Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Campaign Senior Advisor, Symone Sanders, Discusses Booker Calling Out Biden On Segregationist Senators Remark, Abortion And Hyde Amendment, Courting African-American Voters In S.C., Warren And Sanders Tied At Second Place; A Look At U.S. Drone Shot Down By Iranians; Cops In Eight Cities Under Fire Over Alleged Fascist Posts. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 20, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] SYMONE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISOR, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I am comfortable with somebody like Joe Biden because I know what he believes. I know his cares. I know his value. And I know what kind of campaign we're running. And I'm excited for him to be out of the campaign trail to make that case.

I know people have questions, Brooke, and he is ready to answer them. And I think people will get their questions also answer on the debate stage on Thursday.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We look forward to that. We look forward that.

You recently -- a lot of people may not realize, but you were the one that confronted Biden on the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment which blocks federal funds being used for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or when the mother's in life is at stake. You told Biden his position disproportionately affected poor women, women of color. And a day after the campaign said that he supported it, Biden changed course.

On this issue, Symone, today, it has been reported that some of Biden's advisers have warned him not to use these segregationists as examples of civility or that Biden can work across the aisle. I've got to ask, were you one of the ones to warn him not to bring it up?

SANDERS: Brooke, I'm glad you brought up the Hyde Amendment because I want to address that. People read a lot of things in the newspaper. There's no reason for me to confront Vice President Biden. That is not the nature of our relationship.

And if you want to talk about Hyde particularly, as we're working through the details of our health care policy, yes, a conversation about the Hyde Amendment and access for low-income women came up. When we work through all of these different options and found that under our health care plan, which would include the expansion of Medicaid through a public option, our health care plan to get to universal coverage, the Hyde Amendment won't work. That is what brought Vice President Biden to the place he was.

In terms of this conversation about the example he's using about bipartisanship, I can get -- and I definitely understand why a number of people -- again, I find the chairwoman of the CDC, she also said in that quote, she wishes that he wouldn't use segregationists as an example. I get that and I understand that. And --


BALDWIN: I was wondering if, because you did speak up on behalf of so many women regarding Hyde, if you spoke up regarding the segregationists and not telling these stories. Did you ever have a conversation with the former vice president about that.

SANDERS: Just like I wasn't going to get into the details of what I do or talk to the vice president about earlier in this conversation, I'm not going to get into it now.


BALDWIN: Let me move on. I got you. I got you.

Let me ask you, why isn't Biden doing interviews himself to just explain himself over this issue?

SANDERS: Well, Brooke, I would say that he -- the way he got those comments, he talked to press yesterday, and I'm pretty sure we'll be out in South Carolina all this weekend --


BALDWIN: A sit-down interview --


BALDWIN: -- where he can lock eyes with a journalist and have a real conversation over all of this?

SANDERS: I'm very confident that he's doing a sit-down with someone this weekend. And so the folks are looking to hear from Joe Biden very soon.

BALDWIN: Great, great. Looking ahead to this weekend, the candidates all head down to South Carolina. Do you know if Biden and Booker plan to speak to address this?

SANDERS: I think that -- this is what I do know. All the candidates will be down in South Carolina, not just at the dinner, but at Congressman Clyburn's world-famous fish fry. We have respect for Senator Booker. I know the vice president has respect for him and considers Senator Booker a friend. And I wouldn't be surprised if they spoke.

Look, again, nobody wins in the family feud. I don't think there's a high level of animosity here that folks would like to project. We're all Democrats and we're all focused on one thing, getting Donald Trump out of office.

BALDWIN: On a broader note, Symone, the Democratic Party has evolved over Biden's 40-plus years in public service. One of the big concerns that I'm just reading and hearing from others, and this is my question to you, is Joe Biden a throwback to an era that today's Democratic Party wants to move forward from?

SANDERS: That's an interesting question, Brooke. I think -- not even I think. I know it's a radical concept in this current climate to talk about bipartisanship and working across the aisle.

What I'll tell you is, according to NPR, more than 63 percent of Americans want a president that can work across the aisle. When Democrats took back the House in 2018, folks across the country went out and said, we want a Congress, a House that will put a check on this president but, two, get something done. We won in some really red places.

I don't think we're talking about a throwback to the past. We're talking about a future that works. We have bold plans. Today, we put out an education plan --


BALDWIN: When you look at Joe Biden, Symone, when you at Joe Biden and hear the story he told about the segregationists, when you know about his history regarding bussing -- I can cite several examples -- the concern is that he is this throwback of the Democratic Party of yesterday year. And some folks in the party want to move forward.

SANDERS: Well, I think Joe Biden also wants to move forward, Brooke. That's why we're in this race. We're in this race to talk about the future.

[14:35:02] I know a lot of people want to talk about the past. Joe Biden's time as vice president to Barack Obama is more indicative of who he is and how he will govern than something he said 46 years ago. That is what our campaign is about.

