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Spike Lee at Oscars; Trump Speaks before Summit; Summit with North Korea; Pence to Meet with Guaido; Sanders Presidential Run Kicks Off; R. Kelly In Court. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired February 25, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lost to "Driving Miss Daisy."

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And not to be -- the president called Spike Lee a racist for making a comment about elections coming up. I mean that's -- I know we hear this kind of thing every day, but that's still remarkable.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He's going back to this idea that the minorities are the real racists in this country.


STELTER: It's so sickening to see a president acting this way. You know, the Oscars were amazing. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were amazing. Let's talk about that. You know, let's talk about that. Instead, the president's going after Spike Lee, once again targeting a prominent black celebrity. It makes me wonder if the president ever saw "BlacKkKlansman." I'm assuming he didn't. I wish he'd go see it, actually.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let me jump in. Brian, stand by.

Let's go to the president. He's speaking this morning before he heads to Hanoi. He is at the Governors Association Meeting. Let's listen in.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right after this meeting, I leave for Vietnam, where I meet with Chairman Kim and we talk about something that, frankly, he never spoke to anybody about, but we're speaking and we're speaking loud. And I think we can have a very good -- a very good summit. I think we'll have a very tremendous summit. We want denuclearization. And I think he'll have a country that will set a lot of records for speed in terms of an economy.

And I told you last night, it was a lovely dinner, but I told you how well we did with our trade talks in China. And it looks like they'll be coming back quickly again. And we're going to have another summit. We're going to have a signing summit, which is even better. So hopefully we can get that completed.

But we're getting very, very close. Ambassador Lighthizer, Steve Mnuchin, a lot of folks in the room have been helping. And that's been great. And I just see our great secretary sitting there. On drug prices,

first time in 54 years that drug prices have actually gone down this year. So, Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. That's a great, great job.

Today, it is my honor to welcome our nation's governors back to the White House after a wonderful evening last night. And I'm deeply grateful for your presence, your partnership and your friendship, many of you are such good friends, as we work together on behalf of all Americans. We're here to forge bonds of cooperation between our federal, state and local governments, as we strive to deliver a safe, bright and prosperous future for every community in our magnificent nation.

Thank you, as well, to all of my cabinet secretaries --

HARLOW: All right, so that was the president just a few moments ago, again, before he heads to Hanoi, where Jim is heading for special coverage of the summit as well, touting China as well, and progress, he says, was made over the weekend.

Let's go to our colleague, Sarah Westwood. She joins us from the White House.

So, look, the president and his team, we hear Pompeo over the weekend, high expectations for this second summit with Kim Jong-un.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Poppy, it looks like the Trump administration is hoping to put some meat on the bones from the foundation they say they laid with Chairman Kim in Singapore last year. Of course, we haven't seen any real progress toward denuclearization since that summit last summer. But Pompeo said yesterday that what the administration is looking for is some kind of clear, verifiable step that shows North Korea is even willing to denuclearize.

But we have heard mixed messages out of this administration with President Trump saying that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. Then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling our colleague Jake Tapper yesterday that, in fact, North Korea does still pose a nuclear threat. And what we just heard from President Trump at this meeting of Republican governors is the president sounding extremely optimistic about the likelihood that North Korea will denuclearize. In fact, he said that North Korea could set records in terms of the economic recovery that they could experience if they were to denuclearize.

So the president really ratcheting up expectations in a way, an attitude that's not really shared across the administration. There are some fears that perhaps this might not be as successful as the president is building it up to be, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: And some of those fears coming from inside that building behind you.


SCIUTTO: His own advisers worried that he will give up more, weaken some past demands.

HARLOW: That was part of your reporting.

Sarah, thank you so much.

And I do think it's interesting that Pompeo said as much on Fox yesterday, that they -- they would be open to a third summit.


HARLOW: We'll see.

SCIUTTO: The president likes to talk to Kim.

HARLOW: All right.

SCIUTTO: Humanitarian aid blocked, violence growing at the Venezuela border. Some people dying down there. All this as Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet with Venezuela's opposition leader. This at any moment. We're going to take you to the scene there as it plays out, live.


[09:38:47] SCIUTTO: Just moments ago, Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Bogota, Colombia, as the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, next door, continues to grow. Any minute now he is expected to meet with Venezuela's self-declared interim president Juan Guaido.

HARLOW: This, of course, follows a weekend of deadly clashes on the Venezuelan border between protesters and the military. A horrific scene as desperately needed food and medicine, supplies blocked from entering the country, blocked by President Maduro's forces. Some of those trucks filled with aid even set on fire before the eyes of the people who need the aid the most.

Our Nick Paton Walsh reported from amid the clashes all weekend, joins us live from Bogota, Colombia, this morning.

Nick, I mean I know it's hard to get our hands on an exact number. You've got the U.N. commissioner for human rights saying four people dead, 300 injured. And the question now becomes, where do we go from here, right? What does the U.S. do next?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That is the key question about a street away from where I'm standing here. Mike Pence heading into meetings with regional leaders. The initial mood music, there has to be a peaceful solution. But one, they say, in which involves Juan Guaido, the opposition leader, self- declared president, running the country. It's clear in their minds here Maduro's finished.

