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Interview with Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY); Guaido Won't Rule out Military Support; Countdown to the Super Bowl. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired February 1, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:34:09] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Two weeks from today the government could, believe it or not, shut down again if a border security spending deal does not happen. And President Trump is already calling bipartisan talks to avoid that shutdown a waste of time, in his words.

Joining me now, Republican Congressman Tom Reed from the great state of New York.

Congressman, thanks for taking the time this morning.

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: Great to be with you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So you heard the president's comments. It's a waste of time. He already seems to be telegraphing an executive action or an emergency declaration here. Would you support the president declaring an emergency if Republicans and Democrats don't reach an agreement?

REED: Well, first, I understand the basis for the president to act, but I don't support that. I believe we should fix this legislatively. This committee should be given an opportunity to come to an agreement. And I -- I share the concern the president's articulating.

Do I have a lot of hope that we'll actually get something here? Maybe not. But at the end of the day, we need to fix this through the legislative process because that's the way it should be done. And Congress should be held accountable for failing to lead and solve this problem.

[09:35:13] SCIUTTO: Fair enough.

Could it truly be a national emergency? I mean you heard the intelligence chiefs, appointed by this president, on Tuesday. They did not list a crisis at the southern border as a top national security threat to this country. If that's true, how can the president call it an emergency?

REED: Well, I think, obviously, the commander in chief, as fundamental as well as me as a member of Congress, our fundamental pledge and oath is to protect our fellow American citizens. And everyone agrees, the border on the southern border is broken. It needs to be fixed. There are risks with drug traffickers, human traffickers, death to our fellow American citizens. So I think there's a national emergency claim there. I just don't think that's the appropriate way to resolve this.

I think the appropriate way to resolve this is just hold those negotiators in the -- in Congress, on this committee, in the room in perpetuity and maybe dangle 24-hour, 48-hour CRs over their heads to keep the government open and force Congress to do its job. Congress is failing in this effort.

SCIUTTO: What would you support conceding to Democrats to get money for a border barrier or wall? Would you support, for instance, granting not just temporary protections but more permanent protections to those known as dreamers?

REED: I think there's a huge opportunity here, Jim. You've got 1 million to 1.5 million dreamers and temporarily protected status individuals. These are real people. These are kids that you have an opportunity -- the Democrats have been saying for decades that they stand with these dreamers and folks. I think there's a path there in regards to giving them lawful permanent status. That is the compromised position in my humble opinion that could be there and that you could get to yes on with border security as part of the negotiation.

And I would just hope that Democrats -- don't be hypocritical. Stand here, seize this opportunity to get to yes. You won't have it. And it's -- it's right before you. The success is here.

SCIUTTO: But to get to yes, you would need Republicans, like yourself and the president supporting giving that quid pro quo as it were. Are Republicans prepared to offer that to Democrats, permanent, not temporary protections?

REED: I believe there's enough of us on the Republican and Democratic side. Because, remember, we need 60 votes in the Senate. So it's going to have to be a bipartisan deal. I think the silent number of members are there to support such a deal.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. The president, we now know, is sending thousands more troops to the southern border. There are already about 2,400 there. Possibly as many as another 3,000. When that happens, there will be almost three times as many troops at the southern border as there are fighting ISIS in Syria. And those 2,000 troops fighting ISIS in Syria are about to leave.

Is that where members of the active U.S. military should be fighting now? And does that say that -- that the southern border's a threat but ISIS is not?

REED: I don't think it says that. I think ISIS is always going to be a threat in the foreseeable future. And we will use resources and tools and technology to attack that. But there is a threat at the southern border. It's not a one or the other type of answer. It is both. And I think at the southern border you've got a threat there.

SCIUTTO: But the president is making it that because -- well, the president's making that because there's going to be zero troops fighting ISIS in Syria and some 5,000 more at the southern border. REED: Oh, but, Jim, don't -- make no mistake, there will be -- still

be troops and military resources to take on the ISIS threat across the entire world, in other areas of the world, as well as using technology to disrupt their operations. So I'm very confident in our U.S. military to be able to handle the ISIS threat. But, at the same time, we do have to address the threat coming through the southern border.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about the president's tax returns. You're, of course, a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Next week your Democratic colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee, they're going to hold a hearing on the president's tax returns. Why don't Americans have a right to see what their president's income is and whether he's paying taxes or not?

