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CNN NEWSROOM

CNN Hosts Town Hall With Sen. Bernie Sanders Tonight At 8PM ET; WAPO: WH Assembling Team To Re-evaluate Climate Change Science; Big Night For Diversity At 91st Academy Awards; R. Kelly's Attorney Enters A Plea Of Not Guilty On All Counts. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 25, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Harry do you -- he is not really a Democrat. He is running as a Democrat, but he's an Independent. He even switched back to being an Independent to win the Senate again last year, and some Democratic members of Congress, don't like that at all.

Like, Representative Gregory Meeks, who we had on last week, who told me he didn't even think Sanders should be allowed to run, because he's a Democrat. But he's running, and I wonder if this time is better for him, because it's like the Green New Deal moment, he AOC moment etc. Or, if he's going to face some of the similar challenges he faced in 2016.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, I would certainly say that the Democratic field is further to the left this year. The Democratic electors are further to the left, and that gives Bernie Sanders an advantage.

Of course, there are many more further left Democrats running this time around than last time around.

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: But I will note, the biggest question to me is, whether or not Bernie Sanders can actually establish himself as someone that Democrats see as a Democrat. Because if you look at the exit polls in 2016, what you saw was Bernie Sanders winning overwhelmingly in voters who self-identified as Independent, but losing overwhelmingly voters who self-identified as Democrats.

If he isn't able to win over some of those self-identified Democrats, who make up the vast majority of Democratic primary voters --

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: -- simply put, he won't win this time where he lost last time.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Can I just --

HARLOW: Yes, go ahead Chris.

CILLIZZA: Just just to add, one other change here is, in 2016, his party affiliation didn't come up all that much, because it was like, do you like Hillary Clinton? OK, you don't, all right. Well, here's your other option now --

HARLOW: Right.

CILLIZZA: -- and Harry notes this. Now you've got Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, lots of other candidates who are going to try to be that left, liberal left candidate, and they've all been Democrats, their whole life, for the most part.

So do you want Bernie Sanders, who's an Independent, and kind of a Democrat, or do you just want someone who has a lot of his views who's just a Democrat?

HARLOW: How long Chris, do you think this, do no harm stuff last, right? Like Sanders emailed the supporters, don't do anything, don't say anything negative, just be positive, we're out to beat Trump. We're not out to destroy, you know, each other in the Democratic primary. Does that last all the way to the primary?

CILLIZZA: So normally, when a candidate says this, it never lasts, because the only way that you win in a multi-, multi-candidate field like this, is you have to prove why you're better the other candidate.

Sanders is more committed to it than most. I'll remind people he could have attacked Hillary Clinton on a lot of things. Her paid speeches right before being a candidate.

HARLOW: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Her emails, for example, the email server, which was a big deal. The one thing he ever said was, "I don't give a damn", I think was his words, "about your emails, Hillary."

That was him trying to get beyond that issue. He wasn't actually trying to attack her there, so he may be committed to it. There will be elements of his campaign that will push him to attack. I don't know if he does typically in a campaign, if you don't attack and you are attacked, you don't win.

HARLOW: And this was about largely about the supporters that Hillary Clinton says of his that "did lasting damage", in her words, to the party.

Harry, you have a really interesting new piece out on polling and key states, namely Iowa, where we see something strong for the president there. Iowa, Wisconsin, etc. What's going on?

ENTEN: Yes, so, I mean, if you were to look at the president's approval rating in those key mid-western states that Barack Obama won in 2012, but then Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. You see that the president is underwater. Here's the Des Moines Register poll showing him at 50 percent disapproval, 46 percent approval. TEXT: TRUMP APPROVAL RATING IN IOWA. APPROVE 46%. DISAPPROVE 50%.

ENTEN: But my big question is, what happens when if his numbers go up nationally, right? His approval rating nationally has been about 40, 41 percent. What we see in Iowa, in Wisconsin, is that the president's numbers, and no swing states, are higher than they are nationally.

