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Elizabeth Warren Announces Presidential Candidacy for 2020; Interview with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Testifies before Congress; Jeff Bezos Accuses "National Enquirer" Publisher of Blackmail and Extortion; Trump Administration Does Not Deliver Expected Report on Murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi; Presidential Candidate Senator Cory Booker Campaigns in Iowa; This Year's Grammy Awards Featuring More Female Artists. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 9, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:20] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The 2020 race for president is growing bigger by the day. This afternoon, Senator Elizabeth Warren officially threw her name into the mix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I stand here today to declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: She joins a crowded field of Democrats hoping to replace President Trump in the Oval Office. Several candidates are spread out across the country today, making their pitch to voters. You're about to look at live pictures, right now, of Senator Cory Booker in Iowa. He is hosting a meet and greet in Marshalltown after a busy day and a half campaigning in that crucial state.

So let's begin in Massachusetts, with CNN's M.J. Lee live from Lawrence, where Elizabeth Warren officially made her announcement. Describe what it was like.

M.J. LEE, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the 2020 field just grew by one with Elizabeth Warren making it official. For anyone that wasn't able to tune in to the speech, they should know that we are outside of an old textile mill here in Lawrence, Massachusetts. This is the site of the historic 1912 Bread and Roses labor strike. This is when a whole bunch of women workers and immigrant workers walked out to protest wage cuts, and she used this as a backdrop to make the case of the central theme of her campaign, which is about people gathering together to take on powerful interests and a rigged system. Here she. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We need to change the rules to clean up Washington, end the corruption.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: Now, we all know the Trump administration is the most corrupt in living memory.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: But even after Trump is gone, it won't do just to do a better job of running a broken system. We need to take power in Washington away from the wealthy and well-connected and put it back in the hands of the people where it belongs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: Now, interestingly, that was actually the only time that Elizabeth Warren said the word "Trump" in her speech, but it was clear that throughout the speech she was drawing a contrast between herself and the president, first of all, on policy. She talked about a lot of the policy positions that are going to be central to her platform, whether it is about anti-corruption, or taking on Wall Street, her new proposal to tax the wealthy.

And then on the character front, she simply said that there is no room for bigotry in the Oval Office, very clear that she was taking on Trump directly when she said that.

Now, I should note, Elizabeth Warren next heads to New Hampshire, and then tomorrow, she makes a couple of stops in Iowa, and then next week, the travel continues as well. She is going to head to states like South Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, and California. So Fred, these early states are about to get really crowded as more 2020 candidates jump into the race.

WHITFIELD: Crowded indeed. M.J. Lee, thank you so much.

So President Trump's reelection campaign already reacting to Senator Elizabeth Warren's decision to officially join the race, and they did so really preemptively. Let's check in with CNN's White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez. So let's talk about this message.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. The Trump campaign firing back at Senator Warren for her comments about the Trump administration being the most corrupt in living memory. The president threw his campaign trying to hit Warren where it hurts. Remember just a few days ago Elizabeth Warren yet again apologized for claims of Native American ancestry. The president in his statement, again through his campaign, calling her a fraud.

Look at this, part of the statement sent out by Brad Parscale, President Trump's campaign manager. He writes, quote, "The American people will reject her dishonest campaign and socialist ideas like the Green New Deal that will raise taxes, kill jobs, and crush America's middle class. Only under President Trump's leadership will America continue to grow safer, secure, and more prosperous."

Two quick things to point out, Fred. Noticeably, they did not come directly from President Trump himself. This was actually a formal campaign statement. It was not sent out by the president on Twitter, which is a bit surprising, considering that is the president's preferred mode of communication. Secondly, the president's attack on Warren's socialist ideas, we got a bit of a taste of that during the president's State of the Union address earlier this week. A source close to the White House tells CNN that the president plans to continue that kind of rhetoric moving forward into 2020, and that he will paint any rival as an extreme leftist or radical, Fred.

[14:05:00] WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, at the White House, thanks so much.

Joining me right now, senior columnist at "The Daily Beast" Matt Lewis, and co-founder and managing editor for "The Beat DC," Tiffany Cross. Good to see both of you. Tiffany, you first. We heard from Elizabeth Warren there, strong messages of being a fighter, holding the powerful accountable, saying, and I'm quoting her now, race matters and we need to say so. And she also said I'm not afraid of a fight, not even a hard fight. But how tough of a fight is this one going to be?

