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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

How Will Sanders Campaign Change in 2020?; Rand Paul to Vote Against Trump's National Emergency. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 4, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:47]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: In our national lead, a massive blow to the White House. The president's ally Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is announcing he's going to vote against the president's declaration of a national emergency in order to secure funding for a wall along the southern border, funding the Congress would not allocate.

He's now the fourth Republican in the Senate to flip on the president, enough to kill the president's declaration, according -- all the Democrats vote against it too.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins me now live from the Hill.

And, Sunlen, this is a big loss for the president.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's certainly a rebuke to President Trump notably coming from members of his own party, and it will push President Trump to do something that he has never once done before, issue a presidential veto.

Republican Senator Rand Paul announcing that he will vote with the Democrats against the president on this one. That all but seals the deal, that this Republican-led Senate will be sending the president a resolution rejecting his national emergency declaration.

And the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, today saying that this likely will pass when it comes up over the next few weeks for a vote, but also McConnell notably added the very important reality check that in the end it essentially won't change much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think what is clear in the Senate that is there will be another votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president. And then in all likelihood, the veto will be upheld in the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And that's Mitch McConnell there getting into the reality of the math on Capitol Hill, the fact that Congress has enough Republican support to send this to President Trump's desk, but not enough Republican support to override that likely presidential veto. They need a much higher bar, two-thirds majority in the House and

Senate. Very clear, Jake, that they do not have that support. They likely will not have that support. And then the next step is the Republican Senate will vote this through, the resolution through to send that to President Trump's desk. That will happen sometime in the next two weeks before they leave for recess on March 15 -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much.

It gets a little confusing, but the resolution is against the president's national emergency declaration. In his op-ed explaining his vote, Senator Rand Paul writes -- quote -- "Every single Republican I know decried President Obama's use of executive power to legislate. We were right then. But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power."

He's basically saying that most of his colleagues are not being honest officeholders, because they're voting with President Trump and against this principle.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it's inconsistent. I'm on board with Rand in this case. And I think that Congress should guard its powers jealously, and they should push back when the executive does something like this. They did not under Obama when DACA was happening, which I think is a legit comparison.

And now here I think it's wise that they are, even if it does eventually fail, because the Constitution is the important part and their powers are the important part and the executive overreach just leads to worse executive overreach from the next party.

TAPPER: What do you think, Senator?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I agree. I throw in the Affordable Care Act as another one where the administration specifically countered what Congress said, no, you can't spend the money there, and they said, yes, we are.

And, in fact, they ended up losing in court. So I congratulate. I think Rand Paul is right. I disagree, because I think, in this case, the president actually has the authority to do it. But I'm glad they pushed back. I'm glad the Democrats -- I think it isn't -- it's stretching executive authority.

I think it's well within the bounds, but it's a stretch. And therefore I'm sort of glad they're pushing back and standing up for themselves in Congress. It's a good thing.

TAPPER: Although we should point out it's four Republicans in the Senate that are pushing back and all the Democrats.

Before the president declared a national emergency, many Republican senators expressed reservations about it, including Leader McConnell, John Cornyn, Lamar Alexander. We don't actually have huge numbers of Republicans matching those concerns. I talked to Congressman Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan. He's

only one of 13 Republicans in the House who voted against the president's national declaration. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you think that Republicans who are supporting this national emergency or abdicating their responsibilities to the Constitution?

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: I think so, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Why aren't more Republicans putting their money where their mouth is?

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: It could be that they feel nervous about primary challenges.

[16:35:02]

Perhaps they feel Republicans, as they -- this is one of those issues where the base has moved, has been driven by the president, as opposed to the opposite. So you have seen an increase, I think, in some of the public polling and support for a declaration after the president's come out for it.

At the same time, overall majority of Americans oppose this for -- you have Republicans in cycle who are up for reelection this cycle in states that are trending blue. We don't know how they're going to vote, but they would -- it would make sense for them to really go where the voters are.

TAPPER: All right, from Democrats united to Democrats divided. On Wednesday, House Democrats will introduce a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.

This comes after freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made more comments that leaders of her own party are calling anti-Semitic. At an event, Omar suggested that supporters of Israel have -- quote -- "allegiance to a foreign country."

The Democratic chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, said Omar was questioning the loyalty of her fellow citizens and thus -- quote -- "invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur."

