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GOP Congressman On Pivot From Mueller To Health Care: Trump Spiked The Football and the "Damn Ball ... Hit Us In The Nose"; Republicans Stunned By Trump Pivot To Health Care; Issue Was Top Reason Dems Won Back The House; Trump Now In No "Great Rush" To Come Up With A Health Care Plan After Touting "Better Than Obamacare" Replacement; Pelosi Calls Barr's Summary Of Mueller Report "Arrogant"; Dem Aide: House Judiciary Chair Asked AG Barr To Get Court Order To Release Mueller Grand Jury Information; Buttigieg Rises In Poll Over Nearly A Dozen Contenders; Pete Buttigieg On Chick-Fil-A: "I Do Not Approve Of Their Politics, But I Kind Of Approve Of Their Chicken"; Puerto Rico Gov. on Trump: "I'll Punch The Bully in the Mouth"; Trump Undermines DeVos, Will Fund Special Olympics. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 28, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Once again, thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next, Trump tripping up his own party leaving the GOP scrambling to come up with a new healthcare plan. Is he handing a huge election year gift to Democrats? Plus, Democrats asking for court order tonight to get their hands on the full Mueller report, 300 plus pages. Is the Attorney General Bill Barr now dragging his feet? And Pete Buttigieg rising in the polls tonight, why he's telling Democrats to keep the faith. Let's go OutFront.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, Trump fumble. A Republican Congressmen telling CNN tonight that Trump is blowing it at a time when he should be celebrating what's come out of the Mueller investigation so far. The Congressman saying Trump spiked the football in the end zone when he got news of Mueller, "But the damn ball came up and hit us in the nose," that part is a quote.

That Congress been talking about healthcare and he's not alone. Republicans are stunned by the President's decision to revisit the battle to kill Obamacare instead of embracing, celebrating and rolling in the end of Bob Mueller's investigation.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Obamacare has been an absolute disaster. We will have a plan that's far better than Obamacare, including very importantly pre-existing conditions which I've always been in favor of.


BURNETT: Wow. OK. If Trump kills Obamacare, obviously, you've got tens of millions of people who then don't know what they're going to get for coverage so you got to replace it and pre-existing conditions, it's a heck of a lot easier to talk about than it is to do something about it. Hundreds of millions of Americans have benefited from the pre-existing conditions that have been required to be covered by Obamacare.

So if you're going to come out and say these things, you think you got a plan ready to go, they're going to come out of here, spike the football, here's my plan, but no. No, the President does not and it isn't even clear if he has anybody working on one. Most Republicans are looking to the White House, in fact.

Senator John Kennedy telling CNN, "I'm anxious to see what the White House is going to recommend." Senator Roy Blunt, "I'm eager to see what the administration proposes." Senator John Cornyn, "We are waiting with bated breath."

I guess you can interpret some snarkiness in that statement. But today the President when all eyes turned to him says, "No, guys, it's not up to me to come up with the plan." Instead, out of the blue he rattled off a few Republican Senators' names and he says they're going to come up with a plan.

If there's one thing Republicans know, it is that slamming Obamacare did not work for them. They lost the House in the midterms and according to the exit polls for the midterms, healthcare was the number one issue and 75% of the people who said it was the number one issue voted for Democrats.

In fact, the President is about to speak at a rally in Michigan and take a look at those numbers. He barely won Michigan, two-tenths of one percentage point was the margin of victory. That was when he won. In the midterms Democrats flipped two congressional seats, picked up the Governor's seat. Look at the exit polls for Michigan. The number one issue healthcare, who do those voters pull the lever for, 74 percent of them for Democrats.

Kaitlan Collins is OutFront live in Grand Rapids, Michigan where the President is about to start speaking where you are, literally, Kaitlan. Republicans, are they the only ones who don't want Trump to have this fight?

KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: No, they're actually not. I talked to several people inside the White House today who do not think that this is a wise fight for the White House to get into. Instead, they wish the President would focus a little bit more to Russia investigation because they say that that's been such a great week for them and they're watching the news play out this week and instead healthcare is becoming the leading story.

