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State of the Union

FBI Feared Trump Was Russian Asset?; Interview With Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson; Interview With New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Interview With Virginia Senator Mark Warner; CNN Poll: 55 Percent Say Trump More To Blame For Government Shutdown; Policies And Medieval Solutions In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired January 13, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Investigating Trump. A new report says the FBI investigated the president fearing he could be working for Russia, as we also learn President Trump reportedly concealed details of his meetings with Vladimir Putin. The White House calls the reports absurd.

We will ask the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, next.

Plus: historic shutdown, day 23 of the longest government shutdown in American history. And neither side is budging on the wall. The president says, if Democrats don't act, he will.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will declare a national emergency.

TAPPER: The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Republican Senator Ron Johnson, responds in moments.

And step right up. More Democrats throwing their hats into the presidential ring.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: I have decided to run.

TAPPER: Who can win the progressive wing of the party? New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be here.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in New York, where the state of our union is alarmed.

Two major breaking stories about the Russia investigation are consuming all the oxygen in the political world, even amidst the longest government shutdown in American history.

Overnight, "The Washington Post" reporting that President Trump has gone to -- quote -- "extraordinary lengths" to keep specifics about his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin secret, even keeping them from top members of his own administration.

According to "The Post," the president's efforts included, at least on one occasion, confiscating the notes from his interpreter.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the report -- quote -- "outrageously inaccurate," though she did not offer one specific as to what she was claiming was not accurate.

This major reporting comes on top of another shocking headline first reported by "The New York Times," that the FBI was so concerned about President Trump's actions around the time of FBI Director James Comey's firing, it opened an investigation into whether President Trump was working for Russia, against U.S. interests.

Take a listen to how President Trump responded Saturday night when asked directly if he has ever worked for Russia.


TRUMP: I think it's the most insulting thing I have ever been asked. I think it's the most insulting article I have ever had written.


TAPPER: The president did not directly answer the question.

Joining me now, Democratic Senator Mark Warner. He's the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And, Senator, I know you're very eager to talk about the government shutdown. You have tens of thousands of constituents directly affected.

But I do want to start on this FBI counterintelligence investigation into the president to see whether or not he'd been working on behalf of the Russians. President Trump slammed the idea last night as the most insulting thing he's ever been asked, adding -- quote -- "They found absolutely nothing."

On its face, it's a stunning turn of events. Do you think the president of the United States ever worked on behalf of the Russians, against American interests?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, Jake, that's the defining question of our investigation and the Mueller investigation. Was there collusion?

I'm not going to talk about what we may have been briefed in the Gang of Eight when these investigations opened. But I do think it's curious that, throughout that whole summer, when these investigations started, you had Vladimir Putin policies almost being parroted by Donald Trump.

You had Trump say only nice things about Putin. He never spoke ill about Russia. The Republican campaign doctrines softened on Russia and decreased their willingness to defend Ukraine. There was a series of outside actions.

I think we all remember when Trump, in his bluster, basically said to the Russians, if you have got more e-mails, bring them on. These are not actions of a traditional president of the United States. Later, on top of that, now...


TAPPER: Let me just push back for one second, because...


TAPPER: OK, go ahead. Finish.

WARNER: Well, I just think we need to put this -- all three pieces of what happened in context of last week.

We have the story of the level of concern that the FBI had, again, if the story is correct, to, in a sense, open their own investigation whether Donald Trump was compromised. We have on top of that the fact of the most recent story that Trump had a series of meetings with Putin in which he broke all protocol, where, normally, these meetings, you bring in top aides, so that there is some record, so you can have the appropriate follow-up.


In these meetings, he brought in Tillerson once, but the other meetings were simply with the interpreter. And the interpreter was then restricted on, in a sense, sharing that information, to the point that we still don't know, the American government does not know what was discussed between Trump and Vladimir Putin in that, frankly, pathetic, embarrassing encounter where Trump was kowtowing on the world stage to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

It was one of the worst days, post-World War II, in terms of America's lack of leadership against a dictator like Putin.


WARNER: And then, finally, I know this -- people -- people have to stretch their memory, but we have to remember all the way back at the beginning of the week, when the stories came out that Trump's campaign chairman was sharing proprietary campaign data with a known Russian agent, Mr. Kilimnik, Kilimnik, who has ties both to Putin, and Kilimnik, who has ties to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the very same oligarch that the Trump administration now wants to try to remove -- remove the sanctions on.

I think, this week -- I have been waiting for a long time for Mueller to kind of move forward. TAPPER: Right.

WARNER: I think we're seeing these independent actions, even independent of Mueller, which is the lead-up and some of the rationale about why this investigation started and why so many Americans, like myself, have been concerned for so long.

TAPPER: So, Senator, just -- just very briefly, you just said a lot.

You seemed to confirm that -- as a member of the Gang of Eight, which is congressional leadership and the member -- and the leadership of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, you just seemed to confirm that you had been briefed when this counterintelligence investigation was launched by the FBI.

