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Senator Elizabeth Warren Expected to Announce Presidential Candidacy for 2020; Presidential Candidate Senator Cory Booker Campaigns in Iowa; Democratic Leaders Call for Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to Resign after Second Sexual Assault Accuser Comes Forward; Interview with Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY); Some Democrats Put Forward Green New Deal Proposal; Jeff Bezos Accuses "National Enquirer" Publisher of Blackmail and Extortion; Saudi Foreign Ministry Tweets Opposition to Ongoing Khashoggi Murder Investigation; U.S., Russia, and France Test Nuclear Capable Missiles within Hours of One Another. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 9, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'll be in Pontiac, Michigan tomorrow, Chicago, March 17, Wilkes-Barre, April 7. Hope to see you there.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to Saturday. Yes, you made it to the weekend, February 9th. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I am Victor Blackwell. You're in the CNN Newsroom.
Ready or not, here they come. The 2020 race for the White House is now under way.
PAUL: And this morning, another competitor is lining up on the Democratic side of things here. Senator Elizabeth Warren expected to announce her official entry into the race later this morning in Massachusetts. And then she will continue onto New Hampshire from that point. She's not the only Democrat on the move, we should point out today. Official announcements or not, the campaign stops are underway from South Carolina to Iowa.
BLACKWELL: We have our team out with presidential hopefuls. CNN Political Reporter Rebecca Buck is in Iowa, CNN National Political Correspondent M.J. Lee is in Massachusetts.
PAUL: Let's begin in Lawrence, Massachusetts, there with M.J. Lee. M.J., Good morning to you. What are you seeing there this morning?
M.J. LEE, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. In just about an hour, we expect to see Elizabeth Warren take the stage behind me and formally announce that she is running for president. And just so viewers know where we are right now, we are standing outside of an old textile mill. This is the site of a historic 1912 labor strike led by workers, mostly women and immigrants, to protest wage cuts. And this is going to be the backdrop that Elizabeth Warren uses this morning to talk about the issues that are important to her, including workers' rights, corruption in government, and also racial economic discrimination. These are all themes that we have heard her talk about over the last month or so, ever since she announced her exploratory campaign New Year's Eve.
This is of course just one sign, as you alluded to, that the 2020 campaign is really, really ramping up. We know that a lot of candidates are going to be out on the road this weekend, and that's going to include Elizabeth Warren as well. She's headed to New Hampshire after this speech, and then she heads to Iowa tomorrow. I should note that she is expected to be introduced and endorsed by a Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy. And we are told that members of her family are going to be in attendance as well, including her husband, her children, some of her grandchildren, and their dog Bailey. Back to you guys.
PAUL: Thank you so much, M.J.
BLACKWELL: We're also on the trail with one of Warren's rivals in the race, Senator Cory Booker. CNN Political Reporter Rebecca Buck joins us live from Marshalltown, Iowa. So what's on his schedule?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we are coming off a packed schedule yesterday for Cory Booker, with more to come today. Yesterday, Victor, Cory Booker started his day at 9:00 a.m. in Mason City, Iowa, went all the way to Iowa City four events later, ended his night at a bar talking to students and locals there, ended his night around midnight.
So he is basically taking his approach that he took when he was running for city council and mayor in Newark, New Jersey, trying to meet as many people as he can, outwork the other candidates, knock on as many doors as possible.
And in fact, today, that breakneck, packed schedule continues for Booker. We are starting here in Marshalltown, Iowa, heading later to Des Moines. He has been doing a mix of speeches and forums and Q and A's involving local leaders and Democratic Party local activists, making the case that he has a different set of experience than the other candidates running, and especially the other senators running for president. Of course, he was mayor of Newark, the only former mayor among these senators running for president. Also lived in the inner-city, another point he has been making. I want you to listen to this clip from yesterday from Cory Booker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY: I'm one of the few people you're going to see coming through Iowa that actually had to run something. I was a mayor, I had to run a city. We showed that we could environmentally retrofit our buildings, create jobs for my residents as a result, drive down energy costs for the city, saving taxpayer dollars, and add to a better environment regarding violence in the city of Newark. So you can be a win, win, win by doing the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BUCK: So this is Booker's first impression that he is making in Iowa as an official presidential candidate. Obviously, a long road ahead over the next few months and year until the Iowa caucuses. He is starting to build those important relationships here in this key caucus state this weekend. Victor and Christi?
