Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Special Primary Election Coverage; Trump Drops Eagles ceremony for 'Celebration of America'; Sarah Sanders: "I'm An Honest Person"; POLL: Trump Less Trusted Than CNN, Fox, MSNBC; California Key To Democrat's Hopes For Blue Wave. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles. You're watching CNN's special primary election coverage.

It's 11 pm here on the West Coast, 2 am in the east and it could be days before final results are known for the biggest primary races here in California. Voters went to the polls in eight states.

The Democrats, it's the start of a long road to flip the House of Representatives come November's midterm elections.

But the X factor in all of this is California's jungle primary system, wherein Democrats and Republicans compete on the same ballot and the top two vote getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election.

We have a lot to get to in the coming hour. So joining us here, political analyst Bill Schneider, author of "Ungovernable: How America Actually Became (INAUDIBLE)."

Thank you, Bill.

CNN's U.S. political reporter Maeve Reston; Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman, talk radio host, Trump supporter and columnist with the "Orange County Register," John Phillips.

Also in New York, CNN politics senior writer and analyst, Harry Enten and from Orange County, California, CNN's senior U.S. correspondent Kyung Lah. And we'll start with Kyung because right now, because of the weird primary system in California, there are those three congressional districts which are causing a lot of concerns for Democrats, including the 48th District, where you are.

So what's the latest?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: This is the concern that national Democrats are really concerned about. They're watching this very carefully. This is the 48th District. Dana Rohrabacher is the Republican who is the incumbent here.

This is a district that Hillary Clinton won and Democrats want to win this seat. They want to try to flip this seat and this is one that they have targeted.

Hans Keirstead, this is his watch party; you can see people here are milling about. But just a short time ago, he is the Democrat here who wants to unseat Rohrabacher. He came down here and he encouraged the supporters here in this Irish bar, keep drinking because it's going to be a long night. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANS KEIRSTEAD (D), CANDIDATE FOR U.S. CONGRESS: We're not going to know the final answer tonight. It's going to be coming in probably over another day. But right now we're in a solid second place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Second place. There is another Democrat, though, running here, Harley Rouda. He is somebody who could potentially cancel him out, if it's two Democrats, because it has been such a long and ugly primary, if they cancel each other, it is very possible that a Democrat might not make the November ballot, that it would be two Republicans who go into the 48th District here. And that would be a nightmare, according to the national Democrats, for a seat that they believe is flippable.

There are two other districts the Democrats are really watching tonight, California 39 as well as California 49. These are two seats where Republicans are not running, Ed Royce as well as Darrell Issa, they are retiring.

But there are so many Democrats on the ballot. And because of this jungle primary system, John, a lot of voters just simply don't know who to vote for or their vote is being watered down.

So that is what is happening tonight, the votes coming in very, very slowly, John. We're not anticipating knowing anything about this until tomorrow, perhaps even later -- John.

VAUSE: Oh, the anticipation. Kyung, thank you. Stay with us.

Maeve, to you. We are awaiting these results and they could take a little longer because of a printing error and more than 100,000 people were left off the rolls, including that 39th District where the retiring Republican has opened the way for a field of Democrats.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was really interesting. Today there were a lot of voters who showed up expecting their names to be on the roster in Los Angeles County, which is the most populous county in the state.

And when they got there, their names weren't on it. In that scenario, you're supposed to be handed a provisional ballot. But the county election officials were getting a lot of complaints from people saying that they weren't able to vote. So we're watching that really closely because it could really have

potentially an impact on that California 39, the district Ed Royce is retiring in. And Gil Cisneros, in that district, had made a huge play for Hispanic voters. And that piece of Los Angeles County, which is part of Royce's district, that is potentially where some where the irregularities were today.

So we'll have to keep watching that it could make the counting process a lot longer.

BILL SCHNEIDER, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the capital of high-tech America. California, Silicon Valley, they can't count the ballots.

VAUSE: Well, that's not the first time this has happened. But (INAUDIBLE) here, Bill. We're talking about the road to the midterms goes through California for the Democrats.

But what we have is a situation that there's been this huge wave of anti-Trump --

[02:05:00]

VAUSE: -- enthusiasm, which has brought out a lot of Democrats to run for office. But that has been a blessing and a curse for the Democrats.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. The fields are very crowded and the rules make it very confusing for voters. We don't know what's going to happen. But California is the center of the resistance movement and in some ways, it's a test because a lot of people are saying, if there's a lot of pressure from the Left in the Democratic Party, progressive Democrats versus establishment Democrats, we'll see progressives, they ought to do very well here in California.

