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Pete Buttigieg Announces His Run for President; Donald Trump Remaining Reluctant; Final Episode of Tricky Dick; CNN Heroes; Tiger Woods Wins First Masters Since 2005; Sarah Sanders Says Congress Not Smart Enough to Review Trump Taxes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 14, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00] ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he's doing well to continue to go out there, make his case individually to the people. He has a very good demeanor. He has the ability to connect. I think he is someone that we really certainly need to keep an eye on with regard to moving forward because he has an inspirational story to tell people and if he continues to do as he's doing now, he's someone to keep an eye on.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Do you see him as a serious threat to the sitting president?

STEWART: I absolutely do. I think, look, these presidential races, I've been in the last three presidential cycles, and they're marathons, not sprints. But it's the tortoise -- and I see Pete Buttigieg as the tortoise in this race and he has a good outlook on this presidential race.

WHITFIELD: All right. Alice Stewart, Alexander Rojas, Hilary Rosen, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

STEWART: Thanks, Fred.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone, and thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We're following breaking news.

For the first time since 2008, Tiger Woods has won a major championship. A short time ago the 43-year-old sunk the shortcut -- right there -- to secure his fifth, yes, Masters title. He was really excited about that. That is second only to Jack Nicklaus. It's also the 15th major victory of his career. Putting him three behind Nicklaus' record of 18 major title.

You see him there being embraced and welcomed by his kids. Congratulations are pouring in from all over, not just there on the greens, but on social media as well. President Barack Obama tweeting, "Congratulations, Tiger. To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit and determination." President Trump also praising Woods on Twitter calling him, quote, "a truly great champion."

CNN's Don Riddell is in Augusta for us. So, Don, what an incredible culmination of a decade-long comeback, and

really what a sweet victory especially seeing him with his kids embracing him like that. And you could just feel it. You can feel the emotions from him.

DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR, "WORLD SPORTS": Yes, absolutely. I mean, if you've been following Tiger Woods' career and his journey, and his personal journey over the last decade, it was hard not to get a bit teary eyed watching the way he reacted on the green. And especially celebrating with his young family afterwards. Just an incredible sporting moment and one that we certainly did not take for granted.

You know, we have discussed the idea of what it might mean for golf and for sport if Tiger Woods could won another major tournament. Well, now we're having to put it into words, because he's actually done it. We're going to do that for you in the next couple of minutes. But first, let's get the perspective of those who had a ringside seat. The players he beat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKS KOEPKA, THREE-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: It's incredible, man. I think we all knew it was coming. I think we all know Tiger is back.

TONY FINAU, TIED FOR FIFTH AT MASTERS: Also in that group you can feel the energy. It's just people want to see it again. He wanted to do it again and he was able to get the job done. So what he's done for the game of golf and for a lot of players, I think is -- you can't really measure.

BUBBA WATSON, TWO-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION: As this guy with three jackets already, you know, we don't want that locker room to grow, so we want a defending champ, we want somebody that's won before to win again and obviously for the game of golf, Tiger Woods is just going to push it to a new level, especially with this. I can't wait to see the stories tomorrow and all the things that people say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: All right. Well, as can you see PGA.com's host Brian Katrek is with us now.

Brian, you were calling the tournament today on the radio. We've talked many times about what this moment might mean if it happened. But it was a big if. Now that it has happened and now that you've seen it with your own eyes, where does it rank in the pantheon of sports moments?

BRIAN KATREK, PGA.COM HOST AND ANALYST: Still trying to digest it. It's such a great question. People will point to the 1986 Masters and Jack Nicklaus winning at the age of 46 and that was his 18th and final Major, and there was a six-year gap between wins for him.

Well, it was longer than that for Tiger, and he's 43 years old. This is '86 all over again because there were far more question marks in the drought for Tiger Woods. Questions about everything about his game, his personality. And Tiger told me two years ago, he wasn't even sure he was going to play golf again. And here we are two years later, he's put a green jacket on.

