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Mueller Team Collects Roger Stone Evidence Spanning Years; Trump on His Insults on Intel Chiefs: "Time Will Prove Me Right"; Venezuelan Opposition Leader Claims Nicolas Maduro Threatening Wife's Family; Former Amb. Ryan Crocker: Trump Ending Afghan War Amounts to Surrender; Poll: Republicans Suffer Huge Hit Over Shutdown; Steve Bannon: I Was Doing the "Lord's Work" in the White House; Trump Interviewed Ted Cruz's Wife for World Bank Job. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired January 31, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:29:47] CARRIE CORDERO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And on the issue of the search, just to add on, if the president sees on TV that a search is executed on his long-time friend and he doesn't understand the way that law enforcement works, which we might know that he -- perhaps he doesn't understand that, he can ask for a briefing on, tell me more about how law enforcement searches work. You know, why was there people who were armed?
You know, Roger's my friend. That's understandable. What's problematic is the way that he drives us in a public forum because it undermines the FBI and it undermines law enforcement, and it makes it look --
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Isn't that the objective?
CORDERO: I think it is. It makes it look to people that they're doing something wrong, which, otherwise, in this case, they're following standard law enforcement procedure.
KEILAR: They're actually doing something right, as, Anthony, you informed us of.
Anthony Ferrante, Carrie Cordero, thank you both very much.
The former ambassador to Afghanistan is sounding the alarm about Trump's plan to end America's longest war. Why he says the president's negotiations essentially amounts to a surrender.
And the stunning new poll we're seeing about the impact of the government shutdown. It has been hurting the GOP's favorability. We'll talk about that.
[13:35:39] KEILAR: We have some breaking news out of Venezuela. Opposition leader and self-declared acting president, Juan Guaido, is accusing dictator Nicolas Maduro's forces of trying to intimidate him by targeting his wife's family. This is part of the escalating standoff that is ripping that country
We have journalist, Jorge Perez Valery, in Caracas to tell us what's going on.
Give us the latest, Jorge.
JORGE PEREZ VALERY, JOURNALIST: Brianna, we just came back from the residence, where Mr. Guaido was with his wife and daughter and what he said, these members of the national police appeared there, and were asking for his wife. So these members of the police, of the national police appeared there, he immediately stopped talking at the conference he had in the university here, and he went to this place. And we were following him. There were no policemen anymore. But he is announcing that the forces, the security forces controlled by the government of Nicolas Maduro are trying to intimidate him. Let's remember that Mr. Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela. He gained immediate recognition from the United States as the president of this country. Still, there is incumbent Nicolas Maduro, still getting support from Russia and China as the legitimate president of this country. So there's a tension of power between the president of the national assembly, Mr. Juan Guaido, and Mr. Nicolas Maduro who still claims also the presidency.
KEILAR: Jorge will continue to cover this and look at this story. Very important story out of Venezuela.
Jorge Perez Valery, we appreciate your report.
The Senate is voting this afternoon on a legislation that is urging for U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan and in Syria. Senator Mitch McConnell's amendment is seen very much as a rebuke of President Trump's push to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and an expected plan for Afghanistan. It warns that, "Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to us here at home."
At the same time, a veteran diplomate says the ongoing talks in Afghanistan between the U.S. and the Taliban amounts to a surrender.
Ryan Crocker has been an ambassador to four Middle Eastern and two South Asian countries under four different presidents.
You were most recently ambassador to Afghanistan during the Obama administration.
We appreciate you being with us, sir.
RYAN CROCKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: Thanks for having me, Brianna.
KEILAR: You have this op-ed you wrote in the "Washington Post," and you say the U.S. is negotiating -- we know the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban, but as it does this, with the Afghan government at this point in time cut out of the negotiations, you say the U.S. is just negotiating the terms of our surrender. Explain that. CROCKER: The fact that we are holding these talks without the Afghan
government in the room is a huge dangerous concession for us to the Taliban. That has always been our position. We'll talk to you, Americans, we're not going to talk to the puppet regime you've installed. We've conceded that point, which delegitimizes the Afghan government. If this is a course we're going to continue on, this very much is a surrender negotiation. I keep thinking of the Paris peace talks in the early '70s, when we effectively did the same thing, by coming to the table with the V.C. in the north, we were saying we surrender, let's do the terms, give us a decent interval so it doesn't look overwhelmingly like we cut and run, but we're going. And that is where we are right now. It is not irreversible. There are steps we could take that would strengthen rather than weaken Afghan sovereignty and prospects for an eventual peaceful sentiment there, but it will have to be a quick court correction if we do it.
KEILAR: It seems like the next step in the current negotiations we're seeing between the U.S. and the Taliban is to bring in the Afghan government. Are you OK with that strategy? Do you think, from the very beginning, the Afghan government and the Taliban need to be at the same table?
