Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Joe Biden Leading in Polls; Crisis in Venezuela; Democrats and Trump Agree on Infrastructure Spending. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:01]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: People will be outraged.

WAYNE DRASH, CNN DIGITAL HEALTH WRITER: Yes, correct.

BALDWIN: And when they read your piece, I just...

DRASH: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let me say, I love you, Wayne Drash.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: And you are an incredible journalist, and I have been working with you for years, but you're an even more extraordinary human and dad.

And I think everyone knows that right now, Wayne Drash.

Please, go -- everyone, go to CNN.com to read this phenomenal piece. Thank you and Steve Goldberg. Appreciate it.

DRASH: Yes. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right. We continue on. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin this hour with breaking news out of Venezuela. The months- long feud between the country's President Nicolas Maduro and the man who wants to replace him, Juan Guaido, hitting a fever pitch, and the U.S. and Russia are watching very closely.

Guaido calling on the military today to join thousands of protesters in the streets of Caracas and throw Maduro out. The demonstrators are being met with tear gas and armed security forces.

And we will play you a clip here, but, just to warn you, what you are about to see is disturbing and graphic. You will see what -- armored vehicles driving into the crowds, mowing people over, just some of what has been going on in the past couple of hours, as we have been watching there in Caracas on the streets.

We've been learning CNN has been taken off the air there.

Journalist Stefano Pozzebon is in the capital of Caracas.

And so, Stefano, tell us what is happening right now.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is happening, Brooke, is that the intense stand-off between the security military forces who are still on the side of embattled President Nicolas Maduro and the protesters that have been gathering here in Altamira Square is still ongoing.

Just at the end of this road, just at the -- in the background of the pictures, you can see smoke is rising because tear gas has been used profusely today and ambulances carrying and paramedics carrying those who have been affected, those who have been injured.

We have been hearing for the best part of today live ammunition being fired here in Caracas, which is quite a significant development. But the result of this stand-off is still unclear.

And also, Brooke, unclear is how many military units have actually joined sides with the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself the acting president of Venezuela back in -- on the 23rd of January this year.

His leadership has been recognized by many countries around the world, first and foremost by the United States, by the White House, crucial support there.

Until today, no active military members were being seen standing side by side with Guaido. But, today, that is exactly what happened. We have seen members of the National Guard breaking the lines from their brothers in arms and defecting, effectively, joining sides with the opposition.

We're still to understand how many of them have actually joined the forces of the opposition and who will prevail at the end of a very intense day here in Caracas.

Brooke, to be clear, just a couple of hundred meters behind my back, that is the place where most of the harshest clashes have been taking place, those images of the semi-armored vehicles running through opposition lines. Those -- that is what is taking place just a couple of hundred meters behind my here, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We saw those disturbing images.

And also, Stefano, so, CNN has been knocked off the air by the government of Venezuela; is that correct?

POZZEBON: That's correct, exactly.

That is the information we're hearing from the ground. It is not new. CNN en Espanol, our neighbors, our cousins in the family, have been knocked out of the air for some time. CNN International was not. And you could still get access to our live signal on digital.

What is happening today is that many Web sites have been dark and have been taken down by the government of -- we understand by the authority that has -- to the government of Nicolas Maduro. One of them is CNN International.

So, yes, of course, I understand that, for Maduro, seeing members of the military joining sides with this archenemy, Leopoldo Lopez, Juan Guaido, with the top-ranking opposition leaders, is something that I would not be happy to see broadcasted around the world and broadcasted here in Caracas.

[15:05:03]

These are images that are hurting bad the leadership of Nicolas Maduro. And one of the -- one of the reactions have been to take down international media outlets like CNN International, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We're going to come back to this. Stefano, thank you so much to you and the crew on the streets of Caracas, ongoing fluid situation there.

Want to turn our attention right now to Washington, where President Trump played host once again to who he refers to as Chuck and Nancy at the White House, as both sides try to hammer out a deal to fix the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

Afterward, the House speaker and her Senate counterparts said that the meeting was productive, it was filled with goodwill and laser-focused on delivering for the American people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Building infrastructure of America has never been a partisan issue. And we hope to go forward in a very nonpartisan way for the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill for us.

And, Phil, when all is said and done, at least for today, the Democrats and the president agreed. They agreed to this $2 trillion infrastructure plan. Where do we go from here?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm an optimistic person by nature. So I don't want to dump too much cold water on this.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTINGLY: But, Brooke, there's a reason that infrastructure, while everybody agrees on the top line is a bipartisan issue, hasn't actually got done, at least in a large, meaningful way over the course of the last couple of decades, and the reality is, when it comes to paying that $2 trillion tab that was agreed upon, there is not a lot of bipartisanship, or at least not to that extent.

