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Bernie Sanders Officially Is Running For The Democratic Party In The 2020 Election; Bernie Sanders Doesn't Think That He Can Not Only Win The Democratic Race But Beat Trump; Bernie Sanders Trying To Reach Out To Younger Voters. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 19, 2019 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Bernie Sanders is back and salty as ever. The independent senator from Vermont made it official this morning announcing his bid in the 2020 democratic primary. Sanders joining a crowded field at least ten candidates so far and of course still counting.

One thing that sets him apart from the rest of the filed, obviously he's done this before. He won 19 primary states in 2016, ending up the runner up for the democratic nomination. In a new interview with CBS this morning, Sander goes right at President Trump right out of the gate.

(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It is unacceptable and un-American to be frank with you, that we have a president who is a pathological liar and it gives me no pleasure to say that. But it's true.

We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe, who is doing what no president in our lifetimes has come close to doing. And that is trying to divide us up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders just this morning. CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Washington following all of this for us right now. So Ryan, what is -- aside from that, what is Bernie Sander's pitch this time around?

RYAN NOBLES, CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big pitch he's going to make Kate, is that this is not going to be about a moral victory or just shifting the political conversation as it was four years ago. He legitimately believes that he can not only win the democratic nomination but beat Donald Trump.

And there was pretty intense deliberation within the Sander's camp as to whether or not they believed he could win. They settled on the fact that they believe that he can and that's why he got in to the race.

But of course the situation is much different for him than it was four years ago instead of coming in as a relatively unknown senator from Vermont; he's not an established political force who has successfully moved the Democratic Party further to the left.

And while many of these democratic candidates have basically adopted many of these policy positions is somewhat like the price of entry in to the democratic field. Sanders want to remind voters that he was the one who came to these ideas first. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SANDERS: In 2016, many of the ideas that I talked about, Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition free.

All of those ideas, people say oh, Bernie, they're so radical. They are extremely American. People just won't accept those ideas. Well you know what's happened in over three years, all of those ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream.

UNKNOWN MALE: So you're saying the party came your way?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, I don't want to say that. I think most people would say that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: He doesn't want to say it, but he thinks most people would say that. And important to point out that folks like Elizabeth Warren and some of these other candidates, (inaudible) Harrison, others have adopted thing like Medicare for all and all these different issues. And then they become kind of the standard talking points.

But Kate, it's important to point out that he does have some vulnerabilities here, particularly with African American voters and female voters. He had a problem with a sexual harassment claims in his 2016 campaign. He believes he's ironed out al those issues. The one big advantage he will have though is fundraising.

He is a prolific online fundraiser in particular small dollar donors that's become increasingly important in the democratic field because many of these candidates have said they're not going to take corporate donations.

To that end Kate, already this morning his campaign says that he has raised more than $1 million in just about four hours since his launch, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Ryan, great to see you. Thank you so much. Joining me right now, CNN political analysts Alex Burns is a national reporter, national reporter for the New York Times.

And CNN's senior political correspondent Danna Bash. I think I'm going to take the Bernie Sanders approach from now on. I'm not going to say that this is the best show on TV--

DANA BASH, SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're just going to talk about it for you--

BOLDUAN: But some people say that it's the best show on TV. I think we should all (inaudible)--

BASH: That's actually very Trump, people are saying.

BOLDUAN: Well, I think there are a lot of (inaudible) people say between those two sometimes in a very strange way. We'll talk more about that. How string, Alex, does Bernie Sanders enter this race?

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's sort of strange to say it but he does enter as the front runner to the extent that there is one, right? He's going to be--

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BURNS: -- first in the polls almost certainly the next time we have a round of national polls in the early states. He's the best known declared candidate in the race. When you throw Joe Biden's name in there, he is the only one who comes close.

But look, the big question for Bernie Sanders is, how much of that support that he captured in 2016 can he reenergize this time because right now you see him pulling in kind of the teens, right, which is formidable in the context of this very factored field.

But it's well below what he had starting out last time. And there are -- he is in some ways a victim of his own success, right? But he is not the only candidate out there talking about the ideas that he's taking about.

[11:05:00]

BOLDUAN: And there are some big differences from 2016. One, he's -- he was really the only Bernie Sanders, like the only really liberal candidate in the--

BASH: He was the only show in town.

BOLDUAN: -- in the field--

BASH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- in 2016. Now, not so much, he's got competition there. The field is much larger than it was last time around. And he's got competition in terms of going after younger voters. He's got--

BASH: Well, that's true.

BOLDUAN: -- really young candidates who are making a generational argument to reach out to younger voters. So, how does that change things for him this time?

