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New Clashes Erupt Along Venezuela's Border; Trump Pitches North Korea Economic Potential To Kim Ahead Of Summit; Schiff: We'll Sue Trump Administration If Mueller's Report Not Made Public. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 24, 2019 - 15:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

And, of course, we have so much more straight ahead in the "NEWSROOM" and it all starts right now.

All right. Hello, again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. New clashes are -- clashes rather are erupting along Venezuela's border with Colombia as protesters demand international aid be allowed into the country. There are also reports that at least four people were killed and hundreds more injured yesterday as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators.

CNN has not been able to confirm the numbers, however. This comes as Vice President Mike Pence heads to Colombia tomorrow to meet with self-declared acting Venezuelan President Juan Guaido. As CNN's Nick Paton Walsh explains desperation at the border is fueling the clashes.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTENATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It had been billed as a new dome when the opposition planned waves of Venezuelan refugees would simply take aid back into their homeland across the busiest border bridge with Colombia, but it was closed, blocked physically by Venezuelan riot police. And behind them, violent pro- government gangs.

The young police taunted or begged into changing sides. I'm Venezuelan, she says, holding up her ID and my father was a sergeant. How will you stop me crossing? But they were Venezuelans too and also knew its collapse, its hunger, and here the heat and thirst.

The water you are drinking, she says, it's Colombian because your President doesn't give you any. Bring him out here to us. I eat or drink soda whenever I want here, he says, but the hardest pain is how my grandfather died because he didn't have medicine. For a brief moment, the anger dissipated. The police lowered their shields, talked calmly. But down the road, the promised aid convoy arrived in a huge crowd, intent on pushing through. Tensions are melting here. The shields have gone back up again and the protesters are recommending people start to move back.

This was why a slow march of opposition protesters. Peaceful in as far as they would not take no for an answer. It fast collapsed into tear gas. The day's lofty goals soon lost in a routine exchange of hatred. Rocks against rubber bullets and rocks thrown back.

Did you expect to have blood on your shirt today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy with the shirt.

WALSH: Did you expect that to happen today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's blood on there, Venezuelan people is the brother of freedom.

WALSH: And as they lost off on the bridge, the protesters took their fight underneath. They are many, but Maduro's police are mightier. They have only whatever they could make. None of this chaos got any aid across here but it showed the uncompromising ferocity of the Maduro government. And it led throughout the day to Venezuelan soldiers keeping themselves up. One pair carried out.

The mobs both cursing and cheering. The opposition can't promise to protect its amnesty. But this will only get uglier, seeing them mobbing of pro-Maduro militia here, battered by the crowd and spared only by Colombian police. And if the symbolic bid to get aid in peacefully failed, then these scenes are what Venezuela is left with.


WHITFIELD: And Nick Paton Walsh is with us now live. So you were caught in the middle of, you know, the unrest yesterday. Describe the conditions today.

WALSH: It's interesting just as that package was playing behind me here. We have seen before a lot of tear gas being fired because back where we were yesterday, a sort of standoff persist much lower temperature, I have to say. But the crowds of Venezuelan opposition protesters who were trying to storm to cross the bridge yesterday, they're still here in lesser number and they're trying to get across to Venezuela under the bridge. Some clearly managing dangers enterprise.

But a lot of tear gas was fired just trying to push them back. And then interestingly, I think what we saw was Colombian riot police in full gear running to the front, and I think they pulled back some of those protesters from the top of the bridge, certainly. Whatever happens below, there is clearly a different story. One injured person we think we saw carried away as well.

[15:05:04] But this is essentially the enduring problem now for Colombian authorities. They engineered this, in all honesty, by closing the bridge to normal traffic yesterday and the day before. And so they sort of own the problem to some degree and there will be continued Venezuelan opposition protesters, perhaps, having a go at Venezuelan security forces in the weeks ahead, unless of course, this whole place is potentially shutdown.

