Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

State Of The Union - Trump Calls For Unity, End To "Partisan Investigations"; Trump White House - Lawmakers Hope To Reach Deal Averting Shutdown By End Of Week; State Of The Union - Trump Calls For Unity, End To "Partisan Investigations"; Trump White House - Trump Blasts "Ridiculous Partisan Investigations; Trump White House - Trump Blasts "Ridiculous Partisan Investigations; Fighting ISI - Trump To Address Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 6, 2019 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A very good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. And here in Washington, the race is on now to make a deal on border security in time to prevent another government shutdown. And with just nine days to go and progress finally being reported, or at least whispered about, President Trump is urging cooperation, compromise, and the common good. But in his first State Of The Union Speech to a divided Congress, the president offered no compromise on what he called the urgent national crisis at the border. And, he appeared to define the common good as the economy, which he claimed Democrats would threaten if they dare carry out, "Ridiculous investigations."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An economic miracle is taking place in the United States. And the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House this morning. Abby really a divided speech for a divided Congress, despite those words of bipartisanship.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jim. The White House really believed that the speech was going to be about unity, about the president urging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to come together to tackle some of the biggest problems that the country faces. And, he gave a lot of lip service to that very issue in much of his speech. Take a listen to a bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: But when the president talks about revenge and resistance, he's speaking specifically to many of the Democrats who were seated on the other side of the chamber. Many of them the women dressed in white who, at one point, actually cheered when he talked about women acquiring new jobs in the economy. He nodded to a many of the new women in Congress.

But, at the same time President Trump denounced what he called socialism that he vowed would never take over the United States. That was a reference to some in Congress who are Democratic Socialist, who have called, for example, Medicare for all, for ending private insurance.

So, the president had a lot of lines in there that were intended to, kind of, take jabs at some Democrats. And on the biggest issue of the day, the reason that this State of the Union Address was delayed, the government shutdown, the president insisted that he still wanted his wall. He did not give an inch on that issue, and at the end of the day, I think a lot of people didn't see much of a way forward, much of a bridge to a compromise on that particular issue, which looms large over this White House for the next several days. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Abby Philip at the White House, thank you.

Nine days until the next shutdown deadline. Lawmakers looking to hash out an agreement before then.

CNN's Lauren Fox joins me now from Capitol Hill. Lauren, spoke to yet another Democratic lawmaker, David Cicilline, just is a few minutes ago. He seemed to report some progress from inside that committee, and progress which would include Democrats voting for money for the president's wall. Are we reaching a possible agreement here?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well Jim, there is a little bit of hope on Capitol Hill that some kind of negotiation can be found in the upcoming days. But, I have to note there is still a lot of things to iron out. And, behind the scenes, you know, aides are hashing out proposals, they're trading proposals. But there's no set money for the wall yet that we know about. They're still talking, they're still trying to negotiate that sticking point, and others including, how many detention beds to even have on the border. So there's hope, but there is a little bit of negotiation that still has to happen. And, of course, the president last night very firm that he still wants that border wall. Here's what he had to say during the State of the Union Address last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In the past, most of the people in this room, voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOX: You know Jim, it's very clear that as negotiators keep pulling forward, they're very confident that they can find--

[10:05:00]

FOX: a deal amongst themselves, but that key question mark is always the president. If he doesn't sign the piece of legislation, we could be headed for another government shutdown. So, something to watch, how the president reacts to progress in these negotiations.

SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox on the Hill. Thanks very much.

Let's discuss now is CNN political commentators, Patti Solis Doyle and Alice Stewart.

The real headline in the past few hours beyond the speech, is that, you know, bipartisanship at least on this funding issue, might be breaking out. Alice, and Patti as well, are you hearing that they're going to come to an agreement. And that would be a concession by Democrats to give money for the wall?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there is bipartisan agreement that we don't need another shutdown and Republicans and Democrats realize they have to work together to make this happen. And, you can't say that this president hasn't extended an olive branch and tried to compromise.

SCIUTTO: But what has he offered then?

STEWART: He has offered he has offered protections for DACA. He has offer protections for--

SCIUTTO: Separate, yes, protections, right?

