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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

WSJ: Trump Urged Ukraine's President About Eight Times To Work With Giuliani TO Investigate Biden's Son; Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D- NY) Is Interviewed About President Trump Pressuring Ukraine President To Investigate Joe Biden's Son; 2020 Dems Descend On Iowa For Major Campaign Event; Biden Boosts Iowa Ground Game as Polls Show Close Race; U.S. to Send Troops to Saudi Arabia After Oil Strike. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00]

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ... in this area.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes. Good luck to all of them. Ryan Young on the scene for us. Thank you very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, CNN learning President Trump pressed a foreign government president to investigate Joe Biden's son reportedly not just once but about eight times. Plus, Biden goes all-in ramping up resources in Iowa. His campaign insists it's not a must-win, but can he win the nomination without it? And breaking news this hour, the Pentagon just announcing the United States is sending more troops to the Middle East after the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, Trump asking a foreign leader for dirt on Joe Biden. A source telling CNN tonight that the whistleblower complaint about an urgent threat to National Security involved a phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine.

On that call, Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Joe Biden's son and not just once. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump asked the Ukrainian president about eight times on that call to investigate, eight times, one phone call. All of this because Hunter Biden was doing business in Ukraine when his father was vice president. We'll get to the details on that shortly.

Just a short time though ago Joe Biden responded saying, "There is truly no bottom to President Trump's willingness to abuse his power and abase our country. This behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines our National Security for political purposes."

All right. Since this major development broke that we now know who the phone call was with, we now know how many times Trump asked for Joe Biden's son to be investigated, Trump has been silent. He first talked, he tried to blow off reports that the whistleblower complaint even involved this phone call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son or his family with the leader of Ukraine?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't matter what I discussed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Of course, again, then we found out eight times ask for an investigation. It does matter. It matters a lot and not just to Americans, but it matters to the President himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm hearing it's a major scandal, major problem.

Look at Joe Biden, he calls them and says, "Don't you dare prosecute if you don't fire this prosecutor." The prosecutor was after his son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: You can hear from Trump, right? He cared a lot about connecting Joe Biden to corruption and Ukraine enough to go against what his own FBI Director says is the de facto law of the land.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): If a campaign staffer or a senator or someone working around them gets an offer of foreign government assistance to defeat its opponent, do you agree the right thing to do is to promptly notify the FBI?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, TRUMP'S NOMINEE FOR FBI DIRECTOR: Senator, I would hope that anyone who is aware of an effort to or an attempt to interfere with our elections would report that to the appropriate authorities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. It's clear what Trump did is wrong on this call. I mean, one senior Republican source told CNN months ago that if a president took information from a foreign government that would be impeachable. So on one level you might say, look, Trump's willingness to defy the FBI and American political norms is not surprising.

I mean you might say, remember this ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponent, should they accept it or should they call the FBI? TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen,

there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent." I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well, let's just be clear. So now we have this new reporting on the whistleblower complaint, right? It shows that Trump is willing not only to accept information from a foreign power, right, as just a passive recipient, but he is willing to seek it out about eight times in one phone call alone.

And at this hour, there is more we don't know that could matter to American security tonight as the President hosts his second formal state dinner, Congress people in the room confirmed that the Intelligence Inspector General told them that this threat which he deemed both urgent and credible when he investigated it back in August still is urgent right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I don't know but I do know that the Inspector General thought this is a matter that could wait.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is out front at the White House. So Kaitlan, the focus tonight as the President is having the state dinner is whether there was any quid pro quo here from President Trump to the President of Ukraine.

[19:04:58]

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And what that would look like is did the President threatened to withhold this aid package that has been in limbo for the last several weeks in exchange for pressuring the Ukrainian president to pursue this investigation into Joe Biden and his family. That's that package, you'll remember, that was essentially languishing in this standstill for the last several weeks with the White House saying that they were reviewing it with some aides fighting for them to release that military aid package because it's to help protect Ukraine against Russia.

