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Crisis in Venezuela; Howard Schultz Savoring Democratic Opposition to Potential Presidential Run; Trump Expresses More Doubts About Intel Chiefs. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 31, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

With just over two weeks to go to avoid another government shutdown, the fight over this four-letter word wall is once again turning Washington upside down.

This morning, the president tweeted: "Stop playing political games. Just call it a wall."

This afternoon Nancy Pelosi said, if you do that, we won't pay for it. But the House speaker may be open to something else.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation. Many places on the border, there are cliffs. There are -- there's a river, and the -- and there's 600 miles of something; 300 of it are Normandy fences.

They go like this. You know what a Normandy fence is? Three hundred miles of this, so that cars cannot go by. If the president wants to call that a wall, he can call it a wall. He's referencing it. We already have almost 700 miles of wall.

So, again, is there a place for enhanced fencing -- Normandy fencing would work. Let them have that discussion.


BALDWIN: In what is become a familiar back and forth between two of Washington's most powerful players, President Trump responded with this:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there's no wall, it doesn't work. She's just playing games. If you go to Tijuana and you take down that wall, you will have so many people coming into our country that Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall.


BALDWIN: CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, she laughs.

That's what he said. Here we go.



BALDWIN: What's confusing to you? It's just us talking.

BORGER: I'm confused here, because this is a president who was talking about slats, what, a week ago, slats and all different kinds of things, right? He said, doesn't have to be concrete, because maybe you have to see through it, so don't call it a wall.

BALDWIN: Now it's a wall. Now it's a wall.

BORGER: You don't have to call it a wall.

Now we're back to wall, so, yes, it's semantics, but the president keeps changing his tune on this.

BALDWIN: He's changing his tune, although, listening to Speaker Pelosi, when you look at the deal of this opening salvo from Democrats on paper, there's absolutely zero wall funding.

But we played the clip from Speaker Pelosi where maybe there's -- maybe she's presenting a potential opening for a little wiggle room in negotiations. I'm just curious how you heard it.


BORGER: Yes, I think she might be. She called it fencing and Normandy fencing, which is what they put on mountainous terrains so the cars can't go through it.

But I think that would probably not be something Trump would want, unless he was looking for a lifesaver. But you have got the Democrats' offer up on your screen. I have it here. And they have plenty of money for judges, for upping the security of ports of entry, for the TSA, for the Coast Guard, for Customs, but, as you point out, nothing for a wall.

Pelosi and Trump are sort of going back at each other. And then Trump is not involved in the negotiations at all. So is that because the Republicans don't want him to? And doesn't he have to sign off on something before it goes for a vote, or have we all given up and there's going to be an emergency? I don't know.


BALDWIN: Can we play it forward just for a second?

BORGER: Sure. BALDWIN: If it is an emergency, which could very likely get caught up in the courts, then President Trump can say, see, I pushed for this, I pushed for the wall. And Democrats get to continue to say, hell, no, I'm not giving money for a wall.

Then where does that land everyone?

BORGER: Well, first of all, as you point out, it's in court and it would be lengthy and it would be a short-term solution, but it would be very foolish in the long term.

And that's exactly what Jared Kushner is arguing to the president. And don't forget there are lots of Republicans who really care about the reach of executive authority. And they are not happy about declaring this a national emergency because it sets a precedent.

And, of course, Democrats are not for it because they think it cuts Congress out of the loop of appropriating money, which is what, after all, their job is. It's very complicated. And, you know, it may make for strange political bedfellows when you have the Democrats and conservative Republicans arguing the same point on this, or he would have done it before, and he got talked out of it.


BALDWIN: Fifteen days to go. Maybe, maybe there is some room to compromise. I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal. But we will just see, Gloria Borger.


BORGER: Just remember, Normandy fencing, as Nancy Pelosi did. This is what it looks like, right.


BALDWIN: Thank you, Gloria, very much.


BALDWIN: Also just in, special counsel Robert Mueller releasing details of the evidence collected against longtime associate Roger Stone.

Mueller revealing today that information collected from Stone's iCloud and e-mail accounts and computer hardware span several years, and now Mueller wants a judge to put in place this protective order that would lock down the confidentiality of all of this evidence.

Stone has pleaded not guilty to all seven charges against him, including lying and witness tampering.

Asha Rangappa is a former FBI special agent who is a CNN legal and national security analyst.

And so, Asha, what's your biggest takeaway from what they have gotten from this raid. The financial records and that this information spans years, is that significant for you?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It is significant, because what Mueller -- we learned this from a motion where he's seeking the judge to exempt them from the 70-day requirement of bringing Stone to trial, because the evidence that they have is so voluminous, that it will take much longer to go through it, and then also for -- they have to provide it to the defense and for the defense to go through it.

