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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is Interviewed About Democrats Vote to Ramp Up Trump Impeachment Inquiry; Biden, Warren to Share Debate Stage Tonight for First Time. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: ... Carter spoke of how problems plaguing this country. He never directly criticized or mentioned President Trump. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Joe Biden about to go head to head with Elizabeth Warren for the first time as the most important debate so far is about to start. And tonight, the new details about Biden's plan of attack. Plus, the President's National Security Adviser, one of the most important jobs in the entire country, the President now says it's just really easy because of him. And the man President Trump once called my African-American. Remember at that rally? He's now quitting the Republican Party. Why now? Well, he's out front. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the high stakes showdown. This is the third democratic debate about to begin. For the first time, Joe Biden facing off against Elizabeth Warren. The frontrunner versus the leading liberal and for both this is a pivotal evening.

Now, Warren has been chipping away at Biden's lead steadily, steadily rising, now only six points separate the two according to our newest poll. Team Biden revealing new details tonight about the former VP strategy. He knows tonight is crucial. He wants to attack Warren's plans and build upon his former boss' record, which was the focus of a new ad.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should step back and say something we don't often say enough as a party or as a nation. Barack Obama is an extraordinary man.


BURNETT: He wants to emphasize that relationship. And another man paying very close attention to the debate is President Trump. He spoke just a couple moments ago about who he thinks will be the person he faces off against in 2020.


make it. I would imagine Biden would be able to make it if he doesn't make any major mistakes.


BURNETT: If he doesn't make any major mistakes. Jessica Dean is out front live in Houston with me. So Jessica, what more are you learning about Biden's strategy for tonight? He knows it is crucial he not make any big mistakes.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly true, Erin. But the campaign also downplaying this head to head matchup between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren saying, look, there are 10 candidates on this stage. The former vice president is going to run his race. He's going to do what he's there to do and his advisors are saying that's make this case that we need more than plans, but action to make progressive change.

They're going to use healthcare as an example of that. Biden going to make the case that building upon the Affordable Care Act is the quickest and best way to ensure as many people as possible as opposed to Medicare for All, which would be a complete overhaul of the system. So that's what he's going to try to do tonight.

You also saw that new ad that came out today, closely aligning that relationship with President Obama. And look, Erin, there are numbers that support that. In the new CBS News poll, when voters were asked what really draws you to vote for Vice President Joe Biden as the nominee, 87 percent of people in that poll said his time as vice president with President Barack Obama.

So they know that that's a number that's important to them. They know that that's something they can go back to again and again. You can expect him to talk about the Obama record and really defend it.

But Erin, it'll be really interesting to see everybody on the stage tonight. Again, Biden and Warren has sparred before over a bankruptcy bill back in 2005. They have a history of kind of going back and forth on this. And again, as they try to downplay this head to head matchup, they're also coming out saying our key thing tonight is we need more than just plans. We need action, so Erin we'll see what happens tonight.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica. Now, let's go out front to Karen Dunn. She prepared President Obama and Hillary Clinton for political debates, Dana Bash is our Chief Political Correspondent and Jeff Zeleny is our Senior Washington Correspondent all in Houston with me tonight.

So Dana, I mean, look, there's drama, Biden and Warren have never been together on a debate stage tonight and now here they are for the first time this evening. They've got a long and complicated history and we know that Biden is going to say it's not just about plans, it's about execution. So is she going to return the fire? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to imagine

that she will. That certainly has not been her MO to date. Her whole campaign is based upon the fact that she has plans, she has ideas, let's get out and fight and work for them and not, "I'm going to go after anybody no matter who they are."

That could change. He could sort of provoke her in a way that we don't expect, but it doesn't seem like that is her style to do that no matter who it is that she's with for lots of reasons. Again, that's just not who she is. It's not like she can't debate.

I can remember one of the stories this morning that said that, I mean, she was a master debater since she was a little kid, so she knows how to do this.


And even when there's somebody who she's really trying to make a point against, she can potentially do it without being as aggressive as we've seen in the past again Biden.

BURNETT: Well, it's funny. It fits with her MO that she's been debating since she's six years old.


BASH: Yes.

BURNETT: I mean, it does. It's not jarring, it's completely consistent.

