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Trump Unleashes New Tariffs; Tweets Send Stocks Plunging; Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) Is Interviewed About President Trump Attacking Seth Moulton; Sources: Trump Has Been Questioning Aides Why He Must Attend G7; Doesn't View Summit As A Productive Use Of Time; 2020 Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer is Interviewed About Claims He's Trying to "Buy" His Way Into Next Dem Debate; Bernie Sanders Not Backing Down from Attacks on Media. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 23, 2019 - 19:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: ... explosion was the cause. But we're told by Russian biomedical specialists, we're told that these specialists blamed it on Fukushima crabs. Claiming that the patient likely ate seafood contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan while on vacation. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, President Trump escalates his trade war with China, sending the stock market into freefall and joking about it. Is his strategy out of control? Plus, the President complaining about meeting with world leaders as he's just hours away from heading to the G7 summit. How aides convinced him it's not a waste of time? And a three-horse race, that's what one presidential candidate declares as he drops out of the race. Is he right? Let's go out front.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, President Trump escalating his trade war with China. Trump just announcing a new round of tariffs and retaliation to China's retaliation announced earlier in the day.

The President calling China's moves politically motivated, so he is increasing all of the tariffs against China by 5 percent. All of this caused another bad day on Wall Street, ending down 623 points. The President also spent the day attacking his new favorite boogeyman, the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jay Powell tweeting this in part, "We have a very strong dollar and a very weak fed. My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?"

Yes. The President is comparing the independent Fed Chairman he appointed to America's leading trade adversary and he wasn't done there. Announcing a decree or at least trying to in another tweet, "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China," are hereby ordered.

And in case you are wondering, it's not clear the President can actually do that, but his tweets did seem to have a real impact. The tweets came in about 11:00 am, roughly 10 minutes later the Dow already dropped more than 350 points. And a source told CNN that the President then scrambled to meet with his trade team at the White House to decide how to respond. Yet his trade advisor insisted these new Chinese tariffs are no surprise.


PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: This was a move that was well signal. It's breaking news, I guess, but it was well anticipated.


BOLDUAN: But the reporting reaction from the markets and response from the President all seem to tell a different story. And if you are wondering what the President of the United States was doing as Americans watch the markets tank, here is your answer, cracking jokes about it. This tweet still happening during the trading day.

Look at this, "The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race."

Honestly, I know he says a lot of wild things. I know that he's broken the mold over and over again, we always talk about that. But joking about the stock market tanking and doing so by making fun of, well, anybody or especially someone who has served four tours of duty in Iraq, that's not funny. It's just wrong.

And after a week of the whiplash and erratic behavior that the country has been witnessing from the Oval Office, what is going on with President Trump right now, honestly? Boris Sanchez is out front at the White House for us. Boris, what are you hearing there tonight?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kate. From what sources have outlined to us, the President is concerned about this trade war and how it will impact him personally. We know that he's spoken to aides repeatedly asking them about how the trade war with China could impact his 2020 reelection chances.

The President facing a series of difficult test and not taking any responsibility for those tweets that you outlined that tanked the stock market today. Look, they're ominous signs that the American economy is weakening. The Federal Reserve is not bending to his will, despite those repeated personal attacks on Jerome Powell and despite claims from the administration that American consumers aren't bearing the brunt of these tariffs.

We're hearing very different things from farmers in the Midwest in red states that President Trump carried in 2016. So the concern, obviously, is real going into 2020. The question is what ultimately the President will do about it. He's repeatedly said that this trade war is going to be easy to win. It's clearly proven more difficult than perhaps he had imagined.

And let's not forget, he's headed to the G7 in France in just a couple of hours. The President will hear from other world leaders there who will tell him that this trade war is negatively impacting their economies as well as the global economy, Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Boris, thank you so much.

Outfront now Democratic Congressman from Virginia, Gerry Connolly. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thank you for coming in.