BLACKWELL: Rebecca Buck there in Marshalltown for us, thanks so much.
PAUL: And Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox is the latest to join this growing list of Democrats demanding Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, step down. A second accuser came forward, claiming Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University back in 2000.
[10:05:02] CNN correspondent Kaylee Hartung live from Richmond, Virginia, with more. What are you hearing this morning there?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine a scenario in which Justin Fairfax could continue to serve as the commonwealth's lieutenant governor given these calls for his resignation that continue to pile up from members of his own party. Every Democratic member of the Virginia legislature has now called for his resignation. Earlier this week when a first accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson came forward, saying that he sexual assaulted her in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention, we heard calls for an investigation. But with the revelation that a second woman, one of his college classmates, says that he raped her when they were both students at Duke University, an attack that she says was premeditated and aggressive, these calls continuing to come in.
Everyone from members of the Democratic Party here in Virginia to Democratic representatives for the Commonwealth of Virginia in Washington, and 2020 contenders as well. Fairfax has denied the allegations, calling them unsubstantiated and demonstrably false. But there's one member of Virginia's House of Delegates who may take the decision for Fairfax's future out of his own hands. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK HOPE, (D) VIRGINIA HOUSE DELEGATE: As the father of three young girls, I cannot stand by silently while the lieutenant governor is facing multiple credible allegations of sexual assault. I believe these women. He needs to resign immediately. Should the lieutenant governor fail to do so on Monday, I intend to introduce articles of impeachment on Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: House of Delegates member Patrick Hope saying if Fairfax does not resign by Monday, he will introduce articles of impeachment here at the Virginia capital. And we are just receiving a letter, Christi and Victor, from Virginia's governor. Remember, you have to put this scandal that Fairfax is involved in in the context of a much bigger controversy of turmoil that's engulfed the Virginia statehouse in this past week. The governor here acknowledges a painful week. He says, quote, "I am deeply sorry for causing this distraction from your important work." He says "The business of the commonwealth and our duty as public servants will continue." And Northam says he will continue to lead Virginia forward. Northam of course, as well as the state's attorney general, battling the fallout from their admissions, their racist behavior in their college days in wearing blackface. Victor and Christi, I said it earlier this morning, but it remains true, it's hard to imagine a more tumultuous week for the Commonwealth of Virginia than this one.
PAUL: Or what's to come. Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: On your screen we just had there Elizabeth Warren there from Massachusetts where she will be announcing her campaign for president officially, that's coming up the next hour. But also coming up, blackmail, extortion accusations and nude photos, the explosive allegations by billionaire Jeff Bezos. We have more on the tell-all blog post next.
[10:12:31] PAUL: It's 12 minutes past the hour right now. Glad to have you with us. Sources tell CNN that federal prosecutors are now reviewing the "National Enquirer's" parent company after explosive accusations from Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos. Bezos is accusing the tabloid magazine, the "National Enquirer," and its publisher, AMI, of attempted extortion and blackmail. The Southern District of New York reportedly determining whether AMI has violated a cooperation deal that it reached last year. Bezos shared the details of several e-mails from the publisher in a tell-all blog post and claims the tabloid threatened to release explicit intimate photos of him and a woman that he was having an affair with. In return AMI apparently wanted Bezos to end investigations into the "Enquirer."