DUNN: Yes. I agree with Dana. I think she has never come to the debate to land a punch. But I will say this, if Joe Biden is coming to talk about Elizabeth Warren's plans, there's going to be two people on that stage there to talk about Elizabeth Warren's plans. And so the real question is, is she going to counterpunch if Biden goes after her first.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, I recall last time when she said, "Look, why are we going to talk about what we can't do? Instead talk about what we can do." And it was a very powerful moment. It got a lot of applause. I mean, is it possible, she just does something like that?

DUNN: Yes.

BURNETT: Stop saying, let's just be safe, right?

DUNN: Yes. I mean, so far her program has worked very well for her. There's really no reason she shouldn't stick to her program and it'll be a very interesting dynamic, because Joe Biden is there to talk about Elizabeth Warren's plan. She's there to talk about her plans and potentially everyone else on the stage is there to talk about one of Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

And so we'll see if anybody actually engages in a conversation with another person on the stage.

BURNETT: I love it when you're able to summarize it so well, which I know is how you think of that strategically but that is really a succinct way to lay it down.

So Jeff, look, Biden's plan also includes, as he put out, to focus on Obama, who has been staying out of the fray. But Biden tweeted today, "Barack Obama was a great president. We don't say that enough." And he put that new video out that was showing it's almost entirely about his relationship with Obama, so is that smart?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORREPONDENT: Well, look, if you're Joe Biden, of course, it's smart. He said, "We don't say it enough." Well, Joe Biden says it all the time. When you go to campaign rallies, town meetings, other things that Joe Biden has, Barack Obama is a central and recurring theme in this as it should be. Of course, it's one of the biggest points on his biography in his resume.

But the question here is the party is clearly without question moving in a leftward direction. So there is going to be a discussion about the Obama legacy, the Obama record. I would be surprised just talking to advisors from a lot of candidates if it's going to be as sharp as it was at the Detroit debate in July. A lot of Democrats got a lot of backlash for going after Barack Obama so much.

So I think it's a fine line to walk there, but Joe Biden knows he needs to take it another level beyond simply saying, "I was Barack Obama's running mate." But, Erin, I am told tonight, just a few moments ago that Joe Biden's also been doing something else. He's been hitting the books, studying Warren's plans.

We've been talking all about those plans. Well, in the last several days, I'm told that Joe Biden has been sort of getting into the weeds on some of those, because he needs to be familiar with them, if he's going to pick them apart, how realistic are they, how expensive are these plans. So that is a bit of an interesting thing he's not done before. He's been spending some time reading up on one of his rivals.

BURNETT: And Dana, that's really interesting, Jeff's reporting, because the whole point from Joe Biden has been, "Whatever about the plans. I'm the electable one." And we had heard he might be specifically looking at her health care plan.

BASH: Exactly.

BURNETT: Which is why we just have to play that Joe Biden sound bite again, because it says so much and here she is.


JILL BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S WIFE: Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, health care, than Joe is, but you've got to look at who's going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, "OK, I personally like so-and-so better." But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Have to be practical. I mean, that boils down the difference between what you're going to hear from Joe Biden tonight and what you're going to hear from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for that matter.

DUNN: Yes.

BASH: And that really - it really defines the differences between the major candidates and it defines the differences for voters on which way they want to go.

DUNN: Yes.

BASH: Yes, Joe Biden has been looking at plans. It wouldn't be surprising if we heard something along the lines of Elizabeth Warren has so many plans, but on health care she just said she's with Bernie, is that because she wants to leave herself some wiggle room on the Medicare for All situation, which obviously she says she's all in on, but we don't have details from her. Because this is something that if she does keep rising as she has been doing, it could potentially hurt her in a general election.

BURNETT: Right. She's got to think about the general election.

DUNN: Yes.

BURNETT: I mean, on that point, Karen, The Washington Post-ABC News poll has Biden leading Trump by 15 points, Sanders by nine, Warren by seven and that's sort of what Jill Biden is saying. She's saying, "So what about all of the passion and the good plans, who can win?"

That seems to be what her job is tonight, to show that she can be the electable one. Why people love her for the plans, but not reward her when it comes to the head to head?


DUNN: So I just don't think she looks at the world that way. I think Elizabeth Warren is here to put forward her vision. It's unchanging. It's been the same. It's authentic to who she is. And when Joe Biden says, "Who's going to get it done?" What he's also saying is who can go toe to toe with President Trump, who is going to be able to win a general election.

