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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow; Interview With Sen. Michael Bennet (D) Colorado; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D) California; Biden, "I'm Not Sorry For Any Of My Intentions"; Obama Worries About Progressive "Rigidity" Hurting Democrats; Mulvaney, White House Will Release Health Care Plan "Fairly Shortly"; Is Mar-a-Lago Safe From Foreign Spies? Is The Subject Of This Week's "State Of The Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 7, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:22]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Report watch. President Trump reveals he has not yet read Mueller's report, as Democrats prepare legal action to see it now.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Release the Mueller report as soon as possible.

TAPPER: Members of the Mueller team suggest there's much more to learn from their work. Chairman of House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff in moments.

And border threats. President Trump is pressing pause on his plan to close the southern border, but sending this message to migrants seeking asylum:

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our country is full.

TAPPER: How will his new threat of tariffs affect the U.S. economy? White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow is here to respond.

Plus: Ready to run? As the former vice president inches closer to a 2020 decision...

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm an Obama-Biden Democrat, man.

TAPPER: ... former President Obama says he worries about the far left.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shooting at your allies.

TAPPER: Could the Democratic Party be hurting itself? We will talk to another potential 2020 candidate, Senator Michael Bennet.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is feeling whiplash.

President Trump seems to be trying his best to move on after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, advancing and then retreating this week on two major policy initiatives, health care and the border, initiatives that failed to gain traction within his own party, and lashing out at Democrats in a speech Saturday at the Republican Jewish Coalition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Democrats have even allowed the terrible scourge of anti- Semitism to take root in their party and in their country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Here in Washington, the attorney general is expected to release the Mueller report as soon as this week. And President Trump still seems to be feeling the pressure, it seems, saying in a series of tweets Saturday -- quote -- "The Democrats, no matter what we give them, will never be satisfied."

And it is true the Democrats in Congress are not satisfied. House Democrats are launching two battles this week that could theoretically go all the way to the Supreme Court, authorizing a subpoena to receive the full Mueller report with no redactions and formally requesting to see six years' worth of President Trump's tax returns.

Joining me now, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff of California.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.

You just heard what President Trump said yesterday about your party, the Democrats, at the Republican Jewish Coalition Convention in Las Vegas.

You're one of the highest-ranking Jewish members of Congress. What's your response?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I hate to even dignify those remarks.

But, look, it's not the Democratic Party that believes that there are good people on both sides of a Nazi rally. There's just one party and one party leader who believes that, and that's Donald Trump.

If there's anything that is likely to cement the relationship between the Democratic Party and the Jewish community, it's the presidency of Donald Trump. The lack of character and values that are certainly inconsistent with Jewish values, I think, are only consolidating support in the Jewish community.

And I think the president needs to look inward when it comes to the rise of anti-Semitism in the country and his own actions and his own words and how that may fuel some of the rise and hate that we see, not just in the form of anti-Semitism, but the rise in active hate of all kinds.

TAPPER: But, Congressman, are you concerned at all about some of the rhetoric that has been expressed by Democratic members of Congress and their support for the BDS movement to boycott Israel? Does this not concern you at all?

SCHIFF: I certainly don't support the BDS movement. And, yes, there are isolated comments by members of our caucus that I have strongly condemned as being anti-Semitic.

But it's one thing when you have a few members who make comments, and it's another when the president of the United States makes comments like he did in Charlottesville or about Charlottesville. There's quite a difference.

I'm very proud of our leadership and its condemnation of anti- Semitism. We will continue to speak out. We will continue to take action to try to combat this scourge.

But I don't think the president is helping by trying to divide us this way.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the Mueller report.

You have made clear that Congress should get the Mueller report with no redactions. Tell me where you stand on the issue of what kinds of reactions, if any, you think are acceptable in the public version of the Mueller report?

SCHIFF: Well, look, if there are classified portions of the report, if there's the classified annex, for example, that may need to be close-hold, depending on whether that reveals sources and methods.

There may even be some parts of that, though, that can be declassified in the public interest. And, in fact, if you look at the Mueller indictments, those two dealing with the Russians, that went into very granular detail. That would have been previously classified information about what the budget was for that social media farm, about private e-mails between members of that social media farm and their family.

[09:05:08]

All of that information at one point was classified, but the decision must have been made the public interest outweighs that. And I think a similar analysis should be undertaken here.

TAPPER: You have been clear in your -- you have been criticized a great deal for saying that you still see -- quote -- "evidence of collusion," even though, according to Attorney General Barr, the Mueller report says -- quote -- "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities" -- unquote. So, are you saying that Mueller got it wrong?

SCHIFF: No.