STEWART: I think that there could potentially be room for negotiation maybe making that longer than the three years. But including DACA and TPS, he has also included humanitarian aid, more money for judges, and technology for drug detection along the border. So, he has expanded it not just to his big beautiful wall, but other components to secure the border, which Democrats have supported in the past. They just have a problem at this now being called a wall, because it has Trump's name on it.

SCIUTTO: Patti, I spoke with David Cicilline. [He's not on that 17?], but he has been talking to folks inside there, and he was saying to me that it may very well be an agreement with money for the wall. But, leaving issue like protection for DREAMers, issues like that to a later date. Would that be a cave by democrats to this President?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, POLITICAL OPERATIVE AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I don't think it's a cave. I think comprehensive immigration reform is a much larger issue. It's not just, you know, permanent protection for DACA. It's more judges, as Alice was saying, it's more technology breakthroughs for keeping our borders secure. Look, bottom line is, Democrats are for border security. This terminology of a wall is the sticking point, because it is a campaign promise for this. For the president, it was a political stunt to close down the government in order to keep his campaign promise.

So, whether we call it fantasy, or whether we call it border security, I believe that there is a compromise because Alice is right. Nobody wants to shut down the government again, and keep people from getting their paychecks, and putting them in food lines. All these horrible things that happened.

SCIUTTO: But, the compromise from what you're hearing is, giving him money. It's a question of how much money for the wall, not whether to give him money for the war, because that's a change. Remember Pelosi, couple weeks ago, said not a single dollar for the wall.

DOYLE: I think it will be money for border security.

SCIUTTO: OK, and then what? And, then the President says well, my definition of border security includes funding for a barrier.

STEWART: His definition has a 5.7 number on it and there's has a much lower number. I think there's a way for them to come to the middle. The president, I think, was wise last night to remind Americans and Democrats, who are out there with their arms folded, that they have supported this. They supported the Secure Fence Act back in 2006. So, the idea and the concept of a fence, or a border, or a steel slats along the border, it's something they have supported before. And, in the end, it would be important and helpful to get on board on this.

SCIUTTO: So let's talk about the State Of The Union speech. The number that really struck out, stuck out to me, and this is a reaction to his speech from speech-watchers, who put it. Fifty-nine percent said very positive, only 23 percent negative. If we have the numbers, we could put on the screen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: But, crucial is among Independents there. Seventy-five percent of Independents rated this speech positive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Patti, that must strike you as significant here, right? Particularly. I mean, listen, we're not that far away from 2020 there, but that's going to be the key to the next election.

DOYLE: I think one speech does not make President Trump the unifier. Bottom line is, you know, we have had two years of very divisive rhetoric from this president. We have had, before that, a year and a half of a very divisive presidential campaign from him. So, one speech does not make him conciliatory, or a unifier and any way shape or form.

So, he will probably get a little bit of a bump off this speech, but it will wane almost immediately after his first tweet. After he goes after, you know, Pocahontas. After, you know, even before the speech, he was demeaning elected officials. Chuck Schumer, even, you know, John McCain who has passed away. So, I don't really put a lot of stock in these numbers right now. SCIUTTO: And Alice, to be fair, beyond the talk of bipartisanship there, the president zeroing in on issues that clearly are going to be ones in the coming couple of years on abortion legislation particularly. In Virginia saying, you know, hinting or implying the Democrats are for open borders, which frankly they're not. But, on those big picture issues, the president didn't waver.

STEWART: Of course not, and I don't think he should, and yes, this is a foreshadow of 2020. This is a good opportunity for him to roll that out. He doubled down again on making the case--

[10:10:00]

STEWART: for the Border. But, I think it was a very powerful moment, and really speaking to his face when he called out Congress, and specifically Democrats for not supporting the sanctity of life. And urging Congress to support opposing late-term abortion, and got a lot of criticism by Democrats who are pro-choice. But he was truly speaking to his base at that moment, and a lot of a lot of these speeches down the road, not exactly what they say, ut how they made you feel.

And for them to have Republicans chanting USA, when he talked about the state of our union is, strong. And simultaneously shortly thereafter Democrats chanting USA, when he talked about the large number of women in Congress. Getting that emotional reaction from those in the room, I think that will also go along.