Well, Dianne Feinstein won a very good victory and she is one of the targets of a lot of the people on the Left in the Democratic Party. This is kind of a testing ground for that, just like Alabama was a testing ground for pro-Trump Republicans and establishment Republicans.

VAUSE: Harry, to you, if we look elsewhere around the country, apart from California, what's been the big takeaway over the last couple of hours?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I would say the biggest takeaway is how well women candidates have been doing. In a number of key races, women have come out on top, especially on the Democrat side.

In New Mexico it looks like in the 1st District the woman who won that primary is the going to be the first Native American woman ever elected to the Congress if she wins in the fall and she's heavily favored.

In Iowa, the 1st and the 3rd District, women did very well there, in New Jersey as well. And then the governorships, Iowa, Alabama, South Dakota, women candidates who were all favored in the fall won their nominations tonight, most of them actually on the Republican side.

VAUSE: And Caroline, just back to California, is there a concern that there hasn't been this sort of increase in voter turnout that many Democrats had been looking for?

And look at the 39th District, the result there, you see the Republican, Young, he spent about $700,000 on that race, while the Democrats spent millions. And not exactly the result I guess they were all hoping for.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's tough to say what this means for the Democrats. Certainly the surge that we were expecting in terms of voter turnout didn't happen.

But in midterm elections it's really difficult to predict, especially when you're going in and there's only a few candidates you know. And I will say, going into the voting booth today and seeing that there were -- I had to turn pages many times just for one race.

In fact, when I put my ballot in, the man behind the counter, said, oh, you did it right, most people are not doing it right. So I think it was difficult. This was a really low energy race. For example, the governorship, only 84 percent of people even knew really who the top contenders were in the state of California. It should have been around 100 percent.

So I don't know if this is the bellwether that we are waiting for but I will say that the California system obviously needs to be reformed if it is benefitting Republicans in a way that doesn't actually represent the citizens of California.

VAUSE: You'd agree with that, John?

JOHN PHILLIPS, REPUBLICAN TALK SHOW HOST: Well, there's not a lot of evidence that the natives were restless with pitchforks and torches in this election. This California primary looked a whole lot like California primaries in the past.

If you look at the absentee ballots, for example, Democrats make up 45 percent of those who requested absentee ballots. They made up 45 percent of those who turned them in.

Republicans made up 26 percent of those people who received absentee ballots and 34 percent of those who turned them in. So Republicans overperformed by 8 points and the Democrats were flat. I don't see signs of a big blue wave coming.

VAUSE: How much did the Democrat leadership not help in this when it came to running around a particular candidate, especially in these districts that were so up in the air when it came to this jungle primary, that they were worried about so many Democrats cannibalizing the vote?

RESTON: Well, they did come into full play in the 39th District, which we've been talking a lot about, coming behind Gil Cisneros. And he was locked in a very ugly battle against another Democrat, Andy Thorburn. And it appears that the Democrats' efforts in that district, from what we've seen so far, did seem to lift his chances.

Where Kyung was tonight in Dana Rohrabacher's seat, I think a lot of Democrats there, just from talking to them, would have liked some more guidance from the party about which way to go because it did end up being a tight race between Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda. And there were also candidates who appeared on the ballot who had already dropped out toady.

So that was really confusing for voters and could have led to a splintering that the party maybe could have dealt with earlier on in the process.

VAUSE: And, Bill, if we look at Rohrabacher's district, that's the Orange County area. This is an area which is changing demographically more toward -- if you look at it in theory, it should be changing toward the Democrats. And the Republicans have lost a lot of support but the Democrats haven't picked up that support in any significant way.

SCHNEIDER: What we're seeing in places like Orange County is that well-educated Democrats -- that used to the heartland of the Republican Party -- I'm sorry, well-educated Republicans are streaming out of the Republican Party.

They don't like Donald Trump. Trump has created a huge education gap in American politics. He attracts a lot of lower educated voters and he repels a lot of higher educated voters in what used to be Republican strongholds. They haven't become Democrats --

[02:10:00]

SCHNEIDER: -- but Trump is driving them out of the Republican Party.

VAUSE: Harry, the other race we have to watch is the governor's race. We now have a race between the Republican John Cox and the Democrat Gavin Newsom. This is what they said a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN COX (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, California. (INAUDIBLE) Republican governor, yes. We put a business man in the White House. Let's put a business man in the governor's mansion, huh?

GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is only the first half of the election calendar but, thanks to you, the halftime score is looking very promising and the home team is winning big.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Harry, this result is a win not just for Newsom but also for Donald Trump in the White House.

ENTEN: It's a huge win for Donald Trump in the White House insofar as Donald Trump endorsed John Cox and more than that if for the House races in the fall, Republicans were very worried if it was two Democrats who got through in the governor's race, then there would not be at the top of the ticket a reason for Republican voters to come out.

So this is something that Republicans should be very, very happy about.

VAUSE: John, if we look at the situation statewide, though, Republicans of 14 out of 53 congressional districts in California, they're not going to win the Senate because Feinstein's (INAUDIBLE) Democrat.

They barely snuck in when they came to the governor's race and they're not going to win that. This is a state where Republicans are only competitive on a congressional level because of this weird jungle primary system.

What does it say about the state of the Republican Party here in California?

PHILLIPS: Well, look, California is a big state. There are lots of offices that you can win even if you can't win a statewide race. Steve Poysner (ph), who's running for --

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: -- don't discount the impact of getting John Cox into the runoff. What impact that will have it on some of these down ballot races. I have it on very good authority that Kevin McCarthy, the congressman from Bakersfield, was the one who put it out to President Trump and made it be known that he wants the endorsement coming from president to John Cox in that tweet.

That was very influential in this primary. He was neck-and-neck with Travis Allen, neck-and-neck with Antonio Villaraigosa; at the time that, I believe, pushed him over the top and got him into the top two.

VAUSE: Caroline, have we seen this anti-Trump wave that many Democrats were hoping for?

HELDMAN: We're definitely seeing that. In the state of California, Republicans are now actually the third most popular party behind Democrats and independents. That shift is new since Donald Trump's election.

His approval ratings in the state run -70 percent. So we're definitely seeing the enthusiasm, I think the best measure of it is the sheer volume of Democratic candidates who are running in this particular election.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE). Everybody stay with us. We have a lot more ahead on this big voting night in the United States, including more on California's jungle primary. We'll go deep into the jungle, an idea borne of good intentions.

But is this system now giving voters some buyer's remorse? Also ahead, the celebration goes on without the original guest of honor. The U.S. president picks up his feud with the National Football League players.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:15:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN's primary election coverage. Back to our panel now.

We have been talking a lot about this jungle primary system in California. Want to explain what that actually is.

So, Harry, first to you. When California voters approved Proposition 14 about 10 years ago, eight years ago, it was borne of good intentions but hasn't quite worked out that way.

ENTEN: No, not really. It was put on the ballot and passed by voters with the idea of getting more moderate candidates through. Remember, California is a state that's dominated by Democrats. But in fact, all we've seen is actual confusion.

Because as tonight illustrates, when you have a lot of running on one side, even if that side has a majority of support and the other side, which has less support has fewer candidates running, that side that has fewer candidates running can, in fact, get their candidates through to the second round, even though there's less support for them overall.

VAUSE: So Maeve, how's the system actually meant to work?

How is it meant to end the polarization --

(CROSSTALK)

RESTON: It was meant to allow more moderate voices to rise in this state as opposed to having the most far left candidates and the most far right candidates running.

Instead, what it has done, in this particular year -- because there's been so much anti-Trump fervor, which brought a lot of Democratic candidates out in a lot of these congressional districts -- but you ended up having so many people in the field that you had a splintering of the vote.

And it turned into this whole like game theory scenario here in California, where strategists were trying to figure out whether they should spend money on trying to depress turnout or support for the third or fourth or fifth tier candidates in order to allow their candidate to rise into second place. And so you have someone like Gavin Newsom, for example, who put out

ads that kind of signaled to Republican voters that they should be supporting Cox, the Republican.

VAUSE: Targeting people to vote for the Republican.

RESTON: Yes, exactly, in order to make sure that Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor, was knocked out of the running. And so I think a lot of Democrats have walked away from this, saying, you know what, this system is not working and needs some serious tweaks before we go through this again.

VAUSE: And, Bill, it was described as a system which sounded good in political science class.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. I teach political science.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHNEIDER: Welcome to the law of unintended consequences. No matter what you do, it's going to have unintended consequences and that's exactly what happened. It created kind of a circus. The voters really don't understand it. All they know is, I go to the polls. I vote for the candidate I like best. And that's what they've always done and they're going to continue to do that. It's the rules that got everything screwed up.

