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Trump Accuses McCabe And Rosenstein Of Being Behind "Treasonous" Plot That Was Part Of "Illegal Coup Attempt"; Trump Slams McCabe, Rosenstein After Claim Deputy Attorney General Offered To Wear Wire, Discussed 25th Amendment; Stone Apologizes To Judge After Posting Image Of Her With Crosshairs Near Her Head; Several States To Sue Trump Over Emergency Declaration; Interview With Democratic Attorney General Of New Mexico, Hector Balderas; Senator Klobuchar To Make 2020 Pitch To Voters At CNN Town Hall; Freshman Dems Drive Party's Agenda In Washington. Aired: 7-8p ET

Aired February 18, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much for joining us, Michelle Kosinski. With that I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, President Trump accuses his own Deputy Attorney General of treasonous acts. Illegal or just doing his job? Plus, Roger Stone attacks the judge in his case, posting a photo of her with crosshairs next to head. What he's saying now about the threatening image? Plus, Joe Biden appears to answer the question so many are asking, will he or won't he run. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. Tonight, treason or cautious deliberation? That's the question tonight after President Trump accused his own Deputy Attorney General of planning illegal acts. Why? Well, because according to former acting FBI Director, Andrew McCabe, he and Rod Rosenstein seriously discussed wearing a wire to record the President and also invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: Discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply - Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort. The Deputy Attorney General offered to wear a wire into the White House. He said I never get searched. Now, he was not joking. He was absolutely serious and in fact he brought it up in the next meeting we had.


BOLDUAN: To that the President called McCabe disgraced and deranged, then accusing the two, those two top officials of "planning a very illegal act and got caught." "This was the illegal and treasonous 'insurance policy' in full action," says the President on Twitter this morning. So to be clear, McCabe and Rosenstein they may disagree on what and how things were discussed. They seem to disagree in quite a bit, but they definitely agree that

they did not act on anything even so the President today seems to be taking his cues from a conservative ally in Fox News quoting him in a tweet with this, "This was an illegal coup attempt on the President the United States," to which the President writes true.

Laura Jarrett is OUTFRONT live in Washington for us right now. So, Laura, Rosenstein is already on his way out the door in this kind of a sense of the word of the Justice Department. I mean he's long been planning to leave after the new AG arrived. What does all of this mean for Rosenstein's exit?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the Deputy Attorney General has been here before, somehow weathering the McCabe storm when it seem like his days were frankly numbered. And as we've reported, Rosenstein wants to help with the transition for his successor at the Justice Department, but the President's displeasure was clearly on full display today, and we know that Attorney General Bill Barr has picked Jeffrey Rosen, the Transportation Department Deputy Secretary to likely serve as his deputy, his number two at DOJ.

Also, no word tonight from Rosenstein on McCabe's interview and all of those explosive comments, but the Justice Department's statements on his behalf so far have consistently tried to focus on what Rosenstein actually did or didn't do as opposed to what might have been discussed. As you've mentioned, one source in the room telling me when Rosenstein was wearing the wire, that idea of all of that came up, he told me it was just viewed as sarcasm, but McCabe adamant on "60 Minutes" that was no laughing matter at all.

And meanwhile Capitol Hill has taken notice with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee suggesting over the weekend he will subpoena McCabe and Rosenstein to testify if necessary.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I want to talk about that in just a moment. Great to see you, Laura. Thanks so much.

OUTFRONT with me now, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, Juliette Kayyem, and former Chief of the Organized Crime Section at the Department of Justice, James Trusty. He's also a longtime friend of the aforementioned, Rod Rosenstein. Guys thanks for coming in.

John, President Trump is accusing both McCabe and Rosenstein essentially of treason. I mean I'm paraphrasing but I don't think I'm going too far. This is from the President of the United States. I know we see a lot of tweets. I know the President says a lot of things. I know we're in a different time, but the President of the United States accusing these two top officials of treasonous acts, what do you do with that?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It's absolutely absurd. It shows the man, one; has no knowledge of what actually treason is. But secondly he thinks like a monarch that somehow these people have made a bad act against him is equivalent with a bad act against the country, and they don't equate that way. Treason is not defined as an attack on a President. This is no coup that these people were planning. This is a President who really doesn't have a good grip on reality at times.

