What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on shutdown pressure, Mueller’s BuzzFeed rebuttal

NPR’s Tamara Keith and Amy Walter from the Cook Political Report join Judy Woodruff to discuss the now month-long partial government shutdown and whether congressional Democrats will begin to feel political pressure to compromise, a BuzzFeed article that was disputed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential bid.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yesterday marked the halfway point in President Trump's first term, as the government shutdown stretches into a second month, a perfect time for Politics Monday.

    I'm joined by Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Hello to both of you. It is Politics Monday.

    So let's talk about this shutdown standoff.

    Amy, over the weekend, as we said, the president made an offer, did some tweaking, and said what — made what he said was a significant move on his part. Democrats, before it was even announced, said they were against it.

    Is there any pressure now on Democrats to cut some kind of deal, or can they just wait the president out?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, that's what we're going to wait to see is where the pressure goes.

    Up until this point, it's been pretty clear in all the data and all the polling that the blame is being put squarely on President Trump's shoulders. And, as we have noted many times, he did say, "I own the shutdown." So that's a difficult thing to get out from under.

    It's also true that Democrats in polling that we have seen feel more committed, Democratic voters feel much more committed to Democrats sticking by their commitment to not include the wall in any compromise than Republicans are committed to not having a compromise without a wall.

    In other words, the wall is a much bigger issue right now, believe it or not, for Democratic voters than it is for the Republican voters. Supposedly, this is Trump's base, and they're going to want it. But the opposition to it is much stronger.

    So what we will have to see as we go through this process is whether the decision by the president to say, hey, I have come to the table, you guys said you wanted to have a deal, that I wasn't compromising with you. I have put something on the table. It's your turn now to sit down and hear that compromise out, rather than just pointing fingers and saying it's all your fault and we're not going to listen to you.

    But, as I said, they're — we still have a long way to go to that piece and whether there is more compromise or whether it's simply both sides pushing issues onto the table, but never committing to working on them together.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, Tam, we are a month into this.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    People are going without paychecks who work for the federal government.

    Can Democrats truly wait it out?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Well, and Democrats, traditionally, at least, have been the party that wants the government reopened, not just in this government shutdown, but in every government shutdown. They're — they're typically the ones that cry uncle first, because they want the government to be open and function. They're pretty pro-government.

    This shutdown has moved in slow motion, probably not for the people who are working without pay. For them, it has been excruciating. But the negotiations, such as they are, are in slow motion. There is no shuttle diplomacy.

    There — this speech that the president gave was him making an offer. There was no private offer — there was no pre-offer made to Democratic leaders. That was the offer.

    And the remarkable thing is, he could have made that offer two weeks earlier in his prime-time address.

  • Amy Walter:

    Absolutely, yes.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And he didn't do it then. He didn't offer anything then. And it dragged on for two more weeks.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But the White House is saying, we have moved, and the Democrats haven't, so…

  • Amy Walter:

    Right. And the Democrats are going to say, we have moved too. We're agreeing to this. We're agreeing to these. These are our points that we are willing to negotiate on.

    That's when you — to Tam's point, that's when you get the teams together behind the scenes and do the work.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But it's just they won't negotiate for the wall.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes, though Democrats, also, their position has been — and this has not changed — that they are happy to negotiate, but once the government is open.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Open, right, exactly.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And that — there's been no movement on that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The BuzzFeed article that came out last Friday, early Friday, Amy, the press was all over the story basically saying that the special counsel has solid information that the president told his former private attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

    At the end of the day, Friday night, the special counsel's office issues what seems like a pretty significant denial, says, this is not accurate.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right. Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What do we learn from this episode?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well what's really interesting to me was watching members of Congress react to this.

    In particular, I spoke to Representative Joaquin Castro. He sits on the Intelligence Committee. And he did preface it with, if this is true, but tweeted, if this story is true, the president should resign or should be impeached.

    His point overall — I'm starting to pick this up from other Democrats too — is a frustration about how slowly Mueller's moving. Remember, it's really been Republicans up until this point that have said, we need Mueller to move fast. We need Mueller to release this if he has anything.

    Now it's Democrats who really want to see this, or they say, we're going to — it's going to come out, a lot of stuff's going to come out through other reporting and through our congressional hearings, but it'd be better if Mueller could put this all to rest as quickly as possible.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Well, the reason I — we can't be sure, because the special counsel doesn't talk to us or anyone else.

    The reason I think that Peter Carr, the spokesman who never speaks, felt compelled to put out the statement is because there were so many members of Congress who, for — because this story in particular pointed to something that very clearly would be a crime, you had so many members of Congress saying, we're going to have to do something about it, if true.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Tamara Keith:

    But that left a big cloud hanging out there.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, last thing I want to ask both of you about.

    Today, we had yet another Democrat saying, I'm interested in running — I am running for president. This time, it's the freshman senator from the state of California, Kamala Harris. She joins at least six other Democrats who have already raised their hands, Joaquin Castro. I won't name all of them, Tulsi Gabbard and Kirsten Gillibrand, of course, Elizabeth Warren, and others.

    Amy, what do we make of the fact that these are the ones who are out there first?

  • Amy Walter:

    Right, that, of that group, there's something that really stands out, right? There are two white men in that group that you put up there, and the rest are people of color, women, or both.

    The other fascinating thing that we're seeing as these candidates roll out, many of them are younger candidates. They have been in politics maybe for the last 15 or 20 years, but even they are starting what we're talking about now within the Beltway as a sort of apology tour, and having to explain to primary voters about positions and votes they took earlier in their career.

    In some cases — Kirsten Gillibrand, for example — she's only been involved in national politics since 2006, but she has now had to come out and explain her positions on immigration, on guns, when she was a member from Upstate New York, a much more conservative district.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Amy Walter:

    Joe Biden, who's not on that list, he hasn't announced, but he came out today in a speech, apologized for his vote on the crime bill.

    Katherine Harris is going to be asked a lot about her decisions.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kamala.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Amy Walter:

    Kamala Harris, I'm sorry — a lot about her decisions when she was a prosecutor and attorney general, going too far on the prosecution part.

    And so the Democratic Party has moved substantially to the left on a whole bunch of issues that even when Barack Obama was first running were considered mainstream.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Sorry, 30 seconds.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Well, so you talk about Joe Biden.

    He is this big figure who's hanging out there who hasn't said what he's doing it yet. But in our "PBS NewsHour"/Marist poll — NPR/"PBS NewsHour"/Marist poll — that took my 30 seconds.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Tamara Keith:

    He had the highest favorable, highest known quantity, lowest unfavorable of all the names that are out there.

    If he were to actually run, that might run into a dose of reality or memory of some of the things that he was involved in so many years ago, because he's been in public life for a long time.

  • Amy Walter:

    For a long time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But at least feeling comfortable he doesn't have to get in right now, but he may need to get in soon.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right. Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, Politics Monday, thank you.

  • Amy Walter:

    You're welcome.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest