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More Tariffs On Chinese Goods; Yang Wants Every American To Get $1k A Month; Senator Kamala Harris Speaks After The Fiery Debate; US Has Tracked Launch Of Projectile From North Korea. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: -- give him an entire four weeks, like this could be the threats. And then we cover it and then he says, "Oh, just kidding."

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. And we saw that happen in the spring both with Mexico, of course, but also with China. Again, partly in response to maybe some hope that there was a deal to be had with China. But also because the business community said, please do not do this. I mean, it's not just businesses, of course, it's also consumers.

The goods that have not yet been tariffed under this administration from China are primarily consumer goods, you know. It's things like your iPhone, it's things like clothing, shoes, toys, books, bibles. So there are a lot of reasons why that he would get push back, not only from retailers and manufacturers, but also --

BALDWIN: Constituents.

RAMPELL: -- constituents.

BALDWIN: Totally.

RAMPELL: So, and who knows how China might try to further retaliate as well.

BALDWIN: How about -- I want to ask you about the debate last night. Andrew Yang, all right, Andrew Yang wants to be your next president, got some attention from our debate last night in Detroit with his plan to give $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18. Here he is.


ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to be laser focused on solving the real challenges of today, like the fact that the most common jobs in America may not exist in a decade, or that most Americans cannot pay their bills. My flagship proposal to freedom dividend would put $1,000 a month into the hands of every American adult, be a game changer for millions of American families.

If you care more about your family and your kids than my neck wear, enter your zip code at and see what $1,000 a month would mean to your community. I have done the math. It's not left, it's not right, it's forward and that is how we're going to beat Donald Trump in 2020.


BALDWIN: OK. So like any question he got, he sort of pivoted back to this whole single issue that he's running on. Let us hear some numbers. Roughly $234 million Americans would qualify for his $1,000 a month stipend. That is $234 billion per month or roughly $2.8 trillion per year.

Yang calls for 10 percent value added tax or VAT to pay for all of this. So my question to you is, I mean, everyone's thinking, "All right, I'll take an extra grand a month," but really, how realistic is this? And is this really sort of wealth redistribution?

RAMPELL: So it is wealth redistribution. Of course, the people who stand -- arguably stand to benefit most from an expansion of the social safety net that looks like this or the people who are not necessarily benefiting from the social safety net now, which is higher income people. I mean, that's the main objection to a program like this, right?

If it's truly universal, that means Bill Gates gets it as well as very low income people whether they're working or not. And so that's generally the kind of objection to a universal basic income that it's not targeted, right? It's very expensive. It's not targeted and it's not exactly clear what problem it's trying to solve.

He talks a lot in the debate and elsewhere about the need to help people whose jobs are disappearing, the need to help people who are struggling with their bills. But we have mechanisms to help more targeted demographics like that. We have the -- or an income tax credit, for example.

We have other safety net programs like food stamps or unemployment insurance, trade adjustment assistance. His plan would sort of give people the option of either taking the $1,000 a month or continuing whatever benefits they currently have. And so it's not exactly clear what the price tag would be.

BALDWIN: OK. It appears to be a theme for a lot of issues.

RAMPELL: Yes, it does seem to be a theme for a lot of issues.


RAMPELL: I will say that this is one of these proposals that has a very devoted but kind of small following of an eclectic group of people ideologically. I mean, it's very popular in Silicon Valley that the folks who think that the robots are coming to take all of our jobs.

Of course, there are people on the left who think that it's a great idea to have some sort of income distribution that is not tied to work, so -- because much our safety net is related to work.

And so there is this sort of libertarian left wing coalition of people who support this. But, again, it would be a very high price tag and not the most targeted way necessarily to help people who need it.

BALDWIN: OK. Catherine Rampell, thank you. And we go now to Senator Kamala Harris taking some questions today.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe if I could have three minutes instead of 60 seconds or 30 seconds or 15 seconds, that would have -- if I could have done things differently, that would have certainly been one of my choices.

