Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump to Focus on Bipartisanship in State of the Union; Growing Split Among GOP Over Prospect of National Emergency Declaration; Interview with Rep. James Clyburn (R-SC); Feds Seek Interviews with Trump Organization Execs. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 5, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You can tweet the show, @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:14] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. State of chaos. President Trump is just hours away from his State of the Union address, and sources say he'll make a pitch for unity tonight, but he's already feuding with Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, who says the state of the Trump administration is chaos.

Inaugural probe. CNN has learned that federal prosecutors are seeking interviews with executives at the Trump Organization, even as they have subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee, seeking documents on finances and donors.

Contradicting Trump. The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East says he was not consulted before President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria, and he says the fight against ISIS is not over.

And hiding Kim's missiles. Ahead of the second summit with President Trump, a United Nations report says Kim Jong-un is actively trying to hide his missiles and nuclear components to make sure they can't be taken out by a U.S. first strike.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news: just hours from now, President Trump will deliver his State of the Union address postponed by the government shutdown. The White House says the president will call for unity and bipartisanship, but he's already traded barbs today with Democrats; and the threat of another smut shutdown looms, with the president still demanding border wall funding.

That's a nonstarter for Democrats, who now control the House chamber, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be looking over the president's shoulder.

Also breaking, CNN has learned that federal prosecutors have requested interviews with executives at the Trump Organization. That comes as prosecutors have subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee, requesting documents on donors and finances as they eye possible crimes of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.

I'll speak with Democratic Congressman James Clyburn, the House majority whip. And our correspondents and analysts are standing by with full coverage.

First, let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, so what approach is the president going to take tonight?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, aides say the president will deliver a State of the Union speech that is aimed at restoring unity to a deeply divided Washington.

The president will make, of course, another pitch for his border wall, an issue that divides Republicans and Democrats like nothing else. And Mr. Trump is so obsessed with his border wall, I'm told, he's even talked about painting some of the fencing that already exists.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Stick licking his wounds after the government shutdown, President Trump will try to hit the reset button with a State of the Union address that calls for unity at a time when the nation is in a serious state of disunion.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: He is, in the way that he's calling for bipartisanship and unity. And more compromise and cooperation and less divisiveness. Retribution politics is what he calls it. And so that implicitly addresses the fact that there's a divided government.

ACOSTA: But hours before the president's speech, he was already fighting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president will say the state of our union is strong, but the American people know the state of the Trump administration is in chaos.

ACOSTA: The president fired back, tweeting, "I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn't seen it yet. He's just upset that he didn't win the Senate after spending a fortune, like he thought he would."

Mr. Trump's other sparring partner, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will be seated right behind him during the address, with all eyes watching to see if he'll show the same respect that was on display when George W. Bush was president.

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of my own as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: "Madame Speaker."

ACOSTA: The deep divide could be seen in the guests attending tonight's speech, with the White House inviting families of victims killed by undocumented immigrants.

Pelosi invited Chef Jose Andrews, who provided food to federal workers during the government shutdown, and Fred Guttenberg, the father of a child killed in last year's Parkland shooting.

One of the flashpoints of the night may be over the president's quest for a border wall. As he tweeted earlier in the day, "Tremendous numbers of people are coming up through Mexico in the hopes of flooding our Southern Border. We have sent additional military. We will build a human wall if necessary."

The president is so fixated on his wall that he told a group of surrogates he wants to paint a section of border fencing where it meets the ocean in San Diego. Mr. Trump complained he was told by a general that painting that area could harm the environment. The White House vows the president is determined to get his wall.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As the president said you can call it a wall. You can call it a barrier. That's something that we have to see happen. And that's something the president is not going to stop until he does.

ACOSTA: As for the president's threat to declare a national emergency to get his wall, a growing number of Senate Republicans are raising concerns.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I am concerned about it. I think it's of dubious constitutionality.

ACOSTA: The president is also expected to devote up to half of his speech to foreign policy on topics ranging from the crisis in Venezuela to Syria and Afghanistan. Some clarity may be helpful over at the Pentagon, as one top general told Congress military commanders were unaware of the president's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We were not -- I was not consulted.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: The president is also expected to call for funding to help fight the opioid epidemic and improve the nation's infrastructure. The White House hopes those kinds of measures will bring Democrats back to the bargaining table.

