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Lawmakers Vote On Bill To Avoid Shutdown; Pence Slams Allies, Urges E.U. To Dump Iran Nuclear Deal; One Year After The Parkland High School Massacre.Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 14, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Phil Mattingly live on Capitol Hill doing the Math today. That's interesting how the senator put it, Phil, with the plan that professionals tell us, they want the need at the border. But the professionals say is different from what the President says?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and look, I think what you've seen both publicly and what I've been told privately from Republican senators is trying to message this in the best way possible. In other words with Shelley Moore Capito who is the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee and Homeland Security is basically referring to when they receive private briefings from professional staff from Department of Homeland Security in terms of what they actually wanted.

You're also hearing Senator Richard Shelby, the top member of the Appropriations Committee, the top Republican negotiator here talking about how this serves as a down payment. This is a broader concept.

Multiple senators saying if the President wants to act doing a lottery on his own, go ahead. Do it. It's part of the process. What you're hearing right now is an effort to message directly to the President that this is part of the process, it's a win, at least in the nearer term and it gives you space to do more afterwards.

The reason why they're doing that? When you played the sound at the beginning of the show, both Shelby talking about how he was praying right now for a resolution, Senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate floor talking about his praying that the President will come to a resolution.

I'm told that the Republicans here have not received an explicit assurance that the President will support the bill. They're still waiting to see.

We got a rather cryptic tweet from the President that was deleted and said simply funding bill. Which, you know, after nine weeks of this, let's go. OK, that's fine, right?

I don't know what it means. I'm sure somebody they might have a better idea than I do. But, I think the bottom line here is on Capitol Hill, in Congress, both the House and the Senate, both parties are confident they will have the votes to pass this. The wild card remains as it has always been where the President is going to be on this that will likely determine how big the vote is but make no mistake. The Senate is going to move this afternoon. The House will file a suit. Both sides feel comfortable with where they are in the vote counts. They just want to know where the President actually stands on the took where the President funding bill.

KING: All right, Phil, between counting votes you can join that tour that just went by behind you as well. I hope Mrs. Mattingly expects you home for a late dinner. You better get there.

Let's bring in the conversation to the studio.

The President -- to Phil's point, the President tweeted funding bill then, we all didn't know what that meant. He deleted it and deleted all. And a follow-up tweet saying he's looking, considering the funding bill right now looking it over with his team at the White House. I just want to point out in case we're watching its page 33 is one of the issues for the President in which it says -- it talks about, number one, the number for barrier spending is way below what the President wanted. Number two, it talks about on page 33 that the money can only go to the existing, structures like the existing structure.

So, we've seen those Trump prototypes out on the desert. The law specifically says, no. No, it had -- that whatever new things you build have to copy what is already on the border. That's not what the President wants.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, I mean, it is clearly not for his wall. None of this money is for the wall that he has asked for. And that language has been in appropriations bills that the Republican Congress passed for two years. For the first two years of his presidency and that's what got him so angry that's what ultimately led him to shut down the government at the end of last year and to engage in this fight.

The amount there is obviously not only less than what he asked for, but less than the deal that Vice President Pence then offered up as a way to get them out of the shutdown in the first sense. So they have back slid a lot in the negotiations even in border security funding.

But what's amazing to me now is we're in a phase of, you know, where the President really likes to build up the anticipation of like is he going to sign it, is he not going to sign it, even when he's made these decisions, a lot of time he likes to keep up this suspense which we've saw with this tweet. I'm reviewing the bill. It's not like I'm going to sign the bill. I'm reviewing bill.

That gives Republicans fits, but in a situation like this where he is so unhappy with the results, that is the only thing that he has to hold on to sort of keep people in suspense that whether if he's even willing to accept this thing up into the last second.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But even at -- even still, I think, there is a sense both within the White House and outside of the White House that the suspense is kind of real.


PHILLIP: I mean, he has really put them in tough spots before. I mean, everybody remembers the omnibus bill that he literally almost did not sign up until the last very second, giving people on the Hill a heart attack and had to be talked out of not signing that bill.

And I think there's always a possibility with Trump that at the last moment he can decide that he is going to go the path that literally no one else wants to go down and take and walk out of the room as a negotiating tactic. So, you know, our sources have told us that he is likely to do it, but no one is willing to go out on a limb over this one.

And President Trump really does not like this bill. He's not really one for details but this is going to be about whether or not he feels like the politics of the situation is one that he can sell to his people and he may not know that until he is at that point where he has to make a final decision.

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: He's not one for details but this is a situation where some of his supporters are likely to seize on a detail on this bill and say this is terrible. This is a place where the President really got ruled by Democrats and so he is going to be paying attention to what the nuances in this bill are.

[12:35:08] And as far as the President's position has evolved over the past year, last March he had an opportunity to exchange 25 billion for his wall for citizenship for DACA recipients. He said no to that. He then had an opportunity to do accept 1.6 billion for the wall, he said no to that and so here we are at 1.3 billion.

