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How Will Trump Pay For His Spending Promises?; Trump Slams Media, Unnamed Sources; White House Denies Wrongdoing In FBI Conversations About Russia Reporting; Indonesian Officials Meet With Suspect In Custody; DNC Members Will Vote Today for Next DNC Chair; A Look at The Opioid Abuse Problem; Bleacher Report. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 25, 2017 - 06:00   ET



[06:00:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House vehemently defending asking the FBI to deny reports of communication between Trump campaign associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something that embarrasses the White House. That's not a leak. That's a news story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you're sadly mistaken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats have a real chance to change things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why he beat all of those other Republicans because he stole a Democratic message. We do have to leave with our values.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For all of us together, that's got to be the message.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you on a Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. Welcome to your NEW DAY. The question, though, is this a new day for the Democrats? The Democratic National Committee is set to elect its next chairman this morning and they have two important questions they have to answer.

First, who will lead the opposition for President Trump's agenda and also can they heal the division still lingering within their party?

PAUL: Yes, that's one of many story lines heading into today's vote. There are seven candidates here for the job. The two front-runners, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. There are other dark horse candidates pulling in powerful endorsements though. We'll talk about that in a moment.

BLACKWELL: Also this morning, the White House pushes back hard on CNN's exclusive reporting denying any wrongdoing asking the FBI to speak out against reports of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian leaders and officials. But this revelation is raising a decades-old question, can the White House discuss an open investigation with the FBI and how?

PAUL: First, President Trump declares his movement is the future of the Republican Party. Now the president leveraging his moment in front of a friendly audience at a conservative conference and outlining his upcoming his agenda. The CNN White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, has more.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christie, the campaign trail, of course, is long behind President Trump. Next week, he enters his sixth week in office. As he appeared before the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, the annual gathering between as CPAC, he sounded like he's still running.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Now, you finally have a president. Finally, took you a long time, took you a long time.

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump taking a victory lap before a roaring crowd of conservative activists.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The forgotten men and women of America will be forgotten no longer. That is the heart of this new movement and the future of the Republican Party.

ZELENY: It's Mr. Trump's Republican Party now. His realignment of the GOP already under way. Hailed as a hero at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Mr. Trump outlining his America first agenda that goes against the grain of recent Republican orthodoxy.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: But there's no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency or a global plan. This is the United States of America that I'm representing.


ZELENY: At the same gathering last year, just outside of Washington, many conservatives recoiled at the idea of a Trump presidency. He cancelled his appearance and of course, went on to win. But it was here at CPAC six years ago, where the idea of Trump's bid for the White House first sprang to life. He stopped short of running back then, but his words sounded prescient.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will tell you the reason that I'm thinking about it is that the United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world.

ZELENY: But now, after five weeks in office, the president is faced with making choices over which campaign pledges take priority and how he will pay for them.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're also putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military.

ZELENY: Carol Marino is an early Trump supporter from North Carolina, who for now is giving the president the benefit of the doubt that his agenda won't break the bank.

CAROL MARINO, CPAC ATTENDEE: I'm not overly concerned that he's going to blow the deficit. I'm really not. I think he'll find a way to kind of shrink the waste and use that someplace else.

ZELENY: The president rallying supporters to help him fulfill campaign promises including dismantling Obamacare. Even as GOP lawmakers have come under fire this week from constituents demanding they lead the law in place.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: They're largely, many of them, you know, they lost the election. It's like how many elections do we have to have? The bottom line, we're changing it. We're going to make it much better.


[06:05:05]ZELENY: Now there's no question that Republicans gathered at CPAC on Fiday, those conservative activists are thrilled that there is a Republican in the White House and certainly happy that Republicans control both houses of Congress.

The question, though, on the minds of many fiscal conservatives, how will all of these programs be paid for? The president will start answering those questions beginning on Tuesday when he delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening and presents his budget to Congress on March 13th.

Now, at that speech on Tuesday, he will certainly be greeted with applause, but this time, only from half the audience. Democrats, of course, are opposing his agenda -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jeff, thanks so much. Let's continue this conversation now with CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, and CNN politics reporter, Tom LoBianco. Good morning to you.

