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Ryan: "Makes No Sense" For Dems To Threaten Shutdown; Trump, Chief Of Staff To Make Visits To Capitol Hill; DHS Releases New Analysis Of "Foreign-Born" Terrorists; Source: Bannon Strikes A Deal Avoids Grand Jury For Now; Trump's "Excellent" Health: Heart Disease, Nearly Obese. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 17, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. It is 11 a.m. on Capitol Hill, but it's looking a lot like high noon in the showdown over government funding. Right now, the threat of a shutdown, Friday night, looms larger than ever. Hardline House conservatives are balking at a last-minute reprieve offered by their own party, and Democrats, who may now hold the critical votes, are not budging without a deal on immigration.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill. So, Sunlen, what's the situation right now? Are there enough votes to avoid a shutdown in the House?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We simply don't know yet, Brianna. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan really staying very far away from making any sort of predictions on vote counts yet himself. He spoke at a press conference here on Capitol Hill and he was asked do you think that this new plan that you guys have together will have enough support in the House to pass?
He said, look, we haven't even whipped it yet, so really staying away from any, making bold predictions whether it would pass or not. But certainly, House Republican leadership behind the scenes they are feeling a bit more confident and spending bill that came together overnight and was presented to their conference.
That keeps the government funded for at least the next 28 days until February 16th. The new plan does not address DACA, of course, what many Democrats want to see included in the spending plan.
But it does add funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, extends that for another six years, something that many Democrats wanted and delays some key Obamacare taxes. Key here is what House conservatives, many members of the House Freedom Caucus, can they get behind that plan?
That is a big question for House Republican leadership going forward as they certainly try to sell his plan up here.
KEILAR: So, if they do sell it, Sunlen, and they get it through the House, then the ball is in the Senate's court. What would happen with Democrats there who would actually wield some power because Republicans don't have a filibuster proof majority. SERFATY: That's right. That's key when and if it gets to the Senate, that's going to be the big question. Republicans do need Democratic support here and need 60 votes to get it through. Once it eventually reaches the Senate and that's something that Republican leaders are very mindful of.
They have to get at least nine Democrats to sign onto the bill and certainly that puts a lot of Democrats who do have leverage here in a tough spot. Many have said that they are drawing the line in the sand and won't vote for a spending bill that does not address DACA.
But there are some others, especially those who are in tight re- election races looking ahead towards the midterm election that may vote for it. We heard from a few of them, Senator Manchin saying that he wants to keep the government funded.
We also heard really non-committal, committal saying Senator Angus King, I'm just tired of voting for CR and certainly that's a lot of sentiment that people have, this band aid stop-gap measure is not something they want to put their names to -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Sunlen, thank you so much for that. This morning, President Trump's chief of staff is reaching out to lawmakers in search of common ground on immigration. This is the president himself makes a trip to Capitol Hill.
And CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House with more on this. So, Kaitlan, is there any indication where the president is on a bill, on a proposal that would avert a government shutdown?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the White House has already kind of been pre-blaming Democrats for this, Brianna, but let's be clear the White House is aware of these optics, this is a Republican-controlled White House and Republican-controlled Congress.
They know what the optics are going to be if the government does shut down while they are in control. Yesterday at the press briefing, Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, said that the White House was still looking to get a clean two-year budget deal.
But I've been speaking with sources inside the White House this morning after the Republican leadership proposed Plan B essentially last night and they said that we can expect to see some kind of formal support for this proposal come out of the White House here today.
Now, we haven't heard from the president on this directly, but there certainly is a chance we could today as he travels to Capitol Hill this afternoon for a congressional ceremony to honor former Senator Bob Dole.
The White House said there are no plans right now for the president to stop into any lawmaker's offices while he's there, but Brianna, this is certainly a president where he makes up his mind on spot and he could certainly choose to do so if he feels he needs to garner a little bit more support in order to avoid a government shutdown here today. KEILAR: Kaitlan, I also want to ask you about some numbers that the Trump administration has released. It's a report on terror talks about foreign born terrorists and the effects they have.
Critics say that this is trying to show a link to immigration policies that the president does not like, when really the vast majority of deaths that are caused by terrorists are caused by American-born terrorists when you're talking about some of these really bad attacks we've seen in recent years. Tell us about these numbers.
COLLINS: Yes. This report that was blasted out by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, to reporters yesterday, 11-page document is raising a lot more eyebrows than it is answering questions. There's a few reasons why.