[13:40:04] CROCKER: If I were doing it, I would argue precisely that point. We need to start with the Afghan government. We need to finish with the Afghan government at the table and everywhere in between. We didn't do that. As I said, I think we can still get this tracking to a better place. But effectively, what we have to say is, OK, we've cleared the brush, we've got a framework here. Afghan government is fully briefed on that. Now we turn to substance and now the Afghan government is there or there are no negotiations. The other thing I would add to that is, in terms of U.S. forces, maybe through these negotiations we can get to a place where our national security interests and our moral values as Americans can be advanced and protected by means other than our forces. Unless or until that day comes, our forces are staying. We'll work with the Afghan government and their forces, but we're going nowhere --
KEILAR: What's -- what's --
CROCKER: -- until we see agreements that start to emerge that will protect our interests otherwise.
KEILAR: What's the number you have in mind, because there does not seem to be a particular appetite on the part of the American people and certainly not the Trump administration, particularly President Trump, to have a large and persistent U.S. force in Afghanistan.
CROCKER: We don't have a large force in Afghanistan. When I was ambassador, in 2012, we had 11,000 troops. Today, the number is around 14,000. I would suggest that in terms of our own national security -- let's not forget 9/11 came to us out of Afghanistan. And our moral values, like the security, safety of women in Afghanistan. This is a pretty small investment to keep things steady enough that both our values and our interests are intact. President Trump said this in the summer of 2017, we're not talking calendars anymore, we're talking conditions. And that needs to be the message now. Our troops are there at the request of the Afghan government. They are there for our reasons, our national interests. And they will stay there as long as that is necessary for us to maintain our interests and, indeed, our values.
KEILAR: The president doesn't feel that way, though. How do you combat the president wanting to draw -- you say 14,000 is not a persistent force. He clearly thinks it is. He wants it to be less. He wants it -- reportedly to cut it in half. How can -- I hear what you're saying, you're saying this is how it should be, but he's the president, and that's not how he thinks it should be.
CROCKER: I would hope, Brianna, that he would think again. You don't end a war by withdrawing your forces from the battlefield. President Obama proved that in Iraq when he pulled us all the way out. And guess what? We had the Islamic State in one half of the country and the Iranians in the other. I would hope the president would look at this and understand this rush for the exits is exactly what our adversaries count on and exactly what our allies fear, that the Americans do not have strategic patience, they don't have staying power, we can outlast them. That was certainly the lesson that President Obama saw in Iraq. He was heading in the same direction on Afghanistan, to have everybody out by the end of his term. Fortunately, he put the brakes on that. This is time, I think, for the president to understand American interests are at stake here, American values. We need to stay steady.
KEILAR: Ambassador Ryan Crocker, thank you, sir, for being with us.
CROCKER: Thank you.
KEILAR: We have more on breaking news. As another shutdown looms, the Democrats deliver their opening offer on border talks without wall money and already the president says, sorry, no deal, I'm not even going to read your offer.
[13:44:15] Plus, Howard Schultz in the middle of his meet with Democrats deletes a tweet attacking two female candidates. Hear his explanation.
KEILAR: We have breaking news. Officials in Arizona are now announcing the largest ever seizure of the drug fentanyl. And this is what they're showing off today, more than 250 pounds of this drug. It was discovered inside of an 18-wheeler full of produce that was coming across a commercial border crossing in Nogales, Arizona. Experts say this was the largest seizure of the drug at any port of entry, including ports. The street value of this haul tops $3 million.
The historic government shutdown appears to be taking a toll on political popularity in Washington. We have a new Gallup poll showing just 37 percent of Americans view the Republican Party in a favorable light. That's down eight points since September. For comparison, the opinions Americans have of Democrats stayed steady, at 45 percent.
Former congressman and CNN political commentator, Charlie Dent, with us now. We have Nancy Cook as well, a White House reporter for "Politico."
Charlie, I wonder what the GOP is taking away from this and also what President Trump may not be taking away from it but what he should be.
[13:50:06] CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You showed those numbers. During the 2013 shutdown, we saw precisely the same thing. Republican numbers dropped dramatically during that shutdown because we were blamed and Ted Cruz's shutdown really led to a very deep depression for Republicans at that moment. And the only thing that saved Republicans in the 2014 is the Obamacare rollout. There's none of that this time. I'm not at all surprised by the numbers. When you own the shutdown, your numbers take a hit.
KEILAR: When we look at whether there's going to be another shutdown or whether they're going to come to an agreement on border security, the speaker, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has put out the Democratic plan to do border security. She said that, you know, in this plan, they're open to some sort of barrier. But then we just heard a very pessimistic assessment from President Trump who said, if you don't have a wall, clearly he wants it to be branded the wall, if you don't have a wall, I'm not even going to read what you have.
NANCY COOK, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: The White House is already signaling and anticipating that they won't get what they want out of this deal or conference committee. On Tuesday, President Trump was briefed by his new acting chief-of-staff, Mick Mulvaney ,and Jared Kushner and some White House layers on the options for declaring a national emergency, which would allow him to secure border wall funding without having to go through Congress. And the White House I think is really preparing for that possibility. I don't think they're optimistic about Congress being able to do what they want.
KEILAR: What does this mean for members of Congress, specifically for Republicans, who don't want another shutdown and these appropriators who are part of this group of 17 who actually want to come to some sort of agreement?