Tom, let's start with that military proposal, that big promise from the president and let's play a little more of what he said at the CPAC conference. Let's watch.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will be substantially upgrading all of our military. All of our military, offensive, defensive, everything, bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully, we'll never have to use it, but nobody's going to mess with us, folks, nobody. It will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Tom, we heard from one of Trump's supporters there that she's expecting he'll shrink the waste and he's use that savings somewhere else, but that low hanging fruit has been picked a long time ago. Do we know how the president plans to -- any details on how he plans to pay for this biggest military buildup in American history?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Nothing specific just yet. We should know in a few days when he goes before Congress for his first major speech on Tuesday, delivering effectively a state of the union address. And you know, we should have a better idea then.

You know, it's interesting about this, and this kind of goes into why it's harder to govern than it is to campaign. I mean, he looks at -- if you look at all where your major spending is and this is what Republicans have done before.

You have to consider whether you're cutting into the military, whether you're cutting into entitlement spending, whether you're cutting into Social Security, Medicare, things that are deeply popular with his own supporters, all right?

You have to decide where you're going to put the priorities or you can run the deficit, I mean, which is a possibility. That's something that sort of traditional fiscal conservatives are worried about.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Errol, you can't pay down the deficit, maintain Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and increase infrastructure spending, and build your wall, and build this -- his greatest buildup in American history off the same dollar?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you can try. I think what happens, Victor, is the real question that's going to be asked, not just by Congress, but by most people, the taxpayers, is what are we getting for this? You know, it's the underlying doctrine, I think, that matters the most.

The last big buildup of the military that we saw was during the Reagan years, but there was a stated aim which was to fight the cold war, win the cold war and contain, indeed as it happened, destroy or collapse the Soviet Union.

In this case, it's not clear what we're going to get by saying, you know, swelling the size of the military from 476,000 in the Army, to 540,000. That's the number that he's put out there. Is that going to convince anybody in ISIS not to join that cause or commit some kind of terrorist act?

I'm not so sure about that. So there's going to have to be a lot of thinking that goes into this. The big broad number just like Tom says that comes from the campaign trail but the campaign is now behind us.

BLACKWELL: Errol, let's also talk about the president said about the use of unnamed sources in reporting. Let's play that.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name.


BLACKWELL: All right, let's put up right now what the president tweeted himself when he was then Citizen Trump back in 2012. He tweeted, "An extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fraud," which turned out not to be true. So there goes the credibility of that quote/unquote "source." The president is not living up to his standard but the greater implications from your perspective?

LOUIS: Well, I don't know if there are any implications. It's simply convention for a reporter, for a journalist, I think we've all done it, to say, look, I talked to ten people and the consensus seems to be x, y or z. That is how we do our business.

If the president doesn't like it that's too bad for the president. We have something called the first amendment and people should report the way that they can and should and will.

[06:10:05]He will also discover, and of course, I think he actually knows this and knows this from before his days on the campaign trail, that it's very helpful for politicians to occasionally contact a journalist or engage with a journalist and send them some information that they don't necessarily want their name attached to.

I mean, you know, the tweet was great, Victor, but the thing you really want to play is Donald Trump calling up journalists, and spinning his own story.

BLACKWELL: All right, Errol Louis, Tom LoBianco, thanks so much -- Christi.

PAUL: Donald Trump says leakers are threatening the country and the FBI needs to stop them. Next, this is CNN exclusive, what the FBI refused to do that may have sparked the president's anger.

BLACKWELL: Plus, an internal battle, as Democrats prepare to elect a new party chair, who will bridge the divide between the establishment and the grassroots movement.

PAUL: Also Malaysian police said Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's dictator was killed by a lethal nerve gas. New this morning, Indonesian officials met with a suspect.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two ladies were trained to (inaudible).


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: It's 14 minutes after the hour now. The president says the FBI must find the leakers who he says are hurting this country. That demand is coming from where else, Twitter, as reports surfaced that the FBI denied a request from the White House.

PAUL: Multiple U.S. officials are telling the CNN that the White House wanted the FBI to knockdown media reports about communication between Russians and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential race.

[06:15:07]Now, White House officials pushing back on that, saying they only made the request after the FBI said the media reports were inaccurate.

Let's talk about this. The relationship between the White House, the FBI, Tom Fuentes, CNN's senior law enforcement analyst and a former FBI assistant director. Tom, so grateful to have your voice in this.

