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Co-Chair of Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign Nina Turner Discusses Trump Seizing on Democrats Going after Obama Legacy at Debate, Biden & Harris Sparring over Medicare-for-All, Sanders Dropping in Polls; A$AP Rocky Allowed to Leave Sweden Amid Pending Verdict; Nikki Haley Calls Out Trump for Latest Attack on Rep. Elijah Cummings; Half of House Now Calling for Impeachment. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:58] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: President Trump is seizing on Democrats' decision to go after President Obama's legacy at this week's debate. Here's the president at a rally in Cincinnati.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the Democrats spent more time attacking Barack Obama than they did attacking me practically.



BROWN: Joining us, the co-chair of Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, Nina Turner.

Nina, what did you think when you were watching the debate on night two, because as we know Sanders debated on night one, but is President Trump right? Did they spend more time going after Obama and his legacy? What did you think about that?

NINA TURNER, CO-CHAIR, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, the president doesn't have a leg to stand on talking his opinion about how people feel about President Obama's invalid especially the Birther movement he pushed.

I was stunned though by what I was seeing on the stage on Wednesday. I found myself -- it was just a hodgepodge of a lot of stuff going on that was kind of hard to piece together, a lot of confusion.

BROWN: What about the focus on Obama and his legacy?

[13:35:03] TURNER: The focus on the president, you know, you build on the legacy of President Obama. Politics is not stagnant so it's OK to say we're starting from a strong position and must go further. Even President Obama himself has said that we need to move towards a universal health care system in this country.

But I was a bit stunned that some of the candidates on the stage were invoking the president's name in a negative way.

BROWN: And let's talk about health care, because that obviously is a key issue. It was a key issue in the debates. On night two, we saw Kamala Harris and Joe Biden spar over their health care plans.


BROWN: Do you think that they explained their plans well enough?

TURNER: Well, we've got to keep this simple. Senator Sanders has certainly animated this conversation. As you know, Pamela, he started this debate. The Democrats wouldn't even be talking about health care to this degree had it not been for the courage of Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Medicare-for-All is clear. Everybody in, nobody out. What they were discussing on Wednesday night was confusion. Is Medicare-for-All maybe. And that is --


BROWN: Well, it allows for private insurance, I believe.

TURNER: But they can't serve two masters here. Either you're going to have a Medicare-for-All system that increases the services that our seniors have right now and, over a four-year period, as Senator Sanders has laid out, bring everybody in to make sure -- this is not just about -- this is not about access to health care. It is about having health care.

We can't continue along the same track. Or you want to do it the way that Senator Harris wants to do or vice president, which is to have this love/hate relationship with the insurance company. We should not be --


BROWN: So do you think it's unrealistic what Kamala Harris is proposing?

TURNER: You've got to make a position. Either it's Medicare-for-All or you have a --


BROWN: So is it unrealistic?

TURNER: It's not about what's realistic and unrealistic. It's about whose side are you standing on.

BROWN: If you have a plan, what realistically can be done?

TURNER: When I say about realistic, because some people want to say Medicare-for-All is not realistic. That's why I'm saying this is not about what's realistic and not realistic. This is about giving the American people what they need. Right now, in the United States of America, we pay more for health

care than any other industrialized nation and we don't get the same results, the same benefits. We should not commodify health care. And the American people should not worship at the altar of private insurance companies whose job it is to increase their profits.

BROWN: Here's the question. So you look at the polls and it doesn't appear that there's growth for Bernie Sanders. In fact, the latest poll showed him dropping eight points overall. Why isn't --


TURNER: I don't know what poll you're looking at. The Emerson --


BROWN: The Quinnipiac polling. The last two months, he's lost ground, eight points overall.

TURNER: The Emerson poll has shown the Senator increase.


TURNER: He's number two. The heel poll shows him increasing.

Polls go up, polls go down. When you're the candidate, if the polling is good for you, you're feeling really good, your campaign is feeling really good. If it's not in your favor, not so much so.

