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Trump's Bizarre Tour of Mount Vernon; Most California Voters Unfazed By Biden Allegations; Bernie Sanders Unveils New Health Care Plan; Attorney General to Investigate Spying on Trump Campaign. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 10, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is what he said.


SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): So you're not -- you're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't -- well, I guess you could -- I think there was -- spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.

SHAHEEN: Well, let me...

BARR: But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated. And I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.

I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That's all.


BALDWIN: Gloria Borger is our CNN chief political analyst. And Harry Litman is a former deputy assistant attorney general and former U.S. attorney.

So good to have both of you on.

And, Harry, you first. When you heard the word...


BALDWIN: When you heard the word spying from the attorney general, what did you think and what does that mean?

LITMAN: Right.

Look, there's a bland way to put it. And he tried to back away and put it that way later: I simply mean that there was surveillance. After the counterintelligence investigation was started, we surveyed. That's what we did.

But when I heard spying, my heart skipped a beat. That is a loaded term. Bill Barr knows it's a loaded term, and was likely to play into a triumphant talking point of President Trump, who within a half-an- hour was standing on the lawn of the White House proclaiming that we're going to investigate the investigators.

It would be a terrible idea -- and I can't believe Barr means it seriously -- to try to re-excavate the whole episode that's already been shown to have been perfectly kosher. If he means he's looking at procedures, something like that, OK. But the term spying was, at best, a loaded misstep.

BALDWIN: And then, Gloria, to Harry's point on the timing of the president's comments, this was an attempted coup and treasonous, right around when Bill Barr was testifying this morning, did it seem political to you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, it did. And, of course, he's heard these words from the president before. He's heard Lindsey Graham call for a special counsel, for example, to investigate the investigators.

He knows full well that the inspector general there is investigating all of this. But let me point out a few other things...


BORGER: ... Brooke, because the question -- the question here is really whether people on the campaign were informed about this, as he says they should have been.

He said there's Rudy Giuliani there, and there's Chris Christie there. And we did a story in August of 2016 which said that senior U.S. intelligence officials told Trump that foreign adversaries, including Russia, were trying to infiltrate the campaign.

What we don't know is how much detail they went into with Donald Trump and the campaign. We don't know. But we do know that they were informed, according to our reporting.

BALDWIN: And why would Barr -- Harry, why would Barr be launching a review of his own if the I.G. is already looking into it? Why double up?

LITMAN: There's not an easy, good answer on that. And, in fact, to my knowledge -- and I have talked to a number of people now -- it's unprecedented.

Sure, if you have concerns about the facts, you wait, and wait until the I.G. report is done, and then you get the facts, and then you can conclude. That's absolutely standard procedure. Maybe that's all he meant. Maybe he means he's worried about the issue in the abstract, he's trying to get up to speed, so when the I.G. report comes in a month or two, then it's fine. Or maybe he means I want to make sure that our procedures are fine.

If, however, he means I want to look at the investigators, the individual guilt of the McCabes and Strzoks and Pages, I don't -- I can't think of a good reason to do it, and I can think of 20 bad reasons to even be tiptoeing down that path.

I think -- I think we will learn more about this, but it's problematic.

BALDWIN: The other nugget that came out today -- and this is something the three of us have spoken about, about Mueller punting on obstruction.

And so Barr was asked today whether he spoke with the special counsel about who Mueller wanted to decide the obstruction issue. And Barr said that Mueller didn't say.

So, Gloria, to you -- but, Harry, I would love to have you weigh in too -- who do you think Mueller intended to make the call?


BALDWIN: And it seems when you read that four -- the four pages from Barr, that he already kind of did. But isn't it up to Congress to make that call?

BORGER: Well, you would think it would be.

I can imagine that Mueller would not say anything because Barr is his boss, and that Mueller functions just as a federal prosecutor. It's -- he's not an independent counsel. That's gone away. He's a special counsel.


And I think Mueller would have -- would have sort of stepped back on that on that question. I think what I'm really interested in, Brooke, is that the attorney general said today, when this report is finally released, that we will be able to see why Mueller could not make a decision himself, with his team, on the question of obstruction.

He says that will be laid out. So we need to see that as well.

BALDWIN: Same question, Harry.

LITMAN: OK, and hopefully it'll be laid out something as, if not more important, why Barr decided he had to step into the breach.

