Return to Transcripts main page


Sanders Makes Case for Democratic Socialism as Trump Attacks; New Monmouth Poll with Nevada Caucus Voters Shows Biden Leading, Warren in Number-2 Spot; House Approves Resolution to Enforce Subpoenas in Court; F-35 Flyover as U.S. and Poland Sign Military Agreement. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:19] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It's a politically loaded term but liberal Americans are increasingly embracing Socialist policies even as Republicans are using them as a political weapon.

In a speech next hour, Senator and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, explains his support for Democratic Socialism. He gave our Dana Bash a preview.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I mean my Democratic Socialism is creating a government that works for everybody. Not controlled either legislatively or politically by a handful of the wealthy. That's number one.

Number two, it means that, in America, we have certain economic rights that are human rights, human rights. Health care, to my mind, is not a privilege, it is a human right. That is what Democratic Socialism means to me.

It means that if you work 40 hours a week in this country, you should not be living in poverty.


KEILAR: Dana Bash is here with us, as well as Jeff Weaver, who is a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign and managed the campaign in 2016.

So to you first, Jeff, because you may have done the interview with Bernie Sanders, but he has seen the speech.



KEILAR: So what should we be expecting? I know you can't get in front of Bernie Sanders here, but describe at least the objective of the speech. JEFF WEAVER, SENIOR ADVISOR, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I

think the objective of the speech is to lay out the connection between what Bernie Sanders is advocating for the country, and the long tradition of American political thought, much of it rooted in the New Deal.

The unfinished business of the New Deal that FDR laid out in his 1944 State of the Union address that, even though we have secured civil rights and certain political rights, that in order for America to reach its potential, we need to guarantee certain economic rights.

And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spoke about this as well. And I think Bernie Sanders will tie himself to that long tradition in American politics.

[13:35:09] KEILAR: I think that we can say that that theme is going to go over very well with Democrats.

But then there's this issue of Democratic Socialism, the word "Socialism." We're looking at some of the recent Monmouth University poll, "Socialism not seen as compatible with American values. But that opinion is not overwhelmingly negative."

That's not as, I guess, inspirational as what Jeff was describing.

BASH: Yes.

KEILAR: So is this something that will be well received by Democrats broadly, do you think?

BASH: We'll see. This is the Bernie Sanders that the Democratic electorate and the country certainly learned a lot about for the first time, even though he has been talking about it for decades and decades, in 2016.

And the fact that he wants to go out and put his stamp on this and explain what Democratic Socialism is again, even though he did a speech like this four years ago, is quite telling.

And he says, in the excerpts that the campaign provided, that he understands that the Republicans are using the Socialism part of Democratic Socialism against him and against Democrats. And he is trying to define it in a different way.

Having said that, he is very clear in a way that I don't think -- maybe Elizabeth Warren and a couple others are -- but he is very clear in a way most others are not on what he wants to do. And it is redistribute wealth.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but he is very, very open about it, that the 1 percent, the richest people in the country should not be able to keep all this wealth when the people who can't afford to eat or can't afford just basics of life should be able to get some of that. Because he says that it is an economic right.

It is a very specific way of thinking, which is not totally in line with all of the Democratic candidates.

WEAVER: I mean, but this goes back to the conversation you all were just having about Poland and the slipping back. I mean, the speech will lay out a -- there's a worldwide movement toward authoritarianism and right-wing thinking and division and xenophobia and racism. And it is all being fueled by the increasing concentration of wealth at the top and desperation at the bottom.

And this is not unlike the challenge that confronted the world in the 1920s when we had this huge explosion of wealth at the top and desperation at the bottom and people were then gravitating to these right-wing people with disastrous results. And in the United States of America, Donald Trump represents that.

This is part of a worldwide movement. This is not something that's unique to America.

And Bernie Sanders is saying, what we did then to pull the rug out from underneath right-wing extremists in the 1930s, we need to do it again and that is how we defeat them.

We were all shocked about the Nazis marching in Charlottesville. In 1939, there was 20,000 fully dressed Nazis in a mass rally in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The way we defeated that was by addressing the desperation people were feeling in their lives.

KEILAR: But President Trump is using this Socialism as a weapon against Bernie Sanders and a weapon against Democrats. We heard him say it yesterday in his appearance in Iowa at his campaign rally.

To your point, are you talking about battling authoritarianism and he will draw these connections back to that.

