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What's Ahead for the Trump White House in 2018?; Political Watchlist for 2018. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 1, 2018 - 07:00   ET


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period.

[07:00:3] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no collusion.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have now decided to recuse myself.

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president needs to step up. It's white nationalism, and it's unacceptable.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A stunning "no" vote sinking the GOP's effort to repeal Obamacare.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's a reason that the stock market is at an all-time high.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president needs to stop tweeting and start leading.

TRUMP: We've gotten A-pluses on Texas and Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico.

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a people are dying story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is burned down.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An historic year for California wildfires.

TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people run this country and damn sure not him.

CAMEROTA: Matt Lauer.

CUOMO: Al Franken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy Moore. CAMEROTA: Harvey Weinstein facing explosive new allegations.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Enough is enough. One woman can make a difference. But together we rock the world.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Happy new year. Welcome to this special edition of NEW DAY.

CAMEROTA: They have a headache, yes.

CUOMO: Right. A little bit. That's what I was playing to. I'm Chris Cuomo, along the one and only Alisyn Camerota, and we have a big show for you looking at all that 2018 has to offer. This year is sure to be a big one for politics. We're going to give you an inside look at what's coming up on Capitol Hill, what Congress might look like after this year's midterm elections. Then, of course, we're going to break down the issues that will have a major impact on the Trump administration in its second year.

CAMEROTA: Plus, there are several new laws set to go on the books today. What are they? How will they impact you?

CUOMO: Hollywood getting ready for awards season. Who's going to be up for the top honors and who's going to take home the coveted Oscars? Who won't?

So all that, but first, let's get a check of your headlines at the news desk.


There were frigid temperatures and unprecedented security to ring in 2018 in Times Square last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, 4, 3, 2, 1.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five, 4, 3, 2, 1.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, 4, 3, 2, 1.


SANCHEZ: It was 9 degrees, minus 4 with the wind chill, at the stroke of midnight. That makes this the second coldest Times Square ball drop on record. The NYPD prepared for one million visitors, deploying rooftop observation teams and counter snipers, all along Broadway Avenue.

And in Las Vegas, 350 members of the Nevada National Guard helped police keep tens of thousands of partiers safe. Meantime, in Iran, 10 people have now died in anti-government

protests. The country's minister for communication and technology says that Iran is not restricting social media sites which have helped to fuel these protests, though state media had reported that access was being limited. President Hasan Rouhani addressed the country last night. He said that people are free to protest, but he warned against violence and vandalism.

An investigation is getting under way this morning to the determine the cause of a deadly plane crash in Costa Rica. Ten Americans and two Costa Rican pilots were killed. Five of the Americans were from one family in Westchester County, New York, their charter plane crashing moments after takeoff from Punta Islita Airport, leaving no survivors.

Meantime in California, a sheriff's deputy in suburban Denver was killed in a New Year's Eve ambush. Twenty-nine-year-old Zachary Parish was gunned down Sunday by a barricaded gunman in an apartment building. He leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Four other officers and two residents were wounded. The suspect was shot and killed by police. Authorities say the deputies were wearing ballistic vests, but they were hit in areas that were not covered.

Now, an update in the Russia investigation. Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat in May of 2016 that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton long before information about hacking went public. According to "The New York Times," that conversation was shared by Australia with the FBI, and it became a driving factor in the bureau's decision to launch an investigation into Russia's election meddling.

White House attorney Ty Cobb is refuse to go comment on that "Times" report.

We hope you're having a great first day of 2018. Let's get back to this special edition of NEW DAY.

[07:05:08] CUOMO: As President Trump looks to begin his second year in office, what's going to be first on the agenda? Let's discuss. CNN political analysts David Gregory and John Avlon.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory is in his casual wear. We just have to say.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's underselling it. It's either, A, jazz flute; B -- B, poet; C, English professor. Let's take the test at home.

CUOMO: I was going with, obviously, 007. You have no idea what his watch can do. Some might say that that's some kind of, like, little mini step counter. But not me.


CUOMO: Not me. I think it's something else.

AVLON: "D." "D." Own "D." CUOMO: I know D. Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Enough of all this about me. I wanted something that was festive that said, you know, it's a marker. It's a marker for the new year. How are we going to make ourselves different?