[19:05:07] REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Great to be with you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Can we just start with the tweet coming from President Trump attacking Seth Moulton, making fun of him and joking about the market plunging when it was. I mean you saw that and you thought what?

CONNOLLY: I thought it was part of a really crazy two weeks. We've gone from Greenland to background checks to no background checks to payroll tax cut to no payroll tax cut to attacks on various and sundry figures and now making fun after imposing additional tariffs on Chinese imports. Making fun of the meltdown on Wall Street, which I think portends an economic contraction, a recession. That's no laughing matter for millions of Americans whose livelihoods are in jeopardy.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it is, I'm not asking, you to offer a diagnosis, Congressman, but do you think it is from the erratic behavior that we saw throughout the week and you listed out only a few of the things that happened, do you think it's anger? Is it fear? What is it? What is wrong right now? What is eating at the President so much?

CONNOLLY: I think if you're looking for a rational explanation, which by the way, may not be called for, I think he is worried about the fact that his one ace in the hole growing economy may not be the ace in the hole he thought it was. In fact, we're looking at all of the signs of economic contraction.

Secondly, I think polling is just getting to him. There was a poll out today that only 39 percent of Americans want him reelected, 57 percent do not. That's an enormous margin if the election were held today.

And even Donald Trump in his delusional form cannot ignore those numbers. So I think finally things are getting to him and he doesn't handle this kind of stress well, given the fact that he has a steady diet of fast food and Fox News, he hasn't got the healthiest of lifestyles to give him some balance, to give him some equilibrium, to give him some other voices that might give him counsel and help him through difficult times.

He's pretty much jettisoned those voices and surrounded himself with sycophants and yes people.

BOLDUAN: I will say I was surprised not expecting to hear fast food come into that explanation. I want to read one more time, I know I just read it for our viewers but I do want to read what the President also tweeted when he was going off on Twitter one of the things that he said which is, "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for alternatives for an alternative to China."

Do you think the President actually believes that he has the power to do that?

CONNOLLY: I think this President is very capable of deep delusion, self delusion. The other day, remember, I didn't list it but he called himself the chosen one. So apparently, the chosen one thinks he has absolute power to command where American businesses invest and with whom we trade. He does not have that power.

Nonetheless, he does have the power to make markets already nervous even more so and we saw that effect today.

BOLDUAN: Look, everyone agrees that when it comes to China, China has needed to be dealt with for many years. You do not agree with how he's doing it, but what do you think should be done? China retaliates, announces tariffs, more tariffs this morning. The President retaliates and slaps more tariffs on. What should be the response?

CONNOLLY: I think a tit for tat trade war is not the way to go. It's going to hurt Americans. It's going to hurt American farmers, American manufacturers and American consumers. It's just not the way to go.

Negotiating with your trading partner and adversary, competitor, is the way to go. And we've had successful negotiations in the past. The problem is he has to shoo them all.

So we abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He criticized and abandoned NAFTA. He has made fun of the European Union, our major trading partner and has alienated both Mexico and Canada in the process.

He hasn't got a lot of places to go and as a result, we have chaos in both our fiscal monetary and trade policies.

BOLDUAN: I don't know if there is an area here when I asked this that Congress can or should respond, but when the President posed the question today after attacking the Federal Reserve Chairman, I'll repeat one more time a man he appointed, when he attacked him, once again, and asked the question of who's worse, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi of China.

[19:10:19] I mean it seems worrisome that that is what he is comparing the the Fed Chairman to, is there something that Congress can or should do when it comes to the Federal Reserve and its role as an independent body?

CONNOLLY: By and large Congress has championed and protected the independence of the Federal Reserve for good reason and I think we can be counted on to do that again. I think his comparison today was invidious, odious and totally unwarranted.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you so much for your time. A lot happening today.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

CONNOLLY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

CONNOLLY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump balks at attending the G7 summit which is set to leave for just hour from now. Will he blow up the meeting even before it begins after a week like this? Plus, another Democrat calls it quits in the run for president, declaring it's already down to a three-person race. And a Democratic candidate accused of trying to buy his way onto the debate stage, that candidate is out front.