Now, today President said he's tasked those three Republican lawmakers with coming up with some kind of healthcare proposal. But that is not what we are hearing from our sources on Capitol Hill. Instead, Capitol Hill is pointing their fingers at the White House and the White House is pointing right back to Capitol Hill. Like they are the ones who are going to come up with a proposal here. Now, Erin, it seems to be a little bit of a sense inside the White

House that they are having a messaging problem with this new healthcare fight. That's why you've seen the President doubling down on his push for this but not just that, the Vice President Mike Pence putting out a statement about it too, calling for new healthcare proposals and also the press secretary Sarah Sanders going out to Democrats on healthcare.

And, Erin, I'm told my sources, you can expect the President when he's onstage behind me here in Grand Rapids in just a few minutes to also continue to pick that push for healthcare.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Kaitlan, and we will see what the President will say since he's picked this one all by himself. OutFront next, Jen Psaki, Obama's White House Communications Director, Rob Astorino, a member of President Trump's 2020 Re-Elect Advisory Council, and David Gergen, former Adviser to Four Presidents.

So David, the comment was the President spiked the football in the end zone.


Presumably they're OK with that, spike the football on the Barr summary and Mueller's investigation being over. But then quote, "The damn ball came up and hit us in the nose." Is this ...


BURNETT: ... situation, a big mess for the President?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: Yes. In many ways it's a dangerous and I believe reckless gamble on his part. He may pull it off. I mean he surprised us before, so we have to give him that.


GERGEN: But having said that, what strikes me about this is it's very similar to what happens sometimes when Presidents win a second term. They can get very arrogant. They can over read their power and they make big mistakes. And just after when you think everybody's going to lay down in front of me, I'm King Tut here in a water park.

BURNETT: So sort of pick the hardest thing because you just had the Mueller victory.

GERGEN: Yes, it's a big victory and he overrode a lot of people. But I think the Democrats have to be careful as well here, because the Medicare-for-all is an expensive proposition. If you go to pure Medicare-for-all. And so I would think this is going to push some of the Democrats into saying, "We're for a public option on healthcare." If you want to come into the public system, you can but it's not for everybody.

BURNETT: So Rob, let me - you just say, look, I think some of these people are big supporters of the President in most cases. The John Cornyn quote, "We are waiting with bated breath." You can only imagine the tone with which that was delivered. You've been an ally to the President, basically like what the heck are you doing, buddy?

ROB ASTORINO, MEMBER OF THE PRESIDENT'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: Yes, the timing was really bad on this because he came out of this Mueller report with a lot of - most people he was completely exonerated.

BURNETT: He could have danced around all week.

ASTORINO: Well, he didn't even have to, I mean he could have moved on to other things, but this is - and I believe David is right, this is risky and that my party, the Republicans dropped the ball. They complained for eight years under Obama which was done wrong. And Obamacare by the way is a disaster, $50 billion a year to prop it up, 30 million people are still uninsured.

So Obamacare itself has become unaffordable for a lot of people. The issue is what are we going to do about it? If you're going to criticize. And if they don't have a plan which they don't right now ...

BURNETT: They do not have a plan.

ASTORINO: That is a big issue and it comes down a couple things, because most people say, "OK, I either have health insurance or I don't. If I don't, can I get it? Is it affordable and pre-existing?" And if those aren't answered --

BURNETT: Well, pre existing is now a given, OK?


BURNETT: And that is because of Obamacare.

ASTORINO: Unless they change it and you don't want to do that.

BURNETT: Well, unless you say you're not - no, you don't want to do that.

ASTORINO: And he has said he won't.

BURNETT: Everyone know that you're going to lose votes if you don't have pre existing and pre existing is what cost money. So hence the big challenge here. I mean, Jen, let me play again what President Trump said today a little bit more of what he said about getting rid of Obamacare. Here is.


TRUMP: The cost of Obamacare to people is far too much. The deductibility is ridiculous. It averages more than $7,000. Meaning, it's unusable. So Obamacare has been a disaster. We will take care of pre-existing conditions better than they're taken care of now.


BURNETT: OK. So how hard is that going to be? You're going to get pre-existing included and you're going to bring costs down. That's obviously not easy, Jen, I would imagine you know better than anyone.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, it's certainly not and I lived through months and months of trying to come to a plan that even we didn't think was perfect, but it was certainly a dramatic improvement from where we were before because millions more people were covered. People were covered with pre-existing conditions, et cetera.

Look, Donald Trump is not a details guy. He's not a policy guy. He's a politics guy, but I think as we all agree here, he's completely miscalculating in this case because of all of the points you have already made, Erin, about how popular the Democrats positioning on healthcare is in comparison with the Republicans. And I will say even the Affordable Care Act has become a lot more popular over time as the individual pieces have been broken apart.


