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Trump Threatens Shutdown as Congress Nears Budget Deal; Former V.P. Joe Biden on Trump, Mueller & the Memos. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired February 7, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of.
[05:59:10] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We're making real progress on a spending deal.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think we expect the budget deal to include specifics on immigration reform.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We're back in the ball game now.
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: People were too afraid to sign up. Others were too lazy to get off their asses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where has the level of political discourse gone in this country?
KELLY: This is a different memo. Where the first one was very clean, this one is a lot less clean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There would be an enormous political price if he refuses to reveal the whole story.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSES CORRESPONDENT: Despite concerns from his lawyers, the president still wants to sit down with Robert Mueller.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I were the president's lawyer, I would probably tell him not to sit down with the special counsel. The president has some difficulty with precision.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Joe Biden rarely gets credit for being understated.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Understated. I look forward to hearing more of that great interview.
CUOMO: There's plenty of it. Welcome to you, our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, February 7, 6 a.m. here in New York. And here's our starting line.
President Trump says he welcomes another government shutdown if Democrats won't tighten immigration laws. The tone is bad. The timing is worse.
Bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill are reportedly making headway for a long-term deal, despite all that drama. The House did pass a short-term spending bill last night. But Senate leaders are not as excited about that prospect.
While Congress is wrestling with funding for the government, President Trump wants the Pentagon to plan a grand military parade in Washington: tanks, marching soldiers, the whole deal that you usually see in North Korea. It would cost millions but may cost more politically.
CAMEROTA: President Trump is still weighing whether to declassify the Democratic rebuttal to that GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses. The White House says the president will rely on the recommendations of the FBI and the intelligence community, the very leaders that he has suggested cannot be trusted.
And former vice president Joe Biden, in an exclusive interview with CNN, tells Chris why President Trump should avoid an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And Biden also reacts to Mr. Trump calling Democrats who do not clap at his State of the Union "treasonous."
So we have all of this covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip. She is live at the White House -- Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Well, over in the Senate, lawmakers seem pretty close to getting a bipartisan deal on the budget and on immigration done. But it's the president and his chief of staff, John Kelly, who seem to be stirring up some controversy.
TRUMP: If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown. We'll do a shutdown. And it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of.
PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump calling for another shutdown if Democrats don't agree to his immigration demands, despite the fact that at the same time, Senate negotiators were touting bipartisan progress on a budget deal.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm optimistic that very soon we will be able to reach an agreement.
SCHUMER: We are closer to an agreement than we have ever been. PHILLIP: The Senate budget negotiations do not include an immigration
overhaul, a longtime Republican goal. The Senate's two-year plan includes a boost in defense spending alongside additional domestic spending the Democrats have been calling for.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders left to clean up the president's remarks.
SANDERS: I don't think that we expect the budget deal to include specifics on immigration reform, but we want to get a deal on that. So we don't want to hold the government hostage over these items.
PHILLIP: Late Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham also indicating the Senate may be making progress on immigration.
GRAHAM: I felt really bad yesterday. I feel better today. People are -- I think we've got a way forward that seems to be fair to everybody. We're back in the ball game now.
PHILLIP: This effort coming amid backlash over these remarks from the president's chief of staff about undocumented immigrants who did not sign up for President Obama's DREAMer program but would be given a potential path to citizenship under the administration's proposal.
KELLY: The difference between 690 and the 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's just an offensive comment, though, isn't it? Just on its surface?
SANDERS: I think that's something you would have to decide for yourself.
PHILLIP: Kelly later doubling down after Democrat Stenny Hoyer reportedly pushed back against his remarks in a closed-door meeting.
Kelly also telling reporters that the president is not leaning one way or another about releasing the Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses.
KELLY: This is a different memo than the first one. It's lengthier. It's -- well, it's different.
It will be done in a responsible way. But again, it's -- where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods, my initial cut is this one is lot less clean.
PHILLIP: Kelly adding that ultimately, the president is waiting for a recommendation from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and FBI head Christopher Wray, even though he ignored their concerns about the Republican memo last week.
The back and forth coming as CNN learns that President Trump remains eager to speak with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, despite concerns from his lawyers. The president is also eager to hold a grand military parade in Washington after praising France's Bastille Day celebration last year.
TRUMP: It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen.
PHILLIP: The Pentagon confirms the president's request but stresses that the planning process is in its infancy.
