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INSIDE POLITICS

Hours from Possible Shutdown; Democrats Hold Out for DACA Deal; Parties Play Blame Game; March For Live Rally Speech. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 19, 2018 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:26] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing this very important day with us.

We begin this hour with a big crisis moment on Capitol Hill in Washington, and, yes, across the country. Less than 12 hours to go, aides on Capitol Hill says the government is most likely going to shut down. Now only a matter of how long it lasts, those aides say. Senator Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, they're not talking. Look for progress? You won't find any. The blame? There's no shortage of that. On the Senate floor last hour, the Republican leader says this of his Democratic colleague.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: This vote should be a no- brainer. And it would be except the Democratic leader has convinced his members to filibuster any funding bill that doesn't include legislation they are demanding for people who came into the United States illegally. And Democrats would own the craziness of this seems to be dawning on my friend, the Democratic leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And at the White House just moments ago, top aide to the president saying don't look at us, don't blame the president, who promised he would come to Washington, cut all the good deals. The White House says, it's all the Democrats' fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: We don't want this. We do not want a shutdown. But if Mr. Schumer insists on it, he is in a position to force this on the American people. They have nothing in this bill that they do not like. The only reason they are not voting for it is that they want other things to be added to it and they want a shutdown. That's the only explanation we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's get straight out to CNN's Phil Mattingly. He's live on Capitol Hill.

Phil, little talk of legislating this morning. Is it inevitable -- is it inevitable that the plan that came out of the House last night is dead in the Senate?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, what we're waiting for right now is a vote that we know is going to fail, basically. And just to give you a sense of where things actually currently stand in the U.S. Senate right now, they can't even agree -- get an agreement on when to actually have that vote that they know is going to fail. They need 60 votes to actually move that forward, pass that procedural vote. It's very clear with Democrats and a handful of Republicans that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't simply have that.

I think the sound that you played in the intro lays everything out perfectly. This is not a moment where people are in a room trying to figure something out. This is a moment where people are trying to cast blame. And I think the reality is, when you talk to aides on the Democratic side, when you talk to aides on the Republican side, they are digging in. They feel like they have a winning argument. They feel like the other side is going to get blamed for everything that's about to happen in the days or potentially weeks ahead. And, therefore, there is no movement at all.

I think the big question is, when is that going to break? When are people going to start trying to recognize that meetings need to start happening? That will be a key. But as of this moment, John, that's not happening. And as you noted, we're, what, 14 hours from a shutdown at this point, 15 hours, 12 hours, I'm not good at math.

KING: And as we count the math down, as we count the hours down, it's been a long day for you on Capitol Hill, suddenly, in recent -- just in recent minutes, there's been a notice sent out to House members saying, we think we're done with our votes, but stay flexible. Is that a sign they think there could be some last-minute temporary deal for a day or two, a day or three?

MATTINGLY: My understanding is it's more about appearances than anything else. The idea that they would be going home. Some of them had congressional delegations to foreign countries that were scheduled. All of those things being on the table or all of those things actually happening, everybody leaving town, wouldn't look so good with the government shutdown.

For the same exact reason that the White House canceled the president's trip down to Mar-a-Lago. They realize that it looks much better to be in town, to say they're there to work, than for everybody to just go home and not deal with this at all.

Now I will tell you, in talking to Republican members last night and talking to Republican aides this morning, they were totally fine with their guys going home. Their key point here, John, we did our work. It's the Senate's turn now.

And I think what that underscores is the reality in Republican leadership right now in both the House and the Senate. They're very much aligned on this. They're not moving. There's no alternative they're considering. The bill the House passed is the bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans on putting up repeatedly in the hours or days ahead, trying to force Democrats, basically wear them down, bludgeon those Democrats that are up in 2018. That's the strategy. That hasn't shifted. And that just underscores that right now Republicans, at least, very comfortable with their standing as we head towards that shutdown moment, John.

KING: Phil Mattingly live on Capitol Hill.

Phil, raise your hand if anything comes up in the hour ahead to move the story along. We'll bring you back up.

With us here in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Dana Bash, Carl Hulse of "The New York Times," Toluse Olorunnipa with "Bloomberg," and Eliana Johnson from "Politico."