BOLDUAN: Juliette, I mean is talk of invoking the 25th Amendment or wearing a wire to record conversation with the President a serious thing?


Absolutely, I'll answer it for you, but wow they don't agree on how these conversations took place. Both do agree that none of it went anywhere. Is there anything illegal about this?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY UNDER OBAMA: Right. No, and they'll disagree about the tone certainly nothing illegal about the 25th Amendment. The constitution envisions its own sort of out clause for the President. And I just want to put everyone back to where these two men were.

So non-political men; McCabe and Rosenstein; and the madness around them. So by the time they're having this conversation, the President has rejected or ignored evidence that his first National Security Advisor Mike Flynn may be a Russian asset. He rejects calls to fire him.

He's gotten rid of Sally Yates, the Deputy Attorney General who told him about Flynn. He's publicly mocking Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General for recusing himself from the investigation. He's fired Comey. He's undermined his intelligence community's assessment of the Russian influence in the campaign and, right, all along he is undermining the investigation.

So to me the fact they're having this conversation is actually not that shocking. We're just forgetting what it was like in those months and to have a President like that with the scope and the depth of conversations and lies that he's having with the Russians. The 25th Amendment seems like the least of the conversations they should have been having.

BOLDUAN: And that is really saying something. James you've known Rod Rosenstein for years. You saw this interview with Andrew McCabe, let me play you what McCabe says about Rosenstein, and wearing the wire listen to this.


MCCABE: He said I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could wear a recording device. They wouldn't know it was there. Now, he was not joking. He was absolutely serious and in fact he brought it up in the next meeting we had. I never actually considered taking him up on the offer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: He says Rosenstein brought it up not once but twice.

Rosenstein through the Justice Department, they deny it by saying the Deputy Attorney General never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references. Can they both be right?

JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER CHIEF OF THE ORGANIZED CRIME SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Yes, I think it's pretty unlikely. I mean I don't want to try to psychoanalyze McCabe, but I don't think we should gloss over how fundamental the differences are between what Rod has said or what DOJ has said, and what McCabe has said. That means you have to start assessing credibility instead of jumping ahead and assuming like apparently even the President does that there was a coup in motion.

This is a situation where Rod Rosenstein says it didn't happen. At best maybe there were sarcasm. I don't think McCabe is so sluggish to the idea of sarcasm that he couldn't guess it. But he's got some serious credibility problems. He's been found to have lied by the Inspector General multiple times. He's hawking a kiss-and-tell book as a disgraced former official and he's flailing around partly at Trump but partly at others to bring people down.

BOLDUAN: I mean the way DOJ writes about it though, it's about that he didn't authorize any actions. Do you dismiss that they had real conversations if he brought it up twice at least that's what they said.

TRUSTY: Yes. There's earlier statements that came out that said that at best there was something that was said sarcastically. And, again, part of this you can maybe disqualify me on some level, but part of this is knowing Rod Rosenstein he is not so foolish as to think that the 25th Amendment was in play.

He's also not so crazy to think that he's going to go and wear a wire into the White House. He's just do not ring true to anybody that knows Rod as a constitutional scholar, as a serious prosecutor, a career prosecutor for many years. It rings like somebody who's selling a book, worried about criminal charges and who has a checkered history.

BOLDUAN: Not dismissing you at all, which in your perspective makes this all the more interesting and fascinating quite frankly. I mean, John, let me play you something else that McCabe said in this interview. That when considering whether or not to appoint the Special Counsel, Rosenstein wanted to get advice from Jim Comey about it, listen.


MCCABE: He raised the issue with me twice and ultimately I told him that I wasn't comfortable connecting him with Jim Comey, that I didn't think Jim should weigh in on these things.


MCCABE: Because at that point Jim was no longer a member of the government and it would have been improper to have him weighing in on these decisions.


BOLDUAN: Now, the Justice Department, again, in the statement on this one they said that Rosenstein never spoke to Mr. Comey about appointing a Special Counsel. Now that doesn't seem to be really the question from what you hear from McCabe because he says they obviously weren't put in touch. From your perspective, John, why would Rosenstein want Comey's advice after all that had gone down?

DEAN: Well, I don't know or we don't know what's actually said which all hearsay we're getting, trying to piece this back together.