WARNER: Jake, I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not going to comment on any of the contents of the briefings that we receive.

TAPPER: I'm not asking for the content, but you -- but you seemed to confirm that it -- you seemed to confirm that it happened, though, that there was -- you were advised, as a member of the Gang of Eight?


WARNER: What I was saying was, subsequent to that briefing, there was of enough concern that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a bipartisan fashion, the House Intelligence Committee in a slightly less bipartisan fashion...


WARNER: ... launched investigations.

Our investigation is almost -- it's not quite two years in, but we have literally spoken to hundreds of witnesses. We may have spoken to even more witnesses than Mueller. And we have a very important story to tell to the American public.

TAPPER: So, you just laid out a whole list of ways that President Trump, in your view, was parroting what Putin would want him to do.

But the president added that he has taken rough actions against Russia -- and this is accurate -- sweeping sanctions on dozens of Russian officials and oligarchs, selling defensive weapons to the Ukrainians. He is accurate when he says that. He did do that.

How do you square it? If you think that he's working on behalf of Russia, or throwing out the possibility, why would he send defensive weapons to the Ukrainians? Why would he sign sanctions against Russians?

WARNER: Remember, Jake, that the generation of almost all of these sanctions did not arise from the White House. They arose because of huge concern, bipartisan concern, from Congress.

I believe the Russia sanctions bill passed, I think, 98-2. So the sanctions that were passed by Congress, they passed at such an overwhelming amount that Putin didn't even have -- Trump did not even have the power to veto them.

I think we would -- many of us would argue that, while those sanctions have been put in place, the Trump administration has been very slow at implementing those sanctions. And then, when the sanctions really start to bite, as in the condition of this Russian aluminum company, Rusal, what we see, instead of, let's keep the pressure on -- and I know there's concerns from our European allies about these sanctions.

Instead, the Treasury Department dreams up this series of actions where you take a company that was completely founded by Oleg Deripaska, where he placed all the management team in place, and they have a scheme to try to take his ownership level down from 70 percent to roughly 40, 45.

Jake, I have been in business longer than politics. If I have still got my whole management team in there, and I'm still the largest shareholder at 40 or 45 percent...

TAPPER: Right.

WARNER: ... I'm going to still control that company.

That is why I, and I know a number of members, I think Democrats and Republicans, will vote to override this week the removal of these sanctions.

This is the worst time -- as more and more of this information comes out about ties between Trump and Trump officials and the Russians, it is the worst time to signal that we're going to take the pressure off of oligarchs like Deripaska.


TAPPER: I know you really want to talk about the government shutdown, so this is just a very yes-or -- this is a very quick yes-or-no question.


TAPPER: Do you think President Trump is, wittingly or unwittingly, an agent of the Russians?

WARNER: Jake, I think the earlier evidence this week, where the president's campaign manager -- and we're unaware of whether the president knew -- where the president's campaign manager, at whose direction, turned over confidential polling data to a known Russian agent, a known Russian agent who has ties to Putin and Deripaska.


WARNER: Why would you turn over that information?

And what's curious, Jake, is that it would be that kind of information that would inform the Russians later in the campaign when they launched their social media efforts or they created these fake identities.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

WARNER: And, as we have seen with clear-cut proof, a lot of those efforts were aimed at suppressing African-American vote.

Did they use that polling data to guide the Russian social media efforts to suppress African-American vote? We don't know the answer to that yet.


WARNER: I would hope that Mueller has got more indication. But it's a very real question.

TAPPER: All right, so, the answer is, you don't know yet.

Let's turn to the shutdown.

You represent roughly 34,000 federal workers in Virginia who are currently going without pay, not to mention thousands more contractors who may never get back pay.

Let's just ask where you are on this debate about the border wall. Is it your position that there's not one part of the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico that could stand to have any new barrier or wall?

WARNER: No, there is already 700 miles-plus of wall that's been built, some for more than a decade.

That was decided by border security experts. I'm for additional border security. But that border security ought to be driven by the experts, not by the political whims of a campaign promise, where Trump said the wall was going to be built and it was going to be paid for by Mexico.

This guy doesn't tell the truth. So, more border security, let's have at it. But, while we're having that debate, let's reopen the government.

Tim Kaine, my fellow senator and I, met with a set of federal workers the other day very, very briefly. Here were the things we heard. Do you want an air traffic controller who is working overtime without pay? You want that person focused on air safety. You don't want 30 percent of his mind focused on whether he's going to be able to pay his mortgage or pay his kids' tuition.

TAPPER: Right. No, I hear you.

WARNER: We heard from another federal worker.

We had another federal worker who had to draw out -- she had had savings. She had to draw down from her IRA, where, even if she gets reimbursed, she is going to still have paid the tax penalty.

TAPPER: Yes. WARNER: We had another worker who took a multi-thousand-dollar

increase from their credit card. Those credit card fees, they will never be reimbursed.