And that is an aid package that was only released by the White House after those House Democrats, at least three Democrat committees, launched investigations into Rudy Giuliani and the President's allies' conversations with Ukrainian officials about this specific aspect. Now, this comes as new CNN reporting tonight shows that over the last several months you've seen the president developed an interest in Ukraine that was not there before. Before, Erin, he tuned them out, didn't really see much of an

opportunity there, had already essentially dismissed them after the way that their relationship had gone with the Obama administration. But as officials inside the White House were trying to encourage the president to not only have a relationship with them, that's at the same time that Rudy Giuliani was pursuing these investigations, meeting with Ukrainian officials including a representative for the president.

You started to see the President talk about this privately, we're told. But also, of course, you've seen him talk about it publicly as he did today. And I'm told by multiple sources he was bringing it up not only in person but also on the phone with multiple people discussing this and so that's going to raise questions.

Though we should note we do have a source telling us right now that during that July 25th phone call, the last time that President Trump and the Ukrainian president spoke, we are told that the aid package wasn't discussed then. But of course, Erin, there are going to be questions going forward about whether or not that was something hanging over Ukraine.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. And I think as Kaitlan intimates it, a quid pro quo can take many forms, some explicit and some implicit. So what exactly is president Trump accusing Joe Biden of doing? Alex Marquardt is out front.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): What should have been a routine call between world leaders was anything but. On a July 25th call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump pressed President Zelensky to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani on digging up dirt on Joe Biden's son.

The White House said the two presidents discussed strengthening the relationship without giving specifics. But Ukraine said they talked about the investigation of corruption cases which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA. In May, the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani said he was going to Ukraine to push the new President to investigate Joe Biden and his son's links to a gas company.

He canceled the trip, but then in July went to Madrid to meet with an aide to President Zelensky to talk about Biden. Biden's son, Hunter, had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company which Ukraine's Prosecutor General was supposed to be looking into. But in 2016, Joe Biden as vice president played a prominent role in getting the prosecutor fired because he had been ignoring corruption.

Biden joining other countries and groups in the widespread push to get Ukraine to clean up its act. Fast forward to 2019 and President Trump his lawyer and many supporters pounced, accusing Biden of helping out his son. Now, there are questions about whether that push by Trump and Giuliani is tied to the late August move by the White House to put a hold on $250 million in military aid for Ukraine which was later released.

On September 1st, Vice President Mike Pence met with Zelensky, when asked about the efforts to get dirt on Joe Biden, the Vice President danced around it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As President Trump had me made clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT(voice-over): Whatever the alleged promised that the whistleblower says the President reportedly made, Democrats in Congress are vowing to get to the bottom of those claims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: They deserve a thorough investigation. That's what we're - intent on doing and come hell or high water that's what we're going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Chairman Adam Schiff also heads up one of the three committees that was already investigating that call between Trump and Ukrainian president. Now, Erin, we know that that call is part of the whistleblower complaint as well which Schiff says has a real sense of urgency. He's exploring now what he can do in terms of legal options in court if they aren't given access to that complaint. We know that the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire who blocked the complaint from Congress is due to testify in front of Schiff's House Intelligence Committee next Thursday, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you very much. And I want to go now to the Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat who is on the Foreign Affairs Committee. So, obviously, you've heard whether to say for the Inspector General and, of course, you're investigating as well what's going on between Rudy Giuliani and the President of Ukraine.

If this reporting is true, right, what we understand here that there were at least eight times on one phone call where the President pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son, do you see a crime there?

[19:10:02]

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): If that is the case, that is another troubling behavior by this president. Whether it is a crime or not, we'll have to get to the bottom of this, that's why we need to get to the complaint brought forward by the whistleblower.

For the first time and since 2010, when the IG's office, the Inspector General's office was created, a complaint of this nature is withheld from Congress. Even when the complaint is not deemed urgent or even credible, they're sent over to Congress anyway. This is the first time since 2010 when the office was created that a

complaint of this nature that was deemed urgent and credible by the inspector ...

BURNETT: Has been withheld.

ESPAILLAT: Has been withheld.

BURNETT: So, look, we understand on this call from our reporting that Trump did not explicitly discuss the aid package. So he's saying to the guy about eight times, investigate, investigate, investigate, investigate, investigate, right? OK. But he's not saying or I will.