Interestingly enough, while yesterday when we were speaking, we learned of about 60 or so Venezuelan soldiers that had defected, that had simply given up their jobs over where there's little food, hard to get something to drink, and walked over the line and give themselves over to Colombian migration officials, where the Venezuelan opposition says they'll get an amnesty.

That number has now grown to over 100 apparently some crossing over in the dead of night. So, something may or perhaps started to here, they haven't got many soldiers over there securing the border points. But I have to say the injuring symbol of yesterday is the aid burning on the bridges, the failure of opposition to get it through that royal police line that you saw, that, I think, has shocked many around the world and it's also made I think some doubts quite with the organizers expected anything else if they sent protesters.

Some of them like this against riot police, what else did they think are possibly had happened? But the White House clear in its response, Pompeo, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, says Maduro is a sick tyrant. And John Bolton, the National Security adviser, says more sanctions and isolation to come ahead. But still this rumbles behind me. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is weighing in on the escalating crisis in Venezuela. Here, he was this morning.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: America's policy has been very clearly. We've supported the Venezuelan people. We will continue to do that. There'll be a meeting of Lima Group on Monday, where further action will be contemplated. There's more sanctions to be had. There's more humanitarian assistance I think that we can provide. I think we'll find other ways to make sure that food gets to the people who need it.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: But it seems as though Maduro's not going anywhere near this plan, that he's holding onto power, and the military seems to be staying with him, at least the military leaders.

POMPEO: It always seems that way until the day it doesn't. I remember when I was a young soldier patrolling the then-East German border. No one predicted it on that day in 1989 that that wall would come crumbling down. Predictions are difficult. Picking exact days are difficult. I am confident that the Venezuelan people will ensure that Maduro's days are numbered.


WHITFIELD: Pompeo is also weighing in on the upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un. They will meet in Vietnam this week to further their discussions on denuclearization. Here is Pompeo in his view on how that negotiation would go.


POMPEO: We've made it very plain to Chairman Kim the alternative to giving up his nuclear weapons is remaining a pariah state, remaining a nation that is unable to trade, unable to grow, unable to take care of its own people. We've made the argument that it would be far better, far better for Chairman Kim himself, his senior leadership, all of the people for North Korea.

We've also shared with him that we are happy to make sure that North Korea's security assurances, they're worried about China, that the security assurances that they need can be provided in a way that is reasonable. And we have also told them there'll be real opportunities, that countries from around the world will come, make his economy one that looks more like South Korea's economy than the one that exists in North Korea today. Those are the kinds of things.

I've had these conversations. I've been with Chairman Kim I think more hours now than anybody, including Dennis Rodman. We've had these conversations now over an extended period. And what Senator Coats, what Director Coats said is the history, and we're hoping to move forward and change that history fundamentally.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, former senior adviser at the U.S. State Department, Balbina Hwang and former senior adviser to the National Security Adviser under President Obama, Samantha Vinograd. Good to see you both of you.

So, Balbina, you first, so is that, you know, leverage? Economic opportunities, is that how you get North Korea to denuclearize and, you know, go the straight and narrow?

BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think that this is exactly what we've been offering to North Korea for the last 20, 30 years. This is actually a very consistent message. Unfortunately, North Korea has not taken a bite of that apple.

So I don't know if we need to keep going down the same road. I think the real question is, what is it exactly that we are trying to achieve? Is it really just denuclearization or do we really want to get to the real overall threat of North Korea, which is far larger than just the nuclear weapons?

WHITFIELD: What is it?

HWANG: Well, it's the fact that North Korean -- the regime itself is a threatening regime. It's everything about that regime. It's a regime that is pursuing nuclear weapons illegally, you know, despite what the international community. So the nuclear weapon is just one aspect, unfortunately, very dangerous one.