No. I mean, look, this is the nature of this process that we will have debates and that we will have to defend our position and we will have differences of opinion, and that's to be expected.

It is to be expected many of the folks here and the pundits and people who are experienced with these processes will say that if you're considered a frontrunner, you should be prepared to take the hits. And so there was nothing about last night that was surprising to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Harris, we heard Dolores just now talking about the importance of health care. You did spend a lot of time last night attacking Joe Biden on his health care plan. Any concern, though, that your plan and your proposals got lost, your message got lost in all of your attack?

[14:35:10] HARRIS: So, I disagree with the plan that Vice President Biden is offering, only because I believe we can do better. I believe that in 2019 we should and can offer a solution to the unavailability and unaffordability of health care in America, in a way that offers health care to everybody.

Vice President Biden's plan doesn't do that. Nearly 10 million people will not have access to affordable health care. So, we have a difference of opinion. And experts have said that my plan is actually one of, if not the most, effective way to actually get to Medicare for all.

You know, it's a complicated issue when you get into the details, so obviously a debate where you can talk for seconds is probably not the best venue to actually describe the detail of it. But I am very excited about our plan and I will tell you it is responsive to the voices and the needs of people I'm hearing around the country. And to have the added benefit of having the experts also agree that it is the most responsive is something that I'm proud of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, do you think that Democrats are talking enough to (inaudible) that Dolores (ph) is feeling the economy which she was talking about that?

HARRIS: I -- and I'll just talk this way, even though I'm listening to you. I'm not ignoring you. I think that we could do a better job, frankly, of making sure that voices like Dolores are heard. You know, my agenda is about -- I call it the 3:00 am agenda, which is focused on the things that are the issues that wake people up in the middle of the night, 3:00 in the morning.

Those are the issues that people are grappling with every day in America. Those are the issues that are about health care like she said, being her number one issue. Those are issues about their ability and working family's ability to get through the end of the month, and be able to pay the bills and pay the rent.

It is the issue of what people are able to do in terms of thinking if they're going to be able to retire with dignity, students being able to pay off their student loans. These are the issues that wake people up in the middle of the night. And my agenda is about prioritizing those issues, because I believe that's what Americans really want.

We can talk with grand gestures about, you know, all kinds of, you know, reforms of the system, but let's deal with some bread and butter issues.

That's why, for example, I'm proposing that we change the tax code so that for families that are making less than $100,000 a year, they get a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year, that they can collected up to $500 a month. Why? Well, because almost half of American families right now are a $400 unexpected expense away from complete upheaval.

Why am I saying we need to raise teacher pay? Because in America we have teachers everywhere who are working two and three jobs to pay their bills. Teachers, 94 percent of them who teach in our public schools are coming out of their own pocket to help pay for school supplies. Teachers on average are paid 11 percent less than similarly educated professionals.

These are the issues that American families what to hear us talk about, especially working families who I believe have been left out by this President. This President walks around congratulating himself and his administration about this economy. And then you ask, well, how -- you know, about the greatness they call it, the greatness of this economy, you ask him, well, how are you measuring the greatness of the economy (inaudible) and they point to the stock market?

Well, 72 percent of the stocks in America are owned by just the top 10 percent. So, any benefit from the stock market is not hitting the majority of Americans, including Dolores.

Let's talk about -- they'll say, well, the unemployment numbers are another measure of the success of this economy. Yes, but, you know, people are working. They're working two to three jobs. And this is part of what the conversation was with Dolores.

In our America, nobody should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head or put food on the table. So, getting back to the point, we need to be relevant. And for me, that's what my campaign is about. And that is what our -- the whole process is about and that's why I'm here talking to Dolores.