But then he delays the aid, and he delays the aid, and he delays the aid, he doesn't release it until you and other committees launch your investigation into the phone call.

ESPAILLAT: That's correct.

BURNETT: Could that be a quid pro quo?

ESPAILLAT: It could be abuse of power if it's determined that in fact it was thoroughly put in that fashion to Ukraine. But we are concerned about how this whistleblower is being treated, there's retaliation, if you may, against him or her.

BURNETT: Yes.

ESPAILLAT: We don't know who the whistleblower is. We want to protect that person's identity.

BURNETT: You don't know the gender?

ESPAILLAT: We don't know the gender. And so this person appeals or compelled to come with a complaint before Congress. It has to do with a phone call that was made to the Ukrainian president, so this is troubling.

BURNETT: Have you anything? Obviously, you've been investigating Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal attorney who was over there trying to push for an investigation. Trump himself and the Ukrainian president, have you found anything potentially criminal or that you think could be?

ESPAILLAT: Well, I don't want to jump to categorize his behavior as criminal yet. We want to take a look at the complain. We want to dig deep into this, but certainly having Rudy Giuliani fly out to Madrid and meet with the officials, high-level officials from the Ukraine, we really don't know whether he's acting as his personal lawyer or someone from the State Department and so this is troubling as well the role that Rudy Giuliani is planning all of this.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Congressman. Thank you very much as always.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much. BURNETT: As I said, I heard the Inspector General speak and, of

course, also part of the investigation. OUTFRONT now, our breaking news coverage continues, President Trump says the whistleblower is a partisan, so how does he explain this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know the identity of the whistleblower?

TRUMP: I don't know the identity of the whistleblower.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, Joe Biden joining the other 2020 candidates to take on Elizabeth Warren. And today, millions take to the streets. They are marching about climate change as new evidence suggests the climate crisis is now affecting the health of every American. Sanjay Gupta reports.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:17:21]

BURNETT: Breaking news, CNN reporting that President Trump pressed Ukraine's President to investigate Joe Biden's son and this is part of the whistleblower's complaint to the Intelligence Community's Inspector General. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says this about the allegations and team Trump's efforts to keep the complaint hidden, "If the president has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his Administration and our democracy."

Out front now our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, Juliette Kayyem and the former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick.

So, Jim, let me just start here with some basic, one of the things that goes to the heart of this, we're learning there was no explicit quid pro quo on this particular phone call, right? It was on July 25th. But we know the President, President Trump asked for an investigation into Joe Biden's family eight times on that call and then he delayed the aid to Ukraine.

He didn't release the aid until three congressional committee started investigating that call, his and Rudy Giuliani's ties to Ukraine. Could there be a quid pro quo that we don't yet know about, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the timing is indicative here. We don't know. What we do know though is substantive enough, right? I mean remember during the 2016 campaign as a candidate, President Trump welcomed from a foreign government dirt on his political opponent.

So here we have in 2019 as president with all of the powers that that brings, he pressured a foreign government to dig up dirt on his political opponent's son. That's a qualitative step forward to use of the office for political gain.

And listen, there's a lot more to learn about this and to your question, Erin, we don't know there was an explicit connection between that demand, eight times in one phone call, and a few days later the delay of that aid. I mean, the timing is suspicious.

BURNETT: Yes.

SCIUTTO: But even if you don't get to that point, using the pressure of the office with the intent of going after a political opponent is something that at a minimum should cause pause. And listen, folks at home have to decide if that's something that they're comfortable with their president doing.

BURNETT: Harry, could what Trump did be illegal?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Yes, it could be. There are a number of different legal theories; bribery, extortion, campaign finance violations, they all do require a quid pro quo, but the quid pro quo doesn't have to be - express a signed contract or a handshake, it can be implicit taken as an understanding from what is going on.

[19:19:59]

And as Jim just said, the common thread of the criminal law theories is you may not use a public office for private gain. And by a number of different theories that is against the law and that seems to be what's happening here.