He is looking at this from a practical perspective and I just would be surprised, very surprised if Elizabeth Warren came at this from a way that she's never come at it before in a debate. So I expect that we will see - she is still prosecuting the case about vision, he's prosecuting, as Dana says, a case about practicality. And all of this is overshadowed by the larger question who can beat the President and is that a practical question or is that a question about who has a vision. BASH: What she has slowly but surely tried to start to argue is she

can do both. She can have the vision and go toe to toe with the President, that they're not mutually exclusive. And so it's going to be interesting to see if she continues on that path tonight and if she could do it in a more succinct way, especially given the fact that she's finally on the same stage as Joe Biden.

BURNETT: So Jeff Zeleny, does team Biden, when you hear Trump say, "Well, he's going to be the nominee unless he makes a major mistake." Do they feel that tonight and every one of these debates, but tonight this is the biggest one thus far, do they feel the stakes are so high that he cannot make a mistake?

ZELENY: No, they of course would never erase their own expectations. I mean they are, though, quite high. The reality here is how Joe Biden performs in the moment will be watched by everyone. Most particularly the most important people, by the voters, who are trying to make the judgment as Karen was just talking about.

There is no correct answer to who is the most electable candidate now. It's an unknowable thing. Is it following your head or following your heart? I talked to so many voters who are weighing this. So that's why this is an important debate for Joe Biden.

His advisors are saying, this is just one of several steps in the nominating fight. But it's, of course, more than that. He needs to keep showing he's the strongest candidate and he's been uneven over the summer, so we'll see how he does tonight here.

But don't forget the other candidates on stage as well trying to have their big moments, something like 18 more fundraising days in this period. If someone breaks out like a Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, that could be gangbusters for them as well, Erin.

BURNETT: That's right. And we're going to talk so much more about all of those others because the fact that they have so much at stake really could change the dynamics tonight. Thank you very much to all of you.


BURNETT: And next, President Trump just talking about the search for his new National Security Adviser. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: It's a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump and it's very easy actually to work with me. You know why it's easy? Because I make all the decisions.


BURNETT: Well, then why would anybody want the job? Plus, a major move by Democrats in their efforts to impeach the President. So why is Nancy Pelosi insisting that nothing has changed, her of all people? And then this man, he was singled out by then candidate Trump in 2016.


TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I'm talking about?


BURNETT: OK. Well, that man is done with Trump, why? He's out front.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump speaking out about his search for a new National Security Adviser after firing John Bolton this week.


TRUMP: A lot of people want the job and it's a great job. It's great because it's a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump and it's very easy actually to work with me. You know why it's easy, because I make all of the decisions they don't have to work.


BURNETT: So the President making light of it although he was also being pretty serious because it's about him making the decisions. But it's not a laughing matter because it is the most powerful National Security job in the country and Trump is now searching for his fourth National Security Adviser which is more than Obama, Bush and Clinton had in their entire two terms in the White House.

Out front now Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Keith Boykin, former Clinton White House aide.

So Keith, what do you make? I mean he's trying to say he's making it a joke but he's doing it in his ways, he's also serious, referring to himself the third person and making the whole point of, "Well, it's easy because I make all of the decisions."

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Why would anyone want to work for Donald Trump, period, much less work to be his National Security Adviser? When he fired the first National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, he fired the second National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, now he's fired the third National Security Adviser, John Bolton.

Trump came in office saying he was only going to hire the best people, but he continues to hire people who apparently are not the best people, then he fires them and he complains about those people being ineffectual or incapable of doing their jobs. Well, how can you do your job when the President is the one who's making all of the decisions? This is not the way in any sort of organizational structure should

operate. There's supposed to be a hierarchy, the President makes some decisions, but he's supposed to take advice from people. This guy doesn't take advice for anybody and he came in office and he said he knows more than the generals. So why should he take advice from anybody? Because he thinks he knows it all.

BURNETT: Scott, does he think that what he said was funny?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes. He thinks it's funny. I think he was having fun with that answer, number one. Number two, of course, the President makes all of the decisions about National Security.

The President is the Commander-in-Chief. The National Security Adviser is an assistant to the President. It's not confirmed by the Senate. It is a staff job in the White House. It answers to the President.



JENNINGS: It serves at the pleasure of the President and they do not make the decisions. The Commander-in-Chief makes the final call. I think in this instance, the President had decided that Ambassador Bolton and he just weren't on the same page regarding policy and process. And any president is entitled to having advisors around him that he has confidence in and that he believes is giving him the kind of advice that works for his leadership style.

