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President Trump Lashes Out At Intel Chief; Extreme Low Temperatures Sweep Across The Country. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 30, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. It appears someone touched a nerve with President Trump this morning, and that someone being every single leader of the U.S. intelligence community. Today the president is lashing out again at the intel chiefs for their assessment of the threats currently facing the United States. Assessments that directly contradict how the president sees things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: We have won against ISIS. We've beaten them and beaten them badly.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.
TRUMP: Chairman Kim, we have a great chemistry and we're well on our way. You know, we signed an agreement that says we will begin the immediate denuclearization.
COATS: North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up nuclear weapons and production capabilities.
TRUMP: I have president Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this; I don't see any reason why it would be.
WRAY: Not only the Russians continued to do it in 2018 but we've seen indication that they're continuing to adapt their model.
TRUMP: We cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.
COATS: We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now, in response to all of that, the president went off on Twitter today in a series of tweets calling the intel leaders extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran for one, also saying they are wrong. The president ended his Twitter storm with this demeaning suggestion, saying they should go back to school. But just so we're clear, these six leaders who testified before the Senate yesterday have decades of experience between them. That goes without saying. Gina Haspel's been with the CIA since 1985.
Dan Coats has been a congressman, a senator and ambassador before becoming director of National Intelligence, and that's just a couple of them. And yes, it is not new when the president goes off on Twitter, but it is still remarkable that the intelligence community broke so directly from the president and that the president, if you've seen these tweets, isn't even trying to hide it. Let's go to CNN's Abby Phillips, she's at the White House. Abby, what are you hearing there today?
ABBY PHILLIPS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Kate, there was time in President Trump's administration when he talked about the intelligence people, he might have been referring to his predecessor, or the people who worked for his predecessor. This time around all of those individuals are people he put in those jobs, people who work for him. But they represent an intelligence community that have culling through the facts of the intelligence they've been gathering and they've produced an assessment of the situation in the world that seems to directly contradict President Trump. But of course this is not new that President Trump would, in his own view, have a better understanding of the facts of the situation than intelligence chiefs or perhaps the generals, as he used to say on the campaign trail.
What is happening here is that President Trump is singling out Iran in this situation, saying that the situation with Iran's economy is proof that his policy of pulling out of the Iran deal is working. He says the Iranian economy is crashing, but at the same time the intelligence chiefs say the underlying deal which was about dealing with Iran's ability to obtain a nuclear weapon is still working.
And not only that, this full assessment they laid out to Congress yesterday details all of the different threats throughout the world, whether it is ISIS or climate change, and says that they are still present despite the president saying ISIS has been defeated. Intelligence chiefs said that there are thousands of fighters still in Iraq and Syria. And one more thing, President Trump has been talking recently a lot about the situation at the border, calling it a major crisis, calling it a national security crisis.
But yesterday when those individuals testified, they did not rate border security as one of their top concerns. That is incredibly telling and it just goes to show that when President Trump is talking about a lot of these issues, he is looking at it from a political lens. Intelligence chiefs have a different job. They're looking at it based on the information they're collected over months and years and their perspective is clearly very different, Kate.
[11:05:00] BOLDUAN: With ISIS, I can't tell if the president is coming or going. Because in addition to what you're talking about with regard to Syria, the president has said -- the president is now saying that the caliphate -- said in a tweet that the caliphate is almost gone. I'm paraphrasing. And just wasn't it last week that Mike Pompeo said the caliphate has been eliminated? So when it comes to the administration, no matter who's talking, it's different depending on the day and depending on the leader. Anyway, we'll continue. Great to see you, Abby. Thank you so much, thanks for trying to find some clarity on this.
Let's go from the White House over to Capitol Hill right now where we are looking right now at a shutdown sit-down. And folks, that is supposed to be viewed as progress at this moment. In just over two hours, a bipartisan group of 17 lawmakers are going to be sitting down to try and pull off what until now has been impossible, a deal found the government that Democrats and Republicans on capitol hill can agree to and one that the president would sign off on. So what are the chances and what is expected? CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill with all of the answers. Manu, what are you hearing?
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president of course tweeted this morning saying that it essentially would be a waste of time for these negotiations to even go forward if they're not going to discuss funding for his border wall and for the barrier he's been asking for on the southern border that prompted that 35-day government shutdown. When I asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whether she agrees if it's a waste of time, she said this.
NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: No. I think the conference can reach a good result left to its own devices without any interference from anybody else. I have confidence in the appropriators.
RAJU: Should the president stay out?
PELOSI: It's a signed (ph) bill (ph).
RAJU: A not so subtle message for the White House and for the president to stay away from these negotiations going forward and allow House and Senate negotiators on this conference committee to talk about whether or not they can get a deal about funding the wall on the border. Of course, the president has been demanding $5.7 billion for that barrier.
Talking to Republicans and Democrats, Kate they know that is very unlikely, that if anything is reached, it will be much less than that. And whether or not the Democrats allow any money to be appropriated for the wall is still an open question. I just talked to the majority leader of the House, Steny Hoyer who would not say whether or not they would accept any money for the wall.
And Nancy Pelosi in a private meeting, I'm told, this morning with Democratic freshmen did not draw any red lines on this issue, said she's confident in this conference process to reach an agreement, but she did share poll numbers with these Democrats, Kate and the Democrats are winning on this issue. So we'll see if they show any signs of give this afternoon when they meet for the first time between the 17 members of house and senate negotiators.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BOLDUAN: And your reporting is really interesting, Manu, considering that Nancy Pelosi very clearly drew lines in the sand previously when it came to the wall and getting the government reopen with those negotiations, and now she has faith in the appropriators is what you're hearing today. Let us see what that meeting brings. Optimism, let's just pretend we're optimistic. Great to see you, Manu, thank you so much for working and keeping an eye on that.
The entire country is keeping an eye on the thermometer right now. Over 90 million Americans woke up to sub zero temperatures today with some facing blinding whiteout conditions. The wind-chill in Minnesota could approach 70 below. Yes, 70 below. I cannot even fathom it. CNN's Ryan Young is joining now from Chicago where the temperature today will be colder than Antarctica. Ryan, I'm so sorry. I'm going to talk as fast as possible so you can get inside. You're at the epicenter of the deep freeze. How is it going?
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, but you've got to think about those folks in Minnesota dealing with that wind-chill of negative 70. Look, we had wind chills maybe reaching negative 50 here. When you think about Chicago and all the beautiful scenes it has, people a lot of times talk about the river. Kate, take a look at this, because you can see it. It looks like an ice skating rink here.
Everything is frozen over. Of course, what you need to see and hear is the wind whipping through here. And I also wish you can smell it and feel it because it is so cold here. Usually Michigan would be bustling with traffic, tourists and people walking to work. We haven't seen a lot of that. So far, 24 warming shelters all over Chicago, winter is really hitting the city with a hard punch.
YOUNG: Nearly 3/4 of the U.S. bracing for bitter cold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like I'm going into a freezer.
YOUNG: Digging out, as life threatening low temperatures and ferocious winds grip the Midwest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to take a breath in. It's affecting my lungs a little bit.
YOUNG: In Wisconsin, a 55-year-old man found frozen in his garage after authorities say he apparently collapsed while shoveling snow. Slippery roads making travel a nightmare. This dash cam video capturing the treacherous driving conditions in Minnesota where police say 193 crashes were reported on Tuesday. The wind-chill at this Benson, Minnesota airport clocking in at 62 degrees below zero.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really, really, dangerous out right now.
YOUNG: This 13-vehicle pileup in Michigan bringing the highway to a standstill for hours.
SGT. ERIC WESTVEER, OTTAWA COUNTY, MICHIGAN SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Slow down and leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you and be prepared for whiteout conditions.
YOUNG: In Illinois, giant patches of ice blanketing the Chicago River, residents insisting they're ready for the deep freeze.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm dressed in layers, so I have two pairs of pants on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But as long as I bundle up, have a hat, have a coat. I think I'll be fine.
YOUNG: ... Dangerously cold air predicted to make temperatures here feel like 50 below.
J.B. PRITZKER, (D) ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: These conditions are and can be life threatening. Even short periods of exposure to this type of weather can be dangerous.
YOUNG: Winds also whipping in North Dakota where it's expected to be negative 20 degrees. Across the nation airlines canceling thousands of flights because of the deep freeze.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were putting the deicer on and the deicer froze on the plane.
YOUNG: And for Amtrak customers, all Chicago trains suspended. The flames on these tracks, intentional, crew's setting them on fire to keep commuter trains going.
The weather is so cold the United States Postal Service suspending deliveries in multiple states across the country.