So this is outside of the ordinary amount of evidence that would be that would have been gathered. And, as you mentioned, Brooke, this goes back several years and involves all kinds of communication. So if I were Roger Stone, I would not be super confident about my chances of fighting this in court.

BALDWIN: Also, if you're Roger Stone, you're comparing the raid to that of El Chapo and Osama bin Laden, as we heard from him last week, and we have heard the president saying he was very disappointed to see the FBI raid and to see it go that way.

As former FBI, were you disappointed, or was that par for the course?

RANGAPPA: I find it incredibly weird that this is the hill that they want to die on, because this did not seem like an out-of-the-ordinary arrest with a search warrant executed at the same time.

I mean, we need to remember that the substance of the charges here are that Roger Stone was attempting to cover up his activities. He was lying about it. He was trying to intimidate a witness to change their testimony.

So, I think the FBI would have had a reasonable grounds to believe that he might destroy evidence. And on top of that, the kinds of threats that he was making to another witness were -- could be interpreted as violent threats. I mean, he was saying, prepare to die, and threatening to take away his dog.

So I think that, in those kinds of cases, the FBI is going to make sure that they protect the safety of their agents and the people that they are going into arrest and execute the search.

And I think Roger Stone even said that they were very respectful and professional in the way they executed their duties.

BALDWIN: He did. He did. There was that moment, before he even compared it to the previous raids I mentioned.

I do -- I really also wanted to ask you about the back and forth between President Trump and the intel chiefs, let's just remind everyone that all of whom he himself appointed, calling them passive and naive yesterday on Twitter.

And so, moments ago, CIA Director Gina Haspel had to go to the West Wing to give him an intelligence briefing, despite all of these colorful adjectives he's using for his own intel men and women.

And so here she was.


QUESTION: Do you still have confidence in Gina Haspel and Dan Coats to give you good advice?

TRUMP: No, I disagree with certain things that they said. I think I'm right. But time will prove that. Time will prove me right, probably.


BALDWIN: Didn't Trump know all of this intel? Doesn't he get daily intelligence briefings? Is he not listening or is he purposefully saying something else?

RANGAPPA: Yes, so the role of his intelligence chiefs is to collect intelligence and come to assessments and conclusions, and provide it to him, so that he can make effective policy.

So when he's saying that he doesn't agree with them, I mean, this is their job. This is what they do is look at all the data points and come to conclusions. I honestly don't know, Brooke. I have no idea what's happening in the White House.

But, yes, in the normal course of business, he would get a presidential briefing that gave him their conclusions on the state of things in various different areas, and he would know what they were testifying to before they testified to it, because he presumably would have heard it in a briefing.

BALDWIN: Asha Rangappa, thank you very...


BALDWIN: I got nothing. I got nothing after that. We just don't know. We don't know what's going on through his head.

Thank you very much, Asha for, of course, your expertise always.

Let's talk politics now.

CNN political director David Chalian is here.




BALDWIN: So President Trump isn't just going after the Democrats, of course, on the wall and talking about Nancy Pelosi begging for it. He also is blasting former Speaker Paul Ryan, blaming him for not getting him his money to build his wall or the pledge before he left Congress.

And it's almost like a little too late for the circular firing squad. (LAUGHTER)

CHALIAN: It's a very convenient person to have as your target, because he's no longer there, right?

BALDWIN: He's gone.

CHALIAN: And, of course, what Donald Trump never wants to do is take responsibility himself.


CHALIAN: But he, as the leader of the Republican Party that had Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress, had an opportunity to do this with one-party control.

I have no doubt that he has gripes with both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and others in Congress who didn't make this their top priority. And, from his perspective, perhaps they should have.

But he also did not successfully lead his one-party control of Washington to place where this was resolved before the Democrats now control half of a branch of government.

BALDWIN: Right. He couldn't get them there. And like I said, we have 15 more days to see if they get there at all.

I wanted to ask you about freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, and how she's working with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts to unveil this Green New Deal legislation sometime soon.

And as much as I have tried to read about this, I can't find a lot information. And so I guess like what is that?

CHALIAN: Yes. You can't find a lot of specifics because -- that's why I'm eager to see what the legislation will actually look like.


BALDWIN: Because they don't exist yet.


Right now, it's like broad principles, and there are various versions from various groups who think about what a Green New Deal is, but there are some common principles. And what it eases a commitment to transform the American economy into a fully green economy, all energy- efficiency measures and the like.

And at the same time, due to the massive disruption that that would cause in the employment marketplace and with the economy overall, to have this jobs guarantee program as a part of it. So it is part environmental and part economic put together. But it is, as the title would suggest to you, an FDR-style...

BALDWIN: FDR's New Deal. CHALIAN: ... WPA, yes.


CHALIAN: This is like a massive works project to transform the American economy in very substantial ways.

I mean, just imagine if every -- just think about cars. Is every single car in America going to become an electric car by a certain date? Is that going to be in the legislation? We will see.