RIDDELL: How was he able to do it? Because this field didn't hand it to him. I mean, this was arguably one of the toughest Majors. I mean, the previous 14 Majors, he was always leading or co-leading after three rounds. He's never had to come from behind, right, until now. So, I mean, arguably this incident was the toughest one for him.

KATREK: And the pedigree of those that are at the top of the leader board.

RIDDELL: Yes.

KATREK: Everybody in the top five yesterday had a Major championship. Some with multiples. I think that's going to be the greatest takeaways, is that the knock on Tiger's career was he never beat these kids, and these kids that have all won multiples. You heard Bubba Watson talking about we didn't want to expand the champion's locker room. Well, you didn't have to. And Tiger just took everybody's best punch. And his best punch still pretty good, as it turns out.

RIDDELL: It's fantastic. Just an extraordinary achievement, and we were very, very fortunate to have been here to see it.

[16:05:03] Brian Katrek, great insight.

Fredricka, back to you in the studio.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic, Don Riddell. Thank you so much.

It was a really an extraordinary moment for all of us to be, you know, watching. Even in replay, if you didn't get a chance to see it live.

CNN Sports anchor Andy Scholes, he's always in the midst of everything, and always has a front row view, and something tells me Andy Scholes is on the phone with us now.

You were front row and center in that pressroom getting to hear firsthand how Tiger Woods was replaying in his mind all that happened and what this means to him.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR (via phone): I tell you what, Fredricka, Tiger, you really couldn't wipe the big smile off his face the entire time he was talking to the media. He was joking around, he's just so happy. It feels like an entire weight has been lifted off his shoulders. You know, he's got 11 years, nearly 4,000 days since he last won a Major. You know, many said they didn't think it would ever happen again.

And look at Tiger now. He's really conquered that mountain and is back on top. He was asked, you know, does he think that he's physically and mentally able to go out there and win Majors? And he joked, he said, well, yes. I just did it. And I tell you what --

WHITFIELD: Did I lose you, Andy Scholes? Darn. OK. We're going to have to try and reconnect. But hey, we're looking at that moment. Perhaps if you didn't see it live, you're seeing it right here, a tape, that victory. What a sweet victory it was. Tiger Woods being greeted by his kids just as he made that final winning, you know, put and then, of course, all the other guys who have made their own history there in Augusta with the green Masters jackets, congratulating him.

What an extraordinary moment, and then, of course, there, that's always the great moment, too, isn't it? You know, with the jacket going on.

Hey, also on the phone with us, let's hope this phone connection works out. "USA Today" sports columnist Christine Brennan with me.

So, Christine, what was this moment like for you as you watched it? What a rollercoaster ride Tiger Woods has been on particularly in the last 10 years.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY SPORTS COLUMNIST: Fredricka, absolutely. I mean, many of us thought this day would never come. Tiger he said that he thought this day might never come. Forty-three, he's balding, it takes him a long time to get prepared in the morning because he can't practice the way he used to. All the odds against him.

We know the personal scandal from almost 10 years ago. We know about the poor back surgery, including spinal fusion a couple of years ago. Eighteen months ago, Fred, he said he could not get off the sofa to watch his kids play soccer. So this is one of those great comeback stories really for the ages in sports. And no one really saw it coming. Even I asked Tiger a few days ago, and he said he was surprised that he hadn't won a Major in almost 11 years and he wasn't really sure when the next one would come.

WHITFIELD: And didn't you see, you know, kind of a different expression and demeanor in Tiger Woods, particularly today? I mean he always, you know, exudes confidence, certainly, any time he's wearing that red shirt in a tournament. But there was something different, would you agree, how focused, laser focused he seemed to be particularly when he was, you know, just, you know, two behind the leader, one behind the leader, and then when he was tied, but he seemed to have the same kind of demeanor.

BRENNAN: You're absolutely right.

WHITFIELD: All the way through.