To make sure that what we're talking about as priorities are actually the priorities that will affect somebody like Dolores who works every day, taking the bus to come here and work her eight hours and go through a two-hour commute each way, because she believes in the dignity of work, but she also has a right to know that that will produce an ability for her to have a dignity in life. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any turns of that message, though, that lost some of the debates (inaudible)? There's a lot of negativity. At one point, you know, it felt like President Obama is getting attacked as much as President Trump. But I do think that -- are voters getting that kind of message from these debates?

HARRIS: I'm going to be very honest with you. It can be a frustrating process. You know, there are, I think, better venues where we're able to have a real conversation. So many of these issues just cannot be captured in 60 seconds, much less 30 or 15, it's just a reality of it.

[14:40:08] It is a process that is conducive for sound bites. And in my experience, in my long experience in public service, I will tell you, no good public policy ends with an exclamation point. So -- but these debates, that's the kind of thing that it rewards. But I don't know that that's what the American people want. I think they want solution.

Listen, I have nothing but praise for President Obama. I think he did great work. We talked about the health care system, Dolores talked about that. Many presidents before him tried to reform America's health care system. He actually got it done.

My proposal is about taking it to the next step, but with all righteous and due credit to President Obama for putting us on the path where actually this next step is even possible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. I'm going to move this way guys. I'm going to Bloomberg right here.

HARRIS: Hi, hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Tulsi Gabbard came after your record as a prosecutor in your debate last night. I'm wondering whether you're expecting those ignites. And just a follow up to that, the longer you stay in this race, the worse attacks you're going to get. How are you preparing for that? And are you sure it's not going to jeopardize voter support for your image?

HARRIS: I am fully prepared to work to earn the vote of everyone. And I will not take those votes for granted. I know I have to make my case and I'm prepared to do that.

On the issue of my background as a prosecutor, I will tell you as I travel this country, people want to know that the next commander in chief has actually been in the business of prioritizing their safety. I've done that my entire career.

My entire career has been focused on making sure people are safe. When I think about what we need to do to reform America's criminal justice system, I have been a national leader in reforming America's criminal justice system. And as we go forward, I think that the reality of it is that people are also going to agree enough with the suggestion that people don't want public safety. They do.

They don't want excessive force. They don't want racial profiling. They absolutely want public safety. So I'm not going to shy away from that record at all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, what do you learn about Detroit and Michigan and how would you (inaudible)?

HARRIS: Yes. I've been here many times to Detroit. I love this city. I love this city for many reasons that mostly have to do with its history and its people. This is a town of people who helped build America. This is a town of people who helped build the culture of America. And this is a town that also got really hit hard when America was not working for working people. And so, I think of Detroit and I think of Michigan through that lens.

And for me, winning back Michigan is about, again, staying focused on the issues that wake people up in the middle of the night. And also doing it in a way that appreciates -- when I talk about my 3:00 am agenda, it is not only about what I believe to be the priorities of families in our country, it is also about the fact that in spite of these powerful forces that are in this President who is trying to sow hate and division among us. I also know the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us, and I know it through the lens of that 3:00 am thought.

When people wake up at 3:00 in the morning worrying about those things, it is never through the lens of the party with which they're registered to vote. It is never through the lens of some simplistic demographic symbols to put them in. And I think that people of Michigan know that, which is they do not want their president or anyone running for president to simplify their life by just simply thinking of them as a Democrat or a Republican or on some spectrum of ideology.

What they want is that we will think of them through the lens of the life they're actually living, and the things that keep them up at night. And it is I believe that kind of approach that is going to win back Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) real quick right here.

HARRIS: Thanks for asking questions of Dolores, by the way. Thank you.




[14:45:06] HARRIS: I strongly believe that the conversation needs to be fully focused on the problem of Donald Trump and what we need to do to fix and correct for that. I fully believe that the conversation has to also be about how we're going to get to the point of actually writing the next chapter of America, and part of that is going to be about how we're going to turn that page.

So, part of the conversation is necessarily going to have to be about how we defeat Donald Trump. Because you can't write the next chapter, right, unless you got a blank page.


