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Clashes Erupt in Venezuela; Trump, Pelosi and Schumer Meet on Infrastructure; Biden Solidifies Front-Runner Status; Protests Escalate in Venezuela. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired April 30, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:22] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, violent clashes erupt as the opposition leader in Venezuela tells citizens and the military to rise up and oust the embattled president.
After a hiatus, infrastructure week is back, which means a new episode of Chuck and Nancy go to the White House.
And the field is the most crowded in history, and his campaign is just five days old, but stunning new polls show Joe Biden getting a big bounce.
Plus, why are the president's finances off limits? Why won't he release his tax returns? And why is he now suing the bank that has agreed to hand over his financial records?
First up, that attempted coup that is underway right now in Venezuela. You may find some of the scenes on the ground disturbing. The clashes are extremely violent. This appears to show Venezuelan military vehicles plowing into a crowd of opposition protesters, knocking people over. And this happened shortly after opposition leader Juan Guaido galled on his supporters, both citizens and members of the military, to turn out into the streets in an effort to oust the embattled president Nicolas Maduro.
These are live pictures coming to us from Caracas.
Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton have all tweeted their support for Guaido, while Venezuela's information minister is calling it a coup and Maduro is vowing to win the fight.
Journalists Stefano Pozzebon is on the ground in Caracas.
And we have seen, Stefano, protests like this before, but why is this different?
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST ON THE GROUND IN VENEZUELA: Yes, Brianna, as you said, we have seen these before. The key difference today is that we're seeing members of the military, people in uniforms, green uniforms, standing side by side in -- with opposition leader Juan Guaido in this very same square where I'm speaking to you right now.
We haven't seen -- we had not seen those images so far. Ever since earlier this year, Juan Guaido declared himself the acting president of Venezuela and urged the top brass of the military to abandon Nicolas Maduro, to effectively defect against the embattled President Maduro. So far, those calls were left unheard.
What we've seen today is that Guaido still really has some support from the military, because next to him were sergeants, lieutenants who spoke, and we were able to speak with some of them who have been telling us that there has been discontent in the army barracks, discontent within the armed forces for some time and that now is the time to stay put as long as it's needed. Those were the words of some of the military I was able to speak with, stay put as long as it's needed for Nicolas Maduro to finally step down.
As you said, we've been covering these many, many times, many, many months of tension and uprising here in Venezuela. What's different today is that there are military men on both sides of the jostle for power, Brianna.
KEILAR: And the military is so key to this for whether Maduro is going to stay in power. Juan Guaido is saying that the military is deserting the president. Certainly some members of the military are. Is there a sense whether it has reached a point that will turn the tide for Guaido?
POZZEBON: That point, Brianna, has not been reached yet. Could be reached later today or in the next few days, perhaps.
When we were able to speak with Juan Guaido in the very early hours of today, we asked him if he knew -- and if he -- if he was aware of uprisings across the country, not just here in Caracas, and he said that, yes, many other military units were raising their support and raising their voices in support of Guaido.
Of course, comms (ph) in Venezuela are extremely difficult to say the last, Brianna. We haven't been able to confirm any information from the countryside, from the areas of Venezuela that is not just Caracas.
From what we can see here, and we are in (INAUDIBLE) Square, a bastion of anti-Maduro opposition for some time right now, we have been seeing tanks of the members of the national guards picking up their arms and say, I recognize Juan Guaido as my commander in chief. And that is the most significant development here in Caracas, as well as a new stage of confrontation because we have seen and witnessed, together with our colleagues, the live ammunition where fire on both sides.
[13:05:10] And, Brianna, here, I have in my hands, some of the live ammunition that were fired in the streets of Caracas earlier today. This is a shot from an AR-15 that the -- that the opposition -- the members of the military switched sides and have joined the opposition where maneuvering (ph). So we've seen armed confrontation, which is a new development here in Venezuela, and military men standing side by side with the opposition, another key development, Brianna. These two things are the most important facts to report right now from the ground from Caracas.
KEILAR: Stefano Pozzebon, thank you so much for that live report.
We're going to continue to follow these very important developments there in Venezuela.
First, though, at the White House today, a discussion of infrastructure with no talk of investigations. This was a pretty extraordinary scene. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer emerging from a meeting with President Trump moments ago, using words like "constructive" and "bold." The Democratic leaders say they agreed on a figure of $2 trillion to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.
This meeting is coming in the middle of a war over Democrats investigating the president. But both Schumer and Pelosi say that issue didn't come up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): While we may have our difficulties in other areas, but we cannot -- we cannot -- we cannot ignore the needs of the American people as we go forward.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): In previous meetings, the president has said, if these investigations continue, I can't work with you. He didn't bring it up. And so we're going -- I believe we can do both at once. We can come up with some good ideas on infrastructure, and we want to hear his ideas on funding, that's going to be the crucial point in my opinion, and the House and the Senate can proceed in its oversight responsibilities. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we were glad he didn't make it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Will that continue to be the case though?