Omar and her supporters say she's simply challenging U.S. policy towards Israel. The Anti-Defamation League today called on House leaders to reject her comments.

This incident marking the second time in a month that Omar has been accused of making an anti-Semitic comment. Omar over the weekend, incidentally, was the victim of anti-Muslim bigotry, when a sign outside the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber sponsored by the local Republican Party tied the Muslim woman to the 9/11 attacks. The Republican Party took down the sign. The Republican state Senate

leader condemned it.

Karen Finney, let me start with you. What is the problem that House Democratic leaders seem to be having with Congresswoman Omar? I mean, it does seem -- this is not what they want to be talking about this week.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it's absolutely not what they want to be talking about.

But I don't know that I would say it's a problem. This is democracy. I mean, it's messy, right? And this is a very diverse, very big and new Congress. And a lot of these members have different views. And I think by...

TAPPER: She's accused of being anti-Semitic.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: I understand that, but she has a right to -- I don't agree with what she said, but she certainly has a right to express her views.

I certainly think what happened in West Virginia over the weekend was a step too far.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: As a Muslim woman, she has a -- in her own right, she has a different perspective that she has a right to speak. And I'm glad to see there's an effort to say we as a body don't agree with it, because I think there are more Democrats who disagree with what she has to say than with what she does have to say.

But I think we can't stifle it.

SANTORUM: There's a difference.

She has every right to oppose the administration's or her own party's policy toward Israel, absolutely, and point out all the deficiencies that she sees in it. But to go the next step and basically say, if you hold that position that's opposing to mine, your allegiance -- your allegiance is with a foreign state, that is over the top.

And it's over the top in an area that has historically been very problematic, which is anti-Semitism.

TAPPER: And, Margie, you know this from polling. Polling indicates the Democratic Party base, not politicians in Washington, but the base, is less and less supportive of Israel and more and more supportive of Palestinian rights.

OMERO: Yes.

Well, first of all, I agree with the senator said. Also, there can be a nuanced conversation on Israel in the Democratic base. And it's too bad that her comments have distracted from what I think a lot of voters at least on the left are open to having a conversation about.

HAM: Yes.

I mean, I think she's hit the anti-Semitic trope trifecta in three comments. One was a tweet, the hypnotism/secret powers, money and influence, and now dual loyalty. I mean, that's a pretty decent case against her.

I do think that part of the reason that they're having an issue with this and there's a back and forth is because there is a home for some of this in the base. And so they're responding to that.

And I think Pelosi wants to rein this in. And the other folks who disagree with them want to make it very clear that they disagree, but there's going to continue to be a fight about this.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.

He says he's extreme, extremely moderate, that is. Another name leaps into the big Democratic field of presidential candidates. We will show you who next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:43:24]

TAPPER: And we're back with today's 2020 lead, Senator Bernie Sanders showing the power of his message and the loyalty of his supporters with two raucous rallies over the weekend.

He says he's learning from the shortcomings of his 2016 campaign and is making a concentrated effort at reaching out directly and overtly to African-American voters.

And as CNN's Jessica Dean report, Sanders' announcement comes as one Democratic candidate jumps into the crowded field and another decides not to run.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two big rallies in two major cities kicking off Bernie 2.0.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies. It will not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry.

DEAN: Senator Bernie Sanders trying to increase his support among African-Americans, which he lost by almost 57 points to Hillary Clinton in 2016, taking his message to Brooklyn, Chicago, and a stop in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 54th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. SANDERS: How sad it is that, 54 years later, we are still fighting

for the right to vote.

DEAN: Sanders also appeared on "The Breakfast Club" radio show Monday morning.

SANDERS: Good morning.

DEAN: Acknowledging flaws from his previous campaign.

SANDERS: We were criticized for being too male -- that was a right, correct criticism -- too white -- that was a correct criticism. That is going to change.

[16:45:00] JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Meantime, former Attorney General Eric Holder announced today he will not be running for president in 2020 writing in a Washington Post op-ed, though I will not run for president in 2020, I will continue to fight for the future of our country through the National Democratic redistricting committee and its affiliates.

But as one potential candidate bowed out, another opted in. A former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper saying this morning he will run.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER, FORMER GOVERNOR, COLORADO: I'm running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done.

