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Trump's Packed Agenda; Deal for Dreamers; Democrats on Border Wall; Papadopoulos Sparked Probe; National Championship Game Set; Ivanka Criticized For Clothing. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:30:00] JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But it, like all major measures, are going to require bipartisan coalitions. Yes, and Trump is saying there do bipartisan is the new phrase. The question is, will Democrats feel incentivized to do it because now with Doug Jones in the Senate from Alabama, the margin is tight. It's 51-49. And then, of course, can there be some grand bargain on dreamers and the wall? That's a tough pill for Democrats to swallow.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we can put that chart back up again to see, it's really more than three things topping the president's agenda right now. Axios made a joke this morning, you know, the agenda for 2018 is everything. Which sort of is. I mean you want to get everything done here.

And Karoun, it may be dreamers here. It may be the issue of immigration where Democrats decide to stage, you know, what could be a political last stand or a big fight here.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, especially because it's something they believe actually will matter once we get to campaign season, which is turning out the vote. And this is a very passionate -- it's an emotional issue. It's an issue people feel passionately about. And though it's not necessarily in a -- you know, in another situation the deciding issue, immigration is not necessarily a deciding issue for voters, when you take something away that has been there from a lot of people, that's a really significant thing that will not go unnoticed.

And so it's going to be an interesting question, both for Democrats, will they make a deal, and it sounds like right now they don't want to make a deal if it involves the wall. Also for Republicans who have to run in states that have large Hispanic populations, other populations that are familiar with immigrants coming in, that may react to this quite poorly. And you saw last year GOP members actually put out proposals for border security that did not involve the wall, as the president has actually tried to sell it to the public. So this is some internal tension for the Republican Party, too, of how hard it will go for this deal that the president says he wants.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Right. I mean they seem to be at loggerheads, as Karoun just pointed out, John, so well.

AVLON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: They have these mutually exclusive wants. So this is going to involve the president, I would assume, rolling up his sleeves and showing some of his deal making.

AVLON: Yes, the art of the deal. This would be a good time for that. The problem is, I mean, the well has been poisoned. You know, be it last year, all the -- everything was so along hard partisan lines, the tax bill in particular. So can he find areas of common self-interest that Democrats feel don't give away the store (ph) as they head into 2018.

Speaking of taking some away, it's outrageous the Children's Health Insurance Program still has not been funded and could expire. That is something that should unite Democrats and Republicans. If we can't agree on taking care of children's health care, you know, what the hell are we talking about, people?

BERMAN: You know, and Karoun, where does Russia rank as it hangs over these issues right now? There are Democrats concerns that Republicans are going to shut down the congressional investigation. You know, there are Republicans saying that everything's gone too far. Where are things right now?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I mean, that's going to be a major other issue, right, that's going to govern how people feel about everything that's going on in 2018. You will probably see further steps in the Mueller probe. You will see the wind down of certain investigations on The Hill. You will see the ramp up of other investigations on The Hill that are trying to take a light and shine it on how the FBI and DOJ operations were functioning at the time of the Clinton e-mail probe, in the production of this dossier. That's something the GOP has already said, already started to look into. That will -- and depending on how those progress and what sorts of new revelations there are, especially concerning the allegations against the president, as we've seen, that can throw everything off course in a second. And so that is going to be something that's hanging over everything for several months, frankly, into the new year.

CAMEROTA: Karoun, I want to stick with you for a second because you have reporting on this, including Devin Nunes, OK. So Devin Nunes, the chair of the House investigation, he, as we all remember, was -- he had to step aside because he was accused and, in fact, I think, admitted to sharing information with the White House that he wasn't supposed to as the chairman of the investigation. So he's been cleared.

So now he's back. And it sounds like he's back -- I mean according to Democrats -- with a vengeance. You know, that they think that he is actually actively blocking their requests for documents, for subpoenas to interview people again, like Don Junior. So how is this going to work?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, this has been the -- of the three congressional probes, this has been the one that has been the most beset by political -- well, fighting, basically. Look, Nunes chose to step aside last spring when these allegations came out that maybe he had broken House rules by sharing classified information. The Ethics Committee decided, no, he did not break any rules. He came -- comes back in the clear at the beginning of last month.