Pamela Brown joining us now.
Is this bipartisanship going to last?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it remains to be seen. What was interesting here is you had a bit of a dichotomy. You heard from the Democrats there, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, walking out of this meeting saying it was very productive and saying that basically they can still reach a deal on infrastructure and work with the White House, even with these ongoing investigations.
But then you had the president's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, in LA, speaking about this issue saying it would be very difficult for any deal to be reached on infrastructure if the Democrats continue with their investigations into President Trump. So the chief of staff certainly casting more doubt on this.
But the Democrats seemed to walk out of this meeting optimistic that something could happen, that a deal could be reached. They talked about this number, 2 trillion, that was agreed upon, saying that President Trump actually raised the number at 2 trillion, that they started out on something a little bit lower.
But a lot of these details still need to be hashed out, such as, who would pay for this? That's still a big, looming question. But the Democrats are certainly looking at this as a positive first step.
And this certainly stands in contrast to these past meetings between the Democratic leaders and President Trump. As you'll recall, Brianna, the last meeting when they were there, the president walked out of that meeting. This was before the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Before that there was that contentious televised meeting between the leaders and President Trump in the Oval Office where they got into an argument over the border wall.
And so certainly this was a different tone. Chuck Schumer saying today that there was goodwill in this meeting, that it was productive. So we'll have to see from here what happens. But they did make a point of saying that President Trump did not bring up the investigations like he had in the past where he had said, I can't work with you while these investigations are ongoing. They did make a point of saying that that was not brought up during today's meeting.
KEILAR: All right, Pamela Brown, thank you for that report.
And, of course, they say the devil is in the details. And one big detail is how to pay for this $2 trillion infrastructure program, as Pam was laying out there.
We have Dana Bash with us.
OK, so how are Republicans likely to respond when they hear that the "tr" word, $2 trillion.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.
Look, I think that this is so fascinating on so many levels. First, what Pamela was talking about, the notion of Mick Mulvaney, who's not just the president's chief of staff, but also a former member of the House, one of the most fiscally conservative, those who were screaming from the rooftops at their own Republican leadership about too much spending. So the fact that he is now in the White House, although he was notably absent from the White House when this conversation took place about infrastructure, is very telling.
[13:10:02] And going into 2020, we talk so much, understandably, about the Democrats dynamics. Well, Donald Trump has his own dynamics. And although he has so much capital with his base, because he hasn't spent any of it, because he pushes base issues day in and day out, this is one that's going to cause him to take -- to take a loan out of the capital bank base, if you will, because he has not done that, and this is something that although if you ask people, do they want better roads and bridges, they'll say sure. Do you want the federal government to spend $2 trillion on it, a lot of people who vote Republican and only Republicans will say, ah, no. And my understanding is that going into even the next couple of months, some internal polling among Republicans shows that there is growing concern about spending that has already happened without offsets, never mind talking about what could come.
KEILAR: Yes, the wall has been a big seller --
KEILAR: But we'll see about other infrastructure, right, if he can convince people on that.
So you had both the speaker, you had -- and Chuck Schumer saying that the investigations didn't come up. That -- it's -- it's hard to believe that they're not going to come up. At the same time, the White House is kind of perpetuating certainly the length of some of these things with their resistance to providing information and testimony.
But do you think that the investigations is going -- the investigations will be getting in the way of any sort of deal they might be striking?
BASH: You know, they could, but I think, you know, we have -- we have -- rarely have times to be optimistic, and let's just own it right now because you had these Democrats, who have not had very many positive meetings with President Trump, coming out saying that he didn't talk about that, for now, and that they did have, like you said, words like constructive discussions about something that both of them, the Democrats and President Trump did campaign on, on the notion of infrastructure. The devil is in the details. How do you pay for it? What's the mechanism? Is there a private partnership, or is it just public funding? All of those are important questions to answer.
But, for now, the fact that he didn't bring it up, which is out of character, let's just take a deep breath and applaud it.
KEILAR: And that all parties stayed for the entirety of the meeting, which doesn't always happen.
BASH: I'm not being Pollyanna, but let's just -- let's just, you know, dwell on it right now.
KEILAR: Well, it is -- it is what -- it is this for now, so we'll see.
Dana, stand by for us. We have more to talk about.
KEILAR: Right now Joe Biden is in Iowa. He's making a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids. And the former vice president was polling pretty strongly, even before he got into the presidential race. Now that it's official, his numbers have taken a major jump. Let's go to David Chalian to break this down.
