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Chris Christie's Revealing New Book; Democrats Pushing Medicare for All; Jobs President Trump Promised Not Happening?. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 30, 2019 - 15:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Part of the frustration, I know, for some folks as well is that it took so long to get some of those answers and to hear from Roger Goodell.

He was asked about that. Take a listen.


ROGER GOODELL, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE COMMISSIONER: We addressed this immediately after the game.

We spoke to the coach. The coach announced the conversation and the fact that this play should have been called. But the game of football is played on the field. And they are played by humans, they are coached by humans, and they are officiated by humans.

And that's what our game is. And so we think that we're proud obviously of having the Patriots and the Rams here. We understand the disappointment of the Saints fans, the organization and the players. And we understand that.


HILL: There you go. "We understand the frustration."

I'm just curious, what's your sense of how many folks in New Orleans are actually going to watch on Sunday?

JOSH KATZENSTEIN, "THE TIMES-PICAYUNE": I mean, I think a fair amount. At the end of the day, everyone in New Orleans is pretty much a big football fan.

But there are plenty of bars and restaurants and fans that are saying that they are going to boycott it. There's going to be a big music festival in the city that's a way for them to boycott the Super Bowl, giving them another opportunity to do something instead of supporting the NFL.

But, ultimately, I think they are probably curious to see how much the Saints game is brought up, if the league or the announcers say anything about that outcome of that game. But certainly there are people are frustrated now. And I have heard plenty of people say that they might not get tickets next year.

HILL: Ooh.

KATZENSTEIN: So, I mean, this is going to sting for a long time.

HILL: Yes, it will.

Josh, good to have you with us. Appreciate it. Thanks.


HILL: Hour two. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump is in a familiar place on this Wednesday. He's at odds with and lashing out at his top officials, kicking things off this morning with a tweetstorm, blasting his intel chiefs following their most recent threat assessment, which was delivered to Congress on Tuesday.

Their findings far different from the president's views on, as it turns out, pretty much everything. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have won against ISIS. We have beaten them, and we have beaten them badly.

DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF 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. We signed an agreement. It said, we will begin the immediate denuclearization.

COATS: North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its 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.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Not only did the Russians continue to do it in 2018, but we have 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.


HILL: There is one person that the president seems to be on better terms with, and that is Vladimir Putin. They have met now at least five times -- that we know, of course.

And there are new details emerging about their most recent face-to- face back in November. It was during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

President Trump spoke privately with his Russian counterpart for 15 minutes, in attendance, the first lady, Melania Trump, and Putin's translator, but that was it, no translator for the president, no aides, again, just Putin, his translator, the president and the first lady.

This is according to "The Financial Times," which cited a Russian government official. The White House for its part would not confirm or deny that there were no U.S. officials in attendance, but did tell CNN that Trump merely reiterated that he canceled a formal meeting with Putin due to Ukraine-Russia conflicts.

Carrie Cordero is former counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security and a CNN national security analyst.

Always good to have you here with us, as we try to pick apart what we're seeing here.

What's fascinating is, Carrie, it's not the first time that the president, of course, has gone after intel chiefs. These are his handpicked team here, but still that doesn't stop him from saying, you may have facts, but I have my own views.

What's remarkable, though, is the pedestal on which he puts these strongmen, all the while disrespecting his own intel chiefs. How damaging is that moving forward?


CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's really bizarre, as someone who used to work with the intelligence community, to watch how this is unfolded.

Over the course of his presidency, we have seen two different things. On one hand, he has been very consistent about rejecting the intelligence community's assessment that Russia was trying to influence, did conduct a cyber-hostile intelligence activity against the U.S. regarding the 2016 election, and continues to do so.


So, he's been very consistently rejecting that particular assessment. Where he has varied from time to time over the last two years has been in his willingness to accept intelligence assessments on other topics, whether it's North Korea, or whether it's Iran, or whether it's some other particular hot spot in the world.

Recently, he seems to put his political position, so things that he wants to achieve as political objectives, far above any informed assessment that the intelligence community is providing to him. And that was on display yesterday in the worldwide threats briefing. HILL: The other thing that we saw in this briefing that was

remarkable is, there was a specific question about this one-on-one, this face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin in November at the G20, where, again, on the U.S. side, it was just the president and the first lady who were there.