And what I have said on your show and others, Jake, for over a year now is that, yes, there's ample evidence of collusion in plain sight. But that is not the same thing as proof a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt, and that I would defer to Bob Mueller's judgment. And I do.

But I think what we're talking about here is the difference between conduct that rises to the level of criminality and conduct that is deeply unethical, unpatriotic and corrupt that may not be criminal.

And I think you saw from Mr. Mulvaney on your show last week, and, indeed, we see from Mr. Nunes and Mr. McCarthy, an attitude that ethics don't matter. If there's no crime, there's no foul.

And I think, if we get to that point in this country, then we're in a very desperate situation.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about this, because you say you think what the Trump campaign members did was immoral, unethical and corrupt, even if it was not enough for criminal charges.

Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, did tell me on the show last week that ethical judgments are ultimately not your job. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: That's not the job of the House Intelligence Committee. It's not the job of the House Judiciary Committee. It's not the job of the House Oversight Committee.

And, importantly, members of Congress, even if they are the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, don't get to substitute their judgment for the voters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What's your response, sir?

SCHIFF: Well, that is certainly the president's attitude: It's not the job of Congress to do oversight, period. And, indeed, under the GOP Congress, they did no oversight.

But it's our responsibility to root out fraud, corruption, waste, abuse, whether it rises to the level of criminality or not. If Mr. Mulvaney's standard is, Congress cannot look into anything unless there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of crime, then Congress would be able to do little or no oversight.

That's simply not how Congress should act or ever has acted. We need to do our legitimate oversight. We need to ferret out any kind of malfeasance or abuse, whether that rises to something that the Justice Department can prosecute or not.

TAPPER: How do you respond to the suggestion made by every Republican on your committee -- they have called for you to step down -- that you going out there before this report came out and saying that there's evidence of collusion, and then Mueller comes out and says, we don't find any evidence conspiracy or even coordination, that -- that what you're saying and what you said is irresponsible, because you're kind of muddying the waters?

There is a standard that Mueller has. And then you have a different standard. And maybe people got confused, and maybe Democrats got their hopes up.

SCHIFF: Look, I think there is a different standard here between the Republicans and the Democrats.

The Republicans seem to think that, as long as you can't prove it's a crime, then all is fair love and war, that it's all OK, what the Trump administration, the Trump campaign does.

I don't feel that way. I don't think most Americans feel that way. And, Jake, what I have been saying all along is that the evidence that I'm concerned about is in plain sight. And I have used those words probably 100 times.

If the fact that the president called on the Russians to hack Hillary's e-mails, if the fact that Don Jr. said he would love to get the Russians' help -- all of this is in plain sight -- if the Republicans think that's perfectly fine because it doesn't amount to the crime of conspiracy, then we are going to part company.

And I'm not going to stop making the point that we should hold our president, our campaigns, our elected officials to a higher standard than mere criminality.

TAPPER: And you have no regrets of anything you have said in the last couple years?

SCHIFF: I don't regret calling out this president for what I consider deeply unethical and improper conduct, not a bit.

And I think the moment that we start to think that -- that we should back away from exposing this kind of malfeasance and corruption is a dangerous point.

Now, Jake, you have asked the question many times, is there a risk of doing too much oversight? There is a risk when you have an immoral president, a president lacking in basic character who violates the norms of office. There is an even greater risk of doing too little oversight.

So I make no apologies for that. And I'm going to continue holding this administration accountable.

TAPPER: I don't think that's exactly how I phrased that question, but I take your point. I do want to ask you, sir. Your fellow Democratic chairman Richard

Neal formerly requested President Trump's tax returns from the IRS this week, writing that his committee is considering legislation about how the IRS audits a president.

[09:10:03]

President Trump's lawyers fired back, saying Democrats are just playing politics. They write -- quote -- "If Chairman Neal genuinely wants to review how the IRS audits presidents, why is he seeking tax returns and return information covering the four years before President Trump took office?" -- unquote.

Why do Democrats need President Trump's tax returns from four years before he took office?

SCHIFF: Well, first, the president marveled that Chairman Neal wasn't seeking 10 years and was only seeking six years.

I will leave it to Chairman Neal to explain what year period he chose. But I think it goes to the gravamen of this problem. And that is that the president appoints the head of the IRS or the lawyer for the IRS.

The IRS is supposed to conduct an examination of the president's returns. This is a president who has resisted any oversight or inquiry into his affairs. And so I think the chairman of Ways and Means has every right to determine, is the IRS following its own policy and protocols?

But I will also say this, Jake. There is no legal ground for them here. The statute says, the IRS shall provide these returns to the Congress upon request.