BASH: I think -- I don't think we know the answer to that yet.

BOLDUAN: Yes. BASH: And this is going to be really interesting to watch how those voters, where they end up going. I thought one of the most interesting things I got in my inbox this morning was from DFA.

The Democracy for America progressive group endorsed Bernie Sanders early on in 2016 came out with a very carefully worded statement today saying we loved you Bernie in 2016, we love you now, but we're blessed to have a very large field of progressive candidates so, we're going to see how it shapes out. Talk to you in a bit.

I mean that's basically what it was. And Senator Sanders has every right and it would be political malpractice for him not to be staying what he said to John Dickerson this morning. He did put these issues on the map.

They were considered radical, to be clear, to people who are not in the Democratic Party, who are not focused on these issues. To many of them, they are still considered radical--

BOLDUAN: They still are, yes.

BASH: But within the context of the democratic field right now, not so much.

BOLDUAN: The Trump campaign, real campaign they put out a statement about Sanders is saying this, "Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the democratic primary because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism."

The only other candidate that they put out a statement on post their announcement is Elizabeth Warren. What does that mean?

BRUNS: Well, they've been a little bit slow to organize on the communications front. But the republican national committee has been doing most of the heavy lifting--

BOLDUAN: That's true.

BURNS: -- for the Trump campaign up to this point. They only announced the communication staff for the reelection campaign this morning. So, I think in some ways it just reflects the -- being a little bit late to the punch.

But there is no question that the Trump campaign that the Republican Party generally is very, very eager to brand every democrat as a socialist.

And I do think one of the big questions for the whole field for the whole party, I relate it to the Sanders campaign is, is he again a figure who drags the party to the left because however liberal Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Corey Booker is, he will be further left.

Or is he somebody who in some ways liberates the other candidates that if you want a socialist, there's a socialist in the race, right? And I don't think it's an accident that over the last few days we've heard candidates like Kamala Harris just come out and say look, I'm not a socialist.

We heard Amy Klobuchar last night saying you know what, not for free college, not for -- Medicare for all is such an amorphous term, right?

BOLDUAN: Right.

BURNS: But she's clearly not for his version of Medicare for all.

BASH: And he calls himself a democratic socialist, whatever that means.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right. And one thing that Bernie Sanders bring with him this time as well is baggage from the last campaign.

BASH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Allegations, accusations of sexual harassment that happened with -- among the campaign staff. And Bernie Sanders stutters -- it took him several times to get his response to it right, especially at this time, I do wonder how he -- what that does on this campaign--

BASH: Yes. No, I mean it's a great question. And look, there are always two sides to the idea of somebody having the experience of running. The upside is that he has done it and it is not easy, and he knows what it takes. And he did it in many successful contests as you were talking about, more than a dozen contests.

BOLDUAN: Yes, 19--

BASH: 19 states. So, that's the small thing and he has that under his belt. But he did make some mistakes. And on the whole notion of sexual harassment, the misconduct that went on in his campaign, it has I think -- it certainly would been reported. It delayed his announcement.

And it's going to be fascinating to see how that plays out as they start really engaging one another on the campaign trial in debates, particularly when you have all these women in the field.

BOLDUAN: I do want to -- and I don't see it yet, this is the first interview with Sanders. But I do wonder if there are lessons learned from Bernie Sanders 2016 that he brings to 2020. I'm interested to see that because we will see.

But one of the things that you have been reporting on Alex, that's gotten a lot of interest, I was fascinated by it, is the role of President Obama. Meeting privately with a lot of the democratic candidates, kind of giving his advice on how he thinks they can beat Donald Trump.

But also making a clear impression not to expect his endorsement, even when it comes to Joe Biden not to expect his endorsement, one of the names not mentioned once in your piece is Bernie Sanders.

[11:10:00] BURNS: Well, Bernie Sanders has met with Barack Obama. So, that was just we weren't going to list every meeting that he had had. But yes--

BOLDUAN: Alex Burn's failure.

BURNS: It's hurtful. But you got me. But look, I think it was very clear in 2016 that Barack Obama sympathy's were with Hilary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BURNS: But it's sort of an echo of the role that he is playing right now that he privately coached Hilary Clinton, privately coached Joe Biden on his decision to help talk him through the decision not to run. Joe Biden later wrote that he felt that Obama was trying to dissuade him from running in 2015.

BOLDUAN: Do you think?

BURNS: But he did not actually endorse Hilary Clinton until the end of primary voting much to the disappointment of Hilary Clinton and her advisors. So, he is laying out his view of the race in private. He's encouraging democrats to go to red parts of the country to go after republican leaning voters who might be suspicious of them.