This is a rare moment during the Trump presidency where the Republicans think they do actually have the upper hand, at least in the short term. They have passed a bill in the House to keep the government open. There's nothing in the bill the Democrats object to, and yet the Democrats say they won't vote for it because the Democrats want to deal with the dreamers issues, the DACA issue, and they say, no way, we're not doing another temporary. They believe this is their leverage.

[12:05:08] How is that going to play out? Will the Democrats blink in the end? Do they think this is -- most of them think this is OK? But some of them have to run for elections this year in dicey situations.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They do. And that's what's so remarkable is that, at least on the surface it seems that even those who are up for reelection in Trump states, places where Trump -- states where Trump won by double digits, plus-plus, are on board with not voting for a budget bill that will keep the government running because they want to dig in. And to me what that says is that the dynamic of 2018 is a base dynamic, even for Democrats in red states. They want to keep the Democratic base engaged and that means resist, stand your ground, stand firm, keep your spine stiff and don't give in. Because, if you do, then these -- this is the particulars you were talking about, obviously, these dreamers might not get a good deal.

It's very risky. There is no question about that because, I agree with you, in the last 24 hours, Republicans have been remarkably good and glib at their messaging on this. The Schumer shutdown. What are you going to do about kids who don't have health care? Things that are really important and really resonate with the average American.

KING: And yet, and yet, and we'll talk more about blame later, I want to talk about the 12 hours ahead of us. But just on the big question there, this is one of the reasons Donald Trump was elected, is because a normal working class family that has to make tough choices, that has to set a family budget, looks at Washington. Every seven months, it seems, we're facing a deadline for a government shutdown. So they sent in somebody different who said, they're all stupid, I can fix this. I can cut the deals.

There's no question the Democrats are making a big choice here. What's the risk for the president?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "BLOOMBERG": Well, the president campaigned on being this great deal maker, saying that he was going to come to Washington and not be ideologically driven by one party or the other. He was a Democrat for a long time in his earlier life. And said that he could work with Democrats. He could work with Schumer. He has a long relationship with him in New York.

But we have not seen that. We have seen an erratic president. We've seen a president who shifts from one position to the other, saying I want a bipartisan deal on Tuesday and then on Thursday when he has a deal says that he likes it and then brings other people into the White House and torpedoes the deal.

So that's what I think the Democrats are seeing and what they're banking on. They believing that the president's erratic approach to this is going to cause Americans to say, this is why we have a shutdown, because we have a president whose tweeting, undercutting his chief of staff, tweeting comments that are at odds with what the Republican leadership has called for, and that the American people will blame the president and the Republicans who control the White House and the House and the Senate.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Yes, I mean, you're going to see the White House come out, and we've heard them already, Marc Short, the director of congressional affairs yesterday on a panel at the University of Virginia referred not to Democrats but to Congress, trying to drive the message that the White House is fine, it's Congress that's dysfunctional.

But you've got Republican members of Congress in the House and the Senate saying on the record that the role of the president -- this is a situation that requires presidential leadership, and the role of the president here has been extraordinarily confusing. He never said clearly what he wanted in a DACA deal, and then came out yesterday morning and reversed the White House's position on Children's Health Insurance, saying he wanted a long term deal, not a 30-day short-term measure.

And all of this has thrown Republicans into a tailspin, sent his own aides spinning and that simply is not conducive to, you know, crisis management and to getting something done. And Republicans are -- they really are at their wits end even -- you know, they really have tried to sideline the president from all of this, but that doesn't mean he can't throw a grenade into these proceedings.

KING: He's also on the record saying that some -- what he thinks this town needs is a good shutdown, whatever a good shutdown is.

Carl, not your first rodeo. We've lived through some of these and we've lived through many more that have gotten right to the brink and they solved them in the end. From all the words and from the lack of meetings and no big summit planned at the White House, everything we have in front of us at this hour tells us the government's going to shut down in 12 hours.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I think --

KING: Is there -- is there some way to fix this?

HULSE: I think the bad sign in that we're all seeing here is that all the effort right now is into trying to assign blame.

BASH: Yes.

HULSE: There is no effort to try and get out of this mess.

And getting out of this is going to take some real legislating because you have to come up with an immigration bill. That's not going to happen.

I mean Democrats might change their mind, but in talking to Democrats this morning, they were pointing at a new "Wall Street Journal" poll. And they said, look at that poll. A majority of Americans have a very unfavorable opinion of the president.

[12:10:02] You know, what's been going on here the past two weeks. You've got the book out. You've got the racially charged language. You have the porn star, which is actually, you know, also sort of in the mix of the discussion of what's going on at the White House.

The -- the Democrats are confident that this is going to -- people are going to look at that and say, Washington's in chaos. President Trump is not managing great (ph).

KING: I think they also -- they also have the evidence -- if you're the Democrats -- and I'm not -- I don't think it's a good idea to shut down the government. I think the children should learn to get along and do the one thing they are sent here to do, the one first and foremost thing, keep the government up and running here.

But the Democrats can remember 2013 when everybody thought the Republicans would get hammered for contributing to a government shutdown that was over a fight over Obamacare. This one is a fight over immigration from the Democrats' standpoint. Everyone thought the Republicans would get happened. They took back the Senate in the election. So they did not pay a long -- not pay a long -- if there was a price, it didn't last.

HULSE: And part of that was because of the rollout of the Obamacare came and was a disaster, fiasco, and that deflected attention at that time. I think that both sides really need to be cautious here because, as I told somebody earlier, these things take unusual bounces.

BASH: Exactly.

KING: Right.

HULSE: You really can't game it out the way they think they can game it out.

KING: Right. And that's a great point because one of my questions is, Mitch McConnell seems to be trying to lead Democrats to a place where he hopes -- and I think it's a hope. I don't think he knows, because this volatile, unpredictable environment we live in, where right now it's an anti-Trump, anti-Republican year.

If the government shuts down, can Mitch McConnell make it an anti- incumbent year where you do have those Democrats that are -- you know, John Tester's running and he called reporters back in Montana yesterday saying, you know, this is about -- we can't keep passing these temporary measures. We need leadership to stop government, you know, from being so childish. Well, the Republicans are going to run ads, he voted to shut down the government to protect illegal immigrants.

BASH: Right. No, you're exactly right.

I do think -- and it's an open question. I mean that -- that would be a really convoluted and I frankly think accidental plus if that is, at the end of the day, how Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate fare.

The big difference, obviously, between now and 2013 is that there was a Democrat in the White House.

KING: Right.

BASH: This is total Republican control. And we haven't seen a modern day shutdown with total Republican control, even with Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton was in the White House.

But one thing that I think -- a story that I heard this morning that really underscores the point you were making, both of you were, about it being the blame game in public and not a lot happening behind the scenes. I talked to a Democratic senator who said that there were all kinds of discussions this morning in the Senate jam (ph), which those of us who cover the Congress know that that's actually where a lot of deals and real bipartisan discussions get done. And Democrats and Republicans realized how much they're really talking past each other.

Republicans saying to Democrats in quite conversations, wait a minute, do you really think that we're not going to deal with the dreamers in the next month or two before the deadline? And the answer was, why would we? Look at the mixed messages we've been getting from you, from the president.

And vice versa, Republican -- Democrats saying to Republicans, do you really think that we're not going to stand firm and allow -- allow the government to shut down, if that's what's needed? And the fact that these conversations are not happening in a more formal way, that they're just happening organically among senators whose job it is to legislate, to talk to one another, they know each other, to get -- get the Congress and the country out of the hole is very telling about where things are right now.

KING: Is it distrust that begets more dysfunction, or dysfunction that begets more distrust? I'm not sure the answer to that.

Everybody sit tight. More on the shutdown in a moment and throughout the hour.

Plus, we're also waiting for President Trump to speak to the March of Life here in Washington. When President Reagan did it, he didn't beam in by video like the president will. He called in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We're told about a woman's right to control her own body. But doesn't the unborn child have a higher right, and that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:18:00] KING: Welcome back.

That's Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey. You see he calls it the Trump shutdown. The Republicans are calling it the Schumer shutdown. That is what is going (INAUDIBLE) place here.

As Carl Hulse of "The New York Times" said just moment ago, not negotiations to try and avert a government shutdown, at least at the moment. No negotiations. No responsible attempts to avert a government shutdown. At the moment, attempts to assign blame.

We'll keep an eye on that as that plays out.

Also want to remind you, we're waiting for the president of the United States. Any moment now he's going to step into the Rose Garden at the White House. He's going to do a video presentation to a rally nearby just before the annual March for Life here in Washington, D.C. A very important march every year for the anti-abortion movement. The president of the United States is going to speak any moment. We'll take you there live as soon as he does.