When the Republicans asked similarly for returns when they were running that committee, including the returns of the Obama for America organization, he gave no explanation for why he sought those returns or how many returns he was seeking or what organizations. He just asked, and the IRS says, you can have them because we shall provide them.

And I think that's how it's going to end up here too.

TAPPER: All right, Democratic Congressman and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff of California, thanks for your time, sir. Appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: President Trump got some good economic news this week, so why is he stepping on it with a new controversy?

The president's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, is here to discuss next.

Hello, sir. Good to see you.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: How are you?

TAPPER: How is your health?

KUDLOW: Just great.

TAPPER: Yes?

KUDLOW: Feel wonderful.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:40]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

You might not know this if you have been listening to President Trump this weekend, but the economy rebounded last month, adding nearly 200,000 jobs in the month of March, and bringing the unemployment rate to just 3.8 percent.

This good news comes as President Trump again is criticizing the leadership of the Federal Reserve Bank and facing bipartisan controversy over his two picks to join the Fed Board over each man's alleged ethical lapses and overly partisan statements.

Joining me now, the president's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.

Larry, always good to see you. Glad that your health has rebounded.

KUDLOW: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Let's start with the jobs report.

It wasn't all rosy. It was a good jobs report, but it wasn't all rosy. The manufacturing sector last around 6,000 jobs, after previously slowing down in February.

The president's made bringing back manufacturing jobs a key part of his economic message. But economists say the president's tariffs and the trade wars are negatively impacting American manufacturing.

What are you guys going to do about it? Is the president hurting manufacturing jobs?

KUDLOW: No, I don't think he is.

I mean, I think lower tax rates, rollback of regulation, opening up energy, I think trade reform particularly, Jake -- let me raise the USMCA deal. Will be a terrific thing for automobiles and for manufacturing.

I think we have done very well. The numbers that came out Friday, with revisions, 211,000, that's a very strong number, good wage increases. We're still over 3 percent. Hours work, they're gaining.

I might add, productivity is rising by nearly 2 percent. And, again, I come back to the president's basic policies to rebuild this economy, lower tax rates, big rollback in regulations, opening up the energy sector, trade reform.

TAPPER: But they're plateauing. In manufacturing, they're plateauing.

I understand you have hopes for the -- for the new NAFTA, the USMCA, but what about the fact that February and March were disappointing?

KUDLOW: Well, I think the winter stuff is always hard. Seasonal adjustment is difficult. We did have a government shutdown.

On the other hand, the ISM purchasing managers are showing great strength in both manufacturing and services. We will probably score 2 percent-plus in the first quarter. That's always the weakest quarter of the year because the Commerce Department doesn't revise its seasonal adjustments.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

KUDLOW: We're looking forward to 3 percent for the year as a whole.

Interestingly, last year, when we got 3 percent, it started out the same way. It's the pat -- almost the same pattern. So we're quite optimistic about that.

TAPPER: So, the president has been going after the Federal Reserve, repeatedly calling for them to lower interest rates, saying the economy would be stronger if it weren't for them.

Amidst this criticism, there are concerns about two of the president's picks to serve on the Fed Board of Governors, former presidential candidate Herman Cain and TV commentator, including right here on CNN, an economist, Stephen Moore. They're both ardent supporters of the president's.

Economists at Barclays wrote in a private note to their clients that "The New York Times" got -- quote -- "In our view, the selections could raise questions about the independence of the Federal Reserve and could be perceived as an attempted politicization of monetary policy. The experience of each candidate does not seem to be the main reason the Trump administration is considering their nominations."

What's your response?

KUDLOW: Well, look, with respect to Barclays and so forth, I just don't agree.

I mean, first of all, they're both very smart people. Second of all, let's take Mr. Herman Cain. Besides being a very successful entrepreneur, businessman, he was a board member of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, and actually was the chairman of the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve.

His time there spans, I think, about a decade. He is intimately acquainted with Federal Reserve operations and policy issues. So I think these criticisms are very unfair.

TAPPER: Let's talk -- let's talk about Herman Cain, because he has some interesting economic views, at the very least.

He believes the U.S. should return to the gold standard. He famously advocated for the 9-9-9 plan, which included a national 9 percent sales tax.

KUDLOW: He wasn't a bad -- he was pretty close to being a supply- sider, Jake.

(LAUGHTER)

KUDLOW: I mean, lower tax rates, more economic growth, kind of our program.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you.

You said -- you said on Friday the president is entitled to Fed Board picks as a -- quote -- "way of expressing his philosophy."

Does the president agree with the gold standard and the national sales tax?

KUDLOW: Herman -- Herman has not come out only for the gold standard.

What he is trying to say -- and let me make couple quick points here, because I think there's some misinterpretation. Number one, the dollar should be sound, very important. Number two, inflation should be nil.

