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19 Democrats Now Running For President in 2020; Warren Releases Sweeping Education Proposal; Trump Fed Pick Stephen Moore Wrote Columns Criticizing Female Involvement In Sports; Democrats Grapple With Impeachment Question In 2020. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 22, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:30:34] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Manage you're one of the 19 Democrats running for president in 2020. You probably wake up just every day and over that morning coffee you say how in the world do I get attention today out on the campaign trail?

Senator Elizabeth Warren making good on her push. She wants you to think of her as the serious diverse policy candidate. Today, unveiling a sweeping education proposal. She says the plan would cost $1.25 trillion. It would be bigger and better she says than any plan proposed by any of her rivals.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not just paying the tuition. It's how they pay for books. It's how they pay for the expenses of having a baby taken care of if they already have a child at home or being able to cover commuting expenses.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You are already a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders' free college bill. How is your plan better than that plan?

WARREN: Well, it goes further.

LEE: So is it fair to say that your bill is more progressive than Bernie Sanders' bill?

WARREN: Well, it's certainly bigger.

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KING: CNN's MJ Lee, you see her there in that interview. Now you see her live in New Hampshire where we have several town halls tonight. MJ, walk us through this plan and the senator's hope that people will come to see her over the weeks of campaigning as the candidate that's got a specific policy plan for just about everything.

LEE: That's right, John. I mean, this is a giant proposal. Probably one of the most ambitious plans on this topic that we have seen come out of the 2020 field in terms of the scope and size, and there are really two parts to this, right.

First there's the student loans part of it. She's proposing for giving $50,000 in student loan debt for anyone whose income is less than $100,000. That amount gradually gets smaller and anyone whose income is higher than $250,000 a year they are not eligible for any student loan debt forgiveness.

The second part of it, of course, is the free college portion of it. She's proposing that all two and four-year public colleges are tuition and fee-free and then in addition to that she's proposing making giant investments, including $100 billion into Pell grants really aim that helping lower income students and students of who are of minority backgrounds be able to pay for things that are not tuition, so we're talking about things like food, transportation and board, so all of these things she says will make up a plan that she straight up said goes further and is bigger than Bernie Sanders' plan.

I thought that statement from her was so interesting because, remember, there are now 19 candidates in the Democratic field. That means that there are probably going to be 19 distinct different plans on this topic, so we are probably going to see a very robust debate when it comes to this topic and so many other topics that are going to be so important as the Democratic race continues on. John?

KING: MJ Lee, live from Manchester. MJ, appreciate the reporting and the interview with Senator Warren. And to the word MJ's the word debate. The first phase of the campaign, we all say 19 candidates in the Democratic nomination. Right now it's 19 candidates to get to Labor Day where you're going to have the first two debates in the summertime, an NBC debate and MSNBC debate and CNN debate and then Labor Day this race is going to reset.

After the debate some of them going to have hard time raising raise money and so Elizabeth Warren hopes to be on the debate stage and no matter what issue comes up, here's my plan, here's my plan, here's my plan, here's my plan, and to stand out that way, right?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and by going to the left Bernie Sanders on this, she's staked out new ground. There's going to be also the candidates that do have a lot of substance. She's never going to be criticized for not having substance whereas some of her largely male competitors don't, so she really is trying to stake herself out as that liberal idea factory, and she certainly is well on her way.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's a big contrast that she's making in the way that this plan is being described. A lot of times when we talk about policy in presidential races, it's sort of an exercise in, you know, moderatism, like how can you create a bureaucracy around fixing some issue, but this plan seems to be the opposite of that. It's a big proposal.

It's kind of out there but it's detailed and I think she's willing to go big on those proposals and also do it in a way that makes people see that she's thinking about how it would actually work, and that's how you differentiate yourself from just saying oh, I'm for free college tuition. I'm for Medicare for all but not having really gone through all the paces what have that actually looks like and also not boring people by saying, OK, it's going to be -- we're going do sort ever incrementalism on some of these problems that Democratic activists want big solutions for.

[12:35:14] KING: And it's relevant to an issue like healthcare, education, college costs, that anywhere you go in the country. That's what people are talking about. You go to these Democratic town halls, that's coming up.

So the question of how do you stand out in a field that has 19, by the end of the week, 20. When Joe Biden jumps into the race, I love this from our friendly, Lisa Lerer in "The New York Times" writing about Amy Klobuchar. She doesn't speak Norwegian. She never played bass in an emo-punk band. And she isn't trying to lead a 'political revolution.' But Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democratic of Minnesota, is making a rather traditional political bet. While primary voters might -- with flashier presidential candidates, in the end, they'll settle down with a steady Midwestern senator in 2020. Steady?