But what is happening, it's become a litmus test for the progressive left right now, there's no doubt about it. I mean, you saw, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her congressional seat in November, she was a Congress member-elect. Her first thing when she got to Washington touring around, finding out about her office space, she joined a protest for this movement in Nancy Pelosi's office.

And she was making sure that her presence was felt on this.


CHALIAN: And you saw Kamala Harris was asked about it at our town hall on Monday night. She committed to the broad principles.

This is going to be one of those litmus tests on the left that I think the base of the Democratic Party, the progressive base, is going to demand from their candidates to get behind.

BALDWIN: Kind of like the questions about welfare for -- Medicare for all and about the taxes, and now also this.

What about this early on bit of shade between two potential 2020 contenders, Kirsten Gillibrand and Beto O'Rourke?

So, Senator Gillibrand is at this I believe it was a dinner in Iowa, and she was criticizing him because he obviously raised a ton of money, and was talking about how it was unfortunate that he didn't share his funds with down-ballot candidates. Do you think there's any fairness to that criticism?

CHALIAN: Right. So this -- "The Wall Street Journal" reported this Gillibrand conversation happened at a private dinner behind closed doors.

And the Gillibrand campaign claims that the characterization is wrong. That being said, which does not sound to me like a full denial that something along those lines may have been said, this was a critique out there in real time in the fall, when there were some Democrats that were concerned he was raising so much money.

Was he going to be able to spend all of that in his Texas Senate race? Could he spread that around and help other Democrats? But you got to remember, what I say to this is, you talk to a lot of Democrats who donated to his campaign, small-dollar donors who just got really excited about Beto O'Rourke, they may not have loved every other Democratic candidate.

He was a different kind of candidate. They felt attracted to give some dollars to him. And the idea that he should then just go fund every other Senate campaign in the country, I don't think necessarily would be all that well received by his supporters.

They weren't deliberately, I guess, choosing to donate to the DNC or some big organization. It was Beto O'Rourke that was inspiring them. So he certainly was under no obligation to do so. But it does open up to criticism in the sense of, so what kind of Democrat are you? Are you a team player? Are you on board for everyone? Or are you on board for yourself?

And clearly if indeed Gillibrand made comments like that, she's trying to raise those questions.

BALDWIN: Yes. Right, which would be bigger questions that would apply if in fact he is throwing his hat in the ring to become the next president.

David Chalian, thank you very much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next: campaign under fire, 2020 contender Howard Schultz apparently savoring the attacks and attention he's receiving, as he considers an independent bid -- why he says this is a sign he is doing something right.


And breaking news out of Venezuela, where the self-declared president who's backed by the U.S. says special forces are attempting to intimidate his family -- what he just told CNN in an interview.

Also just in, it's been called the largest seizure ever along the U.S.-Mexico border -- millions of dollars of fentanyl and meth hidden in a produce truck stopped at a port of entry.

We're back in a moment.


BALDWIN: All right, now to the possible presidential run of Howard Schultz.


It appears the former CEO of Starbucks is savoring the Democratic backlash against his bid, like a French pressed cup of dark roast Sumatra.

A source says Schultz's team sees the party attacks as good, since they echo the -- quote, unquote -- "establishment backlash" that Bernie Sanders faced in 2016. Top Democrats fear a Schultz run would split the Democratic vote, leading to Trump's reelection.

The source adds that if Republicans are piling on, it would only help bolster his outsider image.

But my next guest says Democrats got it all wrong about Howard Schultz and what his independent run could potentially do.

Professor Jeremi Suri teaches history and public affairs at University of Texas at Austin. He also wrote the book "The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office." Also with us, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, a columnist for "USA Today."

So good to have both of you on.

And, Jeremi, you first.

We all -- we read your opinion piece. And clearly you don't think a Howard Schultz candidacy will necessarily hand the election to Donald Trump. Tell me and really any Democrats watching why.

JEREMI SURI, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Well, I think what we need this coming election is, we need an issue-focused election.

There are some major policy problems in our society that are not getting addressed. In fact, they're getting a lot worse because of the current president. And we need serious candidates, as many as possible, who will raise these issues, educate the public and force a serious debate about health care, about climate change, about American foreign policy.

BALDWIN: So, why is Howard Schultz going to help that?

SURI: I think Howard Schultz is uniquely positioned to help this debate, because he's not beholden to a particular party. He's a problem-solver, and he's someone who has proven himself to be analytical and committed to addressing these issues.

That's what his candidacy would be about. That doesn't mean he's necessarily the best person to be president, but it means he can add a lot to the discussion right now.

BALDWIN: Kirsten, do you agree, or no?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think the fact that he says he's a Democrat, but he's, I guess, an independent disaffected Democrat, then I would say run in the Democratic primary.

