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As Biden Announcement Looms, A Look at Previous Entries; Warren's the Professor & Buttigieg's the Charismatic Student Without Homework: Guess Who Voters Like Best; Trump Fed Pick Stephen Moore: "They're Pulling a Kavanaugh Against Me"; As Field Gets Crowded, O'Rourke's Presence Shrinking; Trump Once Proposed A Massive Wealth Tax in 1999; Mother Faces Son's Killer in "The Redemption Project". Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 24, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:43] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Former Vice President Joe Biden is making it official tomorrow. He'll announce in an online video that he's joining this crowded field of Democrats running for president. And it's an announcement that Biden has made before.


JOE BIDEN, (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is here that I have been professionally prepared for the journey that I begin today. And so it's fitting to hear that I declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.


BIDEN: I concluded that I will stop being a candidate for president of the United States.

Friends, today I filed the necessary papers to become candidate for president of the United States.

As I got up and Jill told me the results, I didn't feel -- I feel no regret, not one single solitary ounce of regret.

Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination. But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent.


KEILAR: With his announcement tomorrow, Biden will be the 20th candidate to officially join the race for the Democratic nomination.

Senator Elizabeth Warren hoping to make her mark by laying out sweeping but specific plans and programs. In our CNN town hall, Warren spelled out her positions on everything from impeachment to regulating tech giants to eliminating student loan debt. Despite that, she is lagging in the polls as well as in fundraising. We have Nia Malika Henderson and A.B. Stoddard who are with us right


What do you make, A.B., of Elizabeth Warren struggling to take off?

A.B. STODDARD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I commend her for her white paper pile. It's very impressive. Voters don't pay a lot of attention to this. But maybe in the early running of the primary campaign among progressives this is going to help her distinguish herself. The polls say it all. None of the women in this race are doing all that well. Elizabeth Warren I didn't think was ever going to do well. I said months ago she has a likability problem and it is not sexist. That's just what it's like when you're in politics and people tell you that you're not likable. It is part of the quest for the presidency. The winner usually is the one people want to have a beer with. Trump was actually more interesting than Hillary Clinton. On the beer question, it still actually stands. No one has defied that. So Elizabeth Warren really had a great night the other night. She put out a big buzz-producing proposal on student debt, had everyone talking about it. I don't think she is going to make it in the long run.

KEILAR: You have this great characterization in your new "Politics Are Us" column. You say that Warren is the professor and Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the student. Here's what you write: "On almost every issue, she makes Pete Buttigieg look like the kid who showed up to class without the homework, but who has very articulate reasons as to why homework really isn't as important as one might think."

What does that say about what voters actually want?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think they want a fresh face and someone they think can win in the Midwest in particular. Look at the way that President Trump was able to win, he won the midwestern states that typically have gone to Democrats. Buttigieg, from Indiana, although I don't think he could win a statewide race in Indiana.


HENDERSON: He is the mayor of a very Democratic, pretty liberal town, South Bend. I think that is one of the reasons he is doing well. And one of the reasons Biden is doing well and one reason Bernie Sanders is doing well, is people, Democrats were traumatized in 2016 by the loss of Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump, this massive upset. I think there's a belief among some Democrats that it is harder for a woman to win, given what happened to Hillary Clinton. So a sure bet for some Democrats is a man.

KEILAR: Let's talk about Stephen Moore, the president's pick for the Federal Reserve Board. It turns out that he made just a ton of sexist and derogatory comments about women in the past. According to the "New York Times," he wrote this about college women: "If they were so oppressed and offended by drunken lustful frat boys, why is it that on Friday nights they show up in droves in tight skirts to the keg parties?" CNN's "KFILE" covered this comment about college basketball playoffs:

"Here is the rule change I propose. No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer vendors, no women anything," he so misogynistically bloviated.

[13:35:07] And then this: "Is there no area in life where men can take a vacation from women?" And he wrote that women tennis pros want equal pay for inferior work.

What do you think this is going to do to him, if anything?

STODDARD: Well, I think that his nomination was already facing a few problems. The truth is that the Trump administration, even if they think you are a wonderful person and you get chosen because you're a friend of the president, they don't vet you. So if you have not pre- vetted yourself, this is what you are going to face. This is what Herman Cain faced until he pulled himself from consideration 36 hours ago. You don't get vetted. Can you pass muster with Senate Republicans? That is the ultimate question for Stephen Moore. They should know about Herman Cain and made it perfectly clear to the White House.

KEILAR: What do you make of him saying he is getting Kavanaugh, Nia?