He is sort of suggesting that there's room for a more moderate candidate to emerge in this primary, so probably not Bernie Sanders. But there is not indication that he or Michelle Obama has nay intention to endorse.

BASH: And it's been a while since we have seen a former president be in a position where people want his endorsement.

BOLDUAN: That's like -- that's most important (ph).

BASH: I mean think about it. George W. Bush, that was not happening.

BOLDUAN: And to that--

BASH: And even (inaudible)--

BOLDUAN: -- point, I wanted to get your take in on Amy Klobuchar last night. She definitely strikes a different tone than you hear from Bernie Sanders. Definitely speaks to what Alex has been reporting on.

Not sugar coating policies, not sugar coating promises to people last night. Did not shy away from the word no, and that struck everybody who was watching it. She clearly -- I would argue it seems that she's making a -- creating a clear lane for herself at least in this early moment. What struck you/

BASH: That's it. I mean look at the very beginning of the Medicare for all frenzy when it was -- people who were even considering running for president on the democratic side wee running on the bandwagon, all these senators trying to be like Bernie Sanders. She was not. She was very openly against it or against joining that bandwagon, maybe not against Medicare for all long-term. And she has been laying the ground work of being in this different lane since the beginning. Now, I mean I know this may sound Pollyanna, but it's also because that's what she believes.

She's just a different kind f democrat. And she did also as a reporter and as a moderator, I'm sure Don felt this, it's nice to ask questions and somebody actually answers--

BOLDUAN: Get an answer.

BASH: -- the question--

BOLDUAN: Agreed.

BASH: -- without having to try to read the tea leaves on whatever the person is saying. And it also helps her avoid the mind field that Kamala Harris got in on Medicare for all for example, where she tried to say yes, she's in it, but she talked about private insurance.

And so, she kind of twisted herself in to a pretzel. And that's not something that you need to do if you are being very clear about what your positions are.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's great to see you guys. Thank you so much.

BASH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. Coming up for us, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe gives a new interview and makes more news about the FBI's investigation in to the president. This time it's about who in congress knew about the probe when and the reaction.

Plus, he president cannot act like a king. One state's attorney general tells me why he joined a lawsuit to block the resident's national emergency.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:15:00]

BOLDUAN: Former acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe in a new interview says for the first time that he briefed top congressional leaders that the FBI had launched investigations in to the president. And back then which was May of 2017, McCabe says he heard no objections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI OFFICIAL: The purpose of the briefing was to let our congressional leadership know exactly what we have been doing. Opening a case of this nature, not something that an FBI director -- not something that an acting FBI director do by yourself, right?

This was a recommendation that came to me for my team. I reviewed it with our lawyers. I discussed it at (inauidble)--

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Did you tell congress?

MCCABE: -- to deputy attorney general. And I told congress what we had done.

GUTHRIE: Did anyone object?

MCCABE: That's the important part here, Savannah. No one objected, not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds and not based on the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And there he is talking about the "Gang of 8." The "Gang of 8" is the top congressional leaders of both parties along with the top leaders of the intelligence committees of both parties.

That means that Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Richard Burr and Devin Nunes, the republicans here we're talking about all were given a heads up. And none of them spoke up in objection.

Joining me right now, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York Jennifer Rogers and former senior advisor to the National Security Council during the Obama administration Samantha Vinograd; thanks for being here, guys.

So Sam, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Devin Nunes, Richard Burr. I mean add to that the democrats in the room as well for that matter. They sit in a briefing with McCabe and others.

They say we have launched a counter intelligence and an obstruction investigation in to the president. No objections thee. Does that mean that they were onboard?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It means that they agreed with the information that the FBI and the Department of Justice used to launch an investigation. Andrew McCabe has laid out that some of the tidbits of information that lead the FBI and the Department of Justice to make this case.

And my question coming out of the news that we heard today on the Today Show is, is that investigation still ongoing? McCabe has said that the president's moves to undercut Russia related investigations to believe Vladimir Putin over his intelligence community to make personnel decisions based on Russia related matters all lead to this investigation.

[11:20:00]

VINOGRAD: McCabe would've laid that out before the "Gang of 8." But just in the past few days, the counter intelligence red flags are flying a lot higher than they did arguably when this investigation was first launched.

So, it is entirely possible Kate, that the "Gang of 8" has been briefed on an ongoing investigation because that hasn't concluded. And that the other members of the U.S. government were briefed before like the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo who is now Secretary of State.

And that this investigation is continuing and there is still a chance that Vladimir Putin is controlling the White House.

