Return to Transcripts main page


Day 1 of the Democratic Convention; Interview with Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 25, 2016 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Sometimes excessive force, sometimes, as in the case of Michael Brown, the Justice Department investigated and said it was not excessive force.

Is it a risk to not appear as though you are on the side of the men and women in blue, including Chief Ramsey, the police commissioner here, who is going to speak?


So, that's the thing about Democrats. We understand both sides of a very complicated issue. We recognize that there have been challenges, especially for African-American males. And there have also been challenges of police officers being shot and killed.

I lost eight, five to gunfire, during my time as mayor. You have to be able to do both.

TAPPER: Mayor, sorry to interrupt.

Let's go to the floor right now, and try to listen to this. It sounds like they are -- are they chanting Bernie?

Can we go to one of our reporters down there to give us an idea of what is going on?

The California delegation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In your mighty name that we pray, amen.


TAPPER: That was Reverend Dr. Cynthia Hale, founding and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia.

Waiting to hear from our correspondents on the floor of the convention what the excitement was, what the chanting was. Maybe it was a moment of unity. Maybe it was not.

Mr. Mayor, I was interrupted. Sorry.

NUTTER: On complicated issues, you have to be able to see both sides. It's not an either/or. So, as you said, Commissioner Ramsey, one of best and most respected

police commissioners anywhere in the United States of America, he will be speaking. And you have to acknowledge that some mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers have lost their loved one, shot by a police officer or killed by police officer who was either unarmed or not did not present a danger to the officer.

It's a complicated issue.

TAPPER: Let's go to Dana Bash. She's on the floor.

Dana, what just happened?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You had a lot of supporters of Bernie Sanders screaming Bernie, Bernie, Bernie enthusiastically and then Hillary Clinton supporters trying to drown them out saying Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.

A lot of passion on this floor, as you well know, as you have been talking about with the panel, Jake. And that just kind of spilled out for the first time. This was just gaveled in less than an hour ago. And my suspicion is that is going to be the kind of give and take we will hear in a very boisterous way over the next few days.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, I believe we will hear the pledge of allegiance right now.

Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: ... the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.


TAPPER: The people of -- the two women reciting the Pledge of Allegiance were the oldest and youngest Democratic delegates here at convention, Ohio Democratic national delegate Ruby Gilliam at 93, and Clarissa Rodriguez from the Texas Democratic Party, who is 17.

We're going to hear now by Bobby Hill, who is 14-year-old.




TAPPER: That was 14-year-old Bobby Hill, a veteran member of the Keystone State Boy Choir, who famously sang for the pope and became something of a celebrity after that unexpected moment.

Here is some of that footage we are bringing to you about the moment, I think it was last December, when he sang for the pope. It was in Philadelphia, in September, during the World -- some footage from Bobby hill when he met the pope in September in Philadelphia. Let's take a very quick break. When we come back, we will talk more

about the Democratic National Convention and the harmony we have heard and the disharmony we have witnessed.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's coverage, live coverage of the Democratic National Convention. Never a dull moment.

I want to go right now to the floor of the convention hall to join CNN's Pamela Brown, who will bring us some news about what is exactly going on between Senator Bernie Sanders and his stalwart supporters, who are still hoping that he can be the Democratic nominee.

Pam, what can you tell us?


They are very fired up, especially over these WikiLeaks e-mails. I spoke to one supporter who said this has made her even more upset and in fact the Bernie Sanders camp is so concerned that there could be some kind of demonstration or protest on the floor that, just within the last hour, the Bernie Sanders camp has urgently reached out to the Hillary Clinton camp, basically saying that even though Debbie Wasserman Schultz has signed, that the tensions are so very raw, and they're concerned that there could be some sort of demonstration.

And so the Clinton camp and the Bernie Sanders camp, leaders from both sides, have actually met to figure out a game plan to prevent any sort of excessive disruptions. And in fact Bernie Sanders sent out a text message to the delegates here in this room, basically saying, as a personal courtesy, asking them not to protest at all.