We know he'll have to answer questions about his record. The vice president had no problem talking about his record in the United States Senate. We're looking forward, Brooke. We're excited about being out here on the campaign trail and talking to the American people about our vision for the future. That's how we're going to get things done.

Make no mistake, our vision for the future is not a vision where we hunker down and we don't talk to people on the other side, where we don't find compromise where applicable. That's not how you get anything done. I've been in this business where you have to go bare -- when you have to go bare knuckles, you do it, when you have to drag your policies across the finish line, like with the Affordable Care Act, you get it done.

But is place where you can compromise to move the ball forward in places that it does make sense, we have to do that. At the end of the day, we have to do what's best for the American people.

BALDWIN: Before I let you go -- I know it's early. When you look at these new polls, new polls show Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are tied for second behind your candidate. Does that help you that you may be splitting the vote? Is that a calculation for the campaign?

SANDERS: Brooke, if you live by the polls, you die by the polls, just like if you live by the stock market, you have to take credit when it's doing good and when it's doing bad. Speaking of Donald Trump.

Look, I think the polls are going to change. I don't know how the Sanders campaign feels about Elizabeth Warren cutting into Senator Sanders' lead. Those are questions for them to answer.

We're focused on making sure we're speaking and taking our vision directly to the American people in every corner of this country and earning their support, because we know this is going to be a fight, Brooke, but this is a fight we're planning to win.

BALDWIN: Symone Sanders --

SYMONE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- thank you very much. Thank you.

Our breaking news coverage continues. President Trump says his advisers are not pushing him to war with Iran after the attack on a U.S. drone. Coming up next, a closer look at that very expensive, very important piece of military equipment.

Plus, police departments across the country dealing with online hate coming from the rank-and-file themselves. We're live in Philadelphia where 72 officers have been yanked off the city streets.


[14:41:56] BALDWIN: The drone struck down by Iranian forces is not what you would imagine. It has a wingspan of 131 feet, 47.5 feet long. At takeoff, it can weigh up to 32,000 pounds.

Brett Velicovich is a drone expert and former U.S. Army Special Ops.

Brett, thank you for being here.

And reading some of your notes --

Thanks for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: -- this is an RQ-4A Global Hawk. The most expensive in our arsenal, $180 million. What does it do?

BRETT VELICOVICH, DRONE EXPERT & FORMER U.S. ARMY SPECIAL OPS: So the RQ-4 is made by Northrop Grumman, meant to fly at extremely high altitudes. We're talking 30,000 to 60,000 feet. I used it quite regularly during my time in service for intelligence collection. It's one of the most expensive drones in our arsenal. Up to $100 million a pop.

It has an incredible camera on it. Typically, what we do with it, we fly it over a large amount of terrain, and it's able to snap massive amounts of imagery. So it can cover a 2,000-square-foot area with one pass. So it gives us the ability to be able to see what Iran is doing.

But I want to address some confusion here. There's still some talk of whether or not this type of drone was in Iranian airspace or it wasn't. Let me clear. For someone that has used RQ-4 before, we would not fly that type of drone over Iranian airspace or Iranian territory at this point because, one, the tensions are so high. There would be a direct order to Air Force personnel to stay away from that. It would fly a planned route.

And then, two, it's not a stealth drone. The fact is --


BALDWIN: It can be picked up on radar.

VELICOVICH: -- to detect it. Exactly. It can be detected by governments. It can be shot at by these surface-to-air missiles. It loiters. It's very slow. We're talking 100 to 130 miles an hour when it flies. Think of it as a bus driver taking a certain route.

The Iranians are going to know that it's up there. There's no mistaking that it's up there, and they deliberately shot it up there.

BALDWIN: Since there's no mistaking it was up there, do you think it's possible the Iranians knew exactly what they were shooting down?

VELICOVICH: Absolutely. I know that the president mentioned that this may have been a mistake, but there's no mistaking this drone. Again, it flies a specific planned route. It's generally the forces before -- U.S. forces the day before, will plan that route. It will fly the same pattern. The Iranians have probably been watching it for a while now. There's no mistaking.

What else would they be mistaking it for? A commercial airliner? No, this was deliberate. They knew what they were doing. They knew they had the capability to shoot it down. This is not a fight jet. This is not a stealth drone. The Iranians knew what they were doing here and they wanted to send a message.

BALDWIN: What's the message they're sending?

VELICOVICH: That they're upset with the sanctions. They're losing power and that they are losing control. That's how the Iranians think. They think about power. They've been backed into a corner. The president gave them two options and that was to fight or negotiate. And the Iranian culture is such that they want to fight. That's exactly what we're seeing here.