PHILLIP: About that parade, it comes at a time when the Congress is dealing with some spending concerns and also trying to deal with the budget deficit. And it's not cheap. The last time we did that, it was in 1991 after the Gulf War, and it cost about $8 million. So the president, his desire for a parade might come up against some very practical budgetary concerns, Alisyn and Chris.
[06:05:09] CUOMO: And some political ones, as well.
PHILLIP: That's right.
CUOMO: Abby, thank you very much.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst John Avlon and reporter at large, editor at large. Whatever his title is.
CAMEROTA: Whatever he is.
CILLIZZA: Chris, just cut the title down. Everybody knows who you are. Chris Cillizza. It's great to have you both.
John Avlon, once again, we see the president getting in his own way. He -- calling for the parade, saying that a shutdown -- let's have a shutdown. We've never really heard a president talk that way, but we're past that level.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We left normal a long time ago.
CUOMO: Is it at least OK in your mind that the lawmakers aren't picking up on his cues? They are not getting distracted; they are not getting as negatively reinforced, as they usually do, by what he says? Because they're still powering through with a shutdown here.
AVLON: Look, this is a civic stress test. And the Senate is doing its job by focusing on substance and trying to come up with a bipartisan deal that reflects the president's rhetoric only a week ago, being a uniter. The president reverting to form, being a divider and focusing on not only loving a shutdown but loving a military parade. This actually has very little to do with governing, and it's utterly in contradiction of what he said he believed a week ago. But good for the Senate.
CAMEROTA: Chris, here's the little we know about what the Senate is doing with their plan. This is from "The Washington Post" and "The Wall Street Journal." Eight hundred billion dollars they will...
CUOMO: Eighty billion.
CAMEROTA: Sorry, $80 billion they will allocate for military spending, $63 billion for nondefense spending. And once again, we are up against the clock. Tomorrow night at midnight. This all has to be resolved by tomorrow night at midnight or there's the government shutdown threat again.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: And let's say it gets resolved today, Alisyn. We'll all celebrate that they did it the day before they absolutely had to.
CAMEROTA: Usually, it's the hour. You're right.
CILLIZZA: You know, it speaks to sort of how we govern from crisis to crisis and how, even 24 hours before the absolute shut-off-the-lights date counts as a victory.
What you see in those numbers is an attempt to bring enough conservative Republicans on board with the defense spending to keep the government open. You know, remember, this is not a way that government should fundamentally work. We should have an appropriations process. The bill should be approved there. It should be for a year, so these agencies can do some long-ish-term planning.
But the way that the government currently works, if they do agree on something today, it will be, candidly, a pretty large victory and somewhat unexpected.
I don't think the government is going to shut down again. But I don't make any predictions, really, anymore based on the unpredictability of the process and the guy sitting in the White House.
CAMEROTA: Yes. That's wise.
AVLON: Let's not get over our skis on that one.
AVLON: There's still time to screw this up.
CUOMO: Well, we'll see. And also, look, the good news would be that it would be a two-year bill, basically, in terms of spending propositions. That would be the different than the last CRs that we've seen. The problem is, they're still not head to head on equal funding for domestic programs and military.
CAMEROTA: And there's no immigration included in it.
CAMEROTA: So everything that people have talked about, all the hue and cry about immigration is not being addressed.
CUOMO: But that's probably a smart move for them at this point. CAMEROTA: Right. Do it more cleanly.
CUOMO: Because of the exigencies.
Now, on the topic that Alisyn brings up of where the immigration debate stands, the chief of staff, supposed to be the balancing agent, didn't help yesterday when he was talking about how DACA people dealt with that process. It was a shot at the DREAMers. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: There are 690,000 official DACA registrants; and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million. The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, is this just, Chris Cillizza, is this just how he talks? Is this his harshness, or do you think this is, again, another window into just this negativity directed towards the people who are trying to get into this country?
CILLIZZA: Well, the issue, Chris, I think is the context. The context is that we heard Kelly and, certainly, Donald Trump make comments in the past that would suggest they have a certain view of people trying to get into the country. And I think that this is in keeping with that.
Now, he didn't say, "I believe that this is the reason." He said, "Some people describe this as this, some people describe it as that." But I didn't think that John Kelly, because of when he came in, he had the narrative around him of he's going to clean things up. He's going to restrict access to Trump. He's going to get Trump -- everything is going to get in order, that some people overlook the fact that Donald Trump picked John Kelly for a reason to run the Department of Homeland Security. He picked him for a reason, beyond just that he was a general, to be his chief of staff. And that is that they are, as we increasingly see, simpatico on the issues that Donald Trump cares about, immigration being right at the top of that list.