Just how both sides behave tonight could provide a preview of the next funding showdown, when the government runs out of money in 10 short days. Another shutdown, obviously, could be right around the corner.

And Wolf, the president getting back to his wall. He's apparently so fixated on it he's been meeting with contractors over here at the White House. And that wall issue, it may be on the bargaining table this weekend. The acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is expected to have a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers up at Camp David this weekend -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Jim. Thank you. Jim Acosta is over at the White

House.

Lawmakers will be paying very close attention tonight to see how the president deals with the border wall issue. Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty. She's up on Capitol Hill.

Sunlen, we know the president isn't planning to declare a national emergency in his speech tonight. At least, that's what we've been told. But Republicans are deeply concerned that that order could come sometime after the speech. What's the latest you're hearing?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This is potentially a revolt that President Trump has on his hands, significant in that it's brewing from members of his own party.

Many Republicans up here on Capitol Hill are essentially saying, "Don't go down this path, President Trump." They are worried about the constitutionality of it. They are worried about the precedent it would set.

Here's what Senator John Cornyn, a top Republican up here on the Hill, told me just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Given the fact he's probably going to get sued, and this will end up in litigation and balled up for months or, if not years, it's really not a practical solution to the problem. But it's his prerogative to do it the way he thinks is best. But I think I owe it to him, I owe it to my constituents, to basically alert him to the problems I think he's going to run into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And as President Trump weighs this decision, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he talked to the administration about it. He says, officially, that he outlined the procedure on Capitol Hill of what would happen and what would follow if an emergency declaration was made.

But he is essentially saying that Congress is going to move very quickly to potentially vote to overturn it. And that, essentially, sets up a very nasty, bitter fight again, where ahead -- where you have Republicans against President Trump, and in one word, Wolf, Mitch McConnell called that potentially "contentious."

BLITZER: Very contentious. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Sunlen, will be standing right over the president's shoulder tonight. Tell us about the optics of this year's State of the Union and how it will be -- it will be different for this president.

SUNLEN: It will be. And that optic, that picture of Nancy Pelosi behind President Trump just over this left shoulder this evening. It's so important, because it's reflective of this new reality here in Washington and a new reality for President Trump himself, the fact that he is now facing divided government with the House in control of the Democrats. And we've seen that and reflected in their relationship between Pelosi and Trump, the fact that they had been involved in this tete-a-tete over the government shutdown and the fact that you also have the House really flexing its oversight muscle much more so about -- over the administration.

You also have tonight when President Trump looks out into the chamber this evening a lot of new faces of Congress. This is a much more diverse Congress. Many more women. Many more minorities.

And I asked one new member today, a freshman member of the House, what the message she hopes that President Trump will pick up, looking out tonight over them. And she said, "We came to play."

BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. He's the House majority whip.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Thank you.

The president, this will be his first State of the Union address since you guys, the Democrats, won back the majority in the House of Representatives. Where would you like to see your party work together with the president on specific issues? You know you worked together on criminal justice reform and got that passed.

CLYBURN: Yes. And we would like to see us work together on a few other issues, as well.

We want to work together on border security. We don't have a problem with securing our border. We would like very much for the president to give some confidence to the negotiators so they can find common ground and get us to where we need to be.

We want to see them working together on infrastructure. This is something that we need, not just to grow the economy but to secure the futures for our children. We need to be building new schools in rural communities. We need to be repairing our bridges, our roads. We need to be installing sewage and water in rural communities --

BLITZER: All right.

CLYBURN: -- for the -- for the health of our people. So a lot that we can work together on.

BLITZER: Do you think there's time for a compromise on border security? Will you support at least some funding for partial steel barriers along the border with Mexico? You don't have to call it a wall. CLYBURN: Wolf, you know, I've been calling it a wall. I call it a

smart wall. I say we ought to have a wall that uses technology just like we give smart telephones, we have smart TVs. All of that comes from the new technology that makes TV and telephones smart.

Let's do this same thing with securing our border.

BLITZER: What about some -- what about at least some steel barriers? Are you ready to fund some steel barriers as the president is demanding?

CLYBURN: Well, I just returned from Brownsville this afternoon, Brownsville, Texas, there on the Rio Grande. I went to that port of entry. That port needs to be reinforced, needs to be upgraded. And there is fencing there. And that fencing needs to be repaired.