BLACKWELL: Now, American Media Inc., or AMI, is the publisher behind the tabloid magazine the "National Enquirer." And of course, this is a major part of this story. The chairman and CEO, David Pecker, is a longtime friend of President Trump. And during the 2016 campaign, "Enquirer" published several headlines and covers favoring then candidate Trump and a lot of them attacking then Secretary Hillary Clinton.
But all the headlines stopped when the Southern District of New York started investigating Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his dealings with AMI. The SDNY's investigation focused on a $150,000 payment to "Playboy" Playmate Karen McDougal, that was before the 2016 election. And that payment was meant to catch and kill McDougal's claims of an affair with Trump. AMI bought exclusive rights to her story and buried it.
Prosecutors said AMI helped with their investigation, and in return they granted Pecker and AMI immunity for their cooperation, essentially flipping on the president. That deal contained language that said if the company committed any crimes in the following three years, AMI could face prosecution. The allegations by Jeff Bezos of extortion and blackmail could qualify as breaking that deal. But Bezos is not the only person with those claims. Ronan Farrow, "The Daily Beast," all recount similar accounts with the "Enquirer."
PAUL: Jeff Bezos's stunning accusation mentioned a less well-known connection here. His post highlighted a link between AMI and Saudi Arabia, pointing out that the link between the two isn't yet fully understood. The Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs has denied any connection to the tabloid publisher, but CNN senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt is trying to connect the dots for us here.
[10:15:01] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The "National Enquirer's" parent company hitting back today at stinging allegations and revelations by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, saying in a statement it "believes fervently that it acted lawfully," that it was "in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters" with Bezos. American Media Inc., or AMI, also promising to launch an internal investigation into Bezos' long list of claims against them, including what he called extortion and blackmail when AMI threatened to leak risque photos of him. Sources telling CNN, federal prosecutors are looking into his accusations.
In his blog post, Bezos alleged that AMI had a cozy relationship, not just with the Trump White House but with Saudi Arabia, also alleged in published reports. Last year, AMI put out a 97-page glossy magazine, heralding the kingdom's new crown prince and his vision ahead of his trip to the U.S. The Saudi embassy in Washington claimed they had no involvement or knowledge of the AMI publication with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the cover, a man the CIA has concluded ordered the violent murder of Jamal Khashoggi of "The Washington Post," which Bezos owns. The Saudis have called the finding false.
But the associated press reported that according to sources, embassy officials got an electronic copy of the pro-kingdom magazine about three weeks before it came out. Today a top Saudi official says he has no idea of any relationship with AMI, adding, "It's like a soap opera," and told CNN that as far as he knows, the Saudis did not press AMI to publish negative stories about Bezos, the biggest of which was the expose' on Bezos' extramarital affair, which people around him believed was a political hit job, alleged payback for his newspaper's dogged reporting of President Trump and of the Saudi crown prince's role in the Khashoggi murder.
Trump and Pecker have a well-documented history, the tabloid paying a so-called catch and kill fee to Karen McDougal once before the 2016 election for her story about her alleged affair with Trump, which he denies. Pecker then flipped, cooperating with Robert Mueller's team in exchange for immunity to detail those payments made by his lawyer. That turn didn't dampen the president's rejoicing in the "Enquirer's" splashy story about Bezos' infidelity, calling the Amazon CEO "Jeff Bozo" on Twitter, and saying this Bezos' looming divorce from his wife of 25 years.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish him luck. It's going to be a beauty. MARQUARDT: No doubt this is a complex web of allegations and personal
history. But what Bezos, without proof, is saying here is clear, that AMI had reasons to protect and to promote the Saudis, that his newspaper, "The Washington Post," and their relentless cover of the Khashoggi murder angered AMI's friends, driving home the point that this expose' of his affair and the attempted blackmail were politically motivated.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
BLACKWELL: Coming up, the president of the National Black Farmers Association says Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia deserves a second chance as he is engulfed in this blackface controversy. We'll speak with John W. Boyd Jr. next.