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: We'll see. You know, the Elizabeth Warren thing is so interesting to me because I think it does reveal who she sees as her primary competition, and that's Sanders. And I think both she and Sanders have made the calculation that there isn't room in this race for both of them as the race moved on. And so she is trying to get to the left of Sanders, not just on this issue but on a host of others and communicate to progressives that she is the candidate for them.

Klobuchar, it will be interesting to see who she begins to aim her fire at and whether she looks at Biden as the race progresses and makes the generational argument or what the arguments are that she begins to mix. I don't think we've seen her really target another candidate specifically in this race.

KING: The Sanders point is fascinating because they're friends and so it's a friendly rivalry at the moment. We will see if that continues as we get through things in a crowded race, eventually, see some sparks.

And to that point, join us live from New Hampshire tonight, right here on CNN, our town hall event. Senator's Klobuchar, Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and South Bend Mayor, Pete Buttigieg. All on the same stage back to back. Get some coffee. Starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here only on CNN.

Coming up, the President announces, Herman Cain has taken himself out of the running to be on the Federal Reserve Board. He's not the only one of the President's potential picks facing scrutiny today. Comments made by the President's other Fed picks, Stephen Moore, about women in sports. You just trust me, stay with us. You want to hear them because they will haunt him.

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[12:41:45] KING: Topping our political radar today, some important developments as the President looks for two people to fill spots on the Fed. Herman Cain, no longer a possible pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve. The President twitting just moments ago, "Cain" he say, "has asked that he not be nominated."

Meanwhile, a CNN "KFile" discovery could spell trouble for another person being considered by the White for a Fed seat. Back in 2002, Stephen Moore said he wanted to get rid of what he called "un-American aspects of March madness basketball tournament", meaning, get this, "no women."

Two years earlier, Moore criticized female athletes for advocating for pay equality saying, they were asking, "for equal pay for inferior work." Moore told CNN "KFile" that the comments were a spoof. I have a sense of humor. Well, lots of them, Steph.

Another big important development today, the Supreme Court is about to take up an important issue involving gay and transgender rights. The court will decide whether laws bar in discrimination based on sex also covered discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification. Appeals Courts are divided on those questions. The justice as well challenges involving three separate cases in their next term.

President Trump and Melania Trump all smiles on the White House lawn today for the annual Easter Egg Roll. This year's event expected to draw of 30,000 people to the White House including some 74,000 colored eggs. The tradition dates back to the 1800s, something that the President noted in his opening remarks.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is 141 years that we've been doing this. I don't remember the first one, but the last three years we've had an awfully good time. Happy Easter, enjoy yourselves, and I'm coming down right now to be with you. The first lady is coming with me and maybe I'll get this great Easter bunny to come with us. Thank you very much, everybody. Happy Easter.

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KING: So let's come back, the President was going to nominate two people, Herman Cain and Stephen Moore for spots on the Fed. The nominations have not been made. They were just the White House -- sources telling us they were going to come. Herman Cain pulls out. He was going to face a tough conversation. I'm lucky, privileged, honored to have four accomplished ladies at table to have this conversation.

When Stephen Moore says it's a spoof that he says why would you want equal pay for inferior quality basketball? Why -- so, there should be no women involved in March madness. If you read this CNN "KFile" reporting and you should that all female reporters should be banned from basketball except for one if she wears a halter top.

KUCINICH: It's almost as funny as someone who has the tax problems that Stephen Moore does to be nominated to be on the Federal Reserve. I mean, it real -- it's just so funny. It's like women, I am right? Like --

PHILIP: For a spoof, it's really unfunny to be honest, and he actually commented in one of -- in the story that women had written to him to complain about his columns and he basically brushed it off. He didn't tell them that it was a spoof at the time, but this is just a symptom of a larger problem for this White House.

This is a President who finds his best advisers among the people who gain attention for saying really outlandish things on the internet or on television. And they sort of come into his inner circle and then he puts them up for jobs and doesn't vet them.

[12:45:04] And I think that this is what's happening with Moore. It's what happened with Herman Cain--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KING: Yes.

PHILLIPS: And, you know, even with Moore, this is one problem but the real problem people had with him, and as you pointed out, his lack of actual economic experience. And I think that might prove to be the bigger challenge.

KING: And he wrote in one of these, is there any place, any area in life where "men can take vacation from women?" And I'm going to take one for the team and maybe I'll take heat for it.

But until he was -- until his work came out about this potential nomination, Stephen was a CNN contributor here. We should have done that research, too.

JOHNSON: Back to the Cain nomination, the President said Cain has informed him or asked him not to nominate him for the Federal Reserve. And the president is going to respect his wishes.