But the ultimate poll is the Election Day. And that's what we continue to have our eyes on.

But there are three polls that have just come out that shows that the Senator is increasing his lead. He is still solidly in second.

Another point, Pamela, I want to make. The Senator, between Tuesday and Wednesday, he raised $2 million. One-fourth of those donors are new donors.

So regardless of what the polling is saying right now, the ultimate poll is from the grassroots. And the grassroots are investing in Senator Sanders and his campaign and his vision.

BROWN: So I brought that up because there's the question of whether the Medicare-for-All proposal that Senator Sanders has put out there is alienating some of the more moderate voters, some of those who may be in the anti-Trump Republicans, Independents, whether they feel alienated from that because they want to have the choice of private insurance.

Senator Sanders and Warren, it seemed like they passed on multiple opportunities to draw distinctions between their two plans in the debate. Was that purposeful?

TURNER: Medicare-for-All, they both agree with Medicare-for-All. But the champion in good times and bad times has been Senator Bernard Sanders. And 65 percent of the American people support Medicare-for- All program.

When you distill it down even deeper, when they understand that the system that we're in right now is not serving the American people, it's serving big industry, it's serving the insurance companies, it's serving big pharma.

So there's no alienation here. There's going out and having the requisite conversation with the American people in the way that the Senator is doing and also standing strong on this, Pamela. It is the morally right thing to do and the economically right thing to do in this country to have a Medicare-for-All system that leaves nobody behind.

BROWN: Thank you so much, Nina Turner. Great to have you on the show.

TURNER: Thank you.

BROWN: Do appreciate it.

An ally of the president calling him out after he mocks the break-in at Congressman Elijah Cummings' house.

[13:39:54] Plus, a gun store's racist billboard targeting the Squad criticized for potentially inciting violence against the lawmakers. The controversy just ahead.


BROWN: And this just in. Rapper A$AP Rocky will be allowed to leave Sweden while he awaits a verdict. This news must make President Trump happy. He's been very involved on this case. He's been personally trying to persuade Sweden to release the rapper from custody.

Nina Dos Santos is live for us in London.

What happens next, Nina?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Thanks very much. Well, it seems as though finally we'll have a verdict on this charge of serious assault that A$AP Rocky and two members of his entourage have been facing in Sweden where they have been in custody since July 3rd. We'll get the final verdict on August 14th.

[13:45:12] What's important to remember about the judge's decision just 15 minutes or so ago in Stockholm is that they can go for now, but it has not been determined whether or not they are innocent or guilty of these charges.

All three of these individuals have pled not guilty to the charges. These relate to a June 30th incident on the streets of Stockholm during which a 19-year-old Afghan man was attacked allegedly with a glass bottle.

Now, Rakeem Meyers, the real name of A$AP Rocky, and two members of his entourage say, yes, they were involved in the street brawl but they were acting in self-defense.

Back to you.

BROWN: OK, Nina Dos Santos, thank you very much for the update on that case. We appreciate it.

In the meantime, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, is calling out President Trump for his latest attack on Congressman Elijah Cummings. The president tweeting today about a break-in at the lawmaker's home, saying, "Really bad news, the Baltimore house of Elijah Cummings was robbed. Too bad."

Haley tweeted in response, "This is so unnecessary."

Since leaving the administration, Haley had avoided criticizing the president, so this is notable.

I want to bring in CNN political commentator and assistant editor at the "Washington Post," David Swerdlick.

So what do you make of Haley's tweet? She is just now weighing in after the president had been targeting Elijah Cummings over the last week.


So I think that this is the ambassador trying to sort of split the difference. She wants to chastise the president, but she doesn't want to look like she's attacking him and that's why she used that sort of halfway joking language with the emoji.

And it makes sense from a certain perspective. She's a former governor of a deep red state. She might want to run for president one day as a Republican. She'll need the president's hardcore supporters if she ever wants to mount that kind of campaign.

The problem, though, is that that's not really leadership.