BRENNAN: Absolutely right, Fred. Without a doubt. He called it plotting. He was plotting around the golf course, which is a word that we --

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. We're having terrible luck with the connection but we do have to warn everybody that it's been a horrible band of storms that have been in the entire Georgia area. We're here in Atlanta. Many of our sports folks right there in Augusta. So, you know what, I am still joined by one of the sports world's best.

I've got CNN sports contributor and two-time Super Bowl champion, Hines Ward, right here with me.

OK, so talk to me, from, you know, a champion's point of view, watching another champion, who has been down, who's had this rollercoaster ride, who knows what it is to be on top, but he has been at the depths.

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: No question.

WHITFIELD: And to watch him today. What were your impressions?

WARD: I just think it's phenomenal. I mean, to me it's got to be one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. I mean, to overcome the injuries that Tiger has had to come back. To win the Masters -- the Masters is like the Super Bowl in the golf world.

WHITFIELD: Right.

WARD: I mean, all the elite athletes, entertainers, they all come out, you saw Michael Phelps on the whole 16 cheering for him, right? Behind Tiger.

WHITFIELD: So great.

WARD: It brings out everyone. And for Tiger to get back to the pinnacle top.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

WARD: For where we're accustomed of seeing him, to me is the greatest comeback in sports history.

WHITFIELD: It really is extraordinary, and for those like Christine talked, you know, about being able to talk with him a few days ago. And, you know, Don Riddell would swear by someone who said he talked to him just a couple of months ago, and he certainly didn't appear outwardly to believe that he would be reaching this kind of pinnacle again.

[16:10:10] Was that perhaps just modesty, you know, trying to keep it together and stay focused? But deep down inside, you know, a champion always wants to of course believe.

WARD: No question about it.

WHITFIELD: Right? That you were always a champion.

WARD: Yes. And we were -- I mean, you saw him close last season. I mean, he was on the cusp of winning. But I think to finally put it all together, I had the opportunity, I went to the Masters on Thursday, I followed Tiger around the hole. You talked about laser focus.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

WARD: But it was a circus show out there.

WHITFIELD: Right.

WARD: I mean, the crowd, imagine --

WHITFIELD: How do you not be distracted by that?

WARD: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: I mean, people are yelling. And you know, they know when to be quiet, you know, but at the same time --

WARD: He has that everywhere he goes.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

WARD: On every hole. To be dialed in and laser focused on each and every shot. That's what makes this win special for me because I saw it firsthand, you know, then that -- to be able to block out the distractions.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

WARD: You know, it's like the Super Bowl, when you're looking at, you see the cameras, you see all the celebs.

WHITFIELD: Right.

WARD: But to be able to focus and dial in, and be able to make the incredible shots that Tiger made, as a father myself, seeing him reach the top and sharing it with his kids.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. With his kids. That's just a tear-jerker moment.

WARD: That -- exactly. I were like --

WHITFIELD: I know, me too.

(LAUGHTER)

WARD: Hope I did that.

WHITFIELD: You know what, the galleries have been huge, you know, forever.

WARD: Yes.

WHITFIELD: I mean, even since he was at Stanford, you know, golfer, and people were watching him, but particularly when he became a pro, I mean, he helped change the fascination with the sport.

WARD: Yes. It's great --

WHITFIELD: I mean, hands down. And to see that --

WARD: Yes.

WHITFIELD: The galleries are even bigger now.

WARD: Exactly. It's great for the game --

WHITFIELD: With this comeback.

WARD: I mean, especially with those -- the golf gang. I mean, and the golf world to have Tiger Woods winning again. But to overcome that, and the injuries and the life challenges that he's had, that everybody's rooting for him, you know, it was like, what's Tiger doing? And then you can see the elation of the crowd when he won. It was just a magical moment. I was cheering for him at home and drove down here just so I could talk about it and have the opportunity --

WHITFIELD: What? I'm so glad you're here. I'm so glad you're here to talk about your experience there on Thursday, and then, you know, from one champion, looking at another champion, and seeing all this unfold. I mean, it's so inspiring no matter what. Right?

