Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

21 Democrats in Race, Yet Only Men on Magazine Covers; Admitted Terrorist Set to Walk Free in Days; "Jeopardy" Champ James Holzhauer Scores 21 Wins in a Row. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 3, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS": Normally, if the U.S. was involved, they would have helped these guys plan it and said, first, get your ducks in a row, making sure that you have some military, some generals who are willing to defect. Before you call on people to defect, make sure that it's not going to ring hollow. Some of the stuff is just not being coordinated. And yet, the rhetoric is out there. So I worry we're making a lot of threats. At some point, the danger of these kind of threats is --

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You have to follow through.

ZAKARIA: -- you have to follow through.

BALDWIN: I can't wait to watch Sunday morning, "Fareed Zakaria, GPS."

Thank you very much.

ZAKARIA: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Appreciate you.

It is now 21 for 2020. That is the number of candidates running for president. Fareed, don't laugh. Many of them are certainly women and people of color. But it is a lot. And why aren't they the ones -- the women specifically -- why aren't they the one we see on the big magazine covers?

Plus, a man who plotted to bomb the New York City subway system is set to be released. The judge said he is a changed man and deserves a second chance. We'll talk to a former extremist who knows all too well about second chances.

Stay with me. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:35:30] BALDWIN: The 2020 field, my goodness, it is getting increasingly crowded by the day. And 21 candidates are vying for the party nomination, but the sheer number of candidates, is it helpful or hurtful for the party?

We'll talk about it with "Time" reporter, Charlotte Alter, who wrote the in-depth piece on Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is featured on this week's cover. We'll get to that cover story in just a second.

Charlotte, thank you so much for being with me.

I mean, when we even just put all of their faces up on the screen, it is like you have to squint to -- it is a lot of people.

CHARLOTTE ALTER, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes, it is a huge race.

BALDWIN: Is that a good thing?

ALTER: Well, you know, I think it is. I think that this gives the opportunity -- the party the opportunity to really kind of go through all of the candidates and see what the different ideas are and the different personalities are. And everybody is in it this year. One of the reasons that Pete Buttigieg has been such a -- has -- he's one of the only people who has been a huge surprise this year and that is one of the reasons that we --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: He's gotten so much attention.

ALTER: He's gotten so much attention. But people have been angling toward this race since Trump won. So there are a lot of people, particularly the Senators, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who everybody knew would be running this year. And Pete is the only candidate that everyone was like, whoa, who is this guy, never heard of him before. So that is one of the things really interesting.

BALDWIN: On policy, you wrote that Buttigieg said he's a policy guy who, even at a town hall, and asked about when he will shift from talking values to talking policy and he said something to the effect of you'll see more on this, right?

ALTER: Yes.

BALDWIN: When will we see more on this? And why do you think that so many people, at least it seems, have flocked to him and are fascinated. Of all of the people to put on the cover of "Time," Pete Buttigieg. What do you think that appeal is and when will he talk policy?

ALTER: And I pressed on when he will talk policy. He dodged a little. His campaign said soon, maybe next week. But one of the things he said in our conversation that was interesting, as mayor, some of the biggest mistakes that he's made have been things where he's kind of gone forward with his own policies without consulting with the people who lived in the city, without consulting with the legislative body, and had a sort of idea in his head and moved forward with it. And his most success things or initiatives were things that he kind of had more consensus around.

BALDWIN: He was going on what was best for him in the past.

ALTER: Yes. BALDWIN: Lastly, there was an opinion piece in "Harper's Bizarre," called "Why Female Presidential Candidates Are Still Overlooked." It said, "People are thrilled that Buttigieg speaks Norwegian." Good for him. "But the fact that Gillibrand speaks Mandarin is barely in the news." The writer also points out that people are excited that Beto O'Rourke reads books, but Elizabeth Warren has written 11 of them."

Where are the women? Why are they not gracing the cover of magazines?

ALTER: It is a great point. We'll cover all of the candidates in this race. Buttigieg was the most surprising candidate so far. Also, he's the first openly gay person to have a serious shot at the presidency. We thought that was pretty newsworthy. And his campaign had a strategy of putting him everywhere and allowing people to access him in an aggressive way. But don't worry, we'll have a lot of the candidates on the cover.

BALDWIN: Charlotte Alter, thank you. We'll talk to you when you do.

ALTER: Glad to be here.

BALDWIN: Good to see you.

A man who went to prison for plotting to bomb the New York City subway system is about to be a free man in exchange with extreme cooperation with authorities. We'll talk about what has changed since his nearly decade behind bars.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:43:08] BALDWIN: An admitted al Qaeda-linked convict, who plotted to bomb the New York City subway system, will soon walk out of jail a free man. Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty nearly a decade ago after planning what was then considered one of the most dangerous terror plots since 9/11. Prosecutors now say -- say that he a complete change of heart, turning on al Qaeda, his friends and some family to work with the government. Prosecutors say that he, quote, "provided critical intelligence and unique insight regarding al Qaeda and the members." And now the judge said he deserves a second chance.

