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No Signs of a Deal as Government Shutdown Drags Into Week Three; Nancy Pelosi Takes Back Speaker's Gavel After Eight Years; Warren Tests Out Populist 2020 Message in Iowa. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 06, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:20] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Shutdown showdown meets divided government. Is there an end in sight?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we have to stay out for a very long period of time, we're going to do that.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It's very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government.

HENDERSON: And Pelosi grabs the speaker's gavel for a second time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear that you'll support and defend the constitution of the United States, so help you God?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Madam Speaker.

HENDERSON: With a diverse Democratic Caucus taking the House and already making waves.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren takes her likely 2020 bid on the road.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It is an America right now that works for the rich and the powerful, corruption pure and simple.

HENDERSON: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson, in for John King.

To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

We begin this hour with a stalemate. It's day 16 of the partial government shutdown, and although negotiations are ongoing, there are still no signs that either side is willing to relent.

Today, President Trump travels to Camp David where he will meet with senior staff before meetings on the shutdown are expected to continue. Saturday's session between the vice president, Jared Kushner, Secretary Nielsen and congressional staffers made very little progress.

Here's what White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, had to say about it to Jake Tapper.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the president said for a long time that it's $5.6 billion for border security, including the wall. We recognize that things like technology and border crossings are important but certainly a barrier is important.

We didn't make much progress at the meeting, which was surprising to me. I thought we had come in to talk about terms that we could agree on. They were actually, in my mind, they're to stall, and we did not make much progress.


HENDERSON: The president himself sat down at the negotiating table with Democrats and Republicans at the White House this week. And if he was wavering, he didn't show it. Trump boasted to reporters about his role in the shutdown after that second meeting on Friday.


TRUMP: I'm very proud of doing what I'm doing. I don't call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country. You can call it whatever you want. You can call it the Schumer or the Pelosi or the Trump shutdown. It doesn't make any difference to me. Just words.


HENDERSON: Democrats have seized on a claim from the president that this shutdown could reach a length of historic proportions. If you are one of the 800,000 federal workers without a paycheck coming later this week, this probably was not very comforting.


REPORTER: He also said you said in the meeting -- this is him quoting you. I just want to check -- that the shutdown could go on for months or even a year or longer. Did you say that --

TRUMP: I did, I did.

REPORTER: Is that your assessment of where we are?

TRUMP: Absolutely I said that. I don't think it will, but I am prepared. We'll see what happens. It may get solved. It may not get solved.


HENDERSON: New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says beginning next week, the House will pass individual appropriation bills to reopen closed departments but there are no indications that the Senate will be willing to take up those measures.

Here with me to share the reporting and their insights, we've got Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times," CNN's Manu Raju, Eliana Johnson of "Politico", and "The New York Times'" Lisa Lerer.

Thank you all for being here this morning. Happy New Year to everyone.

And what an auspicious way to begin this New Year with this shutdown still ongoing.

Maggie, you've covered this White House, this president brilliantly and you in some ways are the Trump whisperer. What is he thinking now in terms of this shutdown? What's his mindset?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: He's pretty public about where his mindset is, which is that he's actually feeling pretty good about this and he's feeling good about it because his conservative allies are telling him he's doing the right thing and telling him in pretty blunt terms, your re-election depends on this. He's absorbed that.

That having been said, the coverage is not, the news coverage, and the longer this goes on, the pain is going to be felt by a lot more people. It's going to become starker. We're already starting to hear these stories and that's the thing he does not like watching.

So, while you saw him say last week in the Rose Garden, you can call it the Trump shutdown, Schumer shutdown, the Pelosi shutdown, it's just words. It doesn't matter to me. It does matter to him, and he is aware, and he's been made aware by his aides that that clip of him at the Oval Office saying that he would own this is going to haunt him going forward and he's trying to pivot away from it.

HENDERSON: And you see him and you talk about the impact. We've heard stories from folks weary about not getting paid and you look at the impact here. It's not just those 800,000 workers, farm loans. Disaster assistance and tariff relief payments could be on -- are on hold. IRS audits, refunds and live taxpayer assistance are on hold because people are out of a job at this point if you were working for the IRS. Folks who may be looking for those tax returns, those could be delayed.

Lisa, how do you see that impacting this president or negotiations, these stories that are coming out?

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, the pain from the shutdown is real and only going to get worse if it continues into February. You've already seen a number of economists saying if this continues on, we're going to downgrade our growth expectations for the economy. It's coming at a time when the stock market is extremely turbulent. There's a lot of fears around the economy.

