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El Chapo Trial Jury Deliberations Begin For Alleged Mexican Drug Lord; Racist Photo Backlash; New Today CNN Poll: Most Oppose Trump Declaring Natl. Emergency For Wall; Dems Gear Up For Week Of Blockbuster Hearing; Democrats To Wield Power Of WH Oversight Starting This Week; Embattled Virginia Governor Holds Cabinet Meeting. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 4, 2019 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: All abuse of women as well. Polo Sandoval, we know you're going to stay on top of it. Thank you very much.

Top of the hour this Monday morning. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York and this morning it is more clear than ever that the issue that forced President Trump to postpone his State of the Union speech is still very much causing headwinds on Capitol Hill.

A brand new CNN poll shows large majorities of Americans do not want another government shutdown, but also do not believe the president and Democrats will make a deal to avoid one. They also do not want the president to act on his own to fund a border wall.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) Fifty four percent of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the immigration standoff. His overall job approval rating stands at just 40 percent, 55 percent there disapproving.

(END VIDEOTAPE) We are also watching a leadership crisis in the State of Virginia, the Commonwealth, rather, involving the governor and racist photos from his medical school yearbook. The question of the hour, will Ralph Northam conclude that he can no longer effectively govern and resign? A lot of folks watching for his answer to that question.

Let's begin with a closer look at some of those new poll numbers. CNN political director, David Chalian, joins me now. You know, it's interesting, the president off his lows for approval rating to 40 percent, and it dipped down to 30s in some polls. What did we learn from this more broadly?


DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, and it dipped down in our poll too.

Take a look at where he was pre-shutdown and during the shutdown, and you can see he's now at 40 percent. He was at 37, 39 percent. So, you see that he has come back a bit. Now, this is all margin of error stuff Jim. He does not operate outside of a pretty narrow band here. No matter what the news environment is, but clearly the government shutdown being over has helped a bit.

Let's look at how he looks compared to his predecessors at this point in the presidency heading into that post-midterm State of the Union Address. You see in the full list, he's near the bottom at his 40 percent approval rating. Only Reagan was below him in 1983. Of course, that may give hope to Trump. Reagan went on to win a resounding re-election victory in 1984.

But, the fundamental question, about 11 days from now, are we going to have a deal here that's going to prevent another Government shutdown? Take a look at how pessimistic Americans are. Sixty four percent of Americans say it is not likely that Congress and the president are going to come to terms here with this next Government funding deadline on Friday, February 15th.

And in fact the possible solutions here are also widely unpopular with the American people. Take a look, a majority of Americans do not want another government shutdown. You see there, 57 percent would oppose that, 39 percent support it.

Take a look also, a majority of Americans do not want the president to employ some National Emergency action. But here's the rub, 66 percent there you see. Here's the rub, that's a majority of Americans. But, if you looked at a majority of Republicans Jim, that shows you why Trump is in a political box. A majority of Republicans are okay with the shutdown. A majority of Republicans are wanting him to employ that National Emergency action. So, that is fundamentally the political box he's in.

He has another problem, which is, there's a New World Order in Washington. It will be Nancy Pelosi above his shoulder tomorrow night at the State of the Union. And take a look, 51 percent of Americans say they'd rather the Democrats in Congress set forth the policy agenda. Only 40 percent say so of Trump. And look here, Speaker Pelosi's favorability rating in this poll is up. She's at 42 percent favorable now.

Now that's not something that you would necessarily write home about, but that is her best favorable rating in CNN polling dating back to 2007. And, it is largely coming from Democrats who were so pleased with how she performed over that government shutdown period as she received the gavel and became speaker the house again Jim.


SCIUTTO: As you know better than me, the president really governing to and for the base here. Do these numbers show he's keeping the base more broadly, but also on this issue?

CHALIAN: They do, we saw last month, in the middle of the shut down, some of those-- some key part of his base, non-college white voters and non-college educated voters. We saw their support dip a bit. It has snapped back now. I mean, that's why I think we see him back at 40 percent here. The base is fundamentally with him. And that is why, he is calculation is, that he does want he wants to do nothing to offend the base, or dissipate his support among the base. Even if that means risking going against the grain of where the majority of the American people would like him to be.