[11:05:07] And it makes that overarching claim that 73 percent of those convicted of international terrorism charges in U.S. federal courts happened post 9/11 were because they were foreign born people.
Now, it leaves a lot to be desired because it includes a terrorist act committed abroad, but doesn't say exactly how many. It doesn't provide a breakdown of how many individuals were arrested for acts committed on U.S. soil and it doesn't explain how many foreign nationals were radicalized only after they entered the United States.
It also doesn't include those convicted of offenses related to domestic terrorism either. We saw the president touting this report on Twitter last night. But he left out the word international, which is a key word when we're reading all of this. It's also raising eyebrows because not many people miss this came out as these immigrations talks are going on, on Capitol Hill -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And we heard yesterday morning on CBS News from the secretary of Homeland Security, she testified before Congress as well and she was asked about some of these questions that you outlined there, Kaitlan, and she just didn't really have the answers, which seemed implausible considering she seems to be a good hold on these things. Kaitlan Collins for us at the White House. Thank you so much.
I want to bring in our guests now. We have CNN political analyst, Jackie Kucinich, also the Washington bureau chief for the "Daily Beast," and CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.
All right. Let's start with the immediate crisis, shall we, Jackie? Is the government going to stay open? These proposals that we're seeing before House Republicans and you heard the House speaker hasn't whipped this. This short-term measure, is this something Republicans will go along with?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that remains to be seen. You heard some skepticism from Mark Meadows as recently as last night. I don't know if he said anything addition this morning. But he really -- the Freedom Caucus is under a lot of pressure to vote for this and bring this along. It doesn't look like they are there yet.
KEILAR: And it seems like -- I don't understand why they would vote for it if I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of what they want because this puts you right back in the same place in a month. You don't get a whole lot out of it if you're a conservative Republican.
Then you're sort of buying time for Republicans to come up with a compromise with Democrats on immigration, which if you're a conservative Republican, that's not what you want to see, right?
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's right. You are giving the leadership what it says it needs and certainly what it wants, which is not really the primary concern of the House Freedom Caucus, nor the major concern of the liberal left.
They are more ideologically driven than they are sort of pragmatically driven. That said, I don't think there's any -- Kaitlan mentioned this, I don't think there's any debate if the government shuts down, Republicans are getting blamed for it.
Majorities of the country blame Republicans in 2013 in the wake of that shutdown and in '95 and '96, the last two shutdowns we've had. In both of those situations there was split control, Republicans controlled Congress and Democrat in the White House.
There isn't that now. So, Donald Trump can tweet as much as he wants about Democrats, they don't want to fund our military, Republicans control everything Point A, Point B, the average person has some sense of that. That's where I think it's problematic.
KUCINICH: I was talking to some Senate Republican staff this morning and there is cautious optimism that Paul Ryan will be able to push this through. Once it gets to the Senate, there's also a cautious optimism that these Democrats primarily those from red states facing very tough re-election bids will sign on to this.
Now what that means in 28 days, I don't think they will look that far at that point. As far as the immediate problem, as you said, there is some very cautious optimism that the government isn't going to shut down.
KEILAR: But Jackie, we're going to be right back where we are now in a month, right?
CILIZZA: This is what we do.
KUCINICH: Seriously, it is rinse, repeat, free oak out and you've seen that over and over again. Democrats are going to feel even more emboldened to try to stop this if this children's health insurance measure is not a part -- and what goes through right now passes it's not going to be a part of this next package. Also, the closer we get to election day, the harder it is to get anything done.
KEILAR: Does it help, Chris, I wonder, by not dealing with DACA right now, in what has become such a terrible environment because of what came out about what the president said, about African nations and about Haiti and there's just -- there's so much -- there's normally animosity but there's just -- you can feel it, right? It's very palpable. Does it help to give everyone a little breathing room for a month?
CILIZZA: I mean, I think time heals a lot of wounds and you would rather take the heat off of this. It feels like a month, but it's been less than a week since Donald Trump had that immigration meeting in the White House.
[11:10:10] So sure, in theory, but I'd remind you, they had issues with DACA -- I mean, this is not -- the border security funding versus DACA protections fight is not one that suddenly became contentious because Donald Trump said what he said, right?
I mean, this is one in which there are two blocks within the parties that feel very strongly, one on border security, one on DACA, I don't want to say never they shall meet, but it's not as though that Trump meeting was sort of a seminal moment here.
It was a big moment but in a month to Jackie's point, in a month, they did a two-month continuing resolution, in two months we would be back in the same place. The dynamic is not fundamentally altered by kicking the can down the road.