And I think it's important to point out that this is something that doesn't just affect this 800,000 federal workers.

HENDERSON: Right, there's a ripple effect.

LERER: There's a ripple effect, and there's all these contractors. And some of those contractors are janitors or, you know, the cleaners in these buildings.

HENDERSON: They may not ever get paid.

LERER: They're unlikely to be made hole. The federal workers are generally made hole. Contractors are not unless Congress passes a special provision allowing them to be made hole.

But I spoke to a woman who has been a cleaner in the Department of Ag for 28 years. She makes about $600 a week. If this goes on to next week, she's extremely concerned about whether she'll be able to buy food.

So, this is something that a lot of the coverage is focused on the back and forth and the politics of this, but this is having real impacts on people's lives. And I think that's going to become more and more clear if this continues on into February.

HENDERSON: And, Manu, the president already up and tweeting about this. Not necessarily making news, basically just saying Hillary Clinton and Obama voted for a wall before back in 2006.

Where do things stand right now with this shutdown, the status update?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are two tracks happening. The talks happening between the White House officials led by Mike Pence and Hill leadership staff that occurred yesterday. Not much progress was made according to all counts.

The White House came in saying that they still want $5.7 billion for the border wall. Of course, Democrats say they will only give $1.3 billion, nothing to do with the wall at all. That shows how far they are on the policy, and also far apart on the process.

Democrats want to reopen the government first before even discussing all of that. And on top of that, Democrats asked for a justification about why the administration wants that much money, $5.7 billion, $5.6 billion, around that number for the wall because they haven't done that yet. So, that's one track.

The second track is Nancy Pelosi making a pretty significant statement last night that they would move on individual appropriations bills in the House starting this week. Why that's significant is because of what you just pointed out, people are feeling the brunt of this shutdown who have nothing to do with the Department of Homeland Security, nothing to do with the wall, and the hope from the Democratic side is this will increase pressure on senators, Senate Republicans, who are especially not wedded to the wall to move on the individual pieces of appropriation bills to open up federal agencies, put pressure on the president to either sign something, get a veto- proof majority. That's going to take some time to play out but that's the Democratic hope and we'll see if the private talks go anywhere, which are not in the moment.

HENDERSON: And on Friday, the president is floating another way that he could possibly get his wall. Here's what he had to say.


TRUMP: We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely. No, we can do it. I haven't done it. I may do it. I may do it. But we could call a national emergency and build it very quickly.


HENDERSON: Eliana, we know this is a president who likes to say things and make predictions and not follow through. How real is this idea he could get it done in this way?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, this is something that the president has raised a number of times privately. And we know this is a president who likes to test the limits of his power. He has asked the White House counsel's office about this, and previously, he's been told by his lawyers, you know, you can't do this.

The president's response to that is often, let them sue me. That's what he did in business and what he's wanted to do in the White House and what his aides have tried to prevent him from doing. Whether they'll be able to prevent this moving forward I think is an open question. But I think to laugh at the president's statement would be a mistake.

We don't know what he's going to do. We've seen him tip-toe toward ways of getting out of this by funding this wall from getting money from other cabinet agencies or calling a national emergency. That's a way for him to get out of this situation.

I think he's looking at that though we haven't seen him back down yet. But I do think he's looking at ways to get out of this such as that moving forward.

HENDERSON: Manu, one of the things we saw this week was some Republicans starting to waver on this.

[08:10:03] Susan Collins, Cory Gardner basically saying is there a way to move forward, maybe to look at what Democrats have already done. Do we expect more of that from Republicans? It's been so infrequent that we've seen Republicans break from this president.

RAJU: Yes. Maybe as the weeks go on, that's the hope from the Democratic side. Mitch McConnell has made it very clear, he's not going to put any legislation on the floor of the Senate that doesn't have the support of this president. But if his conference, a majority of his Republican difference starts to push him to do that, that could change the calculus.

We're nowhere near that point yet, but we'll see how quickly we get to that point if the pressure ramps up. At the House said, we did see seven Republicans join with Democrats to push legislation -- vote for legislation to reopen the government, besides the Department of Homeland Security. That's only seven out of the whole Republican conference. But again, the question is, how does the calculus change the longer this goes on and people start feeling that back home.

HENDERSON: And Pelosi saying that Congress has a role here and Mitch McConnell is ignoring it.


PELOSI: I think that what Mitch McConnell is doing, and I say this as respectfully as possible, is saying, we're not needed. Congress might as well stay home. All we need is one person to show up, Donald Trump.

