible. That's the only chance to resolve this in a few weeks. I served on the Appropriations Committee. And I would get very frustrated when members would try to inject all kinds of policy into spending bills.

If that's what we have to do in this town in Washington, you'll never get anything done because you can inject any number of policy issues into a spending bill. So keep the policy issues as narrowly focused as possible and then just get the government funded until the end of the fiscal year.

GUTIERREZ: I think my colleague is absolutely correct. The problem is you cannot have an immigration funding bill without dealing with immigration issues on the other side.

HARLOW: Congressman, hold that thought for one second. We're sorry to interrupt. We do want to take you to Roger Stone who is, of course, just indicted Friday, speaking in front of his house. Listen.

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ASSOCIATE: -- Corsi claims falsely that a memo he wrote me was part of a cover story. That is demonstrably a lie. I can prove it. He claims that I knew about the Billy Bush tape in advance. That's also a lie. But you notice none of these things are said in the indictment. I don't know why Dr. Corsi has been induced to do these things. Perhaps he is trying to cut a deal for himself.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There are many young Americans that have gotten to know the name Roger Stone the last couple of days specifically with the Netflix documentary they have.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Maybe watching it this weekend. What do you have to say to them? What is Roger Stone?

STONE: Well, I am someone who fights for what he believes in, who has supported candidates, men and women who stand for what I stand for, that politics is a noble profession. Not everybody is as corrupt as the Clintons and their ilk, and they should not be shied away from a career in public service if that is what they're attracted to.

The key thing is to fight for what you believe in and not be cowed by the fake news media. The coverage of my indictment in the "New York Times" is the single most biased, slanted, inaccurate, untruthful pack of disinformation that I have seen. They made no effort whatsoever to contact me or my lawyers for our side of the story. They believe anything the government says even though it has not yet been tried in a court of law.

The "Washington Post" is not very far behind. The American people need to understand that not everyone in the news media is corrupt. Not everyone in the news media reports fake news. Some do and some don't. But not everything reported in the media can be considered to be accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you still believe that Hillary should be locked up?

STONE: Pardon me? UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you still believe that Hillary should be

locked up?

STONE: Well, she lied under oath before Congress. She lied and destroyed evidence. She intimidated witnesses. And she pays no penalty. Mr. Comey, Mr. Brennan, Mr. McCabe , Mister -- General Clapper, Hillary Clinton. They all lied under oath regarding material matters of great consequence. I am falsely accused of lying to Congress which I did not do. When are they being prosecuted? Where is the equal application of the law?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How frustrating is this whole experience for you? And is this an indication --

SCIUTTO: Roger Stone there outside his home following his indictment and arrest on multiple alleged crimes on Friday taking some usual and perhaps reflexive attacks on the media for its coverage of that, et cetera. Comments we've heard before from him.

HARLOW: And some unsubstantiated claims.

SCIUTTO: Just a few.

HARLOW: There as well.

Still to come, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he may launch a 2020 bid for president as a centrist independent. He is receiving a less-than-warm welcome from some Democrats, though, who say he could be the reason President Trump is reelected.

SCIUTTO: And the crisis in Venezuela. The U.S. is promising a, quote, "significant response" if U.S. diplomats still stationed there are threatened in any way.


[10:18:46] SCIUTTO: Will he run? Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, confirming that he is seriously considering an independent bid for president in 2020.

HARLOW: In a "60 Minutes" interview the lifelong Democrat said if he runs it will be as a centrist independent for years. Speculation has swirled about this. But nearly everyone thought if he ran it would be as a Democrat. Here he is over the years answering that question starting all the way back in 2011.


HARLOW: Are we going to possibly see you go to Washington and try to change some of the ways that Washington works?

HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER STARBUCKS CEO: No, I have been asked that many times. I think I can do much more from the platform I have as the head of Starbucks.

HARLOW: Will you ever run for president, Howard?

SCHULTZ: I'm a young man. There is a lot of time in the future of the country and what I might and might not do. I would never say never. But this is not the right time.

HARLOW: Is 2020 out of the question for you, Howard Schultz?

SCHULTZ: Are we going to go there again? What I would say is I'm as concerned an American citizen as I ever have been. I want to be as involved as I possibly can as a citizen to help the country. I don't know what that is going to mean in the future.


HARLOW: Well, we know a little bit more this morning. And the president is weighing in on Twitter going after Schultz writing that he doesn't have the guts to run for president.

[10:20:03] I should note, Howard Schultz just joined Twitter yesterday, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Only new to it?


SCIUTTO: Also generating buzz today, California Senator Kamala Harris who officially announced her candidacy on Sunday. You may have seen the speech. The California Democrat will join CNN for a town hall tonight that will be hosted by our colleague Jake Tapper.

Joining us now from the site of the town hall, CNN's Maeve Reston, in studio with us now, John Avlon.