BURNETT: I mean and Juliette, it's interesting what Harry says, it doesn't have to be an explicit signed contract of a quid pro quo. Alex Marquardt just reported on Ukraine's readout of that call, OK?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Right.

BURNETT: They said they talked about the investigation of corruption cases which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA. We now know that on that call they were asked eight times to do an investigation into a corruption situation, OK, and their takeaway was it was inhibiting their relationship with the United States. That sort of says quid pro quo, doesn't it?

KAYYEM: It absolutely does and I think - I mean, look, Trump knew exactly what he was saying and the Ukrainians knew exactly what they were hearing. And I think it's just been such a bizarre 48 hours in terms of all this information coming in just to try to make it simple for people.

And remember in the Mueller report there were two pieces, right, there was the collusion side and the obstruction side.

BURNETT: Yes.

KAYYEM: We have a similar parallelism going on right now. You have the collusion side which is the president Trump directing a country to do something against a political enemy, someone who's going to run against him and you have the obstruction side which is the whistleblower side. Those are different stories and both of them are, I would say, disconcerting.

The difference with where we are today though is it's in real-time, it's about an election that has not taken place and it involves the power of the presidency to direct other countries to harm his political opponents. So in many ways, for years, you want a collusion, I got you collusion, right, at this stage that's where we are.

BURNETT: So Harry, look, there's also the Rudy Giuliani role in this which is significant, whatever it is to understand it is going to be very significant. So last night, Rudy Giuliani talked to Chris Cuomo and he said he had no knowledge about Trump asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden's son eight times. He said he had no idea. Here's the exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Did the President talk to the Ukrainian president about what he wanted done with Joe Biden and what he wanted done with Paul Manafort?

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have no idea. I never asked him that. I don't know if he did and I wouldn't care if he did. He had every right to do it as the President of the United States. He had every right to say to the Ukrainian president, we have two outstanding allegations of massive corruption --

CUOMO: Did he ask you to do what you were doing?

GIULIANI: No. I did what I did on my own.

CUOMO: Really?

GIULIANI: And then I told him about it afterwards. Because I'm his lawyer and I know how to investigate ...

CUOMO: So you ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Do you buy that that, that Rudy Giuliani would be going sniffing around on a Ukrainian story without telling the President?

SANDICK: It seems very unlikely and one of the reasons it seems unlikely is that the reporting today has indicated that the request by the president to the president of Ukraine wasn't provide information to our Department of Justice, work with us on global anti-corruption. It was provide information to my lawyer, Rudy Giuliani ...

BURNETT: About my 2020 rival and his son.

SANDICK: ... about my opponent's son. BURNETT: Yes.

SANDICK: It was not some generalized thing. So it doesn't really add up if the president is saying, work with Giuliani. There's obviously some level of coordination there. How much? Hard to say, but something is going on.

BURNETT: And Jim, it also comes as the President is saying that this whistleblower and we still don't know who the person is. You heard Congressman Espaillat say they don't even know the gender of this person, but the President says this person is a partisan. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's just another political hack job, that's all it is. I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Now, Jim, just to be clear, right, the Inspector General has said that this was not political, that's what we do understand. But how can the President say the person is a partisan when he doesn't have any idea who the person is?

SCIUTTO: Well, like many things the President says, he has nothing to back it up, right? I mean it's a charge that he levels at many critics with no basis. And as you said, the Inspector General who was appointed by this president, looked at the complaint from this whistleblower, deemed it credible, not just credible but of urgent concern based on the content of that.

So it's a charge the President makes as he often makes charges, it has no basis and it's contradicted by an appointee of the President who made a different judgment, a judgment that this is, in fact, a substantive concern, complaint from this whistleblower.

BURNETT: Juliette.

KAYYEM: I absolutely agree with Jim. What's important to remember is that sort of veracity of the whistleblower, their access to information, what they may know or not know is already assessed by the AG. So the process has already vetted sort of a political opponent concern, right? It's already determined that this person isn't just in the room and just spewing off.

So that assessment has already been made. Trump though does this all the time, but he does it against judges, he does it against other people and he's going to do it against a whistleblower. It's bait, we shouldn't fall for it.

