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Prosecutors Lay Out Volume Of Evidence On Stone; Trump Hints At Border Wall Action Around State Of The Union; Soon: Tulsi Gabbard Officially Kicks Off 2020 Bid. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 2, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Thank you for staying with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Our breaking news within just the last hour, both of Virginia's democratic senators and the state's first African American governor have joined the calls for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to resign.

It follows a bizarre press conference today in which Northam insisted that despite the apology he issued yesterday, he is not one of the two people pictured in this racist yearbook photo from 1984, showing someone in black face and another in KKK garb.

But with today's denial also came in admission that one time he did darken his face with show polish, he says, to resemble Michael Jackson during a dance contest.


RALPH NORTHAM, GOV. OF VIRGINIA: When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page. But I believe then and now that I am not either of the people in that photo.

I stand by my statement of apology to the many Virginians who were hurt by seeing this content on a yearbook page that belong to me. It is disgusting. It is offensive. It is racist. And it was my responsibility to recognize and prevent it from being published in the first place.

My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stands in parts from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in the same period of my life.

That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume. I look back now and regret that U did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.


[20:05:00] CABRERA: I want to read you the statement now from Virginia's two democratic senators and from Virginia's senior house democrat, I quote, "After we watched his press conference today, we called Governor Northam to tell him that we no longer believe he can effectively serve as Governor of Virginia and that he must resign." "Governor Northam has served the people of the Commonwealth faithfully for many years, but the events of the past 24 hours have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders. He should step down and allow the Commonwealth to begin healing."

CNN's Jessica Dean is outside the Governor's mansion. And Jessica, Senators Tim Kaine and Mar Warner, Congressman Bobby Scott; and this just adds to a whole pile of elected leaders, democrats calling for Northam's resignation. Any sign right now that the governor is really feeling that pressure?

JESSICA DEAN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly are a lot of calls. And as the night has gone on, that statement you just read was incredibly significant to hear from those three men, two of them former governors themselves. It takes us back to the press conference that was earlier today.

It went on for nearly an hour with Governor Northam trying to explain his position on this, saying that he thinks he could move forward and build back -- earn back the trust of Virginians. He also talked about as you mentioned the darkening of his face to dance in a dance competition. Listen to this exchange.


UNKNOWN MALE: Do you think Virginians will see a meaningful difference between you in the Michael Jackson face paint and blackface photo. Is that a meaningful distinction (inaudible)?

NORTHAM: That's up to them. If everything is in sound bytes these days, I really do believe that both of them are wrong.

But there's a contrast between the blackface and someone standing there in a Klu Klux Klan outfit and me dressed up in a Michael Jackson costume for a dance contest. And again, they are both wrong. But I would hope the people would see the contrast.


DEAN: And what's important to take away from all of this, is before that press conference, there were some statewide elected democrats, some big names, the ones you just mentioned that were holding out not yet calling for his resignation. Well following that press conference, we heard from the senators and also the congressman.

We also heard from Virginia's first elected African American governor, the first elected African American governor in the United States, Doug Wilder. I want to read you what he tweeted just within the last hour. He said, "I stated, earlier, that Governor Northam's continuing in office was his choice to make. It is difficult for anyone to conclude that he has nay other choice then to resign," after watching that press conference is what he said.

And so, you have former Governor Wilder coming out and then you hear from the two senators, former governors and also the congressman. We learned a little bit more about the behind of the scenes of that statement coming out.

CNN being told by a democrat with knowledge of their conversations that the three of them have been privately talking with the governor, encouraging him to step down over the last 24 hours. That's why they had not come our publically and called for his resignation.

They went back to him after this press conference. We're talking to them again. If we was willing to step down tonight or tomorrow, they were going to let him do that. He said that he wouldn't. They have no indication. That is when their patience ran out and they put out that statement -- Ana.

CABRERA: Jessica, there is also this other issue of nicknames listed under a yearbook photo of Northam from 1981. What can you tell us about that?

DEAN: So, that's referring to this racially insensitive nickname that was under the governor's photo in the -- in his college yearbook. And he was asked about that today multiple times.

And his answer for that was that it was two people who called him that. And that he didn't know why they called him that and why it was in that yearbook. And that was pretty much his answer on that.