There was a translator for Vladimir Putin, not for the president. DNI Director Coats was asked directly about it. Here was his response.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: No one in the U.S. government has the full story about what was discussed.

Would this put you in a disadvantaged position in terms of understanding Russia's efforts to advance its agenda against the United States?

COATS: Well, Senator, clearly, this is a sensitive issue, and it's an issue that we ought to talk about this afternoon. I look forward to discussing that in a closed session.


HILL: Standard response, or is there something more there, Carrie?

CORDERO: Well, what the director of national intelligence was saying is that he didn't want to answer that question in open session in front of the cameras. He wanted to take that question back when the senators have closed session.

Normally, that closed session would be reserved for matters that are classified, not just sensitive, but classified information. In this case, it's hard to say whether the information that he wanted to convey to the senators about the circumstances that the intelligence community observed with the president's meeting was classified or whether it would just be embarrassing.

But the hearing itself is so important. And it shows why it's important that Congress has both this annual worldwide threat assessment and continues to do oversight, because this is the venue then that the American public and members of Congress were able to hear their assessment of actual threats, vs. the things that the president portrays as national security threats.

HILL: Carrie Cordero, always good to have you here. Thank you.

CORDERO: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: President Trump once famously told voters he alone can fix the nation's problems, especially when it comes to the economy, when it comes to bringing jobs back to the U.S.

You may remember, in 2017, he announced during a big White House ceremony that Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics company, was building a new factory in Wisconsin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is a great day for American workers and manufacturing, and for everyone who believes in the concept and the label made in the USA.


TRUMP: The company's initial investment of more than $10 billion will create 3,000 jobs, at a minimum, with the potential for up to 13,000 jobs in the very near future.

The construction of this facility represents the return of LCD electronics and electronic manufacturing to the United States, the country that we love.


HILL: Last summer, the president even traveling to Wisconsin for the ground-breaking of that new facility, something that Foxconn in return received billions of dollars worth of incentives for from the state.

Well, fast-forward now to today, and it appears Foxconn has had a slight change of plans.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

So, Kaitlan, what happened here?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems, Erica, that essentially they're reversing course.

Now, this company said they were going to have this factory full of manufacturing jobs. And now they're saying it's going to look more like a technology hub, where they're going to employ these developers and these researchers, and that only a fourth of the jobs are going to be those blue-collar jobs that they want promised.

And that was essentially the whole reason the president went to Wisconsin for the ground-breaking, because he said it showed that he was following through on his promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Now, it's not just that they're changing the way that this is going to look, that it's going to go from being all of these blue-collar manufacturing jobs to these research and these development jobs. They're also slowing the hiring pace. And they said they're still going to hire 13,000 people, but they're not on track for what they said they were going to hire by the end of 2020.

And they're not saying when all of those 13,000 jobs are going to be finished. Now, one more thing. The president said that while he was there in Wisconsin, it showed that these companies are happy to make products here in the United States.

But Foxconn noted in this interview with Reuters that those LCD panels that go on your television that they were going to make, that it's actually cheaper for them to manufacture them overseas, and then ship the final product back here to the United States.


So, essentially, a complete reversal of what they said they were going to do in Wisconsin. And now, of course, it's not the president's fault, what changes a private company is going to make. But he said that this is a prime example that these manufacturing jobs were coming back to the United States.

And he said that he believed Foxconn made this choice to come to the United States because he was the one who won the presidency. So, Erica, we have asked the White House for comment on what his reaction to this is several hours ago, and they still haven't gotten back to us with any word yet.

HILL: Well, we look forward to hearing when they do give you a response.

Meantime, Kaitlan, President Trump has gone, I think, five days now, if my count is correct, without public events. He's tweeting, but where is he?

COLLINS: Well, he did. He has held no public events here at the White House. He did go to a fund-raiser just down the road at the Trump International Hotel with the vice president, Mike Pence, the other night, this -- what they call the 2019 MAGA Leadership Summit.