[10:22:37] BLACKWELL: Several calls this morning for Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to resign after a second woman has now accused him of sexual assault. Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox joined the long list of Democrats in the state calling for Fairfax to step down. A woman says Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000.
PAUL: This is in addition to another accusation from a different woman who said he sexually assaulted her back in 2004. Fairfax vehemently denies both of those allegations.
BLACKWELL: Joining us to talk about what's happening there in Virginia is the founding president of the National Black Farmers Association John Boyd Jr. Good to have you with us, sir.
JOHN BOYD JR., FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BLACK FARMERS ASSOCIATION: Thank you for having me this morning.
BLACKWELL: Good to have you. So you recently met with Governor Northam, and you tweeted this, "I just concluded a great meeting with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. I pledged my support and urged him not to step down, #redemption." So tell us about the meeting and why you think he should stay in office.
BOYD: The meeting was a very productive meeting. And first of all, we prayed together. I prayed for Virginia, I prayed for the governor and his family. And the governor apologized. He was sincere about his apology. And I looked him in the eye, and he asked for forgiveness. And I believe in the power of redemption.
And in Virginia, you see people so quick to condemn one another. And I believe that Democrats need to start working together and come on one accord, else a whole lot of them are going to be looking for new jobs on a new election cycle. But the governor was very, very sincere. And I believe in the power of redemption and forgiveness, and let he who cast the first stone be without sin. That's nobody. So nobody is perfect. And I believe that the governor wants to govern Virginia in the right direction. And he reached out to me, Victor, during the government shutdown. And I can say that other people didn't reach out to me to see how he could help African-American farmers in the state of Virginia. So that's how the meeting came about.
BLACKWELL: Understood. Understood. You also told a local station, and this is a quote here, "If we're not careful, we'll have another party governing Virginia that's far less sensitive than Democrats to minorities and blacks," closed quotes there. So is this primarily about keeping Republicans out? Because yes, he can apologize and be sincere about that apology, but there are consequences that several Democrats have called for. So is this primarily about keeping that in, the governor's office there in Democratic hands?
[10:25:09] BOYD: I do believe that, first of all, people need to start working together. In this country, Victor, we're so politically divided. Here we have the president of the United States who says he is a nationalist. So I think there's a big difference between the governor of Virginia and President Trump, a modern day racist like Steve King who manages to keep his job. There was no outrage for Steve king to step down, or where's the impeachment, articles of impeachment from Congress to impeach this president that says something racist every single day. It certainly says the world "wall."
BLACKWELL: We'll certainly have that conversation with our partisans in the next segment right after this. But let me ask you this, if your decision is based not solely but in large part on keeping the seat in Democratic hands, how does that inform opinion on the future of the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax? Should he also stay?
BOYD: Well, first of all my decision was based on my conversation that I had yesterday with the governor, a face-to-face meeting. And we had a very candid talk about blackface. And also people who are watching this, other leaders, clergy, they should be in churches tomorrow talking about blackface and race. And if people think that blackface is just in Virginia, they're totally wrong. This is a national issue. It just unfolded and played out in the state of Virginia, but blackface is a national issue.
BLACKWELL: Sir, let me bring you back to the question here. Do you believe that the lieutenant governor, who has now been accused twice of sexual assault, that he should stay in office, or do you believe he should heed calls for him to resign as well?
BOYD: Well, Victor, I have not spoken to the lieutenant governor, but I'm sure open to talk to him. I'm open to talking to the attorney general. And I believe that through those kinds of communication the right answers can come out. But as long as people continue to point the finger and criticize, and this one should step down and that one should step down, first of all you need to look at yourselves, because nobody is perfect out here. Everybody has made mistakes. And some of the very people that are calling for these people to step down, they may have some dirty laundry in their closet as well. So you need to be careful and treat each other with dignity and respect, and wait for all of the facts to come out, and then make a decision. BLACKWELL: Understood. But the facts are that these two men, the
governor and attorney general, have admitted to wearing blackface, and many of the people that believe Governor Northam and the attorney general's apology say that there are consequences, and this new sensitivity training that they're going through, do they have to do that while in office.