SCIUTTO: David Chalian. Thanks very much. Certainly a lot to mine in those numbers here. As we speak, other major story we're following. The embattled Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is huddling with his Cabinet, as we speak, weighing his options, looking for support, trying to decide whether he can survive the criticism coming in from all sides.

Republicans and Democrats, State and national leaders calling on him to resign after he first apologized and admitted to appearing in a racist 1984 yearbook photo. Then, insisted in a bizarre press conference that actually it was not him in that picture. CNN correspondent, Ryan Nobles, is live in Richmond. This cabinet meeting started at 9 o'clock. It's an hour ago.


Are we getting any inkling as to what's happening in there? And whether the whether the governor might be changing his opinion on whether he stays or goes?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not as of yet Jim. In fact, I just checked in with a source close to the governor's office right now, and there's been no specific readout as to what the conversation is behind closed doors between the governor and this, his closest group of associates in Virginia government. And, we really need to emphasize the role of these meetings in this deliberation process for Governor Northam.

You know, he's pretty much lost the support of elected leaders across the board, both Republican and Democrat. The only bastion of support that remains are those people that he's appointed to these specific Government positions. And, by the governor's own admission, he said he will only stay in office if he believes that he can continue to govern effectively. If he loses even one of these Cabinet members, there's real evidence to be gleaned here that that will be very difficult for him to hold on. So, we don't exactly know exactly what his message is to these Cabinet members. I mean, this is a regularly scheduled cabinet meeting, but obviously the focus had to have changed given all the pressure that is on the governor right now.

And then, of course, he's got a meeting with a broader group of staff members right after that Cabinet meeting where he could get a strong sense as to how these members of his administration feel about this current situation, and whether or not they're going to allow him this time and space that he is asking for to convince them that he's not one of the two people in this photograph, and that photograph does not represent the type of person that he is, or the type of Governor that he is and will continue to be. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Ryan Nobles, there in Richmond. Thanks very much. Let's discuss now with Karen Finney. She's a former spokeswoman for the DNC and for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and Doug Heye, former GOP strategist and former communications head of the RNC. Thanks to both of you.

Karen, had an interesting conversation with Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat and Independent Senator, before. He said Northam should not resign, and it he should be judged by the full expanse of his career, not just this one moment. I wonder where you stand? Should Ralph Northam step down?

KAREN FINNEY, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: He absolutely should, and I'll tell you why, a couple of things. Number one, on Friday, he should have been able to tell us that it wasn't him. And as Jake Tapper so eloquently pointed out yesterday, when your response is, that wasn't me in that black face, because I was in this other black face, you're losing. And most importantly, he doesn't seem to understand sincerely the current pain that is being caused by this imagery in terms of the Klu Klux Klan, and what that it-- means, particularly Virginia's history.

I have family from Virginia. And blackface-- And, he does not have the support of the people that he would need to be effective. So, it's more past long, past time for him to just step down.

SCIUTTO: Doug, hi. I wonder if you agree?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. You know, I lived in Richmond Virginia in the 70s, and remember a lot of the racial strife, both in State politics and certainly within city politics in Richmond. And it's big-- it's already come to a place where it's ungovernable for the governor to continue. And ultimately highlights, you know, there's been a lot of talk this weekend. Well, you know if Northam has to resign what about his politician, or that politician, most of whom I think should resign as well.

We should remember, there's power in pictures, and it's part of the reason that, a big part of the reason that Al Franken is no longer in the Senate. There's not talk or speculation about Ralph Northam. It's these pictures, and they obviously sting people in Virginia and throughout the country in a very serious way. That's what people are reacting to, and it's ultimately why he will not be effective as a governor regardless of what he decides to do.

And then, there's the press conference, which was even further embarrassing for the governor to, yeah that wasn't me in that black faces, as Karen mentioned, and also the talk of moon walking, and so forth, where he almost seemed to enjoy it. It was an embarrassment for the State, and the best thing for the state, for Virginia, is for him to move on.