But that was pretty much the only time we have seen the president in recent days. He has been tweeting as those lawmakers are getting ready to have their first meeting to try to hash out a deal to avoid another government shutdown.

And, today, he warned them that they should be discussing his demand for border wall money, or essentially he says in his tweet there today that they are wasting their time if they're not discussing that border wall money.

Now, Democrats, even one of them before going into that meeting said that they were going to draw a line in the sand at giving the president money for his border wall. So really what that just reinforces, how difficult it is going to be for them to cobble up some kind of deal to avoid a government shutdown over the next two weeks.

And that's why White House officials are increasingly looking at the president declaring a national emergency and bypassing Congress to fund that border wall, Erica.

HILL: Kaitlan Collins with the latest for us, Kaitlan, thank you.

The promise of Medicare for all. Just days after announcing her run for the presidency, is Kamala Harris now open to more options regarding this key policy position? This after the idea was panned by two billionaires, two possible 2020 contenders. We will discuss.

Plus, Chris Christie's fascinating story about watching the "Access Hollywood" tape with President Trump before the story broke.

And just how cold is it in Chicago? Rail crews lighting train tracks on fire. We have got a live report on the deep freeze coming up.



HILL: Nine days after officially moving forward on a run for the presidency, the campaign of Democrat Kamala Harris is clarifying some of her comments backing Medicare for all.

She initially spoke about it and how it would mean people could get their health insurance from a single government plan, no longer using private plans.

As a reminder, here's she initially said during that CNN town hall.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And correct me if I'm wrong, to reiterate, you support the Medicare for all bill, I think...


TAPPER: ... initially co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders. You're also a co-sponsor onto it. I believe it will totally eliminate private insurance. So for people out there who like their insurance, they don't get to keep it?

HARRIS: Well, listen, 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.


HILL: That town hall was the highest rated ever for a single candidate on CNN.

Why do we tell you that? Because it means a lot of people saw it, and we know that health care is a major interest and issue for voters across the country. We also know the pushback to her answer was immediate.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I think you could never afford that. You're talking about trillions of dollars. I think you can have Medicare for all for people that are uncovered, but because that's a smaller group, and a lot of them are taken care of with Medicaid already -- Medicare -- but to replace the entire private system, where companies provide health care for their employees, would bankrupt us for a very long time.


HILL: One of Harris' advisers has now signaled that the California senator is open to more moderate health reform plans, ones that would allow coverage from private insurers as well.

CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles joins us now from Washington.

I mean, that begs the question, obviously, Ryan, is there some concern on team Harris that maybe this went a little too far?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, to be clear, they are not saying that she is walking back her comments from that town hall on Monday night, but they are going to great lengths to clarify exactly what she is saying.

Essentially, what they are saying is that no matter what Kamala Harris would like to get to a day where the United States has Medicare for all. In fact, she just reiterated that point on Twitter a few minutes ago. This is what she wrote.

She said -- quote -- "Access to health care shouldn't be a privilege. It should be a right. When my mother passed away, she had the benefit of having Medicare, but not everybody does. Too many people are dying because they can't afford medical care. That's inhumane. And that's why I support Medicare for all."

So the big problem here, Erica, is that many of these Democratic candidates, virtually all of them believe in some form of universal health care, meaning you don't have to worry about getting health insurance. It's the mechanism by which that is delivered.

And if you support a Medicare for all plan, that means that you support the end of private insurance. And what Kamala Harris' folks are saying is that she wants to get there eventually, but she's open to these other ideas of a subsidized government option for folks who don't have private health insurance through their employer or many other different versions.

There's a Medicare X plan that's being proposed in Congress or even strengthening Obamacare. She wants to make it clear, though -- and it's almost the price of entry in this Democratic field -- that ultimately she would like Medicare for all, but she knows that it's not going to happen tomorrow.


HILL: Certainly not the last we will be talking about this and asking people to clarify what it means to them when we look at the candidates.