YOUNG: So you can feel the cold temperatures and you can see the wind blowing behind us but we wanted to show you this, Kate, before we left. Our producer, Bill, (ph) will pass me this hot water that we have here. Take this hot water and see the effects of how cold it is here.
You can see how it just almost turns to dust it is so cold. That's hot water. Just imagine it on your skin for ten hours at a time. They're telling people to stay inside because really this could be dangerous like temperatures throughout the next 24 to 48 hours.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BOLDUAN: I heard some reporters say this morning that when they were out in it they were - there were icicles forming on their tear ducts it was so cold. Ryan, thank you so much, so brutal right now.
So how long is this going to last? Meteorologist Jennifer Gray, she's tracking all of this for us in the CNN Weather Center. Jennifer, what's going on?
JENNIFER GRAY, METEOROLOGIST CNN: Well a lot of places won't get above zero until Friday so this is - it's been long lived and it's also been far reaching. We've seen a lot of areas anywhere from say Minneapolis, International Falls all the way east of Cleveland and it's going to spread even further east as we go through the next day or so.
So right now feeling like 50 below zero in Chicago. Feels like 46 below in Minneapolis. Feels like even 29 below in Cleveland and as we go through this afternoon it's not going to get much better by 5:00. Chicago still at 39 degrees below zero, Indianapolis 19 below, 25 below in Cleveland and 34 below in Minneapolis.
And then by tomorrow morning we're going to see temperatures much of the same. In fact, Chicago's actual temperature will be cooler but it won't be as windy so it's not going to feel as cold as it was today. And New York City actually wakes up tomorrow morning feeling like 10 below zero.
So this does spill into the Northeast. Not going to last as long in the Northeast as it has in the Midwest. 39 possible record lows and of course, by the end of the weekend, Kate, temperatures will rebound very, very nicely by Sunday into Monday. So we just have to make it until then.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Relatively speaking it's going to feel like summer come this Sunday.
GRAY: Yes, it will.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you so much.
We have breaking news this morning. President Trump for the first time speaks directly to the leader of the opposition in Venezuela as a political crisis there sparks deadly violence is now looking at a humanitarian nightmare. New protests are expected to begin any moment now.
We're going to have details on that, ahead, plus a pair of potential outsider Presidential candidates slamming Democrats for endorsing Medicare for all calling it unaffordable and even un-American. What are Democrats saying now?
BOLDUAN: This hour, protests are getting underway for another day in Venezuela. Massive crowds are expected to build once again just as the embattled President there Nicolas Maduro says he's open to negotiating with the opposition leader that the U.S. has thrown its support behind, Juan Guaido.
And this morning we're learning that President Trump has spoken with Guaido for the first time that we're aware of amid the new danger there. President Trump is also now warning American's not to visit Venezuela at all for the foreseeable future.
CNN Senior International Correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh is joining me now in neighboring Colombia on the very latest. Nick, what are you hearing? Where are things headed there today?
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The key question is how many people really come out on the streets. Now they're being called to stand out, possibly outside of their office, possibly outside their homes also in Central Caracas, too. Are they going to reach the numbers we saw last Wednesday?
They've welcomed the swearing in - self declared swearing in of now interim President Juan Guaido recognized by the U.S. and many other countries. That's a key question. Did the force of numbers on the street translate in to a sense of this is moving in an (inaudible) direction or we are going to see larger numbers on Saturday?
The Trump call to Juan Guaido is a bid to put hot air, I think, into his sails, make him possibly feel more empowered than realistically he actually is. Now he's facing a travel ban from Venezuelan authorities inside the country and also his bank accounts frozen and this brings really the question of, what actual power does this sort of self declared interim government have?
It has a lot of external recognition, a lot of aid, potentially available to it and according to the U.S. sanctions, the ability to access frozen bank accounts around the world that belong to the Venezuelan government. That could be a huge sea (ph) change but he has to take that concept externally and translate it into a reality inside Venezuela where the Venezuelan government still have control.
Now the key question about these protests is are they going to pass peacefully. They have done last week, a large crowd turned up. They were politely angry and then they went home. The clashes occurred to the side and up placed (ph) frankly where there'd often been clashes between riot police and angry, young, demonstrators, but we are in a sort of weird universe here where I think it's fair to say inside of Venezuela you don't get the feeling that everything's about to crumble and revolution is on the street necessarily.
CILLIZZA: The military are still supporting Nicolas Maduro's government. Outside the country, the White House, Washington really pumping up the idea that things are about to change or frankly that the current government is the former government. And I think we have to look at how we get from one position to the other whether this U.S. policy initiative actually has some steam behind it.