VAUSE: Caroline, if you take a look at District 39, this is Ed Royce's district, the retiring Republican, it seems to be an example of what looks to be total chaos within the Democratic Party and elective leadership.

There were seven Democratic candidates, three of whom had already spent millions of dollars mostly beating up on each other. And the Republican walked away with $700,000 spent and is leading.

HELDMAN: Right. And so what we've seen through California is that the Democratic, the national party --

[02:20:00]

HELDMAN: -- has been pretty reluctant to step in and endorse candidates. They have in certain races. But at the end of the day, you have a lot of people who are really energized by the resistance, anti-Trump sentiment, who are jumping into politics for the very first time.

So they don't have the some sort of party loyalty, for example. But there's certainly -- there's no top-down leadership, saying we are supporting this particular candidate.

Again, in some races, but most of these races it has been a free-for- all. And I'm really glad that the system keeps political scientists and data scientists employed, it's good for something.

But at the end of the day, it's really bad for democracy when you have two candidates from the same party. It diminishes our discourse. It diminishes the quality of the policy debate.

So that's what we're seeing throughout the states. It's time for another proposition.

VAUSE: And Kyung to you, in District 48, Dana Rohrabacher's district, again, another example of how this system just kind of didn't work for Democrats. There were up to eight Democrats who had their names on the ballot and at least three of them decided not to run, just adding to more confusion.

LAH: And their names are still on the ballot. And everything you guys are talking about up there, I can sort of capture with what one voter told me today.

He said there were so many names on the ballot, he just got flat confused. He's an independent; he wasn't quite sure, was he going to go with the Republican incumbent?

He decided against that. He was going to go for someone else. And he found there was a Democrat that he wanted to support. So he picked the Democrat, whose name started with an H.

Well, there are two Democrats that happen to be the front-runners in California 48 and their names start with H, both of them. He couldn't remember which one he voted for. Hans Keirstead, this is his election watch party, or the other competitor, who is neck-and-neck with him, that is the anticipation, Harley Rouda.

So that's sort of speaking to the confusion, the voters themselves don't exactly know who to support. So there just was too many people, according to this voter. But what we can tell you as far as what's happening here tonight, John, is that because of all of these candidates, because of how long it's taking to count everything, this candidate, Hans Keirstead came down and called it a night, told his supporters, we're not going to know what's going to happen until tomorrow. He is leaving the room as a solid number two, he said.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: OK, so still in the race at this point.

But, John, if we look at Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican, often referred to as Putin's favorite congressman because of his ties to Russia, he was expected to actually retire before this election but it seems as if this jungle primary system has kept his hopes alive.

PHILLIPS: Well, he told people he was going to retire and then I guess changed his mind. Two points on this primary. I don't think it was borne of good intentions at all. Governor Schwarzenegger at the time needed a vote in the state legislature for a budget.

And this is what Abel Maldonado, then senator, was requiring of him in exchange for that vote. He thought an open primary would allow him as a moderate Republican to win the governorship after Arnold Schwarzenegger left. The second thing it's pretty clear on both the Republican side and the

Democratic side, more so even on the Democratic side, that the parties have lost control of the primaries.

We saw this in the presidential election, when everyone thought Jeb Bush was going to be the Republican nominee and, if not Jeb, then maybe Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or the one of the others.

They knew they didn't want Donald Trump. Donald Trump won, they had no control over that.

What we saw in many of these races is that candidates who didn't have the blessing of Nancy Pelosi in the DCCC ended up doing, in some cases, better than the candidates that had their blessing and their money.

VAUSE: And Harry, to you, are we seeing any evidence of that in other races around the country, that essentially the party has lost control of the primary process?

ENTEN: I don't know if we've necessarily seen a lot of evidence of that. I just think the one overriding factor -- I just go back to it over and over again is, if you're a woman or you have a name that sounds like you're a woman, you just seem to have a very big increase in your vote share if you're a Democrat.

We've seen across the aisle different types of candidates winning regardless of party ideology or regardless of their connections with Nancy Pelosi.

VAUSE: OK, thank you, everyone. We've got a lot more to get to. Some of you are staying, some of you will leave us for a bit but thank you very much.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, celebrating a winning team at the White House not usually a political event. But the Philadelphia Eagles are now the focus of President Trump's latest criticism of NFL protests.