CABRERA: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you very much. Joining us now is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Karen Bass of California. Congressman, your caucus earlier called on Northam to resign. Did he say anything today to change your mind?

REP. KAREN BASS, CHAIR OF CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS (D): No, he just made it worse. The idea that he's going to come out yesterday and say that he was in the picture, today deny it and then on top of it to say that he hopes that people would make a distinction between wearing blackface and imitating Michael Jackson.

And because he wasn't standing next to someone in the Klan, he is completely tone deaf, then to say that his nickname of Coon Man, he doesn't know where that came from or how that appeared.

This was not a 16 or 17 year old boy. This is a person who graduated medical school in the early 1980s when there was a tremendous amount of activity around Jesse Jackson's campaign, the anti-apartheid movement.

It was not the '30s, the '40s or the '50s. So, it is inexcusable and I think that he absolutely should resign. And clearly he's lost all support.

CABRERA: I am glad you point out, because Northam made the argument that blackface wasn't viewed in 1984 the same way it is now. I'm glad you point out the fact that 1984 wasn't all that long ago. Let's listen to what he said.


NORTHAM: While I did not appear in this photo, I am not surprised by it's appearance in the EVMS yearbook. In the place and time where I grew up, many actions that we rightfully recognize as apparent today were common place.


BASS: That is just a lie. I am sorry, but that is a lie. In 1984, there was a tremendous amount of activity and enthusiasm and excitement over the possibility of the first African American president. There is no way in the world he can say that he didn't know better.

Now, I also question both schools as well. How inappropriate it was for them to even allow those kinds of photographs in a yearbook. But right now, it was his responsibility. He took responsibility yesterday. He retracted it today.

But the other thing I think is that why didn't he come forward year ago. Why didn't -- since he has such great relations in the community, why didn't he sit down with black clergy and say you know what, I did something when I was younger. It was really stupid. I'm sorry.

If no one had discovered this, he would've continued on. In a way it's like he hid this and only acknowledged it when he was exposed. No excuse.

CABRERA: So, this was 35 years ago clearly, unacceptable. But when does somebody deserve a second chance? What would allow Northam to move beyond this?

BASS: Well you know what; I mean he kind of had an opportunity today. And I think that he made it absolutely worse today.

But in this environment that we have lived in, in the last two years where we have the leadership of our country essentially, but objecting if not promoting policies that have unleashed a level of racism in this country that we haven't seen in a long time.

This is not the time period to allow this to continue. And if he is sincere about the state of Virginia, then he should allow the state of Virginia to heal by stepping down. That is the only dignified thing to do.

CABRERA: I know how personal this is to you. When you talk about it in the sense of what this means to the party, African Americans reliably vote democrat. Do you think the Democratic Party deserves that support that the party has earned African American support?

BASS: Well, I mean we have basically a two party system in our country, period. And if you're going to compare the Democratic Party with the Republican Party, absolutely the Democratic Party deserves the support of African Americans.

Now having said that, that doesn't mean that African Americans should not hold the Democratic Party accountable, and I am glad that every aspect of the Democratic Party leadership is on the same page calling for him to step down.

CABRERA: If Northam resigns, he'll be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax. Fairfax would be the--

BASS: Yes.

CABRERA: -- second black governor in Virginia's history. How significant is that?

BASS: I think that is very significant. I think it's very appropriate. Again, I mean the state of Virginia has a day in which they celebrate Robert E. Lee, Robert E. Lee before Martin Luther King holiday. The governor came out very strong after Charlottesville talking about getting rid of confederate monuments.

And then he back tracked on that. And so, I think that it would be extremely appropriate. I know that the Lieutenant Governor is very, very popular in the state. And I think it would be a tremendous step toward healing for him to take over. It should be Governor Fairfax at this point.

CABRERA: Do you see nay path forward in which Northam is able to stay in office and govern effectively--

BASS: I really don't. No, I really don't. I mean I don't think that -- how could you possibly trust him? And just imagine the African American elected officials in that legislative caucus, our two members Don McEachin and Bobby Scott. I mean these are people that knew him for years and years.