SCIUTTO: I noted that the USA chants were not confined to one side of the aisle. Sorry about it.

DOYLE: I just want to respond to Alice. I'm not quite sure that those USA chants were for the president. I mean, I don't know if the president understood that the reason we elected so many women to Congress, this mid-term election, is because women rose up against this president. You know, not only his candidates, and not only as advocates, but as voters. I mean that symbol of all of those new elected Congresswomen really was almost a repudiation of the president. So, I'm not sure that was for him.

SCIUTTO: I want to get your reaction to this moment. When you had those women in white, record number of women sitting in Congress there. Celebrating themselves to an extent, but also the president acknowledging them. Have a look at that moment. I just want to get your reaction as two smart accomplished women, because it was certainly moving to me. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No one has benefited more from a thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So, the president was talking himself up there, right? About more women employed, of course, but you see all those women there. They're employed to a job serving in Congress. Just as you watch that moment, tell me how you felt.

STEWART: I thought it was fantastic, and to your point, a lot of this wasn't as a result of Donald Trump. It was in spite of him, and it really encourages a lot of Democrats, and I think to run for office. But at the end of the day look, we can all applaud 127 women serving in Congress. Obviously many of them Democrats. Republicans do need to do a better job of reaching out to women.

SCIUTTO: Representation among women, Republican women, actually dropped in the House.

STEWART: So, that is a challenge that we need to do in recruiting more women. But, I thought that was a powerful moment.

DOYLE: It was beautiful.

STEWART: And, I was glad to see them get off their hands, and stand up and clap. But, it was a moment to cheer for Democrats, and women across the country.

DOYLE: You know, and obviously, the white was a tribute to the suffragettes, and it was just a beautiful image. And for my party, in particular, it really represents who are party is, and what it will be in the future. You know, young, diverse, female. It was just something that made my heart pitter-patter last night.

SCIUTTO: It caught me too. I'm a guy, and it a caught my son's attention. I will say this morning sparked a whole conversation about why the white and history the suffragettes. I mean, it was regardless of party, powerful moment.

Alice, Patti, always great to have you on. Always good to be surrounded by smart women.

Still to come President Trump is calling for an end to ridiculous partisan investigations, but that isn't happening this week as Democrats move forward with their long promised oversight of the president. This is, we are learning, for the president's former personal attorney and fixture, Michael Cohen, his testimony on the Hill this week. It's been postponed again. And, rising star in the Democratic party battle, Beto O'Rourke teases his announcement on 2020. This, as the prospects for another presidential hopeful takes a hit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Well, it's a huge week on Capitol Hill. Democratic oversight taking on the Trump Administration with a string of hearings. This, as President Trump is calling for an end to partisan, what he called partisan investigations.

I want to bring in CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju. Manu, some news we're hearing about Michael Cohen. Another delay in his testimony on the Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. This was before the House Intelligence Committee, is expected to come Friday to talk, to testify about the Russia investigation. All those questions about his involvement with that Trump Tower Moscow project. Of course, he lied to behind closed doors to the same committee about the length and duration of those talks during the 2016 campaign. Well, that testimony behind closed doors, scheduled for Friday, not going to happen anymore.

According to Adam Schiff, the chairman of this committee said, in the interest of this investigation, this Friday's closed-door hearing is going to be delayed till the end of this month. Now, this comes of course after Michael Cohen was scheduled to come before the House Oversight Committee in a public setting tomorrow to talk about other issues that have his involvement in his work with Trump over the years. That also still delayed.

Elijah Cummings, the chairman of that committee, would not give an update to reporters, this morning, about whether or not he will come. But, Democrats largely Jim, dismissing what the president was saying last night, that this is just a partisan investigations, that this could undermine the economy, and his threats not to work with Congress essentially, if they continue to investigate him. I caught up with one of those chairmen, Eliot Engel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about that part the president's threat. He said they're still going to look into the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIOT ENGEL, D-NEW YORK: Well, I think it was ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:20:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ENGEL: That's our job. We are a co-equal branch of government. We're a separate branch of government. We're in the first article of the Constitution even before the president is mentioned. And, because Congress hasn't done its job in the past several years doesn't mean the new Congress is going to continue that pattern. Investigating is part of what we do. That's what the American people expect us to do. I'm not out to get the president. I'm out to get the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: And a number of committees still plan to have hearings in the coming days this week. We do expect Matt Whitaker, for instance, but the Acting Attorney General to come before the house Judiciary Committee on Friday.