WARNER: And, Jake, the worst story we heard, the worst -- just one is -- this one is one where, again, I think this Trump crowd does not think through anything.

They basically -- there was someone there with a 7-week-old baby. When they tried to get their baby on the insurance, their government- owned insurance, the person that was supposed to fill in the form was furloughed. The doctor gave a very expensive medicine for the baby.

TAPPER: Right.

WARNER: Thank goodness the guy was able to convince the insurance company. But countless others are going out without that kind of benefit.

I think history will show that Donald Trump, the supposed great dealmaker -- and I'm working on a piece on this -- that business schools and management consultants will look back for years and say, this was the most inept negotiation.

He boxed himself in a corner. He didn't empower his negotiators, like the vice president or Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell. He's not allowed any win -- win-win circumstance.

And the disregard he has paid to the federal workers, where he has been cavalier, never sat down and visited with them, and then, to add insult to injury -- this doesn't get a lot of news -- we had -- we, bipartisan, had promised the federal work force a very meager 1.9 percent pay increase.

TAPPER: Right.

WARNER: He wiped that pay increase out, as well as this treatment of the work force that's been just awful.


TAPPER: Senator Mark Warner from the great Commonwealth of Virginia, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

WARNER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Why would the president hide all the notes from his meeting with Vladimir Putin? I will ask the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee next.

Plus, as more Democrats announce their presidential campaigns, are new Democratic ideas redefining what it means to be a progressive?

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump facing more questions this morning, after a series of revelations about his dealings with Russia.

That is as the president is, at least temporarily, backing down from this threat to declare a national emergency over his border wall, saying Congress should come together to figure out wall funding and reopen the government.

Joining me now, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He's the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

"The Washington Post" is reporting that President Trump has tried to keep secret what was said in private meetings he had with Vladimir Putin, going so far as, in one instance, to take away his interpreter's notes.

The story says -- quote -- "As a result, U.S. officials said there's no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump's face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years."

This comes as we learn that the FBI investigated whether the president was working on behalf of Russia, against American interests.

Does any of this concern you? Let's start with the idea that there are no detailed records of those conversations with an adversary like Russia.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Well, good morning, Jake.

I have no firsthand knowledge of what the facts are here. I do know that President Trump was burned earlier by leaks of other private conversations, so I can certainly understand his frustration from that standpoint.

But you said earlier this is not a traditional president. He has unorthodox means. But he is president of the United States. It's pretty much up to him in terms of who he wants to read into his conversations with world leaders. That's just the basic fact.

TAPPER: Do you think -- well, why do you think President Trump is trying to keep these meetings off the books?

"The Washington Post" story made it clear it that even the national security adviser at the time couldn't find out what was said at one of these meetings.

[09:20:05] JOHNSON: Well, again, I don't want to go speculate, beyond the fact that I know he was burned by leaks in other areas.

And he was pretty frustrated by it. So, that might be -- that might be one explanation.

But, otherwise I can't really comment further.

TAPPER: Are you OK with the fact that the Kremlin knows more about these meetings than U.S. intelligence and the National Security Committee?

JOHNSON: In the end, I'm going to judge this president based on his actions.

As you said earlier, we have increased sanctions. We did -- we have begun providing lethal defensive weaponry, as well as training, to Ukrainians, so they can defend their territorial integrity.

The jury will be out on other actions this president will or will not take.

TAPPER: But...

JOHNSON: So, in the end, you just have to basically judge him on his actions. We defeated, basically ISIS. We have taken away that caliphate.

We were all concerned about a precipitous pullout. Now that's going to be conditions-based. We can certainly attack ISIS and continue to attack them from positions in Iraq.

So, again, we will -- I will wait to see. But I have seen pretty strong actions on the part of this administration against Russia. They realize Russia's a threat. And I think we have been, by and large, responding to that threat strength and resolve, which is what we need to do.

TAPPER: But you also mentioned the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, which is something that I think that Russia applauded. They don't want the U.S. in Syria.

But let's move on to the other big story. You just heard your colleague Senator Mark Warner talking about the FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether President Trump worked on behalf of Russia, against the interests of the United States.

Warner said the president at one point was almost parroting Putin's policy priorities.

Do you have any concerns President Trump may have unwittingly been doing things that would help Russia and hurt the United States?

JOHNSON: Yes, I heard an awful lot of innuendo from Senator Warner, who is the Intelligence Committee, and has a lot more knowledge about this than I do. And that's part of my frustration. I wish the Mueller investigation would come to conclusion and he could

issue his report. I, quite honestly, wish the Senate Intelligence Committee would -- would move more expeditiously and provide us information in terms of what they've found.

This -- this is -- we're almost two years into this investigation. I have not seen any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. I have seen evidence of collusion between Democrats and Russia with the Steele dossier. We still don't have the information on that.

So there are a host of questions outstanding of this on all sides of the issue.

TAPPER: What evidence...