VINOGRAD: If I could just add, we're focused on the nuclear threat from North Korea. In his remarks today, Secretary Pompeo called Maduro a sick tyrant. Kim Jong-un checks that box in so many ways as Balbina just referenced. They have chemical weapons that violate international law. Kim Jong-un used chemical weapons against his own, I believe, his own half-brother previously. He's starving his --

WHITFIELD: So why is the approach so different?

VINOGRAD: I'm sorry?

WHITFIELD: Why is the approach different from this White House?

VINOGRAD: Because the President has decided that socialism from Venezuela is more of a threat to U.S. national security than Kim Jong- un's nuclear weapons, chemical weapons. And the fact that Kim Jong- un, just like Maduro, is involved in starving his own people. And the question really is, why is there such a different metric for someone like President -- former President Maduro and Kim Jong-un? And going into the summit, the President has taken off the table these other transgressions that North Korea and Kim Jong-un are making because he's so eager to get a, "win with Kim Jong-un."

WHITFIELD: Yes. So how big of a mistake is that in your view, Sam?

VINOGRAD: It's a huge mistake. We can't have a double standard for every different despite that decides to call President Trump. And if the President is going to adhere to a national security strategy that makes illegal nuclear proliferations, something that he's going to go after, he needs to apply that to North Korea. He needs to apply that to Russia and he needs to think very seriously about how to address these humanitarian issues not just in Venezuela but also again in North Korea.

WHITFIELD: So, Balbina, what makes North Korea so attractive to this White House? Why is it that the pursuit and the energy is being put in this even if after the first summit there is very little evidence of, you know, accomplishment except that, you know, the President boast that North Korea hasn't tested, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they have lived up to any promise of denuclearization?

HWANG: Well, I agree with everything that was just said earlier but with one slight nuance. What I think is very interesting is thus far the approach of this administration and this White House is actually very consistent with previous administrations. Believe it or not, even with President Bush and President Obama. What is very different is President Donald Trump and I think that's what makes it very unusual.

And we have to remember though that North Korea has been extremely consistent for the last three decades. But what Kim Jong-un has realized, and I think what the world has realized, is that with Donald J. Trump as president of United States, there's actually no telling exactly what the policy will be on a given day. And North Koreans have always wanted to address and deal with the United States at the top level, but never more so than with this particular president. And I think it's actually right. And I think we don't actually know exactly what Donald J. Trump as president will walk out of Hanoi. I'm saying we're doing because it's -- despite what his top advisers sometimes tell him, he will make his own decisions.

WHITFIELD: So, Sam, what do you believe North Korea wants out of this second summit? I mean already Kim Jong-un is in transit via train, you know, for that what 1600, you know, mile journey. And apparently, or at least reportedly, he wants to learn more about China and Vietnam along the way. So what is the big goal I guess of North Korea? What's the suspicion that you have?

VINOGRAD: Well, Fred, Kim Jong-un is making new friends almost as quickly as he's making nuclear weapons. What he wants is a continuation of the status quo, which is acceptance on the world stage and acceptance of his ongoing nuclear program. Every day that goes by, if there's a third summit, a fourth summit, what have you, is another day that Kim Jong-un can keep manufacturing nuclear weapons.

He wants that to continue. He wants greater acceptance on the world stage. And what he's really after is the lifting of economic sanctions so that he can more illicitly gain access to revenues. We know that the sanctions regimes, which is historic, is crumbling. The United Nation has said there are massive increases in sanctions of Asian. So he wants those sanctions to go away so that he has more access to revenue while at the same time, just continuing what he's doing which is, again, making nukes and makings friends.

WHITFIELD: OK. And I short change that train journey. It's 2,600 miles. So take a little longer. But there's a lot to see potentially out the window along the way. Balbina Hwang and Samantha Vinograd, good to see you both. Thank you so much.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Fred.

HWANG: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Mueller could be close to wrapping up his investigation, but will his report ever become public? One powerful Democrat now says he is prepared to sue to ensure that it is made public.