First of all, we know there is no law in U.S. code that prohibits communication between the White House and the Justice Department, except when you get into a pending investigation phase. That's when things get a little dicey there. Based on what you know, was there any violation?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So far, Christi, I don't see a specific violation yet in this particular matter because the White House isn't trying to tell the FBI to lie or make up a story or something. They're basically relaying information that if they're aware that the investigation -- or their reporting about the investigation isn't accurate, could they please go public with it.

And they chose not to go public, but I'd like to change one of the narratives here. The idea that the FBI does not talk to the White House, president, chief of staff, national security adviser almost every day -- I mean, they do. You hear that.

You heard President Obama frequently come out, the FBI is updating me on this case and my national security adviser, we're being informed and these are pending investigations. Also, this time of every administration, you have a massive number of background investigations being conducted by the FBI.

That includes nominations for secretary picks, for the Supreme Court, U.S. judges, U.S. attorneys, ambassadors. So the FBI in the middle of those background on that, would be reporting if something nefarious comes up, they would almost immediately report to the White House about a particular nominee.

So, those kind of updates are occurring. No one has mentioned the fact that the Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was at the White House for a meeting. They've talked about this issue coming up as a sidelight in the hallway, you know, not part of a meeting.

No one's said, what's he doing there? Obviously, he's there on regular business and either the director or deputy director are frequently at the White House updating them on issues. So if they don't talk to the White House that's a little bit exaggerated.

PAUL: So when Sean Spicer said we didn't try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth. Wouldn't the FBI then come out and confirm if it was true?

FUENTES: Not necessarily and I think that, you know, this becomes close to a borderline where the FBI is trying to evaluate, is this mainly a political request, as opposed to whether the public needs to know at this point. But don't forget, the backdrop of this, a number of these officials from the Trump campaign were under and still are under consideration for high positions in the U.S. government especially in the U.S. national security apparatus.

So, if something is coming up that needs to be told to the White House sooner than later, it would be appropriate to tell the White House. It might not be appropriate and usually isn't, to go public while that's still in progress. But I think that's where this comes up, you know, that they're basically telling the White House, you know, that these officials that are part of your campaign and under consideration for key positions, so far, we don't see a problem with them.

But it's not over yet, we're still looking. And that's the nuance in this particular issue is, yes, the investigation is still ongoing and they might be waiting for leads coming in from overseas that could take days, weeks or months. But the bulk of the investigation could have been completed to a point where the FBI could say we don't think that these individuals were engaged in illegal activity with the Russian intelligence services.

And especially, don't forget, you have members of the Democratic Party calling for impeachment of President Trump already. So, issues based on this relationship that may or may not have been between the Russian intelligence services and officials of the Trump campaign are pretty serious especially, you know, you already have talk of impeachment based on what's been reported.

PAUL: Tom I just have a couple of seconds but I really want to get this in. This tweet from Donald Trump that caught a lot of attention, he said "The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security leakers that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even find the leakers within the FBI itself.

Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on the U.S. Find now." Are there leaks coming from the FBI, Tom, that are putting U.S. security at risk?

FUENTES: I'm not aware of that. And certainly even from the reporting it seems that, and many of the quotations are senior White House officials. And I think that's where this came up.

[06:20:06]You know, if the FBI was already under the impression that there was no violations and then, you know, informed Chief of Staff Priebus, then, you know, I could see where the White House would say, please, make that public. The public ought to know that. And the FBI trying to evaluate is that a political decision, or

is it important enough to try to look at what the rumors are going out to the public about the administration or potential members of the future administration.

PAUL: OK. Tom Fuentes, always appreciate your voice. Thank you so much, sir.

FUENTES: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, for the first time since Kim Jong-Nam's death, Indonesian officials have spoken to one of the suspects being held in connection with that death. We'll have new details just ahead.

PAUL: And deep divisions still linger in the Democratic Party as they're preparing today to vote in their next chairman. Can the party heal from the bruising primary election defeat? How do they do that? This conversation coming up.


PAUL: Well, conversations are being had, we understand, in the mystery that still surrounds the bizarre killing of Kim Jong-Nam. Malaysian police now say the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, was killed by VX gas. It's an illegal, lethal nerve agent. Authorities swept Malaysia's entire Kuala Lumpur Airport. Officials say no one else at the airport got sick. The airport is clear of the chemical agent, they say.

BLACKWELL: And Malaysian authorities have four suspects in connection with the murder and are seeking another seven.