And later this hour, why the White House press secretary is being forced to defend her credibility, not just to journalists but, it seems, to everybody else.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:25:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE: You're watching CNN special primary election coverage. I'm John Vause in Los Angeles. First the headlines this hour.

[02:30:00] (HEADLINES) VAUSE: Back to our panel now. OK. Back in January, the national college football championship, it appeared the president did not know the words to the national anthem. Have a look at this. Here he is. Everyone was singing. He was mouthing the words at least it appeared that way. John Phillips to you it appeared also at the White House ceremony on Tuesday, the president struggled once again with the words of the national anthem. He had six months to learn them. At a minimum of respect to the national anthem, wouldn't it be you should learn the words and the lyrics?

PHILLIPS: What is it that Michael Jackson used to say, it's not the lyrics that matter, it's the beat?

VAUSE: But in this case the lyrics do matter.

PHILLIPS: I think this whole controversy is a net benefit for Trump. Look at -- go back to the football season when he first started warring with the National Football League over the kneeling. What happened? Ticket sales went down. Ratings went down not just for the regular season games but the post-season games and even the Super Bowl. What happened? The NFL had to take a vote. They changed their policy. Then they started playing games with this Eagles visit to the -- to the White House. They were trying to embarrass him, so he canceled the event.

VAUSE: OK. And with that point in mind, CaroIine, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a deposition that President Trump told him this is a very winning strong issue for me. Tell everybody. You can't win this one. This one lifts me. Did the president go to war with the Eagles and the NFL to rally his support ahead of the primaries?

HELDMAN: Absolutely. I mean he's harkening back to the cultural wars, right? That divided the country in 2016. That elevated him. He ran on an openly racist platform, I would argue with his defining Mexicans as rapist, you know, all of the language that he used during the primary, we just elected the head of the birther movement after eight years of a black president. He knows that the culture wars work and so anytime, you know, something comes up with Russia or he's flagging in the polls or he wants a distraction, he just goes back and beats those drums even if those drums have really nothing to do with what happened with the Eagles because they weren't coming because of his stance on the kneeling. Many of them have come out and said, no, it's because of the way you treat women. It's because of your open racism during the election.

VAUSE: They said there were lots of reasons.

HELDMAN: Right.

VAUSE: OK. And now seems that the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will be the next team to decline a White House invitation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: No matter who wins this series, no one wants -- no one want the invite anyway, so it won't be Golden State or Cleveland going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So Bill, traditionally hosting a championship team at the White House has been a political event if there was any tension at all. You see the president would try to diffuse that. He would be the bigger person. This president though clearly wants to magnify those.

SCHNEIDER: This president is an unusually figure. He is the only president I've ever heard of who governs as a divider. He got elected as a divider. His four immediate predecessors all ran as healers, both Bushes, Obama, Bill Clinton was a new Democrat. Obama was supposed to heal the divide. They all failed. The divide is real. But Trump saw an opportunity in the divided nation and said I'm going to exploit that opportunity. He got elected by division and he's governing by division.

VAUSE: And may be politics for Donald Trump. What's the impact on the country though, the bigger impact?

RESTON: Well, I think, you know, the real issue as we saw on the White House briefing today is not -- is a lot of people feel that it's not really getting discussed. You know, that it's all sort of these surface tensions and there are questions about whether the president understands the full dimensions of this. As you pointed out, the White House clearly thinks that this is a good political issue for Trump. Otherwise, he would not keep coming back to it. But you have to wonder in some of these, you know, incredibly competitive districts or even in like the Philadelphia suburbs, will people remember this in November? Will they be thinking about it? Will it continue to bother for example those more moderate Republican women who don't like Trump's tweets or his fights? You know, that will be something that we'll all be watching at all.

VAUSE: Here's a tweet from the parody account wrote POTUS staff, that awkward moment when nobody wants to go to your child's birthday party, so your embarrassed child says they didn't want a party anyway, then demands a new party for themselves alone, then complains all day about being lonely. But your child is the President of the United States. John, if nothing else canceling the event with the Eagles team consistent with Trump's behavior, but you can't fire me because I quit?

[02:35:05] PHILLIPS: We keep acting like there's some tiny sect of people that want people to stand for the national anthem and think it's disrespectful to take a knee or stay in the locker room. We're talking about half the country. He's not just speaking for himself and for his own ego here. The American people including NFL fans, people who watch the NFL games, people who are seasoned ticket holders, they feel the exact same way that he does. So the fact that he's taking a stand on this I think is something that a lot of people are cheering.