I can only imagine that here's a man who has never been at the level of Deputy Attorney General, has never appointed a special counsel before. And if he did, in fact, want to talk to Comey, he's got a more seasoned partner to sort of bounce it around with. McCabe was right though and obviously Rosenstein didn't do it and that was wise not to because it would have only made it look more collusive the whole undertaking to appointing a Special Counsel.

We don't know to this day to my knowledge of how Mueller's name was selected. I'm not sure - I've never seen any press on where that came from. So, obviously, they did the right thing in the process here, so these are possible what-ifs we're looking at.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Juliette, looking forward this is all getting a lot of attention not only in the public but also on Capitol Hill, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, he is making it quite clear that he is not done with this when it comes to the 25th Amendment and the whole concept of wearing a wire. Let me play you what he said yesterday.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The whole point of Congress existing is to provide oversight of the executive branch. So I promise your viewers the following that we will have a hearing about who's telling the truth, what actually happened.

MARGARET BRENNAN, ANCHOR, CBS: Will you subpoena McCabe and Rosenstein to appear?

GRAHAM: How can I not? If that's what it takes.


BOLDUAN: Graham seems to think that McCabe and Rosenstein could be in real trouble here, Juliette. Do you think they could be?

KAYYEM: I don't know. I will say that Graham and the President spend a lot of time attacking critics of the President and never discussing that the investigation will actually exonerate the President. So if I were McCabe or Rosenstein, I would say bring it on. Because Lindsey Graham is not going to do it because he has no idea what motivated either man to act that way and I would guess what motivated them even if they disagree is going to be something not very complimentary to the President of the United States.

So I think this is all Graham doing his bidding for Donald Trump and I just want to say one thing about the McCabe Rosenstein, we have a tendency to think of people as either good or bad, one side or the other. I think this is a perfect example as James was saying in which motivations are really odd in these cases, McCabe and Rosenstein, Comey, all of them. And I think part of what Mueller is clearly doing is trying to get out of the psychology of these men and maybe even competition amongst them to try to get to the facts because McCabe has some background, Rosenstein was responsible for the firing or at least wrote the memo to fire Comey. Nobody is perfect. They're under tremendous pressure and that's why you have a separate arbiter on this stuff.

BOLDUAN: Yes, a big mistake, of course, and I know you agree with this, it was the President who made that final decision on that firing when it comes to Jim Comey. On that though, James, if you look at all of the officials, and this kind of dawned on me that I want to ask you who kind of swept up in this, if you want to call it that, FBI Director Jim Comey he had his say after being fired writing a book and doing a media tour, Andrew McCabe trying to have his say after being fired and he's releasing a book.

We know Rosenstein is expected to leave the Justice Department soon, do you think he wants to have his say after he leaves, after all of this?

TRUSTY: Well, if he does I want to be his agent, but I don't think so. I think he's the kind of guy that is very long-run historical minded and so I don't think he's a big fan and kind of kiss-and-tell contemporaneous accounts of important events. So I could be wrong, but my guess is that he will move on to the next job with the same kind of what I would call quiet dignity that he has now and that he's not going to run around and try to be his own advocate or sell books.

Again, this is a pretty extraordinary situation on a lot of levels, but one that top FBI officials are doing kiss-and-tell books to embarrass any President. It's kind of a bad moment in law enforcement history. I think a lot of rank and file FBI would agree with me.

BOLDUAN: That is a fascinating moment in history on many levels. Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. Thanks for coming in.

KAYYEM: Thank you.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, we have some breaking news, Roger Stone just submitting an apology to his judge after posting an image of her with crosshairs next to her head. Will the apology be enough to keep him out of more legal trouble? Plus, several states are about to sue the Trump administration over the President's emergency declaration, but do they have a case? And did the White House really push Japan to nominate President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize?


A breaking news in right now, Roger Stone apologizing to the judge in his case tonight after President Trump's longtime advisor who is under federal indictment and facing some serious jail time posted on Instagram not once but twice today attacks against Judge Amy Berman Jackson calling it an upcoming show trial next to a picture of the judge. We're actually not showing you the picture due to its dangerous implications, but the image had what appears to be the distinct image of crosshairs behind her. And with that, Stone is now doing damage control. Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.