PSAKI: Now there is agreement and an effort I think by many Democrats to improve, to build on it and that's how policymaking should go. We should do more to bring down the cost. There should be more options in the system and that's where the conversation should be.

BURNETT: So let's just say, David, the best thing that the President has going for him right now is this Medicare for all point, OK?

GERGEN: Yes, right.

BURNETT: Which is you look at the Democrats, it's become popular to say that. People like Bloomberg will come out and say, "Hey, what are you guys talking about? This is not affordable."

GERGEN: Yes, right.

BURNETT: Point up debate, OK, but Vice President Pence is saying, "OK, well, the boss is doing this, so I'm going to get onboard and say, 'Well, the reason we're going to do this is because you're a bunch of socialists Democrats.'" Here he is.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Obamacare fails, you deserve to know the Democrats are continuing in their quest for a government takeover of healthcare. They're openly calling for socialized medicine under the guise of Medicare for all. Socialized medicine will lead our country to ration healthcare. But as President Trump said just recently ...


... soon the Republican Party will become known as the party of healthcare and we're going to have a great healthcare plan for all of the American people.


BURNETT: OK, he's onboard with the messaging. We're going to have a great plan. OK, put aside this great plan, OK, because who knows what the heck they're going to come up with that no one has come up with in 10 years, that's not the point. The point is are they going to be able to stick this socialized medicine, it's so expensive Medicare for all, it's so negative for Democrats that healthcare no longer is an issue that helps Democrats.

GERGEN: Oh, no, I don't think so. I think we're still in the preliminary stages on the Democratic side. Are there Democrat to favor Medicare for all and have a very, very expensive program? Yes, of course, there are. I do not believe that nominee of the Democratic Party will be up there to asking for some trillion plus kind of spending on healthcare. I just don't think they're going to go there.

Nancy Pelosi is, I think, read this party and read the politics of this very well and she's pulling a party back already. Joe Biden is going to do more of that. So I think there's a danger for the Democrats and you absolutely understand why Pence is going after best defense is a good offense.

BURNETT: Of course. Yes.

GERGEN: But in some way, Erin, doesn't this reminds of what's going on with Brexit?


GERGEN: It's been a pit for the Conservatives, for Theresa May and there's no one solution to these things and healthcare is very much like that. There's no easy solution to this.

BURNETT: No, there isn't.

GERGEN: That's why we don't have it.

ASTORINO: I think, look, on the economy he's going to win on that, on immigration he's going to win on that in the end and the choices that people going to have to make is, "Do I want Obamacare to be changed, fixed, improved which he said he will do or do I want this government run, I don't have a choice, who my doctor is."

Kamala Harris, she's already out there. If she's the nominee, she's already said on CNN --


BURNETT: ... choice thing where it comes from though. People have choice for Medicare, for their doctor, they have a choice under Obamacare for their doctor.

ASTORINO: But she's already, no private insurance.

BURNETT: I don't know anyone who doesn't --

ASTORINO: Because private insurance as Kamala Harris has said, "Get rid of it."

BURNETT: There were some cases, yes.

ASTORINO: You got doctor's lawyers.

BURNETT: There were some when they thought there would be none, but very, very few. It's just not true.

ASTORINO: Well, you have far less of a choice. Far less of a choice.


PSAKI: Rob, I will say I've looked at all of the Democrats' healthcare plans and I will agree with David. The only person dug in here really on Medicare for all is Bernie Sanders and otherwise the other candidates Kamala Harris even Elizabeth Warren have co-sponsored many different options. I think what we're looking at here though in terms of how the American people see it is not different bills, they're looking at who is going to do more to make access more affordable and more accessible and right now the Democrats are winning on that, because they've done more on that, and that is a very high hill for Donald Trump and the Republicans to comply.

BURNETT: Quick final word, David.

GERGEN: Yes, a real issue for a lot of voters is going to be who's going to take away my healthcare coverage.



GERGEN: Twenty million people could lose their coverage. There are 50 million people in this country who have pre-existing conditions.

BURNETT: Right and how you define a pre-existing condition and, look, that's where the costs are.


BURNETT: You can't take it away. So that's ...


ASTORINO: But I think the President gets credit for saying, "Look, it's a bit issue right now. It's broken. We're going to fix it." Now, he's going to do it.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, OK.