WARD: Yes. I mean, I got an opportunity to -- when he and Phil Mickelson went head-to-head, to meet him in person through an interview, I was kind of like rattled and stuff. It's still Tiger Woods, right?

WHITFIELD: Give us some -- right.

WARD: Yes, Tiger Woods. I mean, it's just amazing because I'm happy for the younger generation to get a chance to see Tiger Woods back on top putting on the green coat. That's what it's all about.

WHITFIELD: I love it.

WARD: So now when I say Tiger Woods was the man my son could say, oh yes, I see why.

WHITFIELD: He knows. He knows.

WARD: Yes. Exactly, so --

WHITFIELD: Hines Ward.

WARD: Good moment.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. I'm glad you're able to be at the table with me. Appreciate it.

WARD: No problem.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back because up next, the White House with a stinging attack on Democrats trying to look at President Trump's tax returns. Why Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says they're not smart enough to see them.

And later, this could finally be the week we see the redacted Mueller report. But will it answer all of the burning questions about President Trump?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:18] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. As Democrats in Congress are ramping up their efforts to get President Trump's taxes, the White House is pushing back. Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal has given a new ultimatum to the head of the IRS for Trump's personal and business tax returns in the next nine days.

Today White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders questioned whether congressional Democrats were smart enough to review President Trump's taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a dangerous, dangerous road. And frankly, Chris, I don't think Congress, particularly not this group of congressmen and women are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump's taxes will be. My guest is most of them don't do their own taxes, and I certainly don't trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Sarah Westwood joining us now from the White House with more on this new line of attack from the White House -- Sarah.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Fred, the White House has from the outset been describing this request from Democrats as an overreach. But this suggestion that members of Congress lack the intelligence to make sense of the president's tax returns if they got their hands on them, this is a new line of attack from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today, but really the heart of this debate is whether Democrats do have the authority to be asking the IRS for six years of the president's tax returns.

Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal argued in that letter, setting up the new deadline for the release of the president's taxes, that any suggestions this committee doesn't have the authority are without merit. Meanwhile, the president's team has been arguing that there is no legal basis for the committee to be makings these requests. They have been claiming that the requests are partisan in nature, that there's no oversight reason the Democrats would need those tax returns, obviously, the Ways and Means Committee Democrats they believe differently. They think they're on solid legal footing.

And acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said last weekend that Democrats would never, without qualification, never see the president's tax documents. So that tells you something about the confidence level of this White House as they head in to what could be months or years long battle, Fred, for these tax returns. But on April 23rd we could see this heat up. That's the new deadline that Chairman Neal has set for the IRS to respond -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

Let's talk further now. With me is Ron Brownstein, senior editor for the "Atlantic" and CNN senior political analyst, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Time," and Catherine Rampell, opinion columnist for the "Washington Post."

Good to see you all.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. So, Ron, you first, what do you make of Sarah Sanders' argument that Democrats in Congress are simply not smart enough to review those thousands of pages of the tax returns from Trump?

[16:20:02] BROWNSTEIN: Look, it's like many of the arguments on many subjects from this White House, it's really just kind of chum in the water for their base. It's not a serious legal or even political argument. I mean, it's worth going back, two fronts of the history here.

First, you know, what Democrats are trying to do is ultimately to require the president to conform to a norm that every other president of modern times has adhered to, which is releasing his tax returns. They're not asking him to do anything unusual. They're asking him in effect to stop doing something unusual, which is not releasing the returns.

And even more fundamentally, you know, the 1924 law, the Revenue Act under which they are basing this request is pretty unambiguous. It says the IRS shall -- the Treasury Department shall make the returns available, and it's worth remembering that that law was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress under a Republican president, specifically because they wanted to investigate -- they wanted to have the access to the information to determine whether cabinet officers were making decisions based on the public interests or their own financial interests.