[15:19:06] WHITFIELD: Today, Democratic Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff threatened to sue the Trump administration and subpoena Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and bring Mueller in to testify. Schiff says he'll do that if the special counsel's report on possible Russian involvement in the 2016 election is not made public after it goes to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We will obviously subpoena the report. We will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress. We will take it to court if necessary. And in the end, I think the department understands they're going to have to make this public.

I think Barr will ultimately understand that as well. Barr comes into this job with two strikes against him. He applied for the job by demonstrating a bias against the Mueller investigation. Indeed, that's part of the reason he was hired. He's also not been willing to commit to following the advice of ethics lawyers. Indeed, that was part of the reason he was hired.

[15:20:01] If he were to try to withhold, to try to bury any part of this report, that will be his legacy and it will be a tarnished legacy. So I think there'll be immense pressure not only on the department but on the attorney general to be forthcoming.


WHITFIELD: All right. With me now is Ross Garber, CNN legal analyst and an expert on Politico investigations and impeachment law. Good to see you Ross.

So, is this --


WHITFIELD: -- Schiff's idea of kind of strong-arming? You know, the attorney general ahead of time to say, you know, if you don't then we're only going to do this.

GARBER: I think his message is, you know, clearly conveyed and probably clearly received. That doesn't mean it's going to be effective though. There are lots of hurdles I think to Congress getting this report or the public getting the report.

WHITFIELD: So is there a legal recourse to do that, to sue if, you know, a delicate request is not honored, then to sue, and is the law behind Democrats who do that?

GARBER: Yes. So I mean, let's think about the impediments, the problems in the way. The first is that this report under Department of Justice regulations, this Mueller report is to be kept confidential. That's what the regulations say. It's a report from Mueller to the attorney general and it's to be kept confidential. The regulations say that it's up to the attorney general, at his discretion to decide what, if any, information is to be made public. So that's how the regulations are structured.

Now, Congress certainly can issue a subpoena for testimony and for these materials. So Congress could issue a subpoena for this information. The problem is then the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel's Office could resist the subpoena and refuse to comply. And, you know, the House has difficulty enforcing its subpoenas. WHITFIELD: So then will the House have to further justify why it's, you know, making the subpoena --


WHITFIELD: -- making its case to the Justice Department? And I imagine the case is going to be for the sake of transparency, especially heading into yet another presidential election.

GARBER: Yes. So the House's argument is easier, exactly right? Transparency, these are super important issues to know about, for the American people to know about. What the Department of Justice might say is, yes, there are those regulations, there are also privileges, the executive privilege and also grand jury secrecy that might come into play and so they'll oversee this. Congress, the House could issue a subpoena for the information and then it could go to court. That's normally what happens with these subpoenas.

The House says, you know, it's been a long time since they've arrested somebody and thrown them in the House jail. That's not going to happen. They're not going to have the Department of Justice prosecute anybody. So they're going to have to go to court and these cases tend to take a very long time. You know, President Obama --

WHITFIELD: So that's not sounding like a long time, that's not sounding like a year, you know, before people go to the --


WHITFIELD: -- ballot and make their decision, you know --

GARBER: Right. Yes. That's going to be issue, Fred.

WHITFIELD: -- about whether Russia is influencing a candidate.

GARBER: Yes. And President Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, resisted a subpoena --


GARBER: -- from Congress for information. He was held in contempt of Congress, and that case went to court, and it's taken years and years. I think about six years, for that to wind its way through the system. So it's a long process.

WHITFIELD: OK. And still under the umbrella of the investigations, although it kind of, you know, went off into another tangent involving the Southern District of New York, we're talking about the former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. Well, he's going to be on Capitol Hill this week, testifying before three different committees and Schiff believes that he has a lot to offer on the overall big picture. Take a listen to what Schiff had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen is going to appear before your committee behind closed doors on Thursday. What do you hope to learn from him that you don't already now?

