Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Bipartisan Group To Meet Wednesday On Compromise Border Security Deal; Estimates On Shutdown's Economic Toll Released; Shultz: I Will Run Outside The Two-Party System; U.S. Envoy Taliban And U.S. Agree To Framework For Peace. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 28, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said if I want to go that route, even Democrats want to go there.

So, we started the point where he's very unlikely to get a big immigration deal, but there is that fulfilling among Senate Republicans that the President just makes things harder. Let Congress do its job -- see if they can get a deal. If they can't, then --

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Then what is the question? Because if you look at the list of the 17 people, conference committee, it use to be the way they did things in Washington. It doesn't happen any more.

House passes something, Senate passes something, then they have a group get-together, they figure it out and they send it to the President. Yes, the administration gets something and put it in the process. But if you look at that group, the President is not getting $5.7 billion there are for a wall.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No.

KING: Nancy Pelosi doesn't have to put her fingerprints on it because she's put loyalists on that conference committee --

BASH: That's where it stay.

KING: -- sure she can stay back.

BASH: Right.

KING: Because guess what, they're going to report to her every time there's a big decision to make.

BASH: And if Lamar Alexander's advice which sounds legitimate in a normal situation if it followed, he might end up in the exact position and everybody was back in December, which is everybody in Congress agrees on something except there's a little problem with the guy back in the White House whose signature you need.

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.

BASH: One quick thing I just -- I'm just getting a text, apparently Brad Parscale who is the President's campaign manager is preparing some data to give to the President. At some point, presumably today, to help guide him on the way that some of these swing districts view border security. That might be a big factor in how the President goes forward depending on what that data shows.

LINSKEY: I don't think if you look at the people, to your point -- if you look at the people who are on that committee, these are not firebrands on either side. I mean, sure certainly not the House numbers but in the Senate also, I mean, these are deal makers.

So what they come up with unfortunately the President may not be what something that includes that money and that he's wanting to sign.

RAJU: One thing I was look at for in this next round, these are such a frustration with the way the shutdown went that lawmakers on both sides are sort of talk about legislation that actually prevent a major shutdown.

BASH: Yes.

LINSKEY: Yes.

RAJU: The one thing that Alexander told me was that tie that to that any final agreement because they don't want to go that route. But once Democrats in the House had to push something earlier to kind of pressure the Senate to act to deny the President's ability to shut down the government, again, we'll see if that picks up more steam, but that's certainly something they'll want to talk about.

KING: The interesting to the point you made about this data, are they learning any lessons here? Because a lot of people would say, "Why did the President do that for two years when he's party control Congress?" Get the data, identify the places and that way to go.

BASH: Exactly.

KING: And go to those places in the country and make your case saying, "I won on election on this, can I have it please from my own party. It's a little steep a challenge now but we shall see if lessons are learned.

Here up next, an expensive 35 days for the U.S. economy. What experts estimate that shutdown will costs in terms of lost growth?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:37:08] KING: Topping our political radar, the White House reacting to the possibility another Republican could challenge the President in the 2020 primaries. This weekend, the "New York Times" reporting growing on ease on the President's campaign team after the government shutdown.

White House Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp saying this morning the President, "Is ready for any Republican who may challenge him and has a wonderful list of accomplishments to run on". The Democratic Congressional campaign committee putting 33 House Republicans on notice, it wants their seats and we'll target them aggressively on 2020.

The cluster this map on Twitter page highlighting various districts, the DCCC believes are in play. Next year, among the Republicans it's targeting Congressman Debra Nunes of California and Congressman Peter King of New York and Congressman Steve King of Iowa.

Some ugly estimates -- ugly estimates of how much the government shutdown will cost the American economy. S&P Global ratings puts the number at least $6 billion. The Congressional Budget Office release it's estimates this morning projecting $8 billion has been lost in January. That of course is more than the $5.7 billion the President requested yet to receive for his border wall.

More bright spot says the CBO is that much of 8 billion can be made up in the months ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEITH HALL, DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: We do think that once the government is back in place, the federal workers begin to work again. We think there will be a fairly quick recovery from that. There is a permanent loss, however, right? You lose the government output for five weeks. That's never made up. So, we think on that we're still going to be about $3 billion short on GDP.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's get a little (ph), economics into the program. This was one of the questions throughout the whole thing. The President wants his wall. Is he willing, if he ramps up for reelection, to risk a whack at the economy, a dent in the economy? So whether -- how quickly the economy recovers is a big factor now as to how long the damage lasts.

RAJU: Yes and that's why nobody in this town wants a shutdown, except for the President. He seems to be the only one advocating for a shutdown repeatedly over and over again, but Republicans and Democrats want to do everything they can to stop it because you don't really get what you want ultimately from any policy standpoint. The aggressor in the fight usually loses the fight, whether Republican or Democrat and the impact or significant economically and otherwise not to mentioned those federal contractors who's money will not be made up. Other federal workers will get paid back but contractors won't.