HENDERSON: He is also saying he was just kidding. He's using the language of conservatives to kind of curry favor with them. He has more of a track record with conservatives at the Heritage Foundation. He obviously worked Trump's 2016 campaign. He was on cable news working for us for a time there. But I think it is him basically saying -- calling folks to rally around him. Don't let what happened to Kavanaugh happen to me, he is essentially saying. We'll see if it works, if Republicans are going to signal that they are not going to back him in the way that they did with Cain, tanking his nomination in his race for the Fed board.

KEILAR: Let's talk about Beto O'Rourke. He is someone who the expectations were so high. He comes out of the gate with huge fundraising numbers. He was on the cover of "Vanity Fair." Now he seems to really be shrinking from view. Do you see a comeback for him?

HENDERSON: We don't know. We have to see what happens with the debates. I saw Beto O'Rourke at his sort of official launch down in Texas. Talking to voters there, they wanted to see what was more to Beto O'Rourke. What was the Beto 2.0? What were his policy announcements? I think that has hurt him as well as Pete Buttigieg. A lot of the energy and desire for a fresh new face has moved on to Buttigieg.

KEILAR: He is being compared a lot to Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Beto O'Rourke seems to be -- as he talks about things, he just seems more meandering, whereas Buttigieg seems more focused.

STODDARD: Yes. It is very hard to come up against Pete Buttigieg because of his measured, deliberate and articulate expression of ideas and values. He said he hasn't put out a lot of policies because he's trying to get people to focus on his intention and his values before he thinks -- he doesn't want to pick on Hillary Clinton again, but he thinks Democrats have barfed out a bunch of policy positions without connecting first and people aren't listening. Beto was very exciting. I agree with Nia. This is the embryonic stages. We don't know who is going to pull out, consolidate support from whoever left the race. Beto can have a great set of debates and can be on again in July, August, September, well before the voting starts. We don't know who will be left standing. We have an idea who is probably leaving the race. I think Beto looks like he will be in the top six or seven for a while. But he does have to sort of focus his comments more if he's going to be on stage with Buttigieg because Buttigieg is naturally articulate and is able to message in a way that keeps people listening. Beto flails a lot, gets on tables. He doesn't really end up keeping people focused on him. And that's -- he would still be more exciting if Buttigieg wasn't in the race.

KEILAR: That may be the best explanation of the letting values animate policies. So thank you so much for the translation, A.B.


STODDARD: It is hard to understand.


KEILAR: It is hard to understand but now it makes more sense.


STODDARD: -- put out too many white papers and people don't read them and they don't care

KEILAR: You explain why that might be a good idea.

Thank you, A.B.

Nia, great column.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

KEILAR: Thank you so much for being with us.

The 2020 Democratic hopefuls are vowing to take on wealth inequality. But we've heard a similar idea before. You might be surprised to hear who came up with a tax plan on the rich back in 1999.

[13:39:28] And soon, we are waiting on an update from police. Live pictures here as we wait to hear about the search for the 5-year-old boy who disappeared in Illinois. We're going to bring that to you.


KEILAR: The 2020 Democratic hopefuls are vowing to take on wealth inequality. Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing an ultra- millionaire tax. And Senator Bernie Sanders wants to raise the estate tax for the rich. Although those ideas are gaining traction with voters, it's actually not a new concept. Donald Trump proposed his own version of a wealth tax in 1999 when he was exploring a possible bid for the Reform Party. He said it would pay off the national debt, grant a middle-class tax cut and keep Social Security afloat.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan is a 14.25 percent tax on people with -- basically very wealthy people, people with a net worth over $10 million.

Taxes for the working man and taxes generally, but taxes for the working man and woman would go down to a very low level. In terms of the rich, who are really paying for this plan, and they should get something for that, the inheritance tax, which is a terrible and onerous tax, would go away in its entirety. The Social Security programs would be totally solvent and the problem would be solved.


[13:45:24] When Trump was rolling out the plan, he said, quote, "Personally, this plan would cost me hundreds of millions of dollars but, in all honestly, it is worth it."

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, is here with me to discuss.

When you look at this plan, was it pretty startling to you? How does it compare to what Democrats are talking about?

MAYA MACGUINEAS, PRESIDENT, COMMITTEE FOR A RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL BUDGET: It was startling to me that President Trump was one of the first people talking about a wealth tax so long ago. When you look at the numbers he was proposing, this plan blows the Warren wealth plan out of the water in terms of how big it is.