SCHIFF: Well, great deal starting with why the false statements before our committee when he first appeared. Did they go beyond what he told us about Moscow Trump Tower into other areas as well? Who would have been aware of the false testimony that he was giving?

What other light can he shed now that he's cooperating on issues of obstruction of justice or collusion? What more can he tell us about the Trump Tower New York meeting or any other issues relevant to our investigation? We think he has a lot to offer.


WHITFIELD: So then, Ross, how does this, you know, advance a separate case as opposed to, you know, waiting to hear what the Southern District of New York has to say, waiting to hear what Mueller's report, you know, may shed light on as it pertains to Michael Cohen. How it-- you know, what's the avenue for this and why?

GARBER: Yes. So the first thing to keep in mind is one of these committees is going to have public testimony with Michael Cohen. That's a big deal. Most of what we've learned in all of these investigations has come through reporting, you know, reading it in newspapers or watching it on cable news or reading about it in indictments.

[15:25:02] This is really one of the first times we're actually going to get to see one of the players be questioned under oath about some key issues. Now, the public testimony is not going to include the Russia staff, but it is going to include issues of Trump's taxes, his business practices campaign finance issues, lots of stuff. And that's going to be very interesting.

Now the closed door stuff will include Russia information and Michael Cohen, you know, that he was Trump's fixer, his lawyer, he was in a position to know a lot. The question is, does he know a lot and will he tell the truth?

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Ross Garber, good to see you. Thank you so much.

GARBER: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Pope Francis calls priests who abused children tools of Satan. But what is the Catholic Church going to do about all of it? We'll take -- we'll ask a former member of the Vatican Child Protection Commission, next.


[15:30:29] WHITFIELD: Pope Francis calls for an all-out battle against priests and other Catholics who abused children calling them, quoting him now, "Tools of Satan". His comments coming on the last day of a historic summit on that matter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POPE FRANCIS: (through translation) Consecrated persons chosen by God to guide souls to salvation. Let themselves be dominated by the human frailty or sickness and thus become tools of Satan. In abuse, we see that the hands of evil does not spare even the innocence of children.


WHITFIELD: My next guest has spent much of her life trying to change the culture of sex abuse within the Catholic Church. In 2014 Pope Francis picked Marie Collins to sit on a committee dedicated to the issue. She now advocates for change from the outside.

Marie Collins joins me now via Skype from Dublin, Ireland. Good to see you. Well, what's your reaction to what you're hearing has come from the summit and the pontiff's words?

MARIE COLLINS, FOMER MEMBER, VATICAN CHILD PROTECTION COMMISSION: Well, the Pope has said thus there must be an all-out battle against abuse. But when it comes to abuse in the church, he is the one that should be leading the battle. And all we've heard is words.

And this -- I'm a survivor as well as having worked with the church. So what disappoints me is all we got from this summit is more words. We haven't had anything concrete.

You know, the Vatican stopped the U.S. bishops updating their safeguarding policy back in November, told them to hold it until this summit. And nothing has happened in the summit to justify that stoppage.

WHITFIELD: And when you --

COLLINS: Sorry, carry on.

WHITFIELD: Sorry to interrupt, but I think, you know, when you say all that has happened, you know, more word service, you know, and the Pope in his speech did go beyond the church even, and, you know, said that abuse is happening within family, schools, athletic communities and digital worlds, you know, offering dangers to young people. You know, is this, you know, the Pope or the church's attempt at diminishing, you know, the church's responsibility, almost, you know, underscoring kind of blame sharing, like, you know, there are a lot of people doing it and it's all bad.

COLLINS: Yes. It sounded that way. It took him a long time in his speech this morning to actually get to abuse in the church. And we all know it's in society in every country and every area, and that is very sad.

And the church, if they could get it right in its own backyard, it might be able to help in countries of the third world, places like that where it might have some influence. Minimizing at this point is just not the way things need to go. We need to see things like concrete.