[19:15:08] BOLDUAN: New tonight, President Trump complaining to aides about why he has to attend the G7. He's just hours away from departing, by the way. Sources telling CNN that Trump doesn't view the gathering of world leaders as a productive use of his time.

Out front now CNN's David Gergen who is Presidential Adviser to Four Presidents, Sam Vinograd, former Senior Adviser to the National Security Adviser under President Obama and Presidential Historian Tim Naftali, former Director of the Nixon Presidential Library.

Guys, thank you for being here. David, the fact that this news is coming out just hours before he is set to leave, I just wonder what does that say?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: Nothing good. Nothing good, Kate. I first went to G7 meeting some 40 years ago with President Reagan. They started under President Ford back in the mid '70s. Every president I know has had a really top person within the administration serve as a Sherpa writing up communication in advance trying to get agreements in advance.

Every president has taken these meetings very, very seriously. And today as President Trump gets ready to leave, I must tell you I cannot remember a G7 meeting when so much was needed from more leaders and so little is expected.

BOLDUAN: That is a great way of putting it, David. That's a great way of putting it, so much is on the line and there are so low expectations, Sam, of what is actually going to come out of it. Obviously, world leaders are now aware of the President's feelings towards the summit and attending, does it impact the summit overall? I mean, you've been there.

SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I have and Trump is a creature of habit. His disdain for coordination whether it'd be multilaterally with other countries or even internally has been very clear since he came into office.

He went to the NATO Summit, he was insulting. He went the past G7 summit, he didn't sign a communique. So other leaders are likely not surprised that he has to be bribed into going to this meeting.

But Kate, it's pretty notable that he's questioned the value of going to the G7 summit, which I've been. It's one stop shopping for every issue or most issues that are affecting Americans today. He has to be bribed ...

BOLDUAN: And again like the world is on fire figuratively and literally.

VINOGRAD: Literally, yes. Missiles are flying figuratively and literally too.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Yes.

VINOGRAD: But he has to be bribed into going to this summit whereas he gleefully meets with despots. It's like despots got a discount on his time because they say nice things about him. And at this point the bar is already set very low per David's point.

Macron has already announced there isn't going to be a communique. The other leaders are likely trying to do damage control in advance and one of the key priorities now is going to be babysitting President Trump rather than focusing on things like environmental sustainability and gender equality, which are key issues on the G7 agenda.

BOLDUAN: It's interesting you put it as babysitting or dealing with kid gloves or however, but there's also these awkward moments, Tim, that seem to happen when the President gets around other world leaders. Let me just play some of the things that seem to happen when he gets together with them.

And when he famously pushed the Prime Minister of Montenegro out of the way. I mean that video has been played a million and a half times on his way, because he said he needed to get into his position for a photo op in 2017. And, of course, there are then was what happened at the UN last year.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America's - so true. I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK.


BOLDUAN: I mean points for handling the moment, but still awkward moments for President Trump often happen when he's with other world leaders. Why does he struggle with this?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I mean it was so interesting to listen to David recount his recollections of - and Sam too, recollections of previous G7s and G8s. One of the ways that these meetings were useful to the United States was that it was an opportunity not just for one stop shopping, which is a great way of describing it, it was also a chance for the United States to exercise leadership. Leadership over the West.

At some point, this group was called the steering committee for the west. President Trump shows no interest in exercising leadership over the west or really over any group. He is constantly viewing the rest of the world as rivals, all of the time.

And in fact, if he's close to any countries, it would be Russia and Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. So these meetings which are supposed to bring about consensus and a joint approach to a problem are anathema to Trump because he doesn't see the world that way.