BORGER: Right. Yes, exactly.

LITMAN: Look, stepping back is one thing. Radio silence is another.

You have the man who has spent 22 months painstakingly investigating, and Barr said he didn't even confer with him about the letter or the contents of it. He's there to work with Barr at least and try to get -- explain what's going on. It's a little odd and maybe troubling that Mueller is so absent when

the pivotal decisions are being made.

BALDWIN: OK. Got to see the Mueller report. So that's coming down in the next couple of days. We're standing by for that.

Harry, let me ask you about "The Wall" -- the reporting out of "The Wall Street Journal" this morning focusing on two former members of President Trump's inner circle.

LITMAN: Right.

BALDWIN: You have Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Keith Schiller, who was Trump's longtime bodyguard.

Federal prosecutors, according to "The Journal," have questioned them as part of this investigation into those hush money payments made by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

But the key issue for both, their contacts with David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, which is the publisher of "The National Enquirer." Just a reminder, American Media paid $150,000 to suppress a story about an alleged affair between Trump and for playboy playmate Karen McDougal.

So I say all of that just to set it up to get everyone up to speed.


BALDWIN: Harry -- Harry, how significant is this?

LITMAN: Pretty significant.

But the big thing to remember is, there is already a crime here. Cohen pleaded guilty to it, the feds alleged it, and the court accepted it. And the crime involves Individual 1. That is the president. And it stands to reason that others, like Hope Hicks and Keith Schiller, may have had some involvement. And you have an aggressive prosecutor's office.

It's one thing that they may not -- they won't indict Trump. That's the policy, but other people may well have been involved. And they can get to the bottom of it. And even try to get to the bottom of what Trump knew and when he knew it, even if they're not going to indict him.

So it shows they are dogged, on the trail, not going away, and pursuing not just Hopes and -- Hicks -- excuse me -- and Schiller, but other leads as well. This is going to be a headache for the Trump Organization and for the individuals in the inner circle for months, if not longer.

BALDWIN: Harry Litman, great to see you. Thank you for your analysis on all of that.

LITMAN: Thank you, Brooke. BALDWIN: I want to turn the page and talk 2020.

Senator Bernie Sanders just unveiled an ambitious new health care plan.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the reason that we have a health care system which is dysfunctional is fairly obvious. It is not just the huge profits in the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry, but it is the incredible waste and bureaucracy developed by many thousands of health care plans.

The American people are increasingly clear. They want a health care system that guarantees health care to all Americans as a right. They want a health care system which will lower health care costs and save them money.


BALDWIN: So, Senator Sanders is calling the overhaul Medicare for all.

And while it was at one time dismissed as too radical by Democrats, he has some help this time. You see four of Sanders 2020 rivals have signed on as co-sponsors there, those senators.

Now, the details are still vague on how it would be implemented. But here are the highlights. It would be a federally sponsored plan replacing private insurance. No private insurance networks means you wouldn't have to switch doctors. The plan would cover pretty much everything, including vision and dental.

And, according to the senator, you would save thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket health care costs. So perhaps the catch here is that your taxes would go up.

Rick Newman is a columnist for Yahoo! Finance.

And so thank you for coming on. I know you love talking health care.

And so we just ran through the headlines. But what's the meat of this proposal to you?

RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO! FINANCE: It's basically the same plan he talked about in 2016, when everybody did kind of dismiss it. He's tweaked it a little bit.

He's now including long-term care benefits for disabled people and some seniors, and he's giving us -- he's taking a swag at how he might pay for it, higher taxes, no big surprise there, on the wealthy, on some businesses, on big banks.


But I think what's different between now and 2016 or 2015, when he first started talking about it, this has had has become a mainstream part of the political conversation.

BALDWIN: It's evolved.

NEWMAN: We know from the -- we know from the 2018 midterms health care is a big issue for people.

I mean, the economy's doing better right now. And polls consistently show health care is right at the top in terms of voter concerns. I mean, everybody knows what the problems are. Out-of-pocket costs are too high, a lot of people still can't get coverage, and we still have something like 30 million people who are not covered.

So there are -- Medicare for all is one idea about how to address that, but there are many other ideas as well.

