Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Ex-Colorado Governor Jumps into Crowded 2020 Democratic Field; Hillary Clinton Sounding Alarm on State of the Country; Democrats to Present Anti-Semitism Resolution Following Israeli Comments Made by Rep. Ilhan Omar; House Judiciary Committee Requests Documents from over 60 Individuals to Start Trump Probes; "New Yorker": Trump Intervened to Stop in AT&T/Time Warner Merger; Actor Luke Perry Dies at Age 52. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 4, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: He was on the front end of the brewing craze. Is in. Not that surprising. Was actually a finalist to be Hillary Clinton's V.P. Not a lot of people knew that in 2016. Eric Holder, friend of President Obama, out. Again not terribly surprising. He's going on refocusing redistricting. That matters.

Who's in, who's out? A lot of people. We've got all of these people, 10 main right now. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Kirsten Gillibrand are in. We're going to have to get a bigger wall because it doesn't have Joe Biden, who's going to run, barring a last-minute snafu. Beto O'Rourke, whether he's going to run. And I think the field will have 20ish candidates. Could be higher or lower. And why.

Next slide. I'll tell you why. President Trump -- this is NBC "Wall Street Journal," which is new, 46, 52 disapprove. Not terrible for him, given what he's had to deal with in the last couple of weeks. My guess, if you look at the average of his polling, Erica, he's in the low 40s. Usually, presidents in that place struggle to win re- elections. Not always true. Presidents can have high approval. George H.W. Bush's was in 70s because of the Iraq war. It dropped. Become Bill Clinton gets elected in '92. It indicates vulnerability, particularly when you couple with the fact Donald Trump lost the popular vote. You're going to have a massive field of candidates in this race for Democrats.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: You're going to need a bigger wall.

CILLIZZA: Yes. Going to have to get a bigger one or a double wall or make the pictures small.

HILL: Tiny little thumbnail.

Chris Cillizza, thank you as always.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

HILL: A programming note. Live from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, three CNN presidential town halls, back-to-back. Former Congress John Delaney at 7:00, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at 8:00, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at nine. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate. Happening here Sunday, starting at 7:00 eastern.

Plus, 2016's Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, sounding the alarm on the state of the country. She's in Selma, Alabama, over the weekend for the 54th anniversary of a landmark civil rights march and said America's core values are in peril.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time, my friends, when fundamental rights, civic virtue, freedom of the press, the rule of law, truth, facts and reason are under assault. And make no mistake, we are living through a full- fledged crisis in our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: My next guest spoke with Hillary Clinton on her podcast. Tina Brown is the CEO and founder of Tina Brown Live Media, also the founder of Women in the World Congress.

Tina, we're going to talk about in a moment. First though, it was fascinating to listen to your conversation with Hillary Clinton. And she said some similar things to you. Saying that she is concerned about democracy, not in this country only, but Western democracy as a whole.

TINA BROWN, CEO & FOUNDER, TINA BROWN LIVE MEDIA & FOUNDER, WOMEN IN THE WORLD SUMMIT: She is deeply concerned about this. And in a way, what's surprising, talking to her, is she has so much moved on from the 2016 election. I felt strongly in this interview that she had really put that behind and is tremendously focused now on really the upshot of what happened. As she sees this unbelievable stream of disinformation that came in to being. Obviously during her campaign and unsettle and totally disturbed that result, but beyond that, what has happened from this unbelievable assault on our democracy from Trump?

HILL: Part of what she talked about, too, as if she's looking at things in hindsight, processing everything that's happened, she's talking to you about Putin and why specifically she believes he look ed at Donald Trump and thought Donald Trump would be a much more favorable president.

