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Mulvaney To Meet With GOP Lawmakers Amid Quid Pro Quo Admission; Giuliani Pushed Trump Administration To Grant Visa To Ukrainian Official; Clashes Continue Despite U.S.-Brokered Ceasefire Agreement; Interview With Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA); Hillary Clinton Suggests Russians "Grooming" Tulsi Gabbard; Chaos In Parliament As U.K. Lawmakers Vote To Delay Brexit Vote; Sanders Returns To Campaign Trail After Heart Attack; Warren Takes On Zuckerberg Over Wealth Tax; Body Of Rep. Elijah Cummings To Lie In State Next Week. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 19, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, and welcome. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with new cracks emerging in President Trump's wall of support. Former Republican governor and CNN political contributor John Kasich of Ohio now says the President should be impeached. This comes as GOP congressman Francis Rooney tells CNN that he would not rule out voting to impeach the President.
The fallout coming after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to a quid pro quo in the quickly expanding Ukraine scandal. And then he tried to walk it back.
"The New York Times" reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now believes an impeachment trial is, quote, "inevitable".
All of this as sources tell CNN that the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to a former Ukrainian official who promised to dig up dirt on Democrats.
The new developments are setting the stage for another week of major testimony in the impeachment inquiry, as several diplomats and Trump administration officials are expected to testify.
With a storm swirling around Mick Mulvaney's stunning quid pro quo admission, the President's acting chief of staff is now planning to meet today with a group of Republicans at Camp David for damage control and strategy.
Kristen Holmes is at the White House for us. So Kristen -- what more do we know about this Camp David meeting and that the President of the United States will not be at this meeting, right? KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well no, he won't. We
know that right now it's just the acting chief of staff. We have reached out for an official rundown of what this meeting is, but we can point out what we think will be talked about a lot and that is that stunning admission by the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who got out there in front of cameras and essentially contradicted everything the President has been saying for weeks.
We know that this angered the President. Sources close to him saying that he wasn't happy with this news coverage. I want you guys to take a listen to exactly how he said it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: But he also mention to me in the past that corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. That's it, that's why we held up the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless an investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. I have news for everybody, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: get over it. So that was how he described this quid pro quo. And I do want to note, a couple of hours later he issued a retraction saying he never said that there was a quid pro quo. There is absolutely not any quid pro quo.
But it's hard to argue with that tape there, Fred. And we heard a lot of Republican lawmakers saying that this was very concerning. The President himself said that Mick Mulvaney had clarified his remarks, but not everyone felt that way.
And this isn't the only thing that we're seeing this pushback on. We saw a lot of pushback this week on two other issues. One is that announcement of that foreign leader summit down in Doral, Florida at President Trump's Miami Doral resort. This raised a lot of ethical questions. Are foreign leaders going to be paying the government?
And a lot of lawmakers on Capitol Hill saying they weren't sure if they could defend this. They needed to learn more about it. And of course the other big issue we saw, senators turning against President Trump on his decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
So a lot happening here. And as you said, we have another week of testimony on Capitol Hill coming up.
WHITFIELD: Kristen Holmes -- a lot indeed. We'll check back with you at the White House. Thank you.
All right. Now to details you'll only learn right here on CNN.
Rudy Giuliani taking matters into his own hands after pushing the Trump administration to grant a visa to a Ukrainian official promising dirt on Democrats.
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju has more.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have new details about how Rudy Giuliani used his influence to try to get dirt on Joe Biden, then later tried to push the federal government to reverse a decision that it had made.
Now, according to testimony that George Kent, a career diplomat, gave to congressional investigators earlier in the week, we are told from four sources familiar with that testimony that Kent had actually objected to Giuliani's efforts to try to get a visa for Victor Shulkin who's a former Ukrainian prosecutor who Biden tried to get removed from that post.
Giuliani wanted to get Shulkin a visa. The State Department rejected that request. Then Giuliani went around the State Department and urged the White House to grant him the visa. Now, the visa was never granted. Then Giuliani carried out subsequent interviews with Shulkin via Skype.