CAMEROTA: How are we going to dress? I like it.


CUOMO: Hashtag "#winning."

What's the big ticket for the president coming out of the box?

GREGORY: I think everything this year is about the economy. I think the president has got really low job approval rates, high disapproval. But I think he is going to view everything through that prism of "Is the economy doing well?" and "Don't I get all of the credit?" so legislatively, if he's got that room to run, I think it's going to be infrastructure as some way to lull Democrats into some kind of a deal.

But everything will be looked at through the economy but also through politics in a midterm election year, which will make Democrats consider every step to see how it benefits them.

CAMEROTA: What do you see as the first order of business this new year?

AVLON: Should be infrastructure from the president. That's the logical move. He's got expertise. It's what's waiting out there. It's some hope for a grand deal, grand bargain.

But Republicans are focusing on entitlement reform. They're going to be focusing on things that play to the base and try to clean up some of the deficit busting they did with earlier legislation.

So that would be the smart move for the president. But the president is an impulsive guy. He -- you know, it's government by tweet. And he'll be setting the agenda on a minute-to-minute basis until a larger force comes in and really occupies all our attention. Take a look at North Korea after the Olympics, the economy, as David said, and Democrats marching towards 2018.

GREGORY: Right. And Mueller. I mean, the Mueller investigation coming to a head, one way or the other, is going to be a blinding distraction for the president, who can't seem to get out of that way. And it's going to suck up a lot of political energy in Washington, however it goes. If it goes to the next step, if it pulls back. That is the big mystery that has to be solved.

You have events coming in from the outside. And I will say this about entitlement reform. It's not that I disagree with you. But you know, Republicans got burned on entitlement reform in election years before--


GREGORY: -- in 2012, when it was Paul Ryan suggested a major revamping of Medicare. And I just don't see doing that again. I don't think President Trump wants that. And I don't even think Republicans that are for it are going to want to do it in an election year, when they're going to get tagged for it.

CUOMO: I have a question. If you're going to dance around question marks, I think we should a little bit, let's bring up the Democrats.

AVLON: Do we have, like, a floor?

CUOMO: Look, I've seen you move. I've seen him move. And you are both excellent.

AVLON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: But the Democrats are going to -- well, you're a given.

CAMEROTA: Obviously.

CUOMO: These guys have legitimate questions. Can Gregory move? You know, and upset all that silk. I don't know. But I'm telling you he can.

AVLON: All right. Dancing around the question marks.

CUOMO: So the Democrats are going to matter more. Why? Well, the Republicans can't hide behind reconciliation on everything.


CUOMO: So they're going to have to be having some filibuster worries. And you have the Democrats looking to 2018. So when you mention infrastructure, your voice is so resonant with confidence that sometimes, I don't think to be skeptical of it. But would they do a deal with him that gets something done for Trump during a year that is an election year?

AVLON: Are you saying I'm putting forward the triumph of hope over experience? Look, I'd like to think--

CUOMO: If I were able to phrase words that well, yes, that's exactly what I would have say--

AVLON: Stumbling across the English language again, Cuomo?

Look -- look, infrastructure is what there was a mandate to do after the '16 election. It's the one area where there could be bipartisan compromise that could actually help the folks in the middle class, help the forgotten areas of the country. It would be the right thing to do.

Is everything going to be politicized? Of course. There is deep bad blood between these parties. The president has failed to reach out almost congenitally. But if there was going to be something that was a win-win, something that was actually in the national interest, that would be the policy.

GREGORY: Well, and don't forget, Democrats have to start to build on something, you know, that they would actually do if they take over besides impeach the president, which I think is going to be very dangerous territory for them. You know, the more people are out there saying, you know, "Give us the reins of power, so we'll impeach the president," I think, is very dangerous politically.

So I think there's a deal to be done. We -- you know, we've seen them willing to deal on the budget. They're going to have to take this up again and salvage what they can. Because what is already baked in is the energy around deposing Trump and everything that he stands for. That is baked in for enough Americans who -- you know, younger Americans and part of that Democratic coalition who will turn out, I believe, very strongly in the fall.