And that's not what our founders had in mind. They talked about co- equal branches of government. Article 1, the legislative branch, the people's branch of government.


HENDERSON: Pelosi there in her new role saying to Mitch McConnell, step it up.

LERER: Look, he's in a tough spot. He's up for re-election in 2020. His party is tied very closely to the Trump base, but he also has a bunch of these guys in his caucus up for re-election in states a little more, you know, battleground, like Susan Collins or Cory Gardner. And that's why you've seen some of those people come out and make comments about, let's get this over with. Let's move things forward.

So, he's trying to navigate these conflicting political cross currents, and it's tough. And so, one way is to kind of almost punt the ball a little bit.

HABERMAN: He's in a particularly tough situation, too. Remember, it's his caucus that passed a bill that the White House had indicated the president was going to sign and then abruptly pulled out of that. So, I think if you're McConnell, and Pelosi, it's understandable why she's pushing pressure on him.

But if you're McConnell, he is in an uncomfortable situation because he's not going to rush to bring something up again. There are a lot of -- you'll correct me if I'm wrong here, but there are a lot of senators are not going to want to walk out on that limb again. This has been a problem repeatedly for Republicans in both chambers of Congress is that they walk out on a limb and the president cuts it off. They don't want to do that again.

HENDERSON: Nobody in a more uncomfortable position than those 800,000 workers, some of whom might miss their paycheck on Friday. So, we'll see where this goes.

Up next, there's a new Congress in town with a very familiar face taking the speaker's gavel. And in politicians say the darnedest things, this is the kids' edition. Nancy Pelosi said they'll make room for a new generation of leadership. She's making good on that pledge already just probably not in the way people expected.


PELOSI: I'd like to call my grandchildren up to be here when I take the oath and any other children who want to join them.

I now call the house to order on behalf of all of America's children.




[20:16:41] REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR: A sophisticated strategist, a legendary legislator, a voice for the voiceless, a defender of the disenfranchised, a powerful, profound, prophetic, principled public servant, let me be clear, House Democrats are down with NDP, Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi. The once and future speaker of the United States House of Representatives.


HENDERSON: Two words that capture the new dynamic in Washington, Madam Speaker. After years of setbacks and disappointments, Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House once again. She lost the speaker's gavel eight years ago in a 2010 Tea Party wave and beat back a leadership challenge that year. She faced another one in 2016 and another one this year, and she, of course, has been a target of GOP ads, painting her as a liberal boogeyman.

But Pelosi, she survived it all and successfully reclaimed her spot as the first and only female house speaker. How significant is that achievement? Let's take a look. She's very much in elite company as one of the few speakers to actually regain the gavel after losing it. It hasn't happened since Sam Rayburn did it over 50 years ago.

In terms of the diversity in the House. Women in the House particularly, 1987, when she first joined Congress, just 24 women, now, there are 102. So, you can see much of the gains are from Democrats, 89 Democratic women in the House at this point. Thirteen Republicans, up from 11 in 1987 among Republicans.

More diversity in terms of race and ethnicity and LGBTQ status. In 1987, 22 black congressmen and in 2019, you got 52. Latinos from 10 to 33 in terms of Democrats.

Largely flat lined in many of these categories among Republicans. Four Asians, one Asian in 1987 for Republicans and in 2019, you can see a bit of a shift among Democrats. Nancy Pelosi talked about this in her speech on Thursday as she was

reclaiming the gavel.


PELOSI: Two months ago, the American people spoke and demanded a new dawn. When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy strengthened by their optimism, idealism and patriotism, of this transformative freshman class.


HENDERSON: Manu, on Thursday, you saw Hakeem Jeffries give that barn burner of a speech, introducing Nancy Pelosi. I think he's probably the only one to quote the Psalms and borrow from Naughty by Nature.

Talk to me about the historic nature, this moment for Nancy Pelosi.

RAJU: Yes, it's a significant moment. She's the first person in more than 60 years to reclaim the gavel after, of course, being -- losing the gavel after the Republicans took control of the House in 2010, 2011. You know, I think the really significant thing about this Democratic Caucus is the generational divide we're seeing -- the top three leaders, much older than a lot of the younger members.

A lot of people in their 30s and 40s coming in. A big push for change in the caucus. And that's why she had to agree to only stay as speaker for four more years. There's going to be eventually a power struggle to succeed her.

You saw Hakeem Jeffries, also Ben Ray Lujan, she had to agree to only stay as speaker for four more years.

[08:20:03] There's going to be eventually a power struggle to succeed her. You saw Hakeem Jeffries. Also Ben Ray Lujan, who's also in leadership.