RAJU: Those interviews form the basis of a number of records that had dirt on not just the Bidens but also Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. A lot of these allegations unsubstantiated but nevertheless Giuliani took those records to the State Department, asked the State Department to investigate. Later those were turned over to the inspector general of the State Department which would turn it over to Capitol Hill to further investigate this matter.
Now, Shulkin has accused Marie Yovanovitch for being too close to Joe Biden, which is one reason why that he was seeking her removal from the post. President Trump removed her from that post as well after Giuliani had targeted her and that has caused much controversy in the previous weeks and months, causing the resignation of at least one high-level advisor who was concerned that she was being unfairly targeted for political reasons.
But all of this, Giuliani's efforts, form the basis of what the whistleblower complaint, that the President used his office to try to benefit himself politically and tried to urge a foreign government to investigate and dig up dirt on a political rival.
And of course that forms the basis of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. And this is just another detail that shows the depth of Giuliani's efforts to draw U.S. policy towards Ukraine.
Manu Raju, CNN -- Capitol Hill. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: All right. With me now to talk about all of these developments Jeffrey Engel, the director of Presidential History Projects at Southern Methodist University and a CNN presidential historian. Also with me, Michael Zeldin. He is a former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst. Good to see you both.
JEFFREY ENGEL, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hi.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Michael -- you first. As a former federal prosecutor, how much potential trouble is Rudy Giuliani facing? We're talking about at first the accusations of doing unlicensed foreign lobbying type of work and now we're talking about trying to get a visa for someone who was denied a visa, mostly for security troubles. How do you see this?
ZELDIN: The way I see it is that the failure to register as a foreign agent on behalf of Ukraine is a valid investigatory lead for the Justice Department. They have to determine whether or not Rudy Giuliani was doing that and failed to register for it.
With respect to trying to get an interview of the former Ukrainian prosecutor general, I don't think that that implicates any criminal laws. I think it is what lobbyists and lawyers do all the time, which is to try to get their clients or people that they're interested in into the United States or access to the government. So I don't see that as a criminal matter.
I do think that there's a third issue that we have been talking about here at CNN, which is whether or not Giuliani is under inquiry for the way he is handling his finances. How is he being paid? Who is paying him? Is he reporting that income? So I think that as well as the failure to register as a foreign agent are his two criminal issues.
WHITFIELD: Ok. And now, Jeffrey -- let's talk about the chief of staff, the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and his admission to this quid pro quo and then trying to walk it back legally and politically. Is it too late for him, for this White House to put that genie back in the bottle?
ENGEL: Well, I think that we're seeing a definite turn in the story at this point. If we think back and compare it to other previous impeachments in the past, the question for Andrew Johnson and for Bill Clinton in many ways was not whether or not the person did the problem or the crime or the impeachable offense, but rather what it meant. And for Nixon, Richard Nixon in '71, '72, and on the question was really what did he do? And then, only then after it became clear that he had actually committed a crime was the question what does it all mean.
All of which is to say that we are in a stage right now where after having Mulvaney essentially admit to what was an impeachable offense in many people's minds, we're going to have a question now for senators and representatives, ultimately senators, to ask themselves do I really think that this matters as conduct for the President of the United States, because we're no longer asking did it actually happen.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Because it's collectively admissions from Mulvaney, to the President of the United States himself and even Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney.
So, Michael, you know, the "New York Times" is reporting that now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is kind of breaking silence so to speak and is telling colleagues an impeachment trial is inevitable. And you say the President doesn't have to commit a crime to be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, but you do see unfolding impeachable offenses. What do you mean by all of that?
ZELDIN: So there's an open question among constitutional scholars and perhaps historians as to whether or not the language of the constitution requires the commission of a crime as a predicate for impeachment. I don't believe so. I don't believe Alexander Hamilton believed so.