DEAN: After being laid off in the 80s, Hickenlooper found success opening a series of breweries in Colorado. He successfully ran for mayor of Denver in 2003 serving for eight years. From there he served two terms as Colorado's governor looking with Republicans to expand Medicaid and pass methane gas regulations.

It's that reputation. He calls himself an extreme moderate. He hopes will make him stand apart in an ever-growing field of Democratic candidates.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: And with eight years as mayor and eight years as governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper enters the race as the candidate with the most executive experience, Jake. The question is does that matter and can he translate that message to the voters. Time will tell.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Jessica Dean thanks so much. Let's dive into this for our 2020 story. You work for the Hillary Clinton campaign. You're look -- you're seeing -- Bernie Sanders lost African-American voters overwhelmingly to Hillary Clinton in 2016. He seems to be trying to fix that. Is he doing enough do you think?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It certainly seems like it from the start he is. I mean, I think he's made some hires that are more diverse and I think he's trying to be more mindful of -- you know, he started out going to South Carolina which you know in 2016 there was such a focus on Iowa and New Hampshire and sort of South Carolina and Nevada were a bit of an afterthought. And I think the other thing that they are --

TAPPER: For his campaign now?

FINNEY: For his campaign, sorry, yes. We were there early and often and obviously, Hillary Clinton had a different relationship with black community. I think the other -- the second piece of that will be for him it that we found was that in the western states, in Latino communities talking about revolution was not a popular theme because it meant something very different if you were someone who'd come from Central America. So it does --

TAPPER: Or Cuba.

FINNEY: Or Cuba. But -- so I think they're certainly trying to learn those lessons from that campaign.

TAPPER: The Sanders campaign estimates the crowds at both speeches in Chicago and Brooklyn were more than 12,000. He certainly is able to command the stage. I mean he's already shot to the top of the polls and in New Hampshire. 26 percent say Sanders to the top choice, 22 percent for Biden and a big drop-off, 10 percent for Senator Harris, seven percent for Elizabeth Warren, five percent for Beto O'Rourke.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's the ideological soul of the Democratic Party right now. I mean, everybody is wanting to be like Bernie. And so it's not surprising to me that he has a solid core base of support from the last time. He stayed with it. He continues to push the envelope toward his more socialist agenda. And now we see the young voters all being like Bernie. So it's not surprising that he's got a very strong start.

The question is whether everybody else sounded like Bernie and doing it who maybe looks a little different than the white male that I think a lot of folks at least in the Democratic Party have some concerns about whether they're going to have a little bit more appeal in the end.

TAPPER: Where is the Democratic Party right now?

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: So how much time you have? So look, so voters I think are very unified in a lot of different policies, all of you know, on a variety of issues. I think the issue in the strength of Bernie and same -- similar for Biden in early polls it's just name I.D. This is -- that's because they have a larger name I.D. They are more nationally known than other folks that we may think of as sort of big names in the bench. And we have a great enthusiastic diverse bench of candidates and voters, it doesn't mean that every Democratic Party primary voter in the country knows who all these folks are.

And so when you see Sanders or Biden have early advantages, it doesn't necessarily mean anything at this far out. I mean, these polls are really -- I mean, there are some polls where they ask an unaided question, who are you going to vote for. It's open-ended so they don't give you a list. And half say they're undecided because they don't know -- not only do they not know who they're voting for, they're not even necessarily sure who all the candidates are.

So I wouldn't read too much into the crowd size which is a little bit lower than some of the Sanders events from 16 or the votes. I mean, I saw one poll that showed or one collection of polls that Sanders and Biden were each other's second choice. Their voters went to the other person. They could not be more different in terms of their style, never mind their policy, their style is completely different. So a lot of this is really name I.D. at this point.

TAPPER: Take a listen to Senator Sherrod Brown who has not announced that he's running for president be certainly thinking about it. He was in Selma, Alabama over the weekend. He delivered some very sharp criticism of President Trump's brand of populism as opposed to his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: The President talks about being a populist but real populism is never racist, real populism is never anti-Semitic, real populism doesn't divide people, real populism doesn't push some people down to lift others up. Real populism doesn't give tax cuts to rich people and then cut head start, and then cut Social Security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:50:15] TAPPER: So, in short, he's trying to make himself the real authentic --

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The different populist.