SCIUTTO: Let me move on now to the question of the border wall, State of the Union tomorrow, continuing discussions on a government shutdown. And Doug, if I could just begin with you, because you saw the CNN polling there, two-thirds of Americans do not want the president to build a border wall on his own by declaring a National Emergency. They don't want the government shutdown again here, but you do hear,

Doug, from the president's own polling people, that the border wall issue works for him in key swing districts. And I wonder if you buy those numbers, because there wasn't evidence in the midterm elections that, you know, doubling down on the border issue actually hurt Republicans. So what's your view? And what numbers have you seen?

HEYE: Yeah, I think polling is in the eye of the beholder of this. If you're below, seeing the Democrats, you see a large majority of the country doesn't want this, that's good for you. If you're Donald Trump, and you play to your base almost exclusively, that's what's guiding you in this process. I think it's a dangerous trap for the president if we go into another shutdown, and if he tries to do this on his own. And I would say one thing to caution my Republican friends and this White House, even if you think this is a good idea for this president, what that would do is set a precedent for future presidents.


So, if you don't want to see the next president, or a future Democratic president use some kind of executive action to declare a crisis on immigration, or on guns, or on climate change this would be a mistake for those reasons.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you Karen Finney, because, yes, the president has dug in on this issue, no question, and changed his position because there was a continuing resolution. He supported before Christmas that had less money for border wall. But let's be fair, Democrats have dug in, they've also changed, because in the past they voted for money for a border wall. And I wonder if there is risk here in your view for Democrats playing what's effectively a zero-sum game, as well. Saying, we're not going to give a penny for I, and from their point of view, that's a winning political issue. But that has dangers as well, because in the midterms, many of the Democrats were elected to get things done in Washington.

FINNEY: Well sure, but I think there's a couple of things here Jim, and I think Democrats have actually been consistent in talking about security, border security port security. They have given him, I think, it's 1.7 trillion dollars, billion dollars, I'm losing count these days, already for the wall. So, it's not like they haven't given him some, but can I just point out--

SCIUTTO: But Nancy Pelosi, you know, has said not a dollar for a border wall, border wall is un-American--

FINNEY: Well, but she's also-- They've also put on the table again supporting what the Republicans in the Senate have supported, which talks about, you know, a range of things. But can I just make one point Jim? Just this morning, I was listening to the story about El Chapo, right? Notorious drug lord. And what did they say? All the proof was they use submarines, they use trucks. They used, you know, they did not climb over wall. They use tunnels. There was no-- that is not going to stop drugs. So, the arguments, that the president is making, are also completely

false in most cases, and it is true that Democrats have put on the table. They've said no, not money for a wall, but we want security. We want things like tougher port security, because by the way, that's how you really stop sex trafficking, that you've got to get it at the port. That's where these people, where folks come in through. That's where you stop drugs.


FINNEY: So, if we're talking about real security. And the last thing I'd say Jim, is that I think Pelosi, part of the reason I think she has pulled so strongly in this CNN poll, is that people understood from the beginning that her position is, I'm not going to bargain with-- I'm not going to use the American people to bargain with you. And, I think the risk that the president runs tomorrow night is, if he sounds like he's again willing to put Americans at risk, their own financial security, and their livelihoods in order to build this wall, I think there's a real danger and I don't think many Republicans are ready to go with him for that.

SCIUTTO: Doug. I have to ask you. In a normal world, you would have horse trading at this point, right? You'd say you might have Democrats saying well, we'll give you some more money for the border wall, but we want a deal, protections for DREAMers, that's often been brought up. But it-- you talk to Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. They kind of shake it, their heads, when you talk about even a simple compromise like that. Do you see any room realistically for a compromise in the next week and a half or so we have before the before the next deadline.

HEYE: Yeah, I think it would be in Donald Trump's best interest and Nancy Pelosi's best interest for that matter for Trump to prove himself to be the great negotiator that he's always told us that he is. And if that results in Trump saying I got my wall and Pelosi saying it's not a wall, fine. We move past this, we move on. You know, one of the things that we look at in this polling, it isn't just Donald Trump's popularity. Washington is unpopular right now, voters are unhappy that Washington isn't getting things done. And, if we have another shutdown, it's only going to further effect that.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, to both of you, I just want to give you a quick answer. Karen first, if I can. We learned, with a leak to Axios, that the president now spend 60 percent of his time in executive time, kind of unstructured time, making phone calls, apparently watching TV, sending some tweets, etc.