But I do want to focus on some of the things that he has been for in the past. Because I think that it is important, especially as we listen to Bernie Sanders himself answering a question back in April at the town hall, the CNN town hall, that featured him, when a young woman questioned him, as there are many even Democrats concerned about anything that has a whiff of Communism or Socialism.

Let's listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrat Party is really now the Socialist Party. The Democrats have never been more out of touch with the mainstream. They are totally out of touch.

And it is really easy as a Socialist to say, when you are doing well, let's do this, we'll take this, we'll give you free this. And nothing is free. You are paying for it. Other people are paying for it. There's nothing free.

They will destroy this country. We'll be another Venezuela. You see what is going on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father's family left Soviet Russia in 1979

fleeing from some of the very same Socialist policies that you seem eager to implement in this country. So my question is, how do you rectify your notions of Democratic Socialism with the failures of Socialism in nearly every country that it's tried in.

SANDERS: You think that --


SANDERS: Thank you for asking that question.

Is it your assumption that I supported or believe in authoritarian Communism that existed in the Soviet Union? I don't. I never have. I opposed it. I believe in a vigorous democracy.


KEILAR: I do think that it is important to look -- Bernie Sanders, as mayor of Burlington, traveled to Russia, he travelled to Cuba, he travelled --

WEAVER: Just as Ronald Reagan was traveling to Russia.

[13:40:07] KEILAR: And he traveled to Nicaragua. And he espoused some of the positives that he was seeing there.

To be clear here, he did. And some of these


KEILAR: My question is not finished, which is that some of these countries either were or evolved to be authoritarian countries.

In Cuba, he lauded the education, the literacy movement there, when sort of ignoring the fact that literacy was actually forced relocation for some people from cities to the countryside to force them to make people in the countryside literate.

These are some of the things that -- and you are jumping to defend him on this.


KEILAR: These are the things that he is going to have to answer for.

WEAVER: For sure. And, look, he has traveled the world. He has been to many countries, some of which are allied with us, some of which we are not. He tried, when he was mayor of Burlington, to build people- to-people connections in countries where we had governmental relations that were not great. That's absolutely true. And --


KEILAR: You're saying that was his only aim? WEAVER: No, no. Well, certainly, in going to Russia, that's what it

was. That was a city sister relationship set up with the industrial city of -



WEAVER: -- in the Soviet Union. That's what that was about.

KEILAR: Still exists today.

WEAVER: It still exists today.


WEAVER: Yes. And there was a sister-city relationship with the city in Nicaragua --


KEILAR: And Cuba?

WEAVER: I don't know about the Cuba one.

But he did go and he did point out that in some of these places, there were some things that were good. But he was also very clear about political freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, all these other issues that the lack of these things in these places was a real problem, in all of those speeches. Because, believe me, in my role, I've had to go back and look at all of them.

KEILAR: I'm sure you have.

WEAVER: But I would say this about the Socialism attack that will come from the Republicans. Which is the hypocrisy of it. They are all Socialists in the Republican Party. They're Corporate Socialists. When banks need a bailout, it's there. When people were losing their homes in the Great Recession, there was no help for them. But the banks got bailed out. The executives got millions of dollars. When the oil companies need subsidies, they get them.

BASH: And that is something that, according to the excerpts, he will touch on in a very extensive way, which, ironically, could be given by somebody like Donald Trump or a Donald Trump surrogate, the notion of the fact that, you know, everything is broken and the little man is not being taken care of. We'll leave it there.

The policies to fix it are obviously quite different. But it is the same kind of message that is used to appeal to people who are feeling like, you know, completely left out.

And that is something that does generate a lot of enthusiasm across the board, across the board of the Democratic electorate. The question is whether he can connect that to the other issues and the label. (CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: And real quickly, can he rebrand what Democratic Socialism and some of the stigma that comes along with that word, even if some of the policies are gaining popularity, can he do that do you think?

BASH: In one speech? I don't think so. But I guess you've got to try.

And one thing we do have to give Bernie Sanders credit for is that he has been talking about these things for decades. And the party has come along with which he was not officially involved in, since he is an Independent, but the party has come towards him in all those years.

KEILAR: Very good point.

All right, Jeff --

WEAVER: Well --

KEILAR: Real quick.

WEAVER: Yes, yes. Look, he has carried this label now for decades. All the public polling shows him beating Donald Trump all around the country. If he is the nominee of the party, based on all the public polling out there, he will be president of the United States.

So to the extent that people have some concerns about it, it is not showing up in the polls, that's for sure, in terms of the head-to- heads.