So if the president goes up nationally, then we would expect that his numbers in Iowa and Wisconsin will go up nationally. First, and what's key about that is, the question is, if we end up with, like say, a tied race nationally, right? Which side does the electoral college fall? And does it fall on the Democrat side, or the Republican side.

HARLOW: Right.

ENTEN: And last time around, obviously when Hillary Clinton won nationally, she still lost in Iowa and Wisconsin --

HARLOW: Right.

ENTEN: -- which tilted the electoral college. We could, in fact, see something similar if these poll numbers hold.

HARLOW: All right. It's a fascinating piece. I'd point everyone to it. Gentlemen, thank you. Harry Enten and Chris Cillizza. Good to have you.

So, coming up next. A pretty stunning report from the "Washington Post" that the White House is planning to get together a group of scientists to re-evaluate the facts that we already have on climate science. The question is, why and why right now? Next.

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[10:35:00]

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HARLOW: All right. The Washington Post reports the White House is putting together a new presidential committee of scientists. It cast doubt on how much humans are to blame for climate change.

Joining me now, CNN Special Correspondent, Bill Weir, joins us, live from Mission, Texas on assignment this morning. So the "Washington Post" piece struck me, Bill, reading it over the weekend.

They cited conversations with multiple unnamed administration officials, who said that this group would include scientists who questioned the severity of climate impact and the extent to which humans commit, or contribute rather, to the problem. Is there a need for this?

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not according to most scientists, who wrote the national climate assessments This was a report that was dropped on Black Friday. You might, or might not remember, deliberately dropped there, on the day when most Americans are distracted.

And then, President Trump, of course, questioned the legitimacy of this, which came from the Pentagon, and NASA, and NOAA, the Smithsonian, National Academies of Sciences. It was peer reviewed exhaustively. There's over 3,400 public comments with answers from the authors publicly online.

TEXT: CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT WARNINGS. Corn and soybean production will fall. Increase in food, waterborne illness. Premature deaths will rise. Damage to infrastructure.

WEIR: Two rounds of review from National Academies of Sciences that say we don't really need to do this.

[10:40:00]

WEIR: So the only reason, the only logic for this, would be to further attack the findings that say, manmade climate change is real. It's happening. The costs will be tremendous, if not more is done, not more attention is paid to this.

And, in fact, the best quote I could find came from Kate Marvel, who's a scientist with NASA, who said, "This is like assembling a panel of gravity skeptics, who insists it's safe to jump off of tall buildings. Only this time they want to bring us all with them."

HARLOW: That's saying a lot. And one of the folks that is on this committee, according to the post, is William Happer. And let me read you something he says he told the president in 2017, "I think climate change has been tremendously exaggerated - it's significance...it's become sort of a cult movement in the last five or 10 years."

I think the question becomes, Bill, because I know public disclosure here, this wouldn't be required to be disclosed publicly, this full report, in the same way that the, you know, the national report, you just went through, wise.

But what could this actually change in terms of, you know, policy and pollutants that are allowed, etc.

WEIR: Yes. I mean, that is the great question. Just one report, one sort of cherry-picked Advisory Committee that doesn't have to abide by the same rules of transparency, and like having public hearings and have peer reviews. That is going to be, probably not, make much difference in the grand scheme of things.

TEXT: WHITE HOUSE PLANS GROUP TO "REASSESS" CLIME CHANGE FINDINGS. Plans to create "ad hoc group" of scientists to re-examine government's analysis of climate science. Wants to counter conclusions that burning fossil fuels is harming planet. Group would include scientists who question severity of climate impacts and extent humans contribute to problem.

WEIR: The momentum on this issue, the science, gets better. The way your cell phones are getting better every year. The satellites above us, the measuring systems in the oceans, the observations, just in the last five years, have shown by leaps and bounds, even the most conservative projections made five, 10, 20 years ago, were way too conservative.