MACGUINEAS: So it was a one-time tax for one year. What Senator Warren is talking about is ongoing every year. She has estimated that that plan, her plan would raise about $2.5 to $3 trillion over 10 years. President Trump's plan would have raised $25 to $30 trillion in one year. The magnitude of this is kind of inconceivable. We are talking about a huge wealth tax introduced when he was talking about the idea many, many years ago.

KEILAR: There would be a lot of political obstacles to that.

MACGUINEAS: A lot of plans that he put forth have put forth, the numbers and details haven't always been worked out. My guess is that this would not have ended up like that in practice. That would be a huge --


KEILAR: It's gigantic as you point out. As Democrats are talking about this, you are hearing from big names.

You're hearing from Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, some of the richest people in the world, who are saying that they like this idea of taxing the rich. Do you think it's a winning argument for Democrats?

MACGUINEAS: I think it will be a really important discussion during this political cycle. There's no question that income inequality and wealth inequality are at really high levels. Many people are troubled by them. They are starting to have questions about, is capitalism working when the outputs are just so unequal? There will be a big discussion and big disagreements about whether taxing wealth is the right way to talk about that. I think everybody talking about raising revenues and paying for new plans deserves credit for that because our fiscal situation is in really bad shape. Our debt is the highest it has been since World War II. I think that these kinds of taxes, looking at the wealthy to pay more, is going to probably prove to be quite popular. A wealth tax itself is kind of hard to implement in that it's very easy to shield your wealth. We see high earners and people who are very wealthy are most the effective at keeping their money from being taxed. I'm not sure how much you will be able to tax when you put it in practice. But I think it is a central discussion of the upcoming election. What I think is important is we are talking about how to pay for things and the need for new revenues, which, if you look at our debt, it clearly needs to be on the table.

KEILAR: Maya MacGuineas, thank you so much.

MACGUINEAS: Thank you.

KEILAR: We look forward to your scores of some of the candidates.

MACGUINEAS: They will be coming out over the coming months.

KEILAR: All right. Thank you so much.

Police in Illinois are shifting the focus of their investigation into the disappearance of a 5-year-old boy. Moments from now, police are going to update us on the search for A.J. Freund.

And a mother faces her son's killer on TV. More on the new CNN series, "REDEMPTION."


[13:52:57] KEILAR: CNN has a powerful new original series you do not want to miss. It's called "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones. It takes us inside the Restorative Justice process when a crime victim and an offender sit down face to face in an attempt to heal and move forward.

CNN's Ryan Young has the remarkable story about that healing process between a mother and her son's killer.


MARY JOHNSON, FACES SON'S KILLER ON TV: I am your spiritual mother and he's my spiritual son.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Johnson says some people think she's crazy. Oshea Israel, her spiritual son, is also the man who killed who biological son, Laramiun Byrd, during an argument at a party in Minneapolis over 25 years ago.

JOHNSON: I am just grateful. I don't know what would have happen if we weren't able to meet. I guess I would still just be full of anger and hatred for him.

YOUNG: Johnson said eventually she sought a meeting with her son's killer through Restorative Justice, a process that brings together offenders and victims of crime as part of the healing process.

She now looks back on the day she met her son's killer.

JOHNSON: Why am I sitting here waiting for them to bring in this man that's taken my son's life? And he came in and we shook hands. And we talked for a couple of hours. At the end of that meeting, he asked me if he could hug me, and I said yes.

YOUNG: After several more meetings, a bond was formed with forgiveness and respect for each other at the center of their relationship. And when Israel was released from prison, Johnson even helped throw a homecoming party for the man she once called an animal who needed to be caged.

OSHEA ISRAEL, CONVICTED FOR KILLING LARAMIUN BYRD: To be able to look in the face of someone who I caused so much pain and grief and to be able to identify and communicate with the pain that I caused, I think that made a great difference in helping me become more compassionate.

[13:55:03] YOUNG (on camera): Supporters of Restorative Justice across the USA say justice for many crimes, should not be measured only by prison terms.

TIMOTHY EVANS, CHIEF JUDGE, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, CIRCUIT COURT: The idea is for the perpetrator to see what the harm has been on the community, and for those who were the victims of the perpetrator's act, to have an opportunity to participate in the solution to the problem.

JOHNSON: People say I'm crazy, but I don't think so. I'm grateful to be in the place that I'm in.

YOUNG (voice-over): Ryan Young, CNN.


KEILAR: Be sure to watch the all-new original series, "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones, which premieres Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern.

More on the odd development involving Michael Cohen. Why he appears to be walking back part of his guilty plea and why it involves Tom Arnold? Plus, any moment, the FBI and police in Illinois will make an announcement about a missing 5-year-old boy. We will bring that to you live, next.