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING EDITOR, "THE BEAT DC": I think it is going to be a tough fight for her. She sounded really ideological sweet spot, in terms of fundraising, so I think she will have a great path there. I think it is going to be challenging for her, given the way the primaries are set up. We have to remember that California moved up their primary, that is Kamala's home state. And she's going to have to dig in deep there to unseat Kamala.

But also, I think there is this misunderstanding that African-American voters in lockstep with Kamala Harris or in lockstep with Cory Booker, and that's not quite the case. I think she has found that space that speaks to economic equality which spreads to a lot of voters and is a universal message that a lot of people can get on board with. She has also laid out a really good economic plan in terms of tax cuts. Her tax plan is well received by people all across the country.

So I think it's an uphill battle because she is not running against Donald Trump. She is running against a larger platform. But I definitely don't think it is insurmountable.

WHITFIELD: She highlighted the disparity between white home ownership and black home ownership, and how much more difficult it is to have black ownership collectively. So Matt, what do you think about the president preemptively, or at least the president's reelection campaign preemptively being critical of Elizabeth Warren, whereas they've been fairly quiet on the rest of the Democratic field, except for one time, the adviser, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway talking about Cory Booker sounding like a Hallmark card. But this statement from the Trump-Pence campaign, what does that mean, that there is a real fear of Elizabeth Warren?

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST AT "THE DAILY BEAST": I do think they take her serious, but I do also think they have a valid point in the sense that, look, Donald Trump is vulnerable and should be vulnerable. But if you look at the direction Democrats are heading, they've got problems. You've got Elizabeth Warren with these continuing scandals, the latest being her listing herself as an American Indian on her application for the Texas State Bar. She even says there may be more to come. She might have listed herself as Native American, or American Indian --

WHITFIELD: She made no mention of heritage or anything during this speech, by the way, today.

LEWIS: And then you've got -- let's go down the list. You've got Tulsi Gabbard who reverses to say that Syrian dictator Assad is an enemy of America. You've got Amy Klobuchar in a scandal over basically verbally abusing staffers of hers. You've got Kamala Harris who recently talked about outlawing or not allowing private insurance. You've got Democrats talking and endorsing in some cases third trimester abortion, which is very unpopular. You've got AOC talking about a 70 percent top tax rate.

I think Democrats have a golden opportunity to beat Donald Trump, but they do seem to be going to the left, and they do -- look at what is happening in Virginia right now. They have a lot of problems. I would not feel terribly confident going into 2020 if I were a Democrat.

CROSS: Can I respond on that?

WHITFIELD: Tiffany, chime in on that. Are these problems, or are these blips on the radar, or significant?

CROSS: I think they're challenges, certainly, in the Democratic Party. But Matt, when you have to acknowledge, when you look at the challenges that Democrats who are running for office versus the man who is actually in office, we can go through the 35 indictments, the seven guilty pleas, and on and on and on with the Mueller investigation. And I think even the president's policies -- I think it is ridiculous that we keep resurfacing Elizabeth Warren, and certainly it was a faux pas and offensive to Native American culture for her to list herself as that. Let's not lose sight of the constant barrage of racist commentary coming from the president himself, repeatedly calling her Pocahontas, raising issues like Wounded Knee very inappropriately. So I'm not sure that is a fair comparison.

Also some of the challenges that you listed, I think these are not people who are on the ballot. Certainly, there are challenges with the Democratic slate in Virginia. Certainly, people have challenges with AOC. I think that she's laid out a really sound policy, but there are people who can disagree with it. These people aren't running for president.

[14:10:00] In the candidate slate, I think the candidates that you see on the Democratic side at least look more like America. They reflect what the country looks like. On the Republican side, it's becoming increasingly an older white male party, and they're going to have to reconcile that with the changing face of America.

WHITFIELD: Matt?

LEWIS: So I say, first of all, I agree with you in terms of the Republican electorate being predominantly old white men. I would say that if you look at people like Marco Rubio, and Tim Scott, and until recently Mia Love, and Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, the Republicans have done fairly well at electing diverse Republicans.