[19:25:07]

BURNETT: All right. Thank you. And next, Biden downplays Iowa but no Democrat has won the nomination without winning Iowa since the 1990s. Can Biden defy the odds? Plus, breaking news, the Pentagon just announcing more troops going to the Middle East after the attack on Saudi Arabia. How will Iran Respond?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:50]

BURNETT: New tonight, 17 Democrats running for president in 2020 are in the same state this weekend. They are all in Iowa. As Joe Biden's campaign looks to boost the ground game in a state that the former vice president has struggled in before.

[19:30:07]

Arlette Saenz is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Here at the Iowa campaign headquarters for Joe Biden, volunteers and staffers are making calls and preparing for the Polk County steak fry, the event a must stop for Democratic contenders. Biden on his eighth trip to the state courting voters as he tries to maintain his frontrunner status.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks here in Cedar Rapids, you know what's at stake. You know it well.

SAENZ: The Biden campaign recently said Iowa isn't a must win, but no Democrat has won the nomination without winning the first caucus state since 1992.

JESSE HARRIS, SENIOR IOWA ADVISER FOR JOE BIDEN: We're going to run an aggressive campaign in Iowa. We feel good about where we are and we're going to see where the chips fall.

SAENZ: Biden knows the importance of Iowa well, running here twice before, dropping out before the caucuses in 1988 and soon after a poor showing in the 2008 contest.

This time around, Biden's team on the ground working to make sure their candidate stays in contention.

HARRIS: I think he can win the nomination. There are a number of paths for him to win in Iowa. We are committed to the seeing that we maximize his support as much as possible.

SAENZ: To do that, Biden has built one of the largest operations in the state to date, with at least 20 field offices planned here by the end of the month. A figure matched only by Pete Buttigieg.

Biden currently has 110 paid staffers, more than any of his opponents, though Kamala Harris is looking to surpass that with 130 paid staffers by the end of October.

GRACE DARRAH, FIELD ORGANIZER FOR BIDEN CAMPAIGN IN IOWA: I'm trying to meet people face to face, make that connection.

SAENZ: Grace Darrah is one of 80 organizations in the field for Biden, her turf covering Jasper and Marian counties, knocking on doors, meeting with possible caucusgoers.

DARRAH: Building those relationships are essential with people who are undecided, who on caucus night may remember the one time they sat down with the Biden organizer.

SAENZ: In a state like Iowa where voters value their face time with candidates, relationships are key. State lawmaker Bruce Hunter and former union leader Betty Brim-Hunter met Biden in 2007 and more than a decade later endorsed his 2020 run.

BRUCE HUNTER, IOWA STATE HOUSE: The ground game is a lot different than it was back in '07 and '08. The history of Joe building those relationships here in Iowa and across the country has been a big plus for him. He puts family and friendship above everything else.

BETTY BRIM-HUNTER, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR, IOWA FEDERATION OF LABOR, AFL-CIO: It's something money can't buy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ: Now, Joe Biden has led here consistently in Iowa since he entered the 2020 race. He's closely trailed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Tomorrow night, CNN and the "Des Moines Register" will be releasing a new Iowa poll which will give us the latest snapshot into the current state of play here in Iowa, less than five months before the caucuses -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Arlette. Thank you very much.

And now, the national political correspondent for "The New York Times", Jonathan Martin, and David Yepsen, host of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press". He has covered presidential campaigns in Iowa since 1976.

OK. Thanks to you both.

Jonathan, 110 paid campaign staffers right now for Joe Biden in Iowa. Just to lay it out, that is more than any other Democrat has. What does that tell you about how Biden campaign sees Iowa no matter what they say?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They recognize that he almost certainly has to win that state, and no small part, Erin, to stop Senator Warren.

Look, it's very simple math. Primaries are like physics in this sense. If you win, the winning gets easier and winning begets winning and that motion is hard to stop. If Senator Warren wins Iowa and New Hampshire, she is likely to win Nevada. Then she's 3-0, and then the Biden firewall, Erin, in South Carolina crumbles.