But just to take you behind the scenes in the room, according to sources who were either briefed on the meeting or were actually in the meeting, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer were sitting on opposite sides of the president in the Cabinet Room, across from them, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

And several people who were in the meeting said it was actually a pretty wide-ranging meeting. They talked about health care. They talked about immigration. They talked about trade deals.

But, on infrastructure, there was agreement on that $2 trillion number. The big question is, how do you actually get there? Funny story that I was told. The president actually was the one who ended at $2 trillion. They had been batting around numbers in the $1 trillion type of vicinity.

The president said, no, I like the sound of two. Two is where we need to go with this. And so that's how they ended up with this. Let me tell you next steps in terms of what actually happens next, obviously, a lot of goodwill coming out of this meeting.

In three weeks, the White House will present its pay-fors, if you will, how they would actually financing a $2 trillion plan. And that is the big open question right now. Obviously, the details of what it would finance, how it would fund it, those are the big questions.

I just spoke to Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer a short while ago, and he said it's now on their plate. They have said, in three weeks, they will come back to us with the options. That's what's going to happen.

The issue here -- and in talking to Democrats going into this meeting, they actually had some optimism that the president was actually more in line with them than perhaps some of the Republicans that are in his administration, some of the Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The president has long talked behind the scenes, I'm told, in phone calls with Democrats, conversations with Democrats about a big, bold infrastructure package, and this would certainly be that.

But how do you finance this? I just asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would you be willing to reopen, say, the 2017 tax law to help find pieces of funding for this? And he said, no, that's a nonstarter. I would note he is also the husband of Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

So there's a lot of work here to come. It will be fascinating to see what the White House proposes in three weeks. I asked Chuck Schumer. I said, look, you guys have had agreements in principle on things like immigration with the president in the past that have been imploded in the next couple of days. Why do you believe this will actually come to fruition?

He said, for him, at least, hope springs eternal -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: The optimism is pervasive. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.

Let's get some analysis.

CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel is with me here.

And there was a lot of love, it seems like.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Until there's not.

BALDWIN: A lot of kumbaya, and who said last hour like a rainbow all the way from the White House to Capitol Hill, total 180 from the last time we saw all of them get together.

GANGEL: We saw a lovefest today.

I mean, let's remember, in just listening to Phil talking about it, what didn't we see today? There were no pictures. Remember a few months ago the famous...

BALDWIN: There was not a camera.

GANGEL: President Trump thought it would be great to have a camera in there about the shutdown.

BALDWIN: Right.

GANGEL: We all know how that ended.

BALDWIN: Right.

GANGEL: Today, no cameras, also no other Republican members of Congress in the room.

But when they came out, it was very, very productive, goodwill, all of this optimism. Let's not forget, this is, as Phil said, something that President Trump likes. He is not ideological about it.

And $2 trillion, he likes to build things.

BALDWIN: It was a good round number, I believe, was some of the color that we heard.

GANGEL: Right. Right. And bigger is better in Donald Trump world.

BALDWIN: And all the stonewalling, that never came up. Democrats didn't bring it up.

GANGEL: No talk from either side about impeachment or hearings or investigations.

Let's see what happens three weeks from now, but, for today, that was remarkable.

[15:10:01]

BALDWIN: And Tic Tacs.

GANGEL: And Tic Tacs.

BALDWIN: Tic Tacs apparently offered by the president, all pressing issues here we cover.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Last hour, I talked to Senator Bernie Sanders live from the Hill. He was trying to obviously differentiate himself from former President (sic) Joe Biden.

And when you look at our new polling today, even though there's this whole field of 20, Biden is really the only one Sanders should be worried about, at least at the moment.

GANGEL: Right.

It seems a little funny to say because of their age, but when he ran against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders was the new kid on the block. Now there's another new kid. The numbers in our CNN poll, though...

BALDWIN: What did they tell you?

GANGEL: ... are striking Bernie Sanders.

First of all, with 20 people in the race, Joe Biden gets 39 percent. That's a lot. But look at Bernie Sanders' wheelhouse. You put Joe Biden against Bernie Sanders, young people, under 20, under 45, Biden 31, Sanders 19. Liberals, these should be Bernie Sanders' -- Joe Biden 32 to 19 for Sanders.

And race, people of color, Joe Biden wins 50 percent to 14 percent for people of color. It goes without saying it is early. And 64 percent in the poll also said they could change their mind.