GERGEN: Good luck. Good luck.

BURNETT: Next, Democrats raising the stakes in their effort to get Mueller's report, now asking the courts to be involved. So will it work? Will we see it? Plus, rising 2020 contender Pete Buttigieg gay Episcopalian taking on the religious right.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND: I think we've just been too susceptible to this path where the right has tried to claim religion as though it's a partisan cause.


BURNETT: Plus, Puerto Rico's Governor talking Trump language to Trump.


RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth.



New tonight, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding Attorney General Bill Barr, give it up, release the Mueller report and slamming him for writing what she calls a "arrogant summary."


NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, thank you, Mr. Attorney General. We do not need your interpretation, show us the report and we can draw our own conclusions. We don't need you interpreting for us. That was condescending, it was arrogant and it wasn't the right thing to do.


BURNETT: That coming as Democratic staffer tells CNN that "the primary obstacle to seeing the full report is Grand Jury information," and the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has asked Barr to get a court order to release it and Barr so far has not committed to doing that. OutFront now former Assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama also Juliette Kayyem.

OK, Harry, so the full Mueller report just to be clear because this is confusing, get all of these legal terms and all of these things. But the full Mueller report, 300 to 400 pages of it, contains Grand Jury information, OK?


BURNETT: So a court has to approve that release. You can't just - even if you're the Attorney General just go, "Here it is." You got to get a court to approve it. So how difficult is it to get this court order and is this a way for Barr to drag his feet?

SANDICK: It really shouldn't be a way to drag feet. It's not an automatic that it gets granted, but it was granted in Watergate when Jaworski, the Special Counsel there, asked the court to unseal Grand Jury material and it happened when Ken Starr asked for it in the Clinton impeachment investigation.

So the idea that this is an insurmountable obstacle, if that's how Barr is portraying it, that's completely wrong. You have to show that there's good cause you have to go to a judge. It might take a couple of weeks to draft the application and judges may take a week or two to approve it but it's doable.

BURNETT: So you're saying if Barr wanted it, in a few weeks we would have it all.

SANDICK: I think that's right. This shouldn't be an obstacle.

BURNETT: So Juliette, it shouldn't be an obstacle and yet Bill Barr isn't committing to doing it. I mean what would you recommend Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: If I were Nadler I would demand that what he can release he release it right now and then what's going to be fought over will be released later. In other words, don't hold up the release or whatever Barr is envisioning the release will be. Get as much out as soon as possible.

I have to tell you from the outside I cannot believe how bad Barr is fumbling this. They had a story of no collusion on Sunday. By Tuesday, the story is the cover-up and if Barr actually wants to release and have people read this, it's only going to get worse. People are filling in all of the rumors and gossip, no one has any idea.


KAYYEM: Barr is fumbling this if he is a political beast who wants to protect the President at this stage.


BURNETT: Right. I mean, Harry, of course the polls and polls can change, but the polls after everything came out were still at 56 percent of the American people felt there was collusion even though Barr, of course, made it clear that his summary was that Mueller had concluded that that did not happen. And this is the point, this is Barr's summary that this is based upon, when it comes to Barr's summary, how do you sum up 300 to 400 pages in 48 hours in four pages?

SANDICK: It's very hard to imagine how you could create an accurate and I don't mean he's lying in it, but sort of a fair summary of what is in that long report.

BURNETT: Right. How do you capture every nuance? SANDICK: Absolutely.

BURNETT: How do you show that a conclusion is as black-and-white as its portrayed?

SANDICK: Absolutely. When I've written reports of internal investigations and usually the first five or 10 pages may be 20 even is an executive summary and it seems consistent with what Juliet said that the priority should be start by releasing the executive summary, which probably does not have a lot of 6(e) material in it, that's Grand Jury material and then move on to releasing the rest of it as soon as you get court permission.

BURNETT: Now, Juliette, do you think it's the Chairman Nadler who's worried that those summaries will go along with what Bill Barr said and not feed into a narrative that, "Oh, well, saying there was no collusion." It's not the same thing as establishing there's no collusion and all of this.

KAYYEM: Well, I just think that Nadler, Democrats or Republicans who want to see the report need to buy into the narrative of Trump supporters that collusion or bust. They created that narrative. That's not the narrative of the report. The report, and we already know this from the Barr memo, talks about Russian influence in the campaign, talks about behavior of Trump people that may not be up to the level of criminal activity.