REED: Well, this is going to be an interesting debate. You know, this authority that the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has to pull anyone's tax returns, now, we ought to be careful we're not going down a slippery slope here of just picking for political purposes someone's tax returns for a political process or political gain. And so I'm very concerned about this.

SCIUTTO: But we're not talking about anyone's. We're talking about -- we're talking about the leader of the free world, the president of the largest economy in the world, following what has been an established protocol for decades by Republican and Democratic presidents. I just wonder, for you, as a citizen, who I assume pays his taxes, don't you and I have a right to know whether our president pays taxes?

REED: Well, this is the slippery slope. So, where do you draw the line, just the president? Do you do that for the speaker of the House? Do you do that for the majority leader in -- in the -- in the House and in the Senate?

SCIUTTO: Yes, draw the line at the president. Why not -- why not just draw -- why not just draw the line at the president? Don't Americans have a right to know that their president -- whether their president pays taxes?

[09:40:01] REED: Well, I think the president has made it very clear as to where he stands on his tax returns. And that is his right to do so as a citizen of America and have that privacy right protected.

Now, what -- we're going to engage in the debate. Let's see what they ask for in the Ways and Means Committee. Let's see what happens as they go through the process. But, at the end of the day, you know, the president has been clear with his tax returns, in regards to that, and the American people elected him and that -- that is the process, that is the system.

SCIUTTO: But he's been clear saying that there's an audit -- he's been clear only in saying that there's an audit and he's not going to release.

I'm just curious, to you, as an American, I mean, again, you pay your taxes. If a self-avowed billionaire pays a lower tax rate than you, how does that make you feel? Would you be comfortable with that? REED: Well, you know, that is a fundamental debate of the tax code

that we had and that's why we're so pleased that we got tax cuts on the books to reduce taxes for everyone. You know, everyone should pay their taxes. There's no question about that. But do you really want to give one person, chairman of the Ways Committee, the unilateral authority to pull anyone's tax returns for whatever reason, for whatever purpose? That is a tremendous amount of power that could be potentially abused. And if we just say, oh, it's OK for the president but no one else. Well, then the next chairman could say, well, how about the next -- how about my political adversary? How about the guy down the street that I'm having a neighborhood dispute with? This is the privacy debate that we'll have loud and clear in D.C. on this issue over the next couple of week.

SCIUTTO: You could stop -- you could stop at the president, but we'll see. And I know the debate's just beginning.

Congressman Tom Reed, thank you, as always, for joining our show.

REED: It's always great to be with you guys.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That was a great interview.

SCIUTTO: It just seems like a basic question, you know? You want to know, you now.

HARLOW: It is a basic question. It was a great interview.

All right, our thanks to the congressman.

Ahead for us, Venezuela's opposition leader, Juan Guaido, is not ruling out the idea of using U.S. military support to force out embattled President Nicolas Maduro. First, though, he says he wants to try a different approach. We'll explain, ahead.


[09:46:12] HARLOW: All right, so this morning, Venezuela's self- proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, is not ruling out U.S. military support to help end that country's growing political crisis.

SCIUTTO: That's a remarkable statement.


SCIUTTO: The opposition leader tells our colleague CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he would like to see more internal pressure put on President Nicolas Maduro to leave before resorting to outside help.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, he's live just across the border in Colombia this morning.

Nick, Guaido says that his family has been intimidated by police now.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean he made this statement on Twitter while he was addressing a crowd at Caracas University saying that police special forces had entered his house and that his daughter and his daughter's grandmother were there at that particular time.

Now, there have been no pictures of that incident and the account has slightly changed. Yes, those police special forces may have been, in fact, in the neighborhood, and the police have denied being there. But, still, that's his way of saying that he feels intimidation is being used against him and the U.S. government very quickly said those behind it would be held accountable.

But here's what he had to say about his recent talk with Donald Trump.


JUAN GUAIDO, SELF-DECLARED ACTING PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): I've had an opportunity to talk with President Trump, to whom I thanked for his clear position with respect to what's going on in Venezuela, to the commitment to liberty and democracy. In Venezuela, there was a time when we took democracy for granted and we lost it. Democracy is always at play. Institutions must always be preserved. The federal and republican values must be preserved in a nation.