HARRIS: I mean, I'm not going to --

BALDWIN: All right, so Senator Kamala Harris standing on answering a bunch of questions from members of the media. And I want to go back to one of the questions she was asked, right, because she was attacked last night about her history as a prosecutor in the state of California. Here's the exchange.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so.

She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

HARRIS: I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.


BALDWIN: Christopher Cadelago covered Harris during her time as a prosecutor in California. He's now a National Political Reporter with Politico. So, Christopher, thank you so much for being with me.

And you heard the senator, you know, double down. I am proud of my history. You know, I'm -- she's not shying away from that. She likes to describe her past as a "progressive prosecutor." But to Congresswoman Gabbard's point, did she make some decisions that disenfranchised the poor of people of color? Set the record straight.

CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. So Kamala Harris has a long record in law enforcement and so there are going to be areas of that record that folks can scrutinize and you saw Congresswoman Gabbard do it last night.

Going back to her time as district attorney of San Francisco, she pushed to increase bail. Obviously now we know that Kamala Harris is a proponent of bail reform. She focused on a law as attorney general of California years later that would have created penalties for parents to -- if their kids missed school. And that was a truancy initiative that she started that now has received a lot of blow back. And also in her time as AG, she focused on appealing a judge's ruling that the death penalty was unconstitutional. But it wasn't just sort of the issues that she focused on where she was kind of on the wrong side of reformers. Today, it was also on issues that she didn't get engaged in.

There was an initiative that was run statewide that she did not endorsed, which reduced some misdemeanors, some felonies to misdemeanors. And there was another issue involving independent probes of police shootings where she came out on the side of prosecutorial discretion, sided with law enforcement. So there is a list of issues that people can come after her on.

BALDWIN: What about on marijuana, right? We heard Tulsi Gabbard last night pointing to her prosecution of marijuana violations and I think this is the interview to which she was alluding. Here you go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever smoked?

HARRIS: I have.


HARRIS: And I inhale -- I did inhale. It was a long time ago, but yes.


BALDWIN: So it was a long time ago. But, Christopher, is it fair for the senator and her supporters to chalk that contradiction up to "it was a long time ago, those were the times?"

CADELAGO: Yes. I think -- I mean, the actual attack that Congresswoman Gabbard leveled in the debate didn't make a whole lot of sense, because Kamala Harris was the state attorney general, and all of these cases that Tulsi Gabbard is talking about have to do with the county prosecutors bringing them against folks.

But it is true that Harris did not support marijuana legalization, until fairly recently, in 2016 when she ran for Senate. She talked a lot about how this was going to be inevitable and it was going to happen anyway, and then she came into the Senate. She did get behind Senator Booker's legalization bill, decriminalization. And just in the last week or so, she proposed a bill of her own to reform the system.

So, you know, these are sort of evolutions for her. There are some things you can pick at, but then she has not wanted to back away from this record because it's very much the record she's running against Donald Trump on.

[14:50:09] BALDWIN: Christopher Cadelago on her record. Thank you, Chris, very much. Good to have you on.

CADELAGO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Want to get to some breaking now, the US is tracking the launch of a projectile from North Korea. So to Barbara Starr we go at the Pentagon. What's going on, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brooke. Well, this is extremely preliminary information, and nothing has been totally confirmed yet. But a senior US official tells CNN a short time ago, US military intelligence did track some kind of launch of a projectile out of North Korea.

And it's important to realize that US satellites, US intelligence assets can very quickly detect radars when there is a launch of any kind of short range ballistic missile, long range artillery. These things have a heat signature, US assets can detect that something has been launched.

But this is very preliminary. So right now, at this hour, they are trying to determine exactly what did happen. The very initial assessment, it is most likely something very short range. Such as North Korea, did fire earlier this week, you know, not a threat to the US, not a threat to its neighbors at this point.