Karen, you first, but Doug, I also want your view. Does this show a president who is serious about the office of the presidency?

FINNEY: No. I think yet again, and I think we've seen it many times, and by from his Twitter feed, as you pointed out, sounds like he's robably watching television, and thinking that governing by Twitter, rather than maybe reading some of those briefings that people put before him, is the way to do the job and the office.

SCIUTTO: Doug. Hi.

HEYE: Yeah, I think it's certainly not the best use of time. But I'd also point out, this kind of a leak is an absolute betrayal to Donald Trump from one of his staffers, and that should be troubling to everybody. If this happened to President Obama or President George W Bush, I'd say the same thing. Staff should not be doing this to their boss.

SCIUTTO: What if they were alarmed about how their boss is spending their time his time?

HEYE: I think there are better ways of doing that because this isn't just exposing it to the American people. This is stuff that foreign Intel communities are dying to get, and it's just been handed to them.

SCIUTTO: Well, the president leaks all the time Doug. I mean, he leaks stuff as well.

HEYE: True. I don't disagree.

SCIUTTO: There's agreement there. You heard. Karen and Doug, thanks very much to both of you. HEYE: Thank you.

FINNEY: Thanks Jim.

SCIUTTO: Democrats gearing up for a week of blockbuster hearings on President Trump. Get ready for the next two years, going to be very different. And, rapper 21 Savage, is at risk now being deported back to the UK.


Details on his surprise arrest by ICE just hours before the Super Bowl. And President Trump is not ruling out military action. You heard that right, troops to Venezuela. Will Nicolas Maduro step aside? We're going to give you an update? Thanks very much.


SCIUTTO: This will be the week that the White House finally learns what Democratic oversight looks like. After taking their House seats in the middle of the 35-day government shutdown, Democrats are now gearing up to move forward with oversight hearings starting after tomorrow's State of the Union speech.

Joining me now, Congressman Jamie Raskin, he's a Democrat from Maryland serving on several of those investigating committees. Congressman, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

CON. JAMIE RASKIN, D-MARYLAND: Delighted to be with you Jim.


SCIUTTO: I want to ask you this just in the simplest terms, because I think it's clear to voters now, what Democrats resist or oppose from this President, including money for the border wall, but some folks at home might not know what Democrats stand for. What positive legislation or efforts will a Democratically-controlled Congress look to get done in these next two years?

RASKIN: Well, we got elected on a positive platform of change for the American people. We're fighting for prescription drug reform. We want to give the Government the ability to negotiate with large pharmaceutical companies for lower prescription drug prices, because there are tens of millions of Americans who are having a hard time making ends meet, because of the prescription drug problem. We want to lower people's co-pays and deductibles. So we've got a healthcare agenda. We've got an infrastructure agenda. We want to increase wages for the American people, and that's very much on the horizon for us.

RASKIN: We have our HR 1, which is a democracy reform platform to eliminate gerrymandering. We want independent redistricting commissions in every state in the Union. The Republicans, last week, unfortunately in a hearing we had came out for gerrymandering, and said that they wanted to keep redistricting in the hands of politicians. So, we got some very big policy differences and we want to focus on that. And, of course, we're not for shutting the government down, we're for making the government work and keeping it up.

SCIUTTO: I get that. But for all of those things, you're going to need Republicans support, because they control the Senate. And I just-- I wonder when you look at the debate over the border wall, I mean you really have Democrats digging their heels in on this as much as the president. And to be fair, the press the president has reduced his demand from a wall, from sea to shining sea as it is often said, to a barrier for a few hundred miles and yet the Democratic leadership still saying not a penny for any barrier, though they voted for that in the past. I just wonder, what's to stop folks from believing you're not being just as political as the president on this?