And so I'm sure that we will work with the president on funding the repair work that needs to be done on those fences that are there and secure the border.

So we don't have a problem with that. We have a problem with a big 30-foot concrete wall, which would do nothing but be a monument to somebody's' ego.

BLITZER: But you know, the president has dropped his demand for a big 30-foot concrete wall. What he says he wants are these steel barriers in place of a formal concrete wall.

So I'll repeat the question. Are you ready to support at least some money for that kind of steel barrier? You want to call it a fence or whatever you want to call it. Are you ready to give him that?

CLYBURN: Well, I'm not one of the negotiators. I have no idea what's going on in that room. But if they come out there with the common approach, I don't care what it is. If the Democrats and Republicans come together on that conference committee and presents them to that Congress, I will vote for it, irrespective of what they call it, irrespective of how it looks, so long as the common ground is reached among any of them.

BLITZER: And they have to reach a deal, this bicameral, bipartisan group of appropriators, by Friday in order to allow a final vote next week. Is that right?

CLYBURN: That's correct. By the 15th. And I think they will get there. All we want to do is for the president to support them and not keep undercutting them. Give them the kind of room they need. Give them the kind of support they need, and I think they will get there.

BLITZER: So you think -- you're pretty optimistic these appropriators will be able to come up with a decent compromise that will avoid, A, a government shutdown, and B, the president declaring a national emergency to find money elsewhere to build a wall on his own?

CLYBURN: Well, I would hope the president would not go the route of a national emergency. That would be precedent-setting on the negative side which we don't need.

And you know, Wolf, I'm from South Carolina. I live constantly by our state's motto, "While I breathe, I hope." So I'm breathing and hoping that we can get to common ground.

BLITZER: Well, what are you going do if he does declare a national emergency?

CLYBURN: Well, we'll be in court by sun-up to determine whether or not he can sustain that through the judiciary.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's see if these appropriators can come up with a deal.

It's good to hear that the Democratic leadership in the House would support some sort of compromise they come up with. It's still unclear whether the president would do it if he doesn't have that formal sum of money for his border wall. But we'll see what happens over the next few days.

Congressman Clyburn, thanks so much for joining us.

CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for having me.

BLITZER: Up next, breaking news. CNN has learned that federal prosecutors want to interview executives over at the Trump Organization, even if they -- even as they have subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee, requesting documents on finances and donors.

And a new United Nations report says Kim Jong-un is trying to hide his missiles and nuclear weapons to protect against a possible U.S. first strike. Is that any way to prepare for his next summit, at the end of this month, with President Trump?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:01] BLITZER: In the run-up to the State of the Union address, investigators are once again rocking the White House. CNN has learned federal prosecutors have been seeking interviews with Trump Organization executives, even as they subpoena the Trump inaugural committee.

Our senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is here with me. Evan, so why do these federal investigators want to talk to people inside the Trump Organization?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear just yet, Wolf, but the fact that this is a request that came from the Southern District of New York, the prosecutors, federal prosecutors in Manhattan, really is what I think is going to get everybody's attention.

You've heard the president, and certainly people around the president, be concerned about the Mueller investigation for the past 18 months. And certainly, you know, that's been the heart of the political discussion. But this, these investigations, there's now a couple of investigations that are being run out of the prosecutor's office, federal prosecutor's office in Manhattan.

These have the potential to be a lot more problematic for the president. They have to deal with his -- with his company, with the company that he has spent his whole life building. He's got his kids, who have been running it. So it touches his children.

It also has to do with the inauguration, obviously. So this is where, I think, if you talk to people close to the president, they've been focused on when this day would come, which is the day that the prosecutors in Manhattan would be, essentially, homing in on everything around the president and the potential for the problems that that could cause for the president.

BLITZER: So in addition to focusing in on the Trump Organization, asking a lot of questions about that, they've gone ahead and subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee for specific information. Tell us about that.

PEREZ: Right. This is a wide-ranging subpoena, and even though, is you hear, you talk to the White House, they say it has nothing to do with the president. There's only one name on it. And it's a donor who used to be a donor for Democratic causes and candidates before he donated some money to the Trump inauguration.