And so we've gradually seen the number the President is talking amount diminished over the past year and he said, after he signed that Omnibus Bill that he was never going to sign a bill he hadn't read before that was crafted overnight. Well, that bill is sitting right there. He is in the same position again. So, I don't think we have seen the President's position improve over the past 12 months.

KING: Now I see that's a great way to put the President's positioned is this is much less than he could have had, much less than he could have had and yet the expectation is he will sign it but you're going to hold out the idea that when until we see the signature.

PHILLIP: I think there is no -- there is a reason that no one is willing to say that he will sign.

MATT VISER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well he cares about winning and he cares about his base. And both of those things are in jeopardy with this bill. And I think his ability to sell it is strained because of the -- of everything and Ileana (ph) was weighing out. And I do think that there's this question of -- we talked about this off camera, but why don't they just take, you know, Valentine's day off? Why do they need to go so quickly? And it's because there is real apprehension that we got to go ahead and do this. We've got to convince the President to just sign this and let's move on to the next thing.

KING: He's a yes at the moment.


KING: Let's get to him while he's a yes. It's another reason Mitch McConnell wants a huge vote in the Senate. He wants a huge vote in the Senate, not only to send a message to the House but to send a message to the President that there's no have time for another shut downs sir. Each or piece sign the bill but we shall see.

Up next, France, Germany, and United Kingdom under fire in public from the Vice President of the United States.


[12:41:22] KING: Topping our political radar today. The Senate is voting, right now, right now, on whether to make William Barr the next Attorney General of the United States. We're held that post from the early 90s from the George H.W. Bush administration. He was nominated by President Trump last year to replace Jeff Sessions.

Senate Democrats have been skeptical of how Barr will handle the upcoming conclusion of the Russia Special Counsel investigation.

Michael Bloomberg taking a wait and see approach on his decision on whether he'd run for President. People close to the former New York City Mayor say, we'll wait until March, that's the earliest before announcing whether he will join the growing field of Democratic candidates.

He also reportedly wants to put space between other candidates announcements and his own if he does decide to enter the race.

Senator Chuck Schumer firing back at the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's push for a vote on the Democrats Green New Deal, by the ambitious climate change plan has been ridiculed by many conservatives. Schumer and other Democrats see McConnell's move to bring it to the Senate floor as a stunt, aimed at embarrassing them. But, Schumer says bring it on. Welcome the vote.


SEN.CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: The Republican leader says he wants to bring the Green New Deal resolution up for a vote. I say, go for it. Bring it on. Trust me. We'll be fine.


KING: And the stunning review for some of America's closest allies today by the Vice President of the United States, at a Mideast conference in Poland, Vice President Mike Pence urging the European Union to take a tougher stand against Iran and for countries there to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. He essentially accused America's friends of helping America's enemy.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just two weeks ago, Germany, France and the United Kingdom announced the creation of a special financing mechanism designed to oversee a mirror image transaction that would replace sanctionable international payments between E.U. businesses and Iran.

They call this scheme a special purpose vehicle. We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran's murderous revolutionary regime. It's an ill-advise step. It will only strengthen Iran, weaken the E.U. and create still more distance between Europe and the United States.


KING: We know the administration not happy about this, but that is remarkable. It is not everyday you see the Vice President of the United States travel to Europe on European soil and call out American allies by name. By name and not just say that we don't like what they're doing but we think it's essentially aiding and debating the enemy.

PHILLIP: And also to say to explicitly say that there is a gap between the United States and the European Union that is growing, is I think really extraordinary. Usually, American presidents go to Europe to say that this is a bond that can be broken, right? For geopolitical reasons and Pence is saying the exact opposite of that.

But, you know, the United States is still kind of on an island here on this Iran nuclear deal. The Europeans are basically saying, look, we don't like everything Iran is doing but we laid out this deal what they need to be doing we do not think that they are breaking it. And by the way, the United States intelligence community agrees with that assessment.

So, Pence is delivering President Trump's message, but he's not really doing much to convince the Europeans of something that not even his own intelligence committee believes to be true.

KING: Language is pretty tough a scheme. A scheme.

VISER: And it shows just how disruptive again that the Trump White House has been on international issues as Abby was pointing out that the Iran Nuclear Deal was something that brought the world together, the same with the Paris Climate Change Agreement. And it's always interesting seeing that on vivid display the rupture between the United States and Europe as they try to proceed on this.

[12:45:02] DAVIS: Right, and then like far from trying to actually bring anyone back together after all of the steps that they've made including on the Iran deal and Paris and even on NATO to try to repair some of those breaches. They are actively sort of exacerbating the divide there and making it very clear to the world that there is a divide. And that that is -- that's OK with them. That that is sort of that's the framework from which we are operating now as the United States and it is pretty striking.

KING: I think that's a great way to put this. It's almost a badge of honor to them to be fighting with the Europeans so publicly. It's remarkable.

All right, next for us, a sad twist here remembering the lives lost in Parkland, Florida. A look at where the gun control debate stands one year later.