But more, though, back to the shutdown debate. Resignation turning to recrimination this morning, starting on the White House North Lawn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I find it really regrettable that for petty, partisan, political reasons and also as an audition for 2020 playing to the left wing base, you have otherwise responsible members of the Senate being willing to shut down the government for this reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You have your scorecard. The White House blames the Democrats. So, too, does the Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. He says the Democrats deserve to take the blame if, in less than 12 hours from now, the government shuts down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the Democrats are hoping that the American people won't know that they had their fingerprints all over this. This is the CHIP extension bill, the Democrats supports that. The keeping the government funded, the government -- the Democrats supports that. This -- there's nothing in the bill that the House passed yesterday, not a single thing, that the Democrats oppose. That's what's so ironic about all of this. So this is nothing more than legislative hostage taking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, for your scorecard, Ryan betting the public will side with him and punish Democrats for holding out, shutting the government down just to get a deal for the dreamers. Democrats betting three simple facts that erase what's a pretty big and complicated debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), MINORITY WHIP: The Republicans are in majority control of the United States Senate. The Republicans are in majority control of the United States House of Representatives. The Republicans are in control of the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:20:06] KING: I understand. It's an election year. They're all political partisans. This is what they have to do. Could they wait till 4:00 or 5:00 or 6:00 to do that and maybe go into a private room and stop talking and pointing figures and try to actually figure out if they can stop this?

BASH: Sure. It's happened before.

KING: Asking too much? Asking too much in this environment?

HULSE: I don't -- I don't see that happening.

BASH: I don't either, but it has happened. There's no question. But, look, now the focus is, you played Ed Markey showing the big poster of Trump shutdown. It's literally the rhetorical war over whether it's going to be called the Trump shutdown or the Schumer shutdown. And before coming on, I texted a Democrat saying, I don't know, Schumer shutdown, that's going to be pretty tough to swallow. And the response was, but Trump shutdown is the one trending on Twitter. That's where their focus is right now. But there are many hours.

KING: Hash tag thanks Trump that we follow Twitter now for how this works.

Look, heading into this, we don't know how this is going to end and we -- if there is a shutdown, one of the important questions is, how long does it last? Does something happen? Does it affect people in a way that leaves them mad at somebody or mad at all of them.

Quinnipiac did a question -- a polls asking the question beforehand. And, again, this is taken before this actually happens. Who would you blame if the government shuts down? Thirty-four percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans, 21 percent the president, 13 percent don't know. So that's sort of a pox on all their houses. But if you add up the Republicans and Trump, you get a majority saying they blame the right.

Now, again, we don't know how that's going to last, but it seems that everybody at the moment thinks we're OK with this, which is a pretty horrible place to be when you think about responsible governing, but in the political question, everybody seems to think, OK.

HULSE: Well, I think that's how deep the politics are now in Washington, that this is just being gamed out strategically, who can we use this against, how is this going to help us? And I think that at the end of the day, the public will blame everyone. But there's more Republicans than Democrats right now.

I do think one thing to watch today, too, is the vote in the Senate. The actual numbers in that vote are going to matter because if Senator McConnell can't deliver his own majority, if they can't hit 50 --

BASH: And they might not.

HULSE: It's going to -- and some Republicans aren't going to vote for this. And it's going to make it harder for them to say, hey, this was the Democrats' fault when their own people were opposing this. So I do think that's --

KING: Right. And at moments like this, because this has happened before, and because we've come close to this happening before, the things you have said in the past tend to come back to sometimes support you and sometimes haunt you.

Remember, in 2013, the Republicans helped broker a government shutdown because they were mad about Obamacare. Democrats said, that was reckless. Obamacare has nothing to do with keeping the government open. Why would you do that? Listen here. This year the issues is immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: You know, we could do the same thing on immigration. We could -- we believe strongly in immigration reform. We could say we're shutting down the government, we're not going to raise the debt ceiling until you pass immigration reform. It would be governmental chaos.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I join the American people, and they're disgusted, what happened in terms of the shutdown of government. It's an unthinkable tactic to use as a -- in the political debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Videotape is such a horrible thing for politicians.

