Return to Transcripts main page


Bernie Sanders Booed, Heckled at DNC; Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns as DNC Chair; RNC Response to DNC Rocky Start, DNC Hack; DNC Says Russia Hacked E-mails to Help Donald Trump. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 25, 2016 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:04] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: That is not just my opinion; that is what many conservative Republicans believe. Trump is a danger for the future of our country, and must be defeated.

And I intend to do everything I can to see that he is defeated.


Further, it seems to me that if we are going to turn this country around and defeat right-wing extremism, we need to build a movement that is prepared to fight at every level of government, from the school board to the city councils, to county commissioners to the United States Senate.

My hope is -- my hope is that our revolution will be supporting at least 100 candidates all across this country.


And by the way, as all of you know, real politics is not necessarily sexy -- knocking on doors, talking to people, handing out leaflets, sending out e-mails -- but that is what we need to do.

This campaign -- this campaign, for me personally, has obviously been an extraordinary and unbelievable experience. And what has made it so extraordinary -- so extraordinary is the coming from a small state, I have had the opportunity to visit 46 states throughout this country and many of your personally.

And what I want to say -- and I want everybody to appreciate this -- there are extraordinary wonderful and beautify people all over this country.


I have met people in every state -- young people, working people, old people, people from every race and every religion -- who have hope in their eyes and are prepared to come together to transform our country.

This campaign has been a fantastic beginning; a beginning. And from today onward, we continue the fight.

Thank you all very much. (CHEERING)


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pretty remarkable moment, Bernie Sanders, who was defeated for the presidential nominee, there with Jane Sanders's, his wife, right now, actually got heckled and booed when he told the crowd to support Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. It was a fairly extraordinary moment there. I don't think I have seen that before when Bernie Sanders had been speaking. It underscores the passion of his supporters who clearly, many of them in that room do not want to support Hillary Clinton.

Jeff Zeleny is here. David Gregory is here.

You covered him for a long time. Have you seen anything like that? Bernie Sanders booed and heckled by his supporters?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We have not seen anything like that, particularly on the opening day of the convention. It was largely his dump speech use to go fire up his supporters. It is different moment now. He's clearly started this movement and brush fire, if you will. Now it's a challenge for him to contain. He tried to there a little bit kind of a -- he seemed to be a little bit unaware of how he could do that. But he did make the point clear that electing Trump would be dangerous. Certainly using that argument more than why Hillary Clinton is the person to elect. He was trying to say we cannot support Donald Trump. But that was a preview likely of what we are going to hear tonight. He speaking tonight -- he is speaking at the prime time here tonight.


[13:35:02] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST & CNN HOST, THE DAVID GREGORY SHOW PODCAST: Clinton and Kaine drew resounding boos from that crowd, which he couldn't tamp down. It doesn't portend unity with the e-mail scandal with DNC, with the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not a very good moment when they want to project unity. Maybe they can leaven that, Wolf, with the line-up tonight. Think about who is speaking, particularly Elizabeth Warren, to really speak to what is not longer the progressive wing. Arguably, it's the progressive core of the Democratic Party.

ZELENY: And I'm getting word this is being approved. Because of that, I'm told, Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not speak at the convention this afternoon. She will not be gaveling in this convention. Stephanie Rollins Blake, the secretary of the convention, will be doing that. She will be cheering on Democrats from behind the scenes. She will be on hand for Hillary Clinton's speech an others but she will not be speaking at the convention I'm told by a Democrat close to Debbie Wasserman Schultz.


GREGORY: What about the rest of the week?

ZELENY: No, the rest of the week.


ZELENY: Clearly, a recognition of what we saw this morning at the Florida delegation.

BLITZER: She clearly hoped to gavel the convention, the opening session, and then close the session Thursday, and then resign, for her resignation taking effect right after the convention. For all practical purposes, it is over?

ZELENY: As long as -- what we are hearing she has changed her plans, has a few more hours to do so again. They are recognizing what is happening here today. They have trying to keep it unified. We know, so far, it's not quite that way.

