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Clock Ticking On Democrat Memo; Trump Calls Democrats Treasonous; Volatile Dow; Dow Takes Wild Swings; Government Days Away From Shutdown; Trump Unlikely To Extend DACA. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired February 6, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Memo wars. All eyes on the president as he decides whether to release the Democratic counter to the disputed Republican memo attacking the FBI.
Silenced is golden. The president's lawyers reportedly advising him not to speak with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, fearing the special counsel will catch the president in a lie. So, what happens now?
And Wallstreet roller coaster. The Dow taking another wild ride one day after the worst point drop in history. Why the Trump administration is shrugging off the volatility.
Let's start, though, with the big question up on Capitol Hill. Will we see the Democrats' official response to last week's Republican intelligence memo? And if we do, what will be taken out, if anything?
President Trump said the memo vindicated him in the Russian investigation, but now the Democrats' response has cleared the House Intelligence Committee by a unanimous vote.
Also now, the president holds the fate of that memo in his hands.
Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.
Jim, so what options does the president have on the Democrats' intelligence memo?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we should point out our colleague, Jerry Diamond, who is reporting this morning, that the president is expected to authorize this document, according to a source close to this process.
But, of course, the White House still has four days to make this decision. And over the next four days, we're told by our sources that the White House is going to subject this memo to the same scrutiny, the same vetting that was applied to the Republican memo last week. Now, of course, we should point out, just in fairness. The president was telling a lawmaker at the State of the Union speech last week that he wanted to release that memo 100 percent before he had even read it and before that vetting and clearance process was completed over here at the White House.
And so, it is not going to go through the same process, obviously, when it comes to that Democratic memo.
But we did hear from the House speaker, Paul Ryan, earlier today, Wolf, telling our Manu Raju and other sources that, you know, this is about sources and methods.
And that as long as this memo is scrubbed to protect sources and methods, that that is OK to House Republican leadership. That would also be the same, I would think, over here at the White House.
But the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, will have a chance to weigh in on this. She's got a briefing at 2:30 this afternoon.
And then, and the president has an event here at the White House within the next hour. When we expect to hear from the president, there'll be a pool spray.
And he'll, obviously, be asked about this question and some of these other matters. Such as this conversation that's been going on about whether or not he will actually sit down with the special counsel, Robert Mueller's team.
But, Wolf, I think one thing that we have to keep in mind in all of this is that the Schiff memo, from the ranking member Adam Schiff on the House Intelligence Committee, is expected to refute, point by point, what is said in the Nunes memo.
And so, I would have to think that part of the calculation over here at the White House, and the president will be, I think, paying very close attention to this, is whether or not he wants to release a memo that goes point by point in refuting what is stated in the Nunes memo from the chairman of that Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.
And so, I think that -- I think it still makes all of this not a done deal, when it comes to the White House and the ultimate decision in all of this.
And, of course, you heard the president, yesterday, making it very clear that he's very annoyed with the Democratic Party right now. He feels like they're not working with him on anything or even applauding him at the State of the Union speech.
He referred to Democrats as being treasonous for not applauding him enough at that speech in Ohio yesterday.
And, of course, the White House press secretary this morning, as we've been reporting this morning, Wolf, is saying that the president was only joking when he said that. And I suspect that'll come up at the briefing as well -- Wolf. BLITZER: I suspect you're absolutely right.
We'll see what happens with that memo and everything else.
Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
While the president weighs his options on the Democrats' memo, he's hyping the disputed memo by Republicans. The document alleges the FBI abused its surveillance powers. The president claims it shows wrongdoing by Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I'm talking -- oh, did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed.
They never thought they would even get caught. Hey, we caught them. Oh, it's so much fun. It's like the great sleuth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our panel. We have our CNN Political Analyst David Drucker who's with us. A.B. Stoddard, Associate, Editor and Columnist for RealClearPolitics. And CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.
Nia, the Republicans, even a lot of well-known, important Republicans, they are not saying what the president suggested, that the Republican memo has cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Trey Dowdy, a very influential Republican, member of the Intelligence Committee, says it doesn't have any -- that memo doesn't have anything to do with obstruction of justice, so there's going to be a Russia probe, even without a dossier.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, and you have the president, there, hyping this memo up, saying that it vindicates him.
