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How Biden Fared in Pervious Presidential Bids; Powerful Firefighters Union Expected to Endorse Joe Biden; Bill Weld Only Republican to Challenge Trump for Presidency; Source: Lori Loughlin Maintains Innocence in College Scam. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 25, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:32:11] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You know the saying, third time is the charm. No doubt, Joe Biden and his supporters are hoping that is the case since he's run for president twice. First time, he pulled out within the first four months.

So let's get specific on his previous launches with CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

So we know him as this Senator from Delaware and he first ran back in '88. What happened?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: OK. So he actually never makes it to 1988 in his first bid, Brooke, because he dropped out in '87 following a plagiarism scandal. He's not the front-runner in 1987. But in 1987, Joe Biden is only in the Senate for 15 years and he's an up-and-comer and considered someone who could be the nominee.

But he gives a speech that is similar to a speech of the a British Labour politician named Neil Kinnock. And let's play a little bit of sound that gets to the similarities first.


JOE BIDEN, (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Started thinking, as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university.

NEIL KINNOCK, BRITISH LAWMAKER: Why am I the first candidate in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?


CILLIZZA: Now it is not just that. There's more similarities. Kinnock cites his wife, the first to get to the university, and Biden cited his wife as the first to go to college. And there's a lot there. And there were other potential plagiarism problems and he said he had just thought of it and didn't realize he was plagiarizing it. And to this day, he has fought it. But it did lead, as you rightly know, to him getting out of the race. Let's play that sound from 1987. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I do it with incredible reluctance and it makes me angry. I'm angry with myself for having been put in the position, put myself in the position of having to make this choice. And I am no less frustrated with the environment of presidential politics that makes it so difficult to let the American people measure the whole Joe Biden and not just misstatements that I've made.


CILLIZZA: Just, Brooke, very quickly, in the everything old is -- everything new is old, Joe Biden decrying how nasty and negative politics are, oh, boy. Imagine if it was today. So that was in 1988 presidential bid.

BALDWIN: What about 2008?

CILLIZZA: So, 2008, different animal. He's been in the Senate a long time. This was seen as a career capper. Never seen as all that serious a candidate and his showing proved it as we showed here. So he only ran in one race, the Iowa caucus and here he is down at 1 percent. Obviously one, two, three are the ones that mattered in the race. Biden dropped out after this. But in that race, he did catch Barack Obama's eye. He becomes the nominee, and picks him as V.P..

[14:35:09] Let's play the sound of Biden dropping out that he hopes doesn't come again in the 2008 race. Let's play that.


BIDEN: 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.


CILLIZZA: Now I guarantee you, Brooke, when he dropped out, I remember this, and he drops out, there's no way he thinks, hmm, maybe in 12 years I'll run for president again. That was seen as the end. And then Obama picks him for V.P. And Hillary loses. A series of events that have drawn us here. And something Donald Trump is right about when he attacks Joe Biden, Joe Biden, in presidential races, the '88 race and the 2008 and he's not relevant and drops out after the first vote, he's never shown the quality of candidate that we expected him to be in either race. So there are questions as he begins this third time to try to get that mantle.

BALDWIN: We'll be asking him that question.

Chris Cillizza, thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And speaking of the former vice president, a powerful union is expected to endorse him. Especially notable since this group chose not to endorse either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016. I'm talking about the International Association of Firefighters. It is not waiving one bit for 2020. You could see the signs they're ready for Biden when he spoke to the union last month. And now officials say, sometime next week, they will make their support of the former vice president official.

In 2008, he explained to an audience of IAFF members where he feels and he owes a lot to first responders and firefighters in this country.


BIDEN: But I owe the firefighters of my state. I owe them my two grown sons. When my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, it was a fire fight using jaws of life that got my two sons out and the hospital -- to the hospital in time to save them. I owe you and the firefighters of my state, literally, I owe you my life. The fact of the matter is when I was -- I was diagnosed with a ruptured aneurysm in the middle of a snowstorm, my local fire company put me in an ambulance and get me two hours -- two and a half hours in the snow to Walter Reed to get me to the right doctor.


BALDWIN: Harold Schaitberger is the president of the 316,000-member union.

Harold, thank you so much for being with me.


BALDWIN: I read a quote of yours from a couple of years ago that you said your group will walk through a wall for Joe Biden. So beyond his support for legislation back in collective bargaining and benefits for first responders, give me one big reason why you guys will be endorsing him?

SCHAITBERGER: Well, first of all, Brooke, let me make it clear that now that the former vice president has announced his candidacy this morning our executive board, in discussions on this for a number of months, and as you mentioned also invited him to address our 900 leadership team at our legislative conference, we'll be meeting tonight at 5:00 to take our formal action concerning his candidacy. And the results of that formal action, we will be prepared to announce early next week.

