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Will Stone Make Deal With Mueller?; Assessing the Democratic 2020 Contenders; Trump Threatens Another Government Shutdown Over Border Wall. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 28, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00]

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's over 300,000 Chinese students that study in the U.S. every year.

This has taken off on their version of Twitter, Weibo, with many saying this -- this is racism, that why would you ask so many and recruit, not only Duke, but other universities, recruit Chinese students, if you don't want them to speak Chinese and bring their culture to the fore.

It just has a very strong whiff of hypocrisy here, and many calling it racists, and what would American students think if, when they're studying abroad, and they were only -- they were forced to speak only the language that they were there...

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sounds like a to-be-continued situation at Duke.

MARQUEZ: Yes, working it all out at Duke.

BALDWIN: OK, Miguel, thank you.

MARQUEZ: You got it.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We continue on. Hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

And in just about half-an-hour from now, the White House press secretary will be answering questions from the media for the first time in more than five weeks. It comes as President Trump told "The Wall Street Journal" that there is less than a 50/50 chance that new negotiations over border wall funding will succeed.

If they fail, that could lead to either another government shutdown in about 18 days' time or to the president declaring a national emergency to get the money to build his border wall.

So let's go live to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, who will, of course, be in that Briefing Room momentarily. And so, Jim, it's still stunning to me to see this new report from the

CBO that the government shutdown has so far cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke.

And that's a dollar figure that is double of what the president was asking for, for his border wall down on the border with Mexico. Now, some of that will be recouped, according to the CBO, once these federal workers start receiving their back pay.

But, at the end of the day, there is going to be a big hit to this economy. And I suspect that Sarah Sanders will be asked about that when she has this briefing in about 30 minutes from now. That's the latest time estimate as to when this is going to get started.

And, as you were just saying a few moments ago, Brooke, it has been a long time since we have had a White House briefing over here in the Briefing Room. It's been 41 days since December 18. That was the last time Sarah Sanders had a briefing.

That is such a long period of time that we had a government shutdown, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, in the middle of that time frame. And so there's going to be a lot of questions asked. It'll be interesting to see just how long Sarah Sanders devotes to this briefing.

Some of the later briefings that we saw and at the end of 2018 were running on average in the ballpark of 20 or 25 minutes. And so that may go pretty quickly when we see her come to the podium here in about half-an-hour from now.

But, obviously, the government shutdown is going to be top of mind in that Briefing Room, just 18 days to before the next deadline for a lapse in government funding. And we could be back where we started all over again.

And the president, as you said in that interview with "The Wall Street Journal," that he's only putting the odds of this shutdown or another standoff with Democrats at less than 50/50. Those are not good odds. And it comes just at the very beginning of this negotiation in, this negotiating process with Democrats.

And so that obviously is going to come up, Brooke. I think the other thing that is obviously going to come up is the indictment of Roger Stone, which is sort of caused a firestorm last Friday, with Roger Stone giving the Nixonian salute as he left the courthouse down in Florida.

The president was trying to downplay their relationship over the weekend, saying, well, he wasn't really near me or near us during the election as it got close to election time.

That is something that the president -- that's kind of an excuse the president has used, an explanation the president has used with respect to other people who have been indicted in the Russia investigation. He sort of said the same kind of thing about Paul Manafort and others who have been targeted in the Mueller probe.

And so it'll be interesting to see just how Sarah Sanders frames all of this. What we have noticed in recent days is that she's just tried to stay away from those questions about the Russian investigation altogether.

And one thing finally, Brooke, getting back to the shutdown. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, really emerged at the end of that process late Friday as somebody who even conservative allies of the president agreed had really just sort of taught the president a lesson.

And so I -- one of the things that I will be listening to keenly is whether or not the White House will even admit that they did not come out ahead on this whole standoff over government funding and the wall down on the border.

They have been trying to insist over the last few days -- and the president did this over the weekend in that -- in one of those tweets -- that this was not a concession on the part of the president. That is obviously kind of an assessment that is just not dealing with reality.

And you and I were talking about some of this on Friday when we were watching that Rose Garden speech from the president. It'll be interesting to see whether or not Sarah Sanders and the White House team over here have truly come back to the real world when she steps out to the podium here in about 30 minutes from now.

BALDWIN: Right, the upside -down world of which you spoke on Friday.