KUCINICH: Congress is a lot like how I was in college. If I got an extension (inaudible), I was in the library the night before writing that paper.
CILIZZA: You get a month-long extension, you don't start that day writing for the next month. You start the night before the month-long extension.
KEILAR: It expands to the time allotted. OK, so then after all of this, as we do look in the short term towards a discussion on immigration again, Jackie, do we really have a sense of where the president is and what he wants on immigration?
KUCINICH: It seems like right now he's much more aligned with his staff than as we heard Senator Graham say yesterday, than he is with Senator Durbin and Senator Graham. We've seen this can change. There's that adage that whoever is in the room with the president last is the one that changes his mind.
However, it does seem like his Chief of Staff John Kelly, perhaps Stephen Miller really have the president in a place where he's not as amenable to some of the more moderate proposals.
KEILAR: All right. Jackie, thank you so much and Chris Cillizza. Thank you so much to both of you.
Breaking this morning, Steve Bannon to cooperate with Special Counsel Bob Mueller after House investigators accused the former White House chief strategist of stone walling. We'll have details on that ahead.
Plus, the White House doctor says the president is in excellent health, but his results indicate he has heart disease and is borderline obese. So, what is going on here? We are live with the fact check from Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
KEILAR: Breaking Bannon, the House Intel Committee couldn't do it yesterday, but Robert Mueller's team might fare better. CNN is learning that the former White House chief strategist has struck a deal with the special counsel's team and is going to talk with prosecutors rather than testify before the grand jury.
This comes after Bannon was subpoenaed by Mueller and the House Intelligence Committee after refusing to answer questions about his time working for the president or his work during the transition after the president was elected.
Now Bannon reportedly will talk openly with Mueller's team and we have learned that he might go back before the panel tomorrow to answer more questions. Bannon is just one of several current or former Trump insiders appearing before the committee this week.
Senior White House Aide Rick Dearborne set to testify this hour and later today, former Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski will appear before the panel and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks could get the call on Friday.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is following this story for us. So, Shimon, what else do we know about Steve Bannon coming back before the intel committee for a second time?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, Brianna, that's supposed to happen tomorrow, at least that's what we are told by members on the committee, that he is expected to appear before them tomorrow.
Now as to whether or not anything will change in terms of the questions that they specifically have for him, relating to the transition and to the time that he was at the White House, it's unclear if he's going to answer any of those questions. It's really not up to him.
He claims it's up to the White House. He's claiming that they essentially gagged him and told him he could not speak about that time period. More importantly though, I think is the special counsel -- his appearance before the special counsel, when that will happen. That's going to be a significant time period.
He will not be able to claim executive privilege in that case when he appears before the special counsel because if he does get into a place where he starts refusing to answer certain questions, remember, they have the grand jury subpoena that they can still basically force him to appear before a grand jury where he would have to answer questions or plea the Fifth.
KEILAR: All right, Shimon, thank you so much for that update. Let's talk with CNN legal analyst and former special assistant of the Justice Department, Michael Zeldin. He worked with Robert Mueller there at the Justice Department.
So, explain this to us, because Shimon says now they have in their back pocket still this subpoena before the grand jury. But why was Bannon subpoenaed when he seemed to work out what everyone else did, which was just having an interview with the counsel's team?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that you see in Mueller a view of people that he trusts and doesn't trust. So, with Manafort, for example, we asked, why did they have a no-knock entry into his apartment, why not knock on the door and come in? Because he didn't trust Manafort.
I think the same thing is probably true with Bannon. He doesn't trust him and wanted to send a message to him that this is serious stuff. You can't just be talking to attorney for the independent counsel staff and the same way you talk to Wolff and the "Fire and Fury" book. Different environment.
KEILAR: OK. So, he's said he's invoked executive privilege as we understand when he's talking to House investigators up on Capitol Hill. He's not going to have that protection when he talks to Robert Mueller's team. But I do wonder, he has invoked executive privilege when he's talking to House investigators when it comes to his time on the transition, not just his time in the White House. Does he have that protection under executive privilege?
[15:20:06] ZELDIN: No, and actually, of course, it's the president who has to assert the executive privilege, it's not Bannon's to assert. The president has to tell Bannon, I direct you not to answer those questions because I am asserting executive privilege here.
KEILAR: But if he's saying he's been instructed by the White House, isn't that the same thing?
