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Trump Pledges To Stop "Endless Wars" In Syria, Afghanistan; Beto O'Rourke: I'll Decide On 2020 Run By The End Of The Month; WAPO: Warren Listed Race As "American India" For Texas Bar; Church Sex Abuse Scandal. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 6, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Other news from the State Of The Union last night. The president confirming and announcing the dates of his second Face-to-Face Summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. It will be later this month. It'll be in Vietnam. And, the president talking about, you know, progress there, noting no nuclear test. No missile test, long- range missile tests. But, there's a UN report out today that says, on the essential issues here, nuclear activities, nuclear missile capabilities, and the program not just no progress, but that North Korea is still very active. What does the president supposed to talk about with Kim, if there's been no discernible progress on curtailing its nuclear program?

SEN. BEN CARDIN, D-MARYLAND:: Well, here I think the president's policy is baffling. North Korea has made virtually no progress towards denuclearizing their program. They haven't tested missiles, because they have the capacity today. The president has made very little progress in getting us towards a safer North Korea. And by the way, North Korea's non-nuclear activities, its human rights violations, its interference in other countries is still there. So, it is strange to me why the president would claim he's made progress when he hasn't, and now setting up a second summit meeting with Kim Jong-un.

SCIUTTO: Is that a victory for Kim to be able to meet twice now with the US President without having to really give up any of his nuclear weapons or missiles?

CARDIN: Oh, absolutely Kim. Kim Jong-un has to be extremely pleased that he's been able to get legitimacy on the international front and has done virtually nothing to change his behavior within his own country. So, clearly it's been a win for the North Korean dictator, and a person who has committed so many human rights violations. It is baffling again as to what the president expects to achieve by a second summit.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you now about Saudi Arabia. A CNN investigation has revealed that the Saudi government has transferred US-supplied weapons to Al-Qaeda-linked terror groups in Yemen. This in direct violation of the sales agreement. This CNN investigation coming up on the Hill. Testimony from the Central Command Commander, General Votel. In your view, is now the time to end, pause, or severely restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia?

CARDIN: Yes, I think it is. I think it is time for us to re-evaluate our relationship on arms sales with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Clearly, it is not been productive, and changing the trajectory in Yemen. The tragedy, the human rights tragedy there is, it's just horrible. The US engagement was supposed to minimize that. Tt has not minimized that. Now we have evidence that the Saudis may be using our weapons for purposes that were not part of our arms deal. Yes, it's time. It's well past time for us to re-evaluate our relationship with the Kingdom and our arms sales.

SCIUTTO: It is now four months and four days since the brutal murder of the journalist, Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. You heard a lot of talk in the weeks afterwards from some of your Republican colleagues, including Senator Lindsey Graham, about holding the Saudi leadership responsible, and yet to date there has been no such legislation. What are Democrats doing to ensure that Saudi Arabian leaders are held responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And is that momentum fading?

CARDIN: Well, I think you're absolutely correct that this Administration, the Trump Administration, has not held the Saudis accountable for this tragedy. There is interest on both Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate to do something about that. There's legislation that has been introduced. There's legislation that we hope to move through the United States Senate that would speak to the accountability of the Kingdom for this tragedy. So, I hope that we can move such legislation.

Obviously, the Democrats don't control the agenda in the United States Senate. We have more control in the House of Representatives. We would hope that this Administration would have acted more decisively than they have, but it's now up to Congress to act.

SCIUTTO: Senator Ben Cardin, thanks very much as always.

CARDIN: Thank you Jim.

SCIUTTO: Beto O'Rourke will decide if he is going to make a run for the White House by the end of this month, he says. The impact that his entrance could have on an increasingly crowded race.

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[10:35:00]

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SCIUTTO: Well, the 2020 field may be getting bigger. It is only a matter of days before we will know if Beto O'Rourke will run for president in 2020. The former Texas Senate candidate said that he will announce his plans before the end of this month. This announcement in an interview with Oprah. O'Rourke lost his Senate race to GOP Senator, Ted Cruz, but his campaign gained national attention and catapulted him as a top contender in the view of some in a growing field of democratic hopefuls.