RASKIN: Well, let's start with this. We've got a number of big ticket policy items where we've got real bipartisan consensus. Take, for example, a universal criminal background check on all firearm purchases, which is supported by more than 95 percent of American people. But, under Republican control, they wouldn't even allow us to have a hearing on that much less a vote. We're going to move that through the House, and we're hoping that the Senate allows a vote on it, and then Mitch McConnell will bring that to the floor.

We have a big majority of the American people and a big majority in Congress that supports the DREAM Act, which was, you know, another clear common sense measure, which was frustrated under Republican control. Now on immigration, we've put billions of dollars, more than $9 billion, into border security, and we've got a proposal for improving cargo inspection, filling 3,000--

SCIUTTO: I get all that, but you know, he's digging his heels in on a wall. We're facing a deadline, in what, 11 days? And without agreement on that, you've got the possibility of another shutdown. I'm just curious, the president's given some ground here. Will Democrats be willing to give some ground, give some money, perhaps--


SCIUTTO: $1.3 billion as approved previously for an actual barrier on the border?

RASKIN: Yeah, but we have invested in border security and fencing before, and we're very willing to thicken the defense of the border. And we've actually shown that we're the ones who are willing to sit down and compromise without shutting the government down. That's one thing the American people have completely rejected the idea, that you shut the government down in order to try to achieve advantage in a policy dispute. And we completely reject that, and American people reject that. But I think that there are clear grounds for us to get to yes on this.

We never had a problem before, it's the president who seems sort of zealously and polemically committed to a border wall and nothing else. And, he didn't raise that when the Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for two years. It wasn't until we beat them by more than 10 million votes and picked up 40 new seats that they decided suddenly this was, you know, a take-it-or-leave-it offer, and then they shut down the government over it. It's not acceptable.

SCIUTTO: There were opportunities before. I want to ask you about the-- what's going on in the State of Virginia right now. Ralph Northam, the governor, as you know, holding a Cabinet meeting this morning. You have called for his resignation. You say it's a time for moral clarity. I wonder if you're concerned that if he does not resign, does this damage Democrats attempt to draw a clear line between their party and Republicans on the issue of race.

RASKIN: Well, I think there is a clear line between our party and their party. You know, when the president said, after the debacle in Charlottesville that there were very fine people who marched under the Nazi flag and under the Confederate Battle Flag, I think that that drew a very strong moral contrast between that party and our party, which looks and sounds and acts like America. We are the greatest multicultural, multiracial democracy that's ever existed.


And I think that what Governor Northam is finding, is that the political leadership has got to be held to the highest standards, and he can act most honorably at this point by stepping aside, letting Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax become governor, and he can continue to be involved in the party, and continue to work to make things good.

But the images are just too searing, and divisive and polarizing, and we think that they should get rid of Steve. You know, Steve King, the Congressman from Iowa, who is continually engaged in racist provocations from the House floor. And we just don't think there's any place for this in the 21st century.

SCIUTTO: Right. Final question, if I can. It's four months and two days since Jamal Khashoggi was murdered brutally. The CIA says likely with the approval of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and yet the Trump Administration has not penalized or sanctioned the Saudi government since then. There's been a lot of talk on the Hill of doing something about it. That seems to have quieted down. I haven't heard his name mentioned on the Hill in some time. What are Democrats doing to ensure that the Saudi government is held accountable for this murder?

RASKIN: Actually, we just had an event. I think it was last week. Maybe it was two weeks ago, about the Khashoggi assassination, and about making sure that Saudi Arabia is held accountable for what they did. Also for ending the Saudi war in Yemen, which has been an absolute atrocity against civilians there. So, I'm glad you raised it, because human rights has got to be the central commitment of American foreign policy, and the president has completely abandoned our role fighting for democracy and human rights. And now, our country is in bed with the dictators, like, the homicidal Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Putin and Russia, Duterte in the Philippines. We're banned in Hungary. We've got to get back on the side of the Democracy movements, and those leaders who are fighting for democracy and human rights in the countries.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Raskin, thanks for joining us. So, look forward to having you back again.

RASKIN: The pleasure is mine Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: He has been nominated for two Grammys this year, one of the biggest names in hip-hop, and according to immigration officials, in the US illegally. What are we learning about the arrest of the rapper, 21 Savage?