And even in that clip, talking about him being the great sleuth. Even the crowd there seemed to be a little over -- underwhelmed by what he was saying. There wasn't a great deal of applause there.
[13:05:07] So, you wonder if the -- you know, the president is, sort of, hyping this up to his own peril.
And then, if he releases this other memo, I talked to some Republicans who were, sort of, scratching their heads at the idea that he's going to release this memo. Because it is likely, point by point, going to contradict everything this Republican memo has said. And contradict the president as well.
BLITZER: Adam Schiff, the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee, A.B., says he thinks the White House will release the Democrats' memo. But what he really fears are political redactions. Not redactions because they could compromise classified information, releasing sources and methods how the U.S. collects information. But political redactions because it could help the Democrats and hurt the Republicans.
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE, EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. I think that what Nia's reporting shows is Republicans did not see a bombshell in the Nunes' memo. It was overhyped and oversold.
And Chris Collins, the Congressman -- Republican Congressman from New York, said on "NEW DAY" there would be a Republican rebuttal to the Democrat rebuttal. Which means they're going to still keep fighting to try to revive the potency of the Nunes memo because it wasn't potent enough.
The idea -- I think that Congressman Schiff is going to have to explain to us, if the White House releases this memo and is removed and redacted some things, what he was talking about. In terms of what edits were made and what's been left out and removed to put it into proper context.
But you can see that there's just a feeling that Speaker Paul Ryan was asked today, as you mentioned, does this vindicate President Trump? And he said, this is about FISA abuses.
They don't have to make in the case that when they release their findings, it's going to show that the FISA process was not abused. So, I think people need to learn a lot more about what it takes to get a warrant and we're going to see what underlying intelligence produced the warrant, not just the part of the dossier.
But I think that, all in all, this became kind of a muddy mess for Republicans.
BLITZER: I'm wondering -- and I don't know if you know the answer. But, you know, all of us, we've received a lot of documents from the federal government, over the years. And they've been redacted, for security reasons, and is -- usually the page is blacked out There has been pages.
I'm wondering if they've released this 10-page Democratic memo if it's going to be, sort of, rewritten, retyped, or will we see the sentences, the words, the paragraph that might be redacted. Do you know?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't, Wolf. But I think that -- and A.B. got to this, that what we're dealing with here is a battle over information in memorandums that is going to continue.
And I don't think that the politics of the Russia probe and how the voters are looking at this, in the context of the upcoming elections, has materially changed at all.
Chairman Nunes has said we're going to have more memos, regarding more information. And, from the Republican point of view, more instances of abuse of federal power.
I fully expect Democrats to find reasons, legitimate or otherwise, as to why the information in the forthcoming memos are not quite accurate.
The Democrat I pay attention to the most, because of the politics of this, is Senator Mark Warner, who's the ranking member on Senate Intelligence. He is very careful with how critical he is of the investigation and what is happening in the House and the Senate.
That doesn't mean he's not critical, at times. But he is very, sort of, judicious in how he hands out his criticism. He was not impressed with the Nunes memo. That was more interesting to me than Adam Schiff's predictable takedown, from the Republican point of view.
I think Republicans would be better off, from a political standpoint, if they focused on FISA abuse. Because there's an article to make, potentially, that the government, for no reason other than this FISA process has become so engrained in the intelligence process, that there were some abuses.
And I think that if in those abuses if they happened, it turned out that certain individuals were unfairly targeted and there appeared to be a political notice, that will make itself known.
The fact that you have some Republicans saying this vindicates Trump, other Republicans saying it has nothing to do with Trump, I think has added to how the politics of this have become so muddy.
BLITZER: And, you know, Nia, the hovering over this conversation is the conversation that has developed because of what the president suggested yesterday. That the Democrats who attended the State of the Union address, they didn't applaud. They didn't stand. They sat on their hands.
Listen precisely so what he said at a speech in Cincinnati, yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They were like death. And unAmerican. UnAmerican. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yes, I guess, why not. Can we call that treason? Why not. I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:10:00] BLITZER: All right. So, the White House is saying it was tongue-in-cheek, the treasonous comment. He was, sort of, joking.