ZELDIN: I think that they talk in terms of offenses against society, an abuse of the office that the office holder has. And so I think that this quid pro quo Ukrainian thing fits into the category of an impeachable offense. If it does and an article of impeachment is filed, then under the constitution it must go to the Senate. And the Senate must try this case with the Supreme Court chief justice presiding over it.
So it is a real trial. The result of a conviction being that the person does not go to jail but rather is just removed from office and barred from future office.
WHITFIELD: And then, Jeffrey -- how do you see if the Senate Majority Leader does indeed, you know, prepare, get ready for impeachment trial -- how do you see, you know, history documenting the sequence of events as it relates to this president with the House, you know, beginning this impeachment inquiry and then possibly now followed up with the Senate Majority Leader, you know, prepping the Senate with what is, he's saying, inevitable.
ENGEL: You know, this is a case where I think people are going to have to go back to what the founders really intended when they talked about a president's responsibilities and then ultimately impeaching a president. They were concerned about whether or not, as my colleague said, a president had committed an act that made them detrimental to the republic -- somebody who had hurt the body politic.
And I think a this stage if there is an impeachment ruling or, excuse me, legislation which sends it to the senate, at this stage we're going to have to see senators really look into their hearts and asking themselves is this act, is this evidence I'm seeing evidence of someone who is putting his own interests above that of the nation, which is really what the founders were concerned about with somebody who would perhaps be detrimental to the state.
And at that point once senators start to look into their hearts, they're going to have to ask themselves do I want to answer to my present constituents or do I want to answer to history? And once that conversation occurs within their own minds, anything can happen.
WHITFIELD: And then Michael -- you know, I read through your PowerPoint, very comprehensive PowerPoint that you presented to Harvard. And you know, bottom line, you know, the issue remains, you know, impeachment will be predicated on a betrayal of the national interests or the exercise of power for self-interest regardless of whether, you know, any criminal conduct took place.
Elaborate further on what that means ultimately.
ZELDIN: So in the case, as Jeffrey said, in the case of Nixon and in the case of Clinton, they articulated crimes that the President committed. Whether Clinton's was a high crime and misdemeanor can be debated but they articulated crimes, violations of the statutory law of the United States.
In this case it's not so clear that what Trump did violates criminal law. It's arguable that it violates federal election law, it's arguable that it violates bribery/extortion laws but it's not very clear cut. And so the question become absent an articulable crime, do we still think that when the person, to Jeffrey's language damages the body politics, abuses the office powers that he has for personal gain, that that merits removal from office. And that's what this will be about.
Do people think that that is the proper response here or do they think that the 2020 election is the proper response?
WHITFIELD: And you believe that's already been on display?
ZELDIN: It's been on display.
WHITFIELD: All right. Michael Zeldin, Jeffrey Engel -- thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come, a blistering op-ed from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on why he thinks it's a grave mistake for the U.S. to pull out of northern Syria.
I'll talk to a member of the key House Foreign Affairs Committee, next.
Plus, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claiming Russians are grooming 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard without really saying her name but the inference was there. We'll talk about that.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
In Syria, some clashes continue between Turkish and Syrian Kurd forces despite the two-day old cease-fire negotiated by the U.S. The clock is ticking down to a Tuesday deadline for the Kurds to leave their settlements in a buffer zone along Turkey's border.
Earlier this month President Trump said U.S. forces would leave the northern Syria and that made way for Turkish military forces to make their way in, clashing with Kurds.
The President has faced harsh criticism over that withdrawal, including his usual ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said in a "Washington Post" op-ed, "As neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and the right, we can expect to hear more talk of endless wars, but rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not just end. Wars are won or lost."
With me now is Democratic Congressman Ami Bera of California. He is a a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. It's good to see you.
REP. AMI BERA, (D-CA): Thank you for having me on.
WHITFIELD: So I want to begin with what is happening in Syria right now. How will this -- some are calling it a cease-fire, some are calling it a pause and this subsequent agreement -- be enforced if indeed the U.S. is pulling out of northern Syria?