[19:19:57] I think the key problem here is that Donald Trump has never accepted the proposition that the American president should be a diplomat in addition to being the most respected, most powerful person in the world. I don't think he's ever gotten that and he's the first president not to get it.

BOLDUAN: And Sam, then add into this mix, the erratic behavior of the last week all over the map on issues not having a position that gaggle with reporters that just went off the rails. And then, I don't know, trying to maybe be ironic with a tweet attacking a man who, yes, running for president against him, a Democratic candidate, but also served four tours of duty in Iraq and joking about the tank of the stock market.

I mean when I look at it, when you look at it just as a whole, then he's heading into this high pressure summit that he doesn't want to be at. What is happening? Is it anger? Is it anxiety? Is it fear? A lot of folks talk about his narcissism, but is it something else?

VINOGRAD: It may be all of the above, but at this point it doesn't really matter, because it's been happening for so long. And as the rest of the world looks at his Twitter tirades, his flip flops on issues, him comparing Chairman Xi Jinping to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, it's pretty indicative of how much prep he's doing going into this meeting.

I mean he is tweeting erratic things, ridiculous things, dangerous things, rather than doing what the two presidents I served under did, which was spend time with their teams, coordinating on the issues that were going to be on the G7 agenda, and coming up with an analytic way to move forward and to reach policy objectives.

You look at something like China, he's tweeting about tariffs. His team is putting out a statement, it just came out quoting his tweets rather than everyone taking a step back and saying, "XI Jinping is going to be at the g7, how should we respond?" We have North Korean missiles flying and President Trump tweets about those rather than taking a step back talking to his intelligence community and figuring how to respond.

This is par for the course at this point and the rest of the world knows that this is his version of prepping for just about everything.

BOLDUAN: I mean, David, from your perspective, is this something that world leaders need to shrug off what they see? I mean he doesn't even want to - aides had to convince him to go to the G7 summit by basically treating it like giving a kid candy to go to the dentist by adding an economic gathering on the last day so he could brag about something.

I mean, what is so wrong here right now with him?

GERGEN: Well, I think we all have our own interpretations. Mine is that he's an alpha male who has gone totally out of control here in recent weeks. It's all about power. He does not want to share power with others. He does not want to be seen as an equal to others. Ordering American companies to do this or that, which is totally outside the realm of the Constitution and our normal order of things.

He treats one organization or one group of people after another as beneath him. And now that he's so frustrated because the economy is deteriorating in other countries and there are signs of deterioration in the U.S., I think he's going nuts of about having to deal with people at the same level of perceived power as he does.

He believes he is the chosen one as he - I think there was something that was not ingest, that phrase, when he use it and to describe himself that way. That was something I think comes deep from within who he is and he's been exposed now to all of the world and I think if you're another G7 member, going to go to a G7 meeting with him, it must be like going to the dentist.

Can you imagine how little they look forward to it? I mean the French and the Germans, he's trying to drive wedges between them. He's trying to drive Macron against Merkel. And the Europeans know that once he's dealt with China, however he deals with it, he's coming after them. He's coming up to them on the same tariff wars and it's going to be a mess and they realize he could wreck their economies and their countries.

BOLDUAN: Tim, last word to you.

NAFTALI: Well, I'm going to be looking to see the relationship between Boris Johnson and President Trump. Boris Johnson is probably the only person who will be in Biarritz that Trump will enjoy being around. And I wonder whether President Trump will use this as an opportunity to drive a wedge not just between Germany and France but to push the Brexit issue and to help Boris Johnson and hurt the European Union.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Just thinking about all of the issues, crises, tensions, problems, challenges to be solved that could happen at a gathering like this and how low the expectation is going in. That's a statement in and of itself at this moment. Thank you guys very much.

OUTFRONT next, the shrinking field of Democratic presidential candidates. Another one bites the dust and declares only three candidates are really actually in the running. [19:25:02] And as a billionaire trying to buy his way onto the

Democratic debate stage. I'll ask Tom Steyer. He's my guest.


