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CNN NEWSROOM

Pragmatic VS Progressive, Dem Field Begins to Sharpen; Sanders, My Radical Ideas Now are Mainstream; Klobuchar Not Apologizing, Yes, I'm a Tough Boss; McCabe, we told Lawmakers About FBI Probe into Trump; Worker Details Alleged Ballot Fraud in North Carolina; West Virginia Teachers Back on Strike After Sparking Nationwide Walkouts. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 19, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You know the Democratic Party. Who do Democrats really want?

JESS MCINTOSH, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS OUTREACH, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: That's why I always said I was way less afraid of a 20-way primary than I was of a two or a four-way primary, because we don't have to choose between Senator Klobuchar and Senator Sanders. We have Senator Klobuchar and Senator Warren. We have Kamala Harris. We have Corey Booker. We have a whole array of Democrats who fall in different places on the progressive spectrum. Hopefully in such a way that we get rid of this idea there is just a left and just a right.

I know that Senator Sanders is seen as pretty far to left on policy. I agree with him on lots of things. Where I disagree with him is where he tends to see abortion as a social issue and not an economic one. He talks about income inequality and he doesn't put a race or a gender lens over it. So I don't know that I can position him as more progressive than somebody who is say Elizabeth Warren.

I think his position on guns is pretty troubling. I couldn't believe that, that wasn't in his opening announcement, when that is such a central tenant of progressive politics right now. So I am glad that the field is this big. I'm glad that we are running for this long because I think it gives candidates time to really stakeout their positions and make their points known with voters. I thought it was an odd tone-deaf remark to make the day that you announce to suggest that Kamala's fans were somehow with her because she was a black woman or any of the other people in the field. I think starting this race from a place that you feel disadvantaged as a white guy running for President is not going to be the position of strength you want.

BALDWIN: Symone, to you. Over on CBS, Senator Sanders said now his words, radical ideas are all a part of the political main stream. And do you think his 2020 campaign about winning or more about cementing his legacy on the U.S. political landscape. What do you make of that?

SYMONE SANDERS, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY BERNIE 2016: Look, I think it's a fact that in 2016, folks were talking about Medicare for all. People said it was a jab at Obamacare and it was tearing down Obama's legacy. And now you have a number of presidential candidates that have endorsed the idea of universal healthcare and are talking about some form of Medicare for all and single payer. And so, I think it's not about Bernie Sanders though. And I think the Senator had previously said in 2016. He said it's about the people, it's about the revolution. And so, I'm cautioned to say put this all just on Bernie. Yes, if our campaign help jumpstart a national conversation on a number of these issues. But a lot of these things were things that were absolutely percolating. And so, I think we can credit Senator Sanders for being bold and willing to have the conversation before anybody else wanted to have it. But now we're in a place that multiple people want to have it. So again, I think that --

BALDWIN: DOG progressive. Yes, I got you. But now he's sharing the lane with so many others and one -- back to Senator Klobuchar, you know, we played the clip of her last night at her presidential town hall, where she was answering questions on how she treats her staff. And you know, she says that she is tough and just we've heard her give this response before. The difference this time, there was an audience and how it resonated was it landed with full applause.

MCINTOSH: Yes.

BALDWIN: And I'm just curious what you make how she is responding to that? A tough question?

MCINTOSH: I think there is with is a conversation that needs to happen around this where certain behavior gets coated as leadership in men and gets coated as unnatural in women. I don't know that I want to say that is necessarily the case at play here, given some of the things we have heard from Senator Klobuchar's former staff. Which seem pretty bad. But we see hard driving, we see task masters. We see demanding, we see anger even in our mailboxes and we read it as that's a leader. As a society, we look at those same character traits in women. We see it as so unnatural that it needs to be called out. So I understand where the applause is coming from within the room. I think a lot of women are very tired of being pigeon holed in certain ways because they don't stick to happiness or a gentility all of the time.

BALDWIN: Yes, I'm going to end with -- to you point. Nia-Malika Henderson wrote this phenomenal column. Everyone, go to CNN.com to read it. And she talks about Klobuchar, and she says, there is no equivalent of boys being boys for women. Men are bosses, women are bossy and another "B" word. Symone, Jess, ladies, thank you all so much for that conversation. Many more to come.

Meantime, it was a stunning piece of information. The FBI opened an investigation into whether the President of the United States was a Russian foreign agent. Just one of these mega accusations coming out of Andrew McCabe's new book. We'll talk to a retired FBI special agent once defended McCabe but now has much, much harsher words. We'll be right back.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: It was the blockbuster story cited by sources. And now for the first time we are hearing a former top law enforcement official admit on camera that the FBI opened an investigation to see if the President of the United States was a Russian foreign agent. Andrew McCabe, the fired FBI deputy director, insists there was no political motivation in starting that counter investigation into President Trump. McCabe is promoting his new book. It's called "The Threat, How the FBI Protects America in The Age of Terror and Trump." And here is what he said just a short while ago on "The View".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FIRED FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: The things that were causing us to believe that a threat to national security might exist had been building up throughout the investigation we'd been conducting through the fall. It was the way the President had been interacting with us. The way that he had talked about the case publicly. Tried to kind of undermine our efforts. Made it clear that he wasn't happy about what we were doing.

