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Trump Cites AG, Says Campaign Was Spied On, Gives No Proof; Mayor Pete Buttigieg Surges in New Early State Polls; CNN Exclusively Obtained Biden's Letters Showing He Resisted Mandated Busing To Desegregate Schools; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Searches For Keys To Longer, Better Life. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 11, 2019 - 16:30   ET


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Breathing new life into Trump's assertion that the probe was a witch hunt.

[16:30:03] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hard to believe it could have happened, but it did.

PHILLIP: And while Barr declined to provide any concrete evidence --

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe there is a basis for my concern, but I'm not going to discuss the basis.

PHILLIP: He added to the confusion by later backing off the word spying.

SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HI): I want to give you a chance to rephrase something you said because I think when the attorney general of the United States uses the word spying, it's rather provocative, and in my view, unnecessarily inflammatory.

BARR: I'm not sure of all the connotations of that word that you're referring to, but unauthorized surveillance. I'm going to make sure there was no unauthorized surveillance.

PHILLIP: On Capitol Hill, Democrats are furious.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Let me just say how very, very dismaying and disappointing that the chief law enforcement officer of our country is going off the rails.

PHILLIP: And accusing Barr of doing Trump's bidding.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The president wanted his own Roy Cohn and apparently he's got one, but it's deeply concerning.


PHILLIP: Barr also said yesterday he wasn't going to redact the Robert Mueller report for any information that may be personally damaging to President Trump. I asked President Trump whether he was concerned about that today. And he said he wasn't. He went on to call the investigation treasonous -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Abby Phillip, thanks so much.

So, there's some confusion here. We're joined by Jamal Simmons and Amanda Carpenter. Thanks for joining us.

Barr said, quote, spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur. He also said I want to make sure there was no unauthorized surveillance.

So I think it's still kind of up in the air, what did he mean when he said spying bid occur. What do you think he meant?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Was he trying, to as we -- as the piece suggested, you know, buy into or give a little credence to the sort of conspiracy theories, maybe a little red meat for Trump for being good for not tweeting the first weekend that the Mueller report was supposedly out. Or is it that Barr is not understanding -- I mean, this is a very different time than the last time he was attorney general in terms of social media, in terms of the connotations.

And he even said at the beginning of that sentence, quote, I'm not sure of all the connotations which made me wonder, does he understand the weight of what he's saying that we think of spying in a very different way than the Vietnam era, which I would argue is all the more reason if you are thinking about Vietnam to make the report public.

TAPPER: So, take a listen to James Comey, the FBI director when Trump was running for office during that period. Listen to his reaction to Barr's comments.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRETOR: With respect to Barr's comments, I really don't know what he's talking about when he talks about spying on the campaign. It's concerning because the FBI, the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance. I have never thought of that as spying.


JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that Barr is talking about whatever Donald Trump wants him to be talking about. It just feels like he was told to use the word spying and he was looking for a way to work it into the conversation that was sort of, you know, inoffensive and then got called on it and his initial reaction was, well, well, I guess -- yes, OK. There was spying and listening.

Then when he got called the second time, he sort of backed up into the surveillance point. It just feels like he's -- the thing is happening to him that happens to everybody that goes in this administration is responsible which is the president sort of walks you out on a pier and leaves you there.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Spying, surveillance, tomato, tomato. This wouldn't be the first time a Trump appointee has looked into conspiracy theory. I remember that when Mike Pompeo was CIA director, he took a meeting with someone who claimed that the DNC hacking was an inside job. So, maybe sometimes you have to do stuff to make your boss happy.

But I think Barr is being very deliberate, very careful. He's saying spying did occur. Surveillance did occur. We already know that.

They released the FISA memo of Carter Page. We know what happened to George Papadopoulos. We know what happened to Mike Flynn. We know what happened to Paul Manafort because the court documents told us so.

So, if they want to go back over that and make sure it was proper, go ahead and do that. But even Barr said in his testimony, there may have been adequate legal avenues that this is illegal --

FINNEY: But why spying instead of surveillance if you know the difference.


CARPENTER: It's the same thing. It's the same word.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because they're synonyms. That's why.

If you're going to the FISA court and you are surveilling someone without their knowledge, you are spying on them, whether it is authorized or not. The question is, whether this was appropriate?

Now I have always been more than willing to be convinced there was enough there, there that they needed to get this warrant specifically for Carter Page, but the bar should be extremely high for using FISA court warrants to go after American citizens. And the DOJ inspector general is already doing investigation into this to determine whether that was the case, which I think is good for all private American citizens who would like not to be spied on if there is not good cause.