[15:05:01]

ACOSTA: That's right.

BALDWIN: Shout out to "Stranger Things."

Also be listening for whether there's a date for a rescheduled State of the Union. All those things, we will be listening for.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BALDWIN: Jim Acosta, thank you so much. We will see you in that Briefing Room in less than half-an-hour.

Meantime, 35 days of partisan bickering, hundreds of thousands of Americans forced to make desperate choices after going without pay for a month, all of it just driving home a key factor to so many. Our government is broken.

And it could be one reason why Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, is thinking about making a bid for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: While millions may love his coffee, it is a hard pass on his politics.

The Schultz news is lighting up social media and sparking fears that -- many on the left, they think his White House ambitions mean that the current occupant, Donald Trump, could stay there for another four years.

And check out this response. This from the Washington state Democratic Party, who sent Schultz a four-message, featuring a twist on the iconic Starbucks coffee cup -- quoting -- "Don't do it, Howard."

CNN senior national political responded correspondent Maeve Reston is in Des Moines.

I mean, it's funny, maybe not so much for him. We should also mention, though, before I ask you my question, you're obviously in Iowa, where a potential Schultz opponent, Kamala Harris, Democratic senator of California, will take part in this CNN town hall tonight.

But I want to drill down on the Howard Schultz news with you first, because he hasn't even formally jumped in the race. Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and fellow billionaire, is saying no way.

Tell me why.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brooke.

That is so fascinating. I mean, this race has Barely started. And this Howard Schultz news is really the biggest earthquake that we have seen already. One Republican strategist was actually describing it to me this morning as the Democrats' worst nightmare.

And you saw even Michael Bloomberg, another billionaire who may run as a Democrat, tweeting today: "We must remain united and we must not allow any candidate to divide or fracture us. The stakes couldn't be higher."

So, obviously, so much pressure coming straight at Howard Schultz just at the moment that he is talking about these plans. He obviously has a fascinating biography, incredible success in the business world, but there are so many Democrats out there, particularly voters that I have talked to, who think that they already have like a pretty fabulous field to choose from, and they are terrified that this announcement by Schultz will mean that he will peel a lot of independent Votes, some Democratic votes, and perhaps make Donald Trump's play to his base look like the smartest political move that he ever made, if it's a three-way race, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Which is perhaps one of the reasons why it was Howard Schultz and not Kamala Harris that the president took on, on Twitter, sort of his way of baiting him and saying, bring it. So says John King to me last hour. Come on in, the water is fine.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Maeve Reston, we look forward to all your reporting. Loved your pieces from Oakland over the weekend. Thank you.

And speaking of in, her bid to be the 46th president of the United States, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris is pulling no punches when it comes to where she thinks President Trump falls short.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we have leaders who bully and attack a free press and undermine our democratic institutions, that's not our America.

We must seek truth, speak truth, and fight for the truth. We will deliver the largest working and middle-class tax cut in a generation. Climate change is real and it is happening now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: From mass incarceration, to cash bail, to policing, our criminal justice system needs drastic repair. We will secure our elections and our critical infrastructure to protect our democracy. And health care is a fundamental right, and we will deliver that right with Medicare for all.

Education is a fundamental right. We will guarantee that right with universal pre-K and debt-free college. And, folks, on the subject of transnational gangs, let's be perfectly clear. The president's medieval vanity project is not going to stop them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Senator Harris' multiracial background, Jamaican, Indian, and legislative record have led some pundits to call her the female Obama.

And Harris has quite a bit of company among Democrats eager to replicate the success of the first black president.

[15:10:03]

But my next guest says candidates need to forge their own path if they want to win in 2020. Bill Scher is a contributor, editor to Politico magazine. And in his newest piece, he writes about what he calls the foolish quest to be the next Barack Obama.

So, Bill, thank you so much for being on. Welcome.

Great to be here.

BALDWIN: So, before we get to the crux of your piece, on what I was just talking about, out of the gate, you point out how several of these 2020 contenders already have these comparisons to President Obama.

So give the audience some examples.

BILL SCHER, POLITICO: Well, Kamala is the female Obama. Julian Castro is being pitched as a Latino Obama. Beto O'Rourke was called -- he's Barack Obama, but white, by one of the -- one Democratic donor to Politico a few weeks ago.