Sherry Busto is in the leadership, younger members. Those people will be significant in going forward. But we're going to see in the next two years a caucus that's dominated by Nancy Pelosi and who is going to go toe-to-toe with this president.

So, the change will happen in the long term. In the short term, you probably won't see much change because it will be about Pelosi versus Trump over next two years.

HENDERSON: An (INAUDIBLE) will be fascinating. Here is what Pelosi had to say about what this means for Trump.


PELOSI: I think and hope that we can work together in a positive way.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think he deals with you differently because you're a woman? PELOSI: I have no idea. We'll see how he will deal with speaker of

the house. I don't know if he knows how to deal with women in power and women with strength, but we'll see.


HENDERSON: Maggie, how ready is this president for this new dynamic? Not only is he going to be challenged, he's going to being challenged by Nancy Pelosi, a woman?

HABERMAN: I think he believes, and I think there are going to be obviously reasons to question this strategy, but he believes that, number one, he does actually like Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 when considering running for president, one of the things that I wrote about is he had written her one of his sharpie notes when she had last become speaker and it was, Nancy, you're the best, Donald. And she had that framed, he sent it to her framed. And she had in her office.

He does think fondly of her. She's got a very different opinion I think of him. I don't think he's prepared for any of this dynamic. He has told himself he will be able to work with her. The White House has tried, without success, over the last several weeks to divide Nancy Pelosi from Schumer and drive a wedge between the two.

It's underestimating the degree to which they are close and it's overestimating the degree to which Chuck Schumer is going to want to have comedy with the president. So, I mean, I think that we don't even know yet what this is going to look like because the shutdown is delaying a lot of the legal issues the president is facing with this Congress. And he's been warned, the president, by several people, it's going to get much worse.

I don't think he has fully metabolized that because he hasn't lived through this.

HENDERSON: Eliana --

JOHNSON: I'd add one point to that dynamic played out yesterday when Trump, his delegation that he sent to negotiate over the shutdown was the vice president of the United States and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Nancy Pelosi sent --

HENDERSON: Aides, yes.


JOHNSON: -- and a former administration official said this is a case study of the new dynamic where she basically gave him the middle finger. I'm not sure the president picked up on that.

HABERMAN: He will today, yes.

JOHNSON: A Petri dish study of what to expect from Nancy Pelosi going forward.

(CROSSTALK) LERER: I think people love to underestimate Nancy Pelosi. Look, she's the biggest enemy on the campaign trail --

HENDERSON: Didn't work very well --


LERER: But she is a savvy negotiator. She's one of the few people in history to get this job twice. There's a reason she stamped down opposition to her getting the speakership before it really happened. She passed this PAYGO legislation that was going to be fiercely opposed by the liberal, new resurgent liberal caucus. Three of them voted against it.

She's a savvy negotiator and under estimating her is a major mistake, and you just have to wonder whether the White House fully knows what they're getting.

HENDERSON: I want to turn to something we saw on display Thursday. The difference in the caucuses, a very diverse Democratic caucus and a caucus on the Republican side largely white and male.

RAJU: Yes, that's one -- when you talk to Republicans, they recognize this is a big issue for them going forward. Particularly for women, getting women in the ranks and minority voters and showing a different face for their party. You notice that on the Senate side, they tried to make some changes to putting leaders, females in key positions.

HENDERSON: Judiciary Committee.

RAJU Judiciary Committee, Joni Ernst, Marsha Blackburn, getting positions there, putting in Joni Ernst in the Republican leadership on the Senate side. They don't like that image of all old white men and they're trying to do something to change it.

Liz Cheney in the house as well getting that position replacing Cathy McMorris-Rodgers. So, you know, obviously they recognize this is a problem.

HENDERSON: And it's something they have been working on in some ways over the last 30 years. We saw those numbers. It hasn't really changed much. We'll see how this goes.

Up next, Elizabeth Warren starts her 2020 campaign in Iowa with a fiery, populist message.


HENDERSON: Iowa caucuses are still 393 days out, but Elizabeth Warren is crisscrossing the state this weekend with a fiery populist message that is clearly her 2020 test drive.


WARREN: I'm here tonight because I believe. I believe in what we can do. I believe that this, right now, is our moment -- our moment to dream big, to fight hard and to take back this country --



HENDERSON: Clearly losing her voice there a bit in that clip. But earlier this week, the Democrat launched an exploratory committee for the 2020 race and even started adding staff members to her team. The reason she says she might run is not to oppose Trump but because she wants to restore an economy that propelled her from a janitor's daughter to a U.S. senator but is now, she says, rigged against the poor and working class.