There's a lot of words over this summit about concrete action being needed. And the hierarchy, the church leaders talking about concrete action being needed, but nothing being put in place. And I would like to see a straightforward action which could be taken, and that is putting zero tolerance into church law. And by zero tolerance, I mean that any priest who harmed a child would automatically be removed from the cleric of state. He would be returned to a layperson.

WHITFIELD: And when do you think that day will come to hear something like that in view of what you believe will be concrete action?

COLLINS: Well, we've been meeting for many years. I'm 20 years campaigning on this. We had 2002 when we had the explosion of revelations in Boston. We had Pope John Paul, two popes back, actually saying there was no place in the priesthood or religious life for a man who would harm a child. And yet here we are 17 years on and we're still talking about it.

WHITFIELD: Do you feel -- sorry to interrupt real quick, but do you feel as a result to this four-day summit that perhaps the Catholic Church is now closer to that kind of concrete action that you're speaking of?

COLLINS: They may be closer. I think all they -- yes, all they announced today was they would be sending a handbook to bishops telling them how they should do things, and they may be putting together a task force to help bishops. But --


COLLINS: -- we may be closer, but does that mean closer by another year, two years or 10 years? You know, we need to have something very definite, and absolute black and white policies.

[15:35:8] WHITFIELD: Marie Collins, thank you so much from Dublin, Ireland. I appreciate your time.

COLLINS: Not at all.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Several 2020 hopefuls are out on the campaign trail today. Senator Amy Klobuchar is in New Hampshire, Senator Cory Booker is in Nevada while Senator Kamala Harris and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio are in Iowa. All of them looking to find a way to stand out from a very crowded feel. Harris spooked with John King today on "INSIDE POLITICS" talking about her pride of being a Democrat and not resorting two labels and name-calling.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think first of all, it's important to distinguish between where someone is on a policy issue with a label with name-calling. All of those are different points. [15:40:02] And I certainly think that we should all want that our leaders do not engage in name-calling, because that's really just a very low level of discourse and we should expect more from leaders.

In terms of where I am, who I am, I'm a progressive Democrat. I am a Democrat. I am a proud Democrat. I'm not a socialist. I believe that the people in our country today want leaders who understand that right now everyone does not have equal opportunity to success, and we need to restore America's promise for equal opportunity to success.

I believe that right now, we've got a country of folks who, in particularly, the working middle class, who deserve to have more support, and that the rules have been written over the last several decades, frankly, in a way that have excluded them. And we can look most recently at the tax bill that was passed that benefit is the top 1% and big corporations to the exclusion of helping middle class Americans, which is why I'm proposing that we change tax code.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: What you propose is to take back the Trump tax code?

HARRIS: Yes. Repeal it. Repeal it.

KING: Yes, to the wealthy in the corporation.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

KING: Give that to the middle class. You lift that issue code.

HARRIS: Yes. That's right.

KING: Is that it for you or do you think the government needs to raise more revenue?

HARRIS: Well I think --

KING: Elizabeth Warren has the plan, the other -- the mega tax -- mega rich get tax higher. Is that a good idea or do you think you start by taking away the Trump tax code, you distribute it more fairly?

HARRIS: Well, we start there but I absolutely believe that we also have to look at the fact that the top 1% can pay more and should pay their fair share. We're looking on a situation -- I mean, you got, listen.

KING: You're not there and how much yet?

HARRIS: Well, I'm looking at all these ideas and I think they're very creative and I see positive benefit to them. And right now the working class of America, working middle class families are suffering. I have met more people who, you know, people tout the job numbers and the unemployment numbers. Yes. People are working but they're working two jobs, sometimes three jobs to pay the bills. That's not right.

KING: You cast yourself on the campaign trail as a truth seller. You say we need to tell truths.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

KING: What do you say or -- tell me if you think this is fair, that as you talk to Democratic voters, they're hungry and they want ideas and so you'll hear things like the Green New Deal.