TAPPER: -- populist. Yes.

HAM: Populism of both sides has some weaknesses, sorry to say just in general, and can have pitfalls. But to your point Margie, when you're saying all of that about none of the -- name I.D. not mattering and I would like 2015 me to say be careful everyone because I will tell you that a 70-plus fiery populist with high name I.D. can walk away with a primary of -- in a giant field of enthusiastic young and promising figures. We see that happened.

TAPPER: So those are not -- no, you're talking about Donald Trump.

FINNEY: We don't have winner take all states so I mean, there's a little bit of a difference.

TAPPER: So there's a poll asking voters who they would vote for into 2020. 41 percent said they would definitely probably vote for President Trump, 48 percent said they probably or definitely vote for the Democratic candidates. This puts President Trump right now in worst shape than both Obama and Bush were -- George W. Bush at this point in their -- in their presidencies.

FINNEY: And yet as you pointed out who knows. I mean, I feel like anything that we think we know about politics was thrown out in 2016. But look, I think one of the most important -- there a couple of factors though I think make things different. This time when Donald Trump runs, he has a record, right?

In the last time it was well, let's see how this guy does. Now people who are thinking about voting for him have a sense of how he actually governs. So there's a different sort of I think decision matrix in terms of how you'd make the decision about who you would vote for. And I think for the Democrats, I think -- thankfully, we're -- I think we're going to have we have such a diverse field. It's a diverse country.

If we take a look at what the electorate is going to look like in 2020, I think the ideas and the policies that we're talking about is more reflective, so I think we -- you know, again, I think we have very, very good chance of beating him.

TAPPER: But you think the record is good?

SANTORUM: I think the record is good. He'll have -- he'll have a great economy to run on. He'll have hopefully a trade deal with China and some other very important things and who the Democrats nominate is everything. If they nominate some crazy, I'm telling you, Donald Trump's going to get reelected.

TAPPER: Well, we shall see. An American reportedly beaten and tortured in Saudi Arabia. What the Trump administration is doing about it coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "WORLD LEAD" another major diplomatic incident with the Saudis. This one we're just learning about and it involves a dual U.S.-Saudi citizen, a Harvard educated doctor that has been detained by the government of Saudi Arabia since 2017 under orders from Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. His family says he is being beaten and has been tortured.

President Trump continues to have a working relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince who just met with Jared Kushner last week. This is even after the CIA confirmed that MBS ordered the murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. CNN's Nic Robertson now reports on the latest Saudi injustice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: When Dr. Walid Fitaihi returned to Saudi Arabia, he never imagined he would end up in prison. Harvard educated, more than a decade in medical practice in the U.S. was a jewel national U.S.-Saudi. He might have even have felt a little protected but that wasn't to be.

In 2006, his family has built a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. Fitaihi was there headed. He was bringing his skills back to his roots, to help Saudi's sick. He was popular, proud of the human rights instincts it picked up over 20 years living in the U.S. Suddenly, late 2017, as the desert kingdom's powerful young crown

prince Mohammad Bin Salman rounded up top princes and businessman accusing them of corruption, Fitaihi found himself caught in the dragnet.

He was imprisoned along with the others in Riyadh's Ritz Carlton hotel. His family says he was beaten and tortured. His lawyer says he was transferred to jail without due process and wrote to the State Department this January pleading for help. It is believed that Dr. Fitaihi has been and is tortured at least psychologically during his imprisonment.

But alarm bells worst sounded long before in January last year. Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi tweeted how can someone like Dr. Walid Fitaihi get detained and what are the reasons for that? Khashoggi would not survive to find the answers. He was brutally murdered by Saudi officals whom the CIA conclude were acting on orders from Bin Salman.

The young crown prince still enjoys President Trump's favor. And only last week was courted by his Mideast envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Jewel U.S.-Saudi national Fitaihi has had to wait over a year to get the public's attention.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: We have lad counselor access, meaning American diplomats in Saudi Arabia have visited with him. Beyond that, we don't really have any additional information at this point.

ROBERTSON: Saudi officials have so far not returned the request for comment. They told the New York Times they take allegations of ill- treatment of defendants awaiting trial and prisoners serving their sentences very seriously, Jake.

TAPPER: I'm sure they do. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.