CNN correspondent, Leyla Santiago, following all these developments. What are we expecting? Is there really any question, Leyla, as to whether he's going to jump into the race?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he was really pressed by Oprah on this. He didn't say Yes. He didn't quite say no. It was really interesting when he just started talking about wanting to make a difference in the future. People sort of leaned in, waiting, hoping for some sort of announcement. That definitive answer really didn't come in that Oprah interview, but he did give a timeline. He said look, I'm going to make an--

[10:40:00]

SANTIAGO: announcement, or a decision by the end of this month. And, while we were only able to film the first five minutes of the interview, I can tell you what he managed to do in its entirety is do something that even his opponents will tell you he's really good at, which is engaging people in a conversation and building anticipation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY: He's here. Beto O'Rourke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: In his first big public appearance since his run for the US Senate and enthusiastic reception for Beto O'Rourke. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE: D-TEXAS: It's on every single one of us to make it right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: But it's what he did not say in his exchange with Oprah Winfrey that left many wondering when he will take the stage again. Admitting he's considering a run for the White House. Winfrey asked, "Have you given yourself a deadline?" O'Rourke responded, "The serious answer is really soon. Before the end of this month." The holdup he says, his family, what's best for them. But a movement is now underway to draft the former congressman from El Paso.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED BETO O'ROURKE SUPPORTERS: Run Beto run. Run Beto run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: Draft Beto groups in multiple states are raising money, and on a mission to find key people to commit to a better run for the White House. In Texas signs that once read "Beto For Senate" now read "Beto 2020", and these stickers are becoming a top seller online.

Some worry he's losing precious campaigning time. But O'Rourke is known for his unconventional approach to politics. Viral videos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'ROURKE: So, I'm here at the dentist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: Social media posts. It's how he engaged supporters across the country during the mid-term elections leading to $80 million in mostly small donations in a narrow loss to Senator Ted Cruz. He's still pushing for changes in immigration policy, health care, and gun control, telling Oprah, "You can come to a different conclusion. It makes you no less American." The same rhetoric used in his Texas Senate bid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'ROURKE: Reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Let's begin there and it makes them no less American to come down on a different conclusion on this issue, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: His critics point to a lack of experience and thin legislative record. Even so, the latest polls show O'Rourke among the top contenders on a growing list of Democrats vying for the country's highest office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED BETO O'ROURKE SUPPORTERS: I'd love to hear a campaign announcement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY: Are you the real deal?

O'ROURKE: I feel some pressure now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: Pressure that could lead to a big announcement from Beto O'Rourke sometime in the next three weeks.

You know Oprah ended the interview saying, well it sure does sound like you're running. And a few more things that he talked about that did, kind of, hint at that. You know, he did hit the things he normally talks about immigration, health care, but he also really pushed for changes in climate change at a time where a lot of people are talking, especially among the Democrats for a new Green Deal.

He also made sure to point out some of the bipartisan legislation that he's worked on as a congressman. So, you know, we're going to have to wait by the end of the month. We will hear from Beto O'Rourke, but I'll leave it, in Oprah's words, "It sure sounds like he's running."

SCIUTTO: I think I'd agree with you. Leyla Santiago, thanks very much.

Joining me now to discuss more, CNN Senior Political Writer and Analyst, Harry Enten. Harry, thanks as always. So, Beto O'Rourke, credible candidate for 2020?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Credible, I'd absolutely say he's credible. I mean back in December, when his name was really in the realm of possible contenders, he was up around nine percent, I think, in our CNN poll. He's dropped off a little bit since then, but the amount of money he raised, the amount of enthusiasm that he saw throughout the country, during his 2018 Senate, that certainly makes him a contender. I'm not sure he's in the top tier, but he's certainly up there.

SCIUTTO: So, Elizabeth Warren, she's coming up on her official announcement, just in a couple of days, and really just more damaging information about a claim in 1986. She wrote down Native American on a Texas Bar identity card, in effect in 1986. I'm curious in the numbers. Does this issue of claiming that Native American heritage, does this damage her in the numbers?

ENTEN: I mean, I would say that, you know when she first announced that she was forming an exploratory committee. I said, she might have an electability problem and that was based upon her past performance in Massachusetts versus the average Democrat. And, claims like this do not do anything to dissuade me from the idea that she may in fact have an electability problem.

And look at her number since she first announced. She saw no bump. Compare that to Kamala Harris, who actually saw a major bump in the polls. So to me, this is just not particularly good for her grant. There's a lot of time left in this contest.

SCIUTTO: Does she refer to it to try to put it behind her in that official announcement?

ENTEN: Perhaps that she does. I mean, I think she wants to get this as far away from her as possible. But I'll tell you this, the President of the United States will bring it up--

[10:45:00]

ENTEN: every three seconds, and for Democratic voters nationwide, if they want someone who's electable, I'm not quite sure looking at the numbers that she has the biggest claim, the best claim, to being the most electable in the Democratic field.

SCIUTTO: So, the fields already pretty big. It's going to get bigger as well. Senator. Amy Klobuchar, she's going to announce a run for the White House as well this weekend. Tell me about what strengths she might bring to the race?

ENTEN: I mean if, Elizabeth Warren is not, you know, if you can argue Elizabeth Warren, perhaps has an electability problem. Amy Klobuchar is the-- probably has the biggest claim to being the most electable in the field. She had run for Senate three times in Minnesota. She's won by over 20 points each time. If you look at her 2018 performance versus the average Democrat in Minnesota, it was among the strongest of any of the candidates that ran nationwide for United States Senate. And, you know what? She's right next door to Iowa, which is obviously the first contest in the nation. She could do well in the Iowa caucuses.