Can you imagine the sense of betrayal that they feel? How could he possibly have creditability to govern? Yesterday he was in the picture, today he wasn't. But oops, I did blackface, but doing blackface as Michael Jackson is completely different. He's lost credibility.

CABRERA: What does a picture like that do to you? When you see those images, how does that make you feel as a black woman?

BASS: I mean honestly, it's painful. But it makes you just want to have a big sigh, because how many years, how many decades, how many centuries do we have to continue going through this? This is why it is so important the leadership of our country needs to lead in a way that heals.

And unfortunately, that's not the situation that we're in right now. So if this was just about the governor that would be one thing. But just think about it. A week before the last election, we had four acts of domestic terrorism. And not each one but almost each one of those acts was racially motivated.

What about the African Americans that were killed in Kentucky? The man wanted to go to a church, couldn't get there, a couple of days later, the massacre in the Synagogue. Three days after that, the yoga studio. We are going through a period in our country right now that is extremely painful which is why we need the leadership. And so, maybe if this had happened at some other point in time, there would've been -- he could've redeemed himself. But especially at this moment in our history with everything that is happening, the only thing for him to do is to gracefully in a dignified manner apologize and say I need to step down.

CABRERA: Congresswoman Karen Bass, really great to have your voice on our show tonight on this matter. Thank you.

BASS: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: More on our breaking news, top Virginia lawmakers calling ob the governor to resign after his bizarre explanation for a racist yearbook photo pictured next hi name. We'll be right back.



NORTHAM: I cannot in good conscious choose the path that would be easier for me in an effort to duck my responsibility to reconcile.


CABRERA: That was Virginia Governor Ralph Northam explaining why he will not resign over a racist photo that appears on his personal page in his 1984 medical college yearbook.

Yesterday, he apologized for being in the picture. But just a few hours ago, Northam said he's not in the picture. And he's not sure how that picture made it's way in to the yearbook. But he does admit to darkening his face with show polish around the same time period when he dressed up like Michael Jackson.

With me now, April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and Michael Shear, White House correspondent for the New York Times. He also spent 15 years covering Virginia politics, including the governor's office.

So April, this idea that Northam says he shouldn't resign because he's not actually the person in the photo. But oh by the way, he did put shoe polish on his face once to dress up as Michael Jackson. Is he literally the only person who refuses to believe it's over?

APRIL RYAN, W.H. CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Wait a minute -- and you forgot one thing, the Coon Man in the other yearbook. He is delusional right now. You have the first black governor who was reserving judgment until he heard the press conference.

You have his friend Bobby Scott, Congressman Bobby Scoot who said it's hard for a friend to denounce this but he is. There are many -- those two along with others are feeling that as he wanted to portray Michael Jackson, he should moonwalk out of there.

He is insulting the intelligence of the American population to say, Ana, I mean and I watched this, and I was in disbelief to say it wasn't me, going back to an old Shaggy song. It wasn't me. To say those -- one of those two pictures wasn't him.

But I did put shoe polish on my face and did the moonwalk at a contest for Michael Jackson -- to impersonate Michael Jackson. And then when asked about the other yearbook with his nickname being Coon Man, other people did it. It's thin. It is so thin. And you have a state that's still trying to deal with the effects after the verb of Charlottesville.



RYAN: Charlottesville is now a verb because of racism. You cannot say that it's over and you're going to govern well. This is more than an albatross around his neck. It's an albatross around the state's neck. And he might be a recovering racist or what have you, but it doesn't look good. And he needs to step down.

CABRERA: Michael there was this other moment during the press that struck me where it seemed like Northam actually considered moon walking like Michael Jackson. Watch this.


UNKNOWN MALE: Are you still able to moon walk?

PAM NORTHAM, RALPH'S WIFE: Inappropriate circumstances.

NORTHAM: My wife says inappropriate circumstances.


CABRERA: Do you think Northam understands the gravity of the situation?

MICHAEL SHEAR, W.H. CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Honestly Ana, I don't know. I mean look as you said, I covered Virginia politics for a long time. I've been in that governor's mansion many times. I was in Richmond for almost seven years covering two governors.

I have never seen a press conference like that, as bizarre as that was. I mean everything April said is right, like he clearly thought that by coming out today somehow he was going to put the questions to rest.