[06:25:01]Also for the first time since Kim Jong-Nam's death, Indonesian officials met with one of the suspects. CNN's Clarissa Ward has the story.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some of the last moments of Kim Jong-Nam's life, he approaches airport security to complain that someone grabbed his face and that he's feeling dizzy. He's escorted to the airport medical clinic.

A Malaysian newspaper shows a photograph of him slumped over in his chair apparently unconscious. He dies before reaching the hospital. In a twist that reads like the script of a Hollywood thriller, Malaysian authorities now confirmed that the half-brother of North Korea's dictator was skilled by VX, an internationally banned highly lethal nerve agent that can kill within minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you get any of it on you, you're dead. There's nothing a doctor can do for you. You just die. You get a microscopic dot on you of this VX, and you die.

WARD: South Korea is pointing to the volatile North Korean state and the leader himself is the prime suspect. The dramatic assassination took place in broad daylight moments after Kim entered the crowded check-in hall. Malaysian police claim that two women who can just be made out here, wiped Kim's face with some kind of liquid.

One of the women can be seen walking off wearing a bizarrely eye-catching LOL t-shirt. Two female suspects, one from Indonesia and one from Vietnam are now in custody.

And it gets more surreal, Indonesian authorities say one of the women told police she believed she was participating in a prank for a TV show, a claim Malaysian officials dismissed.

KHALID ABU BAKAR, MALAYSIA'S INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE: These two ladies were trained to (inaudible) face. After that, they were instructed to clean their hands.

WARD: The hunt is now on for these four North Korean suspects who left the country on the day of the attack. Among them, a senior official with the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. In yet another bizarre twist, police said someone tried to break into the mortuary where Kim's body is being kept, after which they stepped up security.

BAKAR: We know who they are so need for me to tell you.

WARD: So why would North Korea's erratic leader want his own half- brother dead? Of more concern to U.S. officials is how the dangerous dictator got his hands on one of the most deadly chemical weapons in the world and what else he could do with it.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: It's a nerve agent that has terrified intelligence agencies in the west for a long time because it's so lethal. Saddam Hussein was accused of having it, in fact, he didn't, because they couldn't figure out how to weaponize it. What disturbs me, they have figured out to weaponize it and deliver it. Now would he use it on South Korea, the United States? There's simply no way for to us know.

WARD: Clarissa Ward, CNN, London.


PAUL: All righty, well, after a bitter Democratic primary and that election defeat, the Democratic Party is demanding change. Thy want it to start at the top. Who's going to be their next chief?

BLACKWELL: Plus, counties in and around the west coast was key to Donald Trump's election win. You're going to see how those voters are counting on him to quickly bring back jobs.


[06:31:33] PAUL: It's so good to have you on board with us here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. PAUL: So, a potential political reset to the Democratic Party could come within hours here. DNC members will vote today for the next chief of the party, tasked with taking on President Trump's administration.

But the tight race is pitting Hillary Clinton Democrats against an army of angry progressives who backed Bernie Sanders.


TOM PEREZ, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: The Democratic Party needs to take the fight to Donald Trump. When we lead with our values, when we lead with our conviction, that's how we succeed.


PAUL: The Democratic Party is in disarray, struggling to find a path to unite all Democrats after President Trump's blistering election win. Their base, fed up with President Trump's hardline agenda and demanding action.

Democratic National Committee members will choose one of seven hopefuls to lead that battle. At the head of the pack, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. He has a list of endorsers including Vice President Joe Biden and several governors, but right on his heels is Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

He picked up the endorsement of top Democrats Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and John Lewis. And he's also picked up support from top progressive groups, including MoveOn and Democracy for America.

Congressman Ellison concedes Democrats could learn a lesson from President Trump's election win.


REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Donald Trump, as deceptive as he was, did say he was for jobs, trade, infrastructure and protecting Social Security. That's our message. That's what we do. That's why he beat all those other Republicans because he stole a Democratic message. We do have to lead with our values.


PAUL: Whoever wins, some senior Democratic officials say their future is already being written by an army of angry liberals. Their mission, nothing less than obstruction of the president.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington told The New York Times there was a "tornado of support" for wall-to-wall resistance.

For other Democrats, the goal is to not only successfully take on President Trump, but to also go after top Republican lawmakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAIME HARRISON, CHAIRMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: So, if Democrats want to be in a permanent minority, let's spend all of our time and energy fighting each other. But if we want to actually fight back against Donald Trump, let's spend our energy going after Ted Cruz, let's spend our energy going after the Republicans that are up.