BALDWIN: I want to get to that and how this is all going to end up, what this will look like on the debate stage with all these various senators who would all like to be in the White House.

But what -- where's the but? Like, what's the issue that the health care industry overall is going to have with this?


So, Medicare for all, you hit on it. It would basically triple federal spending on health care.


NEWMAN: But, at the same time, companies would pay nothing for health care, individuals would pay nothing.

So, basically it would be shifting the cost to the federal government, and you probably would get more bang for the buck out of the health care dollar. The problem is, you have to move 170 million people out of the private system into this federal system.

And for people who get health care through their employer, that actually works for most people. I mean, that's actually one of the least broken parts of the health care system. So you remember the adage from the big debacle with Obamacare was, you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

Oh, whoops, you can't keep your plan. That affected a few million people. So now you're going to tell 170 million people, whether you like your plan or not, you can't keep it.

BALDWIN: Well, so, to that point, a number of the senators who are also running actually have various iterations of Medicare for all plans that they're in favor of...


BALDWIN: ... where a lot of them are saying, hey, right, you will have a choice.


BALDWIN: Unlike Senator Sanders. But we showed the four co-sponsors of the bill.

But, down the road, these differences will come out.

NEWMAN: There are at least 10 health care reform proposals in Congress. The Commonwealth Fund does a good job of tracking this. I looked at them today.

Only four of them are single-payer plans where everybody goes into the -- into a federal system. Most of them say, let's expand Medicare for people who cannot get covered someplace else. And, by the way, let's have them pay premiums, so they're paying for that insurance the way you would pay for ordinary insurance.

That covers the cost, but you get a better deal, because it's Medicare. You're not buying it on your own. Expand the Affordable Care Act a little bit, try to find ways to bring costs down for people who buy insurance on their own in the individual market, but they're paying too much.

I mean, some people -- if you're between 50 and 64, you can be paying $30,000 or $40,000 for coverage for just two people in the individual market. I mean, that's crazy. So...

BALDWIN: But the differences will be on display among these various senators on the debate stage, because they may look like they're all united now.

NEWMAN: Well, the -- it's the easiest thing is to say, I support Medicare for all. It's a bumper sticker. It gets a lot harder to say, I support this very complicated plan that has 17 points that you can read on my Web site.

So -- but Medicare for all has pithiness going for it. And I think the challenge for some of these candidates is to come up with pithy ways to label what might be a more politically feasible plan.

BALDWIN: OK. Rick Newman, thank you.

NEWMAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

Ahead here, new polls out of California show most people don't have a big issue with the recent allegations against the former vice president, Joe Biden. Hear what voters are telling CNN about his chances in 2020.

And at least one Trump flag spotted at the election party for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His opponent has just conceded. We will talk about what influence President Trump may have had on that final result.

And, later, an emotional ad honors NBA star Dwyane Wade for his work off the court, including the support he has shown the parents of Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver. And so Joaquin's parents will join me live to share their story coming up.



BALDWIN: New today in the 2020 race, California voters reacting to accusations of inappropriate touching leveled against former Vice President Joe Biden.

And, for the most part, they're shrugging their shoulders. A new Quinnipiac University poll found 66 percent of California voters say the Biden allegations are not a big deal. Only 27 percent say it is a serious issue.

So, CNN national political correspondent Maeve Reston in is in Los Angeles for us.

And I know you have been talking to so many female voters, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, about all of this. What are they telling you?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was so interesting, Brooke, because after Biden made that joke last week that got a lot of coverage about how he had permission to hug a male labor leader, I was really interested just in what women were thinking about this.

And, generally, they think that the accusations so far are really not that big a deal. Often, the words they used were pretty trivial, feeling like the reaction to this has been completely overblown.

And I wanted to read you a couple of quotes from...


RESTON: I found most interesting from a rally this weekend, actually, for Julian Castro, where I went around and talked to a lot of the women because they were engaged and paying attention.

And one of them said of Biden's behavior -- quote -- "It's a kiss on the head or the cheek or a shoulder, that daddy kind of grampa move. It's not like you're grabbing" the P-word.


RESTON: And what that voter, a teacher from Apple Valley, was referring to, obviously, was the infamous Donald Trump "Access Hollywood" tape where he talks about feeling like he could grab women at his pleasure because he was famous.