[09:20:02]

Look, here's the key point. We believe that strong economic growth does not cause inflation. We believe -- I have spent a career on this -- more people working and succeeding does not cause inflation.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

KUDLOW: Unfortunately, many of the economic models used by the Federal Reserve and elsewhere -- and I'm not here to pick on the Fed's independence. I just want to say this.

They have a model -- I hate to go to it -- but it's called the Phillips curve, which basically says, the lower the unemployment rate, the higher the inflation rate. That model has been disproven for decades.

Key Fed people, spokespeople on the Fed themselves, including Jay Powell, the chairman, have said, that model doesn't work.

Now, look, this is so important.

TAPPER: Right.

KUDLOW: President Trump has every right to put people on the Federal Reserve Board with a different point of view.

You don't have to rush pell-mell into tightening policy and raising rates just because the economy is growing.

TAPPER: So...

KUDLOW: And that's President Trump's -- President Trump's key point.

What did he say the other day? He said, you know, if we had lower rates...

TAPPER: The economy would...

KUDLOW: ... the economy could take off like a rocket ship, by which he means 4, 4.5 percent.

And I happen to think that's a terrific point. POTUS is very well- informed. He's a successful investor.

TAPPER: So, I...

KUDLOW: He's a successful businessman. He wants people on the Fed who share his philosophy.

TAPPER: And he...

KUDLOW: This is not a political issue.

TAPPER: He's entitled -- he's entitled...

KUDLOW: This is an issue of, how do you see the world?

TAPPER: He's entitled to put -- to pick his people.

KUDLOW: That's right.

TAPPER: But I guess the question is, are these the best two people that he could pick?

You know that you're going to face questions about this.

KUDLOW: Yes, of course.

TAPPER: Herman Cain dropped out of the 2012 presidential race because of numerous sexual harassment allegations, multiple women. He denies them all.

But I want you to take a listen to one of the accusers, Sharon Bialek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON BIALEK, HERMAN CAIN ACCUSER: Put his hand on my leg, under my skirt, and reached for my genitals.

He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch. I said: "What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for."

Mr. Cain said, "You want a job, right?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: There at least four women that have allegations like this. Again, Cain denies that they're true.

But doesn't this trouble you?

KUDLOW: Look, we are going through a vetting process in the White House.

I'm sure the Senate Banking Committee will do likewise. There's big disputes here. Mr. Cain disagrees with this point of view. I'm not going to litigate that here.

TAPPER: No, it's four women. It's not just one.

(CROSSTALK)

KUDLOW: Well, lord knows, in this town -- I come here to work in the White House once every 35 years.

It's very toxic here, more than I have ever seen. I don't want...

TAPPER: Larry, nobody's made allegations like this about you or me.

I mean, like...

KUDLOW: That is true. And you and I are -- you know, we are on the road to heaven. There's no question about that.

TAPPER: You know what I'm saying. It's not...

KUDLOW: But I think -- I think this stuff -- look, we have seen -- whether it's Supreme Court justices or many other things, we have seen a lot of charges here. They don't necessarily pan out.

Again, let me make this generic point on behalf of the president and Mr. Cain and Mr. Moore, a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, which is fabulous, an economy that is growing at better than 3 percent, could do better even with tax cuts and deregulation.

TAPPER: Right.

KUDLOW: We worry, we worry that the Central Bank is not taking account of a weak world economy, some financial tightening in the marketplace.

And here's the key point.

TAPPER: Yes.

KUDLOW: There is no inflation. So, look, I'm not here to buck that independence. I started my career

at the New York Fed many years ago. I get along well with the Fed officials.

I'm just saying, we have two open seats on the board.

TAPPER: Right. So, here's...

KUDLOW: The president has every right in the world to nominate people who share his economic philosophy. That is, more people working is a good thing, not a bad thing.

TAPPER: OK, you didn't answer the question necessarily about those allegations troubling you or not.

But let me ask you about Stephen Moore. He was a contributor here at CNN. He's clearly qualified to talk about the economy on cable television.

KUDLOW: Thank you. You're the first guy to say that to me. You're so -- you're so even-handed. Thank you.

TAPPER: But take a listen to what he said about his qualifications to serve on the Fed Board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I'm kind of new to this game, frankly.

So, I'm going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: He's going to be on a steep learning curve about how the Fed operates and how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions? This is one of the most qualified candidates in the country?

KUDLOW: Yes. He's a smart guy, a really smart guy.

There's nothing wrong with a little modesty or a little humility. You learn the ropes. Pretty much every job I have had down through the years, you have to learn.

