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Trump Offers No Concessions; Cutaways from the State of the Union; CNN Poll of Presidential Candidates; Broad Investigation of Trump's Finances; Cohen Delays Testimony; Interview with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD). Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired February 6, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, the clock ticks, another shutdown looms, and the president wants a compromise, but only on his terms.
Plus, Joe Biden well ahead of the pack when it comes to support for a presidential run.
In her own handwriting. Elizabeth Warren identifying herself as an American Indian. Will it end her candidacy before it begins?
And President Trump says he wants more legal immigrants than ever before, but that's not what his policies say.
The State of the Union is now in the rear-view mirror, so what's next? There's still another government shutdown looming. Nine days and counting. But there's some optimism that the two sides are at least moving in the right direction on negotiations.
We hear from the president a couple of times today as we wait to see if the tone of unity that he tried to portray in last night's address carries over or does the president keep walking that hard line?
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.
Kaitlan, presidents used to take their post-State of the Union message on the road. This president is not. What are you hearing from where you are about this speech and what's next for it?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, White House officials actually felt good about the speech last night, but few, if any, think it changed any minds up on Capitol Hill about what to do next in this standoff over the shutdown when the government is set to run out of money again in just a matter of days. You could see the reactions on the Democrats' faces, hear their boos when the president started talking about immigration last night, though we have heard from our friends up on The Hill today that there does seem to be a cautious amount of optimism about those bipartisan negotiators who are trying to hash out a deal to keep the government open and avoid the president having to declare a national emergency.
Here's what the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had to say about how they feel that's going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Left to their own devices, I think they can have an agreement by -- on time by Friday.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: If the president stays out of it, we will get a deal, a good deal, that every -- that Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, can support. It's when the president weighs in with his heavy hand, his unrealistic heavy hand, he doesn't know how to negotiate, that things get messed up. So if he stays out of it, yes, I believe the odds are very high we will get a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, Brianna, he's saying the president needs to stay out of it. But, of course, this is all going to come down to whether or not the president would sign whatever agreement they've come to.
So far he's expressed skepticism that they've been able to come to any kind of agreement that he'll accept. And that's why we've seen him meeting with contractors about building the wall here at the White House.
Now, you asked about the president traveling. He doesn't have anything scheduled right now. But he is going to El Paso for a campaign rally on Monday. Now, don't expect the president to chance his tune on immigration while he's there. Instead, you're going to hear a lot of what you heard about immigration last year leading up to the midterms.
KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching with you, Kaitlan Collins, thank you.
And as much as the State of the Union is about the president's speech, it's also about the cutaway shots. So when we get to see members of Congress, we get to see how they're reacting in real time. And last night there was no shortage of fascinating body language on display.
We have CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza here to break this down.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I was giving my skeptical Brianna Keilar cutaway shot.
KEILAR: Very good.
CILLIZZA: Yes. OK, here we go.
It's important to remember, Brianna, that this is, in many ways, a television program, the State of the Union, right? It's theater. It's a big speech with a lot of broad ideas in it. But a lot of what you're looking for is how people react.
So, there was a lot of reactions. Let's run through them. We'll go through them quickly.
First, Kristen Gillibrand. We all know this one. That's one my kids give to me when I tell them that they need to have learned to tie their shoes by the time they're nine. Yes. So, yes, they eye roll. OK. Good. By the way, she's also raising money off of that.
OK, let's go to the next one. I don't think so. Nope. Uh-uh. Nope. That's Kamala Harris, obviously. Purse lips. A little no. kind of like, what's going on.
KEILAR: Not having it.
CILLIZZA: Now, this is my favorite one. I know it's not the one that gets the most attention. Watch Chuck Schumer's lips here. Yes, he's saying, man, that's bull pucky, I think is roughly translated what he's saying when Donald Trump talks. It's a classic of the genre.
And then the one getting the most attention, meme central, Nancy Pelosi golf clapping Donald Trump. This is like when I -- when I'm like, honey, I did the dishes. My wife's like.
So, there are a lot more. I could spend a whole hour going through them. But those are the basic ones. And, remember, as I mentioned with Gillibrand, this is not just reaction. She'll begin raising money essentially saying, if you feel like I did during the State of the Union, send me money for my presidential campaign. So, you know, these -- these are not just one offs. Sometimes they start to build someone's brand in a certain direction.