So -- and another one of the voters that I talked to -- and I thought this was so interesting, Brooke -- she said: "I'm a big supporter of the MeToo movement, but I just feel like we're shifting the goalposts. And no one asked us if we were going to shift the goalposts to just what makes us feel uncomfortable." [15:20:15]

So, there's a really interesting debate unfolding here in California about kind of what the levels of inappropriate activity is by men, with a lot of people feeling like maybe the MeToo pendulum has swung too far and that there's an overreaction.

And one of the other voters that I talked to was saying, I'm glad we're having this conversation. I'm glad that Joe Biden's out there owning his actions, making people talk about what's appropriate. That was the whole point of the MeToo movement.

So it's a really interesting and kind of unexpected reaction, Brooke.

BALDWIN: No, it's fascinating. I'm so glad you talked to all these various women who are so plugged in and paying attention.

And California, of course, this is where the poll was taken. And this is Senator Kamala Harris' home state, and just some of the polling, he's ahead with 26 percent, 17 percent supporting Senator Kamala Harris.

And what do you make of that, given the fact that this is home for her?

RESTON: This is her home state. But what you have to remember is that Joe Biden is a household name with incredible name recognition, especially here in California, where we pay so much attention to national politics.

So I actually think that these numbers are not terrible for her. She's still got a lot of work to do in terms of getting to know more voters across California. And Joe Biden obviously has this deep reservoir of love here among Democratic voters.

And Bernie Sanders also did really well here in the last race. So this is going to be a fight to the death. And remember that, with all the delegates at stake here, it's not winner takes all. So they can split them up. And everyone's going to be campaign here, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Maeve Reston, thank you very much.

RESTON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, an inside look at what's been referred to as the very bizarre tour President Trump took of Mount Vernon. That's President George Washington's first home, where he apparently -- President Trump insulted the first president and was also fascinated by how rich President Washington was.

The reporter who spoke to the tour guide joins me with the details.



BALDWIN: They share the same title, but centuries apart.

President Donald Trump and President George Washington both got rich through real estate. And now we're learning just what 45 thought of the first commander in chief from this report in Politico out today with the intriguing title "Trump's Truly Bizarre Visit to Mount Vernon."

Mount Vernon is Washington's Virginia plantation where he lived for 40 years.

And Politico's Daniel Lippman got the scoop of what happened when President Trump visited their last year with French President Emmanuel Macron.

So, Daniel, thank you for being here.

I love Mount Vernon. And that back -- back area along the Potomac is just stunning. But you write that President Trump had a -- how did you phrase it -- had some great advice for George Washington. Tell me what that was.


So he said, if George Washington was smart, he would have named it after himself and that people have to put their name on stuff, or no one will remember them. And then the tour guide told the president and the Macrons, well, actually he named the -- or Washington, D.C., is Washington for a reason. And Trump said, well, that's a good point. And then he kind of laughed.

BALDWIN: On the screen, you see all the examples of all the things and places and universities in 94 U.S. locations all named after President George Washington, just FYI.


BALDWIN: And then so this tour guide was the Mount Vernon president and CEO. And you report that it was -- he said it was tough for him to keep the president's interest during this VIP 45-minute tour, which he described as truly bizarre. Why?

LIPPMAN: So, he really could not get President Trump interested in the details and the intricacies of the history involved in this house, because Trump found the house, actually, a lot to criticize about it.

He found the rooms too small, the staircases too narrow, the floorboards creaky and uneven. He was testing out them, which kind of raised eyebrows, because you really don't want to jump up and down there.

And Doug Bradburn, the CEO, he came upon, well, how do I get President Trump interested in it? And he -- then he turned to Trump -- then he turned to George Washington's real estate speculation and how he was a very wealthy early American.

BALDWIN: And so that landed with the current president. And, just lastly, was there any one stop on the tour where President Trump was truly fascinated?

LIPPMAN: So, he -- they got to the end of the tour, where George Washington died in his bedroom of a throat infection.

And Trump grabbed the bedpost and said, well, this is a good bed to die in, which was kind of a cap to our article.


LIPPMAN: And one other -- one other interesting thing is that, of course, the Macrons knew more about the history than the Trumps did, which is not a shocker.

But he is, after all, the French president. So, you would think, well, that would kind of be a little odd.


BALDWIN: Daniel Lippman