Sara, it seems you often can't guess what the next turn is going to be. Would Stone clearly realizes the possible implications of this, because he's taking it back a couple times now and he's trying to backtrack, but honestly what is he doing here?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So much explaining today, Kate. There were two separate photos of the judge, then there was an explanation he posted on Instagram saying this is being misinterpreted. And then another explanation he posted on Instagram saying, "No, no, that's not a crosshairs. That's just the logo of the website where we got this photo."

And now it seems that Stone or perhaps someone on his legal team realized this could be a very big problem and get him in even more legal trouble and so he has formally apologized to the court, to the judge. This is what he said in the filing that they just put out. "Please inform the Court that the photograph and comment today was improper and should not have been posted. I had no intention of disrespecting the Court and humbly apologize to the Court for the transgression."

Kate, it says to the court there, but make no mistake, Roger Stone is apologizing to the judge and I'm sure he's hoping that this judge who - she's tough - is not going to look at the rules of his bail and decide, "You know what? He cannot handle himself out of jail. Maybe he should await trial from a cell." She did that with Paul Manafort although that was for witness tampering. So we'll see if the judge responds, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely, and like his friend, Donald Trump, Roger Stone not want to apologize so much. So you see that he really realizes it tonight. Great to see you, Sara. Thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, Harry Sandick is here, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and David Gergen, a former Presidential Adviser to Four Presidents.

Okay, Harry, when the judge finds out about this, apology included, what is the possible fallout?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I think that the way he handled it - the way Stone handled it by taking down the offending image and then submitting this apology will minimize the likely fallout. It's possible he'll get a warning. It's possible that he'll have to come to court and explain how this happened and promised not to do it again.

I would be surprised just as a matter of my own experience if he were actually put in. As we just mentioned a moment ago, when Manafort was detained he was detained basically because of witness tampering which is more serious than this very, very bad Instagram post.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Poor choice is I think not even close to what one should say about it. David, the President of the United States attacks judges and the judicial branch with relative regularity if they don't decide in his favor. We have seen this over and over again. So I guess on some level should anyone be surprised, this is a road that Roger Stone, his ally, his confidant, his advisor, longtime adviser wants to even wanted to walk down.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: Well, you might think that he would consider it but you would never think he would do it because of this act of such utter stupidity. I mean, here he is soon to come before this female judge who is an Obama appointee who Paul Manafort, his friend, went before this judge, she threw the book at him. Paul Manafort could well die in jail. He's a crumpled man.

We've now heard harrowing tales about what's happening to him in prison and how his life has changed, how lonely and how depressed he is. He doesn't see his family. Roger Stone must also worry that if he goes there, he's seen as something of a dandy where he'd be physically safe. Would he be subject to rape, I mean, there must be a lot of things that are going through his mind.

"Oh, my God, what have I gotten myself into?" So in light of that how odd, how perfectly odd to even post this thing especially with that crosshairs which sent a signal to everybody and got people on the dark net just really got conspiracy theories rolling during the day, how odd he did this?

But the bigger question is why is it that the President of the United States, why is he over the years surrounded himself with so many odd people, many of whom are now heading for the slammer.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, Harry, when you take - if you look at the Paul Manafort case and kind of the gag order that was put in place there, and you look at the Roger Stone case, and the - I guess, I've been calling it a partial gag order, if you will, in kind of the circumstances of it. Is this one of those things that could change the terms of that?

SANDICK: It absolutely could. I mean one thing the judge might consider doing is to place further restrictions on him maybe some sort of modified home detention which of course was something that Manafort was subject to for a time. So it is possible the conditions will be increased. She framed the gag order the same way that she did in the Gates and

Manafort case that in substance he can't say things that would prejudice the administration of justice. Maybe she needs to make clear to him in case there's any doubt this sort of thing would potentially prejudice the administration of justice. This is what we're talking about and you'll be held in contempt or worse if you do it again.

So it wouldn't surprise me if there was some sort of warning some sort of fallout, but the speed with which he took it down, and then submitted this unusual apology I think for most judges would be taken as an acknowledgment that this person understands that they did something terrible and hopefully won't do it again.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that they went over the line quick and try to run back really quick. David, I want to ask you about the broader Russia investigation, because the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, he told Dana Bash this and I'll play it for you, about evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign or Trump himself, listen.