VAUSE: OK. Not the Mayor of Philadelphia because he fired back at the president after canceling the event. Here's what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM KENNEY, MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Would he have the opportunity to serve his country, five times he ducked out. When he had the opportunity to serve his country for real, his father got him out of it, and I think it's really disingenuous for him to talk about patriotism in any way, shape, or form.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Caroline, when this guy had the opportunity to deliver Pennsylvania for Hillary Clinton, he felt flat --

(CROSSTALK)

HELDMAN: The election is over and there are plenty of white people who support, you know, this idea of limiting the free speech of African-Americans. Sure. There are plenty of those people. Nobody is contesting that his strategy works. The question is whether or not it is harmful for our nation and our democracy.

PHILLIPS: They're on the clock.

HELDMAN: They're on the clock expressing freedom of speech in a way that it's noninvasive. We don't get to tell press minorities that the proper way for them to express their political believes about being murdered in the street. We don't get to do that.

PHILLIPS: If I want to express my free speech right to drop an F-bomb right now, what do you think CNN would do to me? Along the clock. There are certain things you can't do when you're -- when you're at work.

SCHNEIDER: (INAUDIBLE) to point that a student once asked me about -- a student once said to me -- asked me, is this the most divided we've ever been as a county? And I said, you know, young man, we did once have a civil war and three quarters of a million Americans died in the civil war. But this is certainly the most divide we've been since then.

VAUSE: And Caroline -- and Maeve, just back to that comment by the mayor of Philadelphia, if the president wants to define patriotism one way, is it fair for the mayor to divine -- define patriotism as those who serve in the military and criticize Trump?

RESTON: I mean I think, you know, that was a very political statement that he was making there and, you know, parts of that road and it's going to lead to some very nasty places. But I mean certainly --

(CROSSTALK)

RESTON: Yes. I mean this is a -- this is a discussion that just gets more and more divisive by the day and now we're going to start talking about, you know, everyone's military service. And that's the direction that Trump would like to just -- to drive the discussion.

SCHNEIDER: As a non-military experienced guy, he never served.

VAUSE: Yes, exactly. To be fair, the president does not have the best history when it comes to eagles.

SCHNEIDER: No.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Anyway, the best is when the eagle actually then decides to attack the president. That may explain why -- OK. On that note, we'll take a short break. We'll come back with our panel. A lot more to get to on a busy Tuesday, so thank you. Thank you for sticking around. Back in a moment. You're watching CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president and the administration applaud Senator Majority Leader McConnell and his decision to cancel the majority.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:42:09] VAUSE: Forty-two minutes here past 11:00 on the West Coast. Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN. For the second day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has refused to correct her statement from August that President Trump did not dictate a misleading statement to Don Jr. about his son's infamous Trump Tower meeting. Trump's lawyers now say he did dictate that statement, the exact opposite of what Sanders said last year. On Tuesday, Sarah Sanders turned on the media for pushing the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I work every single day to give you accurate and up-to-date information, and I'm going to continue to do that. Frankly, I think my credibility is probably higher than the media's and I think in large part that's because you guys spend more of your time focus on attacking the president instead of reporting the news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: I'm back with our panel now for more on Sarah Sanders. Bill, I actually hear people laughing in the briefing room when she said that. We don't have any polling on Sarah Sanders when it comes to her credibility versus the media, but we do have the numbers on the president's credibility compared to the three cable news network. This comes from (INAUDIBLE) poll from March and they found the American public trust all three cable networks, news cable networks more than Donald Trump. But at the end of the day, what does any of this have to do with Sanders' refusal to set the record straight?

SCHNEIDER: She is the president's mouthpiece. That's her job. And if people don't trust the president, they're not going to trust anything she says anything either. That's where she gets in trouble. She is the voice of the president.

VAUSE: But why wouldn't she correct the record? Is she -- is she protecting the president?

RESTON: Well, I think that, you know, I don't think that we could fully explain her motives at this point. But it was a fascinating discussion during the briefing today because she continually got pushed on that point and for whatever reason did not clarify, you know, whether she got misinformation. She just kept over and over again coming back to this point that she has tried to give the best information that she can at the time.

VAUSE: And then she kind of answers these questions because it must goes to the special counsel dealing with the Russia investigation?

RESTON: Right. And, you know, that didn't make a lot of sense because of course as our, you know, as our Pamela Brown pointed out. She has talked about the investigation at different times. So I mean she might be protecting herself possibly. We don't know, you know, where this investigation is going or, you know, that's been the guidance that she's gotten from the top officials inside the White House.

