President Donald Trump Threatens To Close Border Next Week: 'We're Not Playing Games' | NBC News

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Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on government shutdown polling

JUDY WOODRUFF: The first public opinion polling
is out since the government shutdown began 24 days ago. To break it down for us and to discuss several
other big developments, I'm joined by our Politics Monday duo. That's Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report
and Tamara Keith of NPR. Hello to you both. And happy Monday. So let's talk about this poll. We have, Tam, both The Washington Post and
Quinnipiac University did some polling, wrapping up just in the last few days. And as you can see, in the Post poll, 53 percent
of the public are saying the president and Republicans are to blame. Only 29 percent say the Democrats. In the Quinnipiac, it's 56 percent blaming
the president and Republicans, 36 percent the Democrats. What does that say to us, if anything, about
where the chips are falling after this shutdown is in its 24th day? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: I think
it's not entirely surprising that this is where the numbers are. It somewhat aligns with the way people view
the president generally. And, also, it's — the president before the
shutdown started said that he would be proud to shut the government down to get his border
wall. He has done absolutely nothing to change that
narrative. The only thing that is possibly working in
his favor — and this is a small thing, it's a sliver — but under the hood on the Quinnipiac
poll, there were a couple areas where the public opinion has shifted slightly. Now, the minority of people — it's still
a significant minority, but more people now support building a wall along the Mexican
border than did a year-and-a-half ago. It's still only 44 percent, but that's up
a fair bit from a year-and-a-half ago. Similarly, whether they believe that undocumented
immigrants contribute to crime more than American citizens, which is not true, but it was 22
percent in April of 2018, and now it's up to 29 percent. So the president is shifting at least a little
bit, though it's a small amount, of people toward his viewpoint. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that contradictory, Amy? AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: No,
I think what's happening is, Republicans are shifting the most on those issues. But, overall, if you think about what strategies
going into this debate would the president like to see happen, right, what would he like
to come out of this battle over the border wall? One, that the wall would become more popular. And while there has been some shifting — that's
true — and the Washington Post poll showed the same thing — it still, at best, gets
about 42 percent approval rating. So, the wall's not really much more popular
than it's ever been. You ask voters who is to blame, they blame
the president. You would think that they — if you were in
the White House, you want to see the blame shifted to Democrats. And even making the case about whether this
is a crisis, so Quinnipiac also asked that question about, do you see this as a crisis? And about 45 percent of voters thought it
was a crisis, but even among those who saw it as a crisis, only a third of those said
building a border wall is going to fix it. So, if your whole strategy behind shutting
the government down was to make the wall more popular, make the Democrats take the blame,
and get folks concerned that there's a real crisis on the border that needs to be solved,
he's done none of those things. TAMARA KEITH: Though Republicans are still
with us. That's basically what he's got. AMY WALTER: There's the — yes. TAMARA KEITH: But that's kind of always what
he's got. AMY WALTER: That's right. That's right. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we have seen that. But let's talk about the other big story we're
grappling with today. And that is the disclosures that the president,
whether he was taking information papers away from the interpreters, questions inside our
— the government about whether the president might have been working for the Russians. On top of everything else, Tam, what are the
political repercussions of this? TAMARA KEITH: Yes. So the difference between these articles coming
out four months ago and these articles coming out today is now, in the House, there are
committees that can act on it, can use their subpoena power to try to get this information. They're exploring, the Democrats are exploring
how they might be able to gain access to these interpreters who were there at the meetings
with Putin. Unclear whether they will make it very far. But this is now — the ground has shifted
for the president. Now these stories come out, and he can go
out on TV and stand on the lawn and shout over the helicopter and say, I had nothing
to do with Russia. But then Democrats in Congress in the House
will follow up. AMY WALTER: Right. And they have already noted as such. Eliot Engel, the new chair of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, saying, we're definitely going to hold hearings looking at the Putin-Trump
relationship. Adam Schiff this weekend also tweeting, suggesting
that, yes, we're going to try to get testimony from this interpreter in Helsinki. So we have always had three elements here. One was the news reports and leaks that had
been part of the sort of milieu here for a long time about Russia and the president and
the investigation. Mueller's always been there, but we don't
know anything that's going on there. So the new thing now is Congress. And that changes some of the dynamics about
this story. It makes it harder to kind of push it away
by just blaming it on the fake news. JUDY WOODRUFF: What happened in November matters. It's changing the landscape. So, very quickly, you mentioned tweets, Amy. The president was in the White House this
weekend. There was a snowstorm in Washington. He did a lot of tweeting. I'm not going to — I wasn't going to use
the term tweetstorm. TAMARA KEITH: But you can. JUDY WOODRUFF: But I could — I will say that. AMY WALTER: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: But what I want to ask you
about is some of the language in the president's — I mean, singling out at one point Nancy
and crying Chuck can end the shutdown in five minutes. "If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to me
by — as Pocahontas, did this commercial" — and he's referring to a commercial she
did around her announcing that she's looking at running for president. AMY WALTER: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: And then, finally, he talks
about lying James Comey. He's lumping together all the stories that
we're following, lying James Comey, and on and on. I guess we're accustomed to this — these
labels, these names, but… (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER: What seems different now — and
this, I think, started in the 2018 campaign — is that Democrats are no longer taking
the bait on these. They don't feel any need to respond to the
president doing this. You saw every candidate in the 2018 campaign
focus on health care. They didn't react to the president. Elizabeth Warren in her opening video never
mentions the president one time. She's been on the road now going to Iowa and
New Hampshire, doesn't talk about the president, unless she's asked about the president. She didn't respond to this tweet. And what the president wants and what he's
done in the past with those tweets is to engage in that battle, and then the media's focus
is all about, right — it's this side. He says this. This side says that. And then we move off the bigger topics. (BREAK) TAMARA KEITH: And it becomes a feud. AMY WALTER: That's right. TAMARA KEITH: And if it's only one-sided,
it's less of a feud. AMY WALTER: That's right. JUDY WOODRUFF: And each one of these candidates
has to calculate how they're going to deal with — the other thing that's come up late
today. And that is the Senate majority leader, Tam,
Mitch McConnell, has issued a statement, first one to come from high levels of Republicans
in Congress condemning what Steve King, the Republican congressman from Iowa, who got
a lot of attention last week when he had made a statement about white supremacist and, in
essence, how could something like this be offensive? Some Republicans have made mild statements,
but now to have Mitch McConnell saying this is unwelcome, unworthy, and he said anybody
— if he doesn't understand why white supremacy is offensive, he should find another line
of work. TAMARA KEITH: And in the House, they're discussing
possible censure or other ways of rebuking the statements. It's remarkable in some ways, because Steve
King has been saying things like this for years and years and years and years. And then he would just sort of continue on. This seems a little different this time. JUDY WOODRUFF: But Republicans haven't been
— they have said it's wrong, Amy, but they haven't been full-throated in their willingness
to do… (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The punish him. AMY WALTER: Right. I think he was seen as sort of this fringe
character for so long. Well, that's Steve King. He says these crazy things, but it doesn't
matter. Well, now it does, because we talk a lot now
about white nationalists and white supremacists. And we saw the reality of that in Charlottesville. JUDY WOODRUFF: Exactly. AMY WALTER: And this is no longer just a kooky
fringe thing. This is very, very serious and should be taken
very seriously. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank
you both. TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome. AMY WALTER: You're welcome.