But certainly a concern, Kim Jong-un appears to be sending a message quite frequently now to the United States, South Korea and Japan. And no one is really sure, you know, how soon he might decide to get back to the negotiating table.

The US wants him to sit down and talk about denuclearization. We should point out right now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling in the region, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper is set to take off in the coming hours for a publicly announced trip to the region as well.

So this launch may be part of that message that Kim is sending to the US, but a lot more information to be learned. This is all very preliminary.

BALDWIN: Wow, Pompeo in the region. Certainly provocative, we wait to see if there's a tweet from his friend, the president of the United States. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Keep us posted on that obviously.

What about back to the Detroit debate? What about the underdogs last night? The 1 percent crowd, right? The debate coach will join me to go through style and substance.

And the Justice Department declining to prosecute and fire FBI James Comey over the handling of his infamous memos. We will tell you why.


[14:57:04] BALDWIN: If last night's debate was the moment for the underdog candidates, how did the underdogs do? Most importantly, who had a strong enough night to get some donor dollars flowing their way and an invite to round three of the debates next month?

Todd Graham is our go to guy in all things debate. He's a Debate Director at Southern University, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and he joins us to grade the performances of those candidates who really needed to have a make or break performance.

And so, Todd Graham, let's start with Cory Booker, Julian Castro and Michael Bennet. So first, the New Jersey senator, how did Cory Booker do?

TODD GRAHAM, DEBATE DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY CARBONDALE: Cory Booker had a decent debate. I thought that it was better than his last debate. I thought that this was better that his last debate. But unfortunately, he started getting some attacks in the debate as well.

And so, I have -- like I think his best argument versus his worst argument. His worse argument was his defense of himself as mayor of Newark. He had some issues there. But his best argument was voter suppression and we haven't heard that very much in these debates

So while he had some good and some bad, I think his main difficulty was I thought attacking Joe Biden automatically means it would be a good thing for him. And at the end of the debate, I still didn't have a reason to vote for Cory Booker.

So one thing you must remember is always, yes, you should probably attack someone else, but you have to leave the audience with remembering why it is I want to vote for you.

BALDWIN: What's his grade? Did you give him one?

GRAHAM: Yes, yes, yes. HE got a B minus.

BALDWIN: B minus for Cory Booker. How about former HUD Secretary Julian Castro?

GRAHAM: He got a C. I grouped him in with the few that I said had fine debates. But they simply didn't stand out in any, you know, in any fashionable way. So I thought the same thing about Tulsi Gabbard unfortunately.

BALDWIN: Yes. Michael Bennet, I know not exactly a household name, but he got a bit of talk time last night. How do you rate him?

GRAHAM: Yes. He's an odd one. When I first started watching him in the debate, I thought, well, is this guy going to fall asleep in his introduction? I was a little bit confused.

BALDWIN: Oh, ouch.

GRAHAM: But then he started, we'll see but that's it. He gives a different impression than once the debate starts going. And I've actually had debaters exactly like that, Brooke. Who when they start, they're a little on the sleepy side, but as soon as you make an argument against them, they're sharp and they're ready to go.

And so I thought, his arguments were some of the best of the night and of everybody on stage, he actually defended being a moderate, the best. He defended how much things will cost, and that we should have some truth telling.

And frankly, he was really good on issues of civil rights. I thought he had an excellent debate.

BALDWIN: And he won 20 seconds, you're just like, bye-bye.

GRAHAM: Yes. So there were others that had I think some good debates. Obviously, Joe Biden had a little as he debate.

But Andrew Yang was my favorite in last night's debate. I gave him a solid B.

BALDWIN: Really?

GRAHAM: What he did was he stuck with his guns. He wants to give everybody $1,000.

BALDWIN: He came back to that issue every single time somebody asked him a question, every single time. And, you know --

GRAHAM: He did.

BALDWIN: Right. Todd Graham, thank you very much. Next debate, in a month, I'm sure we'll talk then. Let's roll on.

GRAHAM: Absolutely.