So if you buy into the collusion or bus, yes, I'll take a four-page summary. I know what the answer is. That's not what Mueller did and 300 plus pages later suggest - well, I guess an easier way to put it is you can say everything is fine a lot quicker than 300 pages.

BURNETT: I think that's actually a very good way to put it to talk about complete exoneration, you wouldn't need 300 pages to do it. You need three words. Thank you both.


BURNETT: And next the mastermind behind Obama's victory David Axelrod is OutFront here, why he says presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is worth a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about Chick-fil-A? Do you like Chick-fil-A?

BUTTIGIEG: I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken.


BURNETT: Plus, after the Governor of Puerto Rico makes a thinly veiled threat, thinly veiled, it was no veil at all against the President, Trump responds tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than

by any living human being.



New tonight, the person rising in the polls Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a new Quinnipiac poll. He's ahead of Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and nearly a dozen other Democratic contenders for the White House. Many of whom are well known on the national stage.

Buttigieg is now talking about his faith openly as a gay Episcopalian. Vanessa Yurkevich is OutFront.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT, CNN(off- camera): Pete Buttigieg wants Democrats to reclaim the faith.


BUTTIGIEG: I think we've just been too susceptible to this path where the right has tried to claim religion as though it's a partisan cause.


YURKEVICH(off-camera): Buttigieg, 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a Democrat, Afghan veteran, an Episcopalian married his husband in their church last year.


BUTTIGIEG: We're mindful that day like this was not even possible not very long ago.


YURKEVICH(off-camera): Now, exploring a run for the White House, he told CNN's Van Jones his faith and family keep him grounded.


BUTTIGIEG: The imagery of Christ when the divine comes to earth as being in a servant mode, it comes from my community, a community that I think just wants you to keep your feet on the ground. It comes from my relationships, my husband, who will never get let my head get too big because we got laundry to deal with at home.


YURKEVICH(off-camera): His faith is in stark contrast to that of many conservatives who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, including Vice President Mike Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUTTIGIEG: Please don't judge my State by our former governor.


YURKEVICH(off-camera): Buttigieg openly questions Pence's faith during a CNN Town Hall earlier this month.


Buttigieg: Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don't know.


YURKEVICH(off-camera): He says he draws from his faith a sense of humility and commitment to community.


BUTTIGIEG: What could be more different than what we're being shown in Washington right now? Often with some people who view themselves as religious on the right cheering it on.


YURKEVICH: White evangelicals and regular churchgoers have been a key part of the Republican base in recent elections and are largely supportive of President Trump.


Buttigieg: And I also think that it's time --


YURKEVICH(off-camera): Buttigieg is trying to appeal to people who may feel left behind.


BUTTIGIEG: If you were conservative and you're from an older generation and you were brought up by people you trusted to believe that it was morally wrong to be, for example, in a same-sex marriage, and then the pace of change has happened so quickly. I've benefited from the pace of that change, but I also understand how disorienting it must be for people to have gone through that.


YURKEVICH(off-camera): His message of unity doesn't stop there. It even extends to Chick-fil-A whose President has voiced opposition to same-sex marriage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like Chick-fil-A? BUTTIGIEG: I do not approve of their politics but I kind of approve

of their chicken.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're my kind of guy, man.

BUTTIGIEG: So maybe there's nothing else I can build that bridge.


YURKEVICH: Buttigieg will have his work cut out for him with voters. In a recent General Society survey, the number of Americans who now identify with no religion is about the same as both evangelicals and Catholics. And, Erin, when you think about it, people just going out trying to connect with voters on faith, but that number of Americans who now identify with no religion has only risen dramatically over the last two decades.



BURNETT: That's fascinating, Vanessa.

OK, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

And now, former senior advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod, also CNN senior political commentator and host, of course, of "THE AXE FILES".

OK, great to have you with us.

So, what I think is interesting is that you are a person who knows who is who well before the rest of us do. You have known Buttigieg for a long time. In fact, you were even a guest at his wedding and don't just know him peripherally, personally.


BURNETT: And you say he is truly a person of faith.

AXELROD: There's no question about it. As he said in that interview, it's something that informs his politics. He's not ostentatious about it, but it's clearly something he says keeps him grounded. And the fact that he's so grounded is part of his appeal.

If you look at the president we have today, if you feel like the likely thing voters will turn to someone who is the antithesis of that, in many ways Buttigieg fits that bill because of his temperament and because of his approach, and because he is a person of faith and guided that way.