But to your question, we're pretty straightforward. You have our back, we have yours. You stand with us, we'll stand with you. And Joe Biden has had the interest of firefighters and, quite frankly, all workers, all middle-class workers, has had their backs and been supporting us throughout almost four decades of support. And so as we consider putting our reputation and the good will of the incredible members, firefighters that do such incredible work on the front lines every day, we're going to be prepared, likely tonight, to formally support someone who has without any question been supporting our efforts for years. BALDWIN: To your point about having their backs, it sounds like, in

an interview from after the election in 2016, you felt like the Democratic Party had left you and your members behind. When all in on -- winning over minorities and college educated whites and sort of losing the focus on the traditional blue-collar base. And do you think that -- do you feel like Joe Biden has the right message? I'm sure you watched his rollout video this morning and the city of Charlottesville and playing a theme on race and injustices. Is that what you want to see to win you and your members back?

[14:40:05] SCHAITBERGER: Well, Brooke, first of all, Joe Biden has the voice and the ability to connect with workers, and particularly those workers, including my members, and particularly within those key battleground states, through the Midwest, to be able to speak to them and their concerns. And quite frankly, in the last election, so many of our members felt that the nominee of the Democratic Party was not speaking to them and was not connected to them and did not fully recognize the work they do. We talk about workers, people that go to work and have to go home every day to wash their hands or take a shower. And Joe Biden has the voice, the connection to be able to truly be that kitchen table, if you will, Joe, and connect with their concerns and their aspirations, and what they believe their opportunities should be --


SCHAITBERGER: -- in this great country.

BALDWIN: Sure. Sure. On the flip side, I don't know how observe you read the president's tweets, but he is calling Joe Biden Sleepy Joe. Harold, he would be 78 at his inauguration if he were to win. Is that a concern for you?

SCHAITBERGER: Well, it is not a concern for me. What I'm focused on is a Joe Biden that will bring decency and civility back to the political discourse. Someone who knows how to bring people together and to reunite this country like it needs. He also has the ability to be able to operate on the international stage --


BALDWIN: But, Harold, quickly, if I may, I hear you. You talk about how your group is not a monolith and you have liberals and conservatives and independents and in 2016 your group in polling found 50 percent of you all supported Trump. Do you see, last quick question, do you see that support for Trump waiving going into 2020?

SCHAITBERGER: I'm not going to focus on the president right now. What I will tell you is that I think --


BALDWIN: But it sounds like half of your union is.

SCHAITBERGER: -- a majority of our members will be supporting Joe Biden. BALDWIN: OK.

SCHAITBERGER: -- and will, if you will, come home to the candidate that will be speaking directly to them.

BALDWIN: OK. Coming home. Good luck with the vote tonight.

Harold Schaitberger, I appreciate your voice and the message.

Good luck, sir. Thank you.

SCHAITBERGER: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: While Biden has made clear he is taking on Trump directly, there's one Republican candidate promising to do the same. Trump's only GOP opponent says we would be better off with President Pence. Bill Weld will join me next.

And breaking news. North Korea presented the U.S. with a $2 million bill for the care of Otto Warmbier. The story on that ahead.


[14:47:28] BALDWIN: We are closing in now on two dozen Democratic candidates who are looking to challenge President Trump in 2020. But so far, just one Republican has officially announced he will challenge President Trump for the GOP nomination. That is former Massachusetts governor, Bill Weld. And he is not holding back on his criticism of the sitting president, calling him a malignant narcissist, among other things. The governor said that Trump should look to Richard Nixon's example. If he were a true patriot, he would resign.

And Bill Weld is with me.

Governor Weld, a pleasure.


BALDWIN: And you want Trump to resign. And let's assume he is not going to, why would you not support Congress on impeachment?

WELD: No, I don't think it is the time for that now.


WELD: I buy the political argument they could impeach in five minutes and then you're over in the Senate. And unless something changed you won't get two-thirds of the members necessary to convict in the Senate so you'll have 12 months of negative publicity. But at the end, the president declaring victory and doing another victory lap right before the election. I don't like that timing sequence. And that is purely political advice. That's not legal analysis.

BALDWIN: As a lawyer -- Watergate lawyer in your late 20s, you say, knowing that case so well, that what Trump has done is worse than what Richard Nixon --


WELD: Oh, it is way beyond --


WELD: Volume two of the Mueller report makes it clear, beyond any doubt, that he committed obstruction of justice, pick a number, six, eight, 10 times. It is undisputed that he instructed senior national intelligence officials to lie. Senior national security official, K.T. McFarland, to lie, and senior legal officials, Don McGahn to lie, and they said, no, we can't. Why not? Because it is not true what you said. What's your point? His first inclination is to lie. That is known as subordination of perjury and it is a five-year felony and the context of the pendency of the Mueller investigation, it is obstruction. At the end of volume two, Mueller sets out facts that would constitute corrupt intent sufficient to indict for obstruction. It is all there.

BALDWIN: So what does justice look like in this case to you?

WELD: Justice in this case?

BALDWIN: In this case.

WELD: Well, I don't think --


BALDWIN: You're not for impeachment hearings.