BALDWIN: But at the moment -- I mean, I had a guest on yesterday, Susan Crabtree, who referred to this as a septuagenarian knife fight.

GANGEL: Correct. Correct.

BALDWIN: Sanders isn't the only one who Biden obviously has on his mind. Yesterday, the president went on a Twitter storm, talking all about Joe Biden, Joe Biden, Joe Biden.

It's as though we have just fast-forwarded and the general election is like between these two guys.

GANGEL: Right.

So it's -- there is no question, as a Republican said to me this morning, Joe Biden is living in Donald Trump's brain rent-free. He is -- he is obsessed with him.

And I think, also, it's not just the numbers, but that endorsement from the firefighters, Donald Trump sees firefighters... BALDWIN: Police, military.

GANGEL: .. police. These are his guys.

A lot of those tweets, if you go back and look, he's talking about the dues-paying. He did not like that the firefighters -- but, again, it is very early. Ask Jeb Bush. Ask Hillary Clinton.

BALDWIN: True.

GANGEL: It's a long way to go.

BALDWIN: True.

Jamie Gangel, thank you very much.

GANGEL: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: More on the breaking news out of Venezuela, an uprising under way there, as the opposition is trying to oust the government. The U.S. says all options are on the table.

Also just in, it seems more and more Republicans on the Hill are speaking out against the president's Fed pick Stephen Moore, who just this morning -- not in an old column -- said the biggest problem in the U.S. economy is declining male earnings.

And Pete Buttigieg's campaign releasing 10 years of his tax returns -- what they reveal ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:17:18]

BALDWIN: Just into CNN, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has just released the past 10 years of his tax returns.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor following the transparency trend of other challengers, like Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

CNN business and politics reporter Vanessa Yurkevich is with me for more on this.

And you have been going through these. What's the biggest takeaway?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Brooke.

He just released 10 years of tax returns, so we are still going through them right now, but a couple interesting key points and one headline really. He is the poorest presidential candidate out there in the race right now who has released his tax returns.

That's even with filing jointly with his husband, Chasten Buttigieg. They filed jointly just this past year. Also, in 2017, he made a little bit more than what he makes as mayor. He got a $30,000 advance for his book "The Shortest Way Home."

But one thing we are missing is, what has he made from sales in that book? We won't find out probably until next year's tax return.

Another interesting point was that, in 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan. He took a seven-month leave of absence from his job as mayor. So, that year, he only took home about $34,000.

And also, in 2011, when he was running for mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he made so little money that he didn't end up paying taxes that year. He ended up getting an earned tax credit of a couple thousand dollars.

But something that people might be looking for is what he made during his time at McKinsey. He was a consultant there from 2007 until about 2010. And as many people know, consultants do make quite a bit of money. Some of those years that he was there aren't in his tax returns. He didn't -- he filed those before the 10 years that they gave us, but still going through them.

BALDWIN: OK.

YURKEVICH: And we will keep you posted on whether we find anything.

BALDWIN: Keep reading, Vanessa Yurkevich. For now, thank you so much on all things Pete Buttigieg and the 10 years' worth of tax returns.

Meantime, former Vice President Joe Biden just finished speaking at a campaign event in Iowa. The state's February caucuses are the first chance for Democrats to vote on who should be their presidential nominee. And Biden learned the hard way how critical those early contests are.

Let me take you back to 2008, right? This was his second run for president. Biden received just -- just less than 1 percent of the vote there, then dropping out of the race.

And now he is the 2020 front-runner for this entire Democratic field. And a new CNN poll shows just by how much. Here was the former vice president moments ago in Cedar Rapids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks, the good news and the bad news, you're going to see a whole heck of a lot of me.

[15:20:02]

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I promise you this. No one's going to work harder in Iowa than Joe Biden to get your support and gain your confidence.

You all know in your gut, you all know in your gut that this election for president is different. And we know why. Limited to four years, this administration will go down in history as an aberrant moment in time. But give eight years of this administration in the White House, we're going to forever and fundamentally change the character of the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's talk about Biden and these polls.

With me now, Harry Enten, CNN politics, senior writer and analyst.

And so give me your big takeaways, because, obviously, we have seen candidates. And when candidates jump in the race, they get this big boost. Sometimes, it's temporary. A lot of times, it's temporary. How does this factor in?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: I mean, be honest with you, Brooke, there's a difference between getting a bump and getting a huge bump.

BALDWIN: OK.

ENTEN: You know, we have had this entire campaign where essentially Biden's been hovering around 30 percent, then Bernie Sanders is around 20 percent.