We're both broadcasters. I had to learn to do it. I don't know, maybe you were born into it.

TAPPER: Certainly not.

KUDLOW: We all have to learn to do it. I think Stephen is being very humble about this. Again, I think he's going to make a great Federal Reserve governor.

[09:25:04]

Let me say quickly, the Fed -- the president stands behind both of those gentlemen right now.

TAPPER: OK.

KUDLOW: And, again, we want to grow the economy to its maximum.

We -- let me clarify, we're not interfering with Fed independence, none of that stuff.

TAPPER: I know. I get it.

(CROSSTALK)

KUDLOW: What we want to do is have our philosophy...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We're running out of time. And I want to ask you about the USMCA.

KUDLOW: Yes, sir.

TAPPER: The president said yesterday that he will include the ability to put tariffs on Mexican cars in his trade deal with Mexico.

The USMCA, the new NAFTA, which, as of now, essentially prevents that -- the deal has already been signed, though. The president even had a press conference introducing it.

Is the president going to reopen negotiations on the USMCA, so he can put tariffs on Mexican cars?

KUDLOW: No, I don't reckon so at the present time. He's just making a very strong statement.

He wants the Mexican government to help us, work with us on this disaster down by the border, where, what, 100,000 people are now crossing illegally.

TAPPER: But won't this threat completely undermine this trade deal that he's so proud of?

KUDLOW: I don't believe so.

First of all, what he's saying is no -- for -- the Mexicans are helping us, OK? They're taking additional steps to guard their side of the border. That's terrific.

Second of all, USMCA is a terrific pro-growth deal. I just want to really get that in there, because we're hoping it will pass Congress very soon.

Regarding the threat of tariffs, the president believes that the border issue, the border security, the wall, the breakdown in immigration are very important issues, including the drug trafficking. So he is saying, if need be, he may have to take emergency steps to deal with that. He is not about to do it. He's pulled back a wee bit. He's just

issuing a warning. And if you know this president as I do, you better listen to him.

I think, over the fullness of time, we will be able to work out border security reform, and the wall, and immigration reform...

TAPPER: Yes.

KUDLOW: ... without interfering with the USMCA trade deal, which is a terrific deal for the United States and its work force.

TAPPER: And you're going to need Democrats to vote for it.

KUDLOW: Yes.

TAPPER: And we're going to hope -- we will hopefully have you back, and we will talk about that.

KUDLOW: Yes.

TAPPER: Larry Kudlow, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

KUDLOW: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: As the Democratic primary race heats up, former President Obama is warning about the far left of his party, saying rigidity among progressives can lead to a circular firing squad. Is he right?

We're going to talk to potential 2020 contender Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:31:37]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

My next guest says he was about to announce his 2020 presidential run, until he got some unexpected bad news, prostate cancer. But he says the diagnosis has only made him more determined to run.

Joining me now from New Hampshire, the first primary state, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

You have just revealed that you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer this week. And we have all been thinking about you. How you feeling?

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: I'm feeling great, Jake.

And thanks a lot for having me on the show.

I guess that's one point I would like to make, is that I don't have any symptoms. I feel as good this week as I did last week and the week before that. And there's no way I would know I had prostate cancer if I hadn't had the screening. So, my advice to everybody who's watching is to please go get screened.

TAPPER: You said that, if you are healthy enough, you're going to run for president in 2020. When are you hoping you're going to be able to announce your run?

BENNET: Well, as soon as I can.

I have got to go through a procedure at the beginning of the upcoming recess. That starts later this week. And then it's going to be a couple of weeks for recovery. But I would like to get on with this.

I have -- I'm looking forward to running in 2020. This obviously was unexpected. But we caught it early. It's something that I think we're going to be able to treat. And I don't think it should keep me off the trail.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about some issues, specifically health care.

You have gone after Medicare for all, which a lot of Democrats running for president are embracing. You have said Medicare for all is a move that would take away private health insurance from millions of Americans who like that health insurance.

You have proposed what you call a more practical alternative. Is that what Democratic voters want right now, moderation, practicality? Or do they want bold, even audacious progressive policies?

BENNET: Well, they may -- they may want both, depending on who you're talking to.

What -- I think about it in terms of what Colorado families want. And what Colorado families want is maximal choice for themselves and their families. They want to have a robust, strong public option, because not all of them want to be subject to private insurance.

There are many counties in my state where there's only one insurance company or sometimes zero insurance companies, so there's no competition.