But he clearly wasn't joking, when he said these Democrats don't like our country very much and are unAmerican.
HENDERSON: Yes. And, I mean, there, you see him -- and we were, sort of, looking at it here. And he seems to suggest that it was someone in the audience who said treasonous. I mean, his hearing must be really good or maybe that person yelled it out. I certainly didn't hear it.
But this was, I think, a predictable response from this White House. Anytime he says something that gets blowback as he did with this treasonous comment, they'll say, oh, he was just kidding. And suggest that somehow we don't have a sense of humor.
But I do think you're right to drill down on his other comments, the unAmerican part.
BLITZER: He was very serious when he said that.
HENDERSON: Very serious. He said it twice. He was joking at all. There was no laughter from the audience.
He may not have ever seen another State of the Union delivered by a president and seen that the other party, the party that's not in power, tends to sit down. Not to show their disagreements with the president or the person in office. So, it's an odd comment from him.
BLITZER: Yes, very, very odd, indeed.
The Illinois Democratic senator, A.B., Tammy Duckworth, who lost her legs serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, responded to the president, who had a draft deferral, as we all know, during the Vietnam War.
Quote, "We don't live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. I swore in oath, in the military and in the Senate, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of cadet bone spurs and clap when he demands I clap. He had a draft deferral because he had bone spurs in his legs. Several times, he was deferred.
STODDARD: Well, I can imagine how this offends her, but you don't have to have served in our military selflessly to find this just outrageous. It degrades our democracy and it is a huge mistake for Republicans to not stand up and say it's unacceptable.
Because what they're saying in their silence is, when there's a Democrat in the White House again, calling them treasonous, they're going to say that's A-OK. And that's really stunning.
BLITZER: So, when the Republican Congressman Gil Wilson of South Carolina shouted at then President Barack Obama, you lie, during a State of the Union address, was he committing treason? Was he simply unAmerican? Or does he not love America?
DRUCKER: Well, I think there was a lack of decorum for how the House of Representatives' chamber is run. But I think that was as American as apple pie and baseball and all the rest.
Look, I think of this as a one-off comment by the president, and we've all looked at it as, like, oh, that's interesting, and it probably was a joke. But it's not the first time the president has commented in a way that suggested he viewed respect for him as synonymous with respect for the country. And even though I think a lot of Americans claim at least that they'd like to a return to civility and a little bit more comedy in Washington, there is nothing unusual or untoward about expressing your disapproval on camera with the president.
Will it work politically? No, sometimes you pay a price. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. And I think -- I think every Republican in that chamber knows that. Because for the last eight years, they were on the other side of this equation.
BLITZER: Yes. And those of us who have seen a lot of State of the Union addresses, we've seen a lot of opposition party members sitting there patiently, without applauding or standing. And the party of power, they, of course, stand up and applaud.
All right, everybody stand by. There's a lot more happening.
We're going to get to some breaking news right now. Wall Street scrambling to hang on, as the markets go on another white-knuckle ride.
You see the Dow Jones right now. It's up about 50 points, after plummeting more than 1,800 points over the last two trading days, yesterday and Friday.
It looked as though the markets might plunge again today, instead the Dow swung for more than 500 points down, right at the beginning of trading, into positive territory. That was just in the first hour or so of trading.
Let's go to our Money Correspondent Cristina Alesci. She's on the floor of the U.S. Stock Exchange for us.
Christina, what's the reaction right now?
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, we're just seeing swings, all day long.
To your point, at some point in the day, we saw a huge swing. Particularly at the opening, when I was here this morning, that 500- point drop.
And then, just a couple of minutes later, we saw the stock market come back 200 points. That's an enormous move. Something that we really have not seen any time in recent history.
And what I'm looking at right now, I'm looking at volumes right now. And I'm seeing, actually, quite a bit of buying.
So, what we might be seeing is that the -- some opportunistic buying. People looking at prices coming down and then collectively going into the market buying.
But to your point about volatility. Look, volatility is probably here to stay, at this point. That's what I'm hearing from tweeters, from investors. And that's because we simply -- and this is going to sound really, really simple, Wolf. We simply had stability for too long.