But this is a big deal, simply because, you know, if you look at what the subpoena is asking for, they're asking for information about every donor who gave money to the inauguration. They're asking for information about all of the donations, the possibility that donations were made from foreigners, which is a no-no for these -- for these inauguration events.

They're asking about people who might have given straw donations. In other words, donations in the name of another person, again in violation of federal law.

So there's a lot of federal laws here that are being -- that are -- that are -- that are in play for the prosecutors, and according to the subpoena, this is the -- these are people who do public corruption investigations out of the Southern District of New York, the federal prosecutors there out of Manhattan.

And we already know that there's been a lot of scrutiny by this office on this record-setting inauguration, which spent about $100 million. There's a lot of questions as to where that money went.

And we also know that there is at least one donor, who was brought in and has pleaded guilty, has been cooperating, as far as we know, still cooperating, Sam Patten. He allegedly helped hide some money that came from a Ukrainian oligarch. Again, a donation that was not supposed to be made to the Trump inauguration festivities.

So again, this is where I think there's a lot of concern. If you're around the president this, you see the danger signals.

BLITZER: And that one donor who was actually mentioned, who had given an lot of money during the Democrat administrations, that one donor just didn't give some money. That was a significant sum of money he gave.

PEREZ: That's right. He gave a large sum of money, but through his company. And so we've reached out to him, and he that, essentially, he hasn't heard from prosecutors, which is always a worrisome sign. When your name is on a subpoena, but you haven't been talked to yet that's always a bad sign.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. We'll watch this very closely, as well.

Evan, thanks very much.

Coming up, breaking news. As President Trump gets ready for his State of the Union address tonight, we're standing by for new details on what he'll tell Congress and the American people and how Democrats will respond.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:27:31] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories as we count down to the president's State of the Union address later tonight.

CNN has learned, among other things, that federal prosecutors have been seeking interviews with Trump Organization executives, even as they subpoena the Trump inaugural committee.

Let's bring in our political and legal experts to discuss these late- breaking developments.

Jeffrey Toobin, give us your analysis on this new report. The prosecutors in New York, the Southern District of New York, the U.S. attorney there, they're seeking interviews with people inside the president's business, the Trump Organization.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Let's just think about what's under investigation right now. The Trump presidency, the Trump transition, the Trump inauguration, the Trump Foundation and the Trump business, all of which are under criminal investigation of one kind or another.

BLITZER: You can see it on the screen right there.

TOOBIN: Yes. That -- and --

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: What's the common thread, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: What is the common thread? It's like a game of "Clue." What do all these people have in common? I mean, it's just an astonishing number of investigations.

And potentially, the Trump business is the one where there is even the greatest exposure, because it's all about money.

Now, we need to say that there is no proof that any crime was committed, much less that the president or anyone else committed a crime. But being investigated by the FBI and the Southern District of New York ain't no fun, and it is -- and also, they don't end in a month. These investigations take a year at least, even if they lead to nothing. So welcome to the new world.

BLITZER: And there's another investigation, Laura. Prosecutors are looking into potential criminal conduct involving the Trump inaugural committee.

And let me put up on the screen some of the potential allegations that are involved. And I'll read them: conspiracy against the United States, false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, disclosure violations, contributions from foreign nations, contributions in the name of another person. That sounds pretty horrendous.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The subpoena is sprawling, no question. And there's a reason, I think, that every former federal prosecutor in the country like Jeffrey who's been following these cases will tell you the prosecutors in Manhattan just represent a different beast for the president than the Robert Mueller probe. Mainly because Mueller's mandated is limited. Remember, he is supposed to be looking into Russian interference in the election and any other crimes that arise from that.

The Southern District of New York is not cabined in any way. They can look into any federal crime within their jurisdiction that has evidentiary predicate.

And we've seen already they've gone from looking into hush money payments from the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to now looking into the Trump Organization, interviewing witnesses and an inauguration committee.

[17:30:10] So they've gone a long way, and this is something that could last throughout the rest of the president's term.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's not just the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. It's the U.S. attorney here in Washington, D.C. The U.S. attorney in Northern Virginia. They're all looking at various things.

So David Chalian, you think this is going to hover over the Trump presidency for the remaining two years of his first term?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: As Laura just said, it certainly could. There's little doubt about that. These things will take time.

I also -- I know when the question was originally posed to the president about how he would feel if the investigation sort of crept into territory that dealt with his family members or his business, it was about Mueller.

