Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR
Pence: Trump Is "Not Happy" with Spending Bill; Democrats Split on Response if Trump Declares National Emergency to Get Wall Money; Fired FBI Acting Director: Meetings Were Held to Discuss Using 25th Amendment to Remove Trump; Trump Calls McCabe "A Disgrace to the FBI"; Interview with Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ); House Democrats Plan Vast Investigations Against Trump; Rep. Tom Malinowski Says Investigate Trump Organization for Firings of Illegal Immigrants from Golf Club; Amazon Ends Plans to Build 2nd Headquarters in New York. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET
Aired February 14, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:31:12] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: They're close but they are not there yet. Congress is set to vote on a bill to avoid another government shutdown. There has already been plenty and there's plenty of time. Barring that, the president is expected to sign it. He is not going to be getting the nearly $6 billion that he wanted for the border wall. He is getting some money for a physical barrier or whatever you want to call it. Is that enough?
Listen to what the vice president told reporters while traveling in Poland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president is still evaluating the bill that the conference committee has produced. I think he has been very clear that he is not happy with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: CNN's Kaitlan Collins has the latest from the White House. Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill.
Phil, first to you.
The votes are expected today. What are you hearing about how this is going to go down at least from Capitol Hill?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I know what you want right now is a procedural break down of how the Senate can go first on a spending bill before the House. I will go ahead and spare you of that.
BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. I fell asleep. I'll wake back up. Please continue. MATTINGLY: When you talk to members and leadership in both chamber in
both parties, there's kind of a comfortable feeling that they will have the votes comfortably to pass the bill in the House and the Senate. There's also anxiety, when you play comments from Mike Pence. There hasn't been explicit word that the president will sign the bill. They are going through the hope-and-pray strategy of whether this will get a final signature.
When I say hope and pray, I mean, Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senate pro-tempore, after the prayer to open the Senate, took to the mics and said he prayed that the president had the wisdom to sign the bill and avoid another government shutdown. And --
BOLDUAN: He really did that today on the floor?
MATTINGLY: Yes. I have never seen a president pro-tempore do that before, right before the Pledge of Allegiance, in between the prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. But, it's a funny moment but it underscores the reality here on Capitol Hill and that is --
BOLDUAN: They don't know. They don't know.
MATTINGLY: They don't know. That's true. Members of both parties want to get this over with. There's understood anxiety about the idea of voting on a 1168-page bill that was released shortly after midnight on the same day. This is an enormous package. A lot of things that are in this. A lot of things that a lot of people could find the reason to vote against it because of. However, because the shutdown and how the drama played out over the last three months, members want it to end and will vote to pass it. We want to know where the president stands right now.
BOLDUAN: That is how the procedure does work. If you give members enough time, they will read it and find something they don't like. Give it to them at midnight. Tell them to wake up and vote on it. There's the reality.
Kaitlan, where is the president on this today? What is your reporting on this? Where the president is has changed day by day.
KAITLAN COLLINS CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's the big question. Phil can lay out that Democrats and Republicans can feel as confident as they want, but everyone is waiting to see what President Trump is going to say. As you can tell from Vice President Mike Pence's comments, no one is confident enough to say the president is going to sign that. That's a few reasons. One of those the president has been complaining about Republican negotiators, saying he doesn't believe they did a good enough job, they were outplayed by the Democrats. He wished he had been consulted more because he thinks, as a deal maker, he could have gotten himself a better deal out of all of this. He's been saying that privately. He has been watching the coverage play out as some of his media allies have been dismissing it at a garbage compromise, as Sean Hannity called it, once the top lines came out on Monday night. Because of that, there has been a slew of phone calls from the White House to those people in the media, trying to convince that this is a win for the president by making two points, Kate. One, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking a loss here. She said the president wasn't going to get more than $1 in the funding bill but is getting over a billion. And, two, by saying the president could still take executive action and declare national emergency to get further funding for the wall.
[11:35:16] The question and the reason the aides are doing that, because they don't want the president watching media coverage, and that deterring him from signing the bill. They feel good that the president has indicated that he will sign it. They are not confident. They are waiting for the president to publicly say so before they do -- Kate?
Kaitlan, great to see you. Thank you so much.
Phil, stand by to stand by. Chuck Grassley will hold his breath and say a prayer.
Phil, Great to see you.
Thank you guys so much.
Joining me now for more discussion on this, former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent. He's now a CNN political commentator.
Congressman, what is your assessment of how this has shaken out? Would you describe this as a good deal?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLILTICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me say this. Here we go again. The president of the United States is going to trash this bill. He is going to complain about it, whine about it, and then he is going to sign it. Because if he doesn't sign it, what is going to happen, it will lead to, one, a shutdown or, two, more likely, Congress would pass a continuing resolution funding the government at the current level for Homeland Security. Meaning, the president would get absolutely nothing. Not $1.375 billion. I believe he will sign it, pocket the gains he gets, and then go on to the next step of likely either declaring an emergency or trying to figure out a way to, through executive action, moving moneys from the disaster relief accounts into the border security accounts, which will create a crisis all by itself.
BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about that in a second. In conversations, the president has been griping that Republicans are outplayed by Democrats in this negotiation. He might very well believe that. Would you describe, having negotiated on Capitol Hill, this as Republicans being outplayed by Democrats?
DENT: No. I think the Republicans in the Appropriations Committees, Shelby and Granger, in the House and Senate, did their best. The president's people gave him bad advice. Whoever gave him the advice saying, hey, we'll get a better deal in the new year when Nancy Pelosi takes over the House, we'll get a better deal. They're crazy. Who would have thought this? No one in their right mind. In a rational world, you would have had a better chance getting more money back in December when Paul Ryan was in charge of the House as opposed to Nancy Pelosi. So for anybody -- the administration put the appropriators in this very difficult spot. They did not have an easy negotiation here. They were only going to get less in the new year. Everybody knew it. If the people in the White House didn't know it, then that's on them.
BOLDUAN: As you were talking about, this may be the next crisis that is coming, Democrats I have talked to, they are split on this next step of if the president goes around Congress to get more money for the wall. If you put to declare a national emergency to the side, because that would face a legal challenge, if it was looking for pots of money through an executive order, some say it is something the legislative branch would have to deal with.
I want you to listen to this threat that Democratic Congressman John Garamendi levelled yesterday if the president went that route.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI, (D), CALIFORNIA: If the president goes over and overrides the appropriation process, overriding the authority of Congress, by moving significant amounts of money from one program to another, there's a thing called, we'll see you tomorrow, Mr. President. You will have to come back here for all of your programs, for everything.
BOLDUAN: You're saying, you have to come to us for money later, and that's where he will pay a price?
GARAMENDI: Absolutely, he'll pay a price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: What do you think that looks like, what Garamendi is saying?
DENT: I think Garamendi is accurate. This is the way the process is supposed to work. If the president wants to reprogram money, say, from the disaster relief fund to border security, that would require a sign off by the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee chair. Nita Lowey and the congressman would have to sign off on this. They are not going to sign off on it. Same in the Senate, maybe it would happen there. But they would need them to sign off. I think that the president would be setting up a real crisis if he were to move this money without congressional approval. And to take money, say, they were going to try it from military construction accounts. I was the one who wrote that military construction bill. Taking money from a defense purpose for a nondefense purpose is a violation of the law. That money is --
DENT: That money is firewalled. (CROSSTALK)
DENT: I know he says this. But, by the way, the Department of Defense has the authority to build a total of 37 miles of barriers on the southern border at the Goldwater Range in southern Arizona. It's an artillery range. I think they have 12 miles of fence. The Pentagon didn't ask for additional barriers. I did a lot of research on this.
[11:40:10] DENT: They don't have that authority. The Homeland Security Department would be responsible for building a barrier.
DENT: That is not Department of the Defense, or the 050 accounts, as would say. It's not part of that.
BOLDUAN: My general takeaway is, folks, if you think this is a mess, that we just watched, prepare for the next coming.
Congressman, great, good to know.
Thank you so much, Congressman, for coming in.
DENT: Great being with you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
Coming up for us, as the former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe breaks his silence on how the FBI's investigation into President Trump began.
A new report says House Democrats are launching new investigations into the president and Russia. We'll talk to a member of a key committee on that, next.
BOLDUAN: A bombshell interview with the former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. McCabe breaking his silence for the first time since he was fired by President Trump, revealing in a new book why he launched the investigation that led to the Mueller probe. Also, for the first time, confirming that there was, indeed, talks at the Justice Department about bringing the president's cabinet together to possibly invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
Very quickly, President Trump took to Twitter to respond this morning, calling McCabe "a disgrace to the FBI."
Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski, from New Jersey. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was an assistant secretary of state under President Obama.
Congressman, thanks for coming in. REP. TOM MALINOWSKI, (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you.
[11:45:05] BOLDUAN: So McCabe, in this book and in this interview with CBS, says the talk on the 25th Amendment was serious among justice officials. But also saying that they weren't to a place where they were asking cabinet members how they would vote. You were on President Clinton's National Security Council. What would have had to have been going on for that kind of serious talk to have been taking place.
MALINOWSKI: Having served in a normal administration, it is hard for me to imagine any of this and visualize myself in the place of an FBI official having that kind of conversation. That happened almost two years ago. Our focus right now is to try to make sure that we get our foreign policy, our national security policy right, in the world right now. But we also need to know what was going on. There was some very strange things going on in the campaign of a president who we know continued to do business with Russia all the way through the 2016 election, even while he continued to take positions that were very favorable to Russian interests in the campaign. He is the only president in our modern history who continues to profit from business dealings with foreign countries. Not just Russia, but the gulf states and Saudi Arabia. I think that is something we do need to know more about.