ADAM SCHIFF, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Look, you can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence. Now there's a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.


BOLDUAN: The Chair of the Senate Intel Committee sees it differently. I mean all along it's been about finding evidence of collusion, is Schiff somehow trying to move the goalposts with this, the way he's framing it now?

GERGEN: I think he is and what's relevant about this is that I think he has set a lower bar than the Senate has, that Senator Burr has said on the Senate Intelligence side.


He said lower the bar for what constitutes possibly an indictment for an impeachment proceeding and what's important here is that it's the House and Schiff himself who's going to be pivotal to deciding how to proceed on a potential impeachment and if he sets a low bar saying it's based on patterns that we look at, if you just connect up the dots it looks like collusion whereas if you took it into a court of law the bar would be higher. You'd have to have proof and serious evidence. And I think it's therefore important that Schiff is setting the bar somewhat lower.

BOLDUAN: And also important that in the end it would be also Republicans in the Senate and the majority who would decide on how that - if that would ever proceed.

GERGEN: Yes, absolutely. BOLDUAN: Great to see you both. Thank you so much. OUTFRONT for us

next, President Trump's national emergency facing a new legal challenge tonight. Lost cause or do critics have a case? Now, New Mexico's Attorney General, part of the case, is OUTFRONT, and will he or won't he? Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked that very question and it appears he may have answered it.




BIDEN: Good.

SARKISSIAN: Are you going to run?


Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT. Tonight, several states are filing a lawsuit challenging President Trump's emergency declaration. The states are set to argue that the President's declaration violates the Constitution, the separation of powers and trying to go around Congress to get more money for the border wall. Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT.

Kaitlan, the President made quite clear last week they were preparing for this but what are they doing about it?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they knew that lawsuits were coming. Now they're waiting to sit back and see how many lawsuits there are going to be, Kate, and what those lawsuits are going to argue. Are they going to try and say this is an overuse or an overreach of presidential power or are they going try to argue this isn't a real energy and that President Trump said so himself in the Rose Garden when he said I didn't have do this but I thought I would do it faster.

If it's that second part, we have already seen White House officials try to go back and clarify the president's remarks, including Stephen Miller in an interview yesterday when he said the president was simply saying he did something that other presidents in the past have not done.

Now, the president laid out in the Rose Garden he believes this is something that could go all the way to the Supreme Court and that if it does, they could rule in his favor. But, of course, Kate, we are still going to wait and see if it even goes that far. If they do agree this is not an overreach of his executive powers.

BOLDUAN: It's a long road there. That's for sure.

Great to see you, Kaitlan. Thank you. OUTFRONT with me now, one of the attorneys general signing on this lawsuit, the Democratic Attorney General of New Mexico, Hector Balderas.

Attorney General, thank you for being here.


BOLDUAN: Thank you. So, why are you joining this lawsuit?

BALDERAS: Well, New Mexico is being harmed because the president cannot act like a king. This is taxpayer money and in New Mexico, we have vital military dollars going to strategic projects that are vital of vital national security. We are the state that invented and tested the atomic bomb. And so, we don't want to president violating separation of powers simply by sweeping away vital New Mexico dollars that's going military strategy just so he can go and build an immigration project like this wall.

BOLDUAN: The president's been preparing for this. We know that. He even said so as he was announcing the emergency declaration. Let me play this for you.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there, and we'll possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling, and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we'll get a fair shake and we'll win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban. They sued us in the Ninth Court and we lost. Then we lost in the Appellate Division. And we went to the Supreme Court and we won.


BOLDUAN: With that, do you already anticipate this is going to end up before the Supreme Court?

BALDERAS: Well, I do, quite simply because it's unconstitutional. Article 1 is clearly the power of purse resides with the Congress. But Article 2 requires the president to act like a commander in chief and part of that is not misusing the declaration of emergency.