Politicians react to Trump's border threat and aid cut

-You see what's happening
to women. You see what's happening
to children. It's a horrible situation, and Mexico could stop it
right at their southern border. They have a southern border,
and they have a border that could be
very well-structured. It's very easy for them to stop
people from coming up, and they don't choose
to do it. Well, we're not gonna give them
hundreds of billions of dollars and tell them that
they're not gonna use their strong immigration laws
to help the United States. So, there's a very good
likelihood that I'll be closing
the border next week, and that'll be
just fine with me. -That is a crisis. Why are we talking about
closing the border? Because not for spite
and not to try and undo what's happening
but to simply say, "Look. We need the people
from the ports of entry to go out and patrol
in the desert where we don't
have any wall." We hate to say we told you so,
but we told you so. -Isn't this also self-defeating? Taking aid away from those
countries ultimately will make
the migration crisis worse. -Look — there's a lot of good
ways to help solve this problem. Congress could do it,
but they're not going to. Mexico could help us do it. They need to do
a little bit more. Honduras could do more.
Nicaragua could do more. El Salvador could do more. And if we're gonna give
these countries hundreds of millions of dollars,
we would like them to do more. That, Jake, I would
respectfully submit to you, is not an unreasonable
position. -We have never seen
a surge like this. It's coming from the Northern
Triangle countries. How can people deny
what they see, which is these caravans
day by day, the people coming from
the Northern Triangle countries and trying to come
through this country? And there are very
deplorable conditions that many of them are facing. -Yeah, but you're gonna make
the conditions worse, Kellyanne,
if you cut off all foreign aid. -The conditions
are already awful. The conditions
are already awful. -When I went down to the border,
we have a crisis. We need more barriers
so we have operational control. We need more people,
and we need more technology. I'm very disappointed
that I walked into this job, what, three months ago
with the government shutdown, and the Democrats
don't want to give any money for border security.
That's wrong. -Well, we're gonna do everything
we can to stop it. It's totally absurd. Look — you have a terrible —
-How can you stop it? The State Department says
they're already trying to enact the cuts. -Well, you can stop it by
overriding what he is doing and making sure
that we fund these programs. -When the President says
he's going to close the border, that is a totally
unrealistic boast on his part. What we need to do is focus
on what's happening in Central America, where three countries
are dissembling before our eyes, and people are desperately
coming to the United States. The President's cutting off aid
to these countries will not solve
that problem.