And that somehow he would stanch the bleeding and that the truant of people coming out and asking him for him to resign would somehow stop. In fact, it did the exact opposite. It raised new questions, that bizarre moment that you just played, but the whole thing was bizarre.

The whole idea that he would come out there and admit to this one thing but claim, to reverse himself on whether or not he was in the picture. I texted a lot of Virginia political operatives over the last five or six hours since that press conference. Republicans, democrats not one really thinks that he has any serious chance of surviving this. I can't imagine that this lasts much longer.

CABRERA: And April, just putting aside whether this was the governor or not, the fact that the yearbook would even publish this photo in 1984, we don't think of it that year as ancient. I mean, it wasn't that long ago. The idea that anyone -- anyone would think it's OK to appear in blackface or the KKK robes at that time. What's your reaction to that?

RYAN: So, I had to go back and think about how it was for me with my yearbook in 1984 for my graduation in 1985 from high school. And I also thought about my college yearbook. And I thought about the yearbook for my children. I pick pictures along with my parents. And the school approved it.

There was someone who oversaw the yearbook at each step of the way be it my personal yearbook or be it my children's. And I asked other people the same thing. Who would allow this in that school and understanding it's not necessarily the school when you get to a certain level when you're in medical school.

But it is a subgroup under the -- within the school like the student activities office or what have you. But there is someone who's doing checks and balances if you will of those yearbooks.

Why did they allow this to happen, unless it was something that was OK in that culture? And also, in his college yearbook how did this -- how was "Coon Man" allowed and this blackface and a KKK robe allowed in a picture? I just don't understand.

CABRERA: It's a great question, and he did answer that question. He himself explained that he didn't realize how offensive and how disturbing those images are.

The idea though, Michael, that Northam ran for governor in 2017 in the aftermath of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that April mentioned earlier. And now he's embroiled din this scandal. How significant is that?

SHEAR: I mean it's totally significant. Look, I mean the fact that this wasn't discovered by reporters is an indictment of reporters by the opposition folks in the other campaigns. I mean, you would have thought that something like this would've been discovered.

But it also is a condemnation of somebody who's got political imbibitions like he does, really to avoid the kind of downfall that he's facing really has to put his life out there and try to explain it to the voters before he's elected. It might have -- who knows what would've happened, right?

But at least if you come forward and say look, this is what happened in my past 30 years ago. And I'm asking the voters, do you still want -- can I still explain this to you enough that you -- that you see the rest of my life and you want me to be your governor, that's one thing.

But to have this come out I mean this -- the last 24 hours, he's been forced in to this. And what it looked like today at that press conference was somebody who had been caught essentially hiding a part of himself from the voters. And that's never ever going to be forgiven.


And so the truant of condemnation from the Democratic Party which let's face it, really sees this as one of the key defining features at large in the Democratic Party versus the Republican Party is the party sensitivity to racial issues.

And so the last thing that this party wants to do on the national level, state level, local level is to sort of complicity endorse somebody who has this kind of past and not condemn them. And that's why you're seeing this truant from everybody.

CABRERA: Here's what Northam actually said back in 2017 about President Trump's failure to condemn white supremacists responsible for the violence in Charlottesville.


NORTHAM: I think it showed what was in his heart. And that is the hatred and bigotry that these people brought to the Commonwealth of Virginia. And again, our leaders need to step up. And this is a healing process.

We need to bring this country together. There are so many issues, not only in this country but in this world that we need to deal with. And this is not a time to divide our country. It's not a time to divide the Commonwealth of Virginia. And he needs to leadership.


CABRERA: April, what would leadership look like for Ralph Northam now?

RYAN: To step down. And Ana, three days ago I was at the University of Virginia, UVA in Charlottesville. And I had a talk with many of the locals there. And they were still reeling from what happened that August day.

Well, that Augusta weekend where people -- white supremacists were waling with tiki torches I guess from Party City through the city trying to intimidate. And then you had that -- the fertility of someone who wanted to do good who was mowed down by a car.

And then just this summer, you had KKK members wearing their garb with the hoods and all. And they were talking about that when I saw them. And then to see that your own governor is possibly wearing a KKK hat or a outfit or blackface.