The market was headed in one direction for way too long and investors have been calling for a correction, which is a 10 percent drop from the recent peak, for quite some time now. And that's what we're seeing.
[13:15:00] Layer on top of that, inflation fears and the fact that the fed may raise rates faster than expected and you have this kind of effect because investors are expecting people to perhaps come out of stocks and buy those bigger yielding assets in that regard. So we're going to have to wait and see what happens from here, Wolf, but right now people are pretty level headed about this action.
BLITZER: Cristina Alesci on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Jim Tankersley. He's the tax and economics reporter for "The New York Times."
So were we due -- was the market due for a correction?
JIM TANKERSLEY, TAX AND ECONOMICS REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Probably. It's been a pretty great last year for the market, even with this correction in it. And, you know, market goes up and they go down. And every once in a while traders take profits, things -- news moves them a little bit and we see corrections like this happen.
BLITZER: This is a pretty serious correction. I did some checking. Back in January 26th, the Dow reached its highest ever, 26,616. It's down since then more than 2,000 points. You see the numbers right there.
TANKERSLEY: Well, it's a -- as a percent correction, it's well in line with other corrections we've seen in history. It's not anything like a black Monday situation, but it is -- you know, this is a real shift in the way the market had been doing and it's not just that it's gone down, it's that it hasn't continued to go up in the way that, of course, the president had been touting for months.
BLITZER: Yes. January 26th, 26,616 and now it's, what, 24,000 plus right now. Is it because of interest rates, fear of inflation? What explains this volatility over the last few days?
TANKERSLEY: Well, it's always hard to mind read the markets. But I think the best guess we have, the thing that analysts are talking a lot about is, worries about inflation suddenly reappearing on the scene. It's been basically dormant for the past several years, since the recession, and now suddenly the economy is growing, the unemployment rate is very low, wages are starting to go up, and with the extra boost of spending increase and tax cuts, we might be in a place where finally inflation is coming back, and then they are going to worry, the markets, that the Fed's going to tap the brakes, raise interest rates faster, and that's going to lead us to slower growth and lower profits.
BLITZER: A little volatility going on right now. We'll see what happens by closing. Thanks very much, Jim.
TANKERSLEY: Thank you.
BLITZER: On top of all of this, the government only days after from shutting down potentially once again. You're going to hear why efforts for a shutdown may be hitting a wall -- to avoid a shutdown, I should say. Congressman Mark Meadows standing by to join us live.
Plus, the president's legal team reportedly advising him against an interview with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, fearing he'll be caught in a lie. We're going to discuss what happens if the president refuses.
[13:21:44] BLITZER: Lawmakers up on Capitol Hill are in another mad scramble to keep the federal government from running out of money. They have just two days to come up with a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. House Republicans, they're moving ahead with a plan to fund the government through March 23rd, but it's not likely to get through the Senate.
Republican Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina is joining us. He's the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. He's joining us from Capitol Hill.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: It's great to be with you, Wolf.
It seems like we were just here a few weeks ago, but obviously a very important time for America and making sure that we get the government funded.
BLITZER: Yes, we might be back March 23rd to try one more time.
Your caucus supports the current plan. But what happens when it doesn't get through the Senate?
MEADOWS: You know, we've been in negotiations. In fact, Wolf, I just left a meeting to come out here and be with you where we were talking with some of the cross-sectional leaders within our conference, talking about a budget caps deal.
Really, the major impediment for this not to go through the Senate is the number that we would agree to on what they would call the non- funding side of funding the government. Those numbers have pretty much been in place for the last six or seven months. The big holdup has been an agreement on immigration, as you well know. And so we're hopeful that we'll go ahead and attach those numbers to this, fund the military, not hold it hostage and allow it to come back and have a fairly easy bipartisan vote here in the House.
That being said, if it comes back just a clean CR, it will not be received well on the House side of the Capitol here. BLITZER: And that could create a government shutdown. And you're
talking about immigration, a sensitive issue, obviously. The clock is clearly ticking on DACA and the fate of about 700,000 young immigrants called dreamers.