BLITZER: Get back to Bernie Sanders, he spoke for, what, close to a half hour or so. He spent almost all of the time reviewing all of his stump speech agenda, going forwards. Towards the end, he mentioned Debbie Wasserman Schultz and there were a lot of boos as far as Debbie Wasserman Schultz in concerned. Then he said he supports Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine for president and vice president. He was interrupted and heckled. And then as you point out, he spent most of the remaining time not saying how great Hillary Clinton would be as president but how awful Donald Trump would be as president.

GREGORY: This is so important because this is really all that unifies this wing of the party, these Bernie supporters is that there is no alternative. Where are they going to go? But the real concern is look at the numbers in our poll for Gary Johnson, who is running on the Libertarian ticket, getting 9 percent. That is a real concern. A lot of Millennial voters, who are part of that Obama coalition, the Clinton campaign needs them to turn out and turn out big. It's not clear they'll be excited about anything about her. They are only going to be united in opposition to Trump. That is what they are counting on. Tonight, you're going to hear speakers, from the first lady to Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders himself, hitting hard on the economy and hitting Trump hard on his ties to wall street, how bad, the Clinton campaign will argument, he's been to other people in business. They want to drive those negatives up for Trump in the way that we see the negatives that were driven up in the Republican convention for Hillary Clinton.

ZELENY: When you talk to the Clinton campaign people, they are fine if Bernie Sanders' one mission is to tell his people how I think dangerous Donald Trump would be. If that's the one song he sings, they are fine with that. Because Donald Trump is watching this and trying to troll some of his supporters and bring them in.


GREGORY: But she's got to emerge as something of a progressive champion. That is how she is telling herself.

ZELENY: No doubt.


ZELENY: And at the end of the day, Johnson and Jill Stein -- I spoke to so many Bernie Sanders supporters here in Philadelphia and others, they like her as well. It is safe to say they will all not support Hillary Clinton. What they are trying to go get them to though is stop them from voting for Donald Trump.

BLITZER: If you add up those two other presidential candidates, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, in our new poll, they got 12 percent. The fear among Democrats is a lot of that 12 percent is going to hurt Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump.

ZELENY: And, Wolf, look at the struggle right now to turn out the Obama coalition, the traditional more progressive coalition, and then also try to occupy the center a little it if you're Clinton and give those disaffected Republican voters, white collar voters, a place to go. She is straddling both ends of this. It is not an easy proposition this week for her.

BLITZER: It's not easy at all. We'll see if the speech Bernie Sanders just delivered is a preview of what he is going to do later tonight, something similar or go in a different direction. We'll have live coverage.

Guys, thanks very much.

[13:39:36] Let's take a quick break. There's lot coming up here from Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We are live at the CNN Grill, a few hours away from the official start of the Democratic National Convention. We learned that the chair of the Democratic National Convention, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, will no longer be using a gavel to open the convention. She decided to move away from that. The concern was she would be booed by a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters. They would heckle her. She was decided to no longer formally open this convention.

It was interesting. We saw some other breaking news. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking just moments ago, when he told supporters to go out and support Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine for president and vice president of the United States, watch the reaction from these Bernie Sanders supporters.


SANDERS: And we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.


SANDERS: Brothers and sisters --


[13:45:35] BLITZER: Truly extraordinary moments. I don't think I have ever seen Bernie Sanders at a rally of his supporters to heckle and boo and interrupt like that when he told them to go ahead and support the presumptive presidential nominee. Getting more reaction to this.

I want to bring in Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, right now.

Reince, a new CNN poll shows Trump has a post convention bounce, leading Clinton by six points in this new poll. Bernie Sanders heckled when he said go ahead and vote for Hillary Clinton. What was your reaction?

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: My reaction was they were lied to their own party and grass roots and they committed a fraud on the American people. They were either ticked off or have a right to be and Hillary based on false pretenses. I'm not sure whether they have any mechanism to vote their conscious on the floor or rectify the problem or not. They are mad. They should be.

BLITZER: Do you think that some of those Bernie Sanders supporters would vote for the Republican nominee?

PRIEBUS: There's a number of people -- probably not the delegates. We are not dumb here but I think there's a lot of people for a movement for change that would rather have someone like Donald Trump than the same old Democrat. Both parties had a change candidate that disrupted the normal course of business. We chose the outside candidate. They didn't. So there are millions of people out there that like the outsider message that will come to Donald Trump even though they may have been intrigued with Bernie Sanders. I think it is very possible.