KEILAR: All right. For now. We're a ways away, but we'll keep watching.

WEAVER: Yes. Yes.

KEILAR: Jeff Weaver, thank you so much.

WEAVER: Thank you.

KEILAR: Dana Bash.

BASH: Thank you.

[13:43:54] KEILAR: And just in, a poll on how Nevada Democrats feel about the massive field of presidential candidates. Spoiler, Joe Biden is leading, but you may be surprised to see who is surging into second place.


KEILAR: Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, leading the pack in Nevada, according to a new Monmouth University poll. But the number two could surprise you. Biden, 36 percent there. Elizabeth Warren, 19 percent, which is above Bernie Sanders at 13 percent. Pete Buttigieg was polling at 7 percent. Kamala Harris at 6 percent. Patrick Murray is the director of the Monmouth University Polling


Thanks for being with us, Patrick.


KEILAR: And tell us why you think that Warren is ahead of Sanders at this point.

MURRAY: I think that there are two reasons. One is, Nevada is a very low-turnout caucus state, which means that it is populated with party activists. That is the base that she appeals to. She doesn't appeal to the first time caucus-goers. It the party base. So that helps here.

But the other part is that the issue picture has changed over the past few weeks. We asked Nevada voters, as we asked everywhere else that we poll, what are your top issues in deciding who to support for the Democratic nomination. And at the top of the list, we have health care, 41 percent. We also have the environment and climate change at 24 percent.

And immigration and reproductive rights are the two that pop out. Because those other issues, health care the environment, have been the same everywhere else we've polled.

Reproductive rights have been in low single digits. And I that's one of the reasons why Elizabeth Warren is doing really well right now. It is because that issue has come to the forefront, particularly with the move in a number of states to outright ban abortion. And I think that helped her as a woman candidate in particular with this. And that is why we see the number popping up right now.

[13:50:21] KEILAR: Patrick Murphy, thank you so much for -- Patrick Murray -- I'm so sorry -- thank you so much for explaining this to us as always.

MURRAY: My pleasure.

KEILAR: And for now, Democrats are taking the cue from Speaker Pelosi. They're letting their multiple investigations into President Trump playout through the courts instead of through a formal impeachment inquiry.

The House has officially approved a resolution that lets the Judiciary Committee go to court to enforce subpoenas, like the one against White House counsel, Don McGahn, former White House counsel, who, so far, has refused to testify.

But the resolution also applies to other committees as well, meaning Democrats could go straight to court any time that someone defies a subpoena. They don't have to have the floor vote first.

I want to bring in our legal minds, former counsel to the assistant attorney general, Carrie Cordero, and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates.

So Democrats are headed to court, Laura, to try to enforce a subpoena against Don McGahn. How long could this take and will they prevail?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, it can be a very lengthy process. Frankly, it's probably what they're counting on if the Democrats in Congress --


COATES: -- in order to, say, kick the can down the road, have this facade of a separation of powers, and let the court enforce the actual rule here.

But it could actually be resolved knowing that this is so important to figure out how to go about the rest of the investigation. The courts are well aware of the time line of democracy as well, a looming election, and how important it is.

KEILAR: And yet, it is going to slow.

Is there an appeals process as well, Carrie, that could drag this out?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is the process of enforcement. This vote in the House was really a procedural issue. Instead of every time now a committee wants to go to court to enforce a subpoena, instead of having to have the entire House vote on it, a smaller committee of leadership will be able to authorize it.

KEILAR: But if a judge -- if a judge rules, is there another, say, for the Trump administration or Don McGahn or is that it?

CORDERO: No, sure. They certainly -- the court process still applies. So if a committee takes it to court, they go to the district court and depending -- I would assume that the administration is going to challenge these as far they can so they could then -- the appellate process will still be available to them.

But all this does is it enables the committees, if they want to go to court, to be able to do so faster without having to keep taking votes in the full House.

KEILAR: If he's forced to testify -- Don McGahn has options, right? He could take the Fifth Amendment. He doesn't have to provide information.

But is that something that you would expect, especially considering he's shared so much information with the special counsel? If he's compelled by a judge to adhere to the subpoena, what do you -- how would this play out?

COATES: No one should expect a White House counsel to plead the Fifth. Think about what that is saying. Someone whose job it is to uphold the integrity of the office of the presidency saying, actually, I may or may not have an issue here. Remember the president's comments about those who take the Fifth. But in reality, he's given so much information. Remember, over 30

hours he spent with Robert Mueller. The president was quick to say, look, I did not stop that in any way, I want him to be forthcoming. Whether that actually will come to pass is a different story.