BURNETT: So, you just heard him obviously, you know, openly questioning Mike Pence's faith, you know, talking about this, right? It is political especially given, you know, where the state they come from, right? Is it smart politics or not though for Pete Buttigieg to bring up Mike Pence, to question his faith?

AXELROD: Yes. I saw that during that town hall, he was responding to a question about it. It's obvious that question would come up because he is a gay man in a state where Pence's opposition to homosexuality was very much central to the political debate there.


AXELROD: But, so, you know, I think what he was saying in that town hall, as I read it, was, you know, that Pence's support of Trump, who Buttigieg called the porn star presidency, talked about the porn star presidency was inconsistent with the persona that he projected in the state of Indiana and in his politics.

On a slightly different point, you know, it's interesting to me, when you think about the last three Democrats who got elected president, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, all of them, in some ways, called upon their faith and their religious beliefs as part of their presentation to voters.

It was something that broadened their constituencies and perhaps it will have the same impact for Buttigieg.

BURNETT: It does broaden the appeal. You spoke to Buttigieg before he was known to voters in 2017, talking to him about "AXE FILES" about where Hillary Clinton went so wrong in 2016.

Here's a clip of your conversation.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: You know, the whole theme of Hillary's campaign, "I'm with her". We had t-shirts and buttons, "I'm with her". And then when it became clear that he was going to be the nominee, it was more and more, "I'm against him" was the message. The person at home is saying, OK, who's talking about me.


BURNETT: Do you think he has what it takes to win the nomination?

AXELROD: Well, that's a very hard question. He has a long way to go. You point out, you say, I knew him before other people knew him. A lot of people still don't know him. There was a poll in Iowa today that he did relatively well. He still is only known to less than half the voters there.

But, look, in terms of intellect and temperament and unique range of experiences he's had, I think he's got something to sell that may be quite appealing. He is also 37 years old. He comes from a small community in the Midwest, and those things are going to raise questions. He's going to have to show, through his performance and his ability to put together and organization that is up to this task that he -- that people should look beyond that and consider him as a guy who can sit in that office.

BURNETT: All right. David, thanks. I appreciate your time.

And for those that want to hear from Mayor Buttigieg, you can this weekend, on "THE VAN JONES SHOW", Saturday night at 7:00.

And next, Puerto Rico's governor, some very tough words directed at the president.


GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth.


BURNETT: And President Trump undermining his own education secretary. She'd been doubling down on funding cuts on his budget to the Special Olympics.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics.



[19:38:36] BURNETT: Tonight, tensions escalating between President Trump and Puerto Rico's governor as the island pushes for more disaster relief funds.


TRUMP: Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being, and I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it. But do you have a mayor of San Juan that frankly doesn't know what she's doing, and the governor, they got to spend the money wisely.


BURNETT: Well, that was kind of restrained, I guess, coming after the Puerto Rican governor.

Ricardo Rossello told our Jim Acosta this today.


ROSSELLO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Luis Gutierrez, former Democratic congressman from Illinois, and Steve Rogers, a member of the Trump 2020 Advisory Election board.

Thanks to both.

Congressman, let me start with you. The president, you heard him there, says he has done more for the people of Puerto Rico than, quote, any living human being. Your response?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Well, the truth is at the moment, the inspector general of HUD is conducting an investigation because alleged attempts of this administration to stop the money that's been appropriated to the people of Puerto Rico. Let's remember, this is the same president of the United States that when he visited the island, threw paper towels at people.

[19:40:00] And then he said they were lazy. He said the reason things aren't going well on the island, they expect the government to do it all for themselves, basically blaming the people for the worst catastrophic. As you remember, he said, give me an A, I've done such an excellent job, only 15 deaths. But now, we learned from two renowned universities, one that estimated over 3,000, the other over 4,000 deaths, making this more deaths in Puerto Rico than Katrina.

Wow, what a devastating effect. And yet the president of the United States yesterday was meeting with senators, the Senate leadership saying, don't give Puerto Rico any more money.

BURNETT: So, Steve, let me ask you about this, because this issue of appropriations, right? Congress has appropriated $20 billion, just shy about it, disaster relief for Puerto Rico. Only $1.5 billion has been approved for spending. That is a huge gap.

Can the president really say he has done more for Puerto Rico than any other living human being?