So I think a lot is being made about the departure, but ultimately when two guys aren't on the same page, it's the commander-in-chief that has to make the decision to get the staff that gives him confidence and that's what's going on here.

BURNETT: I have to say, I completely agree with you on that. I would say though, John Bolton's positions have been so well known for so long that the fact that it took Trump this long to figure out that he wasn't on the same page is pretty damning in and of itself. It's not like we didn't know what John Bolton stood for, but that's not the point.

BOYKIN: He's on Fox News every day. He could see it. He used to be.

JENNINGS: Yes. I think that one thing that he liked about Ambassador Bolton at the outset was his TV persona. John Bolton on television is pretty engaging guy and had a lot of interesting things to say. But it's one thing to be on television and it's another thing to actually have to run the staff process in a way that satisfy the president inside the White House.

And so, look, I think the President's got a lot of good people to choose from to replace Ambassador Bolton, but if you think that somebody is going to come into this job or any other and somehow change Donald Trump or start making all of the decisions for Donald Trump then you don't understand the way this presidency works.


BOYKIN: Well, Scott I think you just made my case for me. I mean Trump shouldn't be looking at Fox News to pick his people to be on the National Security staff or any part of his administration. That's exactly the problem. You just said it.

If we had any sort of normal sane sensible presidency, we would be looking through who were the best qualified people out there, not just people who were the talking heads on TV who happened to say things that the President likes from time to time. That's not a responsible way to manage things.

And yes I understand the idea of the President makes the ultimate decisions, but the President doesn't know everything, that's the reason why he or she is supposed to take advice from the people who are experts in their fields. This guy doesn't do that.

You could probably, I think CNN has already done, you could roll a tape with all the hundreds of times Donald Trump has said he knows more about this topic or that topic than anybody else does. That's insane. Nobody could possibly know that much and you know that.

BURNETT: OK. Well, another topic he says he knows a lot about Scott today is the report about Israel spying, planning surveillance devices near the White House. He just commented on that. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: I don't believe that. No, I don't think the Israelis were spying on us. I really would find that hard to believe. My relationship with Israel has been great. I wouldn't believe that story. Anything is possible, but I don't believe it.


BURNETT: Now, Scott, I just want to make it clear we haven't been able to verify the specific reporting about surveillance devices. But, of course, our allies have spies whatever word you want to use. I mean, does the President really believe that Israel would not want to know, would not spy?

JENNINGS: Well, number one, the last thing he said is the truth. Anything is possible and things like this do happen. Everybody is spying on everybody, but that doesn't necessarily mean we have an adversarial relationship with that particular country, in this case, Israel.

So I think the way the question was presented to the President perhaps he was thinking it's a question about are they doing it in an adversarial way.

BURNETT: No, of course not.

JENNINGS: But the reality is a lot of this spy crap goes on.

BURNETT: What I'm not getting at, Scott, is does he really think that because his - I'm sorry, I know we have a little bit of a delay, but does he really think it's because his relationship with the country is great, they're not going to spy on him? I mean, he's either playing it so they don't look embarrassed or he's just utterly naive, which is it?

JENNINGS: Well, I think what I understood the President to be saying is that he didn't think - he thought his relationship with Israel was good and they wouldn't be doing anything that was adversarial or that you would expect an enemy country to be doing. But, obviously, Israel, the United States, all of these countries with these big intelligence services, I mean, everybody is spying on everybody, I think that's pretty well known.

BOYKIN: Well, the only sad thing about it is that ...

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thank you, both.

BOYKIN: ... you, Scott, know that and everybody else doesn't know that. The President doesn't know that. I'm sorry, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Oh, that's OK. No, I'm sorry. I know we have a bit of a delay. Thank you, both. And next, Democrats make a major move to clear up confusion about impeachment. Did they just make things better or worse? And President Trump just responding to news that the man he referred to as, quote, my African-American is turning on him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the man that you pointed out at the rally - called 'my African-American' (inaudible) ...

TRUMP: I don't know. We have tremendous African-American support.


BURNETT: He joins me.