John Boyd Jr., thank you so much for being with us this morning.
Let's now go to former communication director for Senator Ted Cruz and CNN political commentator Alice Stewart, and Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator Maria Cardona. Maria, first to you, and I want to talk about the lieutenant governor. First, good morning to you both.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: I don't want to be rude.
Maria, the calls are growing now for the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, to step down, to resign. And we now have from a member of the statehouse who says that if he does not resign this weekend, articles of impeachment will be introduced Monday. How does that impact considering what likely may be happening for the lieutenant governor soon, how does that impact what Democrats feel about what should happen to the governor and the attorney general? Does the weight lighten on them because Democrats don't want to hand over the governor seat to a Republican? Or do all three of them have to go?
CARDONA: First of all, Victor, it is just so painful in terms of what's happening to Virginia, not just to Democrats but to the state. And none of what's happening with the top three officials in Virginia is OK or acceptable. But in the face of these horrendous accusations, there are gradations. And in my mind, the first person who needs to step down in all of this is the lieutenant governor. With this second allegation that has come out, it's horrendous, it's unacceptable, it's disgusting, and it's credible. This woman who now made the second allegation of rape while they were at Duke University told friends after it happened. There are other people to whom she had told prior to all of this coming out, including Congressman Bobby Scott. And so I think that that corroborating evidence and circumstance is going to be something that the lieutenant governor cannot ignore.
Now, in terms of the governor and then the attorney general, the governor I believe should look at stepping down, absolutely, because the way that he came about admitting that he did this, whether it was in the yearbook or whether it was in another circumstance was just completely also horrendous and, frankly, something that does not give you confidence in terms of a leader.
[10:30:05] BLACKWELL: What then about the attorney general.
CARDONA: So the attorney general I think is, again, anybody who did blackface needs to rethink whether they should be in a position of leadership. But according to your guest, your prior guest, and I believe that given what we have seen, that is a sin that a lot of people are guilty of.
BLACKWELL: OK, but let me ask you this. If the Democrats have a zero-tolerance policy for this type of thing, before we knew about the depths of the allegations against the lieutenant governor, Democrats were calling for Northam to step down. And then we found out that the attorney general has done blackface. So at least there still was potential lieutenant governor who could keep the statehouse in Democratic hands. But now that he is being called out, I hear you saying that now the attorney general should just think about resigning.
CARDONA: No, no, no. No, no, no.
BLACKWELL: Why isn't this zero-tolerance applicable regardless of who is next in line? If you don't tolerate it, doesn't matter who is next.
CARDONA: Here's what I think. I think the attorney general circumstances are different because he came out voluntarily. He was not, quote-unquote caught. He came out, he admitted it. He wants to be conciliatory. And I think that there is a difference there.
BLACKWELL: I am coming to you, Alice. But Maria, the governor volunteered wearing blackface as Michael Jackson, so he wasn't caught in that situation.
CARDONA: But when did he volunteer, though, Victor? He volunteered after the picture came out.
BLACKWELL: Correct, but if the sin is blackface, how is the attorney general's sin any less offensive? Is it just less offensive because you need a Democrat to be governor in Virginia?
CARDONA: I think both. I think it's less offensive. Well, I wouldn't say less offensive, but he is a little more credible in being able to stay as leader of Virginia because he came out voluntarily. He wasn't caught. But let me say this.
BLACKWELL: Quickly, because I've got to get Alice here.
CARDONA: I know that a lot of people are going to say it is hypocritical, I will not be in position of saying that I think it is OK to leave Virginia in the hands of Republicans, a party who has somebody in the White House who has been accused of much more than any of these three and who has supported somebody like Steve King. So I don't think that that is an OK situation.