So, Biden has got to stop her somewhere and given the fact that she's from next door in Massachusetts to New Hampshire, it's probably easier to beat her in Iowa than lose New Hampshire.

Therein, Biden going strong in Iowa, going all in, you can even say, in Iowa, to stop Warren, get a win there early, and keep the fire wall up in South Carolina.

BURNETT: All right. So, given that you just have laid out how crucial it is and that they know it's crucial, David, who do you think has the momentum right now in Iowa?

DAVID YEPSEN, HOST OF IOWA PRESS: Well, I think Elizabeth Warren does. I think Biden has been ahead, I think -- but I think he's a weak front-runner. If he's looking at 25 percent in the polls, that means 75 percent of Iowa Democrats are for somebody else or they're undecided. Most Iowa Democrats right now are leaning one way or another, but they say they could be undecided.

I think the rate of gain -- Biden has been here, Warren is coming up. You could see in that a poll that you just mentioned, a race that's within the statistical dead heat, margin of error.

The second thing is it's very early. The campaign has four months to go. You can ask president Howard Dean about the power of peaking early in Iowa.

[19:35:02]

BURNETT: Well, that's certainly true.

But, I mean, you have to say, Jonathan, not only do the numbers show that Joe Biden believes he has to win the state. But, you know, history shows, right? When you've done badly before and you're the front-runner, you can't do badly again. It's just -- it's not going to work, he knows it, and he knows that Elizabeth Warren is the one who's gaining momentum.

MARTIN: Correct.

BURNETT: He had an exchange with a voter in Iowa, a voter who supports the whole Medicare-for-All concept, which he's taken on and here's what he said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: So if you're willing to pay, and I respect you, if you're willing to pay the extra taxes and you think you'll get much more for that, then that's good. That's good. But let's at least acknowledge and tell Elizabeth that it's going to cost a lot of money and she's going to raise people's taxes doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Yes.

BURNETT: That's not afraid to say it and by the way, he's know the only one. Pete Buttigieg is calling her out for that.

MARTIN: Yes.

BURNETT: But I mean, he's saying, she's going to raise your taxes, he's going right there, Jonathan. MARTIN: Absolutely. A sign of the candidate that is moving and he or

she is being attacked, and Senator Warren is being attacked which is a good indicator for her politically.

Look, I think Biden, right there in that moment, Erin, a clip that you just played, is trying to stake his claim on the moderate turf of the Democratic Party. David will know the exact number, but I think recent Iowa polls show that about 50 percent of caucusgoers call themselves moderate or conservative Democrats, so you've got basically half the party that is looking for a candidate, and I think what Biden is trying to say to those voters is I'm your guy.

And to your point, Erin, that's also how you see candidates like Pete Buttigieg, like Amy Klobuchar, more aggressively in recent weeks taking out their claim for the moderate terrain, because that's half the caucus electorate.

BURNETT: Well, to that point, David, how significant is it when you have Joe Biden around, when you say a quarter, 25 percent, and we'll see the latest polling tomorrow when a half of the people who are voting are moderate or conservative?

YEPSEN: Well, that's good for Joe Biden. I mean, there's -- this is a battle not just for Iowa, but a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Is it going to be a progressive party with big programs, and big ideas and big price tags, or is it going to be a party, more centrist, more moderate, election are won, you just mentioned. That's the battle that is starting to take shape here.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate both of your time very much. Thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news. The Pentagon just announcing deployment of troops to the Middle East. So why?

Plus, as millions take to the streets in what may be the largest climate protest in history, Sanjay Gupta has a special report you will only see here and it is about the climate crisis and what you eat, your actual nutrition now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:26]

BURNETT: Breaking news: The U.S. is sending troops to Saudi Arabia in response to the attack on oil facilities there. President Trump authorizing the deployment after a request was made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The defense secretary says troops are gong to be focused on air and missile defense.

OUTFRONT now, Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterror official.