BOLDUAN: And there's reporting that House Democrats are planning what is described as a vast investigation across multiple committees of the president and Russia. What do you want your committee, Foreign Affairs, to focus on?
MALINOWSKI: I think it will be a very focused investigation. Remember, our primary goal is making sure that our policy is right going forward. We are not spending all of our time investigating. We have done hearings on Saudi Arabia and our policy towards Venezuela. We do need to know, we do need to know whether there has been and whether there continues to be foreign influence on this president.
BOLDUAN: From the Foreign Affairs Committee, how do you tackle that? What's the target?
MALINOWSKI: We look at the Trump Organization's business dealings with countries like Russia, with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and others. We look at whether there's any relationship between his dependence in the past on business relationships with these countries and the positions that he has taken, which at least, coincidently, are very favorable to the interests of those countries.
BOLDUAN: When you talk about the president's businesses, it reminds me, you are one of a group asking the FBI to investigate the Trump Organization as a criminal enterprise after the "Washington Post" was reporting that over 20 undocumented immigrants had been fired from their jobs after working from the Trump golf club, some for a very long time. Why do you want that investigated as a criminal enterprise?
MALINOWSKI: We want the Trump Organization to be treated like any other business in America. There are now over 20 former employees who have come forward to say that not only were they undocumented people working for the Trump Organization, but the Trump Organization helped arrange their fake papers. That's a crime. No question about that. President Trump shut down the government for over 30 days because he was railing against illegal immigration to this country. I think the American people are obviously divided on the immigration issue. We are not divided when it comes to hypocrisy. This is about as close as I can imagine to the height of hypocrisy.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, I could be mistaken, but you have it that the Trump Organization helped them falsify documents?
MALINOWSKI: Yes. A number of these employees, some of whom are employed in my congressional district, in New Jersey, have come forward to say that their photos for their fake green cards were taken on Trump properties, that they were directed to particular places where they can get these fake papers. That the Trump Organization was completely complicit and knowledgeable in this whole process. I don't know if that's true, but it is certainly something that the FBI should investigate just as they would with any other business when so many witnesses have come forward.
BOLDUAN: You haven't heard back from the FBI yet?
MALINOWSKI: No, we didn't. We sent them a letter a few days ago.
BOLDUAN: We know that Eric Trump has denied that they knew about it, and when they found out these people were working for them illegally, then they were fired. That part is part of the conversation. I want to make sure we get that out there.
Congressman, thank you for coming in. Very interesting to hear what comes of your letter to the FBI. Thank you so much.
MALINOWSKI: Thank you.
[11:49:48] BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Some breaking news coming in right now. Amazon is bailing on its plans to build its second headquarters in New York.
Let's me get over to CNN's Cristina Alesci, with more details on this.
There were rumors of it, concern about it, talk about it. Now, it's confirmed. Cristina, what are you hearing?
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. My colleague, Alison Kosik, got a statement from Amazon saying, "After thought and deliberation, we decided not to move forward with our plans to build a new headquarters for Amazon in Long Island city, Queens."
This is a huge blow for the mayor, Mayor De Blasio, and Governor Cuomo. Both were proponents of this deal. They were selling it, telling constituents in New York it would bring jobs and economic development. We had a host of local politicians oppose the deal, making the case to New Yorkers, this would raise housing, make it unaffordable for people in Queens to live. We had this duel playing out in the press over the last couple weeks and months.
[11:55:18] We thought something like this could happen. Now, it actually is official. And Amazon is pulling out of Long Island city, which, again, is a huge blow to the governor and the mayor, who worked very hard to get this deal through and become one of the cities to host Amazon and become an economic driver here in the city.
BOLDUAN: This raises a whole host of questions, Cristina, right off the bat. That was a yearlong search that Amazon had been going about this before that big announcement. Now, what does that mean for where they would put another headquarters? This was 25,000 jobs that were going to be brought into Long Island city, into the city, and this was all over kind of the big subsidies handed out by the states that local officials were so up in arms about.
ALESCI: That was the most controversial part of the deal, the subsidies. And the local politicians were arguing an Amazon-like company didn't need subsidies. And it needed to do more with New York, help with the transportation system, housing. Local politicians really wanted to see Amazon do more for the citizens here in the city. It just didn't pan out.
Unfortunately, we don't have much in the way of where Amazon will go, but, they will likely have to go back to the search and take a look at -- like you said, an exhaustive search. I'm sure they have second and third, you know, choices to go to.
BOLDUAN: I'm just looking down at the statement that was handed to me. They say, "We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time."
BOLDUAN: "It was planned in northern Virginia and Nashville and will continue to hire and grow."
A lot more to come. And what the fallout from this very big decision from this massive company, what it means for New York, what it means for Amazon and going forward.
Cristina, thank you so much.
We're going to have so much more on this breaking news ahead.