JOHNSON: What we need, the American people need -- need -- we need the information on this, so we can get past the innuendo, we can actually deal with facts, because we have serious issues facing this nation.

And it's not good that we have this cloud hanging over any administration, whether it's this one or previous -- previous administrations or next administrations. We need the information. And it's been too long being developed. We need the reports. We need these things concluded.

TAPPER: Well, we know for a fact there was an offer by the Russians to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Trump campaign officials met with that lawyer.

And we know for a fact that Paul Manafort provided campaign data to Konstantin Kilimnik, who has ties to Russian military intelligence. So there's that.

In terms of the collusion between the Democrats and Russians...

JOHNSON: Well, we also know for a fact that -- we also know Democrats paid for the Steele dossier.

TAPPER: Right.

JOHNSON: And we have seen all kinds of corruption within the FBI. Andrew McCabe took over the FBI after that. He's now been fired because he lied to the FBI's own investigators. So, no, we have seen all kinds of...

TAPPER: But that lie...

JOHNSON: ... nefarious activity here...

TAPPER: McCabe...

JOHNSON: ... that I want to get to the bottom of, but we're -- we can't as long as the Mueller investigation continues to rumble on without a conclusion. So we need the information. We need these investigations concluded, so that the American people

understand exactly what happened, so we can move on and start addressing the serious nations facing this -- or serious issues facing this nation.

TAPPER: Just in point of fact, McCabe was fired...

JOHNSON: In other words, Jake, I don't want -- I don't want to deal in speculation. I want to deal in facts.

TAPPER: Right.

JOHNSON: And we don't have them yet.

TAPPER: And McCabe was fired -- McCabe was fired for not being honest about a leak he had authorized. And the leak was one that was damaging to Hillary Clinton. It wasn't a pro-Clinton leak. It was an anti...

JOHNSON: He lied -- he lied to the FBI.

TAPPER: Yes. And good riddance. I don't care, but...

JOHNSON: The acting director of the FBI lied to the FBI. That's pretty serious.

Other people are going to jail for lying to the FBI.

TAPPER: I don't disagree.

JOHNSON: Here's the acting director of the FBI...

TAPPER: Right.

JOHNSON: ... lying to the FBI.

That's some real corruption in the FBI. I have serious questions about that.

TAPPER: I don't disagree. But my only point with inserting the fact there was that it was a lie about a leak that was damaging to Hillary Clinton. It was not pro-Hillary Clinton.

But let's turn to the government shutdown I know you're eager to talk about.


TAPPER: It's now the longest shutdown in American history.

The Senate has gone home. You're home. Warner is home. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are not getting their paycheck.

Republicans did have unified control of the federal government for the past few years and did not pass any major immigration reform or wall funding. Our new CNN poll out this morning shows that most Americans are

putting the blame for the shutdown on President Trump.

If this is so important and so needed, why didn't Republicans in the House and Senate pass wall funding at any point in the last two years?


JOHNSON: Because we have a majority in the Senate, but we don't control it. We need Democrats to work with us.

And there's a real easy solution. Have Democrats stop being hypocritical and put their money where their mouth is and fund better barriers. They work.

They were -- they supported and vote for about $8 billion of better barrier funding in the 2013 immigration reform, $40 billion in total in terms of border security.

This is a growing problem. In 2012, a little over 11,000 people came into this country as family units. Last year, it was 107,000 people coming in as a family unit. In the first three months of this fiscal year, it's been 75,000 people.

This was all sparked by DACA. Even the Obama administration realized that we had to deter this. It's a growing problem. It's not going away. It's getting bigger and bigger. And Democrats continue to minimize this. We need barriers as just the first step, but we also have to fix all kinds of bad law and loopholes and legal precedent that's incentivizing and rewarding people who come to this country either as unaccompanied children from Central America or as members of family units.

And, again, that is a growing problem. That is the problem at the border, and it's a crisis at the border.


JOHNSON: It was viewed as a crisis in 2014, when a total of 120,000 people came in as family units and unaccompanied children.

Last year, 145,000 people came in under that same category. It's a growing problem. It needs to be addressed. And the easiest solution to the shutdown, just give President Trump the money for his -- the mandate he received from the American public.

Let's face it. As a candidate, this is what he talked about. If there was a mandate he can claim from his election, it is better border security, keeping this nation safe. Democrats have voted for this in the past. They're being total hypocrites. It's easy. This could be solved in 15 minutes, as the president has said. Just fund the barriers, which we need.

TAPPER: We're out of time, but I just want to get you on the record.

If no compromise is able to be reached, would you support President Trump declaring a national emergency to be able to fund his border wall?

JOHNSON: A better solution would be to pass our Shutdown Fairness Act, which is going to pay those individuals that are being forced to work because they are essential.

So I have got a piece of legislation. I have got about five co- sponsors already. We will introduce it tomorrow. But it will actually pay those workers that Senator Warner is concerned about. So, hopefully, Mitch McConnell will bring that up.