John, forgive me for accusing the president of being transparent with his tweets at times but when he says Howard Schultz doesn't have the guts to run, is he daring him to run because he would like the prospect of a third party candidacy to split the opposition to him?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a mistake to overestimate the strategery behind Donald Trump's tweets, but clearly the reason that a lot of Democrats on the left are freaking out today about Howard Schultz's troubling this is that if he were to split the anti-Trump vote that's a conceivable path up the middle for Donald Trump. That's what made Paul LePage did for example, pretty polarizing guy, won a second term because of an independent candidacy came in.

That said, Howard Schultz has a constituency. Centrist independents have a constituency in this country. There are more independents, self-identified, than Democrats or Republicans. They're more moderate than liberals or conservatives. 63 percent of Americans say it's time for a third party.


AVLON: And there are 10 states where registered independents outnumber Democrats or Republicans. That's a crazy idea.

SCIUTTO: Harry Enten said on our air a short time ago that a lot of those independents are actually Democrats. Right? In the polling. Do you think that's a mistake?

AVLON: I love Harry and certainly a lot of them tend to fall into camps. But there is a belt one mentality that tries to minimize the fact that independents have been growing while the two parties have been flatlining and getting more polarized for decades.

HARLOW: So, Maeve, to you, and you cover Schultz as well. Here is one of the answers that Howard Schultz gave last night to "60 Minutes" that makes a lot of Democrats and a lot of Democrats running really upset. Listen to this on health care.


SCHULTZ: Every American deserves the right to have access to quality health care, but what the Democrats are proposing is something that is as false as the wall. And that is free health care for all in which the country cannot afford.


HARLOW: I mean, this is part of why he is not running as a Democrat because he sees a party that in many respects he believes has gone very far left. But the question also becomes --


HARLOW: Is America ready for another billionaire businessman president? Granted he ran a publicly traded company with financials that were clear to the public, very different than the Trump Organization.

RESTON: Yes, exactly. Well, you know, clearly there is a constituency out there for Howard Schultz and that's why you see so many Democrats very upset about this. The Washington State Democratic Party tweeting a Starbucks coffee cup, you know, saying "Don't do it, Howard." And obviously there is a huge blowback on Twitter yesterday. You also talking to Democrats, I mean, I think a lot of voters are saying that they have an incredible field of choices at this point.

There are so many people jumping to the race. I was with Kamala Harris yesterday at her launch in Oakland and the crowds were going way back deep into the streets. So there is a lot of excitement about this -- you know, this big debate of ideas that the Democrats are going to have. And so I think you will see them continuing to try to discourage him from running, not to mention the fact that I know he says he has ballot access nailed down. But that is going to be a huge endeavor for him to get on the ballot in all of these states and counties around the country. And a lot of Democrats just see that as burning money basically -- Poppy.

AVLON: Well, I'll just say on the ballot issue, that is a major hurdle, but Americans elect got on the battle in 50 states in 2012 which wasn't a great cycle but he can take some comfort from that. Now the obvious analogue here is Michael Bloomberg, you know, you have another billionaire who thought of running for president. And he's running as a Democrat this time or thinking about it because he concluded the independent path was more likely to end up either as a spoiler or couldn't get through the House of Representatives. And obviously Schultz is coming to a different conclusion.

SCIUTTO: So why isn't he running for -- the Washington Democratic Party, his home state, said very clearly, the chairman of the party, said this is about him not about the party. And that's why he's choosing an independent path.

AVLON: Sure.

SCIUTTO: And listen, you know, politicians make decisions for a whole host of reasons. And this could be his assessment as to what his best path is.

AVLON: Sometimes self-interested. You saw the clips from Poppy all these years asking him. His attitude is basically like keep oh no, no, no, keep it coming. That's so embarrassing, I love the attention.

SCIUTTO: And not the first proposition.

AVLON: This is a YOLO thing for him. But what's really interesting is, I think centrist independents would make a greater impact writ large if they didn't focus on the presidency, but start running more focused for Senate like Angus King. Run more governorships. And start showing that this is a winning path for going forward.

HARLOW: His argument, and I --

RESTON: But I would also just say --

HARLOW: I'll ask him -- yes, go -- Maeve, I was just going to say, I wonder, I'll ask him tomorrow when I interview him, would he have run -- you know, if this were two years ago, would he have run as a Democrat? You know, he said that both Republicans and Democrats at this point he thinks are engaged in revenge politics.

[10:25:03] He just looked at what happened over the shutdown. So I wonder if his calculation has really dramatically changed to say look, the only path for me that I see that I can live with is an independent path right now, Maeve.

RESTON: Well, Poppy, when I was talking to sources close to him over the past year or so, he has been investigating this independent candidacy for a long time whether it was possible to get on the ballot in all of the states, how much it would cost. So while it is true that he does think that the Democrats' ideas are too expensive, he clearly sees this as his lane and it's something that he's been thinking about for a long time even though everyone expected that he would jump into the Democratic side.

HARLOW: Sure. It's really interesting. We'll watch. John Avlon, thank you. Maeve, again, you're there because of the town

hall. Big important one tonight. The CNN town hall with Senator Kamala Harris moderated by Jake Tapper in Des Moines, tonight live 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only right here on CNN.

SCIUTTO: There is growing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as protesters in the streets there, many of them demanding a change in their government. We're going to focus in. Stay with us.