[19:29:06] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the fight for 2020 and a Democratic field that just got a little bit smaller. Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton announcing today he's out and says it's now already a three-way race.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, just look at the polling. You've got Warren and Sanders at about 15 percent, Biden at about twice that but no one else really even close. And I'm not saying that that's a good thing.


BOLDUAN: He also told The New York Times that it's now really a debate about how far left the party should go. Out front now, CNN Senior Political Commentator Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic Governor of Michigan. She has been helping Vice President Biden in debate prep. And CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers, a former member of the South Carolina House. He's endorsed Senator Kamala Harris. Thanks guys for being here.

Bakari, you might not like it, but is Seth Moulton right that we are now looking at a three-person race?

[19:30:03] BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, let me say just thank you and a bunch of gratitude to Seth Moulton for running for president. I will never speak ill of someone who served four tours overseas for our country. So, first of all, my hat is off to Seth.

I think he is right in substance, maybe not right in detail. I think this race is about a five-person race. I think most people narrowed it down to that.

I think he was right with the three he named -- Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden. But I also think that Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are right there as well. I think that most people in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina have all narrowed it down to about those five people. And we'll see how it shakes out.

But even with all that being said, I have to put a caveat. I'm one of the people who told you Hillary Clinton was going to be president of the United States. I got that wrong. We have to remember that Rick Santorum, our colleague, actually won Iowa. So, anything can happen this far out from the Iowa caucus.

BOLDUAN: This is very true.

Governor, I do then wonder what you make of the take from "The New York Times," reporting from "The New York Times" today about Joe Biden. Let me read just a part of their reporting. It says less than two weeks before Labor Day, there are signs of disconnects between his relatively rosy poll numbers and excitement for his campaign on the ground here, Iowa.

In the state that begins the presidential nominating process. How concerning is that? I mean, how much -- is that a red flag? Should it be for the campaign?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's be clear. What is the number one thing Democrats want? They want to get Trump out. Fifty-four percent of Democrats who will be voting in the primary say they want to get Trump out as their number one issue.

So, you cannot disassociate that enthusiasm for that outcome with -- with Joe Biden. So, they're not maybe checking him out as much at rallies, et cetera. But they know he is a good person.

I like to think about this the same way our colleague Paul Begala described it, is that people as a number one issue want Trump out it's like a steaming heap of poop on the kitchen table. And don't talk to me about building a new house, get the poop out. And I think that's exactly the way Democrats are viewing it. And they are very enthusiastic about that.

BOLDUAN: That definitely sounds like a turn of phrase from Paul Begala can come up with, for sure.

Bakari -- thank you for the mental image.

Bakari, one Harris campaign adviser offered up, some great CNN reporting offered up very candid assessment of her campaign right now to CNN, saying that the day that the CNN poll came out this week that had her dropping 12 points -- 12 points from her high after that first debate, that that was quote the lowest point of the campaign thus far. Do you agree with that?

SELLERS: Not at all. And I think that Governor Granholm will agree with me in this sentiment as someone -- I wasn't as successful in my statewide races as she was. She is more talented than I. But these campaigns, they ebb and flow. You have ups and downs.

And so, I don't think you can get caught up in anything. And when you -- I love relief our CNN polling. But when you turn the page and you look at the cross tabs and you see that it was a poll with 400 people and it was a national poll when some state polling is larger than that in terms of sampling, you just have to take it for what it's worth.

I do think that there are lessons that could be learned for the campaign. And I think those of us --

BOLDUAN: I'm standing by the CNN polling on this one.

SELLERS: And that's fine. But there are lessons learned from the polls as well. No, everything is not as rosy as it was after the first debate. They have to do the blocking and tackling much better than they are. But I echo the sentiment that they do. I still believe they have the most talented horse in the race, and we'll see how that ends up.