[16:35:09] And I am not interested in pretending that words don't mean what they mean just because Trump uses them sometimes. And spy means this. I'm sorry. It just does.

FINNEY: But that's not the world we're living in. I mean, Trump uses certain words very deliberately to -- as dog whistles, to send signals to the alt-right.

HAM: So spy doesn't mean what it means anymore?

FINNEY: It may mean it to us, but --


HAM: I was very capable of explaining the difference.

TAPPER: Does spy mean authorized or unauthorized?

HAM: I think it means both. We're now determining whether this was appropriate or not.

TAPPER: So it means surveillance and now --

HAM: When you are surveilling a person without their knowledge, you are spying on them, yes.

TAPPER: OK, Democrats not happy with your explanation or that type of explanation.

HAM: It's just words.

TAPPER: Take a listen to some of the Democrats starting with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think that was a horrible choice of language. And it was a horrible statement to come from our attorney general.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Barr opens his mouth, Trump's words come popping out.

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D-VA): For an attorney general to just blurt out something as serious as spying by our own government on -- without due process is a very serious accusation.


FINNEY: And here's the thing, you know, that I would challenge you on. He also referenced the Vietnam era and spying and the connotation that it had back then. And that was a time, I'm old enough to remember the initial post-Vietnam era, spying was a very negative, bad thing. And it meant that you were surveilling Americans without any kind of the proper -- having gone through any proper channels.

TAPPER: For political reasons.

FINNEY: He knew that.

HAM: Surveilling Americans is indeed a very large and scary deal. I agree with you on that. And it remains one now just as it was then.

FINNEY: There was a difference between -- again, in using the word spying, he was trying to throw a negative connotation on --

HAM: There's a negative connotation on spying on American citizens.

TAPPER: So, just one other thing I just want to bring up. If you follow President Trump on Twitter, you might have seen him celebrating this, which is a Fox Business graphic that shows his approval rating at 55 percent. Here's the problem. That's incorrect. That's his unfavorable rating from that poll.

That poll found his favorable rating was 41 percent. Fox Business has issued an on-air correction. The president has not deleted that tweet.

Coming up, one 2020 candidate went from long shot to the top tier. The new polls in two key early states, next.


[16:42:01] TAPPER: The 2020 lead now. Let the countdown begin, 297 days on the calendar until the Iowa caucuses.

A new Monmouth University poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden who hasn't even declared with 27 percent. That's a double-digit lead over his closest competitor, Senator Bernie Sanders with 16 percent. In third place with 9 percent is South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren rounding the top five in Iowa with 7 percent apiece.

A lot to chew over there, but let's hear on the number three, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He's come out of nowhere in the last polls, in the last month. Last month, he barely cracked 1 percent in a CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll.

Now, he's way up in the number three spot in Iowa. Where is the momentum coming from? Is he soaking up the Beto buzz? What Beto O'Rourke thought he was going to have?

SIMMONS: Well, it's yet to be seen what happens to Beto in this contest, but I think that Mayor Pete is doing something nobody expected. He is -- he is the youngest person in the race, yet he often sounds like the most mature person who's running for president. He talks about things from values perspective, even when you feel like he doesn't know the entire answer.

He's saying things Democrats can relate to because he's talking about it from his values, and I think people are responding to that. I've been getting phone calls from people who are not in Washington who don't pay attention to politics asking me, is Mayor Pete real? And so, I think that he has something that's not just an inside the Beltway.

TAPPER: And take a look at this -- it's not just Iowa. Buttigieg made the top five in a brand-new New Hampshire poll out today. So far, there hasn't been any damaging headlines out on Mayor Pete. Although knives are going to start coming out, now that he's rising in the polls?

FINNEY: I'm sure people will try. And, you know, all this politeness on the surface, you know underneath there's plenty of opposition research from one campaign being sent around against the other.

The thing about Mayor Pete, I'm not surprised actually to see him doing so well because a lot of people forget, he actually ran to be the chair of the DNC about two years ago. And people were blown away by him. He kind of came in at the last moment, and a lot of people thought if he started his candidacy early, he may have ended up as the chair. So, Democrats were already primed to think that this guy was a rising star and had something special, dare I say akin to the way we saw Barack Obama early on.

That's going to upset -- I'm not saying he's Barack Obama. I'm just suggesting --

SIMMONS: Or Jimmy Carter.

FINNEY: He's been surprising to people, and fresh.

CARPENTER: I just think it's so incredible that he has the ability to put anyone who comes with his presence into a trance. We've never heard someone talk so eloquently or from values. So, yes, life is good from Mayor Pete.

But I do think he deserves some credit. He is running a very effective media strategy. He's putting himself out there. I read about him in the cut. Learned what kind of socks he likes. So, his team is being very creative.