WARREN: Pretty much all of my adult career has been spent around one central question. And that is, what's happening to working families in America? Why has America's middle class been hollowed out? What's happening to opportunity in this country? Why is the path so rocky for so many people and so much rockier for people of color? Why has this happened in America?


HENDERSON: CNN national political correspondent M.J. Lee is covering Warren's debut.

M.J., what has the reception been for Elizabeth Warren in Iowa?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's early and it's only January of 2019, but it is clear the people of Iowa are ready for 2020. Senator Warren had more than -- around four events over the course of 24 hours, I should say, crisscrossing the state.

[08:30:02] And at every event, the event was over capacity, and as you pointed out there, by the time she got here last night to her event in Des Moines, she had lost her voice.

Now obviously, this has been an important weekend for Senator Warren to make her first impression to the state of Iowa, particularly because she has not been back in the state since 2014 and she really talked about the issues that are going to be core to her 2020 presidential campaign centered around the idea that Washington does not work for our working class families but rather for big corporations. We have heard her talk about these issues over the course of her career in Washington.

She did also take a lot of questions over the weekend from the people of Iowa; dozens of questions already. And one question that she got in particular yesterday was interesting. It was about her decision to release her DNA test to show her native American heritage. And the person asking the question asked her, why did you release the tests and give President Trump more fodder to be a bully?

Here's how she answered that question.


SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I am not a person of color. I am not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry.

Now I can't stop Donald Trump from what he's going to do. I can't stop him from hurling racial insults. I don't have any power to do that.

But -- well, what I can do is I can be in this fight for all of our families.


LEE: Now what you probably couldn't hear there was that when Senator Warren said I don't have the power to stop the President from hurling insults at me, one person in the audience actually got up and yelled out, yes, you can.

So clearly this is going to be a fascinating dynamic not just for Senator Warren but for the other Democratic candidates too as they get into 2020. Are they going to be the person that confronts the President directly? Or are they going to be the person that doesn't engage the President because there are people who want the candidate to behave in two different ways that are clearly possible.

And I think Senator Warren is going to have to figure that out and the other candidates are going to as well.

The final thing that I would note, just an observation from over the weekend, is that there's one topic that Senator Warren does not seem to want to engage and that is 2016. She was asked a number of times questions about Hillary Clinton and comparisons that are being made between Senator Warren and Hillary Clinton and her campaign.

She simply said that she does not want to relitigate the 2016 campaign. And she also was reticent to answer any questions about Hillary Clinton or even questions about what it means for Senator Warren to be a female candidate. But I can guarantee you that this is not going to be the last weekend that she gets that question -- Nia.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST: I think that's right, MJ Lee. Democrats very much want to forget 2016 but I don't think voters will necessarily let them. Thanks -- MJ.

And Lisa -- I'm going to go you on this. You've seen Elizabeth Warren on the stump. I've seen her on the stump back in the midterms. She's very compelling in these settings. You could hear a pin drop when I saw her down in Atlanta when she was stumping for Stacey Abrams.

What do you make of her maiden voyage out in Iowa?

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": She's compelling and probably the furthest along of any of these three dozen -- more than three dozen Democrats considering running. She has an operation. She built a huge operation in the midterms where she had people in a lot of battleground states, early voting states. She was -- early primary states -- she was able to bring them into the fold.

That's part of why she started an exploratory committee so early was to be able to employ those people. So she's pretty far along but -- and she is, as you point out, fairly compelling on the stump but look, running for president is like doing nothing else you've ever done.

And so she's going to come up with a lot of tests. I think the likability question was sort of the first one. I saw her this week in the Senate and asked her whether she thought this was sexism. She didn't want to go into the issue. She said, you know, I'm focused on the issues but that's something she's not going to be able to do this entire race.

So there will be difficult situations that come up. I know a lot of people in Washington were pretty dismayed with how she - even some of her supporters -- with how she handled that DNA issue.

So she's going to be tested again and again. And that's really what running for president is.

HENDERSON: And part of the likability came about when she released this video on Instagram.


WARREN: Hold on a sec. I'm going to get me -- a beer.

Hey. My husband Bruce is now in here. You want a beer?

BRUCE WARREN, HUSBAND OF ELIZABETH WARREN: I'll pass on the beer for now.

E. WARREN: You sure?


E. WARREN: Come and say hello.


E. WARREN: So this is my sweetie.

B. WARREN: Hello.

E. WARREN: He's the best.

B. WARREN: I love you.

[08:35:00] E. WARREN: I love you, too. Thank you for being here.