PAUL: South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in the mix for the top job and he's picked up the endorsement of former DNC chair Howard Dean.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: What we've got to do as a party is recognize that that same struggle for belonging is true whether you're an immigrant mom trying to make sure you won't be divided from your family or a blue-collar autoworker trying to figure out where your job is going to be or a transgender kid in a high school who just needs to go to the bathroom like everybody else. We're all in this together. That's got to be our message.


[06:35:09] PAUL: So, let's talk with Errol Louis here, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, and Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist and Democratic National Committeeman. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you for being with us.

Robert, I want to start with you. What do you want to see happen today?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, most importantly, a full disclosure, while I'm supporting Tom Perez, the bigger issue is seeing the Democratic Party focus and come together with a clear political path.

Let's understand, choosing the chair is the least of it. The bigger challenge is making sure that the Democratic Party becomes relevant again, especially to the millions of protesters we see throughout our country standing up to the Trump agenda.

They see a legislative program through Senator Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Crowley, but they don't yet see the Democratic Party as being their vehicle for political activism. That's our challenge today.

PAUL: Right. And so, Errol Louis, how do they do that?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's what today is going to be about and it will be the first step in that process. But the reality is, in all of these different demonstrations that you're seeing breakout across the country, many of them spontaneous, not just the town halls, at the Congressional meetings, but also some of the spontaneous demonstrations at the airports, what you see is a lot of energy out there and it will be up to each individual Democratic leader in all of those different corners of the country to figure out how to join that parade, get in front of that parade, shape, guide and direct that parade. But the people are already in the streets. And, frankly, I think it's going to take some time to figure out how to go from that upsurge of anger and turn it into policies and possibilities and candidacies. That's the job of the next DNC chair.

PAUL: And, Robert, how do you bring progressives into the mix of this establishment Democratic Party because they are louder, they are bigger than perhaps what people thought before? In fact, they've been compared to the Tea Party. Do you think that's a fair comparison that they may come in and upend the Democratic Party as we know it?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's interesting. The Democrats made a big mistake when the Tea Party emerged by dismissing them as being an astroturf movement, saying they were paid for, and not understanding the grasp and the depth of the activism they represented.

And I think, quite frankly, Republicans are making the same mistake, underestimating the action and activity you see on the street that's standing up in opposition to Donald Trump, in opposition to the Muslim ban. And so many - the mass deportation agenda.

First of all, the good news is Democrats aren't organizing up to be an establishment. We know that if we're going to have a future, if we're going to be effective, then we have to work arm in arm and march together with the movement on the streets that we're seeing around our country. We have to prove to that grassroots movement that the Democratic Party is the path forward for real political change.

PAUL: OK. So, let me play some sound here from Hillary Clinton. Let's listen to this.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We as Democrats must move forward with courage, confidence and optimism, and stay focused on the elections we must win this year and next. Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country.


PAUL: The thing is, Hillary Clinton may be seen by many as the past. You want to look to the future. Errol, how influential is her voice in this today?

LOUIS: Well, look, she is very influential. There are a certain number of people and a lot of political professionals who will tell you, look, the fact that she lost three critical states by a combined, I think, under 100,000 votes doesn't mean she was on the wrong path, and so it's not as if she was taking the party in a fundamentally wrong direction.

The reality, though, is there is a generational shift that is happening. This last election was the first time that the number of millennial voters equaled the number of baby boom voters. Now, as one of the most famous baby boomers in the country, Hillary Clinton now represents sort of a demographic decline that the party is going to have to grapple with.

Obama was kind of a transitional figure, but now we've got to figure out what these millennials want to do, what they want to vote for and what they're going to do, say, in 2018 and beyond.

ZIMMERMAN: May I suggest also, at this point, Democrats - and I think it's very telling about this national committee meeting. Democrats from every spectrum have no interest in relitigating the 2016 presidential election.

Quite frankly, as a party we're out of group therapy, the Haagen-Dazs is back in the freezer and we're focused on moving forward because the agenda before us is so much more important than whatever issues were behind us.

PAUL: OK. So, Robert, when you put Keith Ellison up against former Labor Secretary Tom Perez - we know that you're in Perez's corner - what about Pete Buttigieg?