[06:10:13] CAMEROTA: John, how is this not revealing? How is this not a window into how John Kelly feels? I mean, are there -- were there a million DREAMers sitting around on the sofa eating bonbons because they were too lazy? How is -- if you say something like that, they were too lazy to get off their asses, how is that not revealing of what you really think?
AVLON: Yes, look, it's a bit of South Boston charm. It does reveal, I think, some of the conversations in the White House that, you know, it's like the president wanted to call the DREAMer "DACA kids," right? You know, I think it's revealing.
CAMEROTA: DACA people. AVLON: DACA people, sorry. You know, it's revealing of, I think, a
certain dismissiveness of the focus on this community. Not necessarily front-loaded with compassion.
But they are trying to at least get the outline of a deal done. And that's what the Senate needs to take up the ball. The Senate -- senators are going to be the more adults in the room on this one. We're not looking for the president to play that role. But if they've got a broad outline of a deal, you know, along with avoiding shutdown, they've got to get the ball down the field. And Kelly's not necessarily going to be reason's best friend. He's imposed discipline on the White House but on an inherently undisciplined executive.
CUOMO: It just shows why "bill of love" was B.S.
AVLON: Of course. "Bill of love" was B.S.
CUOMO: And that's what they're dealing with in the negotiation right now, is that there is -- there are two very different mindsets about what these people represent.
And I'll tell you, we've all been around a lot of people who aren't in the country illegally -- legally. I would never use the word "lazy." That is not a word that I would use for those people. They have a level of desperation few of us could ever even imagine.
Chris Cillizza, so another weird twist. When it came to the Nunes memo, right? The Nunes cabal, "FBI, bad. DOJ, bad. No trust."
CILLIZZA: They certainly didn't listen to them.
CUOMO: But now with the Democratic memo response, "Rosenstein good. Rosenstein good. Talk to Rosenstein."
CILLIZZA: What character are you portraying?
CUOMO: The caveman mentality towards fear and promise is what we saw. They didn't like the DOJ with their memo, because they wanted nothing to get in the way of that act of patriotism.
But with the Democratic memo, you've got Rosenstein, the guy who just a few days earlier the president was saying, "You figure out how I feel about him." He's up there, and he wants him to help vet the Democrat memo. What is going on?
CILLIZZA: One memo confirmed what Donald Trump believes, and one memo doesn't. The end.
I mean, we knew -- we knew that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump was releasing the Nunes memo to matter what, right? This idea -- there were some people who tell me in that review period, "I don't know. I don't know if the generals are against it." Do you know anything about who the guy is?
Donald Trump believed what was in the Nunes memo sort of affirmed his long-held views that, of course, people at the FBI and the Justice Department...
CUOMO: They say it's going through the same process now. That's what I love, same process. The guy doesn't read it, the president. Says, "A hundred percent. A hundred percent." Which is his answer to the guy walking up. But now it's going through the same process. It is so obvious.
CILLIZZA: He was always going to release the first memo. I mean, because it confirmed his previously-held beliefs. I think it is -- look. Any normal politician would feel immense political pressure to release...
CUOMO: To read the memo.
CILLIZZA: ... the Schiff memo, too. Yes, and also read it. Because transparency is transparency. Right? It passed -- it passed unanimously the House Intelligence Committee.
Donald Trump isn't a normal president. I mean, do I think that they will release it? Sure. But I don't know if they didn't, I wouldn't be surprised, because there's nothing that I could be surprised by at this point.
AVLON: Right. And...
CAMEROTA: You've shown us that. You've reached the tipping point. We see that.
AVLON: And what John Kelly keeps saying, "Well, this memo is different." What he means is it's Democratic, and that's very uncomfortable, because the goal has not been consistency and transparency. But another day in Trump's Washington. Dilly-dilly, as they say.
CUOMO: Dilly-dilly. That's a big line around here.
CAMEROTA: On my gosh, you worked it in as promised.
CUOMO: Wow, that was strong. Give him a moment. A smile. And then we say good-bye.
CAMEROTA: He promised to do that at our Christmas party, and he's just delivered. Thank you, John.
Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: It's the little things, really.
So what does Joe Biden really think of Donald Trump? Here's a little taste.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: They say it was tongue and cheek. Democrats can't take a joke.
BIDEN: Well, let me tell you, he's a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, Joe Biden may have a little bit of bitter feelings, because Donald Trump has way surpassed him in terms of being someone that we can't predict what he is going to say. But he had some very, very deep thoughts for you about the state of the democracy and the state of his own aspirations. A little bit of the interview next.