Phil, you reaction? PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Pretty simple. Look, this

is what any president would do, I don't care if it's President Obama, President Trump, President Clinton, President Bush, any president would look at this and say, we just witnessed a missile attack on one of our allies in the Middle East, that is Saudi Arabia, the Saudis obviously didn't have the appropriate defenses to ensure that this didn't happen. Can we send people over there? Probably some of them have to be technical experts to make sure that we see the missiles incoming and defend against them -- any president would do this, Erin. It's the right thing.

BURNETT: So, this comes as the president today said that Iran is going to hell. Literally that's what he said. He announced new sanctions and said they're going to hell.

How do you separate his rhetoric from his actions, which so far have been to, frankly, urge restraint?

MUDD: Boy, this is really painful. You remember a couple of years ago, we were talking about little rocket man, that is the North Koreans, and then you learned the president saying I love getting love letters from Kim Jong-un, saying -- basically a message from the president saying, I want diplomacy with the North Koreans.

If you look at it in this case, the president is saying, we're locked and loaded a few days ago, and actually the response in real terms is, we're going to expand sanctions. If I were the Iranians and I used to work against the Iranians when I was at the CIA, they are really smart. They are as good as we are, as good as you and I, Erin, looking at the media where the president is playing to a domestic audience saying I'm tough and looking at the reality where the president saying, I'm not going to lock and load actually. I'm going to impose sanctions. The sanctions hurt, but that's a lot different than sending missiles into Iran.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Phil.

MUDD: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Sanjay Gupta with alarming details about the climate and how it is affecting what you're actually eating, your nutrition.

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the baby that seemed to get under Bernie Sanders' skin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can we keep that down a little bit?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:47:50] BURNETT: Tonight, millions around the world going to the street demanding action about climate. Climate change impacts nearly all of our lives, including what we eat and our actual nutrition.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT with a special report tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEWIS ZISKA, FORMER USDA PLANT GEOLOGIST: I became disillusioned when it was clear that climate change was not a priority here.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Up until the spring of 2019, Lew Ziska was a plant geologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(on camera): Do people at the highest levels of leadership within USDA believe climate change is happening?

ZISKA: You'd have to ask them. I only know what I've read in the papers about folks like Sonny Perdue who don't seem to think it's real.

GUPTA: The head of agriculture for the United States may not think climate change is real.

ZISKA: From his own comments, it sounds like he agrees with others within the current administration, that this is not evidence-based science.

GUPTA (voice-over): In the spring of 2019, Ziska resigned because he felt science was now taking a backseat to ideology.

ZISKA: You're entitled to your own opinion. That's great. We're a free country, but you're not entitled to your own facts.

GUPTA: Facts, science happening at places like this, a patchwork of green in the heartland of the United States, one of the most robust producers of corn and soybeans on the planet, 21 million acres here in Illinois alone.

(on camera): This is your lab, huh?

ANDREW LEAKEY, SCIENTIST: Yes. Yes. We're lucky to have it.

GUPTA (voice-over): It's what drew scientist Andrew Leakey from his home country of Scotland to the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign.

LEAKEY: This is why I moved here, actually.

GUPTA: But the climate is changing this most fundamental way of life, as well. It's what Lewis Ziska has been sounding the alarm about. The carbon in the air is now changing the food coming from the ground.

(on camera): So we are essentially going into your time machine as you say. LEAKEY: Absolutely. You step from 2019 into the mid-century in terms

of CO2 concentration.

[19:50:02]

GUPTA (voice-over): Within this outlined space, these plants are getting gassed with 25 percent more carbon dioxide. Why? Well, that's the level scientists project our atmosphere will have in the year 2050.

(on camera): I just heard hissing sound.

LEAKEY: Yes, we're now on the upwind side and if you reach out you with probably feel some of the CO2 coming out the back side there.

GUPTA: We humans need oxygen, as you know, but plants, they like carbon dioxide. They use it in a process called photosynthesis. So, if you have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that should be good for plants, right?

Well, sort of. Definitely can help plants grow bigger but not necessarily better. That carbon gets turned into carbohydrates or sugar. It also makes these plants have less of the good stuff, like zinc, iron and protein. It's turning some of the best foods we humans have into junkier food.