BERA: I think it really is a pause. It's an acquiescence to Turkey. And we know Erdogan has wanted to do this for a while and enter northern Syria.
I think it just leaves a big vacuum if we're not there. You know, the Russians are stepping in, Assad is resurgent again and we've abandoned our allies, the Kurds. I think this is devastating for the Kurdish forces that fought side by side with our men and women.
WHITFIELD: Mitch McConnell sees it as devastating too. In his first line in that op-ed, I mean he makes a statement, "Withdrawing U.S. Forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake."
How do you see this being either corrected or rectified?
BERA: You know, you saw a real big bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives. I would hope if Leader McConnell feels that way there will be a big vote on the Senate side this coming week. And then we're sending a message to the President.
We've got to maintain a presence in that region. Otherwise you'll see a resurgence of ISIS. I understand the President's reluctance to keep forces there, but this week he increased our troop presence in Saudi Arabia by 3,000. So as much as we'd like to bring everyone home, we've got interests in that region to protect our national security.
WHITFIELD: So how do you interpret what Mitch McConnell and other critics have been saying about the President? Mitch McConnell, you know, writing in that op-ed -- he didn't say Trump by name. But instead he said unfortunately the administration's recent steps in Syria do not reflect these crucial lessons. And he's talking about, you know, spelling out three valuable lessons learned from his work with previous administrations on fighting terrorism.
In any way is this kind of a microcosm that Mitch McConnell would speak, a microcosm of a crack in GOP support for the President? What do you see this as perhaps headlining any action to come?
BERA: You know, I think many Republicans are uncomfortable with this. Obviously our veterans and our men and women in service are uncomfortable with this decision.
But we've seen this repeatedly with the President. you know, last December he said he wanted to pull troops out of Syria and tweeted that out after a phone call with Erdogan. He had folks like General Mattis and General Kelly and others that could walk him back from that decision.
This time there's no one around him. I mean all the folks that might offer a moderating influence in this cabinet, they're all gone. He's surrounded with yes folks. And I think going forward he ought to consult Congress. He ought to sit down with us and talk about the policy decision and the best way to execute that decision. That hasn't been his management style, though.
WHITFIELD: I want to talk now about, you know, the House impeachment inquiry. You know, you heard the E.U. ambassador, Gordon Sondland's testimony this week. He said it wasn't until after the fact that he realized that Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney of Donald Trump, may have been trying to involve the Ukrainians in investigating the President's political rivals. Did that seem credible, believable to you?
BERA: You know, his opening statement and sitting through hours of that deposition puts Rudy Giuliani right at the center of a lot of the decision-making and puts him side by side with President Trump.
You know, these depositions are -- you know, I'm glad folks are coming forward and being candid with us. Ambassador Sondland had some memory lapses there and I hope he's able to fill those in. But what he's providing us, you know, certainly builds the case for how the President made these decisions and what his intent was.
And then acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pretty much corroborated what we suspected in terms of a pay for play.
WHITFIELD: The admission.
So let's talk about the timeline now potentially. Sources are telling CNN that, you know, Democrats hope to wrap up this inquiry by year's end with the goal to impeach by Thanksgiving. What can you say to that?
BERA: You know, I think it's dangerous to put a set timeline on this. I mean we're in the process of deposing individuals, collecting a set of facts, and we're just moving forward. You know, obviously we don't really want this to spill into the presidential election cycle, but let's do our job and let's see where the facts lead and let's find the truth.
WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Ami Bera -- thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
BERA: Thank you. Have a great day.
WHITFIELD: Thank you. You as well.
All right. Next, Hillary Clinton and Tulsi Gabbard in a bizarre war of words. And it's centered around who Russia wants to win the 2020 election.
WHITFIELD: A bizarre war of words is breaking out between former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and current 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard. It all stems from a comment Clinton made Thursday suggesting that Gabbard, who has been accused of being cozy with Russia with the past, is a Russian asset and being used in the 2020 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm not making any predictions, but I think they have got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.