B. WARREN: Pleasure.

[E. WARREN: I'm glad you're here.

B. WARREN: Yes. Enjoy your beer.


HENDERSON: Beer was said a lot of times in that clip. I don't drink beer. Maybe that's how people talk about beer, announces they're going to get a beer before they get a beer -- maybe.

But this -- people thought it was a little odd and stilted and scripted. And of course, goes back to this idea of which politician would you want to get a beer with? That's the person who's most likeable.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think we started hearing, even before 2016, and the thing about Donald Trump is that despite the fact that a lot of it with him is artifice, voters saw him as authentic. His supporters thought he was authentic. And so there's this question of if it's not just likeability, it's authenticity.

LERER: Right.

HABERMAN: And what's ironic about this roll-out to me watching Warren, and it has look stilted, and certainly the DNA issue was her, as Lisa said, her supporters included did not feel like it was handled well.

She in 2016 was actually the person who was at the forefront of taking on Trump in a way that seemed sort of effective. She was standing up to him.

Clinton tried laughing at him first and then ignoring him. And then dealt with him very differently in the debates.

But Warren had a series of pretty scathing tweets and I think at least one or two interviews where she was taking the fight right back to him and I think that that appealed to a lot of people. And there's a bit of a chasm between that and then what we've seen here.

A lot of this race for Democrats is going to be about not just who can take the fight to Trump but how you take the fight to Trump. And I think that with the sort of awkwardness of her roll-out shows the Democrats are still figuring that out.

LERER: And that's a calculus nobody has solved yet.

HABERMAN: That's right.

LERER: The Democrats have not figured out how to take on Trump. So part of what we're going to see in this primary process is a variety of different ways of doing it. And some, as you point out, will be successful and some won't. And if your wife offers you a beer, take the beer --

HENDERSON: Take the beer, yes.

LERER: -- Bruce.

(CROSSTALK) HABERMAN: Yes. Like you're on camera.


HENDERSON: Yes. Lisa -- you have a front page piece in the "New York Times" this morning where you talk about the women question here. And you talked to dozens and dozens of folks about this and they are puzzling.

Democrats are puzzling over whether or not a woman will beat Trump. This is part of what someone says. "Are we ready in 2020 for another woman? 'I really don't think we are,' said Ms. Cusack, 75, a former Democratic National Committee member from Florida. But Andy McGuire, the former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party sees a different reality after a record of Democratic women won races in the 2018 midterms.

She says that she'd go back to the last election -- who won? Who had the excitement? Who had all the volunteers and power behind them? It was women."

LERER: I mean look, a lot of these concerns are grounded in post- traumatic election disorder --


HABERMAN: That's true.

LERER: -- which is, you know, Democrats are still reeling still two- plus years later over Hillary Clinton's loss and among very staunch Hillary Clinton supporters there's a certain sentiment that, well, she was so qualified. The only reason she lost was sexism.

And I think that's combined with a broader sense, a more widespread sense that women do face higher bars and different bars to winning the White House.

So those things combined along with this really great desire by Democrats to beat President Trump have made some in the party a little bit nervous. Of course, the counterargument is, hey, look at the 2018 midterms. Women not only won in greater numbers but powered those gains as volunteers, as campaign managers and deserve representation.


LERER: So it's a debate the party has to resolve.

HENDERSON: And Manu -- we saw over this last week, Bernie sanders sort of struggled with this question. What his 2016 campaign meant for some of the women there. How is he handling that? And what's been the --

RAJU: Not particularly well. I think there's still a lot of questions about what he's going to do differently about these allegations that surfaced from the 2016 campaign. And questions about how much impact that he may have if he does end up running in this race.

Will he be as potent of a force as he was against Hillary Clinton --

HENDERSON: In this new environment.

RAJU: -- in this new environment.


RAJU: I mean it just underscores the fact this field is so wide open. The ultimate question for most voters is going to be who can beat Trump. Electability is going to matter more than anything. And that's a question that has not been answered.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: You know, the other dynamic here I think rests with Trump which is that he made his brand in 2016 and still now. So much about strength, masculinity -- our traditional notions of what they are. Remember Vice President Mike Pence praising his broad shoulders.


HENDERSON: They were playing the gender card very much.

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

RAJU: And clear eyes, too.



HENDERSON: The size of his hands. All of that, right?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. And so I think how does a female candidate, if a woman wins the Democratic nomination, respond to that? Maybe using gender and maybe not. But I think it is a tricky calculation.