So there's a strong precedent here, but like many things that I think we're going to see over the next coming months, from the Mueller report to questions about White House clearances, ultimately this seems destined to go to the Supreme Court and John Roberts will probably decide what the American public and the Congress sees.

WHITFIELD: Well, Lynn, this president has been all about, you know, bucking the system, defying the odds, so why should this be any different? He's not going to do what the norms, established norms have been.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The only difference this time is that the Democrats control the House. And let me, Fred, point out a few things. You know, there is a switching explanation as to why he won't release it. Today's latest that no one will understand it is not -- Sarah Sanders knows better because they -- even if an individual doesn't understand their taxes, there are experts on Ways and Means who write these complex laws that create these complex returns that are hundreds of pages long, and there are members of Congress themselves who are wealthy and have these complex returns. But let's not spoil -- WHITFIELD: Right. There are resources in which to go through at all.

SWEET: Her argument -- her argument is a side show to the main thing. I think reporters need to ask Trump the next time they're there, they're asking -- they need to ask a better question just to at least try and move his ball over. He says, I can't release returns because they're under audit. And that question that needs to be asked is, could you please release a return from the last year that an audit was complete?

WHITFIELD: Right. OK. And 2018. Tomorrow is tax day, so --

SWEET: And so you won't get that one, clearly.

WHITFIELD: Right. What's going to be the argument for 2018?

SWEET: Well, at least let's try and bring this to bite-sized chunks. And if you go by what he's saying, sir, when is the last year an audit was complete, let's have that one, even if it's 10 or 15 years ago? When is the last one done. And just see what he says.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I also want to make clear that the portion of the Internal Revenue code that House Democrats are using to request those tax returns or actually to demand those tax returns, it's not a request, also specifically says that they have the right to appoint examiners and other experts to look at those returns. So that area of the law specifically says it's not the legislators themselves who have to parse all of this technical information. They have access to experts and those experts are allowed to look at those documents.

WHITFIELD: Right. OK. Well, I wonder, too, you know, Ron, how much longer the White House feels that it can, you know, put up these kinds of barriers, you know, produce these kinds of arguments and how it will serve the White House's best interest.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think they feel like they can. As we said, I think on every front, we are going to see congressional oversight resisted to an extent that we have not previously experienced. And that on many fronts, these issues are inevitably going to the courts and likely more often than not going to the Supreme Court. And one of the reasons why I think they feel so effectively that they can stonewall and really just try to run out the clock on 2020 is because the Republican Senate is not joining in trying to uphold congressional prerogative of oversight. And so, you know, we're going to have a series of fights I think between the Democratic House and the administration, in which the administration is not producing information.

And it's everything from the Mueller report to the tax, to, you know, just I think just routine oversight of how the laws are executed and that there are going to be a series of critical decisions that are likely to be 5-4 decisions decided by John Roberts. And that is going to be a big dynamic over the next 20 months.

WHITFIELD: And, Catherine, what do you believe is at the root of, you know, demanding the tax returns? What is it that Democrats -- that members of Congress want revealed?

RAMPELL: I think the public fundamentally has a right to know whether their president is working in the interests of the country or his own interests. Right? We don't know a number of core things that we should know about a president, about the most important person, and the most important political leader in the world.

[16:25:02] We don't know who he's been getting his money from. We don't know who he still owes money to and under what conditions they might be able to demand immediate repayment, and whether they're sort of tightening the screws as a result. We don't know if he's been profiting off of the presidency. We have no idea how much income he was making before he became president or after he became president.

And we also don't know if he's been committing any sort of tax or other financial fraud. And this is not idle speculation. To be clear, there's plenty of circumstantial evidence or otherwise to suggest that there have been a lot of suspicious transactions here. I mean, just to give one example. Trump has been paying for money losing golf courses, using like hundreds of millions of dollars in cash.