BLACKWELL: Regardless of the political or social setting. Alice, let me come to you, because you tweeted out that it is time for Fairfax to go and for Dems to live up to their Me Too standards. Republicans backed Roy Moore, Roy Moore who was accused of involving himself with teenagers and underage girls. The president campaigned for him, the RNC backed him, Republicans backed Brett Kavanaugh after several credible accusations of sexual assault. So is this the issue Republicans should claim some moral authority? ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First and foremost, I did
not support Roy Moore, let me make that quite clear. But you hit on a very important point, Victor, just a few moments ago, for the Democrats to be claiming to be the party of zero tolerance. If they say there's no home for racism in the Democratic Party, then these two individuals that have pictures of the blackface should be stepping down. And if there's no room in the Democratic Party for sexual harassment and sexual abuse, then certainly we should have the lieutenant governor step down.
BLACKWELL: But at least they're claiming zero-tolerance, because, Alice, Republicans don't claim zero-tolerance, they just tolerate it.
STEWART: I think, look, there was no due process in the political arena for the Democrats when it came to Kavanaugh and other Republicans that they point the finger at. I think we should have due process. I think all these women should be heard when it comes to sexual harassment. We have an environment where they can be heard. The men also should have opportunity to give their side. But if the Democrats are going to hold true to their policy and their stated position that all women are to be believed, that men should not be believed, then we should have Justin Fairfax step down.
CARDONA: He should.
STEWART: We should have the other two step down.
CARDONA: Fairfax should step down.
STEWART: You would be hard pressed to find a person in Virginia that thinks that Fairfax should stay. And I hope he is going to introduce articles of impeachment Monday, because he has no place, not just in the Democratic Party but in Virginia politics.
BLACKWELL: We have to wrap it there. Alice Stewart, Maria Cardona, we actually went over time. Thank you so much for the conversation.
STEWART: Thanks, Victor.
CARDONA: Thanks Victor.
PAUL: Good conversation.
BLACKWELL: Yes, we need a little more of that.
PAUL: So Democrats are putting climate change at the top of their agenda. My next guest led the first Congressional hearings in six years on the topic. We're going to find out what his plans are after the break.
[10:38:44] PAUL: This week NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this past year, 2018, was the fourth hottest year on record, and 18 of the hottest 19 years have happened since 2001. It hasn't been discussed much on Capitol Hill in several years. In fact, until Wednesday the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hadn't really held a hearing on this topic since 2013, almost six years. So in announcing the hearing, the committee said this, quote, "It is long past time for this committee to begin seriously examining how climate change is effecting communities, environments, and economy, and take action to reduce its harmful effects."
With us now, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York. He's the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. Thank you so much, Congressman, for being with us. We appreciate it.
REP. PAUL TONKO (D-NY) ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: My pleasure, Christi.
PAUL: Good to have you. So let's talk about what happened on Wednesday in this meeting. For you personally, what was the biggest take away?
TONKO: I think what was encouraging was that people from both sides were acknowledging the time has long been waiting for addressing climate change. And there are those, I think mother nature is speaking boldly, and people are committing to the need for legislation that addresses climate change and the impact on our country and our economy.
[10:40:08] PAUL: So when you say action to reduce its harmful effects need to be taken, you have President Trump who does not believe the science that backs climate change, you have got the fact that he pulled out of the Paris Accord, you've got Republicans who still control the Senate. Realistically, what action do you think can be taken?
TONKO: Well, as we speak the subcommittee is advancing legislation that would weatherize millions of homes and upgrade, modernize our electric grid, and harden our infrastructure so as to better prepare for extreme weather conditions that already exist. And I think that is very important.
And then furthermore, in the meantime we will develop and build a national comprehensive plan that will offer a green transition to a clean, more competitive economy. So it's a two track approach, and I think we will build support for that effort as we go forward.