DENT: It comes off the Appropriations Committee. I can tell you, the Appropriations can reach an agreement but how to fund the government, including the Department of Homeland Security. They're in a conference committee. They will issue a report. I suspect that they would send that to the president and the president will have to make a choice. He can sign it or veto it. Now, if he decides to impose a national emergency, as a former Congressman, I can tell you that would be a usurpation of congressional authority on a grand scale. I mean, to think that he's going to take money that's already been appropriated for military construction projects or natural disasters, approved by Congress, signed into law by the president, and move them to pay for a barrier on the southern border, to me, is flagrantly in violation of the Article I powers of the Constitution.
KEILAR: Why is he, Nancy, blaming Paul Ryan during his lame-duck session when I always think, it's just, of course, there's the blame game in politics, but this is Paul Ryan. He's long gone. Nothing was going to get done between the election and the new Congress? He was in charge -- the president had both chambers of Republicans and he didn't get this done.
COOK: He had both chambers for two years and Republicans were very largely cooperative with him. I think that what we've seen time and time again with President Trump is he always looks for a foil or scape goat in these situations. When the stock market took a nosedive a few months ago, he blamed the Fed chair. Now he's looking for a scape goat if he doesn't get the money for a border wall. It's easy to blame Paul Ryan. He's not in office any more. What we're seeing is Trump really setting up that foil in case this doesn't go how he wants.
KEILAR: I'm sorry, Congressman. We're very out of time. I will get your wonderful opinion in the commercial break and put it on Twitter, I promise.
Nancy Cook, Charlie Dent with us. Thank you.
Ahead, the president attacked her looks. Called her -- her husband called President Trump a sniffling coward. So why did President Trump just interview Heidi Cruz for a job?
[13:55:13] KEILAR: Former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is speaking out about his controversial time in the West Wing saying that everything he did was forgot. According to "USA Today," Bannon says in a new documentary, called "The Brink," quote, "There's no glamour to the job. I hated every second I was there. The West Wing has bad karma to it. They say because you were doing bad stuff, but I was doing the Lord's work."
Former governor, Chris Christie, who's currently on a book tour says, no, not so fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I don't think Steve Bannon would know the Lord's work if it hit him across the forehead. Listen, the bad karma in the West Wing, I believe, during that period of time, was greatly contributed to by Steve Bannon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: S.E. Cupp, our host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," with us now.
S.E., Steve Bannon is saying that he absolutely hated this. He abhorred his time. But what did you think about him saying he was doing the Lord's work?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": Ha. I guess the charitable explanation would be that people working in and around Trump at that time maybe thought they were giving a voice to the voiceless in a lot of what they were doing and sort of, you know, bringing in to the fold the forgotten man. That said, if you look objectively at what Steve Bannon's role was, both in the campaign and then in the White House and his work with Brexit, it was very clearly to capitalize on division, divisions in the country, divisions among voters, to sort of harness hatred and animosity and stir that up and ferment it and turn it into political capital. I'm familiar with all the Gods of all the religions and I don't think that's generally what any of the Gods in any of the major religions say that their job is. That's usually the other guy's job.
KEILAR: Sarah Sanders has an opinion on this. Let's listen to what she has said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times. And I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president and that's why he's there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What did you think of that?
CUPP: You know, you can look, I think, analytically at whether Trump behaves, as a person and, as a president, as a good Christian. I think that's fair game to analyze. But it's not an uncommon thing for religious people, Christians, in particular, to see certain jobs as a calling. And plenty of politicians have said and believe that they were called upon by God to do what they were doing. Recently, John Kasich says he was listening for God to give him a call about whether to run for president again. Jimmy Carter talked about this. All kinds of political leaders in this country and elsewhere have talked about the idea that they were called by God. I don't think it's that weird for Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of a reverend --
CUPP: -- to view the president in that way. I think that's how a lot of Christians in this country view that kind of a job, as a calling.
KEILAR: I think you're absolutely right. And having covered Hillary Clinton, I think she certainly felt a calling and she was quite religious, and that was certainly integrated into, I think, some of what she found to be her objectives in politics, whether people disagree with that or not.
S.E., I have something else I want to get your perspective on, because we have learned that the president interviewed Heidi Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz's wife, about a job. And, of course, there's history here that has raised some eyebrows because Trump insulted her appearance during the campaign.
KEILAR: He tweeted this meme, if we can remind people, implying that she was unattractive. Are you surprised she took the meeting?
CUPP: For most husbands, I think that would be -- that would be a deal breaker. If I'm Heidi Cruz, I don't think I can put that behind me. But you have to know about Trump. His insults, I don't think -- they feel personal but I think they're more tactical. He gets over them as quickly he probably gets over the insults flung at him.
KEILAR: He did. It's so interesting that she did, because he clearly did. It's interesting to see that she has also moved on.
CUPP: Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, they all come back eventually.
KEILAR: S.E. Cupp, thank you so much.
And you can catch S.E.'s great show, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," Saturday 6:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
And that's it for me. "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.