She's a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she's also a Russian asset.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Now, Clinton never used the word "Tulsi Gabbard", but the conventional wisdom has been people made their assessments and the inference is there that she was referring to Tulsi Gabbard.
Meantime, Gabbard shot back in a tweet saying "Thank you, Hillary Clinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long have finally come out from behind the curtain."
Gabbard also had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is doing this because it's very clear to her that she knows she can't control me. That If I'm elected president, then she will not be able to come in and try to influence or manipulate me or the policies that I will lead forward for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Let's talk about this. I'm joined now by CNN contributor Jill Dougherty. She's a global fellow for Woodrow Wilson Center and CNN's former Moscow bureau chief. Jill -- good to see you.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hey -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: So let me have you listen to what CNN political commentator Van Jones had to say and how the comments of Hillary Clinton just kind of played into the hands of any objective that Russia may have had. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you're concerned about disinformation, if you're concerned -- what the Russians do is they spread disinformation and get us divided against each other.
JONES: That is what just happened. Just throw out some information, disinformation, smear somebody.
She's a former nominee of our party and she just came out against a sitting U.S. congresswoman, a decorated war veteran, and somebody who's running for the nomination of our party with just a complete smear and no facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Jill -- Russia, check, mission accomplished?
DOUGHERTY: Well, often that is the case -- Fred. But I think here this is a complex thing because I understand on one level what Hillary Clinton is saying because many people know that in different elections, not just 2020 upcoming but in 2016 and even before Russia can use people. They can use, let's say, candidates in various ways.
It could be like a Manchurian candidate. You remember that movie, you know, where there's a person who is -- I'm not saying that anybody is that, I'm just saying how they can use it. It could be a person who objectively is a willing agent of Russia and they sub rosa, secretly you know, run for office and then they get into office and they do what the enemy wants.
Then there can also be useful idiots. And those are people -- it's actually a term, as you might know -- and that is people who espouse a certain viewpoint that's very useful to Russia. They are not objectively agents for Russia at all, but they are exploiting it (ph). Then you have to add a third category of just people who have nothing to do with Russia or another force out there who can be used to deflect or pull away votes from another candidate. I think that may be what Hillary was talking about.
However, I think that word, when I hear that word "groomed", that is, I think, a problem because to me that is an old Cold War Soviet term which to me implies complicity by the person who's being groomed.
In other words, I'm being groomed to be a spy. And that -- if she is saying that, like if she has information this actually is going on, then she ought to provide it. But using that word to me is a red flag.
WHITFIELD: So the U.S. intelligence community has said, you know, Russia is likely trying it again to meddle into the 2020 election. Vladimir Putin himself joked not too long ago about meddling again in the upcoming election.
So how seriously do you think national security officials take that comment? How concerned should 2020 campaigns be? How do they brace for, you know, potential Russian influence meddling?
DOUGHTERTY: I think obviously they would have to be looking at this as a technique among many different techniques. This is nothing new -- you know, using somebody, exploiting somebody, et cetera. You know, it's been done for a very long time.
And I am absolutely positive that our intelligence services know how things like this could be done. We do know that the U.S. intelligence agencies, officials have said that there's no question that Russia will try to get involved and in fact use some new techniques perhaps in the 2020 election.
So it is no secret to them. They would be ready if this should be used.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jill Dougherty -- thank you so much. Always good to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, chaos in the U.K. parliament prompts demonstrators to take to the streets. What's happening there right now could have a lasting impact on the United States as well. We're live on the scene, next.
WHITFIELD: We're following new developments out of London where chaos has erupted in the U.K. parliament after British lawmakers voted to delay a deal on Brexit, delivering a major blow for British prime minister Boris Johnson. However, Johnson is not backing down. The prime minister is now vowing to move ahead with Brexit -- that's Britain leaving the European Union -- without parliament's approval.