CAMEROTA: OK. So the Russia investigation, does it wrap up in 2018 as the president seemed to be suggesting at the end of 2017? Is this the year -- and by the way, it's not just the president. We hear people in Congress going, like, "Come on. Time to, like, wrap this up."

[07:10:15] AVLON: This does not happen on a reality TV show schedule. This is an investigation. This is a serious political drama, the likes that we have not seen since Watergate.

Parallels to Watergate get tossed around too much. People are digging in, attacking the investigation. But it's led by someone who, before this, had broad bipartisan support. This is a big deal. Allegations that a foreign power interfered in our election, possibly in collusion with the president's campaign. We need to get to the bottom of it for the national interest. It should transcend. But it's going to be ugly.

GREGORY: Listen, there are experienced prosecutors involved here.


GREGORY: And prosecutors know one thing, which is you can't -- you can't have a case, an investigation that goes on forever.

AVLON: Right.

GREGORY: The longer they're hanging out, the more they're going to be beaten up. They've had their own problems with political bias within the -- within the -- you know, among the FBI agents and stuff. They've got to clean that up.

CUOMO: That's Mueller. That's Mueller. I'll give you that. What is interesting as a political dynamic is this rush to stop these inquiries when they don't know what the hell Russia did. And they don't know how to stop it, but they spent years chewing on Benghazi.

AVLON: Right. Because look, it is pure political opportunism. And it actually undercuts the obligation they take in office. We have a bipartisan obligation to cover. There should be one to get to the bottom of what happened and figure out how to stop it next.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but David's right. It can't go on forever. I mean--

AVLON: No. But you also can't put artificial deadlines on it. Do I believe these investigations will be concluded in this calendar year, given what we know now? Yes, I do.

GREGORY: But look, you know, Democrats have to be careful, too, not to start look like they're running the Benghazi -- Benghazi investigation.


GREGORY: Where every -- every element that turns up is examined and run to ground. And you're living in this alternate universe.

CUOMO: They're not running them. And that's one of the weird things about this process, is that the Republicans are running all the committees that are doing the investigating, but the energy is on the Democratic side. Although it shouldn't be on interference. You know, interference has always been the space. It's the president that has poisoned that well by making interference somehow an equation to his own legitimacy.

GREGORY: And this is the thing. I think the financial dimension of this investigation is something to keep an eye on this year.

Second, if it does wrap up, does this administration, does the president respect the presidency enough to match his words, his tough words for Russia in his foreign policy statement of principles with some real action in 2018?

CAMEROTA: Final thought?

AVLON: We know the answer to that. Unfortunately, it seems to be no. If past is anywhere resembling prologue. And one of the core rules of politics and investigations will apply. Follow the money.

CAMEROTA: John Avlon, David Gregory, happy New Year.

AVLON: You, too.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for being here.

All right. So who will make the most noise in Washington this year? Chris Cillizza -- oh. So Chris Cillizza joins us--

CUOMO: I was going to say. You gave away the answer.

CAMEROTA: I know. He's going to tell us.


CAMEROTA: I love our music. It's a little "Partridge Family."

CUOMO: A little bit. CAMEROTA: Isn't it?

CUOMO: A little bit. I was going more -- yes. With something like--

CAMEROTA: For the new year, it's a little retro.

But anyway, from Doug Jones to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a wide variety of people played prominent roles in the political landscape in 2017. So who will be the biggest players in 2018? CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza joins us with who to watch this year. I love these who to watch.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Let me just say that this is my favorite thing to do in all of politics.

CAMEROTA: Who to watch?


CAMEROTA: Oh, that's cool.

CILLIZZA: It makes me super nerdy, but I do get excited about it.

CAMEROTA: Well, fantastic. You're bringing it to our viewers today.


CAMEROTA: I love it. So your first person to watch is Ben Sasse.

CILLIZZA: OK, Ben Sasse. Probably most people don't know him. Senator from Nebraska, former college university president in Nebraska. Interesting guy in that he's been very critical of Trump but has not gotten the criticism or the profile that Jeff Flake, or Bob Corker, John McCain have.

CAMEROTA: How has he avoided the oncoming?