WALSH: Now, just to point out, you mentioned he hadn't ruled out U.S. military intervention. He's also said previously, though, that he would prefer absolutely not to have that happen. I think many Venezuelans share that. They're experiencing an incredibly strong economic crisis now of daily hunger. And the idea of military confrontation would simply accentuate that.

But we are seeing this repeated drum beat of rhetoric from Washington, pumping up Juan Guaido as the interim president, self-declared. He swore himself in, in front of a crowd about ten days ago now, even though, I've got to remind people, he doesn't really have his levers on the hands of power inside Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro still controls the military police force, much of the bureaucracy there. No signs that grip is necessarily slipping yet, although we don't know what's happening behind closed doors in terms of negotiations that Juan Guaido says he's having with those officials to try and get them to defect.

He's offered them an amnesty. He potentially has millions if not billions of dollars available to him in frozen Venezuelan state assets held by the United States under sanctions. But whether or not he can get those into the country to assist is still a question he hasn't answered yet.

All eyes, though, on the protest tomorrow. He's called people onto the streets again. Unclear how many will go. It is a test certainly for popular support there and potentially -- everybody hoping it won't be -- potentially a flashpoint as well.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that incredibly important reporting.


HARLOW: Ahead, changing gears. The Super Bowl just a few days away. A new experience for the Los Angeles Rams. But it's a familiar event, of course, for the New England Patriots. Will that experience or not having it matter on Sunday?


[09:53:50] SCIUTTO: The countdown is on. Super Bowl LIII between the Rams and the Patriots just two days away. You know, kicking and screaming. I'm getting caught up in it. I'm going to watch it.

HARLOW: Are you finally into this?

SCIUTTO: I'm into it.

HARLOW: All right. Andy Scholes is super into it and joins us now from Atlanta.

You get to go to the big game, my friend. What are we looking at right now?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Poppy, yes, so I'm standing right now in Centennial Olympic Park. You know, it was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics. And this is the sight of this year's Super Bowl live, where they have a bunch of free concerts and exhibits for NFL fans all weekend long.

Now, in terms of the big game, this is going to be Tom Brady's ninth Super Bowl. And every time Tom Brady has been in a Super Bowl, it's been a close game. It's been decided by one score. So you can expect a good one on Sunday between the Patriots and the Rams.

Now, if Brady's able to win this game, it would be his sixth Super Bowl title. That would make him the highest on the list of Super Bowl championships. He'd tie the Pittsburgh Steelers as the most of any team or player ever in NFL history. And, you know, Brady's first title came back in 2002 when he beat the Rams. And Brady says even though he's 41 years old now, he thinks he's even better than he was back then.

[09:55:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: It's hard to believe that, you know, this is the ninth time doing this. It wasn't always like this. I remember it was a little bit smaller back in the day the first time I did it. I think I'm a better player now than I was in 2001. I don't think I was the great -- the best player, you know, I could possibly be at that point. I think there's been a lot of work and effort over the years to try to get to where I'm at now.


SCHOLES: All right, make sure to tune in to CNN tomorrow afternoon for "Kickoff in Atlanta." Dave Briggs, Coy Wire, Hines and myself are going to get you ready for the game. That's 2:30 Eastern tomorrow right here on CNN.

And, guys, check this out. Boston based Samuel Adams Brewery put out these special beers for the Super Bowl. They've got too old, too slow, still here. It's Tom Brady's slogan for this year for him making it to the big game. It's got a goat, of course, with -- holding a he football in the front, of course referring to how Tom Brady is the greatest of all time. So Patriot fans are going to be drinking these quite a bit Sunday in the New England area, guaranteed.

SCIUTTO: Is that like a gallon of beer, Andy? I mean that's the biggest beer can I've ever seen.

HARLOW: Our team wants --

SCHOLES: It's 32 ounces. It's like you only need one, I think.

SCIUTTO: Yowsers (ph).

HARLOW: Yes. Our team wants you to drink it now, so get off camera and chug it down.

Thanks, Andy.

SCIUTTO: Well, back here, six --

SCHOLES: I've got more work to do.


SCIUTTO: We'll be watching.

Six hundred and forty days until America votes for the next president. This morning, the field of Democratic candidates has grown once again.

HARLOW: That's a great tease.