That sounds like a significant problem if some of staples of our diet, some of the most commonly grown crops on the face of the earth are changing.

LEAKEY: I think those of us in the developed world have the luxury of being able to take a supplement or just what we buy in the supermarket. But there's around 2 billion people who are zinc and iron deficient, and there's about 2 billion people who depend on the grains they eat for their suppliers.

GUPTA (voice-over): It is one of the ways the world will first experience the impact of climate change. And no doubt, it's one of the most critical issues of our time, which is why it was so shocking to learn that the USDA wouldn't even let Ziska talk to us about his study.

(on camera): We tried to sit down with you earlier this year, as you may know, and then we were told you wouldn't be able to do it.

ZISKA: Right, and that was first time it happened. They said, no, we don't want you to talk with CNN.

GUPTA (voice-over): When we asked why were we denied the chance to speak with Ziska, the agency said they didn't publicize his work because they had concerns about the nutritional claims in the paper. When pressed further about speaking with Ziska directly, the agency said there's no additional or new information to share.

Ziska believes it was once again the agency putting ideology before science. (on camera): I'm a little worried listening to you because I feel like there's real concerns about what's happening with the climate and then additional concerns that we're not being proactive about something that we could be proactive about.

ZISKA: Yes.

GUPTA: Should I be as worried as this is all sounding?

ZISKA: I think you should be worried and I -- but I don't think you should give up hope. As I mentioned before, there are good people in these agencies and they're just looking for an opportunity to put their skills and their abilities to use.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: So, Lewis Ziska is now at Columbia University. He resigned from the USDA.

And, Erin, he's just, you know, one of handful of scientists who have been leaving federal government. These scientists leaving federal government because they don't feel supported.

And, as you know, just yesterday, Senate Democrats released a list of 38 different times here. They say the Trump administration tried to, quote, suppress science across the federal government. It's tough sometimes for the message from the scientists who work for the federal government to actually get out, Erin.

BURNETT: It sure is, and what you just presented, I mean, it was fascinating, right? It's an angle no one had thought of.

Thank you so much, Sanjay, for sharing it with us.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, as the candidates descend upon Iowa, it means there's going be a lot of babies. Here what's happens when presidential candidates and babies collide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: If we could keep that down a little bit. OK, thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:03]

BURNETT: Here's Jeanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When candidates interact with babies, it usually makes you say, aww. Sometimes instead of inspiring aww, they inspire irritation.

SANDERS: OK, if we could keep that down a little bit. OK, thanks.

MOOS (on camera): But babies don't take orders, even from potential presidents.

(voice-over): This one kept fussing. Babies are born with immunity to dirty looks.

One day, Bernie Sanders is kid-friendly.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness.

MOOS: The next day, he's literally waving them off.

Trevor Noah once tried to imagine Bernie as a baby.

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: Has Bernie just looked like this his entire life. I bet when he was born the doctor was like congratulations, Mrs. Sanders, it's a beautiful healthy old man. Well done.

MOOS: Bernie doesn't believe in babying cry babies.

SANDERS: If we could keep that down little bit.

MOOS: But he was almost nurturing compared to a certain someone.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can get the baby out of here.

MOOS: Actually, the baby's mom was already headed out since then candidate Trump had called attention to the crying a minute or two earlier.

TRUMP: Don't worry about that baby. I love babies. I love babies.

MOOS: President Trump has gone so far as the sign a baby.

TRUMP: Look at that baby. He's so cute. Oh, give me that baby.

MOOS: Sometimes a crying baby can be a political asset back in 2012.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't blame that baby for crying. She just realizes what it means if Romney gets elected.

MOOS: Now in 2019, Joe Biden still zeroes in on a well-placed baby.

BIDEN: Pregnancy is no longer a pre-existing condition.

MOOS: Dad popped up for a selfie. Even when they grow up, this kid desperately wanted to hug the president. He flexed his hugging muscles, went in for the kill but pulled back and famed nonchalant until finally, the politicians are hoping some of that cuteness rubs off on them.

Jeanne Moos, CNN. SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's just charming

me.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Thanks for watching.

"AC360" starts now.