Now, where there's a mismatch, there's not a grassroots movement to match that sort of greenroom appeal. So, that's where the fighting might come in.

SIMMONS: This is where raising money, and he raised a fair amount of money.


TAPPER: Yes, third place, yes.

SIMMONS: This is where raising money helps because now he can go out and hire the staff he didn't have. I talked to people in Iowa who said two weeks ago that he didn't really have people on the ground who knew what they were doing. I wonder if that's changed in the last couple of days.

TAPPER: Mary Katharine, what do you think about the fact that both of these polls New Hampshire and Iowa showed Joe Biden in the lead even though he hasn't declared, both of these polls were taken after this round of allegations from women that he makes some women -- that he makes them feel uncomfortable, a little too touchy-feely? Do Democrats just not care about that? There's not enough Democrats care about it or --

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they're willing to make peace with it. This is not an allegation of sexual assault per se, which would be a different ballgame I think, and I think many are willing to forgive those on their side versus those on another side when it the pull of a lot of allegations.

I also think as I always say, with a note of caution for Democrats, it really matters that he's at the top. I was looking back at polling from June 2015 right after Trump pops to the top a little bit right after he announced. And everyone was like, don't get too excited. It's not a big deal. It's just a name I.D. NBD, it's -- this isn't going to last. And then around August when it really started snowballing for Trump

and he started really taking the lead, what was his percentage, 23 percent of the field which is right about where Biden's sits right now.

TAPPER: Interesting.

SIMMONS: In the Democratic -- in the Democratic primary, it's a little bit different. You go back -- you go back to 1972, the only three times the person who's leading at this point actually won the nomination, that was Walter Mondale in '84, Al Gore in 2000. Hillary Clinton is basically --

TAPPER: Her point is the crowded field that you can win with 23 percent. Today Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts rolled out a plan to tax big corporations that use loopholes in the tax code. She tweeted, giant companies like Amazon shouldn't be able to get away with paying zero dollars in federal corporate income taxes.

Her line of attack on Amazon sounds a bit like someone else in the 2020 race. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So that Amazon doesn't pay taxes, so that Amazon doesn't get accused of monopolistic practices because frankly they're putting all the retailers out of business, OK.


SIMMONS: What's the difference?

TAPPER: The difference is of course is that Elizabeth Warren is actually proposing doing something about it but there is that same populism.

SIMMONS: Now, I tell you Mary Katharine because just because Trump said it, it doesn't mean that it's wrong. These are -- these are some big companies that are having a chilling effect when we talk to people in Silicon Valley who are worried about the fact that the small mom- and-pop you know, entrepreneur you know building something in the garage might have a tough time breaking through with the kind of the big companies of Google and Facebook and Amazon.

So Elizabeth Warren has a theory of the case about what she wants to do in the economy. She's one of the few candidates who really does have one, and she has a strategy about what to do to fix it.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think it actually -- also she's smart in that. I mean, this is her sweet spot, right. This is how she became the darling of the Democratic Party sort of talking about basic economic fairness and actually fairness in general. That's been part of her message to the black community so I think it actually has broader appeal. TAPPER: So former Vice President Joe Biden, he's run for president

twice before unsuccessfully. He's never before the front-runner. Now that he is towering over all the other declared Democratic candidates, he's almost five decades in public life, are getting some real scrutiny. On top of that list, his record on civil rights during his younger days as a U.S. Senator. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has exclusively obtained some letters written by Biden himself.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: Everybody asked you know, what kind of Democrat. I'm an Obama-Biden Democrat.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After eight years alongside President Obama, Joe Biden is coming back as a solo act.

BIDEN: I'm ready to go.

ZELENY: With his long record facing a new look under the spotlight of the 2020 campaign.

BIDEN: Gentlemen and ladies of the Senate --

ZELENY: One chapter receiving fresh scrutiny comes from his earliest years in the Senate when he strongly opposed mandatory school busing. It was designed to achieve integration and a more equitable education. It was the mid-1970s Biden favored desegregation but not through busing, what's less known is how he followed the lead of some of the Senate's most fervent segregationists.

In a series of never before published letters reviewed by CNN, the strength of Biden's opposition to busing comes into sharper focus. On March 25th, 1977 Biden wrote, my bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court-ordered busing. It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system.

Biden sought and received support from Mississippi Senator James Eastland, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a leading symbol of southern resistance to desegregation. He frequently spoke of blacks as "an inferior race." Biden reflected on that era earlier this year.

BIDEN: They're a bunch of racist. You know, there was you know, James O. Eastland of Mississippi, Strom Thurmond and so on. There were nine guys who were in the caucus that were you know, I ran against the civil rights movement.