Hopefully, Democrats will support it. Hopefully, President Trump can sign it, so at least those individuals get paid.


But, beyond that, assuming that the shutdown still continues, would you support President Trump, yes or no, declaring a national emergency?

JOHNSON: I would hate to see it.

Using that act, it would be -- in this instance would be a far larger act than has ever occurred in the past. So, I would prefer not, primarily because, if we do that, it's going to go to court, and the wall won't get built.

So, I actually want to see this wall get built. And so I want to keep pressure on Democrats to actually come to the negotiating table in good faith and fund what they have supported in the past.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, thanks so much for joining us this snowy morning.

We appreciate it.

As potential 2020 candidates start to debate health care policy, are cities and states leading the way?

The mayor of New York City says he can guarantee health care to everyone. He will tell us how next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

As Democrats begin announcing their 2020 presidential bids, the mayor of New York City says they should look to his policies as a model.

Joining me now to explain why is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for joining us.

You unveiled a health care plan guaranteeing health care coverage, you say, to the 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance coverage, which includes 300,000 undocumented immigrants.

I want you to take a listen to something that your fellow Mayor Andrew Gillum, formerly mayor of Tallahassee, said about his universal health care proposal during his campaign for Florida governor. Take a listen.


ANDREW GILLUM (D), FORMER FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We could not do it by ourselves solely here in the state of Florida because it would collapse the system. We would only attract the sickest of patients, and it wouldn't work.


TAPPER: So, he was saying that, in Florida, they could do it only if other states joined him, because, otherwise, all sick people would just come to Florida.

What's to stop sick people from coming, flocking to New York and overburdening the system?

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I don't see that happening, Jake.

Look, we should have single-payer in this country. We should have Medicare for all. There's no question.

But the bottom line is, right now, we have 600,000 people in my city who have no coverage at all. And that's unacceptable. That's making us a city that is less healthy, less secure than we need to be.

Our plan is guaranteed health care for all. And it basically says, this should be a priority to ensure that we have a decent kind of society. If you don't do that, what happens? People are sick at work. Their families get sick. They go to the emergency room, which is the single most costly way to provide health care.

We know that, by guaranteeing health care, we're going to create the kind of society that actually works. And, by the way, all over America -- we're here obviously to talk about what's happening in this national debate.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

DE BLASIO: This is the kind of thing Democrats should stand for.

If we say to the American, people our job is to get you health care, no matter what, no matter how much money you make, no matter what your situation, that's the kind of thing that actually is going to resonate with the American people, because so many Americans, tens of millions, are struggling right now to make ends meet.

Health care is one of their biggest expenses. They need this kind of guarantee in their lives. TAPPER: So, you said something pretty radical this week that I want

to ask you about. You said -- quote -- "There's plenty of money in the world. There's plenty of money in the city. It's just in the wrong hands."


TAPPER: That's a quote.

DE BLASIO: That is a quote.

TAPPER: Who decides whose hands are the right hands and whose hands are the wrong hands?

DE BLASIO: Look at what's happening in my city. Look what's happening all over the country, millions upon millions of people who literally can barely make ends meet, working people who are working one job, two jobs, working harder than ever, longer hours than ever.


The pace of our lives gets tougher and tougher, and people get less and less back. Why? Because the 1 percent really has rigged the system, including the recent tax law that gave a huge windfall to the corporations and the wealthy.

This is systematic. I said in the speech this has been an agenda, from Reagan's administration right on through to Trump's, to take money from working people and give it to the 1 percent.

So, when I say there's plenty of money in this country, it's just in the wrong hands...


DE BLASIO: ... it means to say we need policies that give back to working people, like guaranteeing health care for all.

TAPPER: So -- but what's interesting about the argument, which I think struck a lot of people, is, you are not talking about fairness. You are saying these people have money, and it's wrong that they have money, not they have money, they live exorbitant or wealthy, comfortable lifestyles and, therefore, they could give a little bit more to help these people.

You're saying it's wrong that they have money. And who decides whether it's wrong? That's my question.

DE BLASIO: It's clear to me why it's wrong, because government policies gave the 1 percent every conceivable leg up.

This was not by accident. As I say, this was an agenda. It was systematic. You go back decades. You go back even to the time of Dwight Eisenhower. We had some of the highest tax rates on the wealthy that this country ever saw. We had a very prosperous country. We had that prosperity pretty well shared among different people, including working people in this country.

We had investments in infrastructure, the kinds of things that grew the economy for everyone. Over the years, since Ronald Reagan, that was a -- there was a systematic agenda to take that money and get it more and more in the hands of the few. That was through tax policy, but a lot of other policies as well.

This was not an accident. Democrats and progressives need to be blunt about this. And people will appreciate that bluntness. When we say, for example, guarantee health care for everyone, that's a doable thing. The money is there.

When we say, which I announced this week as well, we're going to guarantee that everyone has a right to two weeks of paid time off, paid personal days, so they can live their lives better, the money is there, but it's not going to the right people.