Just how big of a boost did he get in these latest polls?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, he definitely got a Biden bounce here with his announcement, Brianna. Remember, this is the first national poll since Joe Biden got into the race, entirely conduct after he got in the race. And look at that, 39 percent for Biden, 15 percent for Sanders. And everyone else in this top six, Warren, Buttigieg, O'Rourke, Harris, all in single digits.
Let's compare to where they were last month in our poll and you'll see a big jump for Joe Biden, 11 points, 28 percent last month, now 39 percent. The only other candidate on this list to make a significant jump was Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor. You see that O'Rourke and Harris went from double digits to single digits. Even Sanders lost a little bit, all to Biden's benefit, and a little bit to Buttigieg's benefit.
Of course, there's a lot of time. This is an initial snapshot of where the race is now. Take a look, nearly two-thirds of Democrats, 64 percent say they might change their mind, 36 percent, they are definitely going to support the person they're with now. Even a majority of Biden supporters at this stage of the race tell us they could change their mind, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. David Chalian, thank you so much.
Let's talk to Dana Bash again about this.
And I want to get to something that Joe Biden had to say about the possibility of impeaching President Trump. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One, there was Russian interference. Without any question, Russian interference, number one. Number two, there are elements of the report in the second phase of the report about seven or eight things that are left undone. He was not within his purview to investigate, he thought. The Congress is attempting to take that up. And what the Congress should do, and they are doing, is investigate that. And if, in fact, they block the investigation, they have no alternative but to go to the only other constitutional resort they have, is impeachment. But my job, in the meantime, is to make sure he's not back as president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So he's says, if -- they're stonewalling. But the administration is stonewalling. So where does that put Joe Biden when it comes to say how Speaker Pelosi is urging restraint when it comes to impeachment?
BASH: Well, luckily for Joe Biden, unlike a lot of his competitors who are running, he doesn't have to worry about voting. He's not in the House. He's not in the Senate. And a lot of people who are running for -- for the Democratic nomination are. So they would have a vote, particularly in the House.
[13:15:04] And so what you saw was a political high wire act there. I mean what he's trying to do understandably is give the political reality that it's going to be tough, but also not, you know, sort of throw cold water on the hopes and dreams of a lot of Democratic voters he needs who are saying impeach, impeach, impeach, impeach. And again, he has the luxury, because he's not in office, of being able to stay on that high wire act.
KEILAR: It seems like all of these candidates are inventing ways to have it both ways --
KEILAR: And try to speak out of both sides of their mouth.
We saw in these polls, we saw Biden -- I mean this bounce was considerable. Bernie Sanders is well -- he's well behind him, but he's number two. He's still a main contender.
Let's listen to something that he said as he's trying to draw distinctions between himself and Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think when people take a look at my record versus Vice President Biden's record, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA. He voted for NAFTA. I helped lead the fight against PNCR with China. He voted for it. I strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He supported it. I voted against the war in Iraq. He voted for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Those trade issues, those worked for Bernie Sanders in the primary against Hillary Clinton. We all remember that huge upset in Michigan. And it was because of these issues, TPP and NAFTA. Is that going to work against Joe Biden in the way it worked against Hillary Clinton?
BASH: Yes, I mean you covered the Democratic campaign in 2016. You've heard all this against another opponent, Hillary Clinton. And it could. But what -- if you match up that statement, which was really fascinating and really telling about where he sees this debate within the Democratic Party, on issues going, match that up with our poll, which says that only 7 percent say that they are unfamiliar with Joe Biden, which means he's almost virtually, you know, everybody knows who he is, which is a good thing for Joe Biden considering he's doing well.
But then if you dig deeper in our poll, Brianna, half say that they don't know much about his positions when he was a senator. That is Bernie Sanders trying to fill in the blanks and fill in the holes and let people know that he is more conservative on those key issues that Bernie Sanders consider his calling card, on trade issues and also on issues of national security and war.
And, again, I also can't help but saying, who does he sound like in 2016? Donald Trump. So you're going to have a very interesting contrast there, even though you're just talking about the Democratic electorate. I mean you -- the Democratic voters, if these are their issues, they are going to have very, very stark choices on these issues if they're even just looking at the top two right now. But as David said, it is very early, 64 percent say they might change their mind.
KEILAR: Yes, who knows, they could find a different flavor of the week or month or year even.
KEILAR: Dana Bash, thank you so much.
BASH: Thanks, Bri.
KEILAR: We'll have more on our breaking news, chaos erupting in Venezuela, as the opposition is taking to the streets against the government. Why the Trump administration and the U.S. are so invested in this.
Plus, the president and his children are suing Deutsche Bank, his biggest lender, for complying with subpoenas.
And he's already under fire for sexist comments that he made in the past, but today the president's Fed pick says the biggest problem -- Fed board pick -- says the biggest problem in the economy is declining male earnings.