And I hope -- I hope that the campaign uses that poll as a sense of urgency. Me, as someone who studies this and watches it, it's another poll, another day, you move on. I don't think it was the worst day of the campaign but I do believe there are many better days ahead.

BOLDUAN: Governor, Jill Biden surprised a lot of folks. You talked about getting Donald Trump out. That's the number one priority. Jill Biden surprised a lot of folks this week when she told voters that Joe Biden might not be their first choice, but they need to vote for him because he's the one who can beat Donald Trump.

Some of Biden's opponents are -- Joe Biden's opponents are now responding to that take. Listen to this, please.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a job to do. Beat Donald Trump. That's not enough. This moment requires more than being not Trump.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People on my streets, if you said that to them, they'd say, damn, can't we have bigger aspirations than just beating Donald Trump. Beating Donald Trump is the floor. It's not the ceiling.


BOLDUAN: Make a compelling case, Governor. How are they wrong?

GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, first of all, let's be clear that every single one of these Democratic candidates wants to make sure that everybody in America is ensured. That is a goal we all share. They may have a difference about how to get there. But that's a big hairy audacious goal that they all share.

[19:35:03] It's not just about getting rid of Trump. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, everybody has a health care plan. Everybody has a climate change plan. Everybody has a plan to try to undo the structural inequalities in our economic system. Everybody has a plan to make sure that we address criminal justice reform.

So, the bottom line is that the differences between these candidates are much less than the difference between these candidates and Donald Trump. So you cannot get to the differences between these candidates unless we defeat Donald Trump? That is the main thing.

The main thing is the main thing. But they all have robust far- reaching plans that go above and beyond just beating Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: But to get to beat -- attempt to beat Donald Trump, you have to get to the differences between the candidates. And that's what they're going to have to do in the primary.

GRANHOLM: Yes, that's true.

BOLDUAN: Governor, thanks so much.

GRANHOLM: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Bakari, thank you so much. Thank you, guys.

SELLER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, one Democrat is going after another. Listen.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way onto the debate stage.


BOLDUAN: Right there, is he talking about Tom Steyer? Steyer is my guest.

And Bernie Sanders sounding a lot like President Trump.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wonder why the Washington Post is not one of my great supporters.



[19:4);01] BOLDUAN: New tonight, a 2020 candidate slamming the DNC for its debate rules, which will likely be keeping about half the field off the next debate stage.


BENNET: The DNC process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most. We're -- we're rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way onto the debate stage, and candidates who have been running for president for years.


BOLDUAN: Remember one of the people Senator Michael Bennet talking about right there.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic candidate for 2020, Tom Steyer.

Thanks for being here.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Kate, thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: First, I want to ask you, do you agree at all with Senator Bennet that the DNC process, the rules here is stifling debate? STEYER: Look, I think the question for every single candidate who

wants to be the Democratic nominee is simple. Do you have a message that Democratic voters want to hear? Is it important? Is it differential and are you a trusted messenger?

And I think that as somebody who for ten years has been taking on corporations and building grassroots organizations, and beating those corporations, I think I have a message people want to hear. That's the real question for everybody who wants to be the Democratic nominee.

BOLDUAN: Yes. But my question was, do you think the DNC rules are stifling debate?

STEYER: No, I don't. Kate, I think -- there always be complaints about any rules because they'll always be imperfect. But I don't think there's been an attempt to stifle debate at all.

And my point was --


STEYER: -- that I believe if you have a message that breaks through, you will overcome the rules and the people will be able to hear it. And that is -- it will work out for you.

BOLDUAN: Gotcha. Bennet there accused you of trying to buy your way onto the debate stage. He is not the only candidate saying that. Governor Steve Bullock, he says the same. Listen to this.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The thought that you could spend $10 million to get on a debate stage, I don't think that that's really good for democracy.


BOLDUAN: How is he wrong?

STEYER: Listen, when I look at this field and I see what I'm doing, as an outsider, I have been taking on corporations, the oil companies, the tobacco companies, the utilities, drug companies and beating them for ten years.