PAUL: So let's talk about the Green New Deal since you're talking about a plan here. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped introduce this with Senator Ed Markey. The goal is to be carbon neutral in 10 years. People have called this aggressive, they've called it impossible, meeting 100 percent of power demands through renewable energy, they say, eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, overhauling transportation systems, including expanding high speed rail to, quote, a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary. Domestically speaking, do you think this is realistic?
TONKO: I think that the Green New Deal offers a lot of passion, a lot of goals with which I agree. I thank the people who are supporting the effort for building the passion and raising the consciousness across the country. But my priority has got to be as chair of the subcommittee to build the tools that will get us to those goals. And I think that all ideas should be put on the table. We should embrace those and build the consensus that will speak to impacts that we have seen.
In just the last calendar year, Christi, some 14 extreme weather conditions caused by climate change have had an economic impact of some $91 billion. You look at the last decade, and it's easy to suggest that hundreds of billions has been the toll, billions of dollars have been the toll on our economy because of a lack of addressing climate change.
PAUL: So do you have any indication that you've got bipartisan support for this?
TONKO: I think that, again, there are many who will come to some of the immediate agenda that we can do -- weatherization, energy efficiency programming, research to develop batteries that can provide for an underpinning of intermittent power, certainly refueling stations for electrification of our transportation sector. These are items -- and certainly modernizing our grid. These are items we can strike bipartisan, bicameral agreement upon, and move forward with an aggressive plan that speaks to an agenda that is impacting our economy severely.
PAUL: Congressman Paul Tonko, thank you so much for taking time to be with us.
TONKO: It's my pleasure. And always good to be with you on CNN.
PAUL: Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: The U.S., Russia, France, test nuclear capable missiles within hours of one another, stoking fears of a potential arms race. We'll discuss with our national security expert. That's next.
[10:48:10] BLACKWELL: Let's talk about some of the key national security issues that are making news this week. First, a Congressional deadline has come and gone. President Trump is refusing to say if the White House thinks the Saudi crown prince is responsible for the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
PAUL: Also, reports say the U.S., Russia, and France all test launched nuclear capable missiles within hours of each other, raising questions about whether they're gearing up for another arms race. So we've got CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd with us now. You tweeted this from the Saudi foreign ministry. "Our leadership is a red line." Do you take that as a threat to U.S. investigators?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's instructions to the White House. It is very clear that President Trump is adhering to what the Saudi foreign ministry and what the crown prince are articulating in terms of what's off limits when it comes to Jamal Khashoggi's murder. The White House and the administration have held some of the implementers of the crime responsible in the same way that the Saudi royal family has. The Saudi royal family has said that they put some of the implementers in prison, we have issued sanctions, so we are following their lead in terms of who we are holding accountable for this crime.
What we're not doing is articulating that the crown prince directed this crime, condoned it, was part of its coverup. And the problem is that by following Saudi instructions or response to the crime, we're really just opening the door for Mohammed bin Salman to do this again because there are no consequences for his actions. If and when he engages in another targeted assassination of an American legal resident, it's not going to be an oops, he did it again, moment, because it is so expected at this point, absent any real consequences for his actions.
BLACKWELL: So let's switch to another topic, your retweet from Defcon Warning System earlier this week, I highlighted the quote, that within 24 hours, the past 24 hours from the tweet, France, Russia, the U.S. all conducted test launches of unarmed nuclear missiles. What's your the concern here?
[10:50:13] VINOGRAD: Let's be clear, the three countries that conducted these tests within hours of each other, are the three countries with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, that's the United States, Russia, and France.
Having worked on some of these nuclear issues while at the White House, I can tell you that the tests are typically planned months if not years in advance. The fact, however, that the Russian test was just 90 minutes after the United States one is quite worrisome because we know that they engage in tit for tat response to everything we do.