TAPPER: I guess the point is, you're not -- but what struck me and a lot of people is that you weren't talking about the tax system being wrong. You are talking about the hands being wrong.

But I want to move on, because you announced that you're about to embark on a tour of the country to spread this kind of message, spread progressive ideals.


TAPPER: Several of your fellow Democratic mayors, Landrieu, Garcetti, others are considering 2020 bids. Are you considering running for president?

DE BLASIO: Jake, I'm focused on the job I have.

TAPPER: But...

DE BLASIO: But I have also been really clear. I'm going to spread this message, because this should be the idea of the Democratic Party at this point.

TAPPER: But are you considering running for president?

DE BLASIO: I'm focused on my job.

But, listen, right now, our party is going through a serious debate. And there are still a lot of moderate voices in the party that did not learn the lessons of 2016 and are not listening to what people need in this country.

So, I want to push this whole party, and I want to inform this debate in this country about the fact that we could go a lot farther. We could be a lot bolder than what we're doing now.

TAPPER: So, you ruling it out?

DE BLASIO: I never rule things out...

TAPPER: Never rule it out.

DE BLASIO: ... because you never know what life brings. But I'm focused on the work I'm doing now and getting this message out.

TAPPER: Your home state Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, it looks like she is probably going to throw her hat into the ring. She's pretty progressive. Could you back her?

DE BLASIO: Again, I don't talk about hypothetical situations. There's a lot of good candidates.

My point is the message and the idea that we should be talking about. There's not a consensus yet in our party. There is still, I think, a lack of recognition that, if you have tens of millions of people hurting, we're not speaking to them.

Donald Trump spoke to them. I have got to be blunt about this. Donald Trump -- I remember those two-minute ads at the very last day of the campaign in 2016. Trump's ad seemed like a populist message in the good sense of the word populist, that it was speaking to people's pain and challenges.

Unfortunately, we could hear in that ad a lot of the negativity we later saw in Donald Trump, a lot of the divisiveness, too.

But, on the economic issues, he understood people were hurting, their lives were getting harder, not easier, the next generation's prospects were looking worse than the one before.

And we need this party to be the party of working people again. We can't do that if we're afraid to say the wealthy have taken advantage of the system, the system is rigged, and then tell people specific things we will do for them.

Look, if I say to the average American, we're actually going to fix the health care problem, one of the biggest expenses of your life, we're going to find a way to get you guaranteed health care, we're going to get you a way to actually have some time off with your family, because I will tell you, my constituents talk to me about all the changes in their lives that take them away from their own family.

There's no time for themselves. There's no time for their loved ones. There's no time for a mental health day. That should be a guarantee. Every other industrialized country in this world provides people at least two weeks of paid vacation, not the United States of America.

If the Democrats stood up for something like that, it would change the entire discussion.

TAPPER: All right, Mayor de Blasio not ruling out a 2020 bid.

Thank you so much for being here.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: We really appreciate it. DE BLASIO: Appreciate it.

TAPPER: We've seen some Republican lawmakers breaking with the president on the border wall. Now are we starting to see some cracks in Democrats' opposition to any sort of barrier? That's next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with breaking news.

President Trump said that he would willingly take the blame for the government shutdown. He later took that back. But it does look like that's happening.

A brand-new CNN poll out this hour shows that 55 percent of the American people think the president is more to blame for the shutdown that's compared to 32 percent who blame Democrats and Congress. Let's discuss.

S.E. Cupp, the president said he'd take the blame for it. He tried to take that back but it does look like the American people are holding him to it.

S.E. CUPP. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think that's for now. We have to see.

The pain point will come where I think the American people knowing what they know, knowing how we got here will say, it doesn't matter. You all are in charge. We're blaming the lot of you.

And we're not there yet. Right now, I think the American people clearly put the onus on the president. But I think we'll get sick of this game of chicken. And it will determine when and if Democrats decide, OK, we're going to come to the table or if they decide we don't have any incentive to.

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: But, hold on. Democrats have come to the table. And even last week we had a reporting that showed that Republicans before the shutdown happened, they passed the spending bill thinking, OK, we've got a deal.

TAPPER: Right.

FINNEY: They thought this week there was going to be a deal that included DACA --

CUPP: Yes.

FINNEY: -- and it turned out that wasn't happening.

I mean, part of the problem here is that Trump has a record of being so indecisive, such a bad negotiator, kind of all over the map, that his own people are saying they're not quite sure what he really wants to do. So McConnell is kind of sitting back saying, I'm not doing anything until I know what the president is going to actually sign.

TAPPER: It is true that McConnell won't bring up a bill until he knows the president will sign it because he got burned once before.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, the president is the head of the Republican Party.


He is calling the plays here. McConnell will run whatever play he wants to call. I think the White House is stunned by how intractable the Democrats are.

Pelosi says she won't negotiate over a wall now or if they open up the government. So they're basically saying, we used to be for border security but now because it's your idea we're not for it anymore. It's completely hypocritical.