And we can play that sound quickly I think.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON (voice-over): And he was scared. Because he had seen what had happened in Georgia, what had happened in Ukraine. And he was scared. So he needed an enemy. He clearly favored, in the campaign, first in the primary, Bernie Sanders, who had a history of being favorable toward Russia. Then he favored Trump, who he had reason to believe would be also incredibly favorable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: And she said, this isn't emotional. Too cold, too calculated.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Also, she talked about how she ran afoul of Putin when she went and made a speech in 2011 in Lithuania where she talked about the need for a free and open democracy in Russia. That enraged Putin because he was in an unstable moment at the time, and it was a huge amount of value, he saw what happened in Georgia and Ukraine, and he was afraid of an uprising in Russia. And sure enough, six months after she spoke in December of 2011, there were demonstrations in the streets for the first time. People came out against Putin. That rattled him before the 2012 election, which he did win, for all kinds of various mean, however he won it, who knows how he won it. But he was afraid and didn't like that at all. He always blamed Hillary for the demonstrations this came out in the end of 2011.

[14:35:35] HILL: You covered a lot in this interview. Tried to get her to bite on who she would support. She wouldn't. We know it's a large field. But one of the things I think that's fascinating is you're having all these discussions, not only with Hillary Clinton, but women in the world in 2019. All of this is really sort of snowballing. How is this impacting what you choose to be the focus of the discussion?

BROWN: Well, the 2019 women in the world summit, which is April 10th to the 12th this year, the theme can women save the world. Because a real sense there's as Hillary Clinton, that democracy is in crisis. We see a huge kind of seismic shift with the #metoo movement et cetera. And a sense of perhaps women now have got to take over and give us the next couple of thousand years to sort of make a difference. Because it ain't going so well right now with the rise of all these you know, authoritarian leaders with the sense that you know these really sort of strong men have taken over in corridors of power and it isn't working. The whole democracy is in peril. We have women saving the planet. Stacey Abrams talking about voter rights. We have Susan Rice talking about foreign policy. Oprah, who is giving a major address about how women can save the world. Even Brie Larson. So it's going to be a very exciting lineup of women who, are all addressing this question about what could with do better to make it a better world we're in right now.

HILL: I think women may have some very strong ideas. And the short answer to your question is, yes

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: We do, it's true, but somehow, we got it done.

Tina, nice to see you, as always. Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

HILL: Democrats now demanding to speak with the translators who were inside the president's mystery chats with Vladimir Putin. This, as they also announce broad investigations into President Trump.

Plus, tragic news out of Hollywood. "90210" actor, Luke Perry, just 52 years old, has died. What we're learning about his final days.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:42:05] HILL: This just coming in from Capitol Hill. Democrats getting ready to present an anti-Semitism resolution on the House floor.

CNN congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, joins us from Capitol Hill.

Sunlen, who drafted this resolution and when is this going to happen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is drafted by top Democrats in the House and this is going to spawn controversy from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She has sparked quite controversy since she's become a new freshman member of Congress over the United States' relationship with Israel. She's gotten in hot water from colleagues up here who blasted some of things she's had to say.

So tomorrow, we will see the House again vote on another resolution condemning anti-Semitism. That will be on the House floor on Wednesday. Notable here that leaders, including Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, were involved in the writing of this resolution.

Now her latest comments came last week at a progressive town hall here in Washington, D.C. And the congresswoman, who was also still reeling from this controversy from earlier in the year about her comments after AIPAC, she said, quote, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

And that got immediate pushback from her Democratic colleagues, most notably, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, who called for her to retract those comments, called for her to apologize, and he said they are unacceptable and deeply offensive. We'll see how this continues for the freshman member of Congress.

HILL: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

More now on our breaking news. Democrats laying the foundation for possible impeachment proceedings against President Trump, sending requests to 81 people or entities -- there's a look at the list -- in an effort to get their hands on information about President Trump's businesses, his campaign, his transition and his administration. Among those receiving letters, the president's two oldest sons, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, former White House staffers, even the NRA.

CNN contributor, Garrett Graff, is the author of 'The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror."

You've seen the list. I'm just curious, anything that really jumps out to you?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Just how clear it is when the probe wraps up, that this cycle of investigations for the president is really just beginning. That is a stunningly comprehensive list of people, not just who have been questioned by Mueller as part of the special counsel probe in the past, but also people who are tied into the 2016 campaign, people tied into the Trump business world. Even his assistant, Ronna Graff, who's remained in the Trump Organization and they're asking for. This is very interesting. They think she might have insight into what Donald Trump was talking about with Russian President Putin during their four meetings.