And Victor, arguably the chances for a nuclear arms race are higher than any point since the cold war. We have several nuclear states that are increasing their nuclear stockpiles, Pakistan, India, China, and North Korea to name a few. And the two largest nuclear holders, the United States and Russia, are really disintegrating the nonproliferation architecture that's existed, whether it be the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF treaty, or perhaps at new START treaty which covers a separate class of nuclear weapons that's due to be renewed in 2021. So for both of those reasons, I really think that we will see an acceleration in arms stockpiles over the coming years.
BLACKWELL: All right, Samantha Vinograd, thanks so much for being with us.
VINOGRAD: Thank you.
PAUL: A rare tiger at the London Zoo is dead, killed by a potential mate just moments after they were introduced. We're talking with a wildlife expert about the dangers of handling these.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:55:52] BLACKWELL: A rare tiger an endangered Sumatran tiger is dead, by its potential mate, moments after the two were introduced. It's estimated there are only 400 of these tigers in the world, and zookeepers in London hoped the pair would breed in the future.
PAUL: Joining us now, wildlife behavior expert Lorne Sulcas, the big cat guy, as he's known. Lorne, thank you so much for being with us. We understand a zookeeper, at least they say that the two cats spent days within reach of one another in separate cages. Is that the customary way to introduce them?
OK, we don't have any sound. That's sad.
BLACKWELL: Well, this isn't going to be very helpful if we can't hear him.
PAUL: I know. I wanted to know, because -- all right, OK, Elizabeth Warren, we understand.
PAUL: We're going to switch gears here since we lost Lorne. And we apologize to Lorne for that. But Elizabeth Warren is getting ready to jump in the race. We're going to give you live pictures as you see on the righthand side of your screen. The crowd that has assembled to welcome her as she officially announces her campaign in Massachusetts this morning.
BLACKWELL: Yes, let's listen in. Can we hear anybody?
BLACKWELL: We can hear Fred.
PAUL: OK, this would be a good time to hand it over. We lost audio.
BLACKWELL: I love "Under Pressure." It's a great song, but we're not going to listen to this for two-and-a-half minutes.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: What are we saying, we lost audio, now is a good time to go to Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, hopefully we'll be able to work out whatever little gremlins are in the system there. But we have the picture. Elizabeth Warren will be making her announcement out of her hometown, and I think that was David Bowie. I heard that.
BLACKWELL: Yes, yes. "Under Pressure."
WHITFIELD: All right, good. We'll find out more. PAUL: Have a good afternoon.
WHITFIELD: As we work out those audio problems. You all have a great one.
PAUL: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. It is the 11:00 hour on the east coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom starts right now.
It is already very crowded in the Democratic field for the 2020 presidential race, and it likely will increase by one in just a few minutes. At any moment now, others will take to the stage there. Senator Elizabeth Warren central as she is expected to throw her hat into the 2020 ring at a rally there in Massachusetts. It will be her first official pitch to voters for why she should be the president of the United States.
And if you thought Warren was already running, well, you're half right. She has been on the campaign trail over a month now since announcing her exploratory committee. She did that on New Year's Eve. She is already joining a crowded field of Democrats hoping to take on President Trump and replace him in the Oval Office.
And while we still count the days, 633 days away from Election Day, Democrats are out in full force this weekend, and this is really just the beginning of the candidates entering the fray. You're taking a look at some of those right there on that map.
Meantime, all of this happening while in Virginia the Democratic Party is dealing with one explosive report after another in politics there. The latest around Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax after a second woman now has come forward accusing him of sexual assault, something he vehemently denies. Many of the 2020 hopefuls are now calling on the lieutenant governor of Virginia, Fairfax, to resign.
CNN's political reporter Rebecca Buck is standing by in Iowa where Senator Cory Booker is making the rounds today. We are all over the political map today. And we're also joined by M.J. Lee who is live for us in Lawrence, Massachusetts. So let's begin with you, M.J. Elizabeth Warren making her big announcement momentarily.