KING: You hear things like Medicare for all. You hear things like whether it's taxes.

HARRIS: Right.

KING: You hear things -- at what point do you say, that's our North Star but we have to be realists?

HARRIS: We -- there is no question we have to be practical. But being practical also recognizes that climate change is an existential threat to us as human beings. Being practical recognizes that greenhouse gas emissions are threatening our air and threatening the planet, and that it is well within our capacity as human beings to change our behaviors in a way that we can reduce its effects. That's practical.

KING: Can we afford it?

HARRIS: Of course, we can afford it.

KING: Two and a half, $3 trillion a year from Medicare for all by some studies, depending on which portions of the Green New Deal you pick to do first, that's money. That you know what the Republics are going to say, taxes spend liberals, pie in the sky.

HARRIS: One of the things that I admire and respect is the measurement that is captured in three letters, ROI. What's the return on the investment?

People in the private sector understand this really well. It's not about a cost, it's about an investment. And then the question should be, is it worth the cost in terms of the investment potential? Are we get back more than we put in? You invest --

KING: So what they or Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, some of your potential fellow Democrats say, no, it's too much. It's too ambitious. It's too expensive. You think they're wrong?

HARRIS: I look forward to that debate on the debate stage. I look forward to it very much.


WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent and Maria Cardona, a former superdelegate for the Democratic National Committee. Good to see both of you. MARIA CARDONA, FORMER DNC SUPERDELEGATE: Hey, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. So you heard, you know, some of the words that Harris likes to describe herself as, you know, practical and, you know, a truth teller and truth seeker. But then the President has another word that he wants to use, you know, when describing Dems and he is saying they're socialists and he's using that, you know, to divide.

So I wonder, you know, Charlie Dent, even though Harris, you know, calls herself a progressive Democrat, is this going to be difficult for a Democrat to have to constantly describe themselves, you know, either away from being a socialist or embracing it because the President keeps bringing it up? How much of a distraction might this be, Charlie?

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, it will be a bit of a distraction. Look, Fred, it will be a bit of a distraction. The President is going to call them all socialists.

Frankly, if I were the President, I would focus more of my time, you know, taking down the policies they may have endorsed, like the Green New Deal. I mean in 12 years we'll go to -- you're saying we'll go to carbon free electricity?

Here I'm sitting in Pennsylvania. Ninety three percent of our carbon free electricity is generated by nuclear. And they are even talking about phasing out nuclear energy. If I were the President, I would be focusing on their policies because I think that's more devastating, than, say, the label of a socialist.

[15:45:00] WHITFIELD: And, Maria, you know, former White House strategist Steve Bannon says, you know, the President actually, you know, has some real clout. Even though Democrats have some momentum from, you know, they can't be on the campaign trail, and, you know, Dems being the new majority in the House. He says that Trump really might have an advantage. Listen.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think he comes out in a much more battle hardened position. I think it's going to be a very tough four or five months for the President. I think it's for the team around it but I think it will be very -- I think it will get him very focused.


WHITFIELD: So, Maria, he says, you know, the President has incentive to be really focused and he is going to be that?

CARDONA: Yes. Yes. You know, I agree. I think the biggest mistake that Democrats can make, even though we have come off of a huge win after we took back the House of Representatives and Democrats got 9 million more votes than Republicans, which is more than a mandate, I think we would be very mistaken if we think that taking out Trump in 2020 is going to be a slam-dunk. That it's going to be easy, because it's not.

But what I will say is that the country, I believe, is ready for a change. The country, I believe, is ready for all of these debates about the real issues that face Americans, that John King was having a great conversation with Kamala Harris this morning. And that is what I really look forward from our -- all of our very experienced, talented and creative 2020 candidates.