If you really believe the Democratic Party needs to have different ideas, then have that debate. Instead, he's sort of putting himself off to the side, taking him out of those debates, because he wouldn't be in the Democratic debates.

And I think that the pushback that he's getting is actually -- it's not the establishment pushback. He's actually getting more pushback from people who are like an Ocasio-Cortez-type person who's really not an establishment person. And he came out of the gate casting himself as a very independent

person, but yet he's just -- he's actually spouting some very sort of standard establishment-type positions. It's actually a very establishment position to say that you shouldn't tax people who are making over $10 million a year at 70 percent.

That's an establishment position. That's not the -- it's an outlier position actually to think that you should.

BALDWIN: What do you think of Jeremi's point about how a Howard Schultz in the race would deep in the debate, shake up maybe even Republicans and Democrats, sharpen them up on issues, which is what everyone should really be focused on?

POWERS: Well, I actually think that there are lots of debates going on in the Democratic Party right now. So, this idea that there's a monolith and there aren't people that are having debates about the direction of the country, I don't actually think is accurate.

All I have seen actually is Republicans basically endorsing his run. So that's -- that's a little strange. I think if you're a Democrat, you might want to stop and think like, why are Republicans liking what I'm saying so much? Why is "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board so happy about what I'm saying?


BALDWIN: Why is President Trump tweeting about him, instead of, say, Kamala Harris?



POWERS: But, like I said before, if he wants to have a debate about the Democratic Party, join the debate. Run as a Democrat, right? He's standing off to the side basically attacking people, rather than actually -- to me, I don't see a person who's trying to debate.

I see a person who's just making accusations. And we could get it until like why I think his accusations don't -- aren't very grounded in reality. But he's not really elevating the conversation.

BALDWIN: Well, on the note of not elevating the conversation, Jeremi, here's my question to you, because, listen, he -- Howard Schultz, he hasn't announced an exploratory committee. But he is speaking and responding to a lot of these candidates and a lot of shade headed his way.

But if he is -- if he is constantly reacting to them, should he not be offering up his own specifics? You talk about issues. Offering up his own issues, instead of just on the defense?

SURI: Oh, yes, yes, Brooke. I think the role that independent candidates have played in our history, and it's been a very positive role during campaigns, is to take one or two issues and really drill down on them.

Think of Ross Perot on the deficit. Think of the role that Theodore Roosevelt played highlighting environmentalism in the early 20th century. I think that Howard Schultz, if he picks a couple of serious issues and really focuses on those issues, he can galvanize debate and discussion and force this into an election season where we actually talk about policy.


I'm tired of talking about personality. I'm tired of talking about people's hair and how they live their personal lives. We have real policy issues we have to address in our society. And I crave and historically we need candidates who focus themselves on those issues.

So I do think that's where we're going and I do think that's what he adds to the race.

BALDWIN: Kirsten, I wanted to get your reaction to a tweet that was deleted from Howard Schultz's Twitter account that contained an article that slammed Senator Kamala Harris as shrill and quasi- socialist and called Senator Elizabeth Warren -- quote -- "fauxcahontas," a play on obviously Trump's slur against her.

And so here's Howard Schultz explaining why he got rid of the tweet.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: I don't want to get into the mud with anybody. I don't want to get into revenge politics, which has obviously been the problem that I'm identifying. I don't want to be part of mudslinging. I want to speak aspirationally and positively and do everything I can to elevate the national conversation.

That is what's necessary.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So did he not realize he had made those comments?

SCHULTZ: No, I did not. I did not.


BALDWIN: So reportedly someone else posted the tweet. An aide told CNN the person didn't fully vet this piece.

But, Kirsten, not a good look, especially when you criticize the president for his use of social media.

POWERS: Well, it's also was an article from PJ Media, which is a pretty outside-the-mainstream publication, to be kind.

And so why is the person who's working for him even presumably read this, because they were praising it? So I don't think that that looks good. But I just want to focus in on the fact that he really has -- he keeps

saying he wants to elevate the conversation. But really what he's done is, he's come out and attacked Elizabeth Warren, you know, Kamala Harris, Congressman Ocasio-Cortez.

What's his problem with all the women in the Democratic Party? I mean, I just -- I don't see a person who's trying to elevate the conversation. He's just making attacks against people, and he's misrepresenting positions that people hold also.

So I think he's somebody who I have had a lot of respect for, and I'm pretty disappointed in the way that he's behaving, because I don't think he's elevating the conversation.

BALDWIN: Kirsten Powers, thank you. Jeremi Suri, thank you very much for the conversation on Howard Schultz.

Breaking news, meantime, in Venezuela, where the U.S.-backed leader, Juan Guaido, says special forces just tried to enter the home of his wife's family.

Now a U.S. official tells CNN that there is concern that Russia and some other countries may be looting gold from Venezuela, as Maduro's power is in jeopardy.