And then you are looking at this and then you're hearing him going back to Charlottesville talking about do the right thing. He needs to take his own advice. Charlottesville is still hurting. They're still trying grapple with this. The state is trying to grapple with this as well as the nation.

Ana, we're at a time when people are saying we're not going to take this anymore. We saw what happened to Roy Moore in Alabama. We are seeing the numbers, the diverse numbers going in to the democratic presidential realm trying to run for the oval office.

We've never seen anything like this. All because people are saying we're not going to take this anymore. He needs to heed the call and step down. If he tells the president to step down or do the right thing, he needs to do the right thing, take his own medicine, step down.

CABRERA: April, Michael, thank you for the discussion. Please stand by, we're following developments in the Roger Stone case, a federal judge threatening the longtime Trump ally with a gag order warning him to stop arguing his case on the quote, "talk show circuit." But will the man who loves the spotlight so much heed her warning?


[20:30:45] CABRERA: A federal judge is considering imposing a gag order in the case against longtime Trump ally and self-described dirty trickster, Roger Stone.

Now, the judge declared this is a criminal proceeding and not a public relations campaign, and she's warning Stone to stop arguing his case on the, quote, "talk show circuit."

Stone was definitely not camera shy since his arrest on the charges stemming from the Mueller investigation. Listen to this.


ROGER STONE, AMERICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: This indictment is thin as piss on a rock.

The president needs to wake up. This is a speeding bullet heading for his head.

To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down Bin laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, it's unconscionable.


CABRERA: April Ryan and Michael Shear back with us now.

April, Stone loves to talk. What's the over/under that he complies with the judge's order?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think he's going to try to -- I don't think he's going to comply. But the bottom line is this Trump crew, this presidential crew, they always push the envelope and move the bar. He's going to try it. They don't stop talking. They want to play this out in the court of public opinion. Roger Stone is going to continue to talk, and I would not be surprised even if he gets a gag order, he may say a couple things. He might pull it down a little bit, but he may continue to talk. And he's going to -- he's going to push it until he looks like the victim. He wants to tell his story. He wants to tell his side.

CABRERA: Michael, Stone and Trump, we know, have known each other for decades. Both men have been open about that. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Roger's a friend of mine. He's a good guy.

STONE: He's my friend of 40 year.

TRUMP: I've known him for a long time, and he's actually a quality guy. He's a nice guy.

STONE: Donald Trump came to my wedding. I went to two of his. I was at both his parents' funeral.


CABRERA: This week, we learned Mueller sized evidence from Stone's iCloud account, his e-mail accounts, cellphones, spanning years.

Michael, how likely is it that there are communications involving President Trump?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, I think it's almost certain that there are communications involving the president, and I think the question is, are there relevant communications? Are there communications that go to the heart of or speak to Mueller's investigation?

[20:35:06] I mean, what we found with Michael Cohen, whose, you know, telecommunications equipment and the like were similarly seized in investigations, was that a lot of that material, a huge portion of it, was just sort of non-relevant, kind of incidental communication. So the question will be, how much of it is actually relevant to the -- to the investigation?

I mean, look, you know, Roger Stone is a person who for decades has treated his entire life like a public relations stunt. That's how he and Donald Trump frankly operated was that, you know, he solved problems in the court of public opinion.

I think that the challenge for him is going to be -- and the hammer hasn't come down yet. But if the gag order is imposed and the court were to -- and he were to flout it and to say, look, I'm going to continue to go on talk shows. I'm going to continue to talk about this, I mean the court has penalties and can throw him in -- hold him in contempt and throw him in jail if need be. I mean -- and what we've seen with the other defendants in this case, like Michael Cohen, is that they sort of have this bravado initially because that's kind of how they act, and that when the real serious, you know, implications of being under federal investigation and accused of crimes comes down, they sometimes change their behavior.

And I think that's what we just don't know yet about Stone is whether that -- you know, that shift will happen when the hammer falls.

CABRERA: I want to talk a little bit about the president's interviews this week, in particular what he told the Times. He brushed off the larger Russia investigation by saying he had received assurances from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has Rod Rosenstein given you any sense over the course of the last year about whether you have any exposure either in or there's any concerns or whether you're a target of the Mueller report?