ZELDIN: Yes, exactly. So, when you say Bannon is refusing, Bannon has been instructed to refuse. Now with respect to Mueller --
KEILAR: But the transition, that's not -- you're saying that's not covered, he should be answering questions about the transition to House investigators?
ZELDIN: Right. We've learned from the United States versus Nixon Supreme Court case and in Ray Sealed case SP investigation by an independent counsel that these privileges are very narrow in scope. They are not broad and involve time and government talking to the president or talking to another top-level executive that is going to be briefing the president.
So, the -- so the use of this in the transition, post his tenure in the White House, talking to people that don't have anything to do with the president, it's all spurious.
KEILAR: So, then, what is the strategy in your mind. Is it so Bannon and his team is dealing solely there's one game in town and that is him talking to Robert Mueller's team and not going to confuse it with talking to House investigators where you could get conflicting testimony. What is he trying to do by invoking executive privilege on the president's executive privilege on a time period when he clearly should not be?
ZELDIN: Well, it's not clear what the White House's strategy was in directing Bannon not to answer questions for a period of time where no privilege attached. If he does that with Mueller, it will be a brick in the wall of obstruction again. It will be another factor that Mueller takes into account with respect to the White House's behavior. Honestly, Brianna --
KEILAR: You don't rule --
ZELDIN: -- it makes no sense what they did on the Hill yesterday because now he's under subpoena and going to come back and they are going to ask these questions. If he refuses to answer these questions, they can take him to court and compel him to answer these questions under penalty of contempt and he can be jailed for that.
KEILAR: And a judge will specify very clearly, look, that privilege that has been invoked or that you've been told has been invoked --
ZELDIN: Applies or doesn't apply.
KEILAR: So, what happens if he were to -- if he's risking to be found -- risking that, if he is found in contempt?
ZELDIN: Remember Susan McDougall in the Whitewater case, went to jail for 18 months to refusing to answer Starr's question. That's what could happen in a worst-case scenario.
KEILAR: How do his comments, it's a different situation when you're mouthing off in a book like "Fire and Fury", Wolff's book we saw. How do they play for Steve Bannon legally?
ZELDIN: Well, it depends. If Mueller believes that he has truth behind these assertions that there are facts that underlie it, for example, he said Bannon said, money laundering is the key to all of this. It's a plain as the hair on your face. Mueller is going to say, tell me why that is.
Give me the factual basis for that statement. He said that the June 9th meeting was treasonous. Mueller will want to say why, how do you know? What facts give rise to that opinion?
And so, Mueller will drill down on the factual basis for these bold assertions, which are fine to make in a tell-all book but not fine to tell in a grand jury, and Mueller will want to know what the difference is between them.
KEILAR: Michael Zeldin, thank you so much for explaining it to us. We do appreciate it.
Coming up, can you be an in excellent health, but also have heart disease and be borderline obese? According to the president's doctor the answer is yes. We'll ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta about that next.
KEILAR: President Trump gets a clean bill of health from the White House physician who says his overall health is excellent. There's been a lot of focus on the fact that Trump is borderline obese by current medical standards, but the numbers that are actually more concerning have to do with his heart.
CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has looked over the test results and Sanjay, tell us how the president shapes up when you compare this to medical standards for a healthy heart.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president does have some evidence of heart disease, based on a test that looks for this plaque buildup in the blood vessels around his heart. It's a pretty well-known test.
To be fair it's something very common in someone of his age, just about half of the men of his age are going to have the same level of heart disease that he has. He's also as you know, he's borderline obese according to the measurements of the doctor gave us and high cholesterol, for which he's being treated, and the dosage of that medication will increase.
He also had two other tests that give a picture of the here and now, if you will. They give a picture of how is his heart functioning right now? Despite what the cholesterol is, and heart disease is, that's an echo or ultrasound of the heart and test that basically sees how the heart performs when it's stressed.
And according to Dr. Jackson, those tests look normal. So, his heart looks to be functioning normally, but there's certainly some things to watch out for -- Brianna.
KEILAR: So, what would a doctor put more weight on, the buildup that they see, calcium number you're talking about or the echo?
GUPTA: I think for the here and now it's the echo. Is there a problem that's currently happening with his heart? Does the heartbeat abnormally, something abnormal when the heart is stressed in some way?
According to Dr. Jackson's reports, that's not the case. The heart looks to be fine right now. There is some evidence of disease though and that means there's disease in the blood vessels that feed the heart.
If that disease or that narrowing gets worse over time, that's when you start to worry about some heart problem down the line. They can even categorize this based on the amount of plaque. That's what we are talking about here that he has in his --