Everyone wants to carve -- emulate what he did, but it's a much more complicated and chaotic primary in 2020 than we had in 2008. People -- that ended up being a binary choice between Hillary Clinton and Barack. Obama.

We're going to have possibly 20 candidates, the most people of color, the most women. People are going to have choices. And you can't just simply fuse the way Obama did African-Americans, plus youth, plus white liberals, and, boom, you got the nomination.

It's going to be a much more complicated jigsaw puzzle of permutations that these candidates are going to have to figure out how to piece together.

BALDWIN: So on the complexities of this country, of the African- American zone and how you talk about how it shouldn't be treated as a monolithic bloc, I love this line from you.

"The demographic path Obama chartered in the 2008 Democratic primaries is a tantalizing one. Put together African-Americans with young voters and white liberals who live near Whole Foods and you can send every other Democrat packing."

But you say, Bill, that these candidates cannot recreate Obama's '08 success. Why?

SCHER: Well, it take -- take the African-American vote, for example.

African-Americans voted for Obama 85, 90 percent over Hillary Clinton in 2008, and Obama won a ton of delegates in the Southern Black Belt, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. That was the ball game. His margin of delegate victory was there, and then some.

Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders, she got 85, 90 percent of the African-American vote in those states as well. And that gave her not the entire margin of victory, but a good portion of it.

If that vote is going to split between, say, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker -- Jim Clyburn, who is the dean of the South Carolina Democratic delegation, knows the African-American vote in South Carolina very well. He predicts Biden is going to win South Carolina.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHER: Even if that's not true...

BALDWIN: But aren't you saying -- because if you look at the polls you provided in your piece in Politico, it's Biden who has the biggest numbers when you talk so much about the all-important South Carolina primary, the first majority black primary.

And it's those names, Harris, Booker, and Biden. But isn't the point, even though that's the indication now in January of 2019, like so many people are still -- they're still shopping?

SCHER: Well, that's it. They're shopping.

There's not an automatic place that you can say every black voter is going to go here. It's going to be a much more complicated race. And Clyburn himself said, when I talk to African-American voters, what I hear are Biden, Harris and Booker.

And that's just today. Maybe that list gets bigger over the course the next year-and-a-half. You're right. It's early. I can't take a poll today and say this is what's going to happen. But we're at a point where there are choices and you can't assume that that entire vote is going to go in one place.

It might come down to differences in education level and gender and age. Bernie Sanders won a decent amount of the African-American vote amongst young African-Americans. Maybe he keeps that this time around.

Early polling says he's running second with African-Americans behind Biden. Kamala Harris is at 7 percent in the most in the most -- in the Politico with African-Americans. That's before her announcement. That could go up or down.

But once you have Harris and Booker, maybe also Eric Holder, another African-American candidate who could jump in, if no one's going to own that black vote, a white candidate is going to say, maybe I get a piece of it.

Julian Castro might say, I can get a piece of that too. And if no one gets one, if no one candidate gets the whole thing, that Obama coalition doesn't materialize.

BALDWIN: This is going to be absolutely incredible to cover.

When you when you look at obviously what happened in elections past and you talk about the complexities and everything to look ahead for 2020, what do you think the thing will be, Bill, to spell success for the candidate in 2020?

SCHER: I mean, I can't -- it cannot be boiled down to a single issue or even a single philosophy. Some people assume it's going to be who's the most populist.

But -- it could be, but it could be who's the most pragmatist. We don't know yet. What I think is going to matter most is who understands the complexity of the Democratic Party, not the caricature of the Democratic Party. Who can understand the differences in all these demographics subgroups and piece together that winning coalition?

[15:15:10]

Howard Schultz said he's not running in the Democratic primary because they have moved too far left, because they're for federal job guarantees and single-payer.

Well, not every Democrat is for those things. I mean, it may be the nomination -- the nominee does believe that, but that's not a certainty. He took a crude analysis of the party and decided he couldn't compete.

But a Michael Bloomberg, a Terry McAuliffe, a Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, even Joe Biden, these folks are not in the Bernie wing, and they may do well. We will have to see. And the candidate that understands that it's not a one-size-fits-all Democratic Party, that candidate, I think, is going to do the best.

BALDWIN: And it's just January of 2019. It's so exciting.