[06:30:02] ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's interesting. Watch today, watch those candidates who're not in the lead. Pete Buttigieg, for example, is one aspect of it. Sally Boynton Brown is another one. These candidates maybe represent 10, 20, maybe 15 votes each. But these third-party candidates might force a second or third ballot. We'll have to wait and see.

PAUL: If you could write the agenda, Robert, what's the first thing you'd want the new leader to tackle?

ZIMMERMAN: The most important issue I want our new leader to tackle is reinvigorating our local grassroots Democratic organizations because our fight is not just with Donald Trump, our fight is winning state legislative races, winning congressional races. That's our focus - 2017, 2018. And using Donald Trump as a mobilizing factor.

PAUL: OK. So, that was my last question. Errol, when you look at what's happening at these town halls and the veracity, the passion of these people, how does what Donald Trump will do in the next few weeks, few months, how will that shape the Democrats?

LOUIS: What it does - what the Trump agenda or some of the more controversial aspects of it, what it will do is get people's attention and it will get them in the streets and it will serve as a wake-up call that they've got to get involved in politics.

So, that creates a possibility, but only a possibility. So, just as Robert suggests, what then happens is there's about, what, 3,100 counties in this country, if you don't have a Democratic organization in every one of those counties, where do those people go once they face what they think of as sort of a crisis moment where they've got to deal with their healthcare or their immigration status or their LGBT status.

You've got to sort of not waste that opportunity and that takes organization.

PAUL: Errol Louis, Robert Zimmerman, we're so grateful, both of you, for taking time to be with us. Thank you.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Plus, new evidence now that shows there's a worsening of the opioid overdose epidemic across the country. And there's a sociologist who says that the reason behind that may have also influenced the 2016 election. Pretty provocative finding. Her research is next.


[06:45:32] BLACKWELL: There is a deadly trend that is continuing to drag across the United States. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows drug overdoses more than doubled across the country since 1999.

And now, they're responsible - look at this - for more deaths than suicide and car accidents across the country. And as health professionals and politicians are looking for solutions to this growing opioid crisis, there's a sociologist who has found a link between the spike in drug overdoses and alcohol and suicide overdoses and that despair and the motivation potentially in the 2016 election. Watch this.


RYAN COOPER, ARMY VETERAN: The most fun I never want to have again.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Army veteran Ryan Cooper is proud of his service in Afghanistan, but he's had a tough time transitioning into life back home.

COOPER: You're to trying to do one thing and then you come back and there's very little need for an infantry soldier back in the civilian world.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Ryan came home in 2011. And he's secretly struggled to forget the horrors of his service. And there was another struggle.

COOPER: There really wasn't much going on at all. People were either collecting unemployment, taking a couple of classes in community college or not doing anything at all. And I kind of just fell into that with them.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Ryan could not find a suitable job here in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. That year, unemployment here in Luzern County peaked at 10.6 percent. So, Ryan says, to ease the emotional pain, he began taking prescription painkillers.

A lot of the other people who were either unemployed, not in school or not doing anything, they were doing heroin.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Soon, Ryan was too.

BLACKWELL: It didn't meet your expectations of what life would be. COOPER: Exactly. Just disillusionment all around.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): According to Penn State University rural sociologist and demographer Shannon Monnat, people here handled that disillusionment in different ways.

SHANNON MONNAT, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: Some people turned to self- medicating and some people turned to another kind of fix which may be voting for a candidate that is just proposing some radical change and burning the place down.

BLACKWELL: Last year, Monnat crunched the numbers from more than 3,000 counties across the country, comparing Trump to 2012's Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

She found that President Trump did better than Romney in 80 percent of the counties, especially well in New England, Appalachia and the industrial Midwest. Also, that he performed best in counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates.

MONNAT: I'm not saying that Trump supporters are a bunch of drug addicts or alcoholics, but drug using communities, alcohol abusing communities, mental health problems are really symptoms, canaries in the coal mine, so to speak, of broader economic and social issues that have really been building.

BLACKWELL: Monnat says that strong correlation is rooted in the broad economic distresses and job losses in these counties.

Monnat: These sorts of places are really primed to be vulnerable to prescription pain killers and heroin. And they're also prime to be vulnerable to messages of a quick fix or a quick change from somebody like Donald Trump.

EILEEN SOROKAS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: This is all from Obama's campaign.

