Return to Transcripts main page
Trump and Putin Met without an American Notetaker; Trump Slams His Intel Chiefs as Extremely Passive and Naive; Kamala Harris Open to Multiple Paths to Medicare For All; Interview with Rep. Haley Stevens (D - MI); Democrats Escalate Attacks on Howard Schultz; Protests Erupted as Trump Says Maduro Is Willing to Negotiate. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 30, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Hi, I'm Erica Hill in for Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN. Thank you for joining us. President Trump in a familiar place today at odds with and lashing out at his top officials. Kicking things off this morning with a tweet storm blasting his intel chiefs. That of course follows their most recent threat assessment which was delivered to Congress on Tuesday. Their findings far different than the President's views on, well, pretty much everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iran
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Jong-un.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kremlin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Election security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: There was a lot there for the President and he took jabs at the intel community. Those were just the beginning. Hours before bipartisan lawmakers were set to begin discussions on avoiding another shutdown, President Trump had another blunt message saying any talks that don't include his wall are a waste. There's one person the President seems to be on better terms with. Vladimir Putin. They met at least five times that we know of and new details are emerging about their most recent face to face in November during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Trump spoke privately f with his Russian for 15 with counterpart minutes, in attendance, the First Lady and Putin's translator. But no translator for the President. No aides. Just him and his wife. That's according to "The Financial Times," which cited a Russian government official. The White House, which would not confirm or deny that there were no U.S. officials in attendance telling CNN Trump reiterated he cancelled a former meeting due to Ukraine/Russia conflicts. All of this as Roger Stone warns his own friend his presidency is in peril.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: This isn't about me. It's about the President. Alex, it's about the President. They are coming for him. And they want to silence me because I see the big picture. I lived in 1974. I worked for Nixon. I saw that takedown. It was very similar. The President needs to wake up. This is a speeding bullet heading for his head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: So, there's that. Michael Allen served on the National Security Council for President Bush. Elaina Plott is White House correspondent for "The Atlantic."
Good to have both of you with this. Michael, as we look at this the President clearly targeting his intel team. These are he appointed and him attacking them is not new. What is the impact of these conflicting messages when it comes to not only are allies but our adversaries?
MICHAEL ALLEN SERVED ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL FOR PRESIDENT BUSH: It's terribly unhelpful to call the intelligence community passive on Iran. They are anything but that. I know from my experience working for President bush and since then that the intelligence community almost has no higher priority than figuring out what's going on in Iran, especially with regard to their nuclear program. It's certainly within the rights of the President to discontinue President Obama's Iran deal and say he wants a better deal. That's fine. I can support that. But I don't think there's any basis to say that they are passive and naive on the threat that Iran poses to our interests in the Middle East.
HILL: One of the things that was interesting too is of all the global threats laid out in that assessment, the issue at the border and border security was not painted as a major threat, which we have heard from the President and from the White House. Any reaction from the White House on that point?
ELAINA PLOTT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE ATLANTIC": One thing I'm hearing from sources close to the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill can is that this will be the biggest fallout if and when Trump does declare a national emergency on the issue of the U.S./Mexico border. The point being even Republicans are saying privately how can you justify something as a national emergency if it's something that the White House has been debating for months now rather than declaring immediately. My sources are also wondering if Trump will say anything to this point in the State of the Union in his address on Tuesday or if in light of these intelligence, the assessment of these threats, he'll want to focus more on the State of the Union address on justifying his decision to withdraw troops from Syria. HILL: The President looking to justify his decision. The President
can do what he wants, to a point. He's also, though a leader that doesn't like to be challenged. That's part of a healthy government. There's a little bit of pushback. There's questioning when it comes to policies.
[14:05:00] Are you starting to see any changes looking in at this in the way that other global leaders, other governments are now approaching dealing with the U.S. because of what they have to deal with. The public Donald Trump part versus everything he's hearing and ignoring behind the scenes?
ALLEN: I do worry that Iran is waiting the President out. I think a lot of people probably have interpreted the President compromising on the wall and even losing the House of representatives to mean, you know what, he's going to lose. And in the next Presidential election. Not to get political about it, but just if any of our adversaries or foes believe the et resolve is going to erode, it's not good for our national objective. North Korea is waiting us out. North Korea is trying to get a number of inducements from us. And I really worry about our position in Syria and Afghanistan. I think President Trump likes to say he delivered on his campaign promises. He faulted President Obama for getting out of Iraq. So, I hope he stays the course and sees those two issues through. So, we can win and not fold.
HILL: One of those campaign promises is the wall. The President as we mentioned earlier tweeting today as bipartisan lawmakers are going into the negotiations today. If there's not a wall, don't bother. How is this really going to play out? You brought up the State of the Union. But if we're going into the discussions with the President saying, if there's not a wall here, it's a nonstarter. That's a tough place to begin with that red line.