[14:45:10] I think we need a measured response. The fact is the Iranian hardliners have been covertly at war with us for years. And typically, they've been smart enough to not directly attack U.S. properties, at least within recent years. That's why this represents such a serious escalation and absolutely needs a measured military response from our forces.

BALDWIN: Brett Velicovich, thank you so much for your expertise. Nice to have you on.

VELICOVICH: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Police officers across the country on leave over alleged racist posts online, including in Philadelphia where 72 officers have been removed from the streets. We'll take you there.


[14:50:41] BALDWIN: Dozens of Philadelphia police officers are off the street and could be fired after an advocacy group, called the Plain View Project, says a host of current and former officers across the country made Facebook posts that appeared to endorse violence or racism or bigotry. The research project reportedly found objectional material from officers not just in Philadelphia but in other major cities, like Dallas, St. Louis, and even places in Florida, Texas and Idaho.


RICHARD ROSS, COMMISSIONER, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I understand it's the world, but it makes me sick, to be honest with you. It really makes me sick because we are in a position to know better.

We will not be shy about meting out the appropriate discipline, which could range from, in many cases, a day or so off, all the way up to termination, which is probably something that's going to certainly happen for some of these officers.


BALDWIN: Brynn Gingras is a CNN national correspondent live in Philadelphia. Solomon Jones is a Philadelphia radio host at WURD, Classix 107.9, a columnist with the "Philadelphia Daily News," and he's with the Rally for the Justice Coalition.

Welcome to both of you.

Brynn, first, on some of the reporting here, tell me more about what the project found, what was found and, you know, the social media posts?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, we talked to the project group. They basically said, they picked out these eight specific jurisdictions based on the department size. They wanted big ones and small ones. They wanted to have a good geography based focus, from rural communities to city communities. Philadelphia was one of those groups taken.

They came across pretty egregious posts. Some of these posts police officers were having on their Facebook, they were racist, anti- Semitic. In some cases, they promoted violence against women, violence against protesters. It was a wide range of comments that were being made. In other cases, sharing posts and making their own personal comments.

Yes, Police departments are now having to take action. You talked about 72 officers here in Philadelphia alone benched now. It's unclear what their fate is in the department. Will they be fired? Will they lose time from work?

St. Louis taking a step as well. And 22 officers are being added to a list for the circuit attorney there. They can't call those officers to testify, because it means their case is biased.

The D.A. in Philadelphia said they're experiencing the same thing. They're going to have to make a list of their own.

In Dallas, let me read you how they responded to this project, quote, "The Dallas Police Department is thoroughly investigating the names and posts listed in the publication to determine if the officers violated the department's social media policy or any other departmental policy. We take these matters seriously. And we want to ensure the community that we will not tolerate racism, bigotry or hatred of any kind in our organization."

Some of the smaller departments also responding, Brooke. Some saying now they need to change their policy, making look at Facebook posts before they do their hiring. Some taking action as well, conducting their own investigation.

It's really across the board, but incredible findings by this project.

BALDWIN: In Philadelphia, specifically, Solomon, to you, I mean, 72 officers yanked off the streets. That's the largest pull back ever. Some of them will be fired.

What's your reaction to that, and also I know your group Rally for Justice has been long fighting for this. I imagine you're feeling like your voice has been heard.

SOLOMON JONES, COLUMNIST, THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: Yes, we did our first protest on June 7th. We went to police headquarters and protested there. We thought that was necessary in order to let people know how serious we are as a community.

Because if you are posting things on Facebook that say you hate black people, you hate Muslims, you hate women, you hate the people who you are supposedly protecting and serving, then you can't patrol that community and make us feel safe. In fact, we feel like our lives are in danger with these people in our communities.

There were 328 of them all together on active duty. We asked for all 328 of them to be taken off the streets while the investigation continued. They initially took off 10n and then 50. And then we met with the mayor and the police commissioner and they immediately announced there were 72 off the streets.

We do feel good about that. But we still feel that these people on the street, who say they hate us, pose a danger to our community.

[14:55:07] BALDWIN: You talk about the danger they would pose, but what about just -- the "Philadelphia Inquirer," for example, reports there was an uptick in drug homicides in 2018. What are the dangers of pulling dozens of law enforcement off the streets?

JONES: Well, I think that if you are going to have law enforcement on the street, they have to be people who are going to enforce the law evenly and who are going to enforce the law fairly. We have 6500 police officers here in the city of Philadelphia.

And we know where the hotspots are. I think if the community trusts these police officers, then whoever is on the street, they will be more effective because the community will cooperate with them.

But if they are not trusted in the community, they can't be effective anyway. We need to pull those off the street that say they hate us, because they endanger everyone.

BALDWIN: Trust in the community, as you point out.

Solomon Jones, thank you so much for your voice. Good to have you on.

JONES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: More on our breaking news. How will President Trump respond to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone? Lawmakers are about to get a briefing from the White House.

We'll be right back.