SCIUTTO: Yes, there's a lot of arguments for why the Democrats would want a mid-western senator, or someone from those states to help win back those states. But it's interesting on the electability question, because I've seen a lot of polling recently where voters say, Democratic voters say, listen we-- primary concern here is, someone who could beat Donald Trump. But are voters that good in the past at judging electability?

ENTEN: Well, they weren't too good in 2016. If you are a Democrat, right? I mean Hillary Clinton ended up not being so electable versus Donald Trump, who was the least liked candidate of all time. And Hillary Clinton was the second least liked candidate of all time.

I think Klobuchar will make that argument. I think a lot of candidates will. But, you know, you were mentioning the midwest where Donald Trump broke through that big blue wall. If the Democrats can win in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, and in Wisconsin, you added to the states that Hillary Clinton won, you get to 272 electoral votes. And Amy Klobuchar, being from right next door in Minnesota, can make that argument perhaps better than anyone else can.

SCIUTTO: And on those key races that did turn the election in 2016, have we learned something from the midterms that is relevant for 2020, the way those statewide races went in Michigan and Pennsylvania elsewhere. Or, is it just too far out?

ENTEN: I would say that what we learned is that, if you look at Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Democrats won the Senate race. And, in all three of those states, they won the governor's race in all three of those States. So, if Democrats are looking perhaps for the easiest pathway to get to 270, I would not give up on the midwest despite some sexy appeal perhaps that they want to go down and say win Texas, or Arizona, or Florida,

SCIUTTO: Yes, you remember Hillary Clinton showing up in Texas in the latter stages of 2016.

ENTEN: Didn't quite work out.

SCIUTTO: Did not work out. Harry Enten, thanks very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up Pope Francis for the first time addressing the issue of nuns being abused by priests. That's coming up.

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SCIUTTO: For the very first time Pope Francis is acknowledging the sexual abuse of nuns by bishops and priests in the Catholic church, calling it a problem in the broader community, and saying more must be done to put an end to it.

CNN Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher, is live from Rome. Delia, this pope, of course, has been public on priest abuse of children. Is this the first time he's been so vocal on the abuse of nuns.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jim. This is the first time he's acknowledged publicly that there is an ongoing problem of the abuse of nuns by priests and bishops in the Catholic church. He was asked a question about it on the plane last night returning from a three-day trip to the United Arab Emirates. We can take a listen to some of his response to that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS, HEAD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: I think it's still taking place, because it's not though the moment you become aware of something it goes away. I think continues, and we've been working on this for some time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: And Jim, the Pope also said that in one community of nuns in France, the situation had actually reached the point of, "Sexual slavery." And, the Vatican, this morning, clarified that the Pope meant the manipulation of women in a vulnerable position. That the sexual and psychological abuse of these nuns, who are often in isolated communities, and don't have the freedom to report those abuses.

And, you know Jim, these comments come just weeks shy of a global meeting that's going to happen here at the Vatican at the end of February on sex abuse. And the Vatican has been trying to dial back the expectation for that meeting. But now with these latest acknowledgements from Pope Francis that is looking increasingly harder to do. Jim.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable to hear the Pope there saying that the abuse is continuing now. Where is this coming from? Why public now? And, I wonder if there's some influence here of the Me Too movement.

GALLAGHER: Well, certainly there is a kind of Catholic Me Too movement that is brewing now amongst nuns. Where the real pressure came interestingly Jim, was from the Pope's own Vatican magazine. Last week, they wrote an article saying that the Catholic Church can't continue to close its eyes to this problem. And that was what prompted the question from the journalists on the plane. So, interesting that the pressure is coming from women within the Pope's own Catholic church to hold them accountable for this Jim. SCIUTTO: Delia Gallagher in Rome, thanks very much.

Just nine days until the government could shut down again. Will the president's State Of The Union helped or hurt lawmakers who are trying, right now, to reach a deal on border security. We're following it closely, please stay with CNN. [10:55:00]

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SCIUTTO: This next story, and it seems right out of the movies. A Colorado man recovering this morning after being attacked by an 80- pound mountain lion. Officials say the man, who was out for a run, used his hands and feet to fight off the lion, and that he ultimately choked it to death, even after suffering bites to his face and body.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REBECCA FERRELL, SPOKESWOMAN FOR COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE: He was able to utilize some rocks that he found trailside to try and beat the animal down a little bit, and then he was able to use his hands, arms and feet--

REPORTER: Around the--

FERRELL: to choke the animal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: My goodness. The runner suffered serious injuries, but has since been released--

[11:00:00]