CROSS: Have they? Have they?

LEWIS: I would say so.

CROSS: You listed two people and the other people are out of Congress. When you look at that chamber, you see on one side of the chamber, it looks like America. When you look at people who are currently serving in office, or in this administration, I think you're going to run out of an ethically diverse slate really quickly.

WHITFIELD: And the electorate would really be looking at policies that shape, or are a reflection of this kind of diversity that you both are speaking to. So, Warren, she did try to speak to that. She also made a real promise and pledge, as it pertains to money, and what kind of campaign money should be acceptable in this day and age. Listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We also need to end the unwritten rule of politics that says that anyone who wants to run for office has to start by sucking up to a bunch of rich donors on Wall Street, and powerful insiders in Washington. So, I'm opting out of that rule. I'm not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: I'm not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Tiffany, that's resonating with the audience there, you can hear the cheers. But is this creating an obstacle for her, or an opportunity?

CROSS: I really don't think it is going to be an obstacle. I really don't. I think like I said at the beginning, I do think she has found that ideological sweet spot where she is going to be a fundraising powerhouse. Why that is important, again, is because the way the primaries are set up with California being so early, you're looking at a $5 million baseline to even be competitive there. Then you've got South Carolina. She has a chance to eclipse both the other candidates, because if you have Cory Booker and Kamala Harris splitting the African-American vote, again, this is a place where she can shine.

And I think that's going to be something that could potentially happen. The path to the White House certainly runs through the black community. Also, in 2020, Hispanic voters, or eligible Hispanic voters will make up a large share of the voting electorate. So she speaks consistently to communities of color. These are people who will write a $5 check, and that is different from PAC money, because a $5 check is a vote.

WHITFIELD: And so Matt, with Warren's announcement today, we are talking about eight Democrats now officially in the race, it will be nine tomorrow when senator Amy Klobuchar is expected to join. Do you see that Democrats will benefit from this kind of crowded field or any one Democrat might benefit from a crowded field similar to the way Trump benefitted from a crowded field before it was whittled down?

LEWIS: Look, I just think overall, the problem is that for the Democratic Party in general, I don't know that this benefits any one person, but I can tell you, watching the 2016 Republican primary very, very closely, you have this tragedy of the commons problem, which essentially is perverse incentives. There is an incentive for any one person to say or do controversial, provocative things to get attention. But collectively it hurts the Democratic Party. And when I look at what is happening right now --

WHITFIELD: It almost seems as though there is a vow against doing that among the Dems, at least thus far.

LEWIS: You talk about people who are actually not on the ballot, like AOC, but she's really the leader of this party. And you look at Democrats signing up for the Green New Deal --

CROSS: Really? No. She is not a leader of the party. No.

LEWIS: These things sound great right now. In a general election against Donald Trump, when you can basically look at the Democratic Party, and whoever the nominee is, they are all off to bad starts right now, and you can say they want to raise taxes to 70 percent on the highest tax bracket, they're in favor of late term abortion, and they want to, whatever -- I think that if Democrats have a great chance, they've got a weakened Republican president, and they're running to the left and it doesn't make sense to me. To me, that's the big story. Why are they doing this right now?

WHITFIELD: Do you see that there will be in-fighting, those who are pledged to campaign, or will it all be cordial?

CROSS: We do have to remind people that they are not running against Donald Trump right now. They're running against each other. So certainly, there are going to be political and policy disagreements. That is to be expected with any primary race. I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

[14:15:00] You also will have a healthy exchange of ideas and ideologies. So I don't think it will be reflective of what we saw in 2016 in the Republican electorate. But I just want to correct a few things. Obviously, AOC is not the

leader of the Democratic Party. I think there has been this concerted effort on the Republican right to elevate her to such a space, but she actually reflects a good portion of the people in her district, and that's why we have Congress. That is why there is the legislative branch, the coequal branch of the government, to have her opinions in there. She is in no way the leader of the Democratic Party.

WHITFIELD: Maybe you're at least both in agreement that she is a force.

CROSS: She is a force, I agree with that, Fred.

WHITFIELD: She's definitely a rising star.

All right, Matt Lewis, Tiffany Cross, good to see you both, thank you so much.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will join CNN live from Houston to talk about his possible independent run in the 2020 election. He joins our Poppy Harlow Tuesday night, 10:00 eastern, right here on CNN.

