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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Michael Wolff Defends Sourcing In New Book, Calls Trump Presidency A Political "Meltdown"; CNN Poll Shows Biden In Commanding Lead Among Democrats; Former School Resource Officer Facing 11 Charges, Including Felony Child Neglect; President Trump's Ex-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort May Be Transferred To New York's Notorious Rikers Island Jail. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 4, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:22] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: He's being mocked in London with a giant inflatable toddler, but is he really more like the boy who cried wolf?

John Berman here, in for Anderson.

That's the question of the president of the United States and how we view him. Have we only become so accustomed to the president lying about things, big and small, that we run that risk of not taking it seriously when he might be telling the truth about something big and important. This all came up because the president held a press event today and, yes, he told a number of lies, which is normal for him, and yes, that alone is nuts, but it's where we are.

And because it's where we have been for several years now, we have adjusted and because of that, we talked here about whether it's even news anymore when the president lies, but it is, of course it is. Because it always matters when the president of the United States gets up on the world stage and lies, no matter how big lie or little.

So, tonight, keeping them honest, we will be debunking them, also focusing on how this parade of little lies may be making it tough to take anything the president says seriously, especially those things we really need to take seriously. First, quickly, the little lies, number one, the protests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did see a small protest today when I came, very small. So a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say. But you saw the people waving the American flag, waving your flag.

It was tremendous spirit and love. It was great love. There was an alliance.

And I didn't see the protesters until just a little while ago. And it was very, very small group of people put in for political reason. So, it was fake news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Actually on the screen, we will show you, there have been sizable demonstration. So, just because you don't see something doesn't mean it did not happen.

Then there's records, the president loves him some records.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have a 90 percent, 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party. That's an all time record. Can you believe that? Isn't that something? I love records.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: In fact, "The Washington Post" dug in to this one, using Gallup data going back decades. They found that Dwight Eisenhower and both George Bushes polled better among Republicans than Donald Trump.

Finally, there is this one on Brexit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I really predicted what was going to happen. Some of you remember that prediction. It was a strong prediction, made at a certain location, on a development we were opening, the day before it happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Keeping them honest. This one is so hard to figure, because it's so unnecessary.

The president actually did predict Brexit. He did it months before the fact. But not the day before as he said today and not at his golf course in Scotland.

He did talk about Brexit there. But he did not make any predictions. How could he? Because it was a day after the vote.

So, he took a true and flattering story and turned it into an easily checkable lie. It's not a big lie, it's a dumb lie. Again, one of those lies we become so accustomed to.

This, on the other hand, may not be -- his threat to hit Mexico with tariffs next week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Mexico shouldn't allow millions of people to try to enter our country. And they could stop it very quickly and I think they will. If they won't, we're going to put tariffs on them. And every month, those tariffs go from 5 percent to 10 percent to 15 percent, to 20 and then to 25 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: And that's serious stuff. According to new estimates from the New York Federal Reserve Bank, the cost from tariffs not just on Mexico will more than double this year from $414 to $831 per household. That's a big thing, a big costly thing.

And no one is quite sure whether the president really means to carry it through. Not families that have to tighten their belts. Not farmers. Not Mexico.

Senate Republicans are pushing back, but no one really knows how seriously to take this very big thing. Could all the lies have something to do with that?

All right. Let's get much more on this. First, let's check in with CNN's Jim Acosta in London.

Jim, representatives from the White House, along with DOJ, they briefed Senate officials today. What did they say and how were they received?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will tell you, John, we talked to a number of sources today. And I talked to one just earlier this evening, a senior Republican official up on Capitol Hill who said, listen, the folks who came over from the White House to brief Republican lawmakers at this luncheon earlier today seemed unprepared, not only in how to detail -- I guess how all these tariffs are going to be implemented and put into place, but also unprepared to deal with the pushback coming from their fellow Republicans.

[20:05:06] In the words of this one Republican official, they must have seen this coming. They should not have been surprised by all of this because what's happening, John, is Republican have gone along with the president's tariffs on China so far because they've seen that as retaliating against Chinese trade practices. They see this as something being very different. They see this as going after Mexico, because of the policy down on the border and that the president is trying to get some sort of response out of Mexico by slapping these tariffs.