So, significant damage with the President learned a lesson for that. That's the big question.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Look, you see the political motivation from Pelosi and her negotiations on the shutdown and kind of one fell swoop she went after the wall which is a big campaign promise and his image as a negotiator.

And up all over the weekend, the one quality that Trump is still not under water in, he's over 50 percent in how people view him handling the economy. All the personal characteristics have been paint over for two years and that is his one last -- the one last thing he has to hold on to.

[12:40:07] KING: That's George H.W. Bush, the last one term president to now deal with this is, George H.W. Bush the economy. Writings on the economy, a matter lot heading into reelection.

Up next is the guy who used to run Starbucks read to run the country, 2020, it's getting interesting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Democrats have a new 2020 worry today, and yes, President Trump is trying to stir the pot. The former Starbuck's CEO and long-time Democrat Howard Schultz to says he's taking steps now to run for President as an Independent. Leading Democrats are protesting because they're worried Schultz could siphon votes from their nominee and help the President reelection.

President Trump clearly agrees with this Democratic analysis. He's trying to bait Schultz today with a tweet, questioning his smart and saying Schultz doesn't have the guts to run. Schultz calls President Trump unqualified for the nation's highest office, but listen here, he also has some pretty harsh words for the Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:45:07] HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER STARBUCKS CEO: 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)

KING: The question is, will he sounds there like he is running? He says he's going on this book tour and take a couple months to think about it. In his face immediately is Michael Bloomberg, another millionaire and someone who has on a few occasions looked at the possibility of running as an Independent and Bloomberg being quite honest about that in this statement. He says he's looked at in the past, "The data was very clear and very consistent given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the electoral college system, there is no way an Independent can win. That is truer today than ever before". He goes on to talk about how the most important thing to do is defeat Donald Trump in 2020. The question is -- is Howard Schultz going to listen to Mike Bloomberg?

BASH: It doesn't sound like it, because he's already been hiring people from both sides of the aisle. People who have campaign experience. I mean, it was made clear in that 60 minutes piece. We know from our reporting that is the case and he wants to create his own lane and he has the money to do it.

You know, will he at the end maybe see something that Michael Bloomberg says that he is seeing? Perhaps. But it certainly doesn't sound like it now. It's not as if Howard Schultz didn't consider the idea of running as a Democrat. He's been a Democratic contributor, a Democratic, you know activist with his money and elsewhere from the beginning.

LINSKEY: It's not as if this data that Bloomberg and that is hasn't been shared with him already and we all have to assume that Schultz has gotten this memo privately from the Bloomberg folks and decided not to read it or decided to disregard it, because it's just not a new argument.

KING: Or, decided to test in the age of Trump if things have changed since 2016. Bloomberg looked at it in 2016, he looked at it before 2016 and he was talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger about these years ago before he (INAUDIBLE) --

BASH: But I think he's looked at it most 2016.

LINSKEY: Yes.

KING: Yes.

BASH: When he decided to with to become a Democrat.

KING: This yes, yes.

BENDER: He is and kind of make that clearer though, that what his path forward is. You know, history is littered with, you know, with third-party campaigns that have not been successful. Bloomberg is nothing, if not data driven. He has recent analysis -- you know, recent analysis on this.

BASH: Right.

BENDER: If Schultz is seeing something, you know, that neither side is than past or future, then he sort of needs to start making that point of how that happens.

KING: And in this is another reason Democrats are worried that assuming -- let's assume he runs and assume he's a Ross Perot that he can't win but you have an impact. You're getting some percentage of the vote.

BENDER: Yes.

KING: Here, this is going to end up. This is probably going to end up in a Republican anyway. He says, "Listen to the Democrats on Healthcare just like the President".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: That this is again, it's not just siphoning votes away, it's making an argument that undermines what a lot of the Democratic candidates say. Now, Bloomberg might say the same thing in the Democratic primaries, that wait a minute, you know, I agree with your goal, how are we going to pay for this? But that's damning to the Democrats.

RAJU: Yes and that's probably why he's not running in the Democratic nomination because that kind of argument is probably not going to pick up steam with voter Iowa, Democratic voters New Hampshire and the like, want it here these big ideas. Some of them pie in the sky ideas that would be very difficult if not impossible to implement, but he may be offering something that's more grounded in reality about what actually can be achievable particularly in Washington.

So, that's one reason why Democrats are fearful about this and he's got money and puts real money behind it. He's on media a lot. He's bashing Democrats but also aligning himself with Democratic values and democratic positions. He pulls away support from them.

So the question is, how much will he be able to take all the pressure and income and that's going to come from the Democrats.

LINSKEY: It's so hard to see what the path is. I mean, you'd think if you are so eager to have your -- you know, to put your message out there and to run for president, 2016 would have been the perfect time to do it. I mean, there were a lot of choices certainly on the Democratic side.

And now there's just basically everybody is running if you're a Democrat and you have a huge array of idealogies that are going to be out there. And so it is hard to see what is the rationale? Why do we need his version of being a moderate versus, you know, Biden's, Bloomberg's or the, you know, the many governors that might get then?