Some pretty testy moments as Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker gets grilled on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee joins us next. We'll be asking her about what she thought of Whitaker's testimony and the answering of her questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:20:21] WHITFIELD: Democrats are wielding their new-found power, ramping up investigations and oversight of President Trump and his administration. On Friday, Trump's Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was in the hot seat for six hours of contentious testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Whitaker says he has not spoken to Trump about the Mueller probe. He did not defend the special counsel investigation, but Whitaker did say it was not a witch hunt. He was also reprimanded by several Democrats for not answering questions, and was scolded by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for his attitude.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Mr. Attorney general, we are not joking here. And your humor is not acceptable. Now, you are here because we have a Constitutional duty to ask questions, and the Congress has the right to establish government rules. The rules are that you are here. So I need to ask the question, and I need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately. I will behave appropriately, as a member of the Judiciary Committee.

I've asked a question. Did you have a confirmation hearing, and have you not yet appeared before an oversight hearing?

MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congresswoman, I am an acting attorney general. I have been appointed according to the Vacancies Reform Act, and I have never appeared in front of Congress for any hearing even when I was United States attorney.

JACKSON LEE: I asked for a yes or no answer. Let me, and so you've never appeared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Texas Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is with me right now. Congresswoman, so what is it like seeing that again, or reliving that moment? And does it underscore how frustrating this process was, trying to interview the acting attorney general?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think that was the tone that the acting attorney general, Fred, intended to set for this hearing. And thank you for having me. It was evident that he did not come with any intention to openly and fairly respond to questions asked by members of the Judiciary Committee who were in actuality performing their responsibilities in oversight. And also, as I mentioned, under Article One, we have the right to set government rules. And government rules mean oversight and the participation of executives, representatives before Congress.

He did not come with any intent, all throughout the timeframe, he continued to inject his own editorial comments. And we had very serious questions. My point behind the confirmation is that this selection of the chief of staff was extraordinary and had never been done before in the history of the United States, to provide a chief of staff to jump over the normal vacancy route, which started with the deputy attorney general, associate attorney general, the position that Rod Rosenstein had, and others who had had confirmation. And my point at that particular question was, here we are with an individual over the most powerful agency, America's law firm, and he had not been confirmed, nor had the administration followed a normal process. Why was that, was the bottom line question.

WHITFIELD: So he has potentially another week to go, if Bill Barr is indeed confirmed. So with the information that you did glean from Whitaker, perhaps the questions he didn't want to answer, and then in some respects he did kind of answer, what do you do with that information, moving forward, as it pertains to Whitaker, or perhaps even the office of attorney general, the position of attorney general?

JACKSON LEE: We have the opportunity, and by the way, he didn't answer questions about the Michael Cohen lashing out that was reported by many papers, and whether or not the president asked that the Southern District lawyers in the Southern District of New York, the U.S. attorney's office, could be removed, or questions of detention of children.

So in his answers, we would be able to review other documents to see whether or not he did not answer truthfully. If that is the case, we have the ability to provide a pathway, subpoena him for a deposition, to get the actual truth.

There's no way that you are applying for a job, either chief of staff, and/or the acting attorney general, that you did not have discussions, yes or no, about the Mueller investigation, of which he evaded, would not answer. It doesn't make sense. As well as his lack of understanding about zero tolerance policy, and the 2,700 children that were separated and those that are still not reunited with their families.

[14:25:11] So he had a period of time. We have not had the attorney general before the Judiciary Committee for 17 months. He had a period of time of leadership at that agency. What did he do? And why did he not prosecute voting rights cases, which he wouldn't answer as well. So we have the ability to subpoena him in the position, or after the position, and to determine whether or not he told the truth beforehand, and whether or not he will tell the truth under oath again under a deposition.

WHITFIELD: The parameters were pretty widespread in terms of the direction of the questions. You even asked him about whether he would go to the FBI if a foreign adversary were to reach out to him. And this was the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not here to --

JACKSON LEE: Yes or no.