Senator Ted Cruz, who has been a strong supporter of the president, though he was a critic of the president in the past, apparently talked at length how he is not worried how these tariffs will affect Texans on the U.S. side, but if Mexico retaliates and poses their own tariffs on U.S. goods going to Mexico, that could hurt people in Texas as well.

And so, you have some people from some very bright red states are raising some very big concerns, John.

BERMAN: Do you have any sense, Jim, of how hard the president is willing to fight for these tariffs?

ACOSTA: Well, that was also indicated during this meeting. And it's interesting, John, you remember when the president declared that national emergency to use money from other parts of the federal government to pay for his border wall him. Some of those White House officials who are in that meeting earlier today talked about the prospect of the president declaring yet another national emergency or using his national emergency powers to try to impose these tariffs on Mexico. That was also something that raised eyebrows in that room with Republican senators.

And as one of our colleagues up on Capitol Hill heard from one Republican aide after this meeting was over with, they described this as a cluster F. I won't complete the word there, John. But there are fellow Republicans of this president who came out of that meeting scratching their heads, wondering exactly what the president is going to do.

You heard him say at that press conference earlier today with the Prime Minister Theresa May that he intends to do this coming next week and it seems that his own party is unprepared for that at this point, John.

BERMAN: Jim Acosta, thank you. We thank you as always for your discretion.

Joining us now, CNN global affairs analyst, Max Boot, author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right". Also, CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, who has been on his share of trips like this one as senior adviser of presidents dating back to Smoot- Hawley days.

David, look, when push comes to shove, do you really think enough Republicans would actually go against the president to override a presidential veto?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I do. I think that this issue in particular has great resonance within the Republican Party and, you know, a lot of senators have their own well being at take here and their own popularity in their own state. So I think this is one the president could, you know, lose out right.

Let me go back to the fundamental question when all this lying. I think we become numb to it, and that is in some ways diminishes our outrage of any particular lie. But it's the reverse, or the inverse of that that's really important. We no longer believe him when he wants us to believe.

You know, there's a tendency if he wants to say something, we're now skeptical of the truth of that proposition. It's very difficult to govern. It's very difficult to lead other people if they fundamentally don't believe you are telling the truth. Trust is still -- it's an old fashioned idea, but it's still the coin of the realm in politics.

BERMAN: That's why we set this thing up this way, David, because when he talks about this tariff, it's a very big deal. And you want to believe the president that the threat means something.

So, Max, to David's point --

GERGEN: Yes.

BERMAN: -- David says he really believes that the Republicans in the Senate will stand up to the president this time. What does it say to you that after everything that's happened the last two years in office, that this is where the Republicans in the Senate choose to take a stand? Why this?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, better late than never. I'm a little more skeptical than David as to whether there will be a successful spinal transplant for Republicans on the Hill, because they have been utterly supine up until this date no matter what Trump has done. And they had a real opportunity in March, I think it was, when they could have voted to override his state of emergency, which he is using to basically do an end run around the Constitution and spend money that Congress has not appropriated for the border wall.

But you only have 13 Republicans in the House and 12 in the Senate who are willing to break with Trump, and that's not enough to override a veto. Perhaps now, in this current situation, where, you know, he could do real damage to very red states like Texas, maybe there will be enough Republicans to override him.

I certainly hope so, but I will not get my hopes up because I have been waiting time and time again for more than two-an-a-half years now for Republicans to finally show a little back bone and stand up for any reported believes as Trump has trashed them one after another. I have been sorely disappointed. So, again, I'm not going to get my hopes up on this particular occasion.

BERMAN: David, you heard Jim Acosta's depth and discreet report quoting a Senate GOP aide who said the meeting that the White House had with senators was a cluster F.

[20:10:04] What does it say to you that the White House wasn't actually prepared to sell senators on this?

GERGEN: What it tells me is that this has been a flawed decision- making process from the beginning. And that is this was not a proposal that was thoroughly vetted within the administration, clearly people in the White House were not -- did not understand. It was something that's fundamental.