Bring it all on. Bill Scher, thank you so much. Appreciate you and your voice and all those thoughts.

And just again, Senator Kamala Harris joins Jake Tapper for a live town hall from Iowa tonight 10:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

Moments from now, the first White House press briefing in over a month, so we will take that live the moment Sarah Sanders steps behind that podium.

Also, is Roger Stone willing to cut a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller? Why Stone is now comparing his arrest by the FBI to the raids of bin Laden and El Chapo.

And it was the moment that President Trump and Jared Kushner thought -- quote -- "The Russia thing was finally behind them" -- what Chris Christie is now revealing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:20:58]

BALDWIN: We're learning today that the FBI raided a third location related to the indictment of Trump associate Roger Stone. So, in addition to his homes both in Florida and New York, a storage unit in Florida also got raided.

This is happening as his, shall we call it, media blitz continues. Stones spoke with camera crews outside his Florida home today before heading to Washington for his arraignment tomorrow.

He also used the opportunity to blast the special counsel after his indictment on seven felony charges, including witness tampering, lying and obstruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I must say, I don't understand who Mr. Mueller is accountable to, if he's not accountable to the Congress and he's not accountable to the executive. And he has broad authority because our special counsel law has expired.

You can see the kind of travesty that you saw last week. To Stone my house with a greater force than was used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorize my wife and my -- and my dogs, it's unconscionable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The layup of fact-checks. The FBI knocked on his door.

Let's bring in CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and Jeff Zeleny, CNN senior Washington correspondent.

So good to see both of you.

And as we wait for this press briefing over at the White House in just minutes from now, Gloria, let me start with you.

Roger Stone says he has no intention of cutting a deal with Robert Mueller. But the question is, would Mueller even want to cut a deal with him?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so. I really don't.

I can't imagine that anyone would think that Roger Stone would be a credible witness, particularly after Mueller's office has just indicted him for lying, for heaven's sake.

So I think what Mueller would like from Roger Stone -- and we saw that they gathered more things today from a storage place owned by Roger Stone. I think they want his devices. I think they want his information that he has in his cell phone and his computer and all kinds of things.

But I think Roger Stone, per se, is not somebody that they would want.

BALDWIN: On the Mueller probe, Jeff Zeleny, we also just learned that Senators Blumenthal and Grassley introduced this bipartisan bill to require that the special counsel's report be made public.

Do you expect some pushback from the White House on that?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think there certainly could be, because this all along, Brooke, has been something that -- I mean, the president has done nothing but try to discredit, belittle, demean the whole integrity of this report.

So the fact that now you have a bipartisan effort in the Senate, which is pretty unusual, in and of itself -- there are -- probably you can count the number of times on one hand that there has been a bipartisan effort on this topic, with the exception of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So I think it is something that is a bit unusual. We have not yet heard from the White House on this. My guess is that this is not something that they would like, per se, because we do know the president was not exactly thrilled with some of the testimony from his attorney general nominee, William Barr, about, A, his friendliness with Bob Mueller, but, B, his forthrightness of saying that he does believe that most of this should be released.

So we will see where this goes, if Mitch McConnell would ever bring this up to a vote. That, of course, is an open question. But this, among with many, many, many other things, certainly could be a topic of questioning at today's briefing from Sarah Sanders.

BALDWIN: We're minutes away from that.

Jeff and Gloria, stay with me, because as we await this press briefing, which, again, the last time there was a press briefing, it was December 18, we want to talk Chris Christie, Chris Christie and this extraordinary tidbit from his book where he says Jared Kushner thought the Russia investigation would be over as soon as Michael Flynn was fired.

We all know how well that worked out. We will discuss whether President Trump should be questioning the advice of his son-in-law.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:25:34]

BALDWIN: All right, as we wait for the White House press briefing and some Q&A with Sarah Sanders, Gloria and Jeff are back with me.

And, Gloria, let's talk about Chris Christie. So, in his book that is out tomorrow, Christie wrote that Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, thought that firing Michael Flynn, the -- at the time the national security adviser, would actually end the Russia investigation.

And, according to "The New York Times"' account of the book, Chris Christie was having lunch with Trump a day after Flynn's firing, when he told Trump -- quote -- "The Russia thing is far from over."

And Trump said this to him: "What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn.