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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Wants Out of NATO?; Government Shutdown Continues. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired January 15, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: In our national lead, a sign of the progress to negotiate an end to this government shutdown?
Well, House Democrats would not even show up at the White House today for a conversation. They say they had not been given enough notice, nor information about what the meeting would entail.
None of the usual pressure points that move lawmakers to come together seem to be working this time around, not the 800,000 federal workers without pay, not the 40,000 active-duty Coast Guard members who missed their first paycheck today, the first ever time that service members have not been paid during a shutdown, according to the Coast Guard commandant, not the excruciating long security lines impacting major airports.
And the longer the shutdown goes, the worst of consequences are going to be, in all likelihood, making these few weeks seemed like the good old days in comparison.
As CNN's Kaitlan Collins, that grim prediction increasingly seems like the future.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump's hopes of pressuring Democrats to budge on funding his border wall dashed today when none of them accepted his invitation to lunch at the White House.
REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: This was supposed to be a bipartisan lunch. If you don't show up at the table, how in the world are we ever going to come to a solution?
COLLINS: Republican who showed up said it was a sign they weren't willing to negotiate. But Democratic leaders said they feared it could be another Trump stunt.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: The question that I think everyone can reasonably ask is, is he inviting people to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to really try to resolve this problem, or to create a photo-op so he can project a false sense of bipartisanship? COLLINS: The attempt to drive a wedge between the parties' leaders and its members highlighting how the White House is starting to feel the heat from the shutdown, now in its fourth week, and running out of options to end it, despite Trump claiming this yesterday:
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many of them are saying we agree with you. Many of them are calling and many of them are breaking.
COLLINS: House Democrats say they remain firmly opposed to funding his wall.
REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The Democrats are completely unified, in that our objective is to reopen government.
TRUMP: We want border security.
COLLINS: And the president isn't letting up on his demand for billions to build the wall either, pointing toward a new caravan forming in Honduras and headed for the U.S. today, writing: "Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a wall will work."
A sign of the mounting frustration among lawmakers over the shutdown showing itself during Bill Barr's confirmation hearing today.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Are you advocating a wall?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I think I'm advocating a system, a barrier system in some places.
COLLINS: The shutdown even affecting a celebration at the White House for the college football national championship team after President Trump personally purchased fast food for the Clemson Tigers because staff that typically caters these events are furloughed.
TRUMP: So we went out and we ordered American fast food paid for by me, lots of hamburgers, lots of pizza.
COLLINS: Now, of course, Jake, the most people affected by this shutdown are the 800,000 federal workers who aren't getting paid.
Now, inside the White House, they're trying to paint today's snub from Democrats as another sign that they are not willing to negotiate with them to reopen the government.
But inside the walls of the White House, I'm told that White House officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the optics of this shutdown.
And, Jake, they're paying attention to those polls that show more Americans are holding the president responsible for this shutdown than they are Democrats.
TAPPER: Yes, about 55 percent or something like that.
TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.
So the White House, as we know, invited some of the more moderate Democrats over, hoping to pick them off from the Democratic leadership such as Speaker Pelosi. No Democrats attended.
Now according to "Hill" reporter Scott Wong, Pelosi apparently told her leadership team Democrats were welcome to go meet with the president, saying -- quote -- "They can see what we have been dealing with and then they will want to make a citizen's arrest."
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think that the moderate Democrats felt like this was just a photo-op and that they were trying to divide the Democrats.
And the Democrats are totally united on this. And so there really was no point to do it, even if Pelosi said go ahead and do it. And I think that the White House is in a position now where they're losing this battle, at least if we're going to look at polls.
And I also still don't know what the negotiation is, because it's basically Donald Trump saying, give me a wall. There's not a lot of give and take going on. And it's something that Democrats have said from the beginning that they're not interested in funding.
And so he's going to have to decide basically -- I don't know what he wants to do about this, because I just think the Democrats, if they get into this, it's going to set the stage in the future where every time he wants something, he's just going to shut down the government.
TAPPER: So, David, on Sunday, Scott Jennings, who is a McConnell guy, he suggested that the president should put up legal protection for DACA and the dreamers and then force the Democrats to vote against that.