[13:22:56] KEILAR: Back now to our breaking news, the attempted coup in Venezuela. The opposition leader, Juan Guaido, has called for citizens and the military to come together to oust President Nicolas Maduro. The government insists that the situation is under control, but you are looking at the pictures here, and you can probably determine whether that is an accurate statement.
We have CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd with us, along with senior correspondent for CNN Espanol, Juan Carlos Lopez.
And we're watching these pictures. We're holding our breath to see how this happens. But this is something that's happening in Venezuela. Yes, we know precipitated by this chaos has been a terrible economy, inflation. We've seen pictures in the last months of people eating out of the garbage. They can't even buy groceries. There is no money. There's rolling blackouts. But why, Juan Carlos, is the U.S. government and why should Americans be paying so much attention to this?
JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL ANCHOR AND POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, to start off, this has been one of the spots where U.S. foreign policy, the Trump administration, has focused on, has been consistent from State Department, to NSC, to the White House, the president. The vice president has been heavily involved.
Why should Americans care? Venezuela is a three-hour flight from Washington. And it has the largest oil reserves in the world.
But apart from that, there's a humanitarian crisis where you have thousands and thousands of Venezuelans leaving the country, going into Colombia, going into Brazil, going in other countries, even coming to the United States. What was once the richest country in the region in Latin America is now going through a very deep crisis.
KEILAR: And there's proxy interest here too.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, and I would just add, there are a lot of authoritarian leaders that inflict suffering on their own people. Actually President Trump writes love letters to one of them. One of the reasons that we really need to point out as to why the administration has focused so heavily on Venezuela, of course, is the humanitarian aspect, the refugee flows, but also Maduro, Ortega in Nicaragua, and Castro in Cuba are all part of this threesome that, as you mentioned, the NSC and the White House have pointed out, represent socialism in our hemisphere. And the administration has been quite clear that that is another reason why we are so -- focused so heavily on these leaders.
[13:25:00] KEILAR: And as we're -- we're watching, you -- we were talking in the commercial break about who you're seeing out in public and why that's so important. What are you taking from that?
LOPEZ: I think today we saw Juan Guaido, who is --
KEILAR: The opposition leader.
LOPEZ: The president of the national assembly, recognized as the interim president by over 50 countries, including the United States. But I think more significantly, seeing Juan Guaido, who has been out, who has been -- he came to this -- he left the country, has been around Venezuela, he's been around Caracas.
But we saw Leopoldo Lopez. Leopoldo Lopez is a former presidential candidate. He is Juan Guaido's mentor. He is a political prisoner. And all of a sudden he left house arrest. He was under arrest for a 13 year sentence. He was out with Guaido today. That is significant. Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez together is a stronger message. This seems to be a very strong message to Maduro, who we haven't seen until this moment, 1:25 today. So it's interesting to see what that means.
KEILAR: Because Guaido's mentor is no longer under house arrest?
LOPEZ: And he's out on top of a car talking to the crowd.
KEILAR: Being inspirational to the opposition here.
The military is what's key here. And also I want to -- we've been -- we've been seeing some really difficult pictures to watch of government vehicles, military, that is in alliance with the government, plowing into groups of protesters. But it's also pretty clear, we're actually not seeing the worst of it because we know, according to our reporter on the ground, he has bullets coming from -- that have been coming from AR-15s that he's been able to pick up. I mean this is pretty serious stuff that's going on.
The military is key. How is Maduro's hold on the military at this point?
VINOGRAD: Well, Brianna, we also don't know if those bullets are Venezuela or if they're coming from Russia. We have to remember that Russia has already deployed military assets to Venezuela. They say that they did that at the invitation of what we -- the U.S. government considers to be the illegitimate government. And I would strongly suspect that Russia is going to use this uprising as an excuse to send more assets to Venezuela, supposedly to prop up Maduro and to protect him from this uprising. So we could see this violence continue. And that really begs the question of whether there are going to be direct clashes with Russian military personnel at some point, unarmed protesters, as we just saw, being plowed down in the street and forces loyal to Maduro. This is becoming a melting pot for all of the worst kinds of violence that could unfold between the United States, the Venezuelan opposition, Maduro and his patrons.
LOPEZ: And we do know that Russians are there. They've sold equipment and anti-air -- missile systems and they apparently were there for that. We don't know that they are physically present with weapons on the ground.
But what is important is that people close to Guaido will tell you, this is not a coup attempt, this is not an uprising, this is part of the process that's been going. They claim this is happening under the Venezuelan constitution and that they're just at a point where they're asking the civilian population to join them to oust Maduro.
KEILAR: And this is going to be changing very possibly as the day goes on.
Juan Carlos Lopez, Sam Vinograd, thank you for your perspective on this.
A major bank complying with a congressional subpoena to turn over President Trump's financial records and now Trump and his children are suing to stop it. So, who's got the better case here?
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