But if you sat in a neighborhood in some of the most progressive areas of my state and said, look, here are our objectives, we want to come everybody in America, we want universal health care for everybody, we want to reduce the cost for families and, frankly, for America, because we're spending a ridiculous amount of health care, even though we don't cover everybody, and we want to keep quality high, and we said, OK, our first plan for doing that is to take insurance away from 180 million people who get it from their employer, 80 percent of whom like it, people in a conversation around that table would say, do you have any other plan? Because they know their friends and neighbors aren't going to give up insurance that they like. And that's why I developed Medicare X with Tim Kaine, because I think it does create the robust public option we should have passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, and we didn't.

And I think it will wear well on the primary campaign for the Democratic nomination. And I think it's going to be the obvious place for us to go to as we continue to work toward universal coverage in the United States of America.

TAPPER: It does seem as though, however, your party has moved significantly to the left on policy issues, especially the presidential candidates.

[09:35:03]

Former President Barack Obama spoke at a town hall in Berlin, Germany, yesterday. He said he was worried about -- quote -- "rigidity" among progressive Democrats. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Then we start sometimes creating what's called a circular firing squad, where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you agree?

BENNET: To me, purity on the issues in this case is covering every single American with high-quality health care. That should be the purity test. And that is what the Democrats are for.

The Republicans are for, for reasons that I do not understand, taking away health care for tens of millions of Americans. That is what Donald Trump has been for. So, to me, that's the relevant dividing line.

If somebody can come up with a better plan than my plan, and it solves the issue of universal health care, it solves the issue spending less on health care, so we can spend more investing on the next generation of Americans, and it promotes quality in our health care system, not only would I be for that plan. I would give that person the Nobel Prize, if I could do it.

So I think it's the question of where you see the dividing line. And I see it between a bunch of people of good will that want to make sure that America is not the only country in the world where people go bankrupt because they don't have health insurance and a party led by a president who has over and over again done every single thing he could do to take insurance away from people with a preexisting condition and take it away from tens of millions of Americans.

Sometimes, people don't believe that's what he's done. It is what he's done, Jake. TAPPER: Senator, let me -- go ahead.

BENNET: Jake, he promised when he -- go ahead.

TAPPER: No, no.

BENNET: Go ahead. It's your show. No, I will stop. No, no.

TAPPER: Well, I just -- we only have a little bit of time. I just want to get to a couple more issues.

BENNET: Go ahead.

TAPPER: Let's talk about another issue dividing your party right now, the Democratic Party.

Vice President Biden has been under scrutiny after a half-dozen or so allegations that he touched women inappropriately, making them feel uncomfortable, not sexually, not violently, but getting in their space.

He seemed to joke about it on stage in an event on Friday. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie.

By the way, he gave me permission to touch him. I...

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, Biden said afterward it wasn't his intention to make light of anyone's discomfort.

Do you have any issue with him making jokes about this? And, more largely, do you see these allegations as disqualifying?

BENNET: Well, I don't think anybody should make jokes about it. I think this is a really important time in our country's history, when women are coming forward and able to say when they have been made to feel uncomfortable, whether in a sexual way or a non-sexual way. And people's voices should be heard on that.

I think, on the question of whether it's disqualifying or not, that's up for the voters in a Democratic primary and in a general election to decide. But I do think people shouldn't make jokes or make light of it.

TAPPER: Senator Bennet, we'd love to have you back on the show, especially to talk about your past support for charter schools. So, please come back.

And have fun in New Hampshire. It's a beautiful state.

BENNET: It is a beautiful state on a very beautiful day.

Thanks for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Senator.

What kind of mistakes should be forgiven in a Democratic presidential candidate? We're going to talk about the cultural shifts playing out in the Democratic Party next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:42]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I'm sorry I didn't understand more. I'm not sorry for any of my intentions. I'm not sorry for anything that I have ever done.

TRUMP: I think I'm a very good messenger. And people got a kick out of it. He's going through a situation. Let's see what happens.

But people got a kick -- we got to sort of smile a little bit, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was former Vice President Joe Biden followed by President Donald Trump addressing the allegations that Biden has been making women feel uncomfortable. Touching them without permission. Is this a possible 2020 messaging preview?

Let's discuss. Congresswoman, let me start with you. You are a freshman congressman for people who don't know who you are from California, from the Irvine area. And let me ask you, you just heard Senator Michael Bennet say that he didn't think it was appropriate for Vice President Biden to be joking about this. I said it a little bit more starkly than he did. But that was his basic message.

What's your take on all this? Does this trouble you about a possible Biden candidacy?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA), COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES: Well, I think it's notable that the vice president has not apologized. So to the extent people are trying to say this is some kind of apology tour it's very clearly not. He has actually sent quite the opposite that he is not sorry.

So I think that's an important thing that he needs to acknowledge that these women felt violated. They felt that he touched them inappropriately. That he made them uncomfortable.