BURNETT: New tonight, the House Judiciary Committee voting to give Chairman Jerry Nadler the ability to call committee hearings, impeachment hearings. And Chairman Nadler is making it clear, he is done playing word games with the whole thing.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Some call this process an impeachment inquiry, some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms and I no longer care to argue about nomenclature. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Out front now, Democratic Congresswoman from Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee. She sits on the House Judiciary Committee here with me tonight. So Chairman Nadler says this vote means you're going to have an aggressive series of hearings. You're going to go well beyond the four corners of the Mueller report, but the top Republican on your committee, Mr. Collins, Congressman Collins says, "The difference between formal impeachment proceedings," I'm quoting him, "and what we're doing today is a world apart." Is it?

JACKSON: Well, first of all you know I'm at Texas Southern University so let me say how excited I am to be here tonight before the debate. But I love the word game that ranking member Collins desires to use.

We are serious. This is an impeachment investigation. Let me refresh your memory.

The Senate investigated for nine months before there were actual articles of impeachment. Many investigations, impeachment investigations proceeded without a vote on the floor of the House.


This is the indicting body. What we're saying to the American people is, that we are not in a witch hunt. We are not going after an individual. We are fact finders in a constitutional process that is an investigation leading to the articles of impeachment.

I want the Republicans to sit with us as Americans in this impeachment investigation, which we will now have the strength of an investigation as we go to court, as we subpoena witnesses, to be able to tell the American people.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So, on that front, you are subpoenaing witnesses, right? So, if it is an impeachment proceeding, you are able to do more of that.

Are we going to see the main players testify? You know, part of what made Watergate Watergate was people could see it on television. Are we going to see more of that?

JACKSON LEE: Absolutely. These will be public hearings. You know we had a few closed sessions for a variety of reasons.


JACKSON LEE: But we have a list of individuals now that really have no excuse for not appearing before the Judiciary Committee. And we are using the subpoena power. The White House counsel is one of them who has indicated or said that he's being blocked or the White House is saying that they're blocked. Now, with the impeachment investigation --

BURNETT: Mr. McGahn.


Now, the impeachment investigation, we're going to expect the court to side with us, because we will not be able to find out the facts. We can't talk to him about what the president told him to do with Director Mueller.


JACKSON LEE: We're going to have Corey Lewandowski next week. We will go on and on with witnesses that can tell us the story.

BURNETT: All right. So, you're talking -- in some cases, Mueller, but perhaps beyond, that's the big question, because I know, you know, Madeleine Dean, she came back and said look what my constituents care about is the corruption, the public profiting from office, whether the law was broken there by the president of the United States.

Is that now as big of a focus as the Mueller report?

JACKSON LEE: The Mueller report as you well know was two volumes, one the Russian intrusion and the involvement of the campaign with Russian operatives. We think that's important. And we believe that as we interview witnesses or have them in hearings, who knows what may be discovered?

BURNETT: I'm just trying to understand, but things like emoluments or, you know, when you look at Mike Pence staying at Turnberry, those sorts of things, profiting from the office of the president, is that part of this or not? Obviously, that's separate from other volume --


JACKSON LEE: It is, but it will not be precluded. Remember the trigger for the Nixon impeachment were the tapes. When we started out, with a burglary, it was whether the president directed a burglary then the tapes. In this instance, no, the emoluments will not be precluded, nor will the payments to individuals to keep them silent as it relates to an affair.

So, this is opening up an impeachment investigation to look at under the Constitution the question is high crimes and misdemeanors. It's sometimes confusing to the American people. But it's about abuse of power.

BURNETT: Right. So, Chairman Nadler says you say impeachment investigation, inquiry, look, those are the same things. OK. But, you know, nomenclature, words matter. Chairman Nadler is fed up with this whole discussion, but part of that is because Nancy Pelosi is not using these words. He doesn't seem to be playing ball.

Today, she was asked about, OK, are you going to call it impeachment inquiry, we are loud and clear here. And here's what happened.


REPORTER: Are you uncomfortable with the term impeachment inquiry? Is there another term we should be using?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I'm not -- thank you all very much.

You are hung up on a word over here when lives are at stake over there. Thank you all very much and good night.


BURNETT: So, look, she's -- people hung up on the word because she won't use the word. Why won't she use the word? Words do matter. Her ability to get behind this matters. What's the holdup?

JACKSON LEE: Well, I think by her yielding to the Judiciary Committee on the word, we now have said that we are through with impeachment inquiry and impeachment investigation debate. It is the impeachment investigation and the speaker is allowing the judiciary committee to do its work.

We think once we get started, the American people will start holding onto the words impeachment investigation. What are they doing? They're investigating under the constitution to determine whether the articles of impeachment.