BLITZER: And what's your reaction? She has now resigned taking effect after this convention but even gaveling the convention into order which you did at the Republican convention. She is no longer going to do it because of uproar among Bernie Sanders supporters. When you heard that, what was your reaction?

PRIEBUS: Well, she has worked hard and it's not easy being a party chair, I can promise you that. The problem is these e-mails and this personal really disgusting attack on Bernie Sanders, his religion, his faith, you know, setting up traps to embarrass somebody, it's the type of thing that will be ha historical political story for years to come. She had to resign. There is no way around it. It is unfortunate she can't gavel in. The fact is it was all a fraud from the beginning, the debates, the entire operation was the real issue is can these delegates fix it this week? Can they actually vote their conscience? Look, we had certain rules in our party where bound delegates but Donald Trump got 14.5 million Republican votes more than any in the history of our party and he is our nominee. Look, they have a lot of problems. I just think it's a total mess. BLITZER: Reince, so thousands and thousands of DNC e-mails were

hacked, as you know and some have been made public. How worried are you that RNC e-mails potentially could be hacked maybe by the same group that hacked the DNC?

[13:49:32] PRIEBUS: I'm not worried about it, Wolf. We triple checked everything and we have a pretty good system that takes a double, triple sign-in. It is pretty hard to get in. It's stupid stuff, you are putting things in e-mails but even more dumb you write the e-mails and hit the send button. You know, I don't get that kind of stupidity but I'm sure in everyone's inbox and outbox have a few stupid things in it but the fact of the matter is this perpetrated on Bernie Sanders and the Democrat party. It's not right. It's not the way national parties should operate. I've had my disagreements with Donald Trump, we've argued about them. But when he became the presumptive nominee we came together and we're working together two, three times a day and we're both part of each other's operation. That's the way things should work. That's not the way things worked side and people have known it from the beginning but the shock is actually seeing it in writing.

BLITZER: Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. He's here in Philadelphia, just as Democrats, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention last week.

Reince, thanks very much for joining us.

PRIEBUS: Thank you.

BLITZER: With just hours to go until the official start of the Democratic National Convention, the party is facing a big scandal. Russians are suspected of hacking into DNC e-mails. The FBI clearly investigating right now. WikiLeaks published thousands of those DNC e-mails, many of them critical of Senator Bernie Sanders. In its wake, the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as you know, a long- time Clinton ally, resigned.

And as our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, tells us, it has both parties up in arms.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. officials believe the hack of DNC e-mails bear the hallmarks of Russian cyber activity. The FBI is now investigating. But experts on Russian cyber attacks say the timing of the release, on the eve of the Democratic Party convention, points to a possible attempt to influence the U.S. election.

JIM LEWIS, CYBER EXPERT, CNS: They've certainly used hacking in the past to get political results. It's their modus operandi. They use hacking to shape opinion to get political results. So it fits with what they've done in the past.

SCIUTTO: Hillary Clinton's campaign manager took the allegation a step further saying the release was intended to help her rival, Republican candidate Donald Trump.

ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY FOR AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I don't think it's coincidental that these e-mails convention here and that's disturbing.

SCIUTTO: The cyber security firm Crowd Strike, which analyzed the attack, found digital fingerprints pointing to Russia, including time stamps matching Moscow's time zone and some coding in the Russian language.

Democratic Party officials and others have also pointed to Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's past work for the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, as well as Donald Trump's own public expressions of support for Vladimir Putin.


SCIUTTO: Reported financial ties to Trump's businesses and Russian backers, and comments last week that he might not come to the aid of NATO allies under attack if elected president.

Donald Trump's son dismissed the alleged ties outright.

DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I mean, I can't think of bigger lies but that exactly goes to show you what the DNC and what the Clinton camp will do.

SCIUTTO: Russia has accused the U.S. of political tampering of its own. Moscow believes the U.S. orchestrated the pro-democracy protests in Kiev in 2013, which deposed President Yanukovych in favor of a more pro-Western Poroshenko.

Some see potential Russian payback in the attack on the DNC.

LEWIS: They want to undermine our information hegemony and win the battle in the information space. This is just another part of that effort.


BLITZER: Jim Sciutto joins us live from Washington right now.

Jim, do officials think other political servers were targeted as well?