Mubin Shaikh knows all about second chances. He's a former intelligence and counterterrorism operative and became an expert on deradicalization after being radicalized himself before abandoning that ideology.

So, Mubin, nice to have you back.

And let me get straight to it. The news that Zazi is getting released and the judge cited his extraordinary cooperation, what do you make of this?

MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER ISLAMIC RADICAL-TURNED-COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE: This follows previous precedence where individuals of high value end up being prosecuted and incarcerated and decide, look, it is probably in my interest to keep assisting authorities, which is exactly what Mr. Zazi had done over a hundred times. I read that he had not just participated in trials but, like you mentioned, giving unique insight on al Qaeda. So this was a very -- a witness with a lot of mileage available for the government in that regard.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to the mileage in a second. But when you imagine him walking out as a free man, is there no other choice for him but to get out and live in the Witness Protection Program? Change his name, identity, the whole thing? Because I would have to imagine he would have a massive target on his back.

SHAIKH: Yes, he only has two options available right now. Go into Witness Protection, or not. If you go into Witness Protection, you'll get a new identity, a new life, and start-up money and maybe try to get yourself a job. If you don't take the Witness Protection route, he's going to have to either -- he's going to be a very public person so he'll have to manage his life after that. Whether he continues on a counter-extremism side or he just ends up becoming an accountant, we'll see where that leads him.

[14:45:29] Whichever route he chooses, how does he assimilate back into society? How does he try to live a normal life?

SHAIKH: When you are in Witness Protection, it might be easier because you do have a new name. I'm sure he'll change his identity. So no one will know who he is unless a very keen eye would recognize this individual somewhere. If he does go that route, he'll be relocated to a new area. And he can -- he can start a new life. He could go on like nothing happened. Otherwise, if he doesn't take the Witness Protection route and goes the regular route, he will not be able to have a regular life as we know it. It will always follow him for the rest of his life.

BALDWIN: We know that in his case he talked a lot about his radicalization and then his reformation but I know there are people sitting here listening to our conversation thinking, how do we know he won't flip back and re-radicalize? Will he be watched at all?

SHAIKH: Yes, this is a good question. I mean, he's burned in the sense that he could never go back to any kind of al Qaeda or jihadist enterprise. They'll immediately tag him for what he is and kill him. So he can't go back on his own in that sense. There's a -- a nightmare scenario, in which he tries to go and have a normal life and realizes he can't do it and then goes through a period of regret and grief and might end up becoming a lone-actor terrorist in that sense. So it is possible. But it will really depend on how he manages his reintegration into society from now on.

BALDWIN: Understand.

Mubin Shaikh, thank you so much for your knowledge from your own situation. Appreciate it.

SHAIKH: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You've got it.

If you don't know James Holzhauer's name now, you should. He now has the second-longest winning streak ever on "Jeopardy." There's a lot of talk about how he'll change the game of "Jeopardy" for everyone. We'll ask a former winner about how his Vegas-style strategy is a winning one for fans of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:52:02] BALDWIN: He is the man to beat on "Jeopardy." Host Alex Trebek said, everywhere he goes, people are talking about him, and that is James Holzhauer. And now he holds the second-longest winning streak in the show's history with 21 wins in a row and, so far, pocketed more than a million dollars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX TREBEK, JEOPARDY HOST: And what did you wager? $29,403, that gives you a nice pay day.

JAMES HOLZHAUER, JEOPARDY WINNER: Ages to 62 for $1000. What is the "I"?

TREBEK: The "I" is right. You double your score.

HOLZHAUER: From the Greek, 1200? What is Sarah Lawrence?

TREBEK: You got it right.

HOLZHAUER: All in.

TREBEK: All in. All right.

HOLZHAUER: What is Persia?

TREBEK: You are right.

All of it? OK.

HOLZHAUER: Who is Jesse James?

TREBED: Yes, indeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And again and again and again. The contestant to beat.

Ken Jennings, who ranked in 74 wins and $2 million back in 2004, and there's even a #chasingken.

And Harry Enten is our CNN senior political writer and analyst and joins me now.

Talking "Jeopardy."

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER & ANALYST: Why not. I like "Wheel of Fortune" but we're talking Jeopardy.

BALDWIN: I was a classic "Concentration" gal. And Alex Trebek. ENTEN: Yes.

BALDWIN: How is he doing this?

ENTEN: It is amazing and captivated the country and it is a few different parts of the strategy. And let's talk about this first. And I think there's a key quote on the board, I won't read it out loud and the key thing is building a stack. That's key. He's starting at the bottom of the board and building up large amounts of money fast and getting out early. And then what he does separately is finding the Double Jeopardy -- he's finding the Daily Doubles excuse me.