I respect the speaker and I think her words today, her silence today was, she's not going to get into semantics. Watch what the committee is doing. Watch what the courts are doing when we are an impeachment investigation and watch how the people of the United States will see and what will be a respectful detailed and definitive approach to the question of whether or not the president has violated the Constitution of the United States as relates to impeachment.

BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman, thank you so much. Good to see you here in Texas tonight.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you so very much. Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And next, the man President Trump once called "my African- American" at a rally no longer backs Trump. So, what's his response in the president insisting he has tremendous African-American support?

And the most important African-American debate so far is about to take place.


So, Kamala Harris, what does she need to recapture the momentum?


BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump responding now to the news that the man that he called "my African-American" at a 2016 campaign rally no longer supports him. He's changed his mind, no longer for Trump and leaving the Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The man that you called "my African-American" at your rally in 2016, he says he's leaving the Republican Party because you're pursuing a pro-white agenda. What's your reaction to that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, go ahead, go ahead, what?

REPORTER: What do you say to him? He used to be your supporter of yours.

TRUMP: I don't know who you are talking about.

REPORTER: He's the man you pointed out at the rally and called my African-American.

TRUMP: I don't know, we have tremendous African-American support. I think I'm at my all time high. I don't think I've ever had the support that I had now.


BURNETT: Mr. Trump says, I don't know who you are talking about. Well, that's not true. He remembers the moment as so many do, in case you forgot.

Here is what Trump said at that infamous rally.


TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I'm talking about?


BURNETT: That sound byte has lived over and over and over again. The president, himself, of course, has seen it many times.

That man, Gregory Cheadle, that's his real name, he is OUTFRONT. He's also an independent running for Congress in California's first congressional district.


And, Gregory, look, I really appreciate your time, thank you for coming back.

I want you to be able to explain your reasons why you changed your mind about Trump and the Republican Party. First, he was just asked about you and the news that you were no longer supporting him.


BURNETT: And he tried to blow it off. I don't know who you are talking about. Doesn't know who you are.

Do you believe him?

CHEADLE: No. You know, I sent correspondence to President Trump. He responded so to say he doesn't know who I am, that's -- that's not correct.

BURNETT: That's amazing. So, he actually corresponded with you after that moment at the rally?

CHEADLE: Right. Yes. I sent him a letter regarding an issue and he responded, wrote me back.

BURNETT: So, look, he obviously knows exactly who you are.

CHEADLE: Oh, without a doubt.

BURNETT: When you pointed him out, I'm sorry, when he pointed you out, you stood by him. You came on this show and you and I talked about it. And --

CHEADLE: We did.

BURNETT: -- you said I'm not offended, it was a fun thing that happened, you took it lightly. You know, that was three years ago right about June I believe of 2016?

CHEADLE: Right. Yes.

BURNETT: So what has changed now that changed your mind about him?

CHEADLE: Well, you know, when I went to his inauguration I was hoping against hope that the humility that I saw during his speech would continue but as time went on, that wasn't the case. There have been just tremendous things that have happened that offended me personally and I'm just sick and tired of the way blacks and other people of color have been treated by this administration and by the GOP, period.

The Kaepernick incident was you know taking a knee was the major thing for me. I could not understand how in the world Republicans could be so adamantly opposed to this man trying to get attention to the cause of the plights of blacks. I couldn't understand it.

BURNETT: And I know you also mentioned the way he handled Baltimore was deeply troubling to you. He's actually there tonight. That's why I bring it up, Gregory, when he made those comments about you.


BURNETT: He was on his way to Baltimore.

So, he's there as we speak.


BURNETT: Of course, this is the first time he's been to Baltimore since he said that Congressman Cummings' district is a disgusted rat and rodent mess, that's the quote he said. CHEADLE: Right.

BURNETT: What was that moment so important to you? And I know you mentioned Colin Kaepernick. But that moment when he did that tweet on Baltimore, more than other things, like Charlottesville, for example.

CHEADLE: Well, yes, you know, with the Elijah Cummings, that was -- you know, pretty much one of the straws that broke the proverbial camel's back. You know, Elijah Cummings, a good person, a good person.

But to constantly blame a black person for these things when it was the government's programs responsible largely for the ghettos that we have today with the V.A. and FHA and automatic funding they did giving loans to whites and home loans and home improvement loans and leaving blacks out of it.

So, it's the government's responsible. Not Elijah Cumming's responsibility that that district is there in that condition.