So, I'm confident even on the facts, he has to be loyal as a commander in chief and only use the declaration of emergency when factually we have the kind of terrorist attacks like 9/11 or the natural disasters like we experienced in Katrina. You're simply not allowed even as the president to violate the separation of powers. He should be a loyal and committed commander in chief.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you because there's been a bit, a lot of discussion about this. The president's comment on Friday when he said, quote, that he didn't need to do this, he just wanted to get the wall done faster. Is that part of your lawsuit? BALDERAS: It is, because, for instance, where he's sweeping funds I

think is going to be very persuasive with the courts. Just because a he has a project that he couldn't reconcile with the Congress, he does not have the ability to exaggerate an emergency just so he can sweep vital dollars that are going to key military projects, key vital drug interdiction strategies, especially like states like New Mexico, we have over 100 miles of border and rely heavily on these federal dollars.

BOLDUAN: That's an interesting point because if you look at how the travel ban played out in court, the president said all sorts of things that were used in court against him, but in the end, the Supreme Court allowed the 3.0 version of the travel ban to go into effect despite the things that he said, so how is it going to be any different this time when you have the president saying something that seems to go against the case he was trying to make? But it didn't matter in court before.

BALDERAS: That's a great point. But in this case, he's talking out of both side of his mouth. So, clearly, he's saying they have an immigration emergency. Therefore they need a wall.

But in the travel ban, just like in this case, he will have great deference. I'm not arguing that he does not have to authority to issue a declaration of emergency. What I'm arguing that you're not allowed to abuse the declaration of emergency simply to swipe funds that are already appropriated by Congress for national defense. And I think that the court will be persuaded by the fact that he's stealing Department of Defense dollars for an immigration purpose.

[19:35:07] BOLDUAN: Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for coming in, joining this lawsuit to be filed by the close of business today. We'll see where this goes next. Thank you so much.

BALDERAS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Senator Amy Klobuchar hoping to stand out in 2020 by selling her Midwestern values.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There wasn't a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes.


BOLDUAN: Will it work?

Plus, Klobuchar and the other 2020 candidates ripping into President Trump tonight. But they're not the only ones talking tough.


BOLDUAN: You're looking at live pictures right now out of New Hampshire, less than three hours away from a CNN exclusive town hall with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar, hosted by Don Lemon.

OUTFRONT now, former Clinton White House Aide, Keith Boykin, and Marc Lotter, former special assistant to President Trump and a member of Trump's Reelect Advisory Board.

It is great to see you both on this town hall evening.

Keith, what do -- what do you think Amy Klobuchar needs to try and get out of the town hall tonight?

[19:40:04] It's a pretty big opportunity for any candidate. What does she need to get out of it?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I think she needs to stand out and communicate what her message is. I think she had a great kickoff announcement with a snowstorm.

BOLDUAN: Thanks to a blizzard.

BOYKIN: No fault of hers. No creation of hers. But it was a good start. It distinguished her from the other candidates, even only visually optically. And now she's got do that in a way thematically, or problematically.

What is her policy? What are his policy ideas she wants to put forward? Why is she different from the other 50,000 candidates who are running, you know?

BOLDUAN: On these early days, that's really what it's about. I mean, Marc, Klobuchar is from Minnesota. As we like to say she speaks Midwestern. She is also making it clear repeatedly she is not going to ignore voters in the Midwest this time around.

Just take a look at this.


KLOBUCHAR: What I've decided to do in our state and what I do all around the country as I run this campaign is go places that maybe we didn't focus on enough in the last few years, and that includes our rural areas.

I think we are starting in Wisconsin because as you remember, there wasn't a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me that, changes.


BOLDUAN: Midwestern states, Wisconsin, Michigan -- we have gone over this a million times.


BOLDUAN: Are you from Indiana?


BOLDUAN: I am as well. We've never actually sat with together.


BOLDUAN: Sorry, Keith, you're not involved in this conversation anymore.

Those states helped Trump in 2016, is -- with that kind -- those groups, that ability, the focus from Klobuchar, do you think in some ways she could be more of a threat to Trump than any of, like, the front-runner candidates from the coast right now?

LOTTER: The thing you have to ask yourself though is she endorsed the Green New Deal. So, you're going go to the Midwest with a war on cows. That will sell really well in Wisconsin.

You're going to go to the Midwest with a war on automobile manufacturing. Not also going to sell well in the Midwest.

These are the kinds of policies that they're embracing early on, and that's just not going sell in places in the Midwest, and places that the president did well.

BOYKIN: Well, she has won election in the Midwest. So I think she knows a little bit more about what's going to sell and what's not going to sell.