PLOTT: You're exactly right. And it brings us to a place that et we were some 37 days ago. This is precisely the stance that President Trump took proceeding government shutdown. 35 days later, he got not an extra penny for the border wall. More ask more sources I have that interact with the President regularly don't see an outcome that the President could claim a political victory in other than the declaration of a national emergency. As I just mentioned, though, the political fallout of that could be huge. And whether we see another shutdown to go along with it remains to be seen. But what's important to note, I think, is that officials on the hill and lawmakers do not feel they ended the shutdown in any better. A position than they did when it started.
HILL: Good to have you with us. Thank you.
This just in. The Federal Reserve announcing it will keep interest rates as they are. No hike here. This after the fed raised rates four times last year. It also comes as the treasury reveals another year of record borrowing. For the second year in a row, treasury revealing it will borrow another trillion dollars to finance the deficit. To help us all understand what this means to your money, to your credit, I want to bring in CNN politics and business correspondent. What does that really translate to?
CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This signals the administration and Republicans are willing to do whatever it takes and that means increase spending and keep the tax cuts in order to keep the economy going because they know their jobs depend on the economy going forward. So, we have the party that's the fiscally responsible one boa borrowing. Take a look at that chart. The last time that borrowing was that high was back in 2010. So, under a Democratic President, we had the borrowing actually trailing off a bit. And this is going to become an issue in 2020. What I will say is the average American just being out in covering 2020 candidates and the Democratic side, the average American doesn't care so much about the deficit and spending as much as they do let's say health care. But this is the big but. Some Democratic candidates will make a big deal out of federal borrowing because they it will say this administration gave corporate America tax cuts and as a result, is mortgaging the future of America. We have already seen this kind of language come out of Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, Howard Schultz, so we're hearing this and younger voters are concerned about the green new deal and concerned about borrowing because they want to keep entitlement programs around. And this is important to them. They want to make sure the federal government is going to be around for them. For social security reasons and this is important to them.
[14:10:00] HILL: It's fascinating too. We talk about that generation too. We know there are folks in that generation who say I don't want to buy a House because I'm not sure that's where I want to put my money. Because I don't feel that safe about it.
HILL: Thank you.
Up next, the Medicare For All promise talking about health care there. Just days after announcing her run for the presidency, is Kamala Harris now open to more options when it comes to the key policy position. This after the idea was panned by two billionaires, both of whom are possible 2020 contenders. We'll discuss.
Also inspired by a Hollywood movie?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then there's duct tape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President has that on his mind too.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They nab women. They grab them. They put tape over their mouth and tie the hands.
They have tape over their mouths. Electrical tape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: What some of President Trump's most frequent talking points have in common with a fictional Hollywood film. CNN takes a closer look.
And just moments ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responding to questions about that blown call, which kept the New Orleans Saints out of the Super Bowl.
Also responding to questions about why he's waited so long to weigh in.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HILL: Nine days after officially moving forward on a run for the presidency, the campaign of Kamala Harris is clarifying her comments on Medicare For All. That means health insurance from a single government plan no longer using private health plans. Here to remind you of what she said during a CNN "TOWN HALL."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: You support the Medicare For All bill. Initially by Bernie Sanders. I believe it will totally eliminate private insurance. So, for people out there who like their insurance, they don't get to keep it?
The idea is that everyone gets access to medical care. And you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company. Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: One of Harris's advisers now singling the senator is open to more moderate health reform plans. Ones that would allow options from private insurers. Joining me is a freshman Congresswoman Haley Stevens of Michigan, a Democrat.
Good to have you with us. I know you just came off a vote. As I understand it, you're not a fan of Medicare For All if it means of getting rid of private insurance. Do you think Kamala Harris went too far on Monday night?
REP. HALEY STEVENS (D), MICHIGAN: We just came out of a major election cycle where it was clearly a health care election. People are sick of the repeated attempts to repeal the affordable care act. I campaigned on protecting the affordable care act, improving it, et getting more people access to affordable health care. We're here in the new Congress and one of the big priorities is lower the cost of prescription drugs. I'm an elected official. I see my role as a change management officer guiding our population through the change that we need to make to achieve this goal of getting more people access to affordable health care.
HILL: So, in terms of those changes, if we did look at something like a Medicare For All, which we would get rid of private health insurance, even Michael Bloomberg saying this would bankrupt the country for a long time. Cost is a major issue here.
STEVENS: We have a rising deficit. That's an opportunity for bipartisan collaboration. We have to govern responsibly. We have to look at the costs of our health care. We have a lot of consumers who are saddled with costs. I hear this from people every which way. That the costs are out of control, particularly for prescription drugs. That's what I'm focused on in the new Congress. I just got appoint ed to the education and labor committee. I'm sitting on the subcommittee. That's something my colleagues and i, we're going to get something done. We are going to make those improvements. We need to govern to our reality. We are one-half branch of the Congress that retook a majority. We heard the people. We heard what they wanted us to do on health care. We're going to go do it.