He's not resting back the leadership of the Russia probe from the people he deputized to run it, but Democrats are basically saying they have seen Nunes' hand this whole way through. He never actually recused himself from his chairmanship of the committee. That means that he was the guy who had to sign off on every subpoena. That means that if he didn't want something to go ahead, it didn't go ahead.

And so Democrats are being very -- are very frustrated with that and they have been ramping up the expression of those frustrations in the last few weeks as we've seen that the House GOP probe, there's indications that they're going to be trying to wrap up soon, that there's this sub group of Republicans, including Nunes, that are going to be trying to put out a report about corruption at the FBI, with the officials involved in the Russia probe. And this is all leading to what is going to be a politically explosive period at the House Intelligence Committee.

[06:35:12] And the question is, does that political fighting take over other committees as well? They've, yes, managed to kind of stay more above the fray in many ways, but this is a familiar situation for the House.

BERMAN: I've got to say, on the subject of explosive, you know, John Avlon, over the Christmas break here there was this article in "The New York Times" about George Papadopoulos, an expose really, showing what his role was in the inception of the FBI investigation into the whole Russia matter. Papadopoulos was bragging that Russia had thousands of e-mails on Hillary Clinton, and that may be where the FBI started investigating.

AVLON: That is -- this story is so fascinating and so significant. What it basically states is Papadopoulos brags to an Australian diplomat in London in May over a night of drinks that Russia has these e-mails and have said they want to use them to benefit the Trump campaign in the election against Hillary Clinton. That the FBI then found -- started an initiation investigation in July, all right?

So this really does show a degree of communication, possibly collusion, and then an FBI investigation was initiated that was not made public, unlike the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton. So that's a double standard that also may have had a decisive impact on the outcome of the election, in addition to the new information in the timeline here.

CAMEROTA: It's also interesting in what it does to the Republican talking points, at least the ones that we've heard from the Jim Jordans and the like of, this is all based on some flimsy --

AVLON: Nope.

CAMEROTA: You know, scurrilous dossier. And, no, it isn't. Now we now know that the impetus is what Papadopoulos was saying. AVLON: And, look, this is a big deal, the fact that a Trump foreign

policy official is bragging that he knows early that Russia has said they have these e-mails and they want to use them and release them to benefit the Republicans in the election. That is a huge deal. Sometimes we get so stuck in the spin cycle that we're in, we forget, you take a step back. That's something that's unprecedented in modern American history. So that -- and the FBI investigation early, also hugely successful.

BERMAN: Someone, by the way, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

AVLON: Correct.

BERMAN: And is cooperating with this investigation.

AVLON: Correct. Correct.

BERMAN: So we'll not lose sight of that either.

All right, John Avlon, Karoun Demirjian, thanks so much.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: We're learning more about two American families tragically killed in a New Year's Eve plane crash in Costa Rica. We have new details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:40:48] CAMEROTA: U.S. Customs says it's processing systems are back up and running after a two-hour outage caused mass delays last night at the nation's airports. There were long lines and very little guidance given to passengers returning home needing to show their passports and clear customs. The agency says the outage was not malicious in nature and managed not to disrupt national security databases.

BERMAN: We're learning more about the 10 Americans, including two entire families, killed in a New Year's Eve plane crash in Costa Rica. They were among 12 people who died when this plane went down. Bruce and Irene Steinberg of New York were on board with their three sons. As for Doctors Mitchell and Leslie Weiss from Clearwater, Florida, and their two children. Also killed, tour guide Amanda Geissler.

CAMEROTA: The widow of a Denver area sheriff's deputy killed this weekend vows to honor the memory of her husband. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will do everything in my power, Zack Parrish, to honor you. And I will raise these girls to love you. It means so much to hear your stories and to hear about Zach because that's what I'm clinging on to right now. So I want to hear about him. And I want to soak it in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Zachary Parrish was shot and killed by Army Reservist Matthew Riehl while Parrish and other deputies responded to a call about Riehl's roommate. Four other deputies and two civilians were wounded in this hail of bullets. Riehl died in a shootout with a tactical team at his apartment.

