Return to Transcripts main page

CNN RIGHT NOW

Venezuela's Opposition Leader Juan Guaido Is Calling For Nationwide Protest This Week, Turning Up The Heat On President Nicolas Maduro; Former Starbuck's CEO, Howard Schultz Says He Is Considering An Independent Run To Bypass The Party Process; A Group Of Economists Found That The President's Tax Cuts Did Not Inspire Companies To Hire More People. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 28, 2019 - 13:30   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, ANCHOR, CNN: Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido is calling for nationwide protest this week, turning up the heat on President Nicolas Maduro. At least 20 people died during earlier protests.

The U.S. wants Maduro gone. They're saying his election was rigged. The U.S. is backing Guiado as interim President until Venezuela can hold new elections. And as these two sides battle it out for control of the country, Venezuela's humanitarian crisis deepens. People desperate for food and other essentials as you can see here.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh went undercover in Caracas for this exclusive report and he found that people are struggling just to stay alive, even in areas loyal to the embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

PATON WALSH (voice over): Cross into Venezuela's unending disaster, the worst growing refugee crisis and it's like the world as you know it, is slowly ending.

Oil once made them the richest in South America, but this is now the line for three days and nights to get a full tank. In the capital, there's a queue for everything, everywhere. Hunger breeds a special kind of anger.

PATON WALSH (on camera): These is how hyperinflation works. These groceries cost $50.00 now because of what's happening with the local currency, they will be worth double at least by next month. People paying tomorrow's prices today.

PATON WALSH (voice over): There is no queuing for the youngest living off what even here nobody wants. This isn't play, it's practice for self-defense.

"My brother got killed in July by another gang," says 14-year-old Ismaria (ph), "They found the body in the river. We gather stuff, we beg, a piece of chicken skin to take home." In the socialist utopia that now leaves nearly every stomach empty. This was the day change was meant to come, hundreds of thousands

flooding central Caracas watching opposition leader Juan Guaido swear himself in as interim President. But it fast turned sour.

They've had this standoff outside the military airfield here for months. But this is the first time with an opposition leader claiming the Presidency. All eyes were on the army and whether it, too, would rise up.

PATON WALSH (on camera): This is the whole question really in the standoff. It's about the military's vote. They may be throwing stones at them here, but what they really need is the army to switch sides.

PATON WALSH (voice over): That didn't happen. And the police teargas and motorcycle charges sent us fleeing down side streets. Some likely wounded although dozens reported dead during the day.

It was up here in the normally loyal slums where the fight was nastiest. Special Forces entered these streets. They have been coming back to make arrests all during the afternoon when we were invited to meet Carolina's extended family where Maduro's base has long lived.

[13:35:10]

PATON WALSH (voice over): The state handouts bought their loyalty for years. But now this is all she has to feed four this day. And they say now they, too, want Maduro gone. "We can't hold it in anymore," one of her cousins says, "We're being crushed. We're beggars now, always begging." "This isn't political, it's survival; people are killing each other for a kilo of rice, for water."

Army defectors outside Venezuela called on soldiers to rise up, but we hear from one junior officer that even when you can't feed your family, it's more complicated.

"I would say 80% of soldiers are against the government, some even go to demonstrations. But the big fishes, the senior officers are the ones eating, getting rich, while on the bottom, we have it hard. I get a dollar and half every month promptly enough for one chicken and a food box from the barracks. Then we have to work magic to make it last, like everyone else."

WALSH (on camera): Would you or the soldiers you know at your level - would you open fire on resistance people in the streets?

"I'd rather quit. That person could be my brother or my mother. We need a general to flip - to make a change."

And, as Washington says Maduro isn't President, but Moscow insists he is, everyone else walks zombielike, further and closer towards starvation.

(END VIDEO TAPE) KEILAR: Powerful reporting there from Nick Paton Walsh from

Venezuela. Thank you. Back here at home, an Axios report says that Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed that President Trump has mused about possible military intervention in Venezuela, but Graham said he warned the President that could be problematic and fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio agrees with him on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCO RUBIO, U.S. SENATOR, FLORIDA, REPUBLICAN: 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. That's what I am calling for.

The United States always retains the right, always, anywhere in the world in any instance to protect its national security. So I am not going to justify military intervention because I don't know who is calling for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: More coverage ahead on this escalating standoff coming up. More now on our 2020 news just in, Michael Bloomberg warning against an independent run, saying that it will help reelect President Trump. His warning coming as former Starbuck's CEO, Howard Schultz considers jumping in as an independent. I'll be speaking live with the Democratic Party in his home state who is begging him not to.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:40:11]

KEILAR: We have seen Democrats lining up to take on President Trump in the 2020 election, but now there may be a challenge from another Democrat, from a former Starbuck's CEO, Howard Schultz who says he is considering an independent run to bypass the party process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER 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)

KEILAR: Now, President Trump appears to be goading Schultz into an independent run that could hurt Democrats, tweeting this morning, "Howard Schultz doesn't have the guts to run for President. I agree with him that he is not the smartest person. Besides, America already has that. I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower." And we should mention that Schultz, when he was talking about not being the smartest person in the room, that was because he was saying he knows how to delegate and surround himself with smart people.

I want to bring in now the Chairwoman of the Washington State Democratic Party, Tina Podlodowski with us now, and Tina, you oppose Howard Schultz's plan. You tweeted making it very clear. You said, "Howard Schultz running as an independent isn't about bringing anyone together. It's about one person: Howard Schultz." What do you worry will happen if he runs?