And former Congressman Gutierrez said that if he were still in Congress, he would vote for that.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think, look, it's good plan. I would do it. That's what I would advise him.
I would also say that look at the numbers, right? You look at this 55 percent. I would like to see the crosstabs. How many of that 55 percent don't like the president to begin with, right, who are blaming president for the shutdown? I think it's a mistake on the Democrats' part not to send people to
these meetings. I think when the vice president and the chief of staff negotiate and they send staff, it's a mistake. It sends the wrong message.
If I were the Democrats, I would show up every day and I would say we're here to negotiate. And then at least you're participating in the process. I think it's an insult.
I think when you say -- the president says, I want $5 billion and Nancy Pelosi says I will give you $1, there's a chasm.
POWERS: That's now what she said.
URBAN: Well, she did say it. But there's a chasm that is extremely wide. It's not a good look for either party here.
POWERS: Yes, they have offered money for border security.
TAPPER: They offered money for border security, but not for the wall.
And that's the issue is, which is...
POWERS: Which Mexico was supposed to pay for.
TAPPER: And things are about to get a lot worse in terms of -- because they're going to run out of money for food stamps in February. These long lines with TSA workers calling in sick are going to get worse.
They already shut down a terminal, I think, at George Bush International Airport in Houston. I mean, this is going to really -- it's already affecting more than a million Americans. But this is soon going to start really -- it's already the longest in American history.
Will the White House be able to continue to insist on border -- on wall money?
AYESHA RASCOE, NPR: That's the real question, because we have never -- the U.S. has never gone through a shut down this long. And the U.S. has never gone through a shutdown that went weeks and went months or went all the way to -- or went so long.
And so the question is what happens when it gets to that point where people are really affected? Right now, they're trying to say, oh, it's just the 800,000, it's just federal workers. Maybe they didn't need to be here.
But when you start -- the rubber really starts meeting the road and you have questions about food stamps. You have questions about what's going on with TSA. Why are people going to still show up to work if they're not getting paid? And when that really starts happening and you start having walkouts,
how long can this continue? I think what the White House is looking at and what the president was pointing out in his tweets earlier today is that some polling has shown that a majority of people do think that there is a humanitarian crisis at the border and so they're looking at that.
Independents think there's a humanitarian crisis at the border. So they think they're winning on that. There has been some growing support for the wall. It's still not a majority, but they think that they see some movement in that.
And so I think they're looking at that and kind of seeing signs like, well, maybe this is sinking in and maybe some people will be moving to our side.
That may be a bit dubious, but that may be what they're hoping for.
TAPPER: How do you see a way out of this, if at all, David?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think the White House not to get serious and have a sense of urgency about ending the shutdown.
I agree with David. I think the Democrats sending staff to negotiate with Pence, I thought that was crazy. But for the Democrats go -- nine or 10 of these Democrats to go down to the White House was a fool's errand.
The last few times he's had people in from the Hill, he's used it as a political stand on television. The first time, he held the cameras in there and talked to Schumer and policy. That was clearly a stunt.
The next time, he walks out in a huff, and that was clearly preplanned. Why should they go back and be TV props for him? I don't think they should at all. And I think they were wise.
What is going on here though, Jake, is, listen -- he's the commander in chief of our military. And he looks after the quality of the military how well taken care of.
He's also the head of the civil service. He commands all these people. And he has shown zero interest in their welfare. He is going to discourage so many people in the next generation from ever going to work in Washington or working as a civil servant.
Why in the hell should you go work in this craziness? It just -- it doesn't -- it makes no sense.
TAPPER: One tweet that he did today, Kirsten Powers, was he said -- he went after Nancy Pelosi.
"Why is Nancy Pelosi getting paid when people who are working are not?"
Pelosi's spokesperson argued that Pelosi has voted to reopen the government. And he also signed into legislation, legislation that would pay Nancy Pelosi.
But I think a lot of people out there like, why are any of these people getting paid, including President Trump and Vice President Pence?
I mean, I think that maybe things would be different if people on the Hill weren't getting paid. Maybe there would be a more of a sense of an urgency. I don't think Donald Trump not getting paid is probably going to affect his life very much.