[06:18:27] CUOMO: All right. Now an important interview for you to see, an exclusive with Joe Biden. We talked about his new book "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose." It is the most raw reckoning I've seen the vice president put out about the journey as his political duties and his personal duties came into conflict.
The former VP not holding back in this interview. He called President Trump a joke in context, as you'll see. But he had a lot to say about the state of play in Washington, D.C., what's going wrong and what is needed to make it right. Here's part one.
CUOMO: What do you make of the state of political play between left and right with this Nunes memo and now the Democrat counter memo, the attacks on the Department of Justice? What do you make of it?
BIDEN: Well, look, it seems to me -- I've been around a long time. I was around -- I got here when -- during Nixon's impeachment. And it was Republicans who stood up and insisted that the Constitution be honored, insisted that the president behave consistent with the law.
And it seems now, that it's all about -- everything with Trump is about him, and everything about him is what the Republican Party seems to be focused on trying to protect. And so much is not happening.
Look, we are so incredibly well-positioned to own the 21st Century. And we're engaged in this race to the bottom in terms of how we treat one another, how we talk about one another, how -- you know, a guy I have great respect for is one of the leading conservative columnists, David Brooks. And he talks about this invisible moral fabric. And it's being ripped apart. And it has real consequences for us. And so...
CUOMO: They say you're right. Trump and the Republicans, the Nunes cabal, however you want to define them, they say that you're right. But what's tearing us apart is the Russia investigation. And they needed to do this to expose how wrong the Russia probe is. Now I don't know that they achieved it. That's for you to judge. But they say that that's the problem. Do you agree?
BIDEN: No. I don't agree at all. Look, one of the things that -- I've been around so long. I helped write the act that everybody talks about. No one knows what FISA means. It just means the ability to go into a court, tell a judge about something that is highly classified, knowing it doesn't have to come out in court, let him make the judgment in camera, with just the parties to decide whether or not that information could be used, a wiretap could be had or not had, et cetera.
This whole thing was about getting the intelligence community to be held accountable and have the confidence to be able tell a very select group of women and in the House and the Senate all that was going on. And they, in turn, could use that information if they needed to in a court of law. And that's all in jeopardy now. I mean...
CUOMO: Well, they say the Democrats jeopardized it. I mean, not to, you know, just devil's advocate. But they say they needed to do this.
Have you seen anything that gives you a reasonable concern that the FISA process was abused for political purposes?
BIDEN: No, I haven't. I haven't seen anything that would suggest that. The whole idea about this Steele dossier, whether or not it was identified as the Steele dossier, I'm told it was identified as partisan, No. 1.
And No. 2, even if that -- there had to be more that was offered. Because, look, every 90 days you've got to go into court and renew this. In order to renew the ability to continue to wiretap this individual, you had to have evidence to show that the initial request is bearing some fruit. It got renewed three times by four different people. And the FBI and in the -- in the Justice Department. And the Republicans, as well. So, I mean, it just -- it just seems to be such a -- it seems irresponsible to me.
CUOMO: Are you worried about the damage to the administration of justice?
BIDEN: I do worry about damage. I worry about the full-throated attacks. This is the first president -- I've been here for eight presidents. This is the first president to make a full-throated, unvarnished attack on the entirety of the FBI. Not going after J. Edgar Hoover, who was one person in the FBI. This was -- this is to discredit the FBI and discredit his own Justice Department.
You know, look, I spent a lot of time traveling around the world. What do you think they're thinking in Moscow? This is doing everything that Putin ever wanted, sowing doubt about whether or not our justice system is fair, sowing doubt about whether or not there it is anything that's remotely consistent with our Constitution. It's just -- it's just -- it's a disaster.
BLITZER: You think he should sit down with special counsel?
BIDEN: If I were the president's lawyer, I would probably tell him not to sit down with the special counsel.
BIDEN: Because... CUOMO: And they subpoena you, and you wind up in front of a grand jury without a lawyer.
BIDEN: Yes, yes. And -- if you -- you're in a situation where the president has some difficulty with precision.
CUOMO: That's one of the most subtle things I've ever heard you say.
BIDEN: And -- and one of the things that I would worry about if I were his lawyer is him saying something that was just simply not true without him even planning to be -- to be disingenuous.
CUOMO: You think he has that little control over whether he tells the truth or not?
BIDEN: I just -- I just marvel at some of the things he says and does. Like, what, two days ago, anybody who didn't stand up and clap for him was un-American? And then maybe even treasonous?