And the damage will be much greater than anybody had ever feared. That is the overwhelming consensus. And other countries, local government states, are moving forward with that.

But Scott Pruitt, he wanted to debate this. A lot of folks who come at this, either from a biblical point of view, that man could never change the planet in this way, that that's hubris, that comes from an ideological place, and they're trying to inject that point of view into what most 99 percent of scientists agree is settled. 2003, the Pentagon put out a report said that --

HARLOW: Right.

WEIR: -- this is a national security threat. 2003. So the longer the debate goes on, on this, the longer delays, drag things out, either fueled by special interests, oil and gas, coal. The more damage ultimately will be passed down is what they say. That's what all the National Climate Assessment says.

HARLOW: But even if --

WEIR: It's just a matter of whether the man in the White House wants to believe it.

HARLOW: But, Bill, I mean even in January, when you had the heads of all, you know, the intelligence community up there, testifying before Congress, their report talked about climate change as a national security risk.

And as far as the "Washington Post" reporting is, on this, they will, this new team, panel, will not be tasked with scrutinizing the assessments of the intelligence community on this.

WEIR: Right. So you got to wonder, what's the point? And is it to make the president feel better, that there are other voices that say this isn't happening, and it's not man's fault. And whatever the case may be, whatever the motivations behind this, and it still sounds like it's still in the work --

HARLOW: Yes.

WEIR: -- it's not a done deal yet.

HARLOW: Right.

WEIR: But every day that goes by, every day that the arguments happen, sea levels rise a little bit, and storms get stronger.

HARLOW: All right. You'll be on it. We know that Bill. Thank you for the reporting from there in the field.

Last night, if you missed it, diversity dominated at the Academy Awards. A record number of African-Americans won awards in front of the camera, behind the camera. We will have all of the historic moments next.

I would like to introduce you to my family fact: is I'd, be nothing without them, our four sons, our daughter darou, my own Barbara Bush. Well, I think it's hard to imagine any family that have been more significant to American politics.

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[10:45:00]

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REGINA KING, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS FOR "IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK": I'm an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone. Mom, I love you so much.

HARLOW: Pretty amazing speech to kick off the night, last night. And a big night at the Oscars for diversity. Of course, she claimed the prize for Best Supporting Actress. Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor. His prize, one of three wins for "Green Book." The civil rights era film won the Best Picture category, despite being plagued by some controversy.

Our Entertainment Reporter, Chloe Melas, joins me now.

[10:50:00]

HARLOW: And Spike Lee had some tough words also for "Green Book."

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes. So Spike Lee did win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

HARLOW: And he jumped up and down when he won.

MELAS: For "BlacKkKlansman", and rightfully so. A lot of people really wanted him, though, to win Best Director. You know, he had some choice words to say about "Green Book." winning Best Picture. And we have that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPIKE LEE, FILM PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR: I'm snakebit, I mean, every time someone's driving somebody, I lose

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELAS: So a little bit of a reaction to the "Green Book" win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER (of camera): Can you give us your thoughts on that Best Picture win?

LEE: Let me take another sip. Next question. No, I thought I was court side at the (Madison Square) Garden, the ref made a bad call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELAS: He did say that he was on his sixth glass of champagne. That was not his actual speech.

HARLOW: Yes.

MELAS: That was him back talking to reporters. Look a lot of people feel as though "Green Book" is full of racial stereotypes, and that it plays them up, and that it's outdated. And also, the family of Don Shirley, that the film is about, the musician, they said that the director, Peter Farrelly, kind of exaggerated the relationship between his character and Viggo Mortensen.

And also, the movie had a lot of controversy with Viggo Mortensen using the N-word, the director being accused of sexual misconduct --

HARLOW: Right.

MELAS: -- on a previous movie set. So, you know.

HARLOW: But, not to over -- you know, shine -- I guess also we should talk about the -- how important a night it was for diversity. In terms of, I mean, watching her get on stage, accepting that first award.