Let's move on, though, to Howard Schultz. Almost as soon as he said, yes, I'm actually thinking about it, the pushback was immediate, and it was almost like open war on Howard Schultz from a number of Democrats, which was really interesting to see that they're sensing a threat. NOBLES: Yes, I don't think there's any doubt about that. I mean,

almost every Democrat you talk to is concerned that if Howard Schultz enters the race, which is essentially another candidate who is offering himself up as an alternative to Donald Trump, that that is going to peel away votes from Democratic candidates.

And there's a lot of concern that that's not going to be helpful, especially because President Trump holds onto a rock-solid percentage of the country, anywhere between 20 and 35 percent, depending on what you're looking at.

But you're already seeing Schultz starting to pull back, saying that he's going to look at this a little bit more seriously, may not make a decision until the fall.

Erica, I think the big issue for Howard Schultz here isn't whether or not he can rise in a poll somewhere, whether or not he can raise enough money, because he's obviously a billionaire, can sell-fund.

The real issue for Howard Schultz is practicality. Can he get on the ballot in enough states to really have an impact on this race? I'm not sure he and his advisers had thought seriously enough about that, because that's almost an even bigger hurdle for him to cross, whether or not he has to win over Democrats that are concerned about his potential candidacy.

HILL: It is interesting to hear him, though, the laying the groundwork, even talking about his concerns about what he talks about as far left policies.

Here's a little bit more what he had to say on that front.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: If the Democrats are proposing anything close to a 70 percent level of income tax, how many core Democrats are going to be supportive of a move towards socialism? Not very many.

President Trump will get reelected.


HILL: Elizabeth Warren not wasting much time in weighing in either.

Here are her thoughts.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Look, this is the problem. Billionaires think that this government works just great the way it is.

But it's not working for anybody else. How about, instead of leaving all that money with the billionaires, we take just 2 percent of it and move it over? That's enough money to make a real investment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: It's going to continue like this for a while, isn't it, Ryan/

NOBLES: Yes. Yes, it is. And this is part of the reason that Democrats are worried about Schultz, right?

He's instead throwing cold water on Democratic proposals, instead of attacking President Trump. And that's not at all what they want to see happen during this Democratic primary season.

HILL: Ryan Nobles, good to see you. Thank you.

Up next: Chris Christie not holding back on President Trump as he makes the rounds with his new book.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Where do you think the wheels came off during the shutdown?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The president blew it.


CHRISTIE: When he shut the government down with no plan on how to reopen it.


HILL: Also sharing details about watching the "Access Hollywood" tape with Donald Trump, and also putting Jared Kushner's dad behind bars.

A lot to cover. We will speak with a Christie biographer about his strategy here.



HILL: It is just the latest book to reveal the inner workings of the Trump campaign and presidency.

The author this time around, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Here's how he describes watching that infamous "Access Hollywood" take alongside then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying: "The tape was hard to watch. It was harder to listen to. But we watched and listened to the 'Access Hollywood' video all the way to the end. The words sounded crude and vulgar playing through the small speaker on Hope Hicks' laptop, even more so with Donald sitting there with us."

He goes on to say: "People started proposing phrases to quote Trump as saying, 'Many years ago, Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course. I apologize if anyone was offended.'" And, according to Christie, as Trump's team was brainstorming about how to respond to the tape, it was Trump who offered what he said was the best line. Remember locker room talk?

Matt Katz is a Christie biographer. He's author of "American Governor: Chris Christie's Bridge to Redemption" and also reporter for WNYC Public Radio.

So, Matt, interested to -- interesting to have all of these little tidbits in the book.


HILL: Were you surprised at all that he included that particular episode?

KATZ: No, because the whole book is about how Christie himself was in the room during these very important moments.

Christie presents himself as a critical cog in the Trump machine, particularly during the campaign. And he also presents himself as the adult in the room.

So, with the "Access Hollywood" situation, he talks about how he's batting down all these terrible damage control ideas from Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, and instead he gives Trump ultimately the best advice about how to deal with the situation.

And then following when -- the tape's release, he goes and does this debate with Hillary Clinton, where, following Christie's advice, he's able to control the situation, and he does pretty well.

Trump thinks he does pretty well. And he calls Christie and thanks him. I -- he says, "I can't -- I can't thank you enough."

And that's -- there's several anecdotes about that.