I think you do -- if you are the White House, you actually go to the Congress and consult with them before you make a proposal like this, and clearly, that simply was not done. You know, so there is an incompetence level here that I think is at play. And I think it's one of the opts reasons why so many senators are starting to rebel.

Max is right, we've waited a long, long time to see Republicans sort of rise up and actually assert principles. But I sense we are very close to that moment. It may not happen here, but I do think it's coming.

BERMAN: I keep looking at my computer. They say the president actually made a statement on Twitter. After calling Chuck Schumer names, he says at the bottom of the tweet about the tariff threat, it's no bluff -- which is so interesting that he's saying this. It's no bluff.

And again, it gets to the essence of what we've been discussing here, Max? Do we believe him? You know, I'm not sure most people believe this threat on tariffs to Mexico from the beginning. Do believe it's genuine?

BOOT: I have no idea, John, I'm not sure what Donald Trump, himself knows what he's going to do two hours from now, so it's hard to know what he will do a couple days from now. I mean, remember, just a couple weeks ago, the threat was that he was going to close the border and he seemed serious about closing the border with Mexico and then there was so much blowback on that that he backed off and, of course, pretended that he'd never even considered that idea.

So, you can go either way with the tariffs. Either he's going to implement them or he'll deny that he ever considered it in the first place. And, you know, it will take a psychologist to figure out which is the most right one. I don't think any rational political analyst honestly has any way of knowing for sure.

BERMAN: David?

GERGEN: Yes, I think -- yes, John, very briefly. I think we always assume when Trump says something like that it's not a bluff, that he will get part way along and realize he needs to get out of it and they'll find some compromise. Everybody will declare a victory.

But that's what we thought he was going to do on China. You know, we did not he would let go this far, that he would find a compromise and work his way out of this, and now, here we are, what amounts to a full scale trade war with China, and the relationship is deteriorating rapidly. And that is very threatening to the economy and to our future leadership in the world.

BERMAN: All right.

BOOT: I think, David, I think the problem is that he doesn't have a strategy. He doesn't know what he's going to do.

GERGEN: I agree with that.

BOOT: So, therefore, we can try to analyze it, but he doesn't know, himself. And so, we have no idea of how he's going to feel tomorrow or the next day and what's going to happen. It doesn't make any rational sense.

BERMAN: And then he's likely to deny whatever he says he felt after the fact.

Max Boot, David Gergen, thanks so much for being with us.

Next, a new potentially explosive chapter from the spy who came in from the cold and wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and the Russians. We're talk about reporting. He is ready to talk about the people investigating the Russia probe. And author Michael Wolff on the questions surrounding his new book on the Trump administration and some of the bombshell revelations inside it. I will ask him how he thinks this will all end. You will want to hear his answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:17:51] BERMAN: A potentially major new development tonight in the investigation of the Russia investigation. According to the British newspaper "The Times", Christopher Steele of Steele memo fame has agreed to talk to Justice Department investigators.

President Trump, as you know, puts the dossier at the center of his case that the entire investigation was in his words a witch hunt.

Perspective now from a pair of FBI veterans, former special agent Asha Rangappa, and former senior intelligence adviser at the bureau, Phil Mudd.

Phil, you say this is not going to go well for Christopher Steele. You also say, though, you are concerned for the FBI in all this. How so?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. Pretty simple. If you step back, the first question is how significant is the Steele information in the FBI investigation of the campaign. Once we get beyond that, let's say the FBI used his information for example to read the e-mails of Carter Page.

You go to a court, you go to a judge and say, this is some of the basis for our investigation. Christopher Steele now comes in, and the first questions are going to be, what information did you get and how far did you go to affirm that information was accurate?

If he's able to say I got three sources for every piece of information in that dossier, I'm going to say good. The chances he can say everything I acquired is provable and positive solid, I'd question that, John. I don't think so.

BERMAN: Asha, I know you have a different view. Why don't you agree with Phil here?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think it's important for this investigation to kind of go to some of the roots of what they think is flawed. One thing that, you know, Steele has is he's a former MI-6 officer. He is basic ally the equivalent of our CIA.

Now, he had already left the service, but he's a professional intelligence officer. He can speak the language to go to Phil's point of why he believed that his information was reliable.