KING: A somber anniversary today in Parkland, Florida, where one year ago today, a student opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle.

[12:50:00] And in six minutes and 20 seconds, 14 students and three staff members were killed. One of those students Nicholas Dworet just received a full scholarship to swim at the University of Indianapolis. CNN spoke with his friend, Spencer Blum, this morning.


SPENCER BLUM, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Right now, Nick should be diving into six feet under water to practice swimming for the Olympics, the 2020 Olympics. Instead, he's six feet underground.

There's nothing that can be done to change that. You know, Carmen Schentrup should be decorating her dorm, Jaime should be dancing, you know, and then Nick would be swimming. These people were our -- these kids were our friends.


KING: These kids were our friends. President Trump marking the day in a statement that included, "We will not rest until our schools are secure and our communities are safe."

The biggest difference one year later here in Washington is that Democrats do now control the House. And they say they're ready to move and are already moving on some new gun control proposals. But most of those proposals have zero chance of becoming law because of the Republican Senate and the president's position.

So first and foremost as you watch the moment of silence and you hear, again, from the survivors in Parkland, your heart stops sometimes because their stories and their memories are heart breaking.

Has anything changed here, at all? We do know the president, right after the shooting, talked about raising the age for gun purchases, talked about banning bump stocks talked about very strong background checks. The administration after months did go through with bump stock, on the other issues he pulled back. Democrats say they're going to pass some things but they're not going to get anywhere out of the house, are they?

JOHNSON: I don't think much has changed on the national level in terms of the political divide or the conversation, really. I do think things have changed at the state level, particularly in Florida where even though they have a Republican governor, the politics of it are different. We saw their previous governor, Rick Scott changed the tenor of the way he was talking about this and run successfully a Republican candidate for -- as the Republican candidate for the Senate since he's now Senator Rick Scott.

So, I do think Florida has changed and perhaps some other states, the way Republicans are talking about this but on the national level I don't think it's had a real impact.

KING: To that point, I just want to show Florida is among the 26 states, passed 67 gun safety laws in 2018. You see those states there and they're mixed of red states and blue states if you think of this as a presidential map. It's a mix, Florida and Louisiana among the two red states where they passed a new gun safety laws and you see the others.

Obviously, when there's a tragedy though like this, the country has a moment. And then as time passes, opinions sometimes change. The president would be a prime example in this case, what he said in the days after and where he is now. This is the NPR PBS Marist Poll. Gun sale should be more strict. Right after Parkland, 71 percent, a year later, that number down to 51 percent.

PHILLIP: Well, I do think we should give these kids at Parkland a lot of credit for really being bold and not backing down, even in their grief from whatever they wanted to do. And we saw it on both sides of the issue. There were some students who were part of these marches in favor of more gun control. Other students were trying to have a slightly different conversation more like the one that the president wanted to have perhaps about arming teachers or resource officers within a school.

But, this is one of those rare times when, really an imaginable tragedy like this has actually produced a group of people who were a part of the tragedy wanting to be engaged in the political process. And I don't think the story is really over, yet.

Over time, these views do kind of diminish and they go back to the average, what we've seen over the years, 51 percent. But I think we can't really call this a done deal. I think for the first time, we're seeing a group of people who are really in it for the long haul, trying to push maybe the Democratic Party first forward but perhaps for the rest of the country.

KING: Yes. I think it's a great point, whatever your views, whether you agree or disagree with the specifics being advocated by some of these Parkland students and survivors. They're activists and it's remarkable. And wherever you are on the issues, that's the way to do it, get involved and everything.

Will anything change in the context if you do look at the Democratic presidential field? A lot of these Democrats say especially because of the 2018 house wins in the suburbs with younger voters, that they feel more comfortable talking about this issue on a national platform like a presidential race which for years, the Democrats pulled back from when it came to the presidency because you look at the Trump map, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, it's risky (ph).

VISER: Yes. And I do think that it will become a point of among the Democratic Party and you're seeing the House lead the way a little bit on having hearings, having the first hearing since 2007 on gun safety issues. And so, I do think that Democrats in the presidential field will follow that. But, as you mentioned, you know, year since parkland, it's been -- I think six years since Newtown, which triggered a similar amount of political activism and attempt to. And yet, at the federal level, there's been nothing done.

[12:55:10] So I do think maybe there's a presidential type debate that elevates the issue and kind of changes the national discussion. But, you know, any sign of light at the end of the tunnel for activists on this, you know, is pretty dim.

DAVIS: Well, and I think it's going to be difficult for the Democratic presidential candidates to avoid this because the House is moving forward with some legislation they just passed the background -- universal background checks legislation out of committee.

They're going to put it on the floor eventually and then probably laud it over to the Senate. So we'll have to see what happens there but they're going to have to go on the record one way or the other, whether they are for the sorts of restrictions or not.

KING: It'd be interesting to watch that plays out. Thanks for joining us. Stay on "INSIDE POLITICS", enjoy your afternoon, Brianna Keilar starts after a quick break.