CILLIZZA: I don't know. Maybe Donald Trump likes him personally, candidly. Interesting, I don't know if a real primary challenge develops to Donald Trump. I always remind people of Jimmy Carter beat Ted Kennedy in 1980. The idea that it's busy to beat an incumbent president in a primary just has never been borne out.

But if there is someone, I would look to a Sasse, maybe John Kasich from Ohio. I think Sasse's stock will grow. He is a smart, reasonable, dare I say somewhat normal politician. And I think there will be an appetite for that.

CUOMO: You know, his social media projects that image, as well.

CILLIZZA: Very much so.

CUOMO: Very much normal life, family life, modern.

CILLIZZA: Wife keeping him in his place. CUOMO: What is the chance, seeing how we're doing predictions, that

if he gets sideways with the president, the president exactly calls him "Sassy." Which would be low fruit, but what do you think, the chances that's his--

CILLIZZA: So it's low fruit, so Donald Trump -- Hard to predict if he'll hit that. Of course he would do that. Yes.

CUOMO: You think he'd go with Ben Sassy?


CUOMO: Sassy-Sasse.


CAMEROTA: Sassafras.

CILLIZZA: Yes, there's so many--

CUOMO: Loser, of course.

CAMEROTA: Fill in the blank.

CILLIZZA: Hater, loser.


CUOMO: How about John Kelly?


CILLIZZA: So, John Kelly is someone who, I think, has the hardest job. I don't want to speak for the world but I think certainly the hardest job in Washington, which is basically trying to manage the president of the United States.

I think he -- Trump is fundamentally unmanageable. I'm interested to see. Kelly clearly views this as a patriotic duty. I do think he is more ideologically aligned with Trump than -- than people say. He said some things in 2017 that, I think, said, OK, he thinks along similar ideological lines."

The question for me is how long does Kelly stay? Donald Trump -- this chief of staff is a difficult job to hold in any presidency. People run through it. How long does John Kelly stay in? Does he have an appreciable impact on Donald Trump?

The thing that we know is he's tried to limit the number of people who can just kind of walk in on Donald Trump. I -- I always think people revert back to who they are. For Donald Trump, that's somebody who likes a lot of people around them, likes a lot of opinion. Let's see if General Kelly -- if the beginning of 2019, we are talking about John Kelly is still the chief of staff.

[07:20:07] If we are, I think it's possible that he will have implemented some changes to make Donald Trump's presidency more effective. Though the idea that he's going to stop Donald Trump from tweeting is a fantasy that even he wouldn't hold.

CAMEROTA: OK, next person you're keeping an eye on. Kamala Harris.

CILLIZZA: Yes, Kamala Harris, I think, is really interesting. California senator. She is both Indian-American and African-American. She was the first Indian-American and African-American woman elected to the Senate in California. I think she's probably running for president.

I mean, you could ask me, basically, any semi-prominent Democrat, and I would default to say they're probably running, because this nomination is so worth having.

I think she's probably in almost regardless. She has a huge fund- raising base being in California. She has been more prominent in the Senate. She's in her first year in the Senate.

But let's remember, people always say she's too young. You know, Barack Obama, I think, broke that mold. And then the whole "You need political experience," Donald Trump broke that mold.

CAMEROTA: He's broken a lot of molds.

CILLIZZA: I'm just over conventional wisdom about how people decide to run and who should run. I just think if you're a Democrat looking at this, I think you'll see some members of the House run for president. Maybe Tim Ryan out of Ohio. And I think Kamala Harris probably is in that group.

CUOMO: Sherrod Brown?

CILLIZZA: Same thing. So Sherrod Brown is someone, again, interesting, like under the radar, in a way, even though he's a Democratic senator re-elected from Ohio.

Populist. Would be a really interesting complement, contrast against Donald Trump. Remember, Trump wins the presidency in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Sherrod Brown is a guy who is very skeptical of trade deals, gruff kind of voice and manner. The opposite of Hillary Clinton in a lot of ways. I always would have been interested -- you can't do these things, but in my fantasy politics mind, if Hillary Clinton had picked Sherrod Brown, if that had changed the calculus at all for V.P.