BERMAN: Senator Al Franken officially resigns today. The Minnesota Democrat stepping down in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations. Poll shows about half of Minnesota voters don't think he should quite, with a support particularly strong among women. Minnesota's Democratic Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith has been appointed to replace Franken by the state's governor. She will be sworn in tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: The U.S. Coast Guard making every second count as it pulls an elderly man to safety from his sinking car. Take a look at this video. They arriving two minutes after witnessing the vehicle enter the water. This was near the St. Andrews Marina in Panama City. My goodness, look at how fast the car sank. Boat crew arrived there very quickly on Saturday. The crew broke the car's window and they pulled the 89-year-old man on to their boat. Police say he had suffered a medical episode.

BERMAN: Oh my goodness.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God. Thank God for these angels among us that they do these things and know how to do them.

BERMAN: Quite a way to begin the new year.

All right, the Rose and Sugar Bowls on the books. Now there are just two teams left standing for the college football national championship. Details in the "Bleacher Report," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:47:09] BERMAN: College football's National Championship match-up is set. It is a good one. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John.

Georgia and Alabama will meet in Monday's all SEC National Championship. I played in the Rose Bowl. It's magical. So I can only imagine how Georgia felt when they punched their ticket in one of the greatest Rose Bowl games ever. The Bulldogs battling Oklahoma and their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was battling the flu, but still looking like Drew Brees 2.0. Put up a ton of points in the highest scoring Rose Bowl game ever. The Sooners were up 17 in the first half, but Georgia kept attacking, using the wild dog formation for stud running back Nick Chubb's game, tying touchdown with a minute to go. For the first time the Rose Bowl game goes to overtime. And in the second overtime, UGA's Lorenzo Carter blocks Oklahoma's field goal attempt. So that means, on their next drive, with any points, UGA would win. And senior running back Sony Michel races 27 yards into the end zone and into Georgia football lore. Four touchdowns on the day for Michel. Bulldogs pull off the 17-point come-from-behind win, the greatest Rose Bowl victory in history. A comeback in history as they go to the national title game with a 54-48 win.

Now, in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama cruising to the national title game after a punishing defensive Tide defender Da'Ron Payne, look at this, not only an interception, seven plays later, the coach draws up an offensive play for him, a pass, which he catches with ease and grace. Maybe not a ton of grace, but it's effective. He taps the toes. Alabama looked jaw-droppingly fresh, vicious on defense, unpredictable, tough to defend on offense. So they get sweet revenge against Clemson. A dominate win. And now you have Bama and Georgia.

And, Alisyn, Nick Saban, the Tide's head coach, is 11 and 0 against his former Alabama assistants. Next up is UGA's head man Kirby Smart.

CAMEROTA: So you were enjoying -- you were enjoying watching that touchdown.

BERMAN: You know, right --

CAMEROTA: And he somersaults into --

BERMAN: With grace, Coy, not a lot of grace, but grace.

CAMEROTA: No. But something like that. Thank you, Coy.

All right, Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump is under scrutiny for her clothing. What's wrong with what the president's daughter is wearing? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:53:05] CAMEROTA: A "Wall Street Journal" review found Ivanka Trump has worn her own fashion brand clothing in 68 percent of her social media photos since becoming a White House adviser last March. Is that a conflict of interest?

Here to discuss we have CNN Money correspondent Cristina Alesci and CNN contributor and former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub.

Great to see you guys.

Let's give everybody some examples of how Ivanka is wearing her own clothing. So this was at a NASA event. This was in December -- on December 11th. Here she is wearing her cold shoulder dress. And that dress then sold out on her website. Here's another example. This is from December 18th. She wore this lovely dress, as you can see, at this event. This was a school event. And now that is selling like hot cakes. Walter, what's wrong with her wearing her own line of clothing?

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, she can wear whatever she wants whenever she wants. But we're in this situation because she's one of the rare government appointees in the White House who has not divested her financial interests. And that puts a higher burned on her to be conscience of what she's doing at all times.

CAMEROTA: But why? Why can't she profit? So she hasn't divested. She wears her brand. It then sells like hot cakes. And then she makes money.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, I don't think anybody is saying that she's doing anything wrong in this case. I think what troubles people, like Walter, and people who protect the ethics of government, really is the fact that she goes up to a line and she doesn't quite cross the line but just explores the line and where it exists and that --

CAMEROTA: But what is the line?

ALESCI: Well, the line is -- well, the technical law is misuse of government position. That you're misusing your position in government to personally profit somehow. And she's not doing that in this case because she could say, I'm just wearing the clothes. I'm not overly marketing the clothes. If I were, that's a different story. And her company did actually get in trouble for that earlier this year.