[15:40:oo] The fact that he asked Jim Comey to shut down the investigation into Mike Flynn, which was an important part of that investigation. And then, of course the fact that he fired the director when he didn't do those things that the President had asked. So you put all those circumstances together and then, of course, add to it the President's own public statements indicating that he was thinking about Russia when he fired the director of the FBI. We felt it was our obligation to act in those circumstances, it was undeniable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With me now CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory special agent who once worked with Andrew McCabe. So, James, thank you for coming on. You know, you write in this pretty explosive piece in the "Washington Examiner," about, you know, yes, how your path crossed with his 20 years ago. Certainly, have you defended him. But you refer to him as a pitiable figure. Tell me why you are not holding back.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Harsh terms, Brooke, there's no doubt about it. And I want to make sure I'm fair and I preface this by saying that what Mr. McCabe describes in the return-up to the 2016 election was a wholly different time. And we have the benefit now of 20/20 hindsight. And it's fair that people on both sides can look at the decisions that he and director Comey made. And some people can argue they were the right decisions at the time. And some can argue that they weren't.

That's not my issue with Mr. McCabe. The reason why I said him as a pitiable figure is because the more that he and Mr. Comey talk now after having been fired, the worse things get. And why is that? Mr. McCabe was fired for an unconscionable sin in the FBI, for a lack of candor, which is a euphemism in the Department of Justice for lying under oath. He's had differences with many of the people he's gone out of his way to attack in the book. And look, I am not defending the President and some of the things the President said in punching down a career servant. I think it's also equally unconscionable. But when an FBI stands up in a witness box and raises their hand and swears to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they have to be believed. And in this instance, I question Mr. McCabe's credibility, veracity of his account.

BALDWIN: But what about the fact that he came out this morning and he said that he and other FBI officials actually warned the then gang of eight, which included at the time you know, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Devon Nunez, that the FBI had opened that counterintelligence investigation, you know, into President Trump after he fired Comey, and none of those guys pushed back.

GAGLIANO: Yes. I don't have, again, I don't take any issue with the fact that there weren't things that candidate Trump and then President Trump, the new administration, things that he said that should have raised suspicions and demanded scrutiny. I think that was appropriate. What happened after that, some of the processes and the protocols that many of us, former agents, have questioned the way the FISA application was submitted. The things that were the actual impetus behind opening that investigation. We can disagree about that. Again, I'm not discrediting him for making the decision that something needed to be looked into. It's how they went about it. The fact that they talked about the 25th Amendment, which the FBI has no involvement whatsoever. Those are the things I criticize Mr. McCabe for.

BALDWIN: Sure. James Gagliano, thank you for your opinion, your perspective, of course, all your years with the FBI. And I just want to remind all of you, you will hear much more from Andrew McCabe tonight. He will take questions from Anderson on AC 360. That is tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. James, thank you

GAGLIANO: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Still ahead, we will take you to North Carolina, whether there were calls for a new election after a witness admitted to falsifying absentee ballots. We'll get reaction from the chair of the state's Democratic Party, next.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: In North Carolina, officials are looking into an alleged voter fraud scheme involving absentee ballots. And it calls for an entirely new election. The investigation is holding up Republican Mark Harris from declaring victory over Democrat Dan McCready in the ninth congressional district race. And in just shocking testimony yesterday, this woman admitted to falsifying absentee ballots under the direction of a political operative. So with me, Wayne Goodwin, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Wayne, thank you so much for being here. And you know, just out of the gate, do you believe that there is evidence that there are enough suspicious ballots in question that could actually change the outcome of this election?

WAYNE GOODWIN, CHAIR, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The short answer is yes. We knew there was sufficient evidence even before the hearing began. But with what the investigators have unveiled and what we've been hearing in shocking testimony yesterday and today and perhaps even going through tomorrow, I believe it further underscores there must be a new election. This election was tainted in the 9th Congressional district.

BALDWIN: But is it enough to close that thousand-vote gap?

GOODWIN: Well, I believe it is. But in North Carolina the law says that it's not just showing that there is enough to close the gap if there was sufficient activity of illegal behavior. And here it's not just a question of alleged election fraud, there is actual election fraud that has been found and admitted to by a witness yesterday and by others. If the election has been tainted in such a way to where there was an unfair process, an unfair election was held, then it doesn't matter if the gap was close or not.