Just overall, a huge time for diversity, which Rami Malek, who played -- amazing job in the movie "Queen". His whole speech was about being an immigrant to this country.

MELAS: Yes. OK. I loved "Bohemian Rhapsody".

HARLOW: Yes. So did I.

MELAS: He's as incredible as Freddie Mercury. I mean, he really just became him. And that speech where he talked about how he was a pizza delivery guy, and he's a first-generation American, and his parents came over from Egypt. And if I can do this, look what you can do.

HARLOW: Yes.

MELAS: And so, that was just really, really a powerful moment. Well deserved.

HARLOW: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper.

MELAS: Oh my gosh --

HARLOW: That chemistry.

MELAS: It's all anybody can talk about. It was incredible. It was incredible. They should get an Oscar for that performance.

HARLOW: Right. For that performance on stage.

MELAS: Yes.

HARLOW: Cool. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Still ahead. Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, could be charged as early today with soliciting prostitution. The NFL responding with a new statement this morning. A live report is next.

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[10:55:00]

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HARLOW: All right. This just in to CNN. R. Kelly just appeared in court. His initial court appearance after being arrested.

Our Sara Sidner was there. She joins me now. And Sara, this is all taking place in Chicago at the Cook County Courthouse. What happened?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So there were two hearings today. One was about 10 seconds, where Robert Kelly came into the courtroom. He was wearing a jail jumpsuit, a orange jumpsuit, and he stood in front of a judge.

And the first judge, just assigned a judge, it was that quick. It was 10 seconds. He said it was Judge Lawrence Flood. Then everyone moved to a different courthouse on a different floor. We waited quite some time. The judge came in. Called the first case. R. Kelly also came in. His attorney was already there. The judge read out the indictments against him.

There are 10 counts of aggravated sexual battery. Excuse me, sexual abuse. In those 10 counts, he read out how long each of the counts could -- the jail time that could go with each of those counts. Three to seven years, and if you add them all up, it could be up to 70 years if he is convicted.

But, of course, his attorneys saying he is innocent of all charges, and that is exactly what he told the judge. He pleaded not guilty on all charges. What we now know is that there is a new hearing that is set for March. We are also aware that R. Kelly has not been able to bond out of jail.

HARLOW: Right.

SIDNER: He is having money problems, his attorney says. And so, he is still in custody at this hour. The court hearing ended literally 15 seconds ago.

TEXT: KELLY'S FINANCIAL TROUBLE. WHAT WE KNOW. $100,000 bond, $169,000 in unpaid child support. $166,000 in unpaid rent.

HARLOW: Can you remind everyone, Sara of what he is charged with, because we're talking about multiple women, mainly girls, underaged minors, here that it's charged, that he sexually assaulted and abused.

SIDNER: Yes. The State's Attorney was very clear and spelled out all the sordid details. Yery difficult to hear as you might imagine. And I do want to mention this to you. These 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involve four women, the State's Attorney says, and of those four women, they are women now, three of them were underaged.

They were girls at the time of the incident, according to the prosecution. Yhey detailed some of those incidents. And I will tell you that we know that one of the victims is in court listening to all this. It was a very somber time in this court as well.

TEXT: R. KELLY CHARGES. 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. 4 victims - 3 of whom were underage at time of alleged crimes. Total bond set at $1 million - Must produce $100,000 cash to make bail. Crimes allegedly took place between 1998-2010.

SIDNER: There is a family here whose daughter is still with R. Kelly, who came into court on Saturday with him. They were trying to have a reunion, that did not happen. They have accused R. Kelly of brainwashing their daughter. She was a minor when they first met, and now she is an adult. There isn't much the parents feel they can do. They were just trying to be able to get sight of her.

HARLOW: Wow. Incredibly sad and hard to hear. Sara Sidner, thank you for reporting on this from the start, for being in court today. Keep us posted.

[11:00:00]