And also we're expecting an e-mail to be sent out to those delegates at all. But, Jake, I can tell you that we have spoke with several Bernie Sanders supporters who are delegates who say they are fired up, they are very upset. We heard preview of that this morning at the breakfast with Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

We heard the chants for Bernie already here in the hall and the Hillary chants as well. They are worried. They're very upset about the e-mails and also, as one supporter I spoke with said, they are upset that Tim Kaine was chosen as Hillary Clinton's vice presidential pick.

They were hoping that she would pick someone more to the left, more liberal. And in fact some of them we spoke with, Jake, said they are not ready to throw their support behind Hillary Clinton yet, despite Bernie Sanders urging for them to do so. They say she has to do a lot to gain their vote. And they're really anxious to hear what she and others have to say during this week -- Jake. TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown on the floor of the convention hall

bringing us the latest in what is shaping up to be a rather contentious battle between, if not between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, then the forces behind Bernie Sanders and the forces behind Hillary Clinton.

Let me bring in right now Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen. He's a Democratic nominee for Senate seat there as well.

Sir, thanks for being here.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Great to be here.


TAPPER: Congratulations on your primary victory, although you still have to...

VAN HOLLEN: Got another round to go.

TAPPER: ... win in November.

Let me ask you, first of all, you know about running committees. You headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for years. When you see these e-mails internally of people that are supposed to be neutral when it comes to Clinton vs. Sanders, talking about spreading dirt on him, what's your reaction?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, I can certainly understand that, Jake, why these raise serious concerns.

You saw a lot of inappropriate e-mails. Debbie Wasserman Schultz did the right thing in stepping down. We just had the mayor of Baltimore swear, bring convention to order. But it is important to separate that from what went on throughout the country in terms of the actual results.

Hillary Clinton won in a big way on the delegate front. Bernie Sanders brought an incredible amount of energy to this race. He is going to address this convention in a short time. I'm absolutely confident he is going to rally supporters in full support of Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: I have no doubt that he will try to rally his supporters. But I guess the question is, can he achieve it? So many of them already before Sanders even started running believed that the fix was in when it comes to politics, when it comes to the economy. Then they found their messenger, Bernie Sanders, and now come these e-mails, which suggest, wow, the fix really was in.

VAN HOLLEN: Here is the thing.

And I think Bernie Sanders would acknowledge this as well. Throughout the campaign, he did a very good job of running against the Democratic National Committee. He did a good job of running the establishment. That helped encourage a lot of his supporters. I would argue that that tension throughout the campaign actually

helped him do even better than he otherwise would be in terms of rallying folks. And despite that impact, when it came to getting elected delegates, Hillary Clinton still came out ahead a lot.

So, there is no doubt that Bernie Sanders, in my view, has to do a really good job tonight of letting his supporters know that if it's not Hillary, then it's Donald Trump, with all the instability that would bring to the country and the dangers that would be brought to the country.

[16:45:15] And in the end, Bernie Sanders did a good job, not only bringing ideas and excitement to the table, he's got some positive changes in the Democratic platform. I served as the ranking Democratic member of the Budget Committee in the House when he was in the Senate. We worked very closely together, a lot of the things he brought to the table will strengthen us in the fall.

TAPPER: Stay right here, Congressman. I want to get reaction to breaking news we have to bring you right now.

Dana Bash is on the floor of the convention hall.

Apparently, the Democratic National Committee has just issued a brand new statement about these e-mails. Dana, what can you tell us?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an apology. And that is what it says in the very first sentence. The interim chair, Donna Brazile, and others at head of the DNC just said, "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Bernie Sanders, his supporters and entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over e-mail. These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC, or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process."

And it goes on to say that DNC does not and will not tolerate disrespectful language exhibited towards candidates or individuals.

So, they're trying to get things going and they are trying to calm things down. But as I'm talking to you, you can probably hear the loud chants behind me. You hear people screaming "Bernie". You hear people screaming "Hillary." Because I was talking to you, I didn't hear what prompted that, but clearly this statement was an attempt, final attempt, to begin this process, begin this convention, trying to calm things down. Smooth things over as Pam Brown was just saying.