But it's not just the Democrats there. Now, you can use those bites and say, hello, you wacked us for doing what now you're about to do. There's a guy now who's in the White House. When he wasn't in the White House, he said if the government shuts down, it's one guy's fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. And the president's the leader. And he's got to get everybody in a room and he's got to lead.

In 25 years and 50 years and 100 years from now, when the government is -- you know, they talk about the government shutdown, they're going to be talking about the president of the United States. Who was the president at that time? They're not going to be talking who the head of the House was, the head of the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HULSE: You know, people say Washington, that they're not flexible. Well, they're flexible.

KING: They're very flexible.

OLORUNNIPA: And now you know why there is blame sort of being put on all sides and why all sides see some political value in this, because they have those clips that they can use. They can take it to their base and say, this is what the other side is doing to you to shut down the government. And they're using that as leverage to score some political points.

One other thing is that Republicans in the Senate are unhappy with the idea of another CR. They've been passing CRs for the last year, for the better part of the last year, and there's -- they're just exhausted. You know, Republicans controlling the House and the Senate and the White House, they were supposed to bring back regular order. They were supposed to pass a budget through the normal appropriation process. And the fact that they're on their fourth CR, not something that the military likes, not something that Republican budget hawks like, and there is some -- some fatigue.

KING: Not something any family that has to make these tough choices every day, every week, every month can possibly understand.

OLORUNNIPA: And that's why you have Senate Majority Leader McConnell having trouble getting the 50 votes. You have people like Senator Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Mike Rounds, as of yesterday, I think he's flipped since then, but saying that, you know, they're exhausted with the idea of continuing resolution that continue and continue, kicking the can down the road for weeks at a time, when you're going to have the same problems this time next month. (INAUDIBLE) --

[12:25:13] BASH: And they're not wrong. I mean this is, as you alluded to, the fundamental, primary job of the United States Congress. And both parties have done this at various times. And it's just mind- boggling that they can't figure this out. Fund the government the right way. KING: And Republicans argue, we don't really have full control because

we don't have 60 votes in the Senate, so you can't blame us completely because the Democrats can --

BASH: It's called the art of legislating.

KING: Well, everybody has an excuse. The question is, get to a system where you know the deadlines. You know when these things are coming. Start a process where you can get there. But I won't give my -- go ahead.

JOHNSON: If you went around and asked member of Congress in the House and the Senate who they blame, I think a vast majority would say they blame the president because at 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning, the House was set to pass narrowly the bill, which they did end up passing, and the pressure really was on Chuck Schumer. I think that bill would have passed in the Senate.

And I don't think you can underestimate the effect that a single tweet by the president had. Oftentimes we hear the White House brush these things aside. But the president really did throw the legislative process into chaos by indicating -- by undermining the position of House and Senate Republicans. And so I just do think that the view that you would get, the bipartisan view you would get, was that the president has really undermined the position of his own party continually.

KING: And as we watch the president and this spending debate, the president here addressing a rally before the March of Life. Let's listen.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To all here in the Rose Garden and the vast gathering of Americans, young and old, on our National Mall at this very hour, welcome back to Washington, D.C., and welcome back to the largest pro-life gathering in the United States of America, the 45th Annual March for Life.

More than 240 years ago, our founders wrote words that have echoed through the ages. They declared these truths to be self-evident, that we are, each of us, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. And that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Forty-five years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States turned its back on the inalienable right to life. But in that moment, our movement began. A movement that continues to win hearts and minds. A movement defined by generosity, compassion and love. And a movement that one year ago tomorrow inaugurated the most pro-life president in American history, President Donald Trump.

From preventing taxpayer dollars funding abortion overseas, to empowering states to respect life in Title X, to nominating judges who will uphold our God-given liberties enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, this president has been a tireless defender of life and conscience in America. And today, President Trump will do even more to defend the most venerable in our society. My friends, life is winning in America because love saves lives. And

know as you march for life that your compassion, your persistence, your activism and your prayers are saving lives. And this pro-life generation should never doubt we are with you. This president stands with you. And he who said, before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, is with you as well.

And I believe with all of my heart, with your continued dedication and compassion, with pro-life majorities in the Congress, with President Donald Trump in this White House and with God's help, we will restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law.

[12:29:42] And so, with a grateful heart, on this 45th annual March for Life, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to you the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.