BURNETT: So, Greg, he said when he was talking about you tonight, after he says he doesn't know who you are talking about, he said, we have tremendous African-American support.

So, the latest poll shows his approval rating among African-Americans is 9 percent, his disapproval is 86 percent. Now perhaps 9 percent is tremendous.

CHEADLE: Well, it is, in his case.

BURNETT: For him and the African-American community. I mean, what is your response to him?

CHEADLE: Well, again, it's playing with numbers. You know, 9 percent is tremendous. I'd give him that. That's a lot for him. I don't know that it's really 9 percent, but I'll assume that it is 9 percent, that is tremendous support for him. But 9 percent overall is a paltry sum. You know --

BURNETT: Is he racist?

CHEADLE: Yes, it's hard for me to call am racist. I much prefer to say he has a white superiority complex more so than call him a racist, because with his white superiority complex, you know, it's reflected in his cabinet. It's reflected in the White House interns, it's reflected in his judicial appointments.

So, to say he's --


BURNETT: One thing I want to ask you, I'm sorry I know we have a bit of a delay, I'm sorry to talk over you. When you told us the last time we spoke --

CHEADLE: OK. BURNETT: -- which was after, when he called you my African-American, you said it was lighthearted, you weren't offended, it was a fun thing that happened, now you see him as a pro-white, white supremacy agenda, do you hear what he said about you differently?


CHEADLE: Well, I question now -- I mean, back then it was a joke. It was funny, because everyone around me was laughing because I was being a jokester that day. But in retrospect, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I just question what he was thinking when he made that statement.

I don't know his heart. So it may be difficult for me to call him a racist.

BURNETT: Right. But at that moment, you know, it's my African- American feels more negative to you now than light-hearted?

CHEADLE: Well, the whole thing feels more negative to me right now than back then because the weight of being called an African-American by him, it's taken on all of the flack I got afterwards has just been -- let me know, it was the pulse of the country how people just were so fed up and like I am right now, I'm just fed up with the Republican Party and the way they treat blacks.

You know, we have been denied opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, they would rather build jails and prisons than schools. And so, that has got to change if this country is going to progress and become, quote/unquote, great again.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Gregory, I appreciate your time. I'm glad to speak to you again. And thank you for coming on tonight.

CHEADLE: Thank you, Erin. Thank you so much.

BURNETT: And next, Beto, Julian, speaking to a hometown crowd tonight. Could tonight give them the breakout that they need? And debate organizers this evening with a message for the candidates: watch your mouth.







[19:51:08] BURNETT: In just moments, ten candidates will be facing off in the third Democratic presidential debate here in Houston. This is the first time Joe Biden will share the stage with both of his progressive rival, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But there is a lot more at stake for all the other faces on that screen.

OUTFRONT now, Astead Herndon, national political reporter for "The New York Times," and Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent for "Politico".

So, Astead, you write in your latest piece that Kamala Harris, you know, she feels this real need and an urgent need to recapture that momentum, the famous momentum from the -- you know, calling Joe Biden out for his position on busing. When you look at our polling, she's had a tumultuous summer, right? She spiked. And then she came down much lower than she was before that.

So, what's she going to do tonight?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it's funny. The biggest rally of this campaign, the biggest moment has both belonged to Kamala Harris, and she has not been able to translate that into a sustained momentum. They think this night is critical.

After Labor Day, they view people as tuning in, kind of regular, non- party activist voters. They think this is their time to kind of pull folks from Biden. I think she is going to try to find a wedge between those top two candidates.

She is going to try to pitch herself as an alternative to Joe Biden in terms of a pragmatic force. But she tried to cast Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as kind of elite candidates, ones who don't have the ability to reach a diverse coalition, one that used what she told me as ideological and intellectual debates and not what actually moves people in a day to day, kind of on the grounds level.

So, a Biden pragmatic pitch, coupled with her identity, coupled with her kind of unique personal story.

BURNETT: And there are a lot of people who are looking for a breakout moment, right? They've got to get fundraising by the end of the quarter here. OK, they've made the October debate. But kind of so what if you don't start to move up sharply higher.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One of the things I've been talking to the last few days with a lot of campaign is what was the lesson of Kamala's moment in that debate? It's one of the only things that happened in the campaign. It's probably one of the most interesting episodes.