[14:45:22] HILL: Also notable, not on there, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway. A lot of people trying to parse through that, figure out what that tells us.

I want to get to some interesting points in your most recent piece. One of the things we learned last week, the "New York Times" reporting that, in talking about security clearances for Jared Kushner that then-chief of staff, John Kelly, apparently had kept notes, had some memos on these meetings.

What's fascinating in a new piece in the "New Yorker" is laid out for us about an Oval Office meeting involving Gary Cohn, John Kelly and the president, where the president said to him to stop this merger between AT&T and Time Warner. What stands out to me is that this is not normally the way the president does business. To have another witness in the room, potentially, someone who could have been taking notes, in John Kelly. You wrote in your piece, it's not typical because he operates more like a mob boss in a lot of ways.

GRAFF: Yes. This is one of the things we heard Michael Cohen say: Donald Trump speaks in code. He doesn't come out and order someone to take a specific action but makes clear obliquely or abstractly the way that he wants something to be handled.

In that reference to the security clearances and in the reference to the New Yorker piece, you have these instances where officials sort of proudly go out and say, look, I know what the ppt wanted me to do. I'm not going to do it. In the case of John Kelly, we also saw in the security clearance story, with White House Counsel Don McGahn, them writing memos to memorialize the fact they were not taking the action that the president wanted or that they were taking an action the president wanted against their own advice. Which you know, just, it's worth stating again, and we say this time and time again in this administration, this is not how normal administrations operate. You have a thorough and policy making process that helps ensure the president isn't taking action his staff disagrees with and you don't have staff feel like, god, I got to write down that, I disagree with this because this is going to come back and blow up some day. This is what you saw with Jim Comey, with Andy McCabe, John Kelly, and you saw it with Don McGahn. Those are officials not used to having to sit down and write down their objections to the actions they're being asked to take.

HILL: Garrett, I want to get you on what else you talked about in this piece. That Rudy Giuliani, based on his time as a prosecutor, and the example he set, that example could in fact end up really hurting the president.

GRAFF: When you listen to Cohen's testimony, listened to it, it sounded a lot like a Mafia family. It sounded a lot like a racketeering enterprise. You had sort of a small number of key players. Multiple crimes and conspiracies. That model of how to tackle a corruption. The surprise was something that Rudy Giuliani really pe perfected in the 1980s with the Mafia. When he was attorney in Southern District of New York. Manhattan prosecutors who were now after President Trump's businesses. They're the country's best at racketeering prosecutions, so-called RICO prosecutions.

HILL: Right.

GRAFF: I'm sure they are sitting there looking at Michael Cohen's testimony last week looking at the evidence they've gathered and saying this looks a lot like one of Rudy Giuliani's RICO cases from the 1980s.

HILL: It is remarkable when you put it through that lens.

Garrett Graff, good to see you. Thank you.

Still ahead, new accusations surfacing of sex abuse against Michael Jackson in a new film re-examining his legacy.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:49:56] HILL: -- dramatic moments in Venezuela as the self- proclaimed president arrives back in his country despite concerns of his capture or arrest by the Maduro government.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: Sad news about Luke Perry. His publicist confirming to CNN the "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Riverdale" star died after he suffered a massive stroke last week. He passed away at a southern California hospital where he had been taken. We're told he was surrounded by his family and close friends.

"Riverdale" cast mate, Molly Ringwald, tweeting, "My heart is broken. I will miss you so much, Luke Perry. Sending all my love to your family."

His "90210" cast mate posting, "Dearest Luke, I will forever bask in the loving memories we shared in the last 30 years. May your journey forward enriched by the magnificent souls who have passed before you, just like you have done here for those you leave behind."

[14:55:10] Perry played the beloved Dylan on the '90s classic "90210," which was reportedly planning a reboot. He was 52.

More on our breaking news this hour. Democrats now demanding to speak with the translators inside the president's mystery chats with Vladimir Putin. This, as they also demand documents from the president's sons.

Plus, a new report says the president tried to personally intervene to block a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, potentially because of dislike for this network, CNN. Was this an abuse of power?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)