The White House doesn't -- by the way they don't care about polling. They care about securing the border for the American people. They think it's a huge problem -- and a lot of the polling and a minimum of -- a vast majority of people think it's a problem and some think it's a crisis.

So I do think aside from this polling, there's something that the American people understand is going on and must be dealt with.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-IL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think first of all, the majority of the American people don't support building a wall and that's been --


JENNINGS: But they know there's a border crisis. They know there's a problem.

GUTIERREZ: The vast majority of the American people don't. Let's just go back 11 months. February 2018, Democrats. I mean, I'm talking Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, voting to give this president $25 billion, including money -- now it was open ended. You could build a wall, use high technology, $25 billion.

If there was a national emergency, did it occur now, and let me say the same situation at the border exists today that existed in February 2018.

CUPP: But this is what I mean.


GUTIERREZ: No, no. But this isn't what you mean. No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

CUPP: But you don't know what I'm going to say.

TAPPER: Let me finish and then you can make your point. GUTIERREZ: Don't interpret what I'm going to say.

CUPP: I just heard what you said.

GUTIERREZ: No. Don't interpret what I'm going to say. Let me be very, very clear. $25 billion, this president worked so that we could only get 54 votes, including very progressive.

And secondly, the crisis at the border is more humanitarian. I was in Congress in 1993. It was 1.6 million people getting detained at the border.

It's down to 400,000. So there -- it isn't an emergency. You know who is coming? What's coming is people leaving almost these quasi narco states -- right -- in Central America --

CUPP: Can I --



GUTIERREZ: -- fueled by consumption of wealth.

TAPPER: S.E., go ahead.

CUPP: Response to what you said.

This is exactly what I mean. Going back 11 months, all of what you said is true. That's the history of how we got here.

My point is, eventually the American people get sick of talking about how we got pregnant.


CUPP: We're having a baby. Let's figure it out. We're not there yet.

The polling shows we're not. The polling shows the American people have decided Donald Trump is responsible. They might get sick of all of this going back in history and how we got here.

TAPPER: Yes. I want to just show you some polling. I know you say the president doesn't care about polling. I don't know that I believe that, but even so I know you care about polling and look at this.

Because there's erosion in President Trump's base with white voters, without a college education, the president's approval rating has dropped nine points just since December. And just in terms of his job approval rating, and one has to think that this shutdown has to have figured in that at least to a degree.

JENNINGS: Yes, some of this is I think within the margin of error. A higher margin of error and you get these subcohorts. But, yes, you don't want to see your numbers going down. You know that's true by the way. You don't want to see your numbers --

FINNEY: Your margin of error --


TAPPER: Anyway, keep going.

JENNINGS: It's plus or minus 6.8 percent. I'm moderately proficient in math so I can count. But the reality is you don't want to see it going the wrong way.

And what I think the president has come to the conclusion of, if I bend on my motivating item. This is what motivated me into the race, this is what got me the nomination and it's what won me the presidency. If I bend on border security, then this is going to get even worse.

TAPPER: So, Karen, take a listen. The fact is that there are Democrats who support adding some new barriers to the border. Senator Mark Warner, not among them apparently when I asked him this morning --


TAPPER: -- but here's Congresswoman Katie Hill talking about what she might vote for on the border.


REP. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: I will vote for some money for physical barriers. It's not going to be -- it's not going to be across the entire 2,000-mile stretch and it's certainly not going to be a concrete wall, but it will be part of a package, I can almost bet on it.


TAPPER: She's a new -- she's a freshman member from California.

FINNEY: Right. So this minutia of -- this is where I agree with S.E. This minutia of, OK, we're going to do some border in this section but not that section and we're going to rebuild here, and we're going to strengthen it there. That's the part where the American people are -- they are sick of that.

But I think they're very clear as the poll shows, and -- and by the way, yes, Democrats are for border security but they're not going to give him this money for the wall. They've been very firm about that. But I think there's something else going on here in these polling numbers.

What people understand, you're right, Scott. This is how he won, race baiting. That's what this wall represents.

And that was what the speech this week represented. This represented -- that is how Donald Trump won. The highest indicator people who voted for Trump was fear of other. Fear of racial (INAUDIBLE) and sexism.

So, yes, he's gone back to -- he is in trouble on the Russia investigation so he's gone back to that hitting over and over again the one thing that he knows will keep his base fired up and ready.


FINNEY: I mean, look at what happened just in this recent election. He lost women, white women, college-educated women. So all -- he has -- his base is shrinking. He is not expanding.

GUTIERREZ: I think, look, the president began his campaign for presidency of the United States saying Mexicans are murderers, rapists, drug dealers, let's get rid of them.

TAPPER: And some I'm sure are fine people he said.

He said that, too.

GUTIERREZ: Jake, thank you for the clarification.

TAPPER: I'm just saying, that's the full quote.


TAPPER: I'm not excusing it, but that's the full quote.