BOLDUAN: Jennifer, what's your take on this? I mean with -- if this is all accurate what McCabe is laying out with regard to the briefing and the investigation, does that undermined -- doesn't that have to undermined this claim from President Trump that there was a (inaudible) in the works.

JENNIFER RODGERS, LECTURER, COLUMBIA UNIV. LAW SCHOOL: Well, of course it does. I mean, these republicans are saying one thing privately when they're working in these groups of aid and so on and another thing publically when the president wants them to support him of course.

I mean what it means is that the evidence that Andrew McCabe laid out that were the reasons that they decided that they had to open these investigations were valid reasons and they wee acceptable to these four republicans and four democrats.

So, I think it certainly undermines all of the narrative that we're hearing now that oh, this was a bogus investigation that never should've been opened because if they had objections at the time, they would've raised those.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about the broader Russia investigation, if you will. And with that brings us to Roger Stone. Roger Stone yesterday, he posted not once but twice. But in the end what we know happened is Roger Stone post an attack on Instagram of the judge overseeing his case in federal court.

We're blurring the judge's face just because of the implications. The very serious implications of this posting crosshairs appear to be very distinct right there behind her head. And in the text of the Instagram, he calls it a show trial and is basically attacking the whole process.

He takes it down and eventually apologizes in a statement to the judge. The judge now has said you need to come in and explain yourself, come Thursday. We just learned that this morning. What is going to happen come Thursday with Roger Stone?

RODGERS: Well, we'll have to see. I mean it was outrageous and outrageously stupid. This is the judge who's going to oversee his criminal case from the beginning stage now through the trial in to sentencing.

So, to antagonize her in this way, to threaten her in this way, to encourage other people who are supporters of him and the president to potentially go after her was unbelievable. So, we'll see what she does. I mean she may strengthen the gag order. The gag order that she put in place initially actually wasn't much of a gag order. BOLDUAN: It didn't seem so.

RODGERS: It basically allowed him to decide what might prejudice the case. So, she might impose more of a strict you can't talk about this case or me or any of these proceedings at all. We'll have to see. But she's not going to be happy, nor should she.

BOLDUAN: Sam, let me ask you this. With all of the so much focus on the intelligence community, we now have a close ally to the president, someone who knows him and socializes with him, Chris Ruddy.

Coming out yesterday and telling CNN that he thinks that Dan Coat's time, the director of national intelligence, his time may be coming to an end. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO OF NEWSMAX MEDIA: I think you have a classic example here where Director Coats is trying to make policy and not inform policy.

Now, I'm hearing from sources around the White House there's jut general disappointment of the president with Director Coats. There's a feeling that maybe there needs to be a change of leadership in that position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Look, Ruddy has read the tea leaves correctly when it comes to Donald Trump's state of mind before. But I want to be clear, was Dan Coats trying to make policy when he spoke publically at a congressional hearing before lawmakers about the world wide threat assessment that annual report to congress?

VINOGRAD: No. This is an annual briefing, it happens every year. It's scheduled well before the president decides to have another summit with Kim Jong-un. This was Dan Coats and other members of the intelligence community giving an unbiased assessment--

BOLDUAN: Right.

VINOGRAD: -- about the state of play. Stacking the cabinet with (inaudible) is not a recipe for a national security success. What it means, if Dan Coats leaves and the president chooses to put someone in there that's only going to say that he is having great successes around the world is that intelligence is going to be censored.

Dan Coats gave a briefing based on an unbiased assessment and the analysis that he provided was meant to inform policy, not make it.

BOLDUAN: Well, and it's also a terrifying thought if this would go down,, if Dan Coats would be pushed out for stating reality or the reality as the intelligence--

VINOGRAD: Would be censorship, yes. BOLDUAN: -- community sees it, and only because a difference from what the president wants to see, that's a terrifying thought. Great to see you guys though nonetheless. Thank you for being here, really appreciate it.

Quick programming out for all of you, Anderson Cooper will be interviewing Andrew McCabe the former acting FBI director live tonight and you can watch that right here on CNN at 8:00 P.M. -- starting at 8:00 P.M. eastern.

Coming up for us, democrats launch a new investigation in to the White House. And it all has to do with its deal with Saudi Arabia that Michael Flynn once promoted. Why did the White House keep pursuing the project even after Flynn was fired? Details after our break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:25:00]

BOLDUAN: This just in, the House oversight committee is launching an investigation in to the White House and it's handling of a plan to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia. A plan proposed in back by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Flynn was fired over not divulging his overseas contacts. But this new report details that the White House continued to pursue the deal even after he was fired and even after red flags were raised. CNN's Kara Scannell is looking in to all for this for us.

END

[11:30:00]