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Interview with Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wassermann Schultz; Bush, Trump Trade Insults on Campaign Trail; Baltimore Police on Trial: State Attorney Under Pressure After Mistrial. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 20, 2015 - 07:30   ET




[07:31:51] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only -- not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton. And I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one. I want to apologize to my supporters.


AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Bernie Sanders apologizing to Hillary Clinton and all his supporters, as you just heard. And this morning, he's staying true to his word. Two more Sanders campaign staff members have been suspended amid the ongoing investigation into their campaign's DNC data breach.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: His campaign manager also says they believe that as many as half a dozen staffers could have been involved in wrongly accessing voter access from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

All right. Joining us now, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wassermann Schultz.

Good to be with you this morning. Good to have you with us.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: You, too, Victor. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: So, you were there for the exchange last night, the apology and the acceptance. We know that there is an ongoing investigation but do you think this neutralizes as a weapon between the campaigns, moving forward, the data breach?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I was very pleased to see that Bernie Sanders apologized. That was the right thing to do. He took responsibility as a candidate and said that his campaign engaged in wrongdoing and said he was disappointed. What it allows us to do is to make sure we can move forward with the independent investigation, that the Sanders campaign has agreed to participate in and cooperate with us on. And I was very glad that -- and very proud of our candidates last

night, because the -- other than that first question, the rest of the debate was very substantive and robust, and it allowed us to make sure that our candidates drew a very stark contrast with their vision for the country compared to the extremism we saw last Tuesday on the debate stage for the Republicans.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's get to the rest of the debate then. One name we heard many times was Donald Trump. We heard one comment from Secretary Clinton that is getting a lot of attention, some people saying she went too far.

Let's watch it and then we'll talk.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to videos and showing Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So, I want to explain why this is not in America's interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.


BLACKWELL: All right. So, the CNN reality check found that there is no evidence of Trump being used in these ISIS videos going around to recruit jihadists. I know you may agree with the sentiment, but because of what she said, there is no evidence to support it, should she apologize, should she at least clarify, did she go too far?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I'm not sure about the organization you referred to as being a validated or the last word on whether there are or not videos. But the bottom line is that --


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There are terrorism -- I'm sorry. I didn't hear you through my ear. But the bottom line --


[07:35:01] WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- throughout -- yes, I heard you.



The bottom line is that there are terrorism experts throughout this discussion, particularly since last week, when the Republicans were on the debate stage essentially only chest feeding and none of them repudiating that they would support Donald Trump if he were the nominee, when this was someone who had said that he would ban all Muslims and that there is no question that terrorism experts have said that what he is doing, and this ugly nasty rhetoric is absolutely a potential tool to be used by ISIS to recruit others to their cause.


BLACKWELL: A potential tool but what the secretary said that they were going around now with videos using this to recruit jihadists. There is no -- and I will say that CNN is not the only news agency that determined that that's not -- there is no evidence to support that.

Should she at least clarify?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: As I said, what I am aware of is that over the course of this debate, it is clear that the actions and rhetoric of Donald Trump have absolutely been articulated by terrorism experts to be potentially used as recruitment tools, rather than making sure that we can bring Muslims, who are overwhelmingly peaceful and who wish to make sure that they can just live their lives every day, against the actions of ISIS. And it's not helpful. It's harmful.

And Donald Trump's rhetoric and actions really would drag us back to the McCarthy era and it's a stark contrast that was an important distinction to be made between the two debate stages.

BLACKWELL: OK. Let's talk about the scheduling of the debates. This was, obviously, on a Saturday night. The previous debate was on a Saturday night. The next debate will be on a Sunday night.

I want to put up on the screen for us what we read from Chris Cillizza of "The Washington Post." He was in his determination of the winners and losers of the wrap-up of the debate.

He writes this, "There's simply no justification for hosting a debate on a Saturday night six days before Christmas, unless the goal is to ensure that said debate is lightly watched and therefore any mistakes made by the presumptive front-runner are lessened."

And this, you know, fits the narrative that there are many outside of the campaigns believe you and the DNC are working to coronate Secretary Clinton and you want this to be kind of pushed away. What's your response to people who believe that you're -- the scheduling of these debates are supposed to help the front-runner?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I mean, does it make any sense that a national party chair would want fewer people to watch our candidates on debate for the presidency of the United States? That is nonsensical.

I hope that Chris Cillizza and others hold Republicans feet to the fire in a similar way because, geez, not coincidentally their broadcast network debates are also on a Saturday and that is simply because broadcast networks have less flexible programming. I did not say to ABC, hey, let's schedule this on a Saturday night. I didn't say to any of those networks that they should do that. That is how the programming worked out.

We have six debates. Three are during the week. Three are on the weekends. There are other candidate forums and multiple opportunities for voters to see our candidates in a variety of ways.

BLACKWELL: So, yes, but --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: So, any accusation like that is nonsensical. We are neutral and I am neutral, and we want to make sure that our candidates have the maximum opportunity to be seen by voters in a variety of ways, including on the campaign trail during the early primary process.