SCIUTTO: Not the target of this attack but the fact is, Wolf, there has been an M.O. here of Russian attacks, attacks on White House e- mails, State Department e-mail, often the information being released to the public with something of an information goal here, right. The Russians see this as an information war to some degree with the U.S. And that extends to political processes. And they consider this kind of thing fair game. It serves their objectives. Whether or not they're supporting an individual candidate to undermine confidence in the U.S. political system is a goal that Russia will often pursue with hacks like this. And it's partly that pattern in addition to the other evidence that is leading some in the intelligence community to point in the direction of Russia for the DNC attack.

BLITZER: Pretty disturbing development.

All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

Let's discuss these developments and more with my next guest, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, of California. He's the ranking member, the top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee.

And I know, Congressman, you've been well briefed on this. What is your assessment?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: My assessment is the Russians have the motive, they have the means, certainly, we have seen them interfere in the political fairs and elections of other countries, particularly adversaries so I wouldn't put it past the Russians for a minute. It's going to take time for the FBI to do the investigation to make attribution. They may never be able to publicly make attribution but I'm not surprised that crowd strike, which is quite reputable, has reached a conclusion there's Russian hands involved and that may ultimately be where we end up.

[13:55:25] BLITZER: I want you to listen to what Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, said to CNN about his theory behind this DNC hack.


MOOK: What further experts are saying is that then, because they possessed those e-mails, that Russian state actors were feeding the e- mails to hackers for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.


BLITZER: His theory is that these e-mails, very embarrassing to the DNC, were leaked now just before the start of the Democratic convention to embarrass Hillary Clinton. And, in effect, he says, help Donald Trump become the next president because he supposedly is more pro Russian.

SCHIFF: That would be perfectly consistent with the Russian motivation. They clearly have a strong preference in the presidential race. They have in Donald Trump someone who speaks admiringly of Putin, someone who has said he would necessarily come to the defense of NATO if they were attacked or invaded by Russian that so he's a dream candidate from Moscow and I think that ought to concern every American. On the other hand, I think the Russians are afraid of Hillary Clinton. They recognize in Hillary Clinton somebody who's very capable. So as much as they like Trump, I think they're worried about a Clinton presidency.

BLITZER: This is just a theory you have. There's no hard evidence that Russia is seeking to interfere in domestic American politics by leaking all these e-mails to try to help Donald Trump become the next president? SCHIFF: Wolf, I can't go into what we may have found thus far in

terms of the intelligence community. All I can say is we have seen a pattern of Russian interference through cyber means in other governments. This would be unprecedented, though, to have them in such a deliberate way try to interfere in the political process, make mischief in the convention and try to sway an electorate. That would be unprecedented. But I wouldn't put it past them in a minute. This is a regime that has poisoned people, as it did with the Litvinenko with that polonium in his tea. It's not above making hostile journalists disappear, murdering journalist, holding those responsible immune from prosecution. So I wouldn't put anything past the Kremlin.

BLITZER: What's your reaction that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the DNC, is no longer going to formally open this convention because of fear the Bernie Sanders supporters would boo her out of the convention floor?

SCHIFF: I'm sure this was a very difficult and painful decision for Debbie both the step down and not to speak during the convention. She loves the party but I think she made the right decision. It's not about the party, it's about electing secretary Clinton as president of the United States, that's simply too important to have any obstacle to unity, better unity within right call.

BLITZER: And Bernie Sanders, when he told his supporters to support Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, listen to the reaction he got from his own supporters.


SANDERS: And we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.


SANDERS: Brothers and sisters --



BLITZER: This was an extraordinary moment. I've never seen Bernie Sanders heckled and booed by his own supporters.

SCHIFF: Well, you know, among the Bernie Sanders supporters around the country you have some of the most fervent supporters in that room. These are people who devoted their entire lives for the last year to his campaign I've been on the losing side of campaigns in primaries, in general elections. It's hard to move on. I think some people in that room still feel passionately about Senator Sanders and to change that dynamic I think the Senator will need to speak more about why he's supporting secretary Clinton and I hope he do that tonight.

BLITZER: We'll see what he says tonight. He's one of the primetime speakers.

Congressman, thanks for coming in. SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. in "The Situation Room." All night long, we'll bring you the latest from the Democratic National Convention.

Our special coverage continues right now.