TRUMP: Well, he told -- he told the attorneys that I'm not a subject -- I'm not a target of -- yes. Oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he say that about the SDNY investigation, too?

TRUMP: About which?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The SDNY investigation. Because there's two, there's Mueller and there's Cohen investigation.

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know about that.


TRUMP: That I don't know about.


CABRERA: April, important to point out that Trump couldn't remember when Rosenstein would have assured him.

RYAN: Right. Right. You know, the president, one, likes to pick out certain things, certain words and certain statements. He'd -- a lot of times gets it the way he wants it to be. So that's one piece right there.

But I think we need to really wait and see how this plays out. I'm not believing that. I want to see how it plays out from Mueller himself and from what other investigation there is or any kind of hearing, what have you.

I want to see how it plays out before we jump the gun and believe what the president had to say about this. I'm not saying that he's lying, but I'm saying that the president has a way of picking and choosing words and making things the way he wants them to be. CABRERA: Let me move on to something else, Michael. Sources telling CNN Senate investigators now have information that the phone calls Donald Trump Jr. made involving that blocked number ahead of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians, those phone calls were not with his father.

As you know, Democrats had long suspected Trump Jr. informed his father of the meeting in a phone call. How significant is this development?

SHEAR: Well, I think it's significant as a warning to all of us pundits and all of the people who are opining and reporting about the investigation with partial knowledge, right? Only Mueller, only his investigators really know the full extent of what they've got and what they know, and it's always dangerous. And this is a reminder of that, to make assumptions based on limited set of facts. And so I think -- I think that's number one.

But number two, I think you don't make assumptions in the other direction either. It could still be that the people that were at that meeting communicated the information about that meeting, about what was really talked about and the real information that was -- that was garnered and not the fake story that was later, you know, put out to our newspaper and ultimately to everybody else.

It's still possible that that information was really communicated to the president, maybe not through that phone call, maybe through intermediaries. Maybe, you know, in other conversations either in person or on phone or electronically. And we just don't know.

So on the one hand, we can't jump to the conclusion that, you know, and it looks like now that jumping to the conclusion about those phone calls was wrong. But neither should people say, well, therefore, the president is exonerated of knowing about the meeting because there may be other ways that he knew about it.

CABRERA: April, we also heard the president discredit what his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had said about the Trump Tower-Moscow proposal, the talks lasting late into 2016. Quote, "Rudy was incorrect," he said. "Number one, he was incorrect, and we've explained that. He was wrong. Rudy has been wrong a little bit. But what has happened is this. I didn't care. That deal was not important."

[20:40:13] Honest question here. Why is Rudy Giuliani still the president's lawyer at this point?

RYAN: I know, right? Rudy Giuliani is a character. This Rudy Giuliani is nothing like the 9/11 Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani has talked too much. You know, we're going back down that line again from Roger Stone now to Rudy Giuliani. They talk too much and they want to play this out in the court of public opinion.

But what's happening for Rudy Giuliani, he is contradicting things and he's actually putting the president in jeopardy. And I am wondering if the president has now come out and said this about Rudy Giuliani, which could actually really be -- really bad for the president as into the president was dealing with this up until, what, November of 2016, that was when he was president-elect.

So the bottom line is I'm wondering when the president is going to sever ties. The president is very cognizant of the optics of all the people that have been in his inner circle that have been fired, and I'm wondering what that is for the president to say bye, Rudy.

SHEAR: But you know -- can I just say, Ana, I'm not 100 percent sure that he really -- he really doesn't like what Rudy is doing. I think in some ways Rudy throws up chaff into the air for us all to talk about him, to chew on him, and at the end of the day, I'm not sure that the president doesn't like having somebody out there, even if it's not accurate, but that it still kind of puts a lot of distractions into the media for us --

CABRERA: Even if it's not in his best interest. Guys, got to leave it there.

RYAN: It was a great distraction at the beginning, yes.

CABRERA: April Ryan, Michael Shear, good to have you with us. Thanks.

SHEAR: Sure.

CABRERA: President Trump suggesting he is going to build the wall himself, calling talks to avoid another shutdown a waste of time. Is there a big announcement coming around the State of the Union?