WHITAKER: -- to answer hypothetical questions. And I'm here for an oversight hearing. I don't believe, I was very unsuccessful --

JACKSON LEE: You have the responsibility of answering the question. Would you have contacted the FBI if you were asked to take dirt on your opponents?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, if I was contacted by a foreign national or a foreign country when I was a candidate for the United States Senate, I would have most likely reached out to the FBI.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So were you satisfied with that answer? Does his answer tell you anything more about the approach from the White House, or what direction he may have been receiving?

JACKSON LEE: Absolutely, Fred. There is no doubt that General Whitaker, and let me just say this, thank him for his service. He did serve as attorney general for a period of time. But there is no doubt that his presence, his presentation was geared toward an interview for a further job or affiliation with the Trump administration, because that is a -- as far as it relates to the integrity of the highest law enforcement officer in the nation, your immediate answer would be absolutely I would turn this over to the FBI.

But as we well know, the dirt that was given to the Trump campaign, that famous meeting of six or so individuals, they did not turn it over to the FBI when dirt was given by foreign entities regarding Hillary Clinton, or when it was thought that they were going to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. If you are going to lead the highest law enforcement officer, law firm, there has to be a sense of integrity. We were trying to find out how he governed. How did he govern the department? Was he actually doing investigations? Was he interfering with the Mueller investigation? Did he actually understand the importance of the Mueller investigation?

WHITFIELD: Do you feel like you have more clarity?

JACKSON LEE: I think that he owes us more clarity. He ultimately said it is something that he probably would have done. It should have been a yes or no answer, yes, I would. And that's what happened throughout the questioning, dealing with religious freedom, dealing with Michael Cohen, and many other issues that are important to the American people.

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the White House misses a key deadline in the investigation of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This as explosive new details about the possible involvement of the Saudi crown prince revealed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:33:00] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Sources tell CNN federal prosecutors are now investigating explosive allegations Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is leveling against the "National Enquirer's" publisher AMI. Bezos is accusing AMI of attempting to extort and blackmail him. And as CNN has more from Hadas Gold explains, the company's possible ties to Saudi Arabia are also being questioned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: Jeff Bezos' accusations that the "National Enquirer" is trying to blackmail him included several stunning allegations, including one that involves an important yet complicated Middle East ally.

This is claimed in a blog post that hiring a private investigator to look into how his messages and photos were leaked is angering David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., which owns the "National Enquirer." The Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve, Bezos wrote. But keep in mind Jeff Bezos owns the "Washington Post," which has doggedly covered Saudi Arabia's premeditated murder of its own columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. "The Post" has also reported that the CIA concluded the killing was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a charge that the kingdom denies.

While the Saudi administer for foreign affairs told CNN there was no connection between his country and the tabloid country going after Bezos, this isn't the first time a relationship between the kingdom and the tabloid has been questioned. In April of 2018, a 97-page glossy magazine, all about the Saudi crown prince's visit to the U.S., mysteriously hit stores around the country, the publisher, American Media. According to the Associated Press, a digital company of the magazine was even shared with officials at the Saudi embassy in Washington almost three weeks before its publication.

Saudi officials and American Media deny that they worked together on the glossy magazine. Then this week, "The Wall Street Journal" reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that American Media has engaged in talks with Saudi financers to help its debt-laden business. "The Post's" coverage of the Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi murder, Bezos wrote, is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.

[14:35:00] For their part, American Media did not refer to Saudi Arabia in their statement on the matter, only saying that they believe they acted lawfully in their reporting on Bezos and his affair, but they did say that they would thoroughly investigate the claims he made in his post.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Thank you, Hadas Gold.

President Trump refuses to meet a legal deadline to tell Congress if the White House thinks Saudi Arabia's crown prince was responsible for the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A senior official in the administration tells CNN, quoting now, "The president maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate," end quote. Congress demanded answers from Trump following reports the CIA concluded the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi to be killed.

I'm joined now by Samantha Vinograd, a former senior adviser to the national security adviser in the Obama administration, good to see you. So what's your interpretation about why the White House wouldn't comply? How troubling is this potentially?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, this is just misinformation from the White House. It's smoke and mirrors. This was not a run-of-the-mill committee request. This was not a request for information because the committee wanted to know something. This wasn't calling a witness, because they had a question on their minds. This is a legally mandated report, under something called the Global Magnitsky Act, that President Trump is choosing to ignore. He is breaking the law when it comes to the president's obligations under the Global Magnitsky Act. When there is a bipartisan letter that was sent to the president, it triggered an investigation into what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, and a report had to be issued within 120 days and sent back to Congress that included a recommendation on who to sanction based on who was accountable for the crime. So the president is knowingly breaking the law, and really marketing this inappropriately.