And I think, though that Phil does have a good point that we're really getting away from the central point of what this is about. The Steele dossier did not start the Russia investigation. So I think that needs to be clarified and ultimately whatever information he provided that was used by the FBI to the court, it's really the judge's decision on how much weight to give raw intelligence provided by the FBI if it's not corroborated or if that is solely what they are relying on.

[20:25:10] So, in many ways, I think that while it can flesh out the investigation, it doesn't actually get to some of the misinformation and the critical questions that ought to be answered, which really go to the judicial discretion piece here.

BERMAN: Because, Asha, just to put a fine a point in this, from what you know about the FISA applications per the Carter Page information, you think that was all done properly?

RANGAPPA: Right. The question here when it comes to the FBI and the Department of Justice is, did they disclose to the court that the information that they were providing was coming from a source? Did they disclose information that -- of the source of the information that may cast any doubt on his credibility, like the fact this was opposition research, which they did?

And you know did they provide any corroborating information? We don't know that. A lot of that was redacted.

But there is no evidence that the FBI lied. Ultimately, it's the judge's job to decide whether this meets the probable cause standard, and that judicial discretion piece has been completely unaddressed and left out of this whole equation as though it doesn't exist.

BERMAN: So, Phil, what does it tell you that Christopher Steele is doing this apparently voluntarily?

MUDD: It tells me that he didn't phone me because I would have said, you can go to Disneyworld. I'm not sure I go to DOJ. Let me tell you, they're going to ask him 74 questions at least about how he validated this information. As I said a moment ago, you might not have great answers.

To your question of why he does this? I'm looking at him saying he's got a business. His business is built on respect, on his reputation. His reputation is taking a battery.

BERMAN: So, you think he is doing this to clear up his reputation?

MUDD: I would say he's coming here saying not for legal reasons. He's not at legal risk. He's coming here because he wants to tell a client, I cleared my name.

BERMAN: You know, because, look, no one is smarter than Phil Mudd here, but I have to believe Christopher Steele knows the nature of this investigation now, knows that there are those that say it's politically motivated and the DOJ may not treat him with kid gloves, right?

MUDD: I suppose, but if you know the inspector general process, and I respect the inspectors general, but they're not there and say, hey, this investigation ran smoothly. Every "T" crossed. Every "I" dotted. And investigation this complex, it's not going to be a clean report, and I'm going to guess the Steele piece is not going to be clean either. This is going to go ugly.

BERMAN: What does it matter, Asha, because we always us talk about the information inside the dossier. And there have been things discredited. Things that turned out to be false. Michael Cohen in the Prague meeting. The salacious details from the Russia hotel, they were never proven.

Does that matter or does the overall thrust of the dossier, which is that the Russians were attacking the election to help Donald Trump, is that what's important?

RANGAPPA: So, the relevance of this dossier is that it was used in one FISA application for Carter Page. Carter page is one individual in this entire Russia investigation. So, I just want to point out this is like one thread.

The question is, which piece of the dossier did they rely on? I can tell you they didn't staple the dossier to a cover letter and hand it to the court. And was it corroborated? I think we don't know the answers to those questions yet because most of it has been redacted and the I.G. report should shed more light on those questions.

BERMAN: All right. Asha Rangappa, Phil Mudd, thank you so much.

Up next, Michael Wolff, the "Fire and Fury" author talks about his new book in the Trump White House and the controversy surrounding it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:27:38] BERMAN: Michael Wolff's first book on the White House was an international sensation that sold millions of copies and garnered plenty of controversy. His follow-up book is also being criticized largely about sourcing, and once again has Washington abuzz.

"Siege: Trump Under Fire" is out today and takes place just after his celebrated "Fire and Fury".

Just before air time, I spoke with Michael Wolff about the controversy surrounding his new book and the details in it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. So, your book, much like your previous book, is getting a lot of attention and creating a fair amount of controversy. One of the reasons this time is because of the sourcing.

And you told "The New York Times" you don't reach out for comment for some of the people you write about because and I quote: I don't actually believe if you know the answer, it is necessary you go through the motions of getting an answer that you are absolutely certain of.

How is that responsible?

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "SIEGE: TRUMP UNDER FIRE": Let me give you an example, should I call up Fox News and say, are you biased for Donald Trump?