And with one in Michigan, it was 10,700 votes that determined the election in that state, 22,000 in Wisconsin 44,000 for Pennsylvania. But for those states, Trump would not be the in the, not to mention the Electoral College helped him win as well.

So, I think the Democrats have the message that's effective in terms of reaching Midwestern voters, in terms of reaching people in that section of the country, they just have to be able to communicate more effectively in 2020 than they did in 2016. By the way, I didn't like her swipe at Hillary Clinton. I think that was unnecessary.

BOLDUAN: I think you're probably going to get a little bit more of that. So, you might just want to get ready for that.

But answer my question -- do you think her Midwestern roots make her more formidable to Donald Trump than those, I don't know if you want to call bigger names because half of them were senators and all the same name, from the coast?

LOTTER: I think they'll probably give her a little bit more of a look, but at the end of the day, it's going to be the policies that they talk about and I think that's where all the Democratic candidates we have seen so far are going to struggle, especially in the Industrial Midwest where they -- you know, where they were basically saying, your jobs aren't coming back and it will take a magic wand. Those jobs are coming back now under President Trump.

BOYKIN: That's just not true. LOTTER: Five-point-three million jobs. Largest manufacturing growth

in 20 years.

BOYKIN: Stop the misinformation campaign.

BOLDUAN: Candidate from the Midwest, from our state, the Industrial Midwest, Pete Buttigieg, he's running for Democratic nomination as well, and he I would say tells a bit of a different story on that front.

BOYKIN: Thank you. Part of the reality, too, is that -- I don't want to relitigate this, but Donald Trump came in the office seeing that the economy was going down the tubes when Barack Obama was president, and then as soon as he took office, he took credit for all the things that Obama had already one and claimed them as his own.

LOTTER: That's just not close to being true.

BOYKIN: There were more jobs created in the Obama administration in a similar time --

LOTTER: Coming out of the recession.

BOYKIN: No, in the past two years before he took office -- before Trump took office and two years after. And if you want to talk about the Great Recession, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month when Obama took office.


BOYKIN: Just stop the misinformation. Let's talk about 2020 and not the lies President Trump told.


LOTTER: I can show you the stats, you don't like it.


BOYKIN: I actually did look at them.

I research this on a regular basis, unlike you --


BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone, welcome to the 2020 election where the economy is still going to be front and center.


BOLDUAN: Now, I want you both to not only be truth-tellers but also be leaf readers. I'm going to now play for you -- Joe Biden meeting with the Armenian president. He's asked the question everyone is asking.

[19:45:01] And we're not playing with the audio. Just listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



BIDEN: Good, how are you?

SARKISSIAN: Are you going to run?



BOLDUAN: Most people think Joe Biden there said, I think I may when asked if he was going run. So, is Biden in?

BOYKIN: I have been saying no more a long time. I --

BOLDUAN: You're now less of a no.

BOYKIN: I still think no. Does he really want to subject himself to this? He's run twice before. I don't see any real advantage for him do this quite honestly. I say no.


LOTTER: I'm not a mind reader nor a lip reader, but I think he's enjoying -- he's enjoying teasing people and in the end, he may play kingmaker.

BOYKIN: I agree with you on. We can agree on that.

BOLDUAN: Oh m gosh, I'm going fall off my chair.

Good to see you both. Thank you very much.

Do not miss that CNN town hall tonight. Amy Klobuchar taking the stage with CNN's Don Lemon. That begins tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

OUTFRONT for us next, are some freshman Democrats seizing the agenda in Washington and beyond?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not get here by being weak, being wall flowers, by waiting our turn.


BOLDUAN: And President Trump still holding out hope for the Nobel Peace Prize.


[19:50:10] BOLDUAN: While Presidents' Day is a time to reflect on some of the nation's oldest political leaders, it's perhaps the newest ones who are storming Capitol Hill and driving the agenda.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Capitol Hill, the freshmen are flipping the script.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I am so incredibly excited.

SERFATY: Cutting through the noise.

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA: A lot of this around here is white noise.

SERFATY: Commandeering the conversation and in many ways, now driving the agenda. Among those leading and pushing the agenda, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, breaking free of the formulaic approach of most lawmakers.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And it's already super legal as we've seen for me to be a pretty bad guy. So, it's even easier for the president of the United States to be one, I would assume.