Now, that committee's chairman, Jerry Nadler, planes to approve, and his committee, a subpoena for Whitaker on Friday. In case whatever he decides not to come, or not to answer that committee's questions in a range of other issues from family separation, to as well as how-- Talking about the president's tax returns will be on the docket today for a number of committees. So, oversight just beginning, despite what's the president's concerns about these investigations going forward. Democrats dismissing that here on Capitol Hill Jim.

SCIUTTO: New sheriff's in town, certainly on the Hill. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Meantime, CNN has learned that Federal prosecutors in New York want to speak to top executives in the Trump organization. Topic of that discussion not clear. But, this is one of at least two investigations at the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan has opened into Trump-related entities just in the last few months.

CNN's Cristina Alesci, I believe she broke this story. What do we know about what investigators are digging into here with these interviews?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Federal prosecutors in New York want to talk to the president's, want to talk to executives inside the president's business. These are senior people who know a lot about the president's inner workings of his business, and possibly about his family.

Now, what we know Jim, to your point, is that Federal prosecutors have been looking into two things. One is the Trump organization's reimbursements to Michael Cohen for those hush money payments made to women who alleged affairs with the president. Number two is improper donations potentially to the Inaugural Committee, or financial abuses around that.

What we don't know is whether or not these interviews they've requested with Trump organization employees are connected to those two matters, or something entirely different. Also, what we don't know is, whether or not these interviews are just prosecutors tying up loose ends, or they're really looking for something, like I said, different.

Bigger picture here Jim, it's a lot harder for the president to say that these investigations are politically motivated and dismiss them as partisan attacks, like he did the Hill investigation as you know, and you've reported many times. These are serious prosecutors and they will follow all leads to the very end.

SCIUTTO: No question. He can call them all he wants. Cristina Alesci, thanks very much.

The President says that only remnants, in his words, of ISIS remain in the Middle East. But, could his own stance on troops leave room for the caliphate to thrive again. Reaction from a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Within hours President Trump will address anti-ISIS Coalition leaders. This, after his State Of The Union Address last night where he touted progress against the terror group. Though he notably did not repeat his false statement that ISIS has been defeated already.

Let's get reaction now from Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks very much for joining us, and taking the time.

SENATOR BEN CARDIN, D-MARYLAND: Jim it's good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: Let me get to the president's claim about ISIS here, because this is the essential disagreement. The president claims, and this is true, we fact checked this, that Isis has lost 99 percent of its territory. That said, you had the Commander of Central Command on the Hill yesterday saying, it retains 20 to 30,000 fighters dispersed around Syria and Iraq. Can the US fight ISIS on the ground there in Syria and keep America safe from the Isis threat without having US troops on the ground in Syria to help in the fight?

CARDIN: Jim one thing's clear to me that we cannot defeat ISIS unless we work with our Coalition partners. And, the president's announcement of withdrawal of US troops really hit our partners by shock and surprise. Clearly, there's still a threat there. Clearly, we have to work with our Coalition partners. We all want our troops home. We know there's not a military victory, but our military presence is important.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about Afghanistan as well, because the president talked about ending America's longest war there. And he talked about the prospect of a peace agreement with the Taliban. The Taliban, as you know better than me, responsible for the deaths of countless numbers of US troops, Afghan civilians. Can the US credibly make peace in this day and age with the Taliban?

CARDIN: Well, I've got a stance, but a challenge for many, many decades. Clearly, here we need to talk with the Taliban. We need to talk with the warring partners. We have to figure out a way for peace in Afghanistan. And yes, we can work towards a peace agreement that would prevent terrorist groups from forming against our interest.

It's going to be challenging, and once again, we need our Coalition partners. You have to work with Pakistan in this regard in order for it to be a real opportunity--

[10:30:00]