However, these investigations now from Southern District of New York, we are deep into the other side of the red line that the president for himself drew would be a huge problem. And now just to give us insight into what the president must be experiencing right now, he is -- he is now under investigation in a very uncomfortable territory.

He is adamant that nothing he did untoward in the Russia investigation. But when it comes to his business, we haven't heard him make sweeping denials like this whatsoever. So now he's in territory that he himself has said was on the other side of a red line that he did not want law enforcement to cross.

BLITZER: We know that Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer for a decade, his fixer, he knows a lot about what was going on in the Trump Organization. He's cooperating with U.S. prosecutors. And he's not the only one who's cooperating. So there is a potential legal nightmare there for the president.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Any skeletons that President Trump and his company might have in their closet, those are going to be exposed to these investigators, potentially.

And so if I'm the president, I am very nervous. And in fact, when you're comparing this SDNY investigation with the Mueller investigation, Chris Christie just said that this could potentially be even a much more serious threat to the administration than the Mueller investigation. So if I'm the president, I am very nervous.

BLITZER: Which is a bigger threat?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Both. I mean, they're -- it's terrible. You don't -- remember, I mean, the -- the Mueller investigation is not exactly nothing. I mean you know, you have the issue of Russian involvement in the presidential election which is not resolved. You have the issue of obstruction of justice, the firing of James Comey and related matters.

None of that has been resolved to Mueller's satisfaction. He has not filed a report. He has not completed his investigation.

And now we have this whole new chapter involving the business.

CHALIAN: Which also we should just note, also involves his children now.

That is who's left running the business. His sons, his adult sons. So this is going to hit a whole different set of nerves than we've seen before and how Donald Trump reacts to that while he's trying to govern the country with all this other stuff going on is.

TOOBIN: As they say on TV but wait, there's more. There's also the Congress of the United States. The House of Representatives is starting to do these investigations.

There is a joint investigation from the Intelligence Committee and the Finance Committee involving Deutsche Bank, which has involved so much of the Trump finances, family finances. That's going to move faster. That's going to be something that's going to be disclosed to the public, probably on a much faster timetable, embarrassment at least but not criminal prosecution. BLITZER: David, you know, as we take a look at this -- David

Chalian's over here. Jeffrey, as we take a look at this, but wait, there's more.

TOOBIN: Yes.

BLITZER: The New York state attorney general is also looking into the Trump Foundation.

TOOBIN: That's the point. But wait, there's more. That -- that's where the most direct financial misconduct has already been found. You know, spending on things that are clearly not charitable.

There has been a settlement there where, basically, the foundation is going out of business. And the attorney general, state attorneys general don't really do much criminal prosecution. So that investigation is perilous, but compared to the U.S. attorney's office, it's not as --

BLITZER: All these investigations. And I've always felt Alan Weisselberg, he's a name that is not all that familiar. But for 30 or 40 years, he was the chief financial officer. There's a picture of him. Over at the Trump Organization. He's cooperating in exchange for immunity. And he knows a lot, everything that's going on in the Trump Organization.

JARRETT: Sure. Certainly, the CFO, you would think, would know everything. Would know where all the skeletons are. And he's just the only one that we know about. Right? There's obviously an active grand jury investigation going on in the Southern District of New York. You can tell that from the subpoena. And so the question is who else is cooperating? Who else has appeared in front of that grand jury under the threat of perjury?

BLITZER: Because there could be others who are not publicly known yet.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stick around. That's lot more we're watching. More on the breaking news on this very important day. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:39:25] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts. And David Chalian, what do you anticipate we'll hear tonight?

CHALIAN: Well, our reporting from our White House team has been that the president is eager to go to the House chamber and make a plea for bipartisanship, to -- I think Kellyanne Conway described it, Wolf, as a call to end resistance and retribution politics.

This is what they were putting out all day, shortly before the president took to Twitter to try and hammer away at Chuck Schumer. So I'm not sure that the president is fully on board with what they're foreshadowing in terms you how he's going to conduct himself going forward.

Here's the reality of what tonight is. It's halftime in this first term of the Trump administration. So there are people who have spent their careers for the last three years waiting to see if Donald is somehow going to make an adjustment or pivot, as you hear that word so often. All evidence points to that that's not the case and that he has no interest in doing so.