TAPPER: No. I think he already takes $1. He gives it all to charity.
POWERS: But I think that -- but I think that if you had staffers not getting paid, and if you had congresspeople not getting paid and senators not getting paid, they might be a little more...
URBAN: Yes, but the president made this point before in this negotiation. He said, listen, I will reopen the government. Will you pledge then to sit down and work with me on the wall?
And the Democrats said no. So if he were to reopen the government, he loses every bit of leverage he has. This is what the White House is thinking, I tell you.
TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.
It's an alliance that has stood in the way of Soviet and then Russian aggression for generations. So why is President Trump reportedly asking about getting the United States out of NATO?
Stay with us.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our "WORLD LEAD," President Trump last year repeatedly told aides he wanted to pull the United States out of NATO, the 70-year-old alliance with Europe and Canada formed the Czech Soviet and now Russian aggression. According to the stunning report at the New York Times, around the 2018 NATO Summit, Trump said he didn't see the point of the pact which alarmed senior administration officials.
"At the time, Mr. Trump's national security team including Jim Mattis then-Defense Secretary and John Bolton the National Security Adviser scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of withdraw that would drastically reduce Washington's influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades. It is not an overstatement to say that a U.S. withdrawal from NATO would be like a dream for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Let's discuss this with former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd and Steve Hall who served as the head of Russia operations for the CIA. Phil, obviously Candidate Trump and President Trump have said has said a lot of things to question NATO. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Number one, NATO is obsolete and number two, the people aren't paying their way. It's obsolete and we pay too much money. NATO. We're going to have the people that aren't paying. They're going to start paying. They want to protect against Russia yet they paid billions of dollars to Russia and with the schmucks that are paid for the whole thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, when it comes to this New York Times story, Phil, the White House respond to telling CNN "This story was meaningless when it was written six months ago and even more so now as the President has said, the United States commitment to NATO is very strong." Do you agree? Is the United States commitment to NATO strong?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I mean, I do speak the English language natively and I watch what the President said which was we questioned a commitment to NATO. I haven't -- I'd have a couple of responses. The first is one of sadness. Can you imagine being a family of a NATO service member in Afghanistan who died, who watched this and said obsolete? My child died for your cause and that meant nothing?
More significantly just go back 20 years. Part of diplomacy, Jake, part of wars is about the law of unintended consequences. Could you imagine 20 years ago 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, what's happening now in Syria, the rise and fall of al-Qaeda and Isis, could you imagine that Russia would redraw the map in Europe? NATO, for everybody who doesn't understand this, it's pretty simple. That's an insurance policy. And if you say that insurance policy is obsolete, look at everything in the past 20 years. We couldn't predict. NATO will serve us in the 21st century. We just don't know how yet.
TAPPER: Steve, knowing what President Trump thinks about NATO that it's obsolete, although he did take that back in his presidency. How might Putin, an intelligence operative use that to his advantage in these meetings with the President that we don't know much about?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. That's an excellent linkage there, Jake, because that's what concerned me when I first read this article yesterday. Look, Vladimir Putin is extremely concerned and his greatest concerns with regard to the West and the NATO Allowance alliance is splitting it in trying to divide the west and NATO.
As a matter of fact, if you go back to the much-maligned Steele Dossier, there are two allegations, two claims in that dossier that basically say look, if we do certain things for Donald Trump on the Russian side, we expect in return some sort of commentary, some sort of weakening of the NATO you know, alliance. And that seems indeed -- that seems to what's happened.
I mean, you alluded to all of these times where he's been -- the President has been has been behind closed doors with not only Vladimir Putin but other Russians. We don't know exactly what was said. We do know that Putin wants there to be weakness in NATO and we have Donald Trump saying negative things largely about NATO's.
So when you put all of that together, it does start to seem pretty dark and very concerning for a --or an organization NATO which has indeed been the bulwark of security for the West for the better part of 70 years.
[16:50:09] TAPPER: And Phil, obviously, I think we can all agree that it's a good thing that more countries are paying what they committed to pay on defense spending and for the NATO Charter and there are there agreement to meet that kind of spending. But what might be the fallout for Europe if the U.S. did pull out of NATO or significantly reduce America's role in NATO?