SERFATY: And her Green New Deal resolution not only prompting quick Capitol Hill movement --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: We are in this together.

SERFATY: -- but becoming somewhat of a litmus test for 2020 Democrats.

REP. JENNIFER WEXTON (D), VIRGINIA: It helps that we come in and don't have any preconceived notions about what we should be doing and following the rules.

SERFATY: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, too, is creating viral moments, becoming one of the most vocal voices of the new class.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D), MINNESOTA: I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could respond to that.

OMAR: Um, it wasn't a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an attack.

OMAR: That was not a question. That was not a question. I reserve the right to my time.

SERFATY: And Congresswoman Lucy McBath who lost her son Jordan Davis to gun violence, leading the House Judiciary Committee to advance its first gun control legislation in years.

MCBATH: It was very bittersweet, because I have been able to do something and achieve something that's really profound and really makes a difference for people like my son, even though I wasn't able to save him. I think each and every one of us in so many different ways is making our mark.

SERFATY: In just two short months, these women, along with the rest of the diverse young new class are drawing strength from their record- setting numbers.

REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D), ILLINOIS: We did not get here by being weak, by being wall flowers, by waiting our turn.

SERFATY: Making it clear they're doing things their own way.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: There is so much courage, but there's also rawness and realness. I think that's the difference is, you know, you're feeling that connection because these are people that are feeling differently and talking about issues differently.

SERFATY: The waves they've made so far.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think they're a very, very a force to reckon with and we're trying to reckon with them.

SERFATY: Not always sitting well with leadership.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That's the word, isn't it? Viral, viral, viral.

SERFATY: Who have had to manage the growing power of this freshman class.

PELOSI: Welcome to the Democratic Party. We are not a rubber stamp for anybody.

The members come, they bring their enthusiasms, their priorities. We welcome that. And they are not programmed. They are spontaneous, prepared, and I'm proud of them.


SERFATY: Now, at the same time, Speaker Pelosi was also asked if these new members have an outsized influence. And she said, point- blank, no. One new member quipping back to me telling me, Pelosi knows her math here, and the math is very clear that leadership needs us freshman to get their legislative priorities through. And also, Kate, worth remembering that we've seen this sort of dynamic before, think back to 2010, the Tea Party, when they forced their leaders, of course, Republicans this case, in a new direction, as well.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Sunlen. Thank you.

Coming up next, President Trump nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, or not. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:05] BOLDUAN: Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Remember the famous eye roll? The one that went viral after a 19-secondhand handshake? Well, now, it's Japanese Prime Minister Abe himself who's eliciting eye rolls after President Trump spoke of a letter the Japanese wrote nominating Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That he sent to the people who give out a thing called a Nobel Prize. It's the most beautiful five-letter -- five-page letter.

MOOS: But is a beautiful five-page letter just as beautiful when you have to ask someone to write it?

One of Japan's biggest newspapers, "Asahi Shimbun", reported the nomination came at the behest of Washington. An informal request, when the prime minister was asked in parliament if he had nominated President Trump for the Nobel Prize, he answered, "I'm not saying that it is not the fact," citing the Nobel Committee's policy of not confirming nominees until 50 years have passed.

Read one tweet: Shinzo Abe should get the Nobel Prize in (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kissing.

Cartoonist Ed Hall tweeted: Giving Donald Trump a Nobel Peace Prize would be like giving Jeffrey Dahmer a Michelin Star.

CROWD: Nobel! Nobel!

MOOS: But chanting Trump rally-goers were hungry for a prize, mainly due to the president's efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

CROWD: Nobel! Nobel!

MOOS: They think the last U.S. president to get one didn't deserve it.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I did get the Nobel Peace Prize.

STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST: Oh, really, what was that for?

OBAMA: To be honest, I still don't know.

MOOS: But Trump's critics skewer his chances of winning. We didn't say Nobel Prize, we said, no bail, surprise.

Dana Carvey has already imagined Trump's Nobel acceptance speech.

DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN: He would be up there, I love -- I love the Nobelians.

MOOS: President Trump seems to think it's a Nobel calling, calling for himself to win the --

TRUMP: Nobel.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.