Obviously, we know they would say. They would say, in fact, no, we're not biased toward Donald Trump.

BERMAN: But should you call Fox News and ask them, did they provide the questions to Brett Kavanaugh in the interview with Martha McCallum, which you write about in this book?

WOLFF: No. A, I knew exactly what they've said, because I've actually had this discussion with them in many other situations. Remember, I have been covering the media for 20 years. And I knew they would say no and I knew absolutely that they did.

BERMAN: OK. You know, you include a lot of salacious stories in here. Not just stories like that, and anecdotes in the book. At a certain point, you don't think you need to reach out to some of the people in these anecdotes and ask them if it's true?

WOLFF: No, I think this was -- this was misconstrued. I often reach out to people if there's any doubt, if there's any more information I can -- I can get.

I'm on the phone. I'm talking to people all of the time. However, if it's a situation which I have to go into and I know the answer, I know they're going to lie to me.

Remember, this is Trump world. Everybody in it is what would be the word? A liar. This is, you know, what's the mantra of Trump world? I would say deny, deny.

BERMAN: But journalistically, you know, if you're writing a newspaper, you would reach out and you include that denial?

WOLFF: Important point, I am not writing in a newspaper, and that is a fundamental thing. And the idea that all journalism should be the same, that there aren't different forms, that there aren't different approaches is ridiculous, actually and not good for journalism.

[20:30:00]

BERMAN: I guess there are some people who say there are serious questions raise that when the sourcing is not clear, in some parts of the book the sourcing is crystal clear, in other parts the sourcing isn't transparent at all.

WOLFF: And, again, I think that there is a lot of sourcing that is not clear -- that is not going to be clear here because my -- that's my deal with my sources.

BERMAN: You write in the author's note that this book is meant to look at an emotional state rather than a political state. You know that this isn't supposed to be a political book purely. What exactly do you mean by that?

WOLFF: I mean, I'm trying to give a picture of what Trump world is. And speaking of an emotional state, I think it's a crazy place. I think it has logic long since left this world.

BERMAN: So you wrote a great deal about Steve Bannon. He is coded on the record a great deal. He's your main avenue, your main window into Trump world, I think, it's fair to say.

WOLFF: I call him my Virgil, as in a descent into hell.

BERMAN: What is his current relationship with the President?

WOLFF: I think it's a very complicated relationship. They spend a lot of time thinking about one another, wondering if they should go back to working together saying that -- both of them saying that they would never go back to working together.

Steve is still the bedrock of a lot of the policies that the Trump administration is pursuing. In many ways, they continue to pursue them, where they don't wander off in other directions, Donald Trump doesn't, because Steve is always pressing this agenda.

BERMAN: But their conversations are through intermediaries or through smoke signals, correct? They don't actually speak?

WOLFF: That is -- that's what Steve says, they don't actually speak.

BERMAN: And haven't spoken.

WOLFF: That is what Steve says, yes.

BERMAN: I want to ask you some specifics about what Steve Bannon said again on the record because it is fascinating. This gets to the idea of the investigations into the Trump businesses. There were suggestions that the President's personal company is a semi-criminal enterprise and Bannon responded to you, "I think we can drop the semi part." So, was he joking? What do you think he meant there, because you write that he did chuckle when he said it.

WOLFF: I think that he is -- he's perfectly straightforward about this and he's perfectly straightforward about I think the way that most people who have been around Donald Trump believe. They believe that, you know, Donald Trump's long career has been a, well, I would say, semi-criminal career. Steve Bannon would say, lose the semi.

BERMAN: So does he have direct knowledge of that do you think or just suspect it at this point?

WOLFF: No, I think he probably has -- yes, I suspect he does have direct knowledge of that.

BERMAN: Do you think Steve Bannon believes that the President obstructed justice?

WOLFF: Yes. Now, I would say that Steve Bannon would go and characterize this as that's Donald Trump. So, I mean the Steve Bannon view is partly, you know what this guy is. There's never been any illusion otherwise. He's Donald Trump. That's the man you elected, a man who cannot -- literally cannot tell the truth. At one point in the book, Steve says -- I described Steve as saying, "I cannot tell you how many times he has looked me in the eye and lied to me."