And so I think we need to hear the words "I'm sorry for how I made you feel" come from the vice president as part of moving forward on this issue..

TAPPER: Symone, do you agree?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look I think just from a (INAUDIBLE) perspective if I'm, you know, Vice President Biden's communications person if he comes out and says the words I'm sorry all the chyrons and headlines will say I'm sorry and none of the underlying information, but what I do think he needs to continuously make clear is he is hearing people and that he understands.

If you go out on a stage anywhere in America and joke about something that many people noted was very serious to them and you came out and did a video that said you heard and you agreed, that does not make people feel as though you actually understand. And so I think that he struck the right tone when he came out after that IBEW event, he came right to the cameras as he should have and made clear that he did not mean to make light of anyone.

So I think this is going to be something he's going to have to continue unfortunately to address if he ever gets on the campaign trail among other things. But now this is the thing people are talking about because he has not announced.

TAPPER: Amanda, is President Trump the right messenger on this issue? I mean, there are at least a dozen women who have credible allegations of --

[09:45:03]

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course not, but that's never stopped him --

TAPPER: -- sexual harassment and assault against him.

CARPENTER: Right but that doesn't stop Trump from making the argument. He is the chaos candidate. And his aides have been fairly open about the fact that they intend to meddle in the Democratic primary.

And I do have to say there has been a lot of scrutiny on Joe Biden rightly so but I am interested to see the actual front-runner who is in the race be vetted, and that is Bernie Sanders.

TAPPER: Bernie Sanders.

CARPENTER: He's getting a free pass right now. And it's sort of is amazing to me. He's not putting his tax returns out, and he is a socialist that is the front-runner of the party --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Democratic socialist

SANDERS: He's a Democratic socialist.

CARPENTER: Yes. OK. SANDERS: There's a difference.

CARPENTER: We can parse words here.

TAPPER: Yes.

CARPENTER: But I think people have to wrap around the fact that he will probably do very well. He's got the money, he's got the polling, he's got the campaign. He's a durable candidate that probably can go the distance because he has before and he's going to do well in the early states.

And so rather than keep going over this path, over candidates who have not declared Joe Biden, I think Trump and his allies should be focusing a little more on the bigger threat.

TAPPER: What do you make of Trump as the messenger for this -- this message given all the allegations against him?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you just listened to what Biden said and Trump said, they sort of sounded a little bit the same and look the same. I mean, they're two old white men who clearly from -- with respect to the Democratic Party and the base Democratic Party, are tone deaf.

And Bernie Sanders, remarkably on this issue, is a little tone deaf, just from the fact he seems to avoid it, ignore it, trying to duck under the radar on all this stuff. I think those are going to -- that's going to be real problems for both Biden and Sanders is the fact that they just are from a different era and they -- as much as they try to sound like they get it, they don't. And it's clear to those who have an ear for this that they don't get it. I think ultimately there's going to be a problem for (ph) them (ph).

SANDERS: Let me say something, Jake. I think people forget in the horse race, and the fanfare of it all, and who's up, who's down in the polls, what people said that this is a delegate game. The Democratic presidential primary is about delegates. What is your delegate path, who can amass the delegates and how do you think you'll win?

And so I don't care frankly what the polls say right now. I don't care if people think Vice President Biden is popular. I don't care if everybody really likes Mayor Pete. What is their delegate path?

And so I think that's something to keep in perspective as we go into this presidential primary season because this is about delegates. And proportional representation means lots of people can be competitive.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Porter, I want to get your thoughts on something that President Obama said yesterday in Berlin, Germany. He seemed to criticize the Democratic Party, for people -- progressive having a purity test and hurting their fellow Democrats. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Then we start sometimes creating what's called a circular firing squad where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Congresswoman, do you agree with the president -- former president? I mean, is this a problem among Democrats?

PORTER: I don't think we should be afraid of ideas and of new ideas. I think we're going to -- if we're going to energize the electorate, particularly millennial voters, we shouldn't be shutting down ideas. And so I think to the extent there has been rigidity, it's been rigidity around the establishment.

I'm a freshman. I'm part of a huge freshman class and we're bringing a lot of new ideas and a lot of new voices to the Congress. And I think there's a certain amount of resistance to that from the establishment.

I think that we should not be afraid of having a dialogue and be afraid of people disagreeing with each other within the Democratic Party. It's only when it turns personal, when it turns to name calling, when it turns to dragging down other candidates that I think it becomes a problem. But right now I don't think the Congress has done that by and large.

TAPPER: And you kind of come from the same perspective except on the Republican side in that you worked for Ted Cruz, and he was a Tea Party Republican, also accused of imposing ideological purity tests and also would probably give a similar answer. I know the policies are very different, but would give a similar answer about we're just trying to debate ideas?