MUDD: Well, let me ask a couple of questions. For example going back to what I mentioned earlier, Afghanistan. Let's say God forbid there's another major event that affects American national security interest, for example a terror attack whose origins are again in South Asia -- Southwest Asia, maybe there in Africa, maybe there's somewhere else around the world. What are we going to -- who we're going to ask for help?
What if that help requires assistance from people who have expatriate communities in Europe who might be vulnerable like our communities in United States? Who are we going to ask for help? Let's say we couldn't have imagined this 25 years ago that Putin again tries to redraw the map in Europe? The Europeans are going to say this is a threat to global security. Who we going to turn to and say we have an alliance that stood the test of decades? We cannot predict.
I don't care what people in Washington say, what we'll say. Forget about the next 100 years, even the next ten years. If we ever withdrew we'd have to say who's going to be there with us in a world that's getting smaller and smaller? Who? And I wouldn't have an answer to that. I wouldn't know, Jake.
TAPPER: And the point is that article 4 which is the attack on one is an attack on all of the NATO charter, it's only been invoked once, and that was after 9/11. Everyone else joining with the United States. President Trump a few months ago was joining with a Fox News anchor in questioning Montenegro and suggesting like you know if the -- if the -- if they were attacked, they wouldn't -- they might-- first of all, suggesting that they might start a war with Russia and then all of a sudden its World War Three because the United States has to join.
Do you have confidence, Steve, that under President Trump there would be an honoring of Article 4 if a country like Estonia or Montenegro were attacked? HALL: What I have great confidence in, Jake, is the fact that Vladimir Putin wants to test that. He wants to see whether or not the alliance would hold together because it's now I think more divided and arguably weaker than it's been in a number of years largely as a result of President Trump. You know, Phil has got it absolutely right. Russia is already on the move. Russia has annexed Crimea, the first time an annexation has happened in that part of the world since World War Two. He's closed off the Kerch Straits so that it makes it extremely difficult for there to be international traffic.
The Baltic countries have come to us and said us being NATO in the West saying look, this is a real concern. This is not just a theoretical thing. They could be over the border. War planning has been going on in the Baltics to try to figure out OK, how would we respond to that. So this is -- this is not just a theoretical type of thing. This is something that we have to be watching Russia very carefully.
TAPPER: All right, Steve and Phil, thank you so much. Coming up, it's the worst defeat in the British Parliament since 1924 and it could have consequences around the world bringing the British government potentially to its knees. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: This is the most significant vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:55:00] TAPPER: And we are back with breaking news in our "MONEY LEAD." A monumental rejection in the United Kingdom where just moments ago, Prime Minister Theresa May overwhelmingly lost a vote on her Brexit deal with 432 against only 202 votes in support. The U.K. is now in limbo because this vote was supposed to approve the only existing plan to leave the European Union. And now, without a plan, there is just weeks left before Brexit is supposed to happen.
Of course, today's vote will surely have ripple effects on the American economy as well. CNN's Bianca Nobilo is live for us in London. Bianca, explain to us the consequences of this vote and what comes next?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The vote today was a devastating blow for the Prime Minister. Expectations weren't high. Her deal, her Brexit deal is not popular. But she exceeded expectations in the worst possible way. She got a defeat by a majority of 230. We are talking the worst defeat in the history of the British Parliament and that is a pretty long history. That's calling into question how ability to even govern the United Kingdom and whether or not she can take the plan any further. And the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn certainly thinks so too. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY" I have now tabled a motion of no confidence in this government. And I'm pleased -- I'm pleased that motion will be debated tomorrow so this house can give its verdict on the shared incompetence of this government and pass that motion of no confidence in the government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Jeremy Corbyn wants to see a change in prime minister and wants that change to be him. But what now? Because we have indication that Theresa May's party is actually going to back her. So she'll be able to stagger on. But what if her Brexit deal? Well, it looks so unpopular it might have to be panned all together leaving so many options on the table like a chaotic crashing out of the European Union potentially causing a major recession in the U.K. with global ripple effect or even a second referendum which has the potential to overturn the Brexit results. We may be looking ultimately at no Brexit at all.
TAPPER: Bianca Nobilo in London for us, thank you much. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.