WELD: No. I think they -- I think they should have filed a sealed indictment against the president so as not to disturb his day job. But at least give meaning to the Constitution which says the president will be liable to indictment, prosecution and punishment for ordinary criminal offenses after leaving office. OK. If the president can escape any prosecution by getting re-elected and having the five-year statute of limitations run, then that constitutional provision has no meaning.

[14:50:14] BALDWIN: Let me turn the page, Governor, and let me ask you about Franklin Graham took to Twitter to call Mayor Pete Buttigieg -- called him a sinner and said he should repent for his homosexuality. Do you think most Republicans agree with Franklin Graham? With that assessment?

WELD: I sure hope not. I hope we are well beyond that. I was a pioneer on LGBTQ rights back to 1991 when I started -- tons of cabinet members and tons of judges, et cetera, et cetera. I don't believe anybody should have to live in the shadows in this country. And that includes immigrants and it includes gays and lesbians. And I think the essence of democracy is the individual shall not be thrust in a corner. And I think Donald Trump's first reaction when something pops up is thrust the video in a corner. Let's attack the Khan's because their son got killed in the Middle East and, let's say it's because they're Muslims and that she didn't speak. And what's her problem? Her problem is her son is dead and the president of the United States is attacking her by name.

BALDWIN: This was Franklin Graham's opinion of one. I was curious how pervasive that opinion would be within Republican circles --


WELD: I hope virtually nonexistent. Honestly. We're well past that. I appointed the woman who wrote the opinion holding gay marriage constitutionally required. And I'm proud of it.

BALDWIN: Pete Buttigieg has been involved in this war of words with the current vice president over faith. We know that you say a President Mike Pence would be better. Why?

WELD: I think President Trump has lost the capacity to govern. The picture painted by volume two of the Mueller report is someone who cannot be trusted and his own people know he can't be trusted and he can't even be obeyed when he gives a direct order. That is a picture of complete nonfeasance and malfeasance. And the question is, who can govern. And I suggest that President Trump is so filled with anger in his own head. They said what we're scared of is the president's wrath and they're afraid he will throw another temper tantrum. The president acts almost all of the time like a spoiled child.

BALDWIN: Why did you tell the "New York Times" you feel for him? You were referencing --


WELD: Because he has no experience. He had no preparation for the office. If you read the first half of Bob Woodward's book, it paints that picture vividly. They were delighted and shocked and horrified when they won the election and they realized they would be mega over their heads. And it has gotten worse. I didn't rain on Mr. Trump's parade right after the election or after he gave that awful inaugural address. It has been two and a half years, going on two and a half years, and now we know more than we did right after the election and the picture is frankly appalling. He can't governor. The question is, who can govern. And that is what the 2020 campaign is going to be all about.

BALDWIN: Bill Weld, the only Republican, so far, out to challenge the president.

Sir, good luck.

WELD: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

Right now, we are learning about a judge facing charges of obstructing justice. He's accused of releasing an undocumented immigrant through the back door of the courtroom. Plus, what Lori Loughlin is saying behind the scenes about the charges

against her in that massive college scandal. Their new defense, coming up.


[14:58:03] BALDWIN: Just into CNN, a massive chemical spill in Illinois sent 37 people to area hospitals, several in critical condition. Officials in Beach Park, Illinois, say a tractor carrying two tons of vaporized ammonia began to leak and created smoke, prompting to police to have a one-mile shelter in place. The leak is contained. If inhaled, it could cause unconsciousness or even death. So as soon as we get more, we'll pass it along to you there.

Meantime, a person close to actress, Lori Loughlin, tells CNN she and her husband did not do anything illegal when they allegedly paid half a million dollars to get their daughters into the University of Southern California. They are maintaining their innocence after being charged in the massive college admissions scandal. Both pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and to commit money laundering and face up to 20 years in prison on each charge.

Chloe Melas is our CNN entertainment reporter.

And you've been talking to the source and they feel like they're being turned into the fall guys?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes. They feel like they've become the poster children for something that is going on for years. They say, look, there are so many people out there that donate money to schools and buildings and give money to endowment with a wink-wink to get their kids into the school and they feel they didn't do anything illegal or wrong. And that it is just because they are celebrities that there's so much of a media circus around them.

BALDWIN: So what about the rowing machine photo that they --

MELAS: How is it possible that Mossimo and Lori will defend the fact that Mossimo paid $50,000 to an associate athletic director at the school to have them accept their daughter on the rowing team and she never rowed before? And he sent a photo of her on a rowing machine in their home. How can they ethically defend that? A source tells me that they just wanted a good education for their children and they did what any parent would do.

BALDWIN: Quickly, what is USC doing today?

MELAS: USC has announced new changes to avoid situations like this from happening in the future. So a letter came out today from the USC interim president that says that every candidates file is going to be reviewed by a head coach, senior sports administrator, and that they're certify in writing that the student is coming to be there for athletic reasons and that every year athletic rosters will be audited.