If you know anything about how real estate finance works, you know that this makes absolutely no sense. Either he's the worst real estate investor in the history of the world or he might be doing something illegal. You know, it looks a lot like money laundering. We don't know that it's money laundering, but it would make the public and I think the members of Congress who are supposed to be conducting oversight over the Executive Branch feel a lot better if we had some insight into how those kinds of transactions work.

WHITFIELD: And Lynn --

RAMPELL: And why he's doing these suspicious thing --

WHITFIELD: And Lynn, you know, tying this up in court only means, you know, months if not years. We're talking about, you know, 2020 election right around the corner. So this kind of transparency, if that is indeed the goal will not be evident for voters. How influential potentially might this be?

SWEET: Well, one of the things Trump has used to dismiss any obligation of having to disclose, he said, well, I didn't disclose, and the voters elected me anyway. That could be true, too. But the point of this exercise isn't -- is that to have, as Ron said, the norm maintained. Candidates now are disclosing their tax returns. You don't have to have a motivation --

WHITFIELD: Kamala Harris just supplied, what, 15 years?

SWEET: Yes. And --

WHITFIELD: Bernie Sanders promises his --

(CROSSTALK) SWEET: Absolutely. You do not have to have in this request a motivation of thinking that something is wrong, and that's what I think is important for people out there to know. Oversight means just that, we want to look, just to see. Oversight doesn't mean always that there is a crime there.

Now given the background of Trump, the stories about his finagling, you have more meat, you know, you have a bigger trail to follow. But you also are just interested what is the tax rate he used. What are the maneuvers he used. Are they things that are in a gray area?

It's routine stuff, and that is the reason that getting the tax returns is important, just to have a starting point for an inquiry.

WHITFIELD: But, Ron, his people are arguing, hey, you know, people voters didn't have that kind of information, didn't seem to matter, they voted for him anyway. He's now in office. Might that be the same argument or justification for the second go around?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think there are two issues there. The first issue is, you know, the law itself doesn't care about kind of how interested voters are. The law is very explicit that Democrats are relying on, again, and it's worth noting it was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress under a Republican president, to answer precisely the kinds of questions that Catherine raised about senior officials. So, you know, the law is the law.

Now on the other question of whether the norm breaking hurts or helps Trump, the fact is, that, you know, he's looking at an approval rating in the low 40s with unemployment under 4 percent, and there is no question that there is a group of voters who are doing very well in the economy. Particularly suburban white-collar voters who are doing fine in the economy who find all of the norm breaking about Trump exhausting and repelling.

I mean, whether it's the way he talks about race, the way he talked about women, this constant confrontations with the rule of law, the constant confrontation with other -- you know, every other institution in society, there is a price. Yes, he mobilizes his base, but he is running more poorly among voters who are doing well in the economy that you would typically see for a president, and this has to be the principal reason why.

WHITFIELD: And that law that you all keep referring to, that 1924 law, giving, you know, Neal the authority to compel the records amended. The Internal Revenue code. It said the Treasury secretary shall furnish any return or return information specified in the request from the head of the House and Senate tax-writing communities.

Well, we heard from the Treasury secretary earlier in the week, too, and he essentially is sending a very strong message that it's never going to happen.

Thanks for now. Ron Brownstein, Lynn Sweet, Catherine Rampell, appreciate it.

SWEET: Thank you, Fred.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. A new candidate in the race for 2020, could rising star Pete Buttigieg shake things up in this Democratic field, and give President Trump a challenge? We'll discuss next.

[16:30:01] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, NEWSROOM ANCHOR: He's now the youngest Democrat in the party's race for the presidency, and he's just made it official. The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, made the announcement just a short time ago. And in his speech, the 37-year- old candidate sounded a lot like another once Democratic upstart. Watch?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor. More than a little bold at age 37 to seek the highest office in the land.