It's obviously troubling, I think, to many to view the notion of military options potentially available. John Bolton walking around conspicuously holding a note pad with 5,000 troops to Colombia on it, but the last thing Venezuela really needs now is violent confrontation inside of it. It's got an economic crisis and hunger beyond compare. Back to you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BOLDUAN: Yes, you layout kind of these two positions, if you will, outside and inside and how do you abridge the kind of the mess of golfing between? That's 100 percent a mystery at this moment. Thank you Nick, it's great to see you. Really appreciate it.
Coming up for us backlash to Medicare for all. Two high profile potential Presidential candidates taking on Democrats over a proposal that would completely overhaul the American healthcare system - one that has won some big support among the Democratic base, so why is one Democrat then trying to clarify her position? That's next.
BOLDUAN: It was a key moment during the CNN Town Hall with Democratic President candidate Kamala Harris declaring her unequivocal support for a policy of Medicare for all if she were President.
That one issue is becoming something of a real issue not just between Democrats and Republicans but among Democrats themselves. Harris is facing some serious blowback from at least two other potential candidates about this. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER STARBUCKS CEO: It's not that it's not American, it's unaffordable. I know a lot about this issue. It's deeply in my heart. Now, what I believe is that every American has the right to affordable healthcare, as a statement.
I also believe that the Affordable Care Act, under President Obama, was the right thing to do to provide over 30 million people who did not have insurance to get insurance. But now that we look back on it, the premiums have skyrocketed and we need to go back to the Affordable Care Act, refine it, and fix it.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: But to replace the entire private system where companies provide healthcare for their employee's would bankrupt us for a very long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now in the face of that criticism, is Harris's campaign walking her position back now or not walking it back at all? Joining me right now, CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza. Chris, what is Harris's campaign saying now? Is it somewhat confusing?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR: Well so, I would - having gone back and forth with them over Twitter for the last 24 hours here's how I would put it.
On Monday night in the Town Hall with Jake Tapper in Iowa, she says let's eliminate all of it. Talking in the context of private insurance companies, OK? What her campaign has said afterward is really I think a clarification, which is yes her ideal situation is Medicare for all.
Single payer, a nationalized health insurance system that gets rid entirely of private insurance companies, but in the interim she'd also - she's also sponsored other bills that are a little bit more nuanced on either public or private insurers. And that's where she wants to be. I don't think it's where she came across on Monday night and I think that they are trying to clarify to get her to that point.
BOLDUAN: So Medicare for all is not the only option...
CILLIZZA: That's right.
BOLDUAN: ... that she is open to?
CILLIZZA: Right, so it's...
BOLDUAN: That's where we're landing at this moment? I got it, OK.
CILLIZZA: Yes. It's a little bit complicated, right. So the - you have Bernie Sanders...
BOLDUAN: So is healthcare.
CILLIZZA: Yes, OK. So in 2016 Bernie Sanders make a big - Bernie Sanders running against Hillary Clinton makes a big push. In January of 2016 right before the Iowa caucus he says we need what he calls Medicare for all, which essentially says we take away the private insurance market entirely. It is a national run program to provide insurance for everyone in the country.
OK. Hillary Clinton says it can't happen. It's going to lead to the repeal of Obamacare, et cetera, et cetera, but there are other plans that Harris has signed on to, as have other members of Congress who are running for President. That would do, not less, but more nuance, which would provide that public healthcare option, but not do away with private insurance.
This is the whole, if you like your insurance company you can keep it sort of argument that you're not forced into this public system it's instead designed to create more competition on the Obamacare markets. Does that make sense?
BOLDUAN: Sure. Sure, Chris.
CILLIZZA: I mean it's complicated.
BOLDUAN: It is. No, no it is complicated. Just look back at 2008 when they started debating overhauling the healthcare system in general or 2007. Let me ask you this, if this is where Kamala Harris is - this is becoming a really important issue among the Democratic base and any Presidential candidate now.
Where are the other candidates on this issue?
CILLIZZA: OK. So what's fascinating is in 2016 when Bernie Sanders runs against Hillary Clinton and embraces a single payer Medicare for all, Hillary Clinton says pie in the sky, pipe dream, never do it.
And basically the establishment agrees, but by 2018 Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and obviously Bernie Sanders are signed on to Bernie Sander's legislation.