But I think he is someone who we're not talking about running for president but is someone to watch.

CAMEROTA: John Kasich, he ran for president. Why are you watching him this year?

CILLIZZA: No one has been more critical of Donald Trump vocally, who sits in a platform as the governor of Ohio to theoretically do something about it. I -- I think John Kasich is thinking seriously about challenging Donald Trump. I'll say-- CUOMO: How does he remedy -- he had all the advantage--


CUOMO: -- against Trump last time, and he had a hard time getting traction.

CILLIZZA: Hard time getting traction is, like, really a nice way to say what his campaign was.

CUOMO: Well, it's 2018.

CILLIZZA: Yes. I like that you're starting out optimistic. He went absolutely nowhere as governor of Ohio. Which--

CUOMO: So what's different this time?

CILLIZZA: What's different? I think people will have seen four years of Donald Trump. People -- and I mean Republicans.

CUOMO: But you just said it's hard to primary an incumbent.

CILLIZZA: I don't think he'll win. But I do think if you are looking for someone who -- who is a serious person--

CUOMO: Someone to watch.

CILLIZZA: -- who could run a counter case against Donald Trump in a Republican primary, I think Kasich is the most likely to prosecute that case. I do not believe he will win. I -- I am extremely skeptical. You can't be an unindicted president, someone who has deep flaws in a primary. And I don't -- I don't see that yet.

CAMEROTA: Terry McAuliffe.

CILLIZZA: So Terry McAuliffe is a one-time governor of Virginia, done here. Most people know him nationally for being friends with the Clintons, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I think he wants to run for president. I think he's got a pretty good story to tell. Obviously, being in the island of Virginia, being in that media market. Pretty popular for a--

Now being a one-term governor, it's -- you can only be a one-term governor in Virginia. It's the only state that has a one-term limit. So he's out. Something else to do.

Terry is nothing if not ambitious. And he's -- and Terry is not dumb. And I think if you look at this -- I just continue to say, if you look at this Hill, no one, including Joe Biden, including Bernie Sanders, including Elizabeth Warren, including all the other names you can mention, there's no one there that scares you in a way that Hillary Clinton would have scared you in 2016, even though it wound up being that she was more vulnerable than she looked.

There's not even that figure. So I just think the default position here is if you're an ambitious Democrat who thinks you can raise 50 to a million dollars before the Iowa caucuses, you're probably going to give it a shot. And honestly, you probably should.

CUOMO: How scary is that: 50 to 100 million?

CILLIZZA: That's the low end.

CAMEROTA: Before the Iowa caucuses.

CILLIZZA: That's the low end. I mean, people will raise far, far more than that. Though I would say one thing -- again, you mentioned this, Alisyn. Things Donald Trump has broken conventional wisdom about. Drastically outspent in the primary, drastically outspend in the general election and still wins. So money only works if you have a message behind it.

CUOMO: But he was on TV the most.

CILLIZZA: And he came in -- he was the most known commodity.

CAMEROTA: Chris Cillizza, thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you. Happy New Year.

CAMEROTA: Very fun.

CUOMO: The best for the new year to you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, sir. You, as well.

CUOMO: All right. So from the North Korea crisis to the U.S.- Russia relationships, we're talking about international issues. Which will be the biggest concern? Next.


[07:28:55] CAMEROTA: Happy new year, everyone and welcome back to this special edition of NEW DAY. So we have a lot to get to in this half hour, including, of course, news around the world. Will the tension with North Korea impact the Olympics next month?

CUOMO: And Hollywood award season is heating up. The Golden Globes are just days away. Will your favorite films, your big-time actors, are they going to get Oscar glory?

First, how about a check of your headlines at the news desk?

SANCHEZ: Happy new year, Chris and Alisyn.

And happy new year to you, as well. I'm Boris Sanchez.

President Trump starting off the new year with a first tweet of 2018. He's taking aim at Pakistan. He says, quote, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years. And they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They gave safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" This tweet coming just days after the "New York Times" reported that

the Trump administration might withhold some $225 million in aid to Pakistan over frustration with the country's handling of terror groups.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts says the federal courts will evaluate how they handle allegations of sexual harassment.