BLACKWELL: One more issue that I know you are passionate about and the candidates are passionate about, but you would not have been able to determine that based on the questions last night. Of course, the discussion of national security and economic security, ISIS, gun control, but not a single question, no discussion of climate change coming so short -- so soon after, you know, the Paris agreement, the COP21.

Are you satisfied with that? Maybe should there possibly be a debate dedicated to climate change, science technology? Your thoughts.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, there are many opportunities throughout the debate. It did not come up last night, but throughout our debate schedule to talk about that, the candidates have talked about that over the course of the first two debates and on the campaign trail. They have been able to make very clear that while the Republicans are back in Paleozoic Era and simply are sticking their heads in the sand, you know, pun intended, that climate change and global warming is nonexistent or certainly not man-made, compared to our candidates who all believe that it is man-made and there is no question that the climate is warming. We have 97 percent of climate scientists that agree with that.

And we need to take steps to be able to reduce our carbon footprint and do something about that.

[07:40:01] Our -- the questioners, the moderators are the ones that determine the questions. We certainly don't dictate to them what questions are asked. And over the course of the next few debates, I would expect those issues to come up and our candidates are bringing that issue up very prominently on the campaign trail.

BLACKWELL: All right. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC chairwoman, good to have you back.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you so much, as always.


WALKER: And while the Democrats were debating, Republican candidate Ted Cruz ran a parity ad in Iowa during Saturday night live. Take a look.


NARRATOR: Imagine the greatest Christmas stories, told by the senator who once read "Green Eggs and Ham" from the Senate floor. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 'Twas the night before

the shutdown and all through the House, not a bill was stirring, not even the fundamentalist.

NARRATOR: A proven record creates a collection of timeless Christmas classics read by the trusted conservative leader Ted Cruz, favored such as "How Obamacare stole Christmas" and "Rudolph the underemployed reindeer".

CRUZ: All of the other reindeer couldn't afford to high Rudolph!


WALKER: We will talk about this with our political experts coming up in the next hour.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just one other thing. I got to get this off my chest. Donald Trump is a jerk.



BLACKWELL: All right. We got that from Jeb Bush. You heard there calling Donald Trump a jerk. No more Mr. Nice Guy, maybe, for Jeb Bush? We will see if this changes the strategy as he moves toward Iowa and New Hampshire.

Also, a judge in Baltimore declared the Freddie Gray case a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. Is this an outcome of an example of how the justice system is failing?


CLINTON: Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer. We lose 33,000 people a year already to gun violence. Arming more people to do what, I think, is not the appropriate response to terrorism.



[07:45:00] BLACKWELL: New this morning: Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are having a very busy weekend. The Republican presidential candidates were wooing voters in different cities yesterday. Bush in the state of New Hampshire and Trump in Iowa, city of Cedar Rapids.

WALKER: But even though they were hundreds of miles apart, they continue to insult each other on the campaign trail. CNN politics reporter Jeremy Diamond has the details -- Jeremy.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Victor and Amara.

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush not in the same city, not even in the same state on Saturday but both of them exchanging verbal blows as they press forward with their feud that started up Tuesday during CNN's GOP debate.

They had a few lines back and forth to each other. Check out what they had to say.

BUSH: Just one other thing. I got to get this off of my chest. Donald Trump is a jerk.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had one guy come at me with sound bites from his pollster. It was so sad to watch him. So sad. Bush.

BUSH: You cannot insult your way to the presidency. You can't disparage women, Hispanics, disabled people. Who is he kidding?

TRUMP: Yes, he's a tough guy, right, he's tough.

And then they are accusing. Putin called him brilliant. That's not good.

You know, isn't it sort of nice if countries remember fighting with, maybe we get along and let them do -- right?

DIAMOND: That exchange on Saturday comes as Donald Trump is, once again, shown tor the clear front-runner in the Republican presidential race. Jeb Bush meanwhile sitting down at 3 percent.

And it's interesting. You have Donald Trump hitting Jeb Bush here. He hasn't done so in a while saying that he'd rather focus on the other Republicans who are riding higher in the polls. But it seems that when Trump is hit, he can't resist hitting back.

Victor and Amara, back to you.


WALKER: All right. We appreciate that. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

After the break, a judge in Baltimore declared the Freddie Gray case a mistrial. Is the verdict an example of how the justice system is failing? We will discuss ahead on NEW DAY.


BLACKWELL: The state attorney for the city of Baltimore is under growing pressure. This is coming after a mistrial was declared in the case of the first officer charged in Freddie Gray's death.

[07:50:03] Legal analysts have called it a major setback for the prosecution. The burning question now, will Officer William Porter have to face trial again?

CNN's Jean Casarez has been following this case from the very beginning from Baltimore.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was just seven months ago when a confident Marilyn Mosby announced charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE'S ATTORNEY: I have heard your calls for no justice, no peace. However, your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.

CASAREZ: The 35-year-old's decision to charge one of the officers with second-degree murder surprised some and suddenly put the youngest elected state attorney in the country in the national spotlight.

MOSBY: I look at criminal justice system that has historically and disproportionately affected so many communities of color and I wanted to reform that system.

CASAREZ: Gray was arrested April 12th and broke his neck while being transported in a police van. One week later, the 25-year-old was dead.