ZELENY: But he did not say that Eastland and others were partners on several of Biden's anti-busing bills. On June 30th, 1977 Biden wrote, dear Mr. Chairman, I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week's committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote.

Then in 1978, Biden again asked Eastland to put his anti-busing bill before the full Senate writing, your participation in floor debate would be welcomed. Four decades later, after building a strong civil rights record, Biden stands by his opposition to bussing arguing it did not address institutional racism. Most busing programs in America were later abandoned after bringing

more hardship than equal opportunity to all students. A Biden spokesman telling CNN, Joe Biden is today and has been for more than 40 years in public life one of the strongest and most powerful voices for civil rights in America.

Ronnie Dunn is a professor at Cleveland State University who co-wrote the book Boycotts Busing and Beyond. He says Biden's opposition to busing is not disqualifying but warrants explanation.

[16:50:43] RONNIE DUNN, PROFESSOR, CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY: Those letters I find somewhat surprising given Senator Biden or Vice President Biden's current position and potential candidacy for the presidency and his position as a liberal. Those are issues that he's obviously going to have to answer for.

ZELENY: You said surprising, surprising in what way?

DUNN: Well, the fact that he was soliciting the support of staunch segregationist James Eastland as well as Jesse Helms, introducing legislation opposing busing at that time.


ZELENY: So the question facing Biden is how he reconcile nearly half a century in public life with today's Democratic Party. Of course, Jake, one of his biggest pieces of experience is that experience and long record. That also is one of his biggest challenges. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. Tune in to CNN tonight for a town-hall with Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro. CNN's Don Lemon will host the live event tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. There's one area where the United States is falling behind other countries and it could impact every American. Stay with us.


[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "HEALTH LEAD" today, did you know the life expectancy in the United States is going down? In most developed countries, that's a figure that goes up every year. So what are these other nations doing that the United States is not? CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta went to find out.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: My grandfather died very young of a heart attack and my father had heart surgery when he was very young. It's my father and my grandfather, I think unwittingly really motivated me.

We know there's remarkable things happening all over the world that can help us live longer, better, happier, more productive lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt like the needle went almost to the bone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I was in pretty good shape. This takes it to a whole different level.

GUPTA: Is this what helps you live long?

I can be arrested in the states for doing what I'm about to do.

Can I work here? I would work here.

Chasing life is an opportunity for us to travel the world looking for extraordinary health practices, experiencing them ourselves. That's my job. That's "CHASING LIFE" to find those things and bring them back.


TAPPER: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now. So Sanjay, what did you learn about heart disease?

GUPTA: Well, I learned that there's this indigenous tribe in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest, Jake, that doesn't have a health care system and they basically have no evidence of heart disease, very little evidence of heart disease at least.

In the United States we spend about $1 billion a day on heart disease and somehow there's these cultures and communities around the world that with very few resources can do what we've been unable to do in this country. So that was -- you know, that was pretty remarkable.

TAPPER: How does that tribe ultimately keep their hearts healthy?

GUPTA: Well, yes, I mean, that's the question.

TAPPER: I want to know.

GUPTA: Part of it is the diet is you know, the farmer, gatherers, so they eat a lot of food that comes from the ground. 70 percent of their diet is carbs. They're active, Jake, but not intensely active. About 17,000 steps a day they walk but they hardly ever sit. You know, the human body wasn't designed to sit or lie for 23 hours a day and then go to the gym for an hour. We were designed to be moving.

They rest a lot because they don't stare at devices all night. And one of the big secret ingredients is that many of them live with some degree of infection. You know, they just live in the environment, they don't have antibiotics, anti-parasitics, and sometimes cohabitating with these parasites it turns out can sort of buffer our immune system.

So one of the lessons that came out of a place like that is you know, sometimes our self-imposed hygienic bubbles that we live in, in the pursuit of good health admittedly, may be doing more harm than good.

So they don't have any -- hardly any evidence of heart disease, and heart disease remains the biggest killer in the United States despite all our efforts. I think you know, there were some really important lessons in there.

TAPPER: What else did you learn on this journey? It sounds incredible.

GUPTA: You know, when you talk about the United States being the only country not three years in a row that has gone down in life expectancy, there are other countries that are very similar to the United States, right? They have similar social systems, similar financial systems, they've had economic pressures, labor force pressures. So why do they continue to go up in life expectancy when we don't? What do they have we don't?

One thing that comes up a lot is social cohesion and investing in social fabric and the safety net. That makes a difference not just for physical health but mental and emotional health as well.

TAPPER: It sounds incredible. Congratulations on the new show. Remember, "CHASING LIFE" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta premieres this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.