HENDERSON: And there will likely be a lot of women --

JOHNSON: Given the gendered way that Trump runs.

HENDERSON: -- yes. Right. And there'll likely be a lot of women in this field, which is starting to take shape with these next couple of weeks.

Coming up, in the first days of the new congress, the House freshmen steal the spotlight.


HENDERSON: The 116th Congress is here and Democrats are eager to get moving on their goals for the next two years. Listen to the new majority leader, Congressman Steny Hoyer describe his lofty list of priorities this Friday.


REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: It brought stability to the Affordable Care Act. It brought drug prices down. It provided for retraining of our citizens to take 21st century jobs. It addressed climate change. Universal registration -- oversight of gun owners when they purchase guns. That we fix DACA and that we did a number of other things to make the lives of Americans better.


HENDERSON: And that's just to name a few. The Democratic wish list also includes strengthening the voting rights act, tightening ethics and lobbying restrictions, holding hearings on Medicare for all and requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns.

Unfortunately for the Democratic leadership, it seems that some freshmen members of the new Congress have their own list of priorities.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: And when your son looks at you and says, "Mama, look you won. Bullies don't win." And I said, "Baby, they don't because we're going to go in there and we're going to impeach the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


HENDERSON: Manu -- you've got this divide here between what Democratic leaders want the message to be and then what others want the message to be.

RAJU: Yes. I mean Rashida Tlaib campaigned on impeaching the President --


RAJU: -- so it's no surprise that she said that. Obviously the words are salty.


HENDERSON: Right. The words are -- yes.

RAJU: It was a distraction --

JOHNSON: Donald Trump has never heard salty words.

RAJU: Exactly.


RAJU: It was just a distraction the Democratic leaders did not want to be talking about on the first day -- impeachment. But these are issues that are bound to continue to arise as we learn more about the Mueller investigation if the Mueller report eventually comes out. [08:45:02] This is going to be the inherent divide. They want to project bipartisanship and cutting deals. What can they do to help the country and also oversight and then presently taking on the President. How do they bridge that divide and did they go too far?


HENDERSON: And here.

RAJU: Is this going too far.

HENDERSON: I want to go quickly to how Pelosi responded to this. She basically said -- no bigs.


I don't think we should make t divide and did they go too far? T divide and did they go too far?

I want to go quickly to how Pelosi responded to this. She said, no bigs.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't think we should make a big deal of it. I really don't. I really don't.

That's probably the way people talk around -- again, I'm a grandmother and it's a different story. But it is -- really words weigh a ton. And the President has to realize that his words weigh a ton, too.


HENDERSON: What did you make of Pelosi's response there essentially saying this is a younger generation?

LERER: Look, the Democratic base wants impeachment.


LERER: And Tom Steyer has a list of seven million people who said that they want to impeach the President. So this is -- but just because you can impeach doesn't mean that you should politically. And I think this is, you know, Pelosi and the House Democrats have to walk a very delicate line as they move through these investigations. But they will be under pressure from their base which wants to see movement here.

HENDERSON: And in many ways, we had heard President Trump talk about impeachment, too. He in many ways wants to talk about impeachment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job. That's the way I view it.

Nancy said, we're not looking to impeach you. I said that's good, Nancy. That's good.

And you know what, you don't impeach people when they're doing a good job and you don't impeach people when there was no collusion because there was no collusion.


HABERMAN: Those are the only circumstances.


HENDERSON: And look, many people point out Bill Clinton had pretty high approval ratings when he was impeached.

JOHNSON: Yes, I was going to say, not exactly sure that House Democrats will see it the same way as Donald Trump sees it. But yes, I actually think Nancy Pelosi will come under far more pressure than she's under now after the Mueller report is released. I think most Democrats agree that they are going to take a wait and see approach. But Pelosi is absolutely going to contend with pressure once that report comes out.

And if she doesn't think it's politically wise to impeach the President she's going to have to make a heck of a case that the impeachment debate should take place at the ballot box in 2020 rather than in the House of Representatives.


HABERMAN: One thing we should bear in mind, by the way, when we talked before about the government shutdown -- I've been thinking about this a lot. Every day we're talking about the shutdown is a day that Donald Trump would prefer because we're not talking about Mueller and we're not talking about the Russia probe.

HENDERSON: Yes. Not talking about it until something happens.

HABERMAN: Until something happens but for him it's all about short increments of time and moving forward.

HENDERSON: Yes. We'll see where this goes.

Up next, Mueller's grand jury gets an extension for up to six more months as investigations in the Democratic-controlled House kick into high gear.