When I look at the people who are actually at the top of the polls, they're all Washington insiders, senators or former senators. I think there is a relevant point here whereas an outsider people can see that if you're going to change the broken government in Washington, D.C., if you are going to undo the hostile corporate takeover of our government, maybe that's got to come from somebody from the outside. Maybe that's got to come from somebody who has been working at the grassroots for ten years.

So, I think that's exactly who I am. And I think it's a distinct contrast to the other people in this race. BOLDUAN: So are you saying that you think it's sour grapes? What

Bullock is saying there and Bennet is saying is that you spent millions in early states like Iowa and that add helped juice -- boost your apology and your donor base. Do you think it's just sour grapes?

STEYER: I think that what I've done is have a message which is resonating. I have no -- I don't want to speculate about what what's driving, you know, their statements. What I know is that my mental is resonating with Democratic voters. That what I'm saying is differential.

That -- you described earlier the idea that the different presidential candidates all have opinions that are more similar as to health care, more similar as to climate, more similar as to education than different. Now we might -- we could talk about that. But what's -- what I'm saying that's different is this. If we're getting any of that done, any of it, we have to break the corporate stranglehold in Washington, D.C. I've been taking them on ten years.

BOLDUAN: I want to add --

STEYER: If you want to get anything done, we're going to have to break it. And I've been doing it. I think that's a message Americans can hear. Because they know this government is broken.

BOLDUAN: And I did want to ask you about that, because you spoke about that at the DNC meeting today, and you vow that if elected, you'd make sure that the DNC would reject all corporate money. I was wondering, why is this message -- why is that message critical in the ultimate goal of beating Donald Trump?

STEYER: I believe that the key issue -- and I believe four out of five Americans agree with me -- that this democracy has been bought by corporations. That the reason we pay twice as much for drugs as any other country is because the drug companies write the law. The reason that we still have the number of mass shootings and mass killings that we have is because the gun manufacturers control the NRA who writes the law.

[19:45:03] That the reason that we are the only country that's not in the Paris Accord is because the oil and gas companies don't want us to deal with climate change. And so, therefore, how is it important to distinguish us from Donald Trump? It's not just Donald Trump, Kate. We need a sweeping victory where we distinguish who we are -- which is supposed to be the party of the people from who the Republicans are, which is very, very clearly the party of corporations.

And if we do that we can't be chasing corporate dollars. We can't be competing to get the attention and the respect of corporations. We need to make it clear we stand for the people first, last and always. And we will not -- you know, we will not waver in that when we get up in the morning we do it and going to bed, we're still doing it.

BOLDUAN: Tom Steyer, thank you for coming in. Thanks for your time.

STEYER: Kate, thank you for having me. BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Bernie Sanders continuing his attack against the news media. Is it campaign strategy or personal grudge?

Plus, separated families in despair and a community torn apart by an immigration raid.


REPORTER: Do you know where your mom is? What are you -- what are you -- you're sad? It's hard, huh.



[19:50:08] BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail and not backing down from his attacks against the media.

Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Bernie Sanders, it is a familiar refrain.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a bubble here in which members of Congress, the media, the establishment, looks at reality in a certain way.

NOBLES: Sanders critique of the media was a regular part of his insurgent 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton. This time around, he's ramped up his complaints, by suggesting the corporate owner of "The Washington Post," Jeff Bezos, may be influencing "The Post's" coverage of his campaign.

SANDERS: We have pointed out over and over again that Amazon made $10 billion in profit last year. You know how much they paid in taxes? You got it, zero, and you wonder why "The Washington Post" is not one of my great supporters.

NOBLES: It's an attack that's drawn comparisons to President Trump's approach to the paper.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Which is really just a paper for the benefit of Amazon. "The Washington Post" is fake news.

NOBLES: But unlike the president, after a sharp rebuke from "The Post's" editor, Sanders tempered his critique.