[06:55:07] CAMEROTA: And we remember that in July of 2016.

ALESCI: Yes.

CAMEROTA: This is when they did market it. They put -- they tweeted Ivanka -- from her Twitter account, shop Ivanka's look from her RNC speech, and put up the link so that you could buy her dress. So that is actual crossing the line.

ALESCI: That could be construed as crossing the line. And so that -- that can get them in trouble. But in these later cases "The Wall Street Journal" profiled, it's really just about selecting a clothing line.

But you have to put this in greater context. Ivanka is a marketing genius. I mean this is what she grew up with. This is what she did before she joined the White House. So she know what she wears will get covered.

CAMEROTA: Walter, here's what she has said. This is a statement that she gave about all of this to "The Wall Street Journal." If what motivated me was to grow my business and make money, I would have stayed in New York and done just that.

Of course, Walter, that makes no sense. She wouldn't have had her White House platform had she not gone to the White House.

SHAUB: Yes. I mean that statement's laughable. The reality is, the core principle of the ethics program is that

you're not supposed to misuse your government position for private gain. This is -- this is the international definition of corruption. This is the principle that George H.W. Bush founded as the cornerstone of the ethics program.

Now, I'm not -- I agree with Cristina, it's a not necessarily inappropriate for her to wear her stuff. But, look, she could have chosen not to come into government. She could have chosen to divest her financial interests. She could have said she was going to give away the profits while she's in government to remove any concern.

But choosing not to do any of those things, she is held to a higher standard. She's one of the top presidential advisers and the daughter of the president in that role because the Department of Justice threw away almost half a century of precedent that nepotism is not allowed in the White House. So, of course, people are going to be scrutinizing her closely. They should. This is a democracy.

CAMEROTA: Walter, does it matter that she gave the day-to-day running of the operation over to her sister-in-law and brother-in-law?

SHAUB: That's absolutely meaningless. And from the start, you know, we're almost coming up on the one-year anniversary on which I gave a speech about how the trust the president set up is nothing. I mean a trust is just a legal instrument to convey ownership to a trustee temporarily, if it's a revocable trust, on your behalf. And so it's still on your behalf. All of the profits are coming to you. It's window dressing at best.

CAMEROTA: Cristina, is this the Kardashianing (ph) of the White House? Meaning, that, you know, brand, like just always pump the brand with whatever appearance you're doing, with all of your social media posts, you know?

ALESCI: I think that's what troubles most people when they see this kind of activity because they don't want to be questioning whether or not the president or the first daughter is doing something for the brand instead of for the country. They don't want to have that question sort of ever present. And so long, to Walter's point, as they continue to own -- doesn't matter if it's in a trust, so long as they continue to own, they open themselves up to this kind of questioning. And it's not going to go away so long as their ownership stays.

And, look, to your point, you really can't separate Ivanka from her brand. If you look at her web page for her products, it says it targets the working women who wears many hats. You look at her Instagram feed from the White House and she's doing everything from putting her children to bed, to talking about tax policy. So it's very consistent with her actual brand on her website.

CAMEROTA: Walter, how about the president also making money from what's going on at Mar-a-Lago, his country club golf course? They have doubled the initiation fee since the president became president to $200,000. So obviously that's a huge profit. And then he was charging lots of money to go to this New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago. Is that OK?

SHAUB: Well, these are related stories and neither of these things are happening in a vacuum. What we're seeing across the board is an effort to monetize the presidency. So, no, it's not OK. He shouldn't have kept those assets in the first place. And the only reason people are paying higher membership fees or higher fees for the New Year's Eve party or above-market rates to stay in his hotel in Washington is they want to purchase access to the president. And access to the president shouldn't be for sale to the wealthy people who can pay the price.

ALESCI: Alisyn, one thing that isn't covered much is that Walter, while he was at the Office of Government Ethics, actually warned the White House. He told them the president shouldn't be visiting his properties. And he was one of the first to come out and really set -- raise the red flag and say, hey, this is providing access to people who pay for it.

[07:00:02] CAMEROTA: It seems like that fell on deaf ears.

Walter Shaub, Cristina Alesci, thank you both very much for bringing this to our attention.

SHAUB: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next.