He's dodging the fact or ignoring the fact that many Republican senators have said they were unwilling to vote for Herman Cain so he would not have been confirmed if he was nominated up. And many of those same Republicans have raised a similar concerns about Steve Moore. I think now that Cain is off the table, the attention will turn to Moore, and it makes it less likely not more likely that Moore will be confirmed because with two bad choices, they were likely to let one go through and ditch the weaker one. By I think the scrutiny on Moore will now increase.

KING: And, again, what does tell you about the White House vetting process and the President says -- a lot of this is the president wants people loyal to him. I think many people in the White House were -- would have told either did or what have told the President, "You should nominate this people." I think the President doesn't care very much of that.

And had the President looked at those quotes, I think he would have found them to be recommendations for nominating these people. KING: Thank you for fixing what I was trying to say. I'm not blaming the vetting process, the system in which the president decides he wants people before they were be vetted. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Yes: I mean that's it. That's it. There is, maybe people are vetted but the problem is that when decisions are made like this, it's because the president disregards the available information. You could literally do a Google search about Herman Cain and found out all the things about him that eventually tanked his nomination. It's just not really much of a process at all, and that's kind of why we are where we are.

This should be actually something that's really easy, a Federal Reserve board seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIPS: There are dozens of people that they can find to fill these jobs. They have managed to choose two people who would probably have the hardest time getting through, and it's just no surprise in a pattern of nominations just like this.

KING: No surprise. We'll see what comes next.

Next, the Mueller report has some Democrats fired up over impeachment, but others warn it could backfire come 2020.

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[12:51:55] KING: The big subplot to the post-Mueller report impeachment debate here in Washington is the then and now historical context, as in those who were around the last time impeachment was a real question in American life tend to be on the other side of the question this time.

The why is easy, President Clinton is a Democrat. President Trump is a Republican, a little flashback here. The House passed two articles of impeachment against President Clinton. You see them up there on the screen.

See that right there? Only five Democrats voted in favor of them. Yes, politics matters. The Senate then held the trial. Let's move this forward and bring it over here.

The Senate held the trial. You see this here. Both counts failed. The obstruction charge on a 50/50 Senate split. Again, do politics get involved in these things? Not one Democrat voted to convict.

So as we have the argument now, a lot of Democrats are saying how dare Republicans read the Mueller report and not say, you know, let impeach or at least let's consider it. Guess what? There's gambling in the casino and there's politics in impeachment debates.

JOHNSON: Well, look. Both sides are selectively choosing their evidence. Republicans are by and large focusing on volume one of that Mueller report which was about collusion and they are saying that the Special Counsel was appointed to investigate Russian meddling and he determined that there -- that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians.

Democrats are by and large focused on volume two of that report which was about obstruction of justice and they say there's plenty of evidence here that the President did obstruct justice and he should be impeached because of that, and I think you have members of both parties looking at completely different sets of facts.

KING: And so, let's go back in time and we try to be fair to both parties here or unfair to both parties might be the better way to put it. This is Lindsey Graham who is in the House then, he is in the Senate now. Susan Collins was one of those Republicans who refused to convict President Clinton, different take back then.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's chief law enforcement officer of the land, he encouraged people to lie for him. He lied. I think he obstructed justice. I think there's a compelling case that he has in fact engaged in conduct that would be better for him to leave office than stay in office.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): And in the end, I just felt that it did not reach the level where it warranted removing a popularly elected president from office. There were certain of my colleagues who expressed disappointment with my vote and tried to show me other evidence that they thought might persuade me.

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KING: Interesting honesty about the politics there from Susan Collins.

PHILLIPS: Yes. And I think that she probably, you know, I would be surprised if she had a different view today about the impeachment question because I think that her view is actually -- could be fairly consistent between then and now.

Lindsey Graham on the other hand, I mean, you could almost transpose his words from then on to now, and he would be on the other side of the debate. The real issue for Democrats right now is not just the politics of impeachment, but it's also the fact that there's a giant potential loophole in the system as it stands now.

[12:55:00] The President cannot be charged with a crime as a sitting president so that either means that Congress needs to step in or the President just does what he wants, even if it's illegal. That's really the dilemma that Democrats are facing. They are saying we might actually need to step in here because we have to do something about -- we have to stand up for this idea that no one is above the rule of law in this country.

KING: Let's see where they get on their call tonight, I want to make one important distinction. President Trump is accused of lying repeatedly but not under oath. Bill Clinton was accused of lying to the grand jury, under oath.

Thanks for joining "INSIDE POLITICS". Before we go to break, a little fun, the President's biggest promise to his base, makes an appearance at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

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TRUMP: There's a young guy just said, "Keep building that wall." Can you believe this? He's going to be a conservative someday.

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KING: Dana Bash is in for Brianna Keilar today. She will be here after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.

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