But, you know, from the Biden perspective, they'll tell you, well, that goes to show you can't go after Joe Biden. You pay a price. Kamala went up in the polls and she settled back down or even below. So, all the other campaigns have looked at that and said, all right,

how do you go after Biden, but have it stick? First thing is, you have to do it subtly, but Biden himself is very well liked by Democrats.


LIZZA: If it's really too tough and obnoxious, that could backfire on you.

BURNETT: You don't want to look mean or you don't want make him look --

LIZZA: Yes, because people like the guy.

BURNETT: Yes, right.

LIZZA: That's very hard. And the second part is you have to have a post-debate strategy.


LIZZA: It has to play into some message and larger theme about why you're the candidate. So, things I'm looking for is, you know, someone like -- do people take on Biden's bond with Obama? Do they take on any of the big legislation of the Obama era and the Obama/Biden record? Does Castro go back and talk about their sort of spotty checkered record on immigration.


LIZZA: Does, you know, Klobuchar attack, go after Biden on any of that? She really has been very, very hard to get her to say anything bad about Joe Biden.

BURNETT: Right. Well, she sort of has positioned herself as the person who could rise if he fails.

LIZZA: Exactly.

BURNETT: So, you kind of take the same spot, you can't poop all over the spot.

LIZZA: Exactly.

BURNETT: You know, Astead, what about Beto, Julian Castro, they both have to break out. They're both holding rallies. This is their home state.

ASTEAD: Right.

BURNETT: This is a big night for them.

ASTEAD: It is. We saw them kind of go out in the first debate, specifically on the question of immigration. It's going to -- we're going see kind of the new Beto. After the tragic El Paso shooting, he has kind of reformed his campaign into this kind of freewheeling, I'm going say anything, I'm going to do anything approach morally driven campaign.

He is going to try to bring that through tonight.


I would look for that. And then Castro, he's still again is that candidate that does have a unique personal story to tell. And I think he is going to try to use that in combo with his immigration to make his point.

BURNETT: And super quickly, the guy I still see wearing more sporting attire of is Andrew Yang.

LIZZA: Andrew Yang is going the talk about one thing.


LIZZA: His plan to give everyone a thousand dollars a month, which is -- the thing that's broken through probably more than any other policy proposal because he is such a good communicator and is so disciplined about telling that story.

BURNETT: And people wear his hats and shirts. I know there are other people on the stage that wish they could have that kind of passion.

Thank you both.

And OUTFRONT, Jeanne, next.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Debate organizers may not care where the candidates swear off this kind of swearing.


ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they've been laughing their asses off.

MOOS: But TV networks don't laugh at F-bombs.

O'ROURKE: So (EXPLETIVE DELETED) proud of you guys.

MOOS: Beto O'Rourke may think it's OK for his then 10-year-old daughter's ears.

O'ROURKE: I was like, yes, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I'm running for --

MOOS: But ABC told the campaigns: We will not be broadcasting on any delay, so there will be no opportunity to edit out foul language. Candidates should therefore avoid cursing or expletives in accordance with federal law and FCC guidelines.

That means you, Beto. Back in March, a voter made him promise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We already have one vulgar in chief. Do we need to replace him with another? Come on, Beto, clean up your act. Honestly.

O'ROURKE: Yes, great point. I don't intend to use the F-word going forward.

MOOS: But fast forward through several mass shootings, an impassioned Beto O'Rourke let the F-bombs fall where they may.

O'ROURKE: Oh, we do know this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

So, yes, this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

MOOS: Now, President Trump's crowd cheers when he pronounces B.S. --


MOOS: But the F-word is like B.S. on steroids.

(on camera): And Beto O'Rourke isn't just saying it. He wants you to wear it.

(voice-over): His Website sells a t-shirt that repeats the phrase six times with all proceeds going to two anti-gun violence organizations.

His supporters defend him, posting pearls in case of Beto's swearing, break glass and clutch.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: If you think that's bad, you should see his new campaign slogan. Beto mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) O'Rourke, bold (EXPLETIVE DELETED) leadership for a brighter (EXPLETIVE DELETED) damn future, ass (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

MOOS: But if those who favor decorum and class have their way.

COLBERT: Biden better watch his malarkeys and his jimmy Christmases.

MOOS: How many malarkeys does it take to equal an F-bomb?


MOOS: Jeanne Moos.

BIDEN: A bunch of malarkey.


BIDEN: That's so much malarkey.


BURNETT: Thanks for watching.

Anderson starts now.