VAUSE: Yes. And then with a turn straight face she added this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I work day in and day out and I believe frankly with the majority of you here in the room, l think you all know I'm an honest person who works extremely hard to provide you with accurate information at all times. I'm going to continue to do that, but I'm not going to engage on matters that deal with the outside counsel, Justin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Which is astounding, Caroline, given that this White House has a history of spreading false and misleading statements and refusing to correct the record over and over and over again.

[02:44:59] HELDMAN: Absolutely, it is not surprising to me that Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied about being an honest person. She works for a man who according to PolitiFact, lies on average seven times a day. He's actually, picked up his phase in 2018. It's just over eight lies per day. So she is his mouthpiece and she is a paid professional, for lack of a better term, liar. And she has actually shifted this position.

We have never seen someone behind that podium acting the way that she does. There's always been at least some modicum of trust between the person who is the president's mouthpiece, and the press. She has obliterated that simply because not only she often not in the loop, but she's often openly dishonest with reporters in a way that it just pretty easy to fact check.

VAUSE: And John, you -- for someone who speaks for the president, Sarah Sanders seems to not speak to the president a lot. Because she doesn't seem to be able to answer a lot of questions when asked. Especially, about the Russia investigation and other issues.

PHILLIPS: Well, I would just flatly refuse to answer any questions about the outside counsel. I would refer all of those questions to the president's attorneys because she may very well not be in the loop of what the most up to date information is.

That being said, understand that the press core only wants to talk about Russia. They don't want to talk about any economic data that's good for the president, anything that puts them in the positive light. And they're going to go right back to that subject pretty much nonstop. And I do believe that a lot of people out there don't have a lot of faith in the media. In the election, the media picked a side, and they sided against President Trump, and Trump voters, remember that, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Trump voters, remember one of the things, even Donald Trump thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. He expected Hillary Clinton win and that's why his wife wasn't worry about becoming first lady. I mean, that was the universal expectation. That was the problem in polling among other things.

But the expectations were there. I think Trump got his mandate, and as so much -- as much of a mandate as he got, he got it because he was unexpected. He was unexpectedly elected, and that's what gave him a mandate.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) is the problem here essentially that -- you know, there's no communication, especially in the White House? They have a president who says one thing, one day, and something else the next day, and you just don't know with the president stands?

RESTON: I mean, I think it's all of those things. And the president, obviously, like to change his mind all the time about what he's going to say. You know, In this particular case, you have a lot of cleanup going on right now in terms of people like Rudy Giuliani, going out and saying something totally different than what the White House said -- you know, a couple of months ago.

And I think, all of this leads to a place of confusion which is perhaps where Donald Trump would like all of us to be. He has done -- you know, everything that he can to discredit the Mueller investigation and has been successful when it comes to Republicans and his base, thinking that it's a partisan investigation. So, you know, clearly there is -- there is more and more confusion about this, and that's where we wants it to go.

VAUSE: 20 seconds Caroline, is it a deliberate strategy by the White House?

HELDMAN: I think it's definitely a deliberate strategy. We've seen it since the moment that Donald Trump got into office. That he both practices (INAUDIBLE), but also practices dishonesty as a way of controlling the message and seems to be pretty shameless about it. And I'll just to add that Hillary Clinton, actually received more negative coverage according to the Harvard study during the election than Donald Trump. So, the idea that media was in for Hillary Clinton, they weren't. They were actually engaging in a lot of sexism.

VAUSE: OK, I don't know about that. We'll take a short break. When we come back, we have a lot more on the biggest U.S. primary night of the year. Will Democrats ride a blue wave to the November mid-terms? Is there any sign the blue wave is coming? We'll discuss that in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:50:41] KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Hello everyone, I'm CNN Meteorologist Karen Maginnis. This is your "WEATHER WATCH".

And we've got a split pattern across the United States. Risk of severe storms across the Dakota's, into Minnesota, maybe in the Kansas and Nebraska. And a lingering further system right along the golf cost reach and of the United States that will be the trigger mechanism for some showers and some thunderstorms.

If you are traveling into the northeast, maybe New York City, and into Boston, maybe a few clouds here and there. But temperature wise that looks overall pretty nice. There is a weather system, the high-risk forecast radar indicating that until late in the day on Wednesday, maybe some showers and storms right across the upper great lakes.