WHITFIELD: What are the potential repercussions for doing so?

VINOGRAD: That's a million-dollar question, because the president has refused to take a stand against the person that the CIA alleges was responsible for the crime, Mohammed bin Salman. When we talk about what leverage Congress has, it really comes down to things like future arms sales. Congress has to approve arms sales that the administration wants to make to Saudi Arabia. President Trump has really touted, it's a figure that is quite controversial, the hundreds of millions of dollars in arms that he sold to Saudi Arabia. He will have a much more difficult time implementing those sales if they ever go forward based upon the fact that he is really stonewalling Congress and breaking the law when it comes to the Magnitsky Act.

WHITFIELD: And then you have on top of this, "The New York Times" reporting a year before Khashoggi was killed, the crown prince was furious with him and then told an aide he would use a bullet on him. Do you see all of this kind of coming together?

VINOGRAD: Well, certainly, now we know why the CIA determined that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Khashoggi's death, and this really is as close to a smoking gun as we can get. Based on "The New York Times" reporting, this was based on an intercepted phone call, and it is pretty incontrovertible evidence when you have this kind of communications intelligence, or comment, as we call it, when you have two people speaking to each other when they think that no one is listening. So based upon all of this and based upon how Saudi Arabia treats journalists within its own borders, it is pretty clear why the CIA assessed that MBA was responsible.

WHITFIELD: Samantha Vinograd, thank you so much.

VINOGRAD: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: U.S. Senator Cory Booker hitting the campaign trail in Iowa, one of several 2020 hopefuls working to attract voters early in the primary process. We'll check in on his campaign next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: The 2020 presidential election is still 633 days away. The Democrats are already out in full force this weekend. They're spread out across the country, making their pitch to voters. Senator Cory Booker is among them, on his second day in Iowa. By the end of today he will have made six stops in the crucial state over the past two days. CNN's Rebecca Buck is following his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: On his first visit as a presidential candidate to Iowa's heartland, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is preaching love as the cure for the country's divided politics.

SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY: We as diehard Democrats in this room cannot get there, cannot get to where we want to be by demeaning or degrading Republicans either.

BUCK: It's an open question, whether Booker's message to voters will get him where he wants to go in 2020, with some Democrats preferring a candidate who channels their anger at President Trump.

BUCK: There are some Democrats who say fight fire with fire.

BOOKER: Well, you know, as a guy who was a mayor and actually ran a city with a fire department, you can't really fight fire with fire. That creates a whole lot more burning things down. I'm trying to say that we as a country need to rise up.

BUCK: That message stands apart, amid an increasingly crowded Democratic field.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) NEW YORK: I am so angry at what President Trump has done, putting the hate and the division into this country.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We must fight back, because this fight is a righteous fight.

BUCK: Booker's search for common ground --

BOOKER: This is one America, we have common pain and we need to get back to common purpose.

BUCK: Drawing jeers from the White House.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think Cory Booker often sounds like a Hallmark crowd and not necessarily a person who is there to tell you everything he has accomplished in the United States Senate and as mayor of Newark.

BUCK: As the president downplays Booker's 2020 prospects.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think he has a chance.

BUCK: Speaking with CNN after a stop in Mason City, Booker says he intends to stay true to his approach.

BOOKER: I'm not here to try to emulate the tactics of a president. I'm not trying to match him, ugly comment for ugly comment, bashing for bashing. I'm focusing on the people. That's what I've done all my life. And I've come through tough, tough political environments.

[14:45:04] BUCK: For Democratic voters in 2020, electability is key. A new CNN poll this week found the priority for Democrats in deciding which candidate to support is whether they have a good chance of beating Donald Trump. On that score, Dori James gives Booker high marks.

DORI JAMES, IOWA DEMOCRAT: It has been a rough two years. So we are open to any message. And his enthusiasm was very infectious. He would compel a lot of people, and be able to compete against Trump.