BALDWIN: He's going --

ENTEN: And so what he could do is then build money very fast because he gets the money and then bets a ton on the Daily Double, which we saw in the clips, and then gets out to the huge lead. But it is even more than that. It is not just through Daily Double and then you get into Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy. Someone like Ken Jennings, what Ken Jennings would done is, he'd day, I'm ahead and I will coast. He's not doing that. What he is doing through Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy is betting larger wages than Ken Jennings. And by getting the large wagers early and building in Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy, you see the massive amounts of money he's winning.

BALDWIN: And it is not just strategy, and bottom up, and the wagers. The guy knows the answers to the questions.

ENTEN: That is exactly right, folks. If you don't know the answers, then what are you going to do? You have to know the answers and have very fast buzzer time. And by having fast buzzer time and knowing the answers and optimizing it with the strategy, he's been able to win a lot.

BALDWIN: OK.

ENTEN: Maybe -- here is a question. Will he take me on in political trivia? Can we do an election night trivia contest.

BALDWIN: Smoke him.

ENTEN: And I'll smoke him. And this is the last day that you are on this particular set, and I'm honored you have me with you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

ENTEN: Woo. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

[14:55:08] We'll stay on "Jeopardy" because this is what are you all talking about. So will the Holzhauer game plan make him the number- one all-time Jeopardy winner? "Jeopardy" Host Alex Trebek said so, and this is what he said on ABC on Holzhauer's amazing winning streak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TREBEK: He has forced me to change a view that I've held for many years is that the Ken Jennings' record would never be broken. But I look at James and say, oh, my gosh, look at what he's doing. When you look at his performance, he has no weaknesses. He's only missed one Final Jeopardy and I believe he missed four Daily Doubles. He's all- in so often and knows how to play the game as Ken did. He has a strategy. He's a gambler. He knows when to go all-in and when to lay back a little bit.

HOLZHAUER: I'm comfortable risking a lot if I know I have a big edge. But on "Jeopardy," I'm going to get the Daily Double right more often than I'm not going to, so I want to maximize that bet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Keith Williams is with me, a former "Jeopardy" college champ, who analyzes wager strategies in his blog "The Final Wager."

Keith, let's be real, does this guy tick you off?

KEITH WILLIAMS, FORMER "JEOPARDY" COLLEGE CHAMP & BLOGGER, "THE FINAL WAGER": No. I love when people dominate the game?

BALDWIN: You do?

WILLIAMS: People who come in prepared and who study the strategy beforehand and come in willing to make large wagers, that is just -- it is hard to top something like that.

BALDWIN: How did you pull it off and what -- what was your strategy?

WILLIAMS: Just start at the top of the column and work your way down. That is the way that most people play Jeopardy.

BALDWIN: Most people.

WILLIAMS: And that is very viewer friendly because you're in one category and get five clues and then to the next and it is very comfortable. It is very comfortable if you are at home. But especially comfortable if you are standing under the lights because on stage when you are playing the game --

BALDWIN: Is your heart like kunk, kunk, kunk?

WILLIAMS: I don't remember most of my games. It's an unreal feeling of pressure --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: -- and nervousness, yes.

BALDWIN: What do you make of what he's pulled off, not just in winning but how he wagers and how he sort of almost, like, the way he's going bottom up, which isn't traditional. Apparently, he studied children's books and, at the end of the day, you have to know the answers to the questions. WILLIAMS: There are two things he's doing but it is important to point

out that neither of these are true. They are strategies tried by a lot of contestants, some more successfully than others and very few have done it well and the first starting from the bottom. Players like Arthur Chui (ph) did that and racked up money to wager a lot. And that works sometimes. It is very hard to do on stage because you lose focus and you are like -- what is the category? I don't know. And players have tried to do big wagers. Alex Jacob, who won the tournament of champions, he was known for going all in. He didn't push his chips in but also a poker player. So there was a gambling mentality there and calculated risk.

BALDWIN: Why do you think, since it is not new, why has he pulled this off.

WILLIAMS: Well, he has the goods. He --

BALDWIN: What are the goods?

WILLIAMS: The goods are two things. Being very knowledgeable and having good buzzer timing. Because, if you don't get in first, you won't get to answer. And if you wager a lot on the Daily Double, and you don't know the answer, you'll go back to zero. And he's just been very consistent at getting the Daily Doubles and making consistent wagers and getting them right and taking the lead in Final Jeopardy.

BALDWIN: Do you believe he has the potential to surpass the $2 million that Ken Jennings has won?

WILLIAMS: I think he does. I don't think he'll win as many games. If you wager, you will get one wrong and it will cost you. It is a high volatility play. But I think he has a very good shot at breaking $2.5 million.

BALDWIN: Dang.

Keith Williams, thank you so much.

WILLIAMS: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: I appreciate it on all things "Jeopardy."

We have to move back to the big story of the day. More on that President Trump/Vladimir Putin phone call that happened this morning, the hour-long call this morning.

[15:00:00]