TINA PODLODOWSKI, CHAIRWOMAN, WASHINGTON STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, we have many years of history where these kinds of independent bids just siphon off a few percentage points of votes and get the wrong person into office.

Certainly everyone -- Democrats, independents, right-minded Republicans -- are united in this idea of getting Donald Trump out of office. We have a lot of people running in the Democratic primary. If Howard Schultz wants to jump in, great. The water is fine. But get your ideas into something like that, but we have to unite around one candidate.

A primary like this where Howard is out on the independent side, well you know what? That just hands the office right back to Donald Trump in 2020.

KEILAR: Washington State is a pretty interesting place during the primary. I covered Hillary Clinton there and Bernie Sanders there. He won the caucus process. She won the primary. There was a lot of enthusiasm for both of them and a lot - I think maybe even more enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders, but one of the complaints coming from Schultz ...

[13:45:09]

KEILAR: ... is that the party is being pulled too far to the left. You know, what do you think about that, where he's making that argument that he sort of feels as an independent maybe he's not exactly a Democrat? That's not what he said, but I'm just saying he's sort of representing a more moderate wing of the Democratic Party.

PODLODOWSKI: Well, I wouldn't know that because Howard Schultz has never talked to me, he's never talked to anybody in the Washington State Democratic Party. In fact, as far as I can tell from his history, Howard Schultz has done the bare minimum to even invest in the Democratic candidate.

Look, you've got somebody like a Michael Bloomberg who is worth 14 times as much as Howard Schultz and who also has at least 20 times the amount of experience politically. In 2016, he looked to do an independent run and concluded not only was it not the right thing to do, but it was incredibly expensive to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Instead, he invested in Democrats and Democratic infrastructure. Howard Schultz hasn't done that, so I challenge Howard, if you really

care about the Democratic values, if you want to help everyone in this country, particularly the middle class and the working class, then maybe invest in the people that are doing the work at the grassroots, not in a vanity Presidential bid.

KEILAR: In 2016, when you would speak to Bernie Sanders supporters, I mean you or anyone, when I would speak to Bernie Sanders supporters, they were really frustrated with the Democratic Party apparatus. They felt like not only had it put a finger on the scale for Hillary Clinton, but they felt like the DNC was sort of jumping on it with both feet and they felt a little bit left behind from the party apparatus.

How do you appeal to candidates who may be feeling that or are looking outside of the party apparatus as they plot try to run?

PODLODOWSKI: Well, I think what the lessons learned in 2016, and I don't think anyone in the party liked the way things happened in 2016, was to make change. Tom Perez has come in as Chair of the DNC and as an entire committee, we have made that change. That's why you see folks jumping in and running from all spectrums of the Democratic Party.

We are a big tent of ideas from the left to the right, and everything in between, and we do want to make sure those ideas are heard. But everyone is also united around whoever the nominee will be, and we can't afford to have a situation like the 2000 election with Ralph Nader running in there in a bid with both Al Gore and George W. Bush. We can't afford to have all of these votes siphoned off. It's going to be close and we need to be united for what's best for the country.

That is getting Donald Trump out of the White House. That is caring about the middle class and that is not something that Howard Schultz is doing right now.

KEILAR: All right, Tina Podlodowski, thank you so much for joining us from Seattle. We appreciate it.

PODLODOWSKI: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: So first we learned that the government shutdown cost the economy $8 billion, and now, another damning report, a group of economists found that the President's tax cuts did not inspire companies to hire more people. Plus, as Tom Brokaw faces heat for comments about Hispanics and language, a Duke University professor urged Chinese students to speak English. We'll have those stories ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:50:32]

KEILAR: A promise kept and a promise broken. President Trump said he'd deliver a big tax cut for corporations and he accomplished that with the help of the Republican-led Congress, but promises that the tax cut would mean more jobs and more investment have not come to fruition.

We have Frank Nothaft with us. He is an analyst for the National Association of Business Economics. And Frank, you actually, you worked on a new report. It looks at how these tax cuts played out. The President has said that his tax cut was going to translate into heavy investment and hiring. That was in turn going to help the economy. Did that happen?

FRANK NOTHAFT, ANALYST, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS ECONOMICS: Well, so far, among the business economists and corporations, that hasn't translated into big increases in investment spending yet. It's probably helped at some firms, but not at the large companies that participated in the survey.

KEILAR: Okay, and so was the expectation that certainly coming from President Trump's promises that that was what he wanted to happen, right?

NOTHAFT: Well, in part, and certainly, the tax cuts did have some benefits in terms of increasing corporate profits and providing certain types of incentives for investing in some types of industry, but overall, not a whole lot of companies have increased their investment spending.

KEILAR: What was the take away of this report?

NOTHAFT: The economic expansion will continue. It's - a lot of companies are finding materials cost and labor costs rising, since it's a bit harder to find skilled labor to meet certain jobs and that's putting a little bit of a squeeze on profit margin. So profit margins are still rising, but not as well as they had been just a year ago.

KEILAR: And the take away on the tax cuts the President put into effect?

NOTHAFT: Well, you know, I think we still have to see how that plays out over the next couple of years. But so far, it hasn't had a big impact on some of the investment decisions at firms.

KEILAR: All right, Frank Nothaft, thank you so much. We really appreciate you explaining this to us.

NOTHAFT: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: After a big kickoff to her campaign Sunday, one 2020 hopeful is taking her pitch straight to Iowa voters today. So will Senator Kamala Harris pass the town hall test?

[13:55:07]

KEILAR: Plus, why is the White House suddenly holding a rare briefing? We're going to take you live to the White House. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, CNN: You are watching CNN on this Monday

afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

[14:00:00]