[13:05:10] KEILAR: Yes, indeed.
Chris Cillizza, thank you so much for that entertaining look at that. We appreciate it.
So, if you can believe it, there are only 636 days until the 2020 election. Who is counting? A number of Democrats are throwing their hats into the ring, but the front-runner in the new CNN poll has not said yet if he's even running.
Political director David Chalian here to break down all of these numbers.
I think I know who's ahead, but tell us.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Well, we asked folks, are you even somewhat or very likely to vote for a slew of candidates? And take a look at former Vice President Joe Biden, where he stands here. This is among all adults, Brianna, OK? This is looking towards a general election context. Fifty percent of people in this poll say they are very or somewhat likely to support Biden in 2020. Only 41 percent for Donald Trump. The same for Bernie Sanders. And you see Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren round out these top five.
But, take a look at whether or not Joe Biden should run. We asked Democrats this. Look at that. Sixty-two percent of Democrats want Joe Biden in this race. There's a hunger for him. That is different than what we saw in the summer or fall of 2015 when he was weighing whether or not to get in. Only about half of Democrats wanted him in there now. This is going to be very welcome news in the Biden camp.
Take a look, also we have, about the likelihood of supporting President Trump for president. Twenty-nine percent very likely, 12 percent somewhat likely, 6 percent not too likely, but my God, take a look at this number, 52 percent of people in this poll, Brianna, say this is not at all likely that they will support President Trump. He begins this election season for 2020 with a pretty tall hill to climb.
And Kamala Harris will have some numbers here to be proud of as well in this poll. Remember, we were in the field right after her big first week rollout of her announcement and lots of positive press. Sixteen percent say they're very likely supporting her, 21 percent somewhat likely. That 37, 38 percent number, it's not as high necessarily as Joe Biden's 50 percent, but this is a solid standing from which Kamala Harris can now to start to build upon as she really gets out there in earnest to start selling her message.
KEILAR: All right. And as time ticks away, we'll have to see how all of this changes, David Chalian. Thank you so much for that.
KEILAR: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee today announced a broad investigation into whether President Donald Trump's financial interests are driving his actions as president.
Senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.
Tell us about this announcement by Congressman Adam Schiff.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the first time we're getting real details about what this Democratic-led committee plans to investigate in this Congress. This significant, sweeping probe into -- looking into how sorts of financial decisions, the interests of the president, his associates, how that's impacting things that are happening in this administration, beyond Russia. They do plan to look into Russia interference. Any coordination between the Russians and this president as they did in the past and as the Mueller probe is doing. But also, Brian, significant, they're saying -- Adam Schiff saying that they're going to look into whether any foreign actor sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, on this president, and as well as whether there -- any Trump or his associates were influenced by any foreign actor.
So a very significantly broad investigation that will encompass multiple House committees according to Adam Schiff. We'll see if they find out anything there.
And also, Brianna, today, in their first official action, this committee's sending the transcripts of those witnesses who came before the panel in the last Congress over its Russia investigation, they're sending those transcripts over to Bob Mueller's team to investigate further, as well as any potential false statements that may have occurred. Schiff believes and Democrats believe there were some false statements. So that is going to happen pretty soon. Those transcripts will be in Mueller's purview. But the first official actions, this new investigation, and also trying to give some more ammunition for the Mueller probe going forward.
KEILAR: And Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, was supposed to testify before the House Intel Committee Friday. Cohen's closed-door appearance before the committee has been delay, though. Why the delay and are we going to see him testify?
RAJU: Well, according to Schiff, we will see him testify behind closed doors later this month. Schiff says he's been fully cooperative. But it's unclear why this was delayed on Friday. Schiff said in a statement that this was in the interest of the investigation. And I tried to ask Schiff what he meant by that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We look forward to his testimony on February 28th. And Mr. Cohen has been fully cooperative with us and we hope and expect that will continue. But we felt it was in the investigation's interest that we postpone to that date.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:10:02] RAJU: So he wouldn't exactly say -- he wouldn't discuss whether this was being driven by Mueller's team to delay this closed door testimony. Of course, it's important because Michael Cohen admitted to lying to this committee in the last Congress about those Trump Tower Moscow projects that he had with the -- those conversations that he had with the then candidate Trump. He said it ended in January 2016. Well, now we know it ended -- went further into 2016. But we'll see if he also testifies in a public setting. That Cohen testimony before the House Oversight Committee tomorrow has been delayed. We're not certain if he will come back or when he will come back. But those things still on the radar for these key chairmen going forward.