We've been going at this now for three or four weeks, starting with the president's tweets about the four members of the Squad, the four women of color congresswomen. Then on to the president's series of tweets about Baltimore and Congressman Cummings.

So to wade in now with just sort of a half measure I think is a little too little and a little too late.

BROWN: So what do you think, just big picture, about the president tweeting about this? His home was broken into, he was apparently at home during the time -- at that time, and the president seemed to be sort of mocking it.

SWERDLICK: Oh, I think he's definitely mocking it. I mean, if you look at the way that tweet is constructed, others have pointed out, the president sometimes likes to tweet with just enough ambiguity so that you can't pinpoint exactly what he's saying. But look at the last sentence in there. "Too bad" with an exclamation

point. If the president was a little more up on Twitter lingo, you can imagine him saying, "oh, you hate to see it," right, like the kids do, but instead he uses that sort of older guy lingo, "too bad."

It's obviously joking, obviously mocking, obviously taking delight and glee that a sitting member of Congress' house was broken into because it helps him underscore his point, his point that Baltimore is a rundown city to insult the Congressman, insult the city. And as we've talked about for a couple weeks now, by extension, insult the fact that it's a largely African-American community.

BROWN: And yet, the president claims that a number of African- Americans have reached out to the White House to say they're happy with what he's saying about Baltimore. Yet, the president has yet to provide any proof of that.

David, thank you so much. We do appreciate that.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Pamela.

[13:48:52] BROWN: We'll have more on our breaking news. The majority of House Democrats now supporting an impeachment inquiry. We will discuss the significance of this development right after this break.


[13:53:55] BROWN: Breaking news, it is official. Exactly half of House Democrats are now calling for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. A California congressman is now the 118th Democrat to make the call.

"Washington Post" congressional reporter, Karoun Demirjian, is with me now.

What is the significance of this and where does Nancy Pelosi go from here? Because clearly she has said we want this to play out in the courts.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly what she's been saying. And she's been relying on the fact that up until this point, most Democrats were not on board with the idea of impeachment.

She had some backup to say, look, the public isn't necessarily with idea, the party isn't necessarily with idea. Her argument has been, let's go methodically until we have as much of an air-tight, iron-clad argument as you could possibly take to the public because, frankly, voters aren't behind impeachment. That's her argument and that's been her argument for a long time.

But it seems that now we've passed this threshold, there's a new groundswell. When you have the majority of the majority thinking one way, and the speaker thinking the holder, does the speaker hold her ground? How much momentum can there be before she's going to have to make that recalculation because the party has just moved past her? [13:55:04] That is the question. How much pressure does this put on

her? And also the why. Why have they gotten to this number? Is it because of the Mueller hearing? What is it, do you think?

DEMIRJIAN: I think that much of it is the timing certainly. I think a lot of people didn't want to move until the Mueller hearing had already happened. Now that that has happened, that's given latitude for members to come out.

But I think it also speaks to a general frustration of the Democratic Party with President Trump. It's been a busy few weeks of him saying and doing things that do not seem, in their estimation, of being that presidential. A lot of them are looking at the growing evidence they're trying to collect and they're getting frustrated with the idea of waiting at this point.

They think that, even if it's not politically necessarily a perfectly safe move to make, that they are now using the language of, we have a constitutional duty to do this, we can't let the president get away with these things, and we can define many of the things he's done under the umbrella of high crimes and misdemeanors, started with everything related to the Russia investigation.

So that's kind of been -- that's been why you've seen such a deluge of members declaring their support for impeachment in the -- what has it been, two weeks since the Mueller probe?


DEMIRJIAN: I lose track of time sometimes.


DEMIRJIAN: I think it's been two weeks.

BROWN: Wow, time goes fast.

Thank you for breaking it down. The big question is, what will Nancy Pelosi do next. We'll keep an eye on that.

Thank you.

And more breaking news at this hour. A New York Police Department judge recommends a new punishment for the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.