STEVE ROGERS, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: Well, not only the president says it himself, but the governor you just rolled a video on the air praised the president of the United States when all this was happening for his effective, listening to the petitions of the people. Along with the governor was a congresswoman named Jennifer Gonzalez Cohen, who took a lot of time praising the president's response and the amount of money, time and effort that he gave Puerto Rico.

So, if you want to talk about some facts, those are facts. This is ongoing. This is a fluid situation. Billions of dollars have gone to Puerto Rico. But the president, I think this is where people are taking a little bit it out of context.

BURNETT: Only $1.5 billion approved for spending, just to be clear.

ROGERS: Yes, and 14, what is it, $14,900 they've only spent?

The point is this, Puerto Rico's $120 billion in debt, all right? And the president of the United States wants to make sure when money is sent to Puerto Rico, that they will spend it appropriately.

By the way, FEMA has declared Puerto Rico as a high risk -- a very big high risk when it comes to managing government grants. Those are facts.

He's a businessman, remember, not a politician and he's doing this in a very business fashion way.

BURNETT: Congressman, let me give you a chance to respond to what the Puerto Rican governor has done. Look, he has, I think, to Steve's point, originally, right, was playing nice with the president for quite some time. That has obviously dramatically changed. The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, came out and said this. Let me play it again.


ROSSELLO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth.


BURNETT: Congressman, is that appropriate?

GUTIERREZ: The worst recent catastrophic we've seen -- no, I don't think it is appropriate. I think we need to keep our moral compass. We don't use the language of Donald Trump and language he uses at his rallies he says punch somebody. No, violence is not the answer to inhumane treatment of this government to the people of Puerto Rico.

You know where you punch? You punch at the ballot box.

And I'm going to say something. In Florida, there are over a million Puerto Rican, hundreds of thousands of them displaced because of this catastrophe of this hurricane and probably more coming. But, God, this inhumanity to people.

It's almost as though the president of the United States, if he isn't picking on transgender community or the Muslims or saying I'm going to pack the Supreme Court to take away reproductive rights from women, he has to pick on someone. And today, his inhumanity is being shown to the government of Puerto Rico. A 40 percent cut in nutritional assistance.

That means people in hospitals dying of AIDS that are getting cut nutritional value and money to their centers. Senior citizens that bed-bound. Children -- come on. This is not the America I grew up in.


ROGERS: Erin, the congressman just opened up a door and I'm going to walk right through it.

Congressman, you said the president is picking an issue. Well, what happened between the time the governor of Puerto Rico praised the president and time he met the Democrats.

I know what happened. You know what happened? Poof, Russian collusion went away and the Democrats needed something to tag the president on. This is all about your political agenda and your party's political agenda.

The president of the United States has done a darned good job and people appreciate it. We have a big Hispanic community here in New Jersey and I haven't heard many criticisms of the president. In fact, the unemployment rate in the Hispanic community is the greatest ever and people are praising him for the job he's done.

So, let's not go down that road he picked the issue. You picked the Russian collusion issue and you got obliterated, and now you're going to try to tag him and that's not true.

[19:45:01] Those are the facts.


BURNETT: You get the last word because the congressman had the first. And I appreciate your time. Thank you.

And next, President Trump throwing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos under the bus. There is no other way to put it. She had gone out taking some massive heat and, whoo, she is under the bus after she got grilled on Capitol Hill.


REPORTER: Are you concerned about the supporters of the Special Olympics upset about the decision to remove their funding?


BURNETT: Plus, catch Senator Elizabeth Warren, if you can. And, Jeanne, she's running.


BURNETT: Tonight, thrown under the bus, kind of no way to put this one. President Trump overriding his own education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and the proposal in his own budget to cut nearly $18 million for the Special Olympics.


TRUMP: I just told my people, I want to fund the Special Olympics. I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics. I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics.


BURNETT: My people. It's his budget which they stood by.

DeVos is responding in a statement, and she's playing ball, playing the party line.

[19:50:01] I am pleased and grateful the president and I see eye-to- eye on this issue and that he has decided to fund this Special Olympics grant. This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.

OK. Except but the problem with that is, if that's what she really felt, well, I mean, this is totally different than what she said just earlier today.

Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Betsy DeVos, under fires for days for her agency's proposal to slash $18 million in funding from the Special Olympics, starting with a viral moment defending the position.

REP. MARK POCAN (D), WISCONSIN: Do you know how many kids are going to be affected by that cut, Madam Secretary?