GUTIERREZ: That was the focus of his campaign. And then he had his political -- how would you say it -- organizers in his campaign say, mention the wall, and say Mexico is going to pay for it. Look, he might as well have taken his middle finger and just constructed it and pointed it at Mexico because that's -- that is really what this is all about.

TAPPER: So what we're hearing S.E. --


GUTIERREZ: -- Mexican, racist kind of border wall.

FINNEY: But it's a winning trope for him. That's what I'm saying.

GUTIERREZ: That's what worked for him.

TAPPER: So, S.E., what we're hearing here at the table is this is just about racism.

CUPP: Well, there's certainly some of that underpinning this, but the president, let's be real clear, the president lost. He lost this issue. He lost it last year politically because he wanted to tweet and rally more than he wanted to govern, he lost his opportunity when he had Republicans who would help him get this on to his desk and he's losing now.

And you know he's losing because they're doing the spaghetti on the wall trick, let's see what sticks. Well, maybe we will declare a national emergency, well, let's float the idea of using hurricane relief money to fund this. Let's see what will work.

And nothing has worked. The Democrats are not coming to the table, they're not seeing religion, well, we have to give them a wall. They don't have to.

That might change, again, public polling might change on this and push them back to the table, but as it stands right now the president has lost and we're seeing the results of this sort of --


TAPPER: I just want to bring in Scott for one second. Because, Scott, you say that you know a way that this can be solved and the Democrats will vote for it, Republicans will vote for it, the president gets his wall money and --

JENNINGS: Well, I don't think the president is there yet but I wish he would get there and that is let's put -- let's take these bills, the House passed last week, the funding bills, amend them in the Senate, put the fix for dreamers, put DACA, put the fix with money for a wall and put it on the floor. Now they can't do that in the Senate until the president publicly signals that he would sign it, but my presumption is the minute he said, yes, that's a deal I would do, put that on the floor and force Democrats to either vote for the dreamers or to show how craven they really are on this debate.


CUPP: They did that already though.

FINNEY: Here is what you started with, the president is not there yet.

TAPPER: But the president didn't say he would sign it.

JENNINGS: He hasn't said it.

FINNEY: The one problem in all of this is will the president sign it? And nobody knows whether he will or won't sign. But what I do think the American people know and again I think this is part of what's showing in the polling, you don't have to have this fight and keep the government shut down. You don't have to punish.

It's really over a million people because it's not just the 800,000 it's the tens of thousands of other small businesses that rely on government workers. People are now going into debt and you've talked about the pain. There's no reason to continue this.

GUTIERREZ: Scott says let's do it this way. Here is the problem, Scott, the glue that keeps this coalition together is being anti- immigrant. So he wants the wall if all of the sudden he frees 2 million dreamers there will be an uprising. They cannot move decisively with a humanitarian spirit on anything.

TAPPER: But would you vote for that?

GUTIERREZ: Not only that, I came on this program once --


GUTIERREZ: -- not on your -- I came here to CNN once and I said I will take bricks down there. I will help build --

TAPPER: If he does the dreamers?

GUTIERREZ: Yes, because what is so important are the lives of these young men and women and I'd rather put their lives -- and I was eviscerated by my party for saying that.

TAPPER: I remember that.

GUTIERREZ: But you know what? Sometimes you've just got to put the people first.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. We've just solved the problem, I don't know if anybody noticed but Congressman Gutierrez --


JENNINGS: Fifteen minutes, 15 minutes.


TAPPER: We just solved the problem, there it is.

We may call it the dark ages but did medieval civilization actually have a few things figured out? President Trump says yes. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion," next.



TAPPER: When it comes to President Trump's most prominent policy position he insists the old way is the best. And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): President Trump agrees a wall is not a new idea.

TRUMP: They say it's a medieval solution, a wall. That's true, it's medieval because it worked then and it works even better now.

TAPPER: There are other medieval ideas, perhaps the president might want to try out. Leeches for those sniffles we heard the other night. Maybe a border moat.

TRUMP: It's tremendously big and tremendously wet. Tremendous amounts of water.

TAPPER: Maybe the government shutdown could be resolved by a sword fight between Lord McConnell and Lady Pelosi. The president has long embraced medieval themes. Just the other day he used a meme from the ultimate medieval fantasy TV show "Game of Thrones" tweeting this image, the wall is coming, as references go for public policy we should probably note that "Game of Thrones" is a show that also features ice zombies and dragons.

Also, spoiler alert, the show's famous great wall protecting Westeros from the hoards of ice zombies fell at the end of last season.

TRUMP: Not since the medieval times has anything happened like this.

TAPPER: We should note that the president's embrace of medieval times, whether real or fantasy fiction, does capture a certain spirit of this era.

RAMSAY BOLTON, GAME OF THRONES CHARACTER: If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.

TRUMP: They say a wall is medieval.


Well, so is a wheel. A wheel is older than a wall. A wheel works and a wall works.