Bernie Sanders himself texted his supporters saying, "Please do not protest". We haven't seen an actual protest but there is a lot of passion and already they are letting their voices be heard on the Bernie Sanders side. There are a lot of delegates here.

Remember, 43 percent of the vote went to Bernie Sanders. So, he is well-represented here on the floor.

TAPPER: Thank you, Dana Bash, for that breaking news story. Congressman Van Hollen, I know you have to go, but just quick

question. If you were a Sanders supporter, and I know you weren't, you were a Hillary Clinton supporter. But if you were a Sanders supporter and you saw DNC officials, top officials emailing during the primaries, how do we get out information about -- questions about whether or not Sanders is Jewish or whether or not Sanders is an atheist. My peeps in West Virginia or Kentucky may be interested in hearing that.

How offended would you be?

HOLLEN: I would be offended. I think everyone would be offended with those emails. It's entirely appropriate that the DNC issued a full apology to Sanders supporters. I'm glad they did that. I'm looking forward to Bernie Sanders coming tonight and talking about despite everything that's happened in the past, we are looking to the future. And if you want it look to the future, we've got to get to the other rally behind Secretary Clinton who's adopted a lot of the Bernie Sanders positions on issues.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.

We're going to take a very quick break. Don't stop watching. I don't know what's going to happen on the floor next. Stay with us.


[16:52:43] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention. We're in Philadelphia and it is getting hot in here.

Just a few minutes good on the convention floor, a number of protesters, opponents, delegates who oppose the Pacific trade deal, the TPP, stood and interrupted the woman who is chairing the convention, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Democrat of Ohio. She was brought in to replace Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the soon to be ex-DNC chair, and they were chanting, interrupting her. Congresswoman Fudge said, "I'm going to be respectful of you, you be respectful of me." It got a little heated.

Let's go right to the floor of the convention with Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, tell us more, what just happened?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Congresswoman Fudge has been trying to restore order here on the floor. But to be honest, she has not had much success. The majority of her speech has been interrupted by loud rounds of boos whenever she mentioned Tim Kaine, whenever she mentioned Hillary Clinton.

She has been interrupted on multiple times. I want to show you one of the main sources of the protests coming from the California delegation over here. They brought with them homemade signs. They have brought with them signs that say no TPP and they were just protesting, they said, "Count those votes, count those votes." So, of course, they're taking issues with the vote process from the Democratic primary. She's multiple times tried to move forward with her speech. We heard the boos. We also heard another side chant, "Hillary, Hillary."

So, clearly, there is still a lot of chaos and a lot of consternation here out on the floor -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks.

And, Bill Press, let me bring you in, because you're the former chairman of the Democratic Party.

And California Democrats -- Hillary won, officially won the California Democratic primary. But there are a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters who think that votes of theirs, votes for Bernie Sanders were not counted.

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And remember, it was day before the California vote, which was probably going for Hillary Clinton anyway, when some super delegates came out and announced for Hillary and kind of pulled the wind out of the sails for the California votes. People are still very angry about that. They think the primary was stolen.

[16:55:02] This is a very well-organized protest. They are zeroing in on the TPP.

Now, Bernie Sanders people got a lot out of the platform. But the one thing they didn't was opposition to the TPP. Clinton people did not want it embarrass President Obama. I'm sure the White House put pressure on. So, that was one that Bernie Sanders lost. These people are not willing to give it up.

There is a delegate from Marin County, Norman Solomon, ran for Congress unsuccessfully, who has organized this protest. He has the guy who, when they came here, organizing to take this on, recently now to take on the nomination of Tim Kaine because they wanted an Elizabeth Warren or Tom Perez or Brown or Bernie Sanders.

So, they came here with this in mind. I'll tell you, they didn't take long to get to it. And they have taken over this convention for now.

TAPPER: All right. Bill Press, thank you so much.

A rocky start here in Philadelphia. Much more live from the Democratic national convention. Our coverage will continue with Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper right after this. Don't go anywhere.