BUCK: While Steven Juhl says he isn't concerned about Booker's core theme.

STEVEN JUHL, IOWA DEMOCRAT: I think Cory Booker is a fighter. Look where he's at, look where he came from. He came from the projects in New Jersey.

BUCK: Similar messages have won over Democrats before, from Barack Obama, in 2008 --

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We can infuse our government with that same spirit of service, with that same spirit -- with that same spirit of charity and of love. If we can do that, there's no problem we can't solve.

BUCK: To Jimmy Carter, in 1976.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I've spoken a lot of times this year about love. But love must be aggressively translated into simple justice.

BUCK: Booker is counting on it working again in 2020.

BOOKER: If I have my way, I am going to lead in a way that calls to the grace of this country, the common dignity of this country. If I have my way, we are as a nation going to shed this politics that has been so weakening of us.

BUCK: Rebecca Buck, CNN, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Thank you, Rebecca.

So it is the biggest night in music. Your sneak peek of the Grammy Awards and how women are taking center stage, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:51:33] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Misty Diaz doesn't believe in limitations. The 34-year-old has completed more than 200 obstacles and endurance races on crutches. Diaz was born with a severe form of spina bifida. It prevents the spine from developing properly. Doctors thought she would never walk.

MISTY DIAZ, ADAPTIVE ATHLETE: After my 28th operation, I was just so physically and mentally just done. I was left with an option, stay in the position that we're in, and hope for better results, or we could be uncomfortable and we could make strides. My mother started doing something that I never thought I would do before, and that was simply just walking. And from walking, that just kept going and going.

GUPTA: Diaz competed in her first 5K in 2012.

DIAZ: I was like, oh, my God, I got to tell everybody that it doesn't matter if you can't walk. You can totally do a 5K.

GUPTA: She didn't stop there. Diaz took on one of the toughest obstacle endurance race, the Spartan Race. In 2016, Diaz crushed the Red Bull 400, a 400 meter sprint up a ski jump using only her arms.

DIAZ: We're faced with challenges every day. What I found by doing, was just by being loud about my progress, being loud about the challenges. That fuels me to continue to move forward.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And tomorrow night, the biggest names in music come together for the 61st annual Grammy Awards, and this year women are take center stage. Here is CNN's Stephanie Elam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From Cardi B and her monster jams.

(MUSIC)

ELAM: To Brandi Carlile and her evocative vocals.

(MUSIC)

ELAM: Women are front and center in the big Grammy categories.

JEM ASWAD, SENIOR MUSIC EDITOR, "VARIETY": There's momentum behind them. Based on what happened last year, the lack of female representation in the winners, the lack of female representation in the industry.

ELAM: While the main categories were expanded this year from five nominees to eight, the most nominated artists are still men. Kendrick Lamar is up for eight Grammys.

(MUSIC)

ELAM: Followed closely by Drake, with seven nominations.

(MUSIC)

ELAM: The four of them are up against each other for album of the year. Along with H.E.R., Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves and Post Malone.

ASWAD: Hip-hop, R&B, and pop are so big that it seems likely that those categories are going to carry every major award.

(MUSIC)

ELAM: Post Malone's "Rock Star" is also up for two Grammys, including record of the year. And while Post is expected to perform, he'll likely have to do it without 21 Savage, who was featured on the hit song. British-born Savage was taken into ICE custody a week before the Grammys. Officials say he is in the country illegally. Other contenders for record of the year are Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey for the middle, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "Shallow" from "A Star is Born," and Childish Gambino's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America. ASWAD: I feel like if there is one song that captured the zeitgeist for 2018 in the both the best and the worst ways, it's "This is America." You've got that incredible video with so much meaning.

ELAM: Hosting this year, a woman with 15 Grammys of her own, Alicia Keys.

[14:55:03] ASWAD: She is exactly the right person. On the one hand, you've very much got the establishment. But on the other, she's got hip-hop in her blood.

ELAM: More women on stage, and among the nominees, and perhaps more female Grammy winners.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, all so exciting.

Thanks so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The Newsroom continues right now with Ana Cabrera.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: We're live in the CNN Newsroom, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks so much for joining us.

It's the race for White House and the field of Democratic hopefuls is now officially bigger.