And that prolong system that I mentioned right across the gulf coast region from New Orleans, Panama City, towards Jacksonville. That will also increase the risk for some thunderstorms, some of them could be strong to severe. San Francisco could be a little windy, partly cloudy skies to very put cloudy skies in 17.

Sunshine in Winnipeg, looking at 23. Chicago, 27. New York City, this looks great. It's going to be about 22 degrees. Kingston, Jamaica at 32. Nassau, Bahamas at for some skid with thunderstorm, and the temperature there are going to be fairly muggy. If you're traveling towards South America, Brasilia 27, Salvador, 28.

Rio is looking at 28 degrees.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back everybody, just gone 11:52 here on the West Coast. And we have new CNN projections from the races in California's primary in the 39th district. Republican Young Kim, will advance in the general election in the race to replace the retiring Republican Congressman Ed Royce. And we don't know who the second tough finish it will at this point.

To the 48th district, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher moves on to the midterms. The second candidate, again, yet to be determined. And to the 49th district, there were eyes is all district, we know at least one Democratic candidate will move to the general election. Back to our panel now. Very quickly, Bill, from what we've seen tonight, from all the results, I know it's early, are we looking at that blue wave?

SCHNEIDER: We could be, that's in November. This is a primary lot of voters don't bother to vote in the primary and they don't see exactly what its take. For most voters, this really isn't a vote on Donald Trump, it's a primary vote. So I wouldn't draw hasty conclusions from the results of the primary.

VAUSE: Maeve?

RESTON: I think the Democrats would have like to have seen much more robust turnout, particularly in California today. Given how much energy there has been here at the very heart of the resistant.

I mean, Donald Trump has made his war on California front and center in his administration. And you know, if there really was going to be an enormously wave, a lot of people did expect it to start here in California. So, tonight, I think that you know, things are looking a little bit scarier probably for Democrats.

VAUSE: OK, Caroline, what do you think, being the Democrat on the panel?

HELDMAN: I think it's hard to say what will happen in November, I agree with Bill. But, it really illustrates the fact that it wasn't this (INAUDIBLE) turnout illustrates, that translating the MeToo movement and the Parkland activism, and historic turnout for the Women's Marches and to actually voting at the polls is a little more difficult I think than the Democratic Party mad of imagining. With that said, the Democrats are still up six percent in the general ballot. So, there still favor --

VAUSE: That's stand from what? 16?

HELDMAN: They're down from about -- yes, about 15 points. So it is waning but they still have an advantage. And I think we need to wait until November. I think there will be strong push anti-sentiment or anti-Trump sentiment in November. And I don't think that this is a reflection of that.

VAUSE: John, well, I think a lot of people fail to realize that among Republicans, Donald Trump is loved second only to Ronald Reagan. They love the guy, he's at 86 percent.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

VAUSE: And that means huge turnout and huge enthusiasm among Republicans.

PHILLIPS: I talk to a consultant who worked on one of the races in Orange County for a Republican. He said in an internal poll, they did Donald Trump's approval rating in Orange County was 50 percent. So, even in deep blue California, there are pockets where Donald Trump is still very popular. Turnout was nowhere near where Democrats wanted it to be in California. And I would note that there was a factor on this ballot that you're not going to see in November. Antonio Villaraigosa had a shot at being the first Latino governor in modern California history. They thought that he would motivate a lot of people to go to the polls didn't happen.

[02:55:21] VAUSE: Very quickly, on that note, Caroline, there was a lot of factors too. You know, Obamacare repeal, the immigration laws, the tax package which affects California was hits California harder than more than same in other states. And yet, we haven't seen at least at this point. You know, people turn out because of that.

HELDMAN: Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it's really just a slate of Democratic candidates and that's who you're voting for. In California, there's an assumption that the Democrat is going to win.

If you live in a Republican district, maybe the voter turnout would be slightly higher. But I don't think that voters in California actually translate this into what will happen in November because it's not really a push against Donald Trump. It's not really a question of whether or not -- you know, his repeal of the state and federal tax deduction which definitely affects us in New Jersey and Connecticut, the hardest. Whether or not that will actually -- you know, that's not what was on the ballot today. Right?

VAUSE: Yes. Good points later on. Thank you, everybody. We appreciate you being with us. It's been a very good night. We'd like to thank you for watching. "EARLY START" is up next for our viewers in North America. For everyone else, it's CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause in Los Angeles, you're watching CNN.