[15:50:00] But I believe that the evidence will show that there was sufficient number of requested absentee ballots by mail that never made it back to where they should have gone. We don't know what happened to them and there are sufficient number of those to eradicate the gap completely. But under the law of North Carolina you don't have to eradicate the gap if you slow that the process was unfair from the get-go.

BALDWIN: Now, this is what you say. On the flip side, the Republicans, the executive director of the state Republican Party, says the number of tainted votes, he says would not have overcome that vote margin. And this is his response when he was asked, why not have another election?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALLAS WOODHOUSE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NORTH CAROLINA GOP: The level of the irregularities has to rise to a level to at least conceivably bring the outcome into question. And ma'am, we are simply not there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: What would you say to Dallas Woodhouse?

GOODWIN: I'd say he's left out a lot of information. The law does not provide for what he said. And second, there is the statement that he and the state Republican Party has said that if it was proven that there was election fraud -- and now there's admitted fraud by at least one witness on the stand in addition to what was found out today that there were early vote totals were released illegally before the election was over. The Republican Party of North Carolina said that they would call for a new election. Where they stand on this? They have been on so many sides of this issue. First, they were for a new election then they were against new election. They were for certification, they were against certification. And they have been everywhere on this. And the Republican Party and those who are watching this, I believe if you look at the evidence in an objective way you can only say there must be a new election because this process was tainted. And the evidence supports that.

BALDWIN: What about the North Carolina board members? I know there are three Democrats and two Republicans. Do you any indication on what they'll decide?

GOODWIN: No. Of course not. They are free to make up their minds however they choose based on the evidence that they weigh and based on what the law as it is here in North Carolina. And that's what I and the North Carolina Democratic Party has always stood for, is that the investigators do their job. Let the board of elections and its members do its job. Wave the evidence. Look at the law and see what the law requires based on that evidence and make a ruling. Based on what we knew already for most people I would think if not everybody -- unless it was somebody that was hyper partisan -- you can only rule for a new election. There's just too much illegal activity that's been admitted to and found, to rule otherwise.

BALDWIN: We will wait to see what they find while watching the ninth very, very closely, as I know you are. Mr. Goodwin, thank you very much for your time there in Raleigh.

When we come back -- you got it. We'll get back to the breaking news that the President just denied that he talked to his acting Attorney General about this notion of getting the U.S. attorney to un-recuse himself in order for him to be in charge of the Michael Cohen investigation. The latest on that coming up.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Less than a year after sparking walkouts across the country, West Virginia teachers are back on strike. This time they are not demanding a raise or better health insurance, they are fighting instead an education bill that would introduce charter schools in the state and allow public money to go to private school tuition. It appears the walkout might've worked. Moments ago striking teachers -- you hear those cheers -- after West Virginia lawmakers voted down the bill that sparked this whole thing. So CNN's Polo Sandoval is there in the capital in Charleston. And so, Polo, now that lawmakers have pulled the bill, any word yet if that's enough for the teachers to end the strike.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: We may get an answer to that question about three hours when union leaders will finally come up with a decision here, Brooke, and decide whether or not teachers will go back to the classroom. But as you mentioned, these scenes sort of repeating themselves. But this time teachers here on the picket line for a very different reason. A lot of provisions in this omnibus bill that was introduced about a month ago. But their main point of contention here, the main debate is all about the proposed funding of charter schools using public money. And that's what teachers have been trying to fight off.

A big development today. Obviously, as you mentioned, with this bill was essentially tabled when members of the House here in the State of West Virginia decided to table this and postpone this. However the reason why we are not able to know for sure if the teachers will go back to class tomorrow is because members of the House of Representatives of West Virginia could still have this option to call this back up. They have 24 hours do so. And that's why these teachers -- as you may imagine, Brooke -- want some guarantees. And they're inside. Actually, they're leaving from a press conference

that was just held by Governor Jim Justice. They are hoping that they can at least get a promise that lawmakers won't consider this again. And as you may imagine, until they get those guarantees -- and it's very hard to say when they will go back to school. Is it possible that that could happen tomorrow? Absolutely. But we don't expect a specific answer until about three hours from now when union leaders will finally decide if what they've heard is enough.

BALDWIN: Thirty-seconds, Polo. What about students? What does it mean for students in West Virginia?

SANDOVAL: I can tell you what we witnessed a year ago when we were here, Brooke. Many parents had to take their kids, obviously, to family members homes. Some of them were taken to local boys and girls clubs. So far, it's only one day in. So it's hard to say if this is going to drag onto day two and potentially after that. But as you may imagine, what we can see, teachers will probably -- or rather parents will have to consider those kinds of options as well if this latest walkout continues to drag on.

BALDWIN: All right, Polo, thank you very much. Polo Sandoval in Charleston, West Virginia. Will stay on that especially in the next three hours for those decisions coming down. In the meantime, I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me here in New York. Let's go to Washington D.C. now. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.