KING: Well, if he can afford it, you skip the primary process and you guarantee you're on the ballot but if you -- if he can afford it, the biggest test is go back and look at Ross Perot's FEC forms from long long ago. You have to spend tens of millions of dollars just to get on the ballot because the only thing the two parties agree is making it hard, there going to be a viable nude part --

[12:50:12] BASH: Which for him is like not even a tall latte at Starbucks.

KING: Correct and well put. The question is, you know, if the data at that moment you have to cut that check. Tells you you're probably going to lose. Does he want to build a new independent party even if he win or lose? That's one thing. It's different and we'll see if it happens.

Up next, US negotiators say and this is critical close to a deal with the Taliban.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:55:11] KING: Today signs of possible progress in bringing America's longest war to a close. Seventeen years after the first American died from insurgent gunfire, nine years after the first attempt to broker peace and four years since the American combat mission in Afghanistan officially ended. The United States and the Taliban had agreed in principle to reframe work for negotiating a formal end to this endless war.

Today, cautious optimism from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: Hopefully later on this week we can get together and talk about some of the encouraging conversations that are going on with the Taliban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been tasked to consider, prepare for a full withdrawal or no?

SHANAHAN: I know, I have not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson with us live from London. Nick, what's the most important part of this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There is an understanding that there should be a sequence of agreements here that if there is an agreement for a cease fire, then that could or would be expected to lead directly to U.S.-Taliban talks about a U.S. troop withdrawal that would have conditions since Taliban has some key conditions there. And while that was happening, confidence building measures and that would give way to talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

You're talking about the potential here. We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves and so a lot of hiccups in the way potentially but on the path beginning of potentially some sort of peace.

KING: On the path some sort of peace you say Nic. What's the next big step?

ROBERTSON: Well the next big step the at the moment is, Zalmay Khalilzad has been negotiating U.S. special representative and Afghanistan has been negotiating essentially with the Taliban's number two, Mullah, Baradar, just release from jail by the Pakistan this last year.

He's not entirely trusted by the Taliban leadership at the moment, he's respected by the Taliban foot soldiers. But what he is discussing with Zalmay Khalilzad has really as we understand it's not been put to the Taliban field commanders. So in part if this is going to progress at all and while Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar have an understanding if it's going to progress at all this is going to be by end from the field level of the Taliban. And it's not clear that that's there and inside I been told, Taliban in Kandahar they are holding up the whole process.

KING: An important point from Nic Robertson. We have now, John Kirby joins the conversation. We are not maybe at this point but we've tried this before. There have been some progress, setbacks.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: We have. Yes.

KING: In your view, what makes this potentially different?

KIRBY: Well, I think Nic hit one real big thing and that's the Taliban is not a monolithic organization. Not everybody sings from the same song sheet and there is a lot of distrust. There's going to be spoilers, even at the foot level. There's going to people that want a terrorist a center.

Number two, the Afghan government eventually has to be brought into this process. They are the Democratic reelected leadership in that country and they have to be a part of this. You don't want a situation where the Taliban can govern Afghanistan.

Again, in number three, the devils in the details. Yes, a cease fire is the next obvious step, but what does that mean? For how long? In what areas?

And what would be the limits? What would be the requirements for any U.S. withdrawal? Over what period of time and from what geographic areas? A lot of work to be done.

KING: And to the trust point that Nic made, you're negotiating here with the devil in some ways. This is the organization that provided a safe haven to Al Qaeda. A lot of Americans would jump back on that. We have no choice, right?

KIRBY: Absolute and we always knew that, John. I mean, even in the Obama administration, we always knew that the only way this war gets solved is peacefully through a negotiated settlement and that has to include the Taliban. The Taliban used to govern Afghanistan. They still have governing ambitions and in fact are in effect local governance in various District.

So it has to -- you have to sit down with them. The question is when can you pull the Afghan, the Democratic reelected Afghan into that process and how much can you trust them to actually move forward on this confidence building measure.

KING: I don't know if Nic is still with us, part of this deal is of an assurance from the Taliban that they will never give safe haven to Terrorists again. Nic, the question is, can that be trusted?

ROBERTSON: Right now, I've been told that the Taliban is giving safe haven to what were described to me as Al Qaeda sleeper cells, that they are being monitored, that they are getting food and supplies that they are not fighting.

The implication is if there isn't a deal and the Taliban should have a foothold back in the Capital Kabul, you'll have Al Qaeda right where they would essentially pre-September the 11th then that's not a scenario anyone can live with.

KING: And that is quickly right and where America's longest war.

KIRBY: That's exactly right. And I'm also a little worried about our leverage at the table because he's now agreed, Trump has agreed to cut our troops in half with no called commitment requirements on the Taliban side.

KING: Nick Robertson and Admiral Kirby, appreciate it. Let's stay hopeful even though this is incredibly complicated. So if a lot of families in America would like this war to be over at some point.

Appreciate it both gentleman, thanks for joining us INSIDE POLITICS and I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere, a lot of breaking news today. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a good day.