BERMAN: Yet, he's still devoted to him in some ways?

WOLFF: Well, he's still -- I mean, it's a weird devotion. It's love- hate or it's, you know, repulsion attraction. You know, remember, Steve made Donald Trump president, Donald Trump made -- transformed Steve into a voice in the world.

BERMAN: Back to the obstruction issue, the reason I was asking if you think Steve Bannon thinks that the President obstructed justice because you write Bannon saying, never send a marine to do a hit man's job. And he's talking about Robert Mueller. And I wasn't sure what that meant. It made me wonder.

WOLFF: I think I can explain what it --

BERMAN: OK, go ahead. Did he want Mueller to catch him?

WOLFF: He doesn't want. He didn't -- it depends I think on the moment of the day.

BERMAN: Sometimes he wanted Mueller to catch him?

WOLFF: I think sometimes he believed that he would catch him, that it was inevitable. You know, but what he literally meant and it's really interesting, because I think it goes to the heart of where Mueller is now what we think of this investigation.

[20:35:03] Mueller is a guy who is an institutional guy. He defends the institution. He's not going to it. If -- I think if the choice became for Bob Mueller, give Donald Trump a pass or risk Donald Trump pulling the temple down. I think he would give Donald Trump a pass.

BERMAN: And you write that.

WOLFF: Yes.

BERMAN: You write that very clearly. So just in closing, what do you want people to take from this book in and apart from the first one?

WOLFF: This is -- I think that it gets crazier and crazier that Donald Trump is more isolated, more alone, that as we see this, there's often this -- we let it seen that Donald Trump is this dominant personality. I think this is the story of the meltdown, one of the greatest political meltdowns of all times.

BERMAN: Well, where do you think it ends?

WOLFF: In tears.

BERMAN: Whose tears?

WOLFF: Donald Trump's tears.

BERMAN: Where does Steve Bannon think it ends? WOLFF: There in Donald Trump. And let's put it this way, I said to Steve, I referred to the possibility of Trump getting another term, winning the election, and Steve said, stop.

BERMAN: All right. Michael Wolff, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

WOLFF: Thank you.

BERMAN: Still to come, Vice President Biden fires back at his fellow Democrats running for president. And new CNN polling on the race, see what it means for Biden and the other candidates, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:25] BERMAN: In case Joe Biden's opponents for the Democratic nomination for president thought that maybe he'd fade, he hasn't. Yes, the former vice president is down seven points in the latest CNN poll, but he's still the frontrunner and by double digits over everyone else.

Biden is at 32 percent, Bernie Sanders is at 18 percent, and everyone else who made the cut is in single digits. The vice president has back his shot at the White House on a centrist appeal. And today in New Hampshire, he had a message for his fellow candidates, many of whom criticized his approach over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to get people working together, because otherwise there is no way this country can continue to function like it had in the past and will in the future. It's really -- and I'm not talking about going back to the past, I'm talking about avoiding a terrible future, if we do not, if we do not figure out how to make this work.

AOC is now working with Ted Cruz. She's trying to get it. Now, tell me that one, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hard to believe.

BIDEN: Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's hard to believe.

BIDEN: Look, I understand. I don't blame them. They got to, you know, they're good folks but, you know, as I said, see you around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: To help me break down those comments and the number, CNN Political Director David Chalian and CNN Political Commentator Andrew Gillum.

So, David, even though the former vice president's numbers may have waned a little bit, he's still in a pretty enviable position, no? DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You know, without a doubt. I mean, I think that's what's crystal clear here. He's still in a field of his own, right? I mean, he still has this commanding lead over Bernie Sanders who quite frankly is in the space of his own in second place then everyone else there is in single digits.

But, that 7-point, remember, margin of error, plus or minus 6 points, we shouldn't read too much into this. I think it begs the question, John, is this the beginning of a slide or is this just losing some altitude from an announcement balance and this is where he is settling in?

BERMAN: Yes, north of 30 percent in a 23 candidate field is still very good.

CHALIAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: Does he stay there? So, Mayor Gillum, you heard the vice president take issue with Senator Sanders comment about not going back to the past, but that's a line of attack he will hear a lot. And if you look at our polling, younger voters, they are likelier at this point to support Sanders than they are the vice president. So, is this an area or should it be an area of concern for Joe Biden?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'll tell you, first of all if you're Vice President Biden or even Senator Sanders, you probably feel good looking at these numbers. In a very, very large field, they are occupying a good bid of the space.

My one caution would be, is that it is still extremely early in the process. The first debate hasn't even taken place. We know that younger voters are obviously going to be in search of something inspiring and different and that's not to say that the two current frontrunners can't provide that, but certainly it's going to be a challenge.

The question for me will be, do they stay here or as candidates expose themselves even greater to the electorate, were there be some slippage here and create an opportunity for someone else to come up the center (ph) there?

BERMAN: So, David, there's another number that jumps out to you and this gets to the idea of is there still an opportunity, because 44 percent of potential Democratic primary voters say they've already made up their minds about their who were they're going to support here. That's pretty early in the race before the debate has even started.

CHALIAN: Yes. And really before we've seen sort of candidate versus candidate clashes outside the debate stage as well, listen, I am a big believer that campaigns matter, candidates matter, this will become engaged and external events can happen and change perceptions, but that number is intriguing.

44 percent, that only leaves 55 percent right now who say they may change their mind, John, that are really sort of up for grabs. And by the way, if you're a Biden or Sanders supporter, you feel even more committed. They do really well among that segment of the population that says they are going to stick with their choice, probably because they're known commodities, but I do think we should just urge a little caution there.

There is going to be a campaign to take place. I would imagine even somebody to say today that they're committed to their choice all the way through, that could potentially change down the road.

BERMAN: True story, the title of my senior thesis in college was, "Campaigns Matter." We'll just leave that out there for you.

Mayor Gillum, you brought up the idea that the candidates may need to expose themselves more, things might change when they expose themselves more to the electorate. This might be particularly relevant to Joe Biden who has to an extent stayed back a little bit from some of the larger cattle call events, not campaigning quite as much as others. How long can or should he do this?

[20:45:08] GILLUM: Well, I tell you, I think Vice President Biden is going to be at his best as he's out there on the trail being scrappy, not presuming. That he'll be the eventual nominee. I think our side more than anything hates the idea of presumption.

And for the other candidates who right now may be dismaying around this poll because they may not see themselves right now in a position that they want to see themselves in, while having good polling right now could be helpful for fundraising, I would just, you know, use my own personal experience as a little bit of a reminder.

In my primary race, the 5-way race, there wasn't a single poll showing me winning the Democratic nomination. And the fast forward in the general election, there wasn't a single public poll showing me losing the general election. So, I have caution to the wind when it comes to these polls. It's worth running the race to see what happens.

BERMAN: I will say there was movement, though, in both directions that was perceptible before both the primary and the general election. I know we're way in front of what voters actually vote, but you can look at trends. I think your case is a perfect example of that.

David Chalian, last question here. The debates start this month, the CNN debate next month. How will this clang the shape and maybe even the size of the race?

CHALIAN: Well, this poll we learned that Michael Bennet, the senator from Colorado, seems to be the 20th person to make the polling threshold to get on to a debate stage initially here in just a few weeks.

Right now -- and you know there is a fundraising threshold and a polling threshold, and we can get more polls. But in this next week, John, before that deadline sets in a week from now, right now, Seth Moulton, Wayne Messam, Steve Bullock are sort of left out in the cold at the moment and we will see if they make threshold into next week and they have to employ tie-breakers. But that is one way, one very real way that these polls do shape the debate stage.

BERMAN: That's right. And then what do you do after that if you're one of those candidates and not on the debate stage, how do you go forward? We'll have to watch and see. David Chalian, Mayor Andrew Gillum, thanks so much for being with us.

GILLUM: Of course.

BERMAN: Stay with us, a lot more straight ahead, including a new arrest in a Parkland school shooting that claimed 17 lives. Who was arrested and the counts they face when we come back.

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[20:51:25] BERMAN: In Florida today, the former school resource officer criticized for not trying to confront the Parkland school. The gunman is facing 11 counts, including felony child neglect.