So it's interesting to hear them try to describe a speech that's going to be like he's turning over a new leaf and really calling on everyone's better angels when there's nothing in the record to indicate that that's how he at all wants to comport himself as president.

BLITZER: He's going to make a pitch to cooperate on infrastructure, for example: building new roads, bridges, airports, which Democrats support, Republicans support. But hovering over this is this huge dispute over border security, including a wall.

BUCK: Right. And by the way, Wolf, he mentioned infrastructure last year, too, and pushed for that to be addressed.

BLITZER: How did that work out?

BUCK: It didn't work out that well. And so that's the thing that we need to remember as we're watching the president's speech tonight, is that he can call for unity. He can call for an infrastructure bill as he did both of those last year, but with President Trump in particular, it's very easy for him tomorrow morning to get on Twitter and undo all of the work that this speech did for him.

And so as much as he wants a reset, the White House wants a reset with this speech, as we've seen with President Trump, oftentimes message discipline is not that great.

BLITZER: His relationship with Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, Jeffrey, and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, used to be relatively OK. But it's really deteriorated lately.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, one of the great things about the president is that you actually know what he is thinking. You know, we often complain about politicians, that they're all, you know, manufactured and they're protected.

You know, the Twitter machine, like, is a one-way route into his brain. Twitter Trump is real Trump. Teleprompter Trump, which is what we're going to get tonight, I don't think anyone believes at this point that Teleprompter Trump is the real Trump. Twitter Trump is the real Trump. And when you see what he says about Pelosi, when you see what he says about Schumer, that's what he really thinks. The prospects for cooperation seem non-existent.

BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi will be standing over his shoulder, and sitting over his shoulder tonight.

Everybody stand by. I want to bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. She's just come from a meeting with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Dana, the speaker spoke about the last time she had a chance to have a conversation with the president, I'm told. What did she say?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was a small meeting with reporters from the networks. And the gist of what she said, Wolf, was that they spoke late last week when she re-invited the president to come for the State of the Union and that they did have, I think, by the standards of their relationship, which is pretty nonexistent, a relatively nice and lengthy, about 12 to 10 minutes, conversation about areas where they can get together. They talked about prescription drug prices, reducing those, and mostly about infrastructure.

She talked about the ways where she believes that they actually can work together on infrastructure as long as, she said, the president doesn't repeat some of the Republican proposals for infrastructure of the past, primarily the notion of it being a public/private partnership with most of it on the side of the private side, she said. On that, quote, "Good-bye" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, all right. I'm told she was also asked about whether she's feeling pressure from some of the more progressive or liberal members of her caucus not to compromise at all on funding for a border wall. What did she tell you?

BASH: That's right. I asked her about that. I got a good old- fashion eye roll, as you can imagine. And the gist of what the speaker said is that the president doesn't know anything about her caucus, and she also did a little psychoanalyzing. She said he projects, meaning the president, and she said he talks about other people's concerns when it's his own concern, meaning worried about the caucus.

And she said that it's exposing his own issues. Any time he says something, you have to turn it upside down. It's really about him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because if you hear some of the president's supporters, they're really going after her saying she is really captive of the far left of the Democratic Party. And they make the same argument about Chuck Schumer, that they don't control the situation anymore because they're too weak.

BASH: That's right. And that was the gist of my question. And that's why she was -- she really shot back in a pretty stern way saying that's just not true. And Chuck Schumer was at this small meeting as well.

[17:45:00] They insisted that they see some progress, they hear some progress, from the negotiators. I will tell you that other people are less rosy about those negotiations, but they are certainly looking at that.

One other thing that I just want to add to this. Even though we do not expect, from our reporters at the White House, that the President will talk about a national emergency tonight, Nancy Pelosi said we're going to wait. We're going to wait to talk about that, but when we do, we're going to have a very clear lesson on civics about who is in charge of the power of the purse, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Very interesting. All right, Dana, thanks very much for that report.

David Chalian, so where is this heading?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I mean, what Dana just described is that Donald Trump is going to walk into the House chamber tonight with a new reality. I mean, it is going to be the visual of Nancy Pelosi hanging over his shoulder.

But she also has some political juice right now. Her numbers are on the rise, her favorability numbers. Our polling yesterday showed 51 percent, a slim majority of Americans, want the country to be led in the direction by the congressional Democrats versus 40 percent who want it to be put into the direction by Donald Trump.