SANDERS: Do I think Jeff Bezos is on the phone telling the editor of "The Washington Post" what to do, absolutely not.

NOBLES: And while President Trump regularly blasts the press in harsh terms --

TRUMP: They are truly the enemy of the people. NOBLES: Sanders says that's a line he will not cross.

SANDERS: And to me, that is a disgusting remark which undermines American democracy.

NOBLES: Still, Sanders remains frustrated by the coverage he is receiving, so he and his team are attempting a workaround.

SANDERS: We are very active on social media, and we try to speak directly to the American people.

NOBLES: The campaign using some of its massive war chest to invest heavily in direct-to-supporter media platforms, launching a podcast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So great to have you here today.

NOBLES: And producing slick videos for their social channels.

SANDERS: They're not going to be paying premiums, deductibles, copayments.

NOBLES: They've also started an email newsletter in the style of a traditional media report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are back here at Bernie headquarters.

NOBLES: And even host their own web-based post-game shows after primary debates.

All trying to avoid the corporate media structure they feel is focused on a horse race and not enough on policy.

SANDERS: There are many, many, many millions of people who are hurting and too often, the Congress, the media ignored the pain and struggle of those people.


NOBLES: And part of the Sanders' argument is his ideas are so big and so bold that conventional media outlets aren't prepare for them. In fact, today, at the DNC meeting, he argued that the only way the Democrats will win back the White House is leaning into those ideas that some including the media might considerate kill because of those ideas are the ideas that inspire a movement -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders, still pushing for a revolution, thank you, Ryan. Really appreciate it.

Next, how a massive immigration raid is testing a community space.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, separating families is the work of the evil one among us.


[19:57:12] BURNETT: It was the largest single-state immigration raid in U.S. history. Hundreds rounded up in Mississippi this month, and one city priest says he's lost half his congregation.

Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the start of Thursday mass in Forest, Mississippi, and Father Roberto Mena is trying hard not to show it but he is worried. Today, the pews are mostly empty.

Two weeks ago, ICE agents carried out one of the largest raids in American history and they took as many as 150 people in his congregation. Every one of those left have been impacted by what happened.

Father Mena tries to reassure his parishioners that they're going to be OK, though even he admits since most of the raids, most of his dreams have been nightmares.

As mass ends, parishioners are encouraged to pray to God out loud.

This woman pleads for parents to be reunited with their children. It's a desperate prayer but for many, faith is all that's left.

Gaspar Gomez Pablo says he needs help with an attorney. Along with his wife, the 33-year-old was detained in the recent raids at Koch Foods. While he was released with an ankle monitor, his wife is still being held, though they have lived in the U.S. for more than ten years, both of their futures, he says, are uncertain.

He tells me his children are sad, that they don't eat much and ask about their mom. They want to know when she'll be back.

For his 10-year-old, the pain of being without his mom is just too much.

(on camera): Do you know where your mom is? You're sad? It's hard, huh? I'm sorry.

REV. ROBERTO MENA, SACRAMENTAL MINISTER, THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF JACKSON: I see now the Hispanics are leaving the same kind of discrimination and racism that other faiths in the past.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Father Mena tells me no one in the community seemed to be prepared for the possibility of a raid, or the chance that their family might be split up.

MENA: For me, separating families is the work of the evil one among us. This is something I don't understand why they want to divide families and they are families in this country. All of them, they pay taxes and they are collective to this culture. VALENCIA: It's a hard thing for many to understand but especially the


(on camera): If you could tell your mom anything, what would you tell her?



VALENCIA: Of the 680 employees that were detained as a result of these raids, at least 70 have been charged with things that include illegal reentry into the United States as well as falsifying documents. An ICE official I spoke to earlier said for those wondering whether or not the owners of these companies that were raided would be charged, as well, that decision will ultimately be left up to the U.S. attorney's office -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Nick.

Thank you so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.