But one should expect, given the testimony of even John Dean on Monday, to say the breadth and acts of information the White House counsel would have had in conversations should be available to the American people as well. But the privilege issue is going to come into play -- Brianna?

KEILAR: He doesn't seem like he take the Fifth as well, because it seems like he kept himself pretty clean through all of this, too, Carrie.

CORDERO: Yes, I don't see there's an argument that he's worried about his own culpability. I think this really is, because he was the White House counsel, he is able to make an argument that he has to adhere to these assertions of executive privilege. And so he's just going to sit back and wait until a court says, no, actually, you really need to comply with it. And then I would expect that he would testify if it got to that point.

KEILAR: We'll see if it does.

Carrie Cordero, Laura Coates, thank you so much to both of you.

President Trump is expected to speak any moment. We're going to take it live, next.


[13:55:09] KEILAR: So we're expecting, any moment, to see a signing ceremony at the White House. But right now, we're awaiting a fly-over of F-35s as the president has Poland's president visiting the White House.

Do we have video of this right now?

We're trying to get this together.

But President Trump is coming to an agreement with Poland's president, who is at the White House to talk defense troop increases energy.

I want to bring in CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.

And we're waiting because this is going to be something, right? This is going to be -- this is going to be pretty neat.


KEILAR: It is a little bit of a theater.

KIRBY: It is. KEILAR: But tell us what we're expecting to see here.

KIRBY: So in conjunction with this agreement to rotate more American troops to Poland, they will have a couple of F-35s fly overhead. The Polish are looking at buying -- they want to buy as many as 35. This is a $90 million aircraft. Not clear whether they will get sticker shock to be able to actually do that.

But it is very unusual to see military tactical aircraft like this flying over downtown D.C. It is a fairly significant logistical hurdle to overcome.

KEILAR: Here we go. This is the joint strike fighter.

KIRBY: It is.

KEILAR: So tell us about this plane.

KIRBY: This is the most-modern fifth-generation aircraft in the Pentagon's inventory. And it is a program that has been fraught with cost overruns and technical problems to overcome. But it is showly and surely getting back on track.

Each service has a variant of this plane. The Air Force has a version. The Navy has a version especially built to land and take off from aircraft carriers. And the Marine Corps has a version now that can do vertical takeoff and landings, kind of like the Harrier jet that people are used to seeing.

I'm told this version of the F-35 flying now that we're seeing in the video is the Marine Corps version. I don't know why they chose this version but that's what I'm told this one is.

KEILAR: Seeing this flight over the White House, just from your military background, do you have any questions or concerns about how this is being used. As we see the first lady of Poland and the first lady of the U.S. And the presidents there waving at the joint strike fighter. But do you have any concerns about what is really an unusual appearance?

KIRBY: I do. I do, Brianna. I think it is just theater. I think Trump is coming off his visit from D-Day to Normandy, the anniversary there, and he likes the fly-overs and he's wowed by the trappings of the military, in particular, aircraft. And so I think he wanted this more for show than anything else.

And that bothers me. They had to make changes around the air space for the D.C. area, the capitol area, which is a very busy commercial air space corridor, and they had to make adjustments for that. And I'm not sure that was an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars and time.

KEILAR: Do you think that, in itself, the appearance of the joint strike fighter, is something that might sway Poland into buying more, if you are concerned about the $90 million cost?

(CROSSTALK) KIRBY: I don't think the fly-over will change their calculus. They clearly want this jet. And we should want them to want this jet.

The Russians won't like it if the Polish buy F-35s.


KIRBY: We should want them to have this kind of capability and technology in the air. But I don't think the flyover itself will affect the decision one way or the other. It will really come down to the cost and how are they going to be able to buy and maintain these very sophisticated aircraft.

KEILAR: Admiral Kirby, thank you very much.

KIRBY: My pleasure.

KEILAR: That is it for me.

"NEWSROOM" and Brooke Baldwin starts right after this.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.

You could say it is another part of the Trump 2020 playbook, insulting nicknames and claims on Twitter that unfavorable polls are fake news and repeated warnings that his political rivals will help the U.S. slide into Socialism.

This was his latest jab while in Iowa.


[14:00:07] TRUMP: More than 100 Democrats in Congress have signed up for the Bernie Sanders' government takeover of health care.