CUOMO: He said it was tongue in cheek. Democrats can't take a joke.
BIDEN: Well, let me tell you, he's a joke.
CUOMO: You say the president is a joke?
BIDEN: Yes. I mean, in this kind of stuff. Look, you know, what he -- I think he understands, I think the people around him understand, what presidents say matter. Our children are listening. The world is listening. It matters what they say. And it's -- it's just amazing the outrageously inaccurate things the president says.
CUOMO: When it comes to this probe, do you regret that your administration, with President Obama, of course, didn't blow the whistle on these Russian efforts during the election? I get the calculation. But the idea that, well, Senator McConnell wouldn't come out and make it -- who cares what he wanted at the time? Do you regret not saying more about this?
[06:25:11] BIDEN: Well, I don't think -- I think if we would have said more about it, we would have further undermined the legitimacy of the process. We didn't have the information we had 15, 20 days after the election was all over. We didn't have hard data on -- we knew what was happening in terms of intercepting e-mails and the like. But we didn't have the whole picture. And we knew that -- we believed that one of the purposes of what Russia was doing was to discredit the process, the whole process.
And so if we came out and looked like we were bigfooting the election a couple weeks before the election, implying that this is all about the Russians trying to help defeat Hillary Clinton, then it would have just thrown it into chaos. And -- but if we knew what we knew in January, it would have been a different story.
CUOMO: You would have done it differently if you'd known more?
BIDEN: Well, I think we would have, because there would have been much harder data. And I think it would have been impossible. And I'm a friend of Mitch McConnell's. It would have been impossible for Mitch not to, in a bipartisan way, joining us in -- in exposing what's happening.
CUOMO: Are we headed down a very bad road, or do you think this all ends well?
BIDEN: Look, when I -- when the president first got elected, I got heavily criticized for saying I hope he succeeds, because America succeeds when the president succeeds. And I found myself, first, bemused thinking that maybe these were just over-the-top gaffes that were going on, but now I've gone from that to I'm genuinely concerned.
There's two things that have popped up. One is that this -- this naked nationalism that it's now us against them. As Richard House (ph) says, there's three ways countries lose their ability to influence the world and lose their power, and one of which is abdicating that power. We're abdicating our responsibility around the world and putting everything in terms of us versus them.
The second thing that combines with that is this phony populism. This notion that the way in which -- the only reason you have a problem is because of the other. Is because of that immigrant, or that minority, or because of someone else doing something to you. And so this president has spent his entire time since he's gotten in office trying to divide the country instead of trying to unite the country.
And as I said, we -- I am more optimistic about the chances for America in the 21st Century than I have been in my whole career. We have the most advanced universities in the world, where all the research comes out of. We have the most productive people in the world. We have the most agile venture capitalists. We're in a situation where we're energy independent in North America. I mean, what are we doing? We're not talking about any of the things that really matter. And all he seems to be trying to do is undo everything President Obama has done.
CUOMO: What's interesting is that the vice president doesn't believe that Donald Trump can undo what the legacy of President Obama and Joe Biden is. And he'll explain why.
You know, I haven't seen any other Democrat be as unafraid of Donald Trump and his potential as Joe Biden is. He literally waves him away personally in terms of "Do I worry about him coming at me" or anything? But what he's willing to do about it is the open question.
CAMEROTA: And what does he say about that?
CUOMO: He talks about it in the next part.
CAMEROTA: Oh, I see. This is a tease. His perspective is so interesting, Chris. I mean, you asked wonderful questions, obviously. And just hearing from him. And I'm just wondering, does he plan to speak out more? Can you reveal that part? CUOMO: I think you'll start hearing more from him. You know,
characteristically, the last administration kind of fades. But there is nothing normal about this. And he is disgusted by what's happening down there.
CAMEROTA: Listen, it was very interesting to hear him say -- because I think that this is the trajectory that a lot of Democrats have gone through, thinking and hoping that, at first, these were just gaffes, as he described it, the things that the president said that seemed sort of outrageous. And now to hear him say that he has genuine deep concerns about this kind of language. So I can't wait to see part two.
CUOMO: You will.
CUOMO: We have more of this exclusive interview with former Vice President Biden coming up. He's going to talk about what's going on with this DACA struggle. What is the right deal for Democrats to make? And of course, the big question is, what's he going to do all about this in 2020?
CAMEROTA: I can't wait to hear that.
All right. So President Trump wants a military parade in Washington. It will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. So what do two former high-ranking military officials think of that idea? That's next. They're here.