CARPENTER: Yes. And I can -- you know, going back to the 2016 race, I can tell you when you have 20-some candidates running for president, that's a big circle to fire at each other. And I think the biggest issue where Democrats will tear each other up going forward is probably on health care. That fight is going to be brutal.

You can see a lot of the operatives starting to worry about that, what to do with Medicare for all. Whether that (INAUDIBLE) the elimination of private health insurance and they're trying to get everybody in the tent. But -- they're going to rip each other up.

TAPPER: Yes, sir.

SANTORUM: Remember Barack Obama was the candidate in 2008 who was doing just what he's accusing these other folks of doing. He was the anti-war candidate, he was the candidate that was for more socialist progressive policies.

And so it's really interesting that now Obama is protecting the establishment, if you will. He's trying to center the Democratic Party more when he was the one driving it to the left in 2008. Pretty much tells you how far the Democratic Party has gone in that period of time.

TAPPER: And don't forget that he actually as a state senator challenged an incumbent congressman Bobby Rush when he ran for Congress in 2000. He lost to Bobby Rush. I want to talk briefly about the week of walk backs for President Trump.

[09:50:00]

TAPPER: From health care to immigration he would put out a stark proposal only under fire from Republicans and his own administration walk it back on especially health care is one of those things.

Although Mick Mulvaney just moments ago said after Trump said they would run on health care and then they took it back they're not going to run on health care. Now Mick Mulvaney is saying -- quote -- "We want to run on health care and the administration will release a plan fairly shortly before the 2020 election."

SANDERS: But I think folks forget that Mick Mulvaney was a congressman from South Carolina for a very long time that ran on repeal and replace many times to get reelected to Congress and that is something he has actually championed since he's been at the White House. The problem here is that the Republicans don't have a plan. They were in charge for a very long time when they could have repeal then replace and when the rubber met the road, they didn't have a plan.

And so I think it's very dangerous for the White House to say they're going to run on health care when Democrats we successfully ran on health care in 2018 and we would love nothing more than to make it about health care in 2020.

CARPENTER: This is a split. You have people like Mick Mulvaney in the Freedom Caucus guys who really want to do something on health care. And then you have people like Mitch McConnell who say this is bad politics. Just let the system break.

Who cares (INAUDIBLE) because the Democrats will own it and then will eventually win. I think that's a miscalculation because if you do that what you get Medicare for all and complete government run (ph) on (ph) health care.

TAPPER: Congresswoman?

PORTER: I think part of the issue is this idea that Mick Mulvaney is going to decide what this election is about. This election is going to be about what the American people want to talk about. And we saw in 2018 they want to talk about health care.

They actually want to have that debate about Medicare for all versus a public option versus improving the Affordable Care Act. I don't think the American public has figured out what they want yet about health care but they have signaled very strongly pretty much across party lines they want to have that dialogue.

SANTORUM: I agree -- I agree with both those last comments that -- number one, that the Republicans have a fight as to whether to make this an issue or not. And number two, that the American public absolutely wants to talk about health care.

So I side with we better talk about health care or we're going to get our hat handed to us again just like we did in 2018 and what the president is doing to his credit is saying we are going to talk about it.

And by the way, we do have a plan now. I agree we didn't have a plan then. We do have a plan --

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Yes. To take health care away from people because this administration --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: No it's actually --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Great panel, thanks so much.

President Trump's mission should he choose to except it is keeping spies out of Mar-a-Lago. Is that a mission impossible? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:56:35]

TAPPER: Welcome back. Is Mar-a-Lago safe from foreign spies? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): President Trump says he's not concerned about the security breach at Mar-a-Lago. A Chinese national with a thumb drive containing malware.

TRUMP: I think that was just a fluke situation.

TAPPER: But it's not difficult to imagine the president's properties as tantalizing targets for spies from around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Pussy Galore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I'm Plenty, Plenty O'Toole.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Of course, the place to get the president's eye is on links.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There must be something really rotten we can do today. TRUMP: I actually said I was the best golfer of all the rich people.

TAPPER: National security experts have been saying for quite some time that the president's security situation at his private clubs leaves something to be desired.

TRUMP: I'm sitting there tweeting. Bing, bing, bing.

TAPPER: If he stops tweeting and puts down his phone, might someone try to steal it? Of course this whole controversy might miss the point. After all, this president invited Russian officials into the Oval Office where he reportedly shared classified information. So what's the worst that could happen at Mar-a-Lago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's much worse than you think.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: President Trump says the U.S. is -- quote -- "full" so what should happen to migrants seeking asylum? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END