And look, the President will absolutely throw out the label of socialism. We see that that is going to be his fearmongering tactic. He started to do it in the State of the Union but you know why, Fred, because he's completely vamped on the issues. He cannot debate Democrats on the issues. He should take Charlie's advice, but guess what, he can't. He doesn't have the intellectual fortitude to do that. And so what Democrats are going to do is going to continue to talk to the real issues that Americans are hungry for, which is how we won back the Congress.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let me ask you about this, you know, an article that appeared in the NRA magazine, American Rifle and in it you see Gabby Giffords, Nancy Pelosi, along with other Democratic leaders next to the headline, target practice. And the article details concerns over legislation to strengthen gun control and Giffords of course, you know, was shot in the head at an event in 2011.

Just this, you know, week, you know, this coming on the hills of just this week, you know, the coast guard lieutenant, you know, arrested for plotting an attack on a number of Democrats and journalists, least showing pictures of the arsenal, you know, that this man had. You know, a list, Pelosi was on that and then even Roger Stone, you know, with the posting, have an Instagram picture showing that judge, you know, in his case with crosshairs behind her. And so, Charlie, you know, what is behind, you know, this defiance? You know, why anyone thinks this is smart strategy using the crosshairs? What is going on here?

DENT: Well, it's not smart strategy, Fred, for a few reasons. Frankly, I think a lot of the politics are those who's in the gun rights community is about not being out flunk. What I mean by that is, you know, the NRA and others I think should take positions that might adopt universal background checks, ban the bomb stock. I'll say common sense measures.

But I think what happens is these gun rights groups, they don't want to get out flunked. If the NRA seems at all accommodated or compromised and then the gun owners of America is going to step in and, you know, try to poach their members.

So they take these very hard positions and this is really not where the American public is but it's about maintaining their membership. So it's driven by the politics these organizations more than it is, you know, I'll say the electoral politics.

WHITFIELD: Maria, quick. CARDONA: You know, I actually think that the NRA is scared. They have been losing members. They have been losing a lot of what their influence used to be. They're still very strong, no question, but since Parkland, a lot of these NRA members are scared that the mobilization that has happened since then and with all of the other victims before that is actually having an effect and it really is. And I think that is what this is a response to. I think it's completely disgusting and Americans will see through that.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now. Thanks so much, Maria Cardona, Charlie Dent. Good to see you both.

CARDONA: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

DENT: Thanks, Fred.


[15:18:48] WHITFIELD: It's Hollywood's biggest night, and things could get a little spicy on the red carpet. It's this week's State of the Cartoonian.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean Spicer is now a correspondent for "Extra," the syndicated entertainment show. No, this is not a joke. The former White House Press Secretary has already interviewed the Secretary of State.

SEAN SPICER, "EXTRA" CORRESPONDENT: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, welcome to "Extra."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he got his take on a very important topic, his Oscars pick.

POMPEO: You know, gosh, I love "Bohemian Rhapsody."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're guessing that "Bohemian Rhapsody" might be the favorite pick of another Trump insider as well. Are they going to send Spicy to the red carpet this year? Putting his Trumpian spin on everything?

SPICER: My focus is on events and President's agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will he draw comparisons between the movie, "The Favorite" and, "The Trumpian Court" with Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner duking it out for the President's affection.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he wants this to be bipartisan. Maybe he sees Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a "A star is born." [15:55:07] When he sees Christian Bale, who just played Vice President Cheney in "Vice" and is up for best actor, does he think of Vice President Mike Pence?

Of course, the red carpet moment we're all waiting for, Spicer interviewing the doppelganger who played him on "Saturday Night Live," best actress nominee Melissa McCarthy.

MELISSA MCCARTHY, BEST ACTRESS NOMINEE: That's the old Spicy and this is the new Spicy.

SPICER: Sometimes we can disagree with the facts.



WHITFIELD: Happening now in the "NEWSROOM."


POMPEO: We've made it very plain to Chairman Kim. The alternative to giving up his nuclear weapons is remaining a pariah state.


WHITFIELD: Days away, take two of a summit with North Korea.