The White House chief of staff, General John Kelly, today, just told reporters, it's unlikely the president would extend the March 5th deadline. The Senate is expected to take up the issue next week.
Are you in favor -- let me just take your specific point on the -- the president, as part of an overall deal, says he wants 1.8 million dreamers to be allowed to stay in the United States and eventually have a pathway to citizenship. Are you with the president on that one specific point?
MEADOWS: Well, you know, as we look at that particular point, there is -- there is support for that if you can get the other programmers, Wolf. I don't know that you can just say we're going to deal with the 1.8 million dreamers without dealing with the really cause -- causal effect of what created the problem in the first place. And so I can say that that's a hard issue for some of my members to swallow, but they've been willing to go along with the president's four-pillar proposal.
And, additionally, I can tell you that there is a bipartisan meeting going on right now at very high levels, both in the Senate and the House, as they're trying to reconcile what we mean by border security, you know, how we're going to address chain migration. But as you noticed, the applause line in the State of the Union, when they talked about amnesty for the 1.8 million dreamers, didn't really get a big applause line from Republicans or Democrats. So it's what we attach to that, I think, was -- is going to be the ruling debate on whether we get a bill by March 5th or not.
[13:25:09] BLITZER: But just to be precise, you personally -- you don't necessarily regard that as amnesty, 1.8 million dreamers eventually having over 10 to 12 years a path to citizenship, living here in the United States legally? You would support that as part of a broader package, is that right?
MEADOWS: As part of a broader package, even in the Goodlatte bill, it actually gives a pathway to citizenship. Most of my constituents, what they have a problem with is not that they become citizens, but as much as getting a special pathway to citizenship. You know, why should they create a new path to allow them to become citizens quicker than perhaps those that have been waiting in line?
And so it is those negotiations, Wolf, that are probably the thorniest issue that we have. And yet making sure that you address that 1.8 million population is something that I think all of us understand that we have to do. But I think, for my constituents, they're just saying, listen, we don't want to have to come back and deal with this again in five years or ten years. Let's make sure that if we're going to do something comprehensively, that we protect our borders and we actually uphold the rule of law. BLITZER: Yesterday the president criticized the Democrats in the
House, and the Senate for that matter, for not standing and clapping during parts of his State of the Union Address. The White House says he was simply joking when he called Democrats treasonous. But he clearly wasn't joking. His face was very serious when he called these Democratic colleagues of yours un-American and said they don't love America.
What's your reaction? You know these Democrats in the House of Representatives.
MEADOWS: Well, I mean, obviously you have a partisan divide. That's what they call reaching across that aisle, that center aisle, that goes down to where the president was speaking.
But I think the disappointment on the president's part, and I don't want to speak for him, was that when he talked about African-American unemployment being the lowest that we've had in history, and not to have even bipartisan support for things like that. We understand the controversial issues, but when you have people who have lost loved ones to gang members, not being able to stand up and support -- show support for those, even Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together and applaud those kinds of lines. And I think that's what the president was dismayed about, you know, in terms of seeing that response. That being said --
BLITZER: But does that -- but let me ask you -- let me press you, congressman.
BLITZER: Does that make these Democrats un-American and they don't love America because they weren't applauding?
MEADOWS: Yes, well, obviously I think no one that puts their name out there to serve this country is un-American.
MEADOWS: I mean to go through what all we have to go through, you know, whether you love us or hate us, and most of that's on the hate side of it. But if -- you know, you make great sacrifices to serve your country. And yet, at the same time, when we saw people up in the gallery, where you have law enforcement officers and you have military men and women, you have people who had lost their loved ones, we've got to come together at least on those kind of issues to applaud the heroic efforts of many of those folks. And I think we can do that. But certainly saying that someone's un-American because of their unwillingness to clap is not something that most Americans would agree with.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're totally right on that.
Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, thanks so much for joining us.
MEADOWS: Thank you. It's good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
The president's legal team now reportedly urging him to refuse an interview with Robert Mueller, the special counsel. Why they're worried the president might be caught lying under oath.
Also, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, he was on the verge of defying a subpoena to appear before Congress today to answer questions in the Russia investigation. I'll speak live with a member of that committee on what happened at the very last minute.