[09:40:03] The point is, after those scenes of the weekend where a peaceful passage of humanitarian aid designed to boost Guaido's support simply didn't get anywhere. And you saw those awful scenes of how that was prevented. The question is, what's the next step in the American arsenal? Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, the secretary of state, national security adviser, talking about sanctions, further isolation. Are we going to hear more of that today or is there a next phase in the American plan? Many people here wondering what it is.

Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: There are concerns, some of them expressed by the former ambassador to Mexico, U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson.


SCIUTTO: She's questioning, and she's not alone in this, whether the Trump administration is using aid in effect as a pressure tactic to force regime change. She, in "The Washington Post," saying politicizing humanitarian aid is a bad thing to do for either side.

I wonder, as you sit there in your perch in Colombia, but you also travel into Venezuela, are there concerns there that that is what the Trump administration is up to, using aid, in effect, to turn the screws?

WALSH: Yes, there are two things that are true. One is that there is a terrifying humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, which the Maduro government insists is not happening. So something has to happen to fix that to help those people.

The second truth is, yes, the Trump administration is certainly politicizing humanitarian aid here. No doubt about that. And there are many cynics who perhaps see that people were perhaps hoping the scenes over the weekend would evolve in the way that they did because it's sent an international message, frankly, that the Maduro government is not to be reasoned with, that it will use brutal force.

I should point out, not lethal force, but they were certainly firing rubber bullets at men wearing nothing but t-shirts around their heads. So, yes, that is a thing. The fear about where we go forward from now, now the aid questions has become about the fate of the Maduro government. The talk of military intervention by the Americans, it's held in the background as a threat, so to speak, but everyone seem to be counseling against it. The fear being really, where are the other tools in the toolbox?

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Nick, before you go, Republican senator of Florida, Marco Rubio, was in Venezuela last week and he tweeted something that caught all of our attention over the weekend saying that the actions by the Maduro regime have, quote, opened the door to various potential multilateral actions not on the table 24 hours ago. If that is the case, what did you hear from the Venezuelan citizens that they want next?

WALSH: I don't think anybody in Venezuela wants to see, you know, a large U.S. military intervention. Marco Rubio does not set U.S. policy, but he does often talk like he does. And, of course, he's speaking from Florida where there's a large expatriate Venezuelan community presumably whose support he wants to engender, as does Donald Trump. He gave a speech there just last week. That's hanging in the background. Is it to pressure Maduro to leave? Is it a real option? I think more likely the former.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Thank you very much, Nick Paton Walsh, from Bogota, Colombia, this morning.

Next, how the Trump campaign is using Sanders to raise campaign cash. Bernie Sanders, that is. All ahead of the town hall, of course, on CNN tonight.


[09:47:35] SCIUTTO: Senator Bernie Sanders is about to set out on the first official campaign swing for his second run for president. But first, he will take questions from voters tonight right here on CNN.

HARLOW: President Trump's re-election campaign is already targeting Sanders, asking for campaign contributions to fight what they call Sanders' attempt to bring on full-blown socialism.

Joining us now, Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator and, of course, former press secretary in the Clinton White House.

Good morning.


HARLOW: Good to see you.

So I thought the e-mail that went out over the weekend from Bernie Sanders to his supporters saying, play nice, was really telling because we'll remember Hillary Clinton, in that fierce race against him in the primary last time around, said she believes that the attacks on her from the Sanders camp had lasting damage and made it harder for the party overall in the general election.

Is she right? And what do you make of Sanders' message?

LOCKHART: I thought it was the most interesting thing I've seen in a while because Sanders was beginning to lose support among Democrats because of, we'll call them Bernie Bros, for, you know, the sake of argument. They have been systematically attacking Democrats as they've gotten into the race as not part of the revolution, not left enough, and it was beginning to hurt Sanders. So I think it was really interesting.

I think if you look at the rest of the fields, they've all played nicely particular, particularly the women who are out front now. And I think there's a genuine friendship, if not rivalry, between them.

So all of this can be good for Democrats as far as building support, sort of expanding the base of the party.

HARLOW: Will it last?

LOCKHART: That's the question. And I think that's why what Bernie did this weekend was so significant. He is telling his people, we've got a bigger goal here, which is to beat Trump. If you look at all of the polling, all of the polling says Democrats want -- I think electability is the most important thing, beating Trump is more important than ideological purity.

SCIUTTO: Is this fear of disunity in the party a little overblown? I mean look at Republicans in 2016. I mean you had, you know, open fighting, particularly over the Trump candidacy. Of course, Trump won the nomination and then won the presidency. And I mean in the two years since then you have a lot of infighting in the Republican Party. I mean is that so damaging for the Democrats?

LOCKHART: It's -- it -- it is overblown right now, but it is something worth watching. If you look at 2016, Poppy, as you were mentioning --


LOCKHART: What happened was is Sanders brought a bunch of new voters into the system, but they didn't come along, you know, en masse to Hillary. And that made the difference in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan.