HILL: The reality is that messaging is going to be important as well. As you're working with your fellow lawmakers here to try to get that messaging right, as you pointed out yourself, health care was very important in 2018. Health care will continue to be a major issue for voters as we are hearing from our reporters out there. How much of the conversation happening with you and your fellow Democrats is about getting the messaging right? That, yes, you can talk about perhaps a Medicare For All, but you're acknowledging there's a major cost and money has to come from somewhere.
[14:20:00] STEVENS: We certainly all understand the reality that perception sometimes does influence policymaking. But I will tell you what. There's new energy in this freshman class. There's a willingness to get things done to collaborate. We have the largest freshman class in over a generation coming together, many people campaigned on the health care message. And what it is that it's excited, energized and it's eager to get things done. I am thrilled about the new committee assignments as we were talking about. And. Some of the legislative priorities. It's community health centers. Those have gone unfunded pretty much. We need to make sure that those are adequately funded so we are providing people all over this great country access to the services that those community health centers provide.
HILL: I also want to get your take on into 2020 things are getting a little crowded, as you know, on Democratic side. Howard Schultz is talking about great country access to the services that those community health centers provide. But it seems to be open war on Howard Shultz from the Democratic party, who sees him as a threat. Do you agree with the way your colleagues are going after him?
STEVENS: I'm from Michigan. I will tell you one thing that I'm looking at as this 2020 cycle starts. Tis the season, right? I'm looking for people who are talking about our manufacturing economy, who are talking about innovation, the call to action to reawaken regional economic growth, particularly in our industrial sector around the skilled trades. These are profound opportunities for us. In the Democratic party we have people who jumped in. We are maybe going to see more jump in. We're going to have that dialogue and that discussion. I don't yet know how it works if somebody files as an independent. I'm a lifelong Democrat. Many of the people who are involved in the local Democratic organizations, that's what they are looking for is that person who is going to help us take back the White House in 20.
HILL: Shultz says the Democratic party lost him. Do you think he's got a right to be in the race?
STEVENS: I'm a proud Democrat. Last year when I was campaigning, going back to the start of 2017, there was a great sense of now what? What's our message? What does it mean to be a Democrat? It's really simple and clear what it means to be a Democrat. We're the party of the people. We're the party that's talking about your access to affordable health care, your access to affordable education, tackling the challenges of climate change, our party stands for so much. That's why we boomeranged back and had these great wins in 2018. That's where we're going to go into the year 20.
HILL: We'll have to leave it there. I didn't get a real answer, but we'll talk to you soon. Thank you.
The former ambassador to Afghanistan has strong words about President Trump's plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Why he calls this a surrender. Is President Trump getting his talking points from a movie? Stephen Colbert speculated. CNN's Miguel Marquez with set out to verify.
[14:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HILL: Let's get a closer look at the growing crisis in Venezuela. Where huge protests are erupting. The acting President taking to the streets disrupting traffic and the latest wave of protesters as maduro says he's willing to negotiate with the U.S.-backed. He tweeted the willingness to negotiate after new pressure with sanctions. We're also learning President Trump has spoken with Guaido for the first time offering the White House's continued support that Guaido is in fact Venezuela's rightful leader. Joining us to discuss the new developments is retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, a former spokesman for both the State Department and the Pentagon. Currently a CNN military and diplomatic analyst. When we look at all of this, we have maduro posting this new video that he warns that a new Vietnam could be happening in Venezuela if the United States does not reverse course. It's an interesting choice of words. Clearly targeting a certain sentiment in the U.S.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: This is a reaction to the claims that Bolton was looking at sending thousands of troops to Columbia. And it also supports Maduro's long-held contention even before Trump that the United States was interested in taking over Venezuela, invading Venezuela. I dealt with those questions myself when I was at the State Department which of course is not now and was not then U.S. policy. He's trying to raise the specter of a quagmire in Vietnam and say we should stay out of it.
HILL: Is that going to be effective in any way?
KIRBY: I don't think so. I would make a couple points. One, it's good to see that the protests are peaceful. You're not seeing any violence yet. You're not seeing the Venezuelan military react to the protesters.
[14:30:00] They are out in the streets protesting peacefully. That's a good sign. I don't know if Trump's tweet is accurate, but if it is and maduro has indicated a willingness to negotiate a settlement, that's a positive sign. We need to take it all with a grain of salt. Maduro was willing to make changes and wasn't able to come through with that. The situation is desperate. The humanitarian needs are acute. So, it's really important that we try to find a way through this led by the international community, not the United States. And that we keep our optimism somewhat in check going forward.
HILL: I also want to get your take on Afghanistan. The ambassador to Afghanistan writing an op-ed in the "Washington Post" and frankly the headline says it all. I was ambassador to Afghanistan. This deal is a surrender. That's stark. Would you agree?
KIRBY: If you read the piece, what his main point is the reason it's a surrender because we're only talking to the Taliban and not including the Afghan government. I agree in that regard. No negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan war is going to be enduring or sustainable if the Democratically elected government in Kabul led by President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah are behind it and involved in it.