HENDERSON: Each Sunday we ask our reporters to share a story or scoop they're working on so you can get a taste of tomorrow's headlines today.

Maggie -- we're going to start with you.

HABERMAN: Sure. I'm looking at what it might take to get a deal to end this budget impasse. We've heard a lot of talk obviously about how there could be some kind of a trade. Border wall money in exchange for protection for dreamers.

There are a lot of other issues that Democrats want dealt with on immigration; that is not the only one. Specifically, they are very concerned about the efforts to curtail legal immigration and change asylum applications by the Trump administration. As long as those are going on, they are a lot less likely to bend.

HENDERSON: Bad news there.


RAJU: Nia -- Democrats in the House want to give the Mueller investigation a shot in the arm. The House Intelligence Committee, the chairman Adam Schiff plans in the coming days to have a vote to send the transcripts from all the witness interviews from the Russia investigation that happened in the last Congress over to the Mueller team.

They believe that multiple witnesses have misled their committee and they want the Mueller team to look into that. Roger Stone's transcript has already been sent over late last year but we'd expect some more -- the rest of them to happen in the coming days.

But that's hardly the only thing that committee and others on Capitol Hill plan to investigate. Money laundering a big focus of Adam Schiff's. They are hiring experts to looking into money laundering. That's a focus that he wants to look into in the coming days.

Jerry Nadler on the House Judiciary Committee told me last week that Matt Whitaker is going to come forward as soon as this month. A subpoena is possible if they don't agree on a date because they want to hear about why he hasn't recused himself in overseeing the Mueller investigation. His views of the Mueller investigation.

And on the senate side, there is a move taken by Democrats last week to try to stop a Treasury Department move to ease sanctions on three Russian companies tied to that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, of course, he's close to Vladimir Putin.

So all these issues coming to head and of course, the Congress just started so there's a lot more though than that.

HENDERSON: Yes. The oversight starting to ramp up even as the government is shut down -- or partially shut down.


JOHNSON: I'm looking at the administration's search for a new Secretary of Defense to replace Jim Mattis who left in late December. And it's not getting a whole lot of track and so I think it will be interesting to watch.

You can trace it back to the President's abrupt decision to pull American troops out of Syria. That alienated not only Mattis who stepped down as a result but some other people who would previously have been top candidates for the post, including General Jack Keane who declined the President's offer to be SecDef and Senator Tom Cotton who has been vocally opposed to that decision who interviewed for the job during the transition would have been a top candidate. Other people like Jon Kyl, the retired Arizona Senator.

So it will be interesting to see whether they can find somebody to permanently fill that role or whether it will keep this acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan who has no previous experience in government.

HENDERSON: But Trump seems to be pleased with him at least for now.

JOHNSON: He does. But because he has no previous experience in government, maybe difficult to get him confirmed in the Senate. So it will be interesting to watch.

HENDERSON: We'll see where that goes.


LERER: So I spent this past week calling dozens of Democratic voters, officials, DNC members about the 2020 primary. And what was so striking was just how wide open this race is. Even when pressed voters, officials said we're just waiting to hear who is going to come out. They refuse to throw their backing behind someone.

And we haven't had a situation like this since at least 2004. In 2008 at this time more than 60 members of Congress had already endorsed Hillary Clinton. So it's going to be really interesting to watch this play out in part because the dynamics of campaigns have changed a lot since 2004.

Do these, you know, small donors online have become a huge part of fund-raising. Do they give to multiple candidates? We don't know the answer to that.

[08:55:06] We don't know how important these lists will be. We know they'll be important but how quickly can you build up a national presidential list? So it's going to be a really interesting test of this new environment and it's a race that I suspect, based on what I was hearing this week, to remain unsettled for quite a while.

HENDERSON: Speaking of 2020. Elizabeth Warren has had the spotlight all to herself over this last week. Next week that will change, at least a little.

Senator Kamala Harris is set to release her book, a memoir called "The Truths We Hold, an American Journey" on Tuesday and followed by an appearance at a university near Washington. To the extent that the Democratic voters know Harris, it is mostly through her tough questions from various senate hearings. With her book in tour, those voters will get to know more about Senator Harris, the person.

But progressive voters might also be looking to hear more about Harris' time as a prosecutor which she wrote about in her first book in a way that has rankled some criminal justice reformers. Presidential campaigns, at least in part, are about how well candidates withstand scrutiny. For Harris that scrutiny starts to ramp up next week.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.

Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well at noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". Among his guests, new White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Stay with us.