The States Attorney's Office says Scot Peterson, once a Broward County sheriff's deputy, also faces charges of culpable negligence and perjury. He was arrested and booked into Broward County Jail. Peterson retired after the Valentine's Day shooting in 2018 and is now collecting a pension. He was fired today at a disciplinary hearing.

Security footage shows that Peterson did not enter the high school as the shooting began, but stayed outside. In the past, his lawyer has said it's a gross oversimplification to frame Peterson's actions as cowardly because he believed the gunshots were coming from outside of the building.

Chris Cuomo joins me now. Chris, this is a new chapter, really a new legal chapter in this tragedy.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Look, the legal analysis is going to be pretty straightforward. That last part that you just put out there, John, if it's reasonable that he thought it was coming from the outside, what's his problem with that analysis? Duration, that this kept happening, kept going on, people were running out and saying things were going on. Was he not aware of any of that?

I remember early on the reckoning was that people like running past him. So, it becomes a less reasonable thing. But now there's something else. What do you punish? There's a fundamental frustration in this.

I tried this out on one of my friends today and he was like, hey, the man is paid to provide a service and that service is you go in when people are running out. You go after danger. That's your job. You didn't what -- you didn't do it on purpose, you lose, fine.

The second level of the frustration is, so that's the one thing that we find, that we can fix in this situation is punishing the guy who didn't go in. All the different aspects to these problems that we do nothing about and this is the part we act on, I think it's going to be frustrating for people but I see the legal analysis.

BERMAN: All right, Chris Cuomo, thanks very much. I know you have a great show coming up. See you in a few minutes.

Coming up, a possible new prison destination for President Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort, not a place he is likely to enjoy.

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[20:57:05] BERMAN: There are strong indications tonight that President Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort could be heading to a new prison. It's all because Manafort now (INAUDIBLE) on federal charges is also facing charges from New York State where he'll have to make appearances in court.

"360's" Randi Kaye now on what may be next for the man who traded designer pinstripes for government issued horizontal ones.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Manafort, did you commit a crime?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years, Paul Manafort lived the high life, multiple homes, expensive cars, silk rugs, even a $15,000 ostrich jacket, not to be confused with his lizard jacket. That lavish lifestyle, a world away from where Manafort is likely soon heading, Rikers Island, the notorious prison complex serving New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a case where opulents meets arrogance.

KAYE: Before being convicted last year of bank and tax fraud, Trump's former campaign chairman was a big spender, more than $400,000 in one year at one clothing store, a $21,000 watch, and some $450,000 in landscaping over 5 years at his estate in the Hamptons. That Hamptons' home is known to have one of the biggest ponds around as well as a red and white flower bed in the shape of an M.

(on camera) Until now, Manafort has been serving his federal sentence in a low security prison in Pennsylvania. But because he's also facing state felony charges in New York, including residential mortgage fraud, Manafort may be moved to New York State. According to "The New York Times" in 2017 at Rikers, about 85 percent of the inmates were pretrial detainees. Unlike Manafort, most have yet to be convicted of a crime.

(voice-over) None of this is good news for Paul Manafort. Manafort is 70 years old and Rikers Island is no picnic for inmates. This is exclusive video from inside Rikers. Manafort would likely be held in solitary confinement for months, perhaps for his own safety.

"The New York Times" reports high profile inmates at Rikers are generally held in protective custody, including pretrial detainees like Manafort. In 2015, the city settled a lawsuit following a multiyear investigation that found adolescent inmates at Rikers were not protected from the rampant use of excessive force by guards and other inmates. Rikers Island has a reputation for both violence and poor living conditions. A 2015 investigation by New York Magazine and the Marshal (INAUDIBLE) highlights the slashings and stabbings at Rikers, and stories of inmates languishing in their own feces or experiencing violent seizures with little help from the guards.

Still, a top New York corrections official tells CNN there's been a drastic reduction in violent incidents at the jail over the past two years. Manafort, meanwhile, would hardly be the first high profile inmate at Rikers.

Others before him include David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, and Mark David Chapman who killed John Lennon, hardly a list of names that once high flying Manafort ever expected to join.

Randy Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: The news continues. I will hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thank you, John. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time."

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