She's got the political juice right now. How he deals with that tonight -- not an overt acknowledgment, but how he deals with that in his approach tonight is going to be something I'm watching for.

BLITZER: It's going to be an important and fascinating night. I think we'll be watching, all of us, very closely.

As we await President Trump's state of the union address, CNN has obtained new details of a new United Nations report accusing the North Korean dictator of concealing his nuclear and missile capabilities. Stand by. We have new information.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:20] BLITZER: As we await President Trump's state of the union address tonight and the possibility he will announce the time and place for his next summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, a new United Nations report is calling out the dictator's efforts to conceal his nuclear and missile capabilities.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we're getting new information from sources at the United Nations. They are telling us about a confidential U.N. report which says Kim is going to extraordinary lengths to hide and disperse his weapons capability, even stashing it, some of it, in civilian areas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, new intelligence from the United Nations appears to show Kim Jong-un is taking evasive action to protect his weapons even as President Trump moves closer to a second summit with the 35-year-old dictator. Kim's regime is working to make sure its nuclear and missile

capabilities can't be taken out by U.S. air strikes by dispersing their assembly, storage, and testing locations.

BRAD BOWMAN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER ON MILITARY AND POLITICAL POWER, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: The more they disperse it, the more confidence they can have that their assets may be able to survive the initial stages of a conflict.

TODD (voice-over): Details of a confidential U.N. report were confirmed to CNN by a U.N. Security Council diplomat. The report says Kim's regime is using civilian facilities like airports to assemble and test ballistic missiles to evade so-called decapitation strikes.

BOWMAN: They know that that would create a dilemma for the United States military planners if we knew that there were important assets that we needed to destroy but civilians might be injured in the process.

TODD (voice-over): The report also says North Korea is rendering U.N. sanctions ineffective thanks to a massive increase in illegal ship-to- ship oil transfers on the high seas. And North Korea continues to try to illegally sell weapons in places like Libya, Sudan, and Yemen.

The U.N. report comes as the White House is trying to sell the idea that its diplomatic outreach, including a summit last summer, has boxed Kim Jong-un in, keeping him from testing or launching missiles.

The President repeatedly touted his relationship with Kim, including glowing letters between the two men. And he has often said he is ready for the two of them to sit down face-to-face again.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The meeting is set. He is looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it. We made tremendous progress.

TODD (voice-over): But experts say the second summit comes with even higher stakes since the first meeting in Singapore brought only a vague commitment from the North Korean dictator to work toward dismantling his nuclear arsenal.

ROBERT GALLUCCI, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL- MILITARY AFFAIRS: This is an opportunity to reduce tensions and to really change the situation in Northeast Asia.

TODD (voice-over): Robert Gallucci was the lead American negotiator in 1994 when North Korea agreed to freeze part of its weapons program and eliminate its nuclear facilities in exchange for economic aid, non-military nuclear reactors to generate electricity, and normalization of diplomatic relations.

The North Koreans cheated on that deal by secretly producing nuclear materials that could be weaponized. Gallucci says, at this summit, both sides have to make real commitments.

GALLUCCI: Some quid pro quo, some reciprocity. This is where the North gives us some substantive move on denuclearization and on our side, presumably something either in the box of normalization of relations or in the box of sanctions relief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, Robert Gallucci says with past deals with North Korea, even though the North Koreans cheated on those deals, it was still good for U.S. national security because they at least slowed the North Koreans' nuclear progress down.

He said that could be the case this time even if the North Koreans cheat, but he says, first, we have to see the kind of deal that Trump and Kim Jong-un make. We'll know soon where they're going to hold that summit, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll find out pretty soon, that's right. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

[17:54:55] Coming up, the breaking news. Just hours from now, President Trump will deliver his state of the union address. Aides say he'll call for unity, but he's not backing down on his border wall and is already trading barbs with Democrats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, Trump's big reset. New details emerging this hour about what President Trump will say tonight in his state of the union address, including a call for unity in a time of deep national division. But what will he say about his border wall?

Inaugural subpoena. Federal prosecutors focusing in on President Trump's inaugural committee, and now, CNN has learned they're also seeking interviews with Trump Organization executives. What do they want to know about the President's company?

[18:00:03] Not consulted.