[16:34:54] BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I recognize that there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity to this announcement. I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I have been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich was at that rally. Vanessa, people there, you know, took notice of some of the similarities between Buttigieg's, you know, word choice and that of candidate Barack Obama. What more is being said about that?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yeah. Fredricka, you know, we heard from a lot of the people who introduced Mayor Pete Buttigieg, including the mayor of Austin. He made direct comparisons between Buttigieg and President Obama. You know whether or not people in the crowd noticed the comparison in language, there was definitely a lot of that between Buttigieg's speech here today and some of the things we've heard President Obama say in the past.

But I thought it was interesting, Fredricka. You know we've heard Pete Buttigieg on the trail talk about him being a gay man, a millennial, an Episcopalian. You know, we did hear him refer to himself as a gay man running for president. But we hear him talk a lot about his sexuality in other ways. He talked about his marriage to Chasten Buttigieg.

He was able to marry him just last year. And he talked about he holds that as his most important freedom in life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG: Take it from Chasten and me. You're not free if a county clerk gets to tell you who you're allowed to marry because of their idea or their political beliefs. The chance to live a life of your choosing, in keeping with your values, that is freedom in its richest sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH: And Pete Buttigieg has been asked over and over by reporters whether or not America is ready for a gay man to be in office as president. And he's never really answered the question directly. What he says is that let the American people decide whether or not they're ready for it. But Fredricka, we know it's a big part of his life. Chasten will be with him on the campaign trail.

And as we look forward to the next couple months, we know that he will continue to make that part of his campaign, and as we look forward to the debates coming up in June and July, I am sure he'll get some questions about that. People are definitely curious about that, Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much. And we'll be right back.

[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump remaining defiant over his threat to release undocumented immigrants into sanctuary cities, tweeting out that the U.S. has the absolute legal right to transfer migrants from border cities. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said today that isn't necessarily president's first choice and trying to lay blame for the issue at the feet of Democrats.

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SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If Democrats would step up and help the president fix the laws, this all could go away. We wouldn't be having this discussion. And that would be the best thing for the country. And that would certainly be the best way to solve this crisis and fix this problem. If Democrats continue to be unwilling to do that, then we're going to look at all of our options.

And we don't want to put all of the burden on one or two border communities. And Democrats have stated time and time again they support open borders. They support sanctuary cities. So let's spread out some of that burden and let's put it in some of those other locations. If that's what they want to see that happen (Inaudible) refusing to actually help fix the problem.

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WHITFIELD: All right, with me now, a CNN political commentator and former Democrat Congressman, Luis Gutierrez. Good to see you. All right, so your thoughts on this spreading out the burden. Those are the words of Sarah Sanders.

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean it's the president obviously playing politics with this humanitarian crisis that we have on our boarder. So let's see, fixing the laws in the United States. Well, the two principle reasons that we have so many people seeking asylum and fleeing Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are violence and poverty.

So if you really want to address it, you have to address the rampant violence and poverty that exists in those countries, number one. Number two, we do have asylum laws. And it is illegal to stop someone from applying for asylum. Secondly, while the president is playing games obviously, to tell his supporters don't worry. I won't move them anywhere near you.

I'll move them near those darn Democrats in the big cities. You know, I thought of my mom, and my mom and her sisters, when they migrated from Puerto Rico in the 50s, they all went to New York, right? That's where they went along with the rest of their family. And like my dad, he had 11 brothers and sisters, and they all came between Gary, Indiana and Chicago. So that's what people do.

So most naturally, of those asylum seekers, are going to go where they have family members and with their communities that are ready to warmly accept them and where there are job opportunities. So look, Mr. President, you don't have to do anything. Just follow the laws of the United States of America. And when they apply for asylum and seek asylum, follow the judicial system.

And if they're granted asylum, they will find their appropriate place within our society.

WHITFIELD: So if everyone is understanding the president's idea, I mean his admission to the idea, once he tweeted it out and even, you know, spoke to cameras, even to the White House and said otherwise, you know, he is saying just relocate them to asylum, I mean to sanctuary cities that he believes would be, you know, welcoming them, you know, with open arms.