[09:50;11] So how this happens matters. Democrats are very aware of this. And, again, coming back to Bernie, what's so interesting about it is, he -- if he notices that unity is important, it's to get him elected, to get him, you know, enough delegates at the convention. That's something that the party as a whole sees.

HARLOW: You bring up some of those key Midwest and rust belt states. And new polling shows the president's more popular in Wisconsin and Iowa than he is elsewhere. So that's interesting and that's really important territory on both sides this time around.

I wonder if you think, Joe, the timing is more beneficial for Bernie Sanders this time around. Yes, he was sort of the shining new object in terms of a presidential run last time.


HARLOW: He's a known entity now. But this is a time where you have AOC, you have the green new deal, you have Medicare for all being sort of the litmus test for a lot of these Democrats. Is now actually better timing for Bernie Sanders?

LOCKHART: I -- you know, I'm a little suspicious of that argument. I think that he brings -- he certainly moved the debate. But I don't think -- I think you now have much more dynamic and broader appeal candidates that speak in some of the language.

The second thing is, if you look at 2018, and this gets missed a lot, the real message is that moderates swung in the House. And where you have to look is not at the general, just at the primaries. There were primaries all throughout the country where Democrats had a far left candidate and a far -- and a middle of the road candidate. The middle of the road candidate won consistently.

If you look at the ads they ran, Medicare for all was only mentioned in two campaigns. They both lost.


LOCKHART: So I think there's a lot of heat around some of these ideas. I do think, though, that the support is in the middle and that will be the best candidate.

Now, we don't always nominate the best candidate as far as winning and it's a process and we'll have to see.

SCIUTTO: It's a process, right? There's no more smoky room.


SCIUTTO: And a lot of those men are (INAUDIBLE) Democrats, they're getting grief now from supporters saying, hey, wait a second, this isn't the Democratic Congress we wanted. You're hearing that already.


LOCKHART: That's right.

HARLOW: That's true.

SCIUTTO: Joe Lockhart, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

LOCKHART: Thank you.

HARLOW: Good to see you.

A reminder, watch tonight. Wolf Blitzer hosts a CNN town hall with Senator Bernie Sanders. It is 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here.

SCIUTTO: In just minutes, R. Kelly is expected back in court after spending the weekend in jail. He was indicted on ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse. We're going to have an update on that disturbing story, next.


[09:56:50] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

Moments from now singer R. Kelly will be in a Chicago courtroom. The singer remains in jail on a million dollar bond after his arrest for allegedly abusing four different people, one woman, three young girls, all between 1989 and 2010.

Our Sara Sidner reports.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, R. Kelly in court for the second time in 48 hours in a case the state's attorney says involves sexual abuse spanning more than a decade.


SIDNER (voice over): One of the most successful R&B singers ever, R. Kelly, left his studio, turned himself into police, was booked and taken to the Cook County jail Friday night. He is still in jail more than 48 hours later. His attorney says that's because Kelly has been unable to pay the $100,000 in bail money.

STEVE GREENBERG, ATTORNEY FOR R. KELLY: This is someone who should be wealthy at this stage of his career. And through mismanagement, through people -- hangers on and bad contracts and bad deals and bad leases like he had on his studio, he really doesn't have any money at this point.

SIDNER: A Cook County judge set a million dollar bail in the case, $250,000 for each of his alleged victims.

KIM FOXX, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: Robert Kelly was indicted before a Cook County grand jury on ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims.

SIDNER: Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx says the abuse spanned 12 years between 1998 and 2010 and three of the four alleged victims were under aged girls at the time of the abuse.

There is also physical evidence, prosecutors said, including a videotape that shows multiple sex acts allegedly by R. Kelly and a girl who repeatedly refers to her 14-year-old genitalia. That tape given to prosecutors by Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing several people connected to the case.

For decades Kelly has faced accusations of sexual misconduct with minors. He was acquitted in a 2008 trial after being charged with 14 counts of child pornography in a case where a videotape showing sexual activity was also a piece of evidence. Eleven years later, he is facing ten new charges.

Kelly's attorney gave a hint of what may be part of his defense.

SIDNER (on camera): Do you think these women are lying?


SIDNER: All of them?

GREENBERG: I think all the women are lying, yes. One of the charges appears to involve the same alleged victim from the earlier case. And double jeopardy should bar that case. And he won that case. A jury heard the facts in that case. A jury acquitted him fair and square. It's over.

SIDNER (voice over): Avenatti, who represents one of the victims, responded.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY: He's called all of the women victims liars are outrageous and completely unprofessional. Mr. Greenberg also seems to not recognize what double jeopardy really is. None of the counts that have been alleged against Mr. Kelly involve double jeopardy.


[09:59:54] SIDNER: The battle in front of cameras now in the courtroom. And we should also mention, as far as his money troubles go, we have learned, after looking at court documents, that he owes more than 160,000 in back child support.