BLACKWELL: Eileen and Richard Sorokas have lived in Wilkes-Barre all their lives. They're registered Democrats and voted for President Barack Obama twice, even volunteered for the president's 2008 campaign near the height of the Great Recession.

RICHARD SOROKAS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: People are desperate to work and a lot of people going back on welfare and counting on the government. So, people were struggling at that time for any type of work.

BLACKWELL: At the end of President Obama's term, unemployment in Luzern County had dropped to 5.9 percent. The Sorokas say that's not good enough and the high paying jobs have not returned. So, in 2016, they voted for Donald Trump.

EILEEN SOROKAS: Just like Barack Obama's that it was time to change, it was time for change again to have Trump in there.

BLACKWELL: A lot of their neighbors agree. In 2012, President Obama won Luzern County by almost 5 points. In 2016, Donald Trump won the county beating Hillary Clinton by 20 points. RICHARD SOROKAS: I believe you need that businessman. You've got to get the politically correct things out of here and get a businessman and get this country straight up, get the deficit down and start getting jobs.

BLACKWELL: Ryan has been sober for 90 days now. He knows that his recovery will take time. And when it comes to President Trump and the return of those high paying jobs -

COOPER: This area is relying on him, so I hope that he doesn't sue them wrong (ph).

BLACKWELL: He and the Sorokas hope that those jobs rush in as quickly as the president promised.


PAUL: Very nice piece. Well, the best to him as well.

[06:50:02] Alrighty. Rory McIlroy firing back at some people who are none too happy about his round his golf with President Trump. Andy Scholes, politics bleeding into sports there.

ANDY SCHOLES, HOST, BLEACHER REPORT: That's right, Christi. But Rory says a round of golf is nothing more than a round of golf. We will hear what else he had to say about - say to those who don't agree with him. Coming up in this morning's Bleacher Report.

PAUL: Alrighty. Well, Rory McIlroy just want to play some golf apparently. President decided he wanted to play. They played a round together.

BLACKWELL: They just happened to be there at the same time.

PAUL: I don't know how it worked out, but everything (INAUDIBLE) people now.

BLACKWELL: All right. Andy Scholes is here to explain what's really going on and what Rory was saying about all of this.

SCHOLES: And so, Rory just right out there saying immediately, it is not a political statement. You know what, he played with President Trump at his golf course. President - or Trump international in Florida last weekend.

And once the picture of the two of them from their round surfaced, Rory began to just get flooded with angry tweets. Rory responding to those people who are not happy with his decision, saying whether you respect the president or not, you respect the office he holds.

Now, he went on to say in a tweet, this wasn't an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind. It was quite simply a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else. I've traveled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures. To be called a fascist and a bigot by some people because I spent some time in someone's company is just ridiculous.

[06:55:05] All right. Elsewhere in the sports world, the Vancouver Canucks may be very shorthanded tonight because of a mumps scare. One Canucks player has a confirmed case of the mumps and they have quarantined four others because they fear they have contracted the virus. Now, this mumps scare definitely a big concern for the team because the virus can be spread easily from just sharing water bottles and sometimes you don't show symptoms for up to two weeks.


JANNIK HANSEN, VANCOUVER CANUCKS: This is pure bad luck. Sickness always runs through, of course, but something like this is a little unexpected. And, again, we don't know who will be available.


SCHOLES: This is not the first mumps incident in the NHL. Fourteen players including Sidney Crosby missed time during the 2014 season with the virus.

All right. Finally, some golfers will do anything to save a stroke and Shawn Stefani is definitely on that list. On hole 6 of the Honda Classic, check him out. Stefani's ball into the water - yes, so he stripped down all the way to his Underoos to go into the pond to hit the ball out.

Now, he joked afterward saying, 'just trying to make the cut, doing anything possible. And he also joked, hopefully, I looked good because I've been going to the gym.

You know what, some people, when they've been hitting the gym hard, will do anything to -

PAUL: They want to make sure you know they've been hitting the gym hard.

SCHOLES: He's like, my ball is in the water?

BLACKWELL: There's nothing to do (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: That could just go so wrong right now.

SCHOLES: And he missed the cut, guys.

PAUL: You know what, this is how we're talking about him. He's a smart man.

BLACKWELL: There you go.

PAUL: Andy Scholes. Thank you.

SCHOLES: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: All right. Up next, look to the sky. We've got details of the year's first solar eclipse, which is set to cross the skies. We'll tell you when.