Do you believe he was bluffing? Is this, you know, just the president and bluster? Or do you believe that he really is looking for an avenue to make that happen.

[16:45:09] GUTIERREZ: No. No, I think what he's saying is don't worry. Folks that voted for me in rural America and in other parts of America, where my anti-immigrant rhetoric and fervor is what has attracted you to me and my presidency. I am going to send them to Democrats. It's a game, right? You have a humanitarian crisis.

You have people walking 2,000 miles through very dangerous conditions, fleeing two things, right?

WHITFIELD: What does that say to you?

(CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: Let's address that.

WHITFIELD: Right. And what does it say to you that the president is really using this as, you know, retribution to get back at his, you know, political, you know, enemies or, you know, his opponents?

GUTIERREZ: How sad, a president who apparently has never read the inscription on the Statue of Liberty and has absolutely no understanding. What we need to understand of this president and his cohorts, want to radically change our immigration system. So that's why they want to stop asylum seekers, because they want to end any type of asylum in the United States of America. But they want to radically change the rest of our immigration system, right?

They say, well, you know, we don't want you being able to invite your brothers and sisters, your husbands and wives, and your children to the United States unless, of course, you're Donald Trump's wife who got American citizenship for her parents. That's the natural way of doing things, right? You come. You establish yourself as an immigrant, and then you bring your wife, and then you bring your children, and then you bring your family.

Because family is at the core of what really sustains and cements our society. So it has worked beautifully for 200 years. But what they want to do is end immigration as we know it. And this is part of that process. So it's part of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of this president. But again, just think of naturally where would people go. They are going to go to communities where they are going to be welcomed, so it will naturally happen.

So what the president is saying is simply trying to gain. Here's another interesting thing. It always seems fascinating to me that where immigrants are known, where they're your neighbors, where you know them, where you live with them, you receive them warmly. It is always in the regions of America that are most anti-immigrants, where there are very few or no immigrants, where they actually don't pose a threat of becoming your neighbor.

WHITFIELD: Right.

GUTIERREZ: But where they do, the warmth and the acceptance, and -- how would I say (Inaudible) as they say in Spanish the welcoming of immigrants is always there. So look. They're going to come, as my parents did, as Italian immigrants, as polish immigrants, as Irish immigrants. They're going to go to places where their family is.

And so Mr. President, it's going to happen. But I understand that you want to take a humanitarian crisis and exploit it for political gain.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now. Luis Gutierrez, thank you so much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead in the Newsroom right after this.

[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: The final episode of Tricky Dick premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. And joining us right now is CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali. He's also the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, and was a consultant on the series Tricky Dick, all right, good to see you.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Nice to see you.

WHITFIELD: So yeah, at what point did people start losing faith in President Nixon?

NAFTALI: Well, people started losing faith in large numbers of President Nixon after the Saturday night massacre in 1973 when Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor. But a small group hung on supporting the president until the summer of 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan move, found the president -- past three articles of impeachment.

And then the president released the so-called smoking gun transcript that showed him obstructing justice. And at that point, his support dropped to 20 percent, and that was it. And he lost most members of Congress, including most of the Republican Party.

[16:54:47] WHITFIELD: All right, Tim Naftali, it's been an extraordinary series. Thank you so much for your input all the way through it. The final episode of Tricky Dick airs tonight 9:00 eastern and pacific, followed at 10:00 p.m. by a special presentation of Talking Tricky Dick, a fascinating conversation with some of the key Watergate players hosted by Anderson Cooper. Only right here on CNN. We'll be right back.

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WHITFIELD: This week's CNN Hero is Vicki Sokolik.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of shame that goes with being a homeless, unaccompanied youth. They hide what's actually going on with them. And so they really become this invisible population. Most people don't even know these kids exist. The transformation of these kids is monumental. They come in so broken. And I am just one person telling them I am going to help them.

They become softer. It's just great that they can be happy and they're able to be kids again.

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