BETSY DEVOS, U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Mr. Pocan, let me just say again, we had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.

POCAN: I'll answer for you, that's OK, no problem. It's 272,000 kids --


NOBLES: But then today some hedging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you personally approve? I think a yes or no will do the $18 million cut of the funding for Special Olympics?

DEVOS: No, I didn't personally get involved in that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I want to tell you, whoever came up with that idea gets a Special Olympic gold medal for insensitivity.

NOBLES: The education secretary wouldn't say whose idea it was.

REPORTER: Madam Secretary, you said you were not the person that proposed this funding change. Can you explain who in your administration did? Madam Secretary, have you spoken to the president about this at all?

NOBLES: The cuts are a tiny part of a 10 percent reduction in the $70 billion Department of Education budget. DeVos has claimed Special Olympics gets enough funding from private donors and didn't need federal funding. She then turned the tables on Democrats, claiming they were playing politics.

DEVOS: Let's not use disabled children in a twisted way for your political narrative. It's -- that is just disgusting and it's shameful.

NOBLES: But late today, in the face of nationwide outrage, the president turned the tables on her.

TRUMP: I just told my people, I want to fund the Special Olympics, and I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics.

NOBLES: The stunning about-face by Trump comes even as fellow Republicans were criticizing the proposal.

REPORTER: Do you support the administration's request to cut funding to the Special Olympics?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: No. I fully support Special Olympics.

NOBLES: Today's switch should be welcome for supporters of the Special Olympics who were taken aback by the proposal.

DEREK "TANK" SCHOTTLE, SPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETE: It's a bit shock for me. All I can do is pray for Special Olympics.

NOBLES: But it marks another public relations blunder from the education secretary whose had a series of difficult and uncomfortable moments.

INTERVIEWER: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

DEVOS: Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.

INTERVIEWER: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they're doing?

DEVOS: I have not -- I have not -- I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

INTERVIEWER: Maybe you should.

DEVOS: Maybe I should, yes.


NOBLES: It's important to point out that even though this was in the president's budget, it never stood any realistic chance of actually happening, despite what the president said today, he's not the person that authorizes funding in the federal budget. That job is here in Congress. They are the appropriators, and there are no Republicans or Democrats that you can find on Capitol Hill who said that this should happen.

We should point out -- Congressman Mark Pocan, he is the one who initially questioned Betsy DeVos about the Special Olympics funding cut, he put out a statement tie today saying he is glad the administration changed course. He ended it, Erin, by saying this: And by the way, can someone pull Betsy from under the bus? Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ryan.

And next, Jeanne tries, tries to catch up with Senator Elizabeth Warren.


[19:57:58] BURNETT: Tonight, Jeanne with what happens when you are literally running for president.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a time honored journalistic tradition.

REPORTER: Nothing at all? It's a simple question.

MOOS: The on-the-run interview, often accompanied by the tap of footsteps.

REPORTER: Do you support the house health care bill at this moment?

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Would you give me a minute to get to my constituents, please?

MOOS: But no one was more on the run than this one, running for president.

REPORTER: How are you?


REPORTER: You're the only -- you're the fastest presidential nominee.

MOOS: Elizabeth Warren left her interviewers searching for words as she barreled into New York's Penn Station. When she did stop to chat, the 69-year-old candidate was barely out of breath.

REPORTER: You did so great. Amazing. You're fast! That was good. How you?

WARREN: I'm doing great.

MOOS: One-time vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman made an unexpected cameo, dragging a suitcase behind Warren.

Remember what President Trump called Jeb Bush?

TRUMP: Low energy. I said he is a low energy individual.

MOOS: But after Warren's Penn Station dash, a fan tweeted, no one calling you low energy.

Nothing beats a running interview, unless it's running down steps. The staircase chase of an Alabama congressman being questioned about the Roy Moore sex scandal was a classic.

REPORTER: So you still believe Roy Moore?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country on a myriad of issues. MOOS: But down stairs is easier than up. Remember the late Rob Ford, Toronto mayor with drug problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, let's go, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good job, buddy!

MOOS: Ford didn't just run into cameras.


MOOS: He once ran over a city counselor, took her right out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you running?

MOOS: At least when you're running, it's harder to run your mouth.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FMALE: What was in the manila envelope you're getting from the safe?


MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: Thank you for joining us.

Anderson starts now.