The community reacted with weeks of protest and looting as the city of Baltimore was placed under a National Guard curfew.

Mosby helped restore peace and sense of justice when she decided to bring a case against the six officers.

"Vogue" magazine called her a national figure and a portrait of self- control and the Boston college law school magazine described her as the prosecutor who quieted a troubled city.

MOSBY: As a prosecutor, you should not bring charges if you believe you're a probable cause, that these individuals are responsible for the charges.

CASAREZ: But after a hung jury in the case of Officer William Porter, the once confident state attorney is now under mounting pressure.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: I'm terrified. Are we going to have five more mistrials?

ANDY ALPERSTEIN, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: There are people that are going to say that she overcharged the case, that she can't get a conviction. I think this is a defining case. There is no question that she will be defined by this case for the rest of her career.

CASAREZ: Mosby isn't commenting. The case is under a gag order.

BILLY MURPHY, FREDDIE GRAY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Oh, I'm 100 percent that he'll be retried. I don't think she's going to take this setback lightly.

CASAREZ (on camera): There are so many moving pieces to the puzzle. The defense attorneys for William Porter. They have no say in whether prosecutors try the case again. They could try to postpone it for awhile or try to argue that right here in Baltimore City, that it's not the proper venue for the case it should be tried in another county in the state of Maryland.

But in the end, it is up to the Judge Barry Williams to determine if the citizens of this community, Freddie Gray's community can have the trial once again right here.

Jean Casarez, CNN, Baltimore.


WALKER: And joining me to discuss the latest developments in this case, defense attorney Scott Bolden.

A court spokesperson says no new court date has been set in Officer William Porter's case. How likely will it be that Porter will be retried? It's a huge setback for the prosecution.

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, ATTORNEY, REED SMITH, LLP: Well, it's not a matter of if but when. He'll get retried except one or two different scenarios. The government hasn't filed to retry him yet. They met with the judge and defense last week, and nothing came out of the meeting. That's the first thing. They have to file.

Secondly, is there a deal to be had? Both sides may be working on a plea deal that would allow porter to testify before the prosecution, which we know they want to use him against the other five defendants. Is there a deal to be had there where he takes a plea or he's given immunity?

And thirdly, since we know the case is going to be retried. What can we glean from the jurors? The jurors are anonymous. It doesn't mean they can't talk to you.

The judge recommended that they not speak to the media and others. But there are all kinds of ways to find out the count in the jury room, what they were thinking, and what the reaction was to the prosecution's presentation and the defense presentation. This is case is about credibility and that's really what the jury struggled with.

WALKER: What do you think are the chances of Porter being offered immunity in exchange of testifying against his five former colleagues, the five police officers? I mean, there's really no guarantee that he will speak.

BOLDEN: That's absolutely true, and if she's been the subject of a mistrial he doesn't he can invoke the Fifth Amendment. So, he's got his career to look at and think about as well.

So, I would give it a 50/50 ratio if there's a deal in place where he doesn't have to plea. That's very attractive. If it's a deal where he's got to plea to a misdemeanor, because they were a hung jury on all of these charges, the misdemeanor as well as the felonies and stuff.

So, we'll simply have to see. So far and historically, he has held out. He's held back. He said I want to try the case. I want to be heard on -- I'm sorry, from the witness stand.

[07:55:03] So, he's been pretty stubborn about this. But I promise the prosecution is stubborn about trying to get a deal with him.

WALKER: I would imagine the prosecution is quite reluctant. Do you share that to retry the case considering the fact that the defense has access to the entire case?

BOLDEN: Well, that's true. But so has the prosecution.

You know, in the majority of these cases when they get tried, the prosecution gets a conviction the majority of the time. That's the first thing. So, the prosecution can retool.

One of the really gaps in the case that the prosecution never really responded or met the defense accusation that these rules about strapping in prisoners are never followed. Now, that may mean you got a dysfunctional police department but that needs to be met because that's part of the whole credibility issue in regard to Porter and what he did right or wrong.

This is a criminal negligence case. That means Porter can be negligent. He could be grossly negligent. That doesn't meet the burden of criminal negligence when you, in fact, have a direct and proximate cause that's causing the death of this prisoner.

So, it's as tightrope, it's a tough case, because here, Porter, the last thought I would with you and your viewers is this -- Porter is both a liar to the prosecutor but also would be a key prosecution witness against the other five. That's a tightrope for the prosecution. We'll have to see.

WALKER: Yes. The prosecution definitely in a difficult spot.

Scott Bolden, great having you. Thank you for your time.

BOLDEN: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: Well, the folks at Saturday night live, they love politics. The show was on fire, did you watch it? Their political parities included "SNL" version of the CNN Republican debate.




For those of you who missed our earlier undercard debate featuring Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, well, the results are in -- and everybody lost.

Now --



WALKER: Just minutes after the Democratic debate ended last night, you may have caught a replay of this week's presidential debate.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, it's the "SNL" replay of the debate. The spoof of it.

Darrell Hammond returned to play Donald Trump, rattling off insults, as the nine candidates took the stage. Watch.