KEILAR: All right, Manu Raju, thank you.
And Elizabeth Warren under serious new fire after it's discovered that she listed her race as American Indian for the Texas bar.
Plus, the president claims the U.S. would be at war with North Korea if it weren't for him, but a new U.N. report suggests Kim Jong-un is up to something.
And yet another state official in Virginia now admitting to wearing blackface, which means the state's top three leaders are now embroiled in scandals.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:15:32] KEILAR: President Trump made border security and the wall a
major part of his State of the Union Address, declaring, I will get it built.
We have South Dakota Republican Senator Mike Rounds joining us from Capitol Hill.
Thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you as well today
KEILAR: And I wonder, would you support the president declaring a national emergency to secure his wall funding?
ROUNDS: You know, I think last night he tried to make it clear that he was using the term crisis as opposed to emergency, and I think he was doing that on purpose. I think he would prefer not to have to try to cross that bridge, so to speak, at this point. If he does, then it would have to come back if the House Democrats decided that they were going to challenge him, they would do it with a Congressional resolution of disapproval. And if they were able to pass it in the House, then it would come to the Senate and we'd have to make a decision based upon the language that he uses to try to move forward.
But I think most Republicans will tell you that we really would like to find a way to avoid that type of a discussion if at all possible because this goes beyond just this president. This goes on to future presidents and what they might decide to declare an emergency for. So we're very interested in trying to find a way that this committee that we're using under regular order, that they come up with a solution that we can support.
We're all not going to be happy with the final bill, but at least if we all think that it's close enough to where it's better than a government shutdown and we're making some strides in the right direction and we satisfy the need for border security, but perhaps there's a way to do that without, you know, causing great ranker among our Democrat colleagues.
KEILAR: You applauded the president for calling for unity to solve the nation's problems. I know you really welcomed the tone that he largely put forward last night. He used the word "compromise."
When you look at him using that word "compromise," but then the idea of a national emergency, which clearly you and Republicans -- well, a lot of Republicans don't welcome, do those feel very much at odds to you? Would doing that erase that spirit of compromise that he was talking about?
ROUNDS: You know, not necessarily. What he said was is, he wants to, as he calls it, building the wall, but he tried to clarify and suggest, it's not just building the structures. It's a matter of strengthening the ports, making them work better, providing electronic surveillance, being able to pick up and find drugs and dangerous items that are being brought across the border. And he focused on the suffering that occurs on that southern border as people are being brought across, as well. And so I think he tried to bring into this, this is bigger than just a barricade, which other presidents, the last four presidents, have done as well.
And I think he feels as if -- as if our Democrat colleagues are saying, the rest of them did it but you can't do it because you talked about it in your campaign. And I think he's pointing that out, that this is a change on the part of our Democrat colleagues. They've talked about border security. In fact, last year most of them in the Senate voted for a bill that Senator King and I had in which we provided $25 billion over ten years to build border security, including the structures, and in doing so we were going to do some things for DACA to get that passed as well. And I think what he's trying to point out is, is, look, I'm not doing anything different and we need to get this taken care of, but let's also talk about the humanity, as well.
So for most of our perspective, it's a matter of, OK, what politically is it going to take to where both sides can come together, not have a government shutdown, allow our Democrat colleagues to say we're not just giving the president everything he wants but so that clearly the president can move forward with what he truly believes is a necessity, and that is border security and, just as we have in the past, we've got 654 miles right now of barricades, vehicle barricades and personnel barricades, and he'd like to add another 234 miles to that.
KEILAR: Senator, I do want to ask you about Syria. The president wants to pull American troops out of Syria. And in this hearing on Capitol Hill, General Joseph Votel, CENTCOM commander, revealed he was not consulted on the Syria decision. Should he and other commanders have been?
ROUNDS: Yes. I believe so. But I also believe that in the middle of this discussion what we have is a president who communicates openly about what his plans are and he does a lot of it using, you know, using regular media outlets. He's very transparent in his thought process. But sometimes when you're very transparent in your thought process, you don't give out all of the information at once.
[13:20:11] As we've discussed, and we've had a chance to talk with a number of those leaders over there, there have been and there was an expectation that we will be pulling out, just like most of us have wanted to pull out, but based on the conditions of the time, not a date certain, not a time certain, but based on the appropriate conditions. And I really think after fully discussing not only with the president, but with other members, I think there's a strong clarification that has occurred saying, we're not just going to run away.
We're going to do this thing based on time, but we're going to put an emphasis that we've been at war for a long time. Let's finish the job. Let's not expect that we're going to be there permanently. And I think that's the -- that's the message that he'd like to send to our allies in Turkey, that we don't intend to be in Syria, we don't intend to have permanent bases there or anything like that, but we're also -- we're not going to leave overnight. We're going to do it based on certain conditions being met. And one of them is, is the continued elimination of ISIS as a threat. And that's going to take some time. It's not going to happen overnight. And so I don't expect that we're going to just simply be out in the next few days or few weeks at this point.
KEILAR: But how -- how difficult is it for you, and certainly for members of the military? I mean watching General Dunford last night, his face as the president was talking about Afghanistan, you could almost see as the president started to talk about Afghanistan, Dunford, his eyebrow kind of raised. There's a clear expectation among the top military brass that they might not know about a military strategy until the president perhaps could unveil it in the State of the Union. I mean that's kind of -- that's kind of nuts, isn't it?
ROUNDS: Well, you know, there is something to be said about having excitement in the middle of the state of the Union, but I will also tell you that I -- I do believe that the president understands the need not to pull out quickly out of Afghanistan. And he made some really good points about the fact that he's trying to bring the sides together.
We -- I think most of us would agree that we don't simply win a military victory in Afghanistan. We were over there to begin with to make sure that people that would attack us would not have a safe haven. And I think what he is saying if the Taliban, if they want to come to the table, and if we drive this hard enough and we let them know that we're going to continue to drive them unless they are at the table, we're finally getting, at this point, some individuals on the Taliban side who are stepping up saying, OK, I will discuss things with you. That's a major change.
But we can't let our foot off. We've got to stay right there. We've got to continue. And I think the president not only understands that but I think he supports that approach. Once again, it's a conditions- based approach. But, look, he -- here's a president who does not want to see Americans die. And he doesn't want to see us in permanent wars. I understand that, but I think we're going to finish that job over there, and I think the president, for as much as he talks about wanting to get out, and how much he wants to get out, he understands that we're going to be at risk for a while until such time as the Taliban agree that they're not going to be a safe haven for ISIS where they can launch attacks against the homeland.
KEILAR: Senator, we really appreciate the discussion. Senator Mike Rounds with us.
ROUNDS: Thank you. Appreciate it.
KEILAR: Senator Elizabeth Warren under scrutiny again after a new revelation that she claimed Native American heritage. Will this end her presidential aspirations?
Plus, Democratic women flipped the script when they surprised Trump with applause. We're going to ask one of them the meaning behind this moment. And another day, another top official in Virginia admitting to wearing
blackface. Now the state's top three leaders are at the center of scandals.
[13:28:32] KEILAR: In what has been a tumultuous few days for the state of Virginia, yet another top Democrat is coming forward and admitting that he once wore blackface decades ago. In a statement, Attorney General Mark Herring conceded he put on wigs and brown makeup to dress up as a rapper for a party back in 1980 when he was 19 years old. He wrote in part, although the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling. This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.
The revelation adds to the scandals that are already consuming Virginia's top levels of government. Governor Ralph Northam already facing calls to resign amid the fallout from a racist 1984 yearbook photo and revelations that he once darkened his face to dress up like Michael Jackson.
CNN is also reporting today that Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax launched into an expletive-laden pitch while defending himself against accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman back in 1984.
So now we have the governor and the top two men in the line of succession to replace him if he resigns also under fire. And if all three resign at once, the Republican speaker of Virginia's House of Delegates is next in line to become governor, flipping leadership of the state red.
I want to bring in Michael Smerconish. He's the host of "Smerconish," and he's our CNN political commentator.
[13:29:55] So, Michael, how extraordinary is this and the idea that if -- and normally under normal circumstances you might have the resignation of these three Democrats.