[20:45:06] CABRERA: President Trump teasing he'll announce some kind of border action during next week's State of the Union speech. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, have you privately decided whether or not you will declare a national emergency? And just to clarify --

TRUMP: Have I privately? What's in my mind? Well, I'm certainly thinking about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're thinking ahead?

TRUMP: I think there's a good chance that we'll have to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that you will -- that we should be prepared for you to announce at the State of the Union what you are going to do?

TRUMP: Well, I'm saying listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you'll find it very exciting.


CABRERA: CNN's Boris Sanchez has more.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, there is very little progress to show for discussions between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of border security with only about two weeks before the continuing resolution expires and we potentially face a second government shutdown.

Now, both sides are engaged in yet another shouting match. The president taking to CBS to say that Nancy Pelosi is bad for the country and that negotiating with Democrats is a waste of time. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Well, I think that she was very rigid, which I would expect. But I think she is very bad for our country. She knows that you need a barrier. She knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it's very bad politics because basically, she wants open borders. She doesn't mind human trafficking, or she wouldn't do this because, you know, the traffickers --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered you over a billion dollars for border security.

TRUMP: Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered over a billion dollars for border security. She doesn't want the wall.

TRUMP: She's costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what's happening is when you have a porous border and when you have drugs pouring in and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi, who don't want to give proper border security for political reasons, she's doing a terrible disservice to our country.


SANCHEZ: A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi fired back at the president in a statement sent to CNN, saying that the president was mischaracterizing Democrats' position on the issue of immigration and border security and suggesting that the president was reckless during the first government shutdown.

We should point out Democrats have made some concessions and discussions with the Republicans, namely adding funding for added personnel and technology at the border. But they've yet to suggest that they would offer a single cent for the president's long promised border wall, something that he has said is a prerequisite for any border security package for him to sign any such legislation.

The president's frustration is clear. He's now continuously threatened to declare a national emergency on the issue of immigration, even suggesting to reporters on Friday that he would do it during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night. Well, stay tuned for that. There will be no emergency declaration from Mar-a-Lago, at least on Saturday. Take a look at what the president was doing. Golfing with two legends today, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, this on the president's first trip to Mar-a-Lago in 2019, his first trip since that record-breaking 35-day government shutdown. Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez. Thank you. Quick break. We'll be right back.


[20:50:31] CABRERA: Welcome back. The Democratic field for the 2020 presidential race getting even more crowded tonight. A short time from now, Democratic congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii is set to officially launch her presidential campaign.

And CNN's Arlette Saenz is joining us now. Arlette, this hasn't exactly been a smooth rollout for the congresswoman, has it?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: No, Ana. Really, things have gotten off to a rocky start for Tulsi Gabbard. It was just a few weeks ago that she told our colleague that she was planning on running for president in 2020 and since then her campaign manager has already left before things have officially gotten started.

She's also had to apologize to the LGBT community after a report came out that she had previously worked for an anti-gay group that had promoted conversation therapy. As well as working to pass legislature that was against same-sex marriage in Hawaii.

Now, all of this controversy comes as she's really mounting a pretty longshot bid for the White House. She's one of the many progressives who is going to be running in 2020. She's a veteran of the Iraq war who really came into the spotlight back in 2016 as a vocal supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, who she may find herself running against this time around and her team is really hoping that this campaign launch is going to be able to reset her campaign.

Now, she's going to be taking the stage in a short while over in Hawaii, but she's already weighing in on one of the political controversies of this past 24 hours involving Virginia governor, Ralph Northam. She tweeted a short time ago saying we need to leave room for each other to evolve away from hatred and bigotry but saying that if Governor Northam, that if he cannot win back the trust of his constituents that he must resign.

[20:55:12] This is a little bit different from those other 2020 Democrats who are insisting that he has to step down. We'll see what happens with that in the coming days and we'll hear from Tulsi Gabbard in a short while. Ana.

CABRERA: All right. We now you will report out when you get it. Thank you so much, Arlette Saenz. Good to have you with us.

And that does it for me tonight. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thanks for being here.

Up next, discover the most amazing and incredible remarkable true story ever told about triplets separated at birth reunited 19 years later. A CNN film "Three Identical Strangers" is next.