Our poll now has Biden at 40 percent, or 39 percent, near 40 percent, and Sanders slinking all the way back down into the mid-teens. And there was a Quinnipiac poll that backs up our poll that was released in the last hour that shows Biden at 38 percent and Sanders actually in third place at only 11 percent, and Elizabeth Warren jumping to second place at 12 percent.

But what you see is 25 point-leads or about therein for Joe Biden right now. That's the largest lead so far. So he's definitely the man to catch.

BALDWIN: How does that factor into years past and when people jump in?

ENTEN: Yes.

So I mean, take a look at -- I'm going to call this segment it's a time machine. We're going back in time. We're doing all this fancy stuff. And what you see is, let's go back to 1984, right, when the Democrats were running.

I think that this is a pretty comparable year, because Walter Mondale was the former vice president, right? He was running with a lot of support from the establishment, and he was ahead in that field with 36 percent.

Now, he did win that nomination fight, but it was -- Gary Hart was actually in second in that particular year, and he barely only finished about three points behind Walter Mondale. So, Walter Mondale essentially held his own, but Gary Hart jumped up in the polls. So I think that's an example of, hey, being ahead is a good thing, but it's not necessarily a guarantee, because Hart came very close to winning? BALDWIN: OK. What else?

ENTEN: Let's take a look at '88 and the Democrats. This is a completely different story. Gary Hart at this point was at 41 percent in the polls, 41 percent.

Just a few weeks later, of course, there was the whole situation with Gary Hart having to drop out of the race because of an extramarital affair. So he dropped all the way out. Then he came back in the race, but the one who won that was this guy over here, was Michael Dukakis.

BALDWIN: Michael Dukakis.

ENTEN: So this is an example where the polls at this point were not indicative of all what actually happened.

Let's take a look at another year, 1996, with the Republicans, Bob Dole. This is a year where the polls did pretty well at this point, right? Bob Dole was well ahead. Bob Dole marched to that nomination process. Pat Buchanan was the candidate who actually came in second place. He was well back, but the polls here were pretty good. They had Bob Dole ahead, and Bob Dole won.

But, of course, there's another side of that coin. Just go back to 2008. Rudy Giuliani was ahead.

BALDWIN: Look at that.

ENTEN: But he ended up going nowhere, right?

BALDWIN: Yes.

ENTEN: He lost the entire primary, didn't win a single one. The person who actually won was this guy right here, John McCain, at 22 percent. He came on all the way back, won New Hampshire, won the entire primary.

And I think these four primaries are a pretty good indication of generally what we'd expect of the accuracy or predictiveness of polls at this point, right? They can be telling, but, oftentimes, they're not.

You would rather be ahead, but just because you're behind, we still got nine months to go, Brooke, a ton, a ton of time. Who knows what might happen? Maybe I will actually dress nice for a change.

BALDWIN: No jeans?

ENTEN: No jeans. Maybe I will get something nice. Maybe I will wear a tie.

BALDWIN: Get out of here.

ENTEN: Maybe a tuxedo.

BALDWIN: I don't even know you anymore.

ENTEN: Oh.

BALDWIN: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Now to this. It's a story under the radar today, the president proposing these sweeping restrictions to how migrants can seek asylum in the U.S. Hear about the dramatic changes he is proposing.

Plus, Venezuela in chaos, as the opposition is taking to the streets to try and force out President Nicolas Maduro. What's next? A former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:27]

BALDWIN: The Trump administration is closely watching what's unfolding in Venezuela right now. Protesters been taking to the streets the capital city of Caracas, after opposition leader and self- declared interim President Juan Guaido called on his country's military to join him to oust Nicolas Maduro from power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN GUAIDO, PRESIDENT, VENEZUELAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (through translator): Today, brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men loyal to the constitution have heard our call. I invite them to activate immediately. I invite them to immediately cover the streets of Venezuela.

The 1st of May has started today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The president's national security adviser, John Bolton, spoke on Venezuela just a few months ago from -- excuse me -- moments ago from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's a very delicate moment. I want to stress again the president wants to see a peaceful transfer power from Maduro to Guaido. That possibility still exists, if enough figures depart from the regime and support the opposition.

And that's what we'd like to see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Patrick Duddy served as ambassador to Venezuela from 2007 to 2010. So, Mr. Ambassador, welcome and thank you so much for being here.

Can you just -- for Americans tuning in, can you just hammer home why what's happening is so important there, why the U.S. is so invested in this outcome in Venezuela?

PATRICK DUDDY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO VENEZUELA: Right.

There are several reasons that I think make this particular crisis so very important to the United States. In the first instance, there is an enormous humanitarian crisis

[15:30:00]