Let's go straight to CNN's Hadas Gold who is outside of parliament. So Hadas -- what happens next now?
HADAS GOLD, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, this was an extraordinary day so far. Parliament has not had a Saturday sitting since the Falkland War in 1982. Now, what Boris Johnson hoped to use today for was to get his Brexit deal through parliament.
Instead an amendment passed by just 16 votes that essentially forces Boris Johnson to seek a delay beyond the current Brexit deadline of October 31st. Boris Johnson is essentially saying he probably won't comply. Take a listen to what he said in parliament just a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will not negotiate a delay with the E.U. And neither -- and neither does the law compel me to do so. I will tell our friends and colleagues in the E.U. exactly what I have told everyone in the last 88 days that I have served as prime minister, that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for our European Union, and bad for democracy.
So next week the government will introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the E.U. with our new deal on October the 31st.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: The action, though, wasn't just in parliament. Outside on the streets of London, organizers say nearly one million people took to the streets to protest, walking through central London, ending at a rally just outside of parliament.
They're calling for a second referendum, what they call a people's vote. They say they want another chance to have another say for potentially keeping the United Kingdom within the European Union.
GOLD: I spoke to some of the protesters. They said that even if a Brexit deal were to pass, even if the U.K. were to leave, they are going to continue campaigning. They don't think that this fight is ending any time soon. They want the U.K. to stay in the European Union -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And quite the development with -- I mean it looks like millions of people in the streets and the majority of the people in the streets are representing what point of view?
GOLD: They're the people who were protesting today were representing a remain view. They don't like Brexit. They want the U.K. to stay in the European Union. They think it's better for the country.
Obviously that's not a viewpoint shared by everybody in the country. Brexit did pass in that 2016 referendum. But the protesters today say what they were sold with what Brexit would look like in 2016 is not what's being delivered see today. And that's why they want a second referendum. But it's not clear whether that will happen because as we just heard Boris Johnson say, he doesn't plan to ask for a delay. He wants Brexit on October 31st do or die.
WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Hadas Gold -- thank you so much, in London. Appreciate it.
All right. Coming up, the race for the White House. Stumping with the heart attack in the rear-view mirror -- Bernie Sanders back in full campaign mode hitting the campaign trail with a key endorsement. We're live, next.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Just a little more than two weeks after suffering a heart attack, Senator Bernie Sanders is back on the campaign trail today. Sanders will host a rally in Queens, New York this afternoon.
On Tuesday, the Vermont senator stood alongside his 2020 competition at the CNN "New York Times" debate marking his first public appearance since he was hospitalized. And Sanders used some of his time to give thanks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me take this moment, if I might, to thank so many people from all over this country, including many of my colleagues up here, for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I'm so happy to be back here with you this evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles is live for us at that big rally -- what's expected to be a big rally in Queens. So Ryan -- we expect one of Washington's, you know, biggest, newest names to announce support for Sanders today. What's that all about?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right -- Fred. I mean this rally, as you mentioned, is expected to be massive today. In fact, it's reminding me right now, here we are just a little less than an hour before -- or a little more than an hour, I should say, before the rally is scheduled to start and the crowd is already huge.
I haven't been to a Sanders rally this big since his launch back several months ago. So this is going to be big. And in part because of what you're talking about, and that's the endorsement of local congresswoman, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is, of course, one of the most popular figures in the progressive movement and someone whose endorsement was coveted by a number of the 2020 candidates.
It was Sanders who was able to secure it. And by demonstrating her support and by bringing out this big crowd, Sanders is sending a message to the rest of the Democratic field. Yes, he had a big setback with this heart attack, but he is in this race to win.
And the crowd here today will reflect that, that there is still a huge level of support for Sanders and his candidacy, despite that health setback.
And there's also going to be another message that they're going to send today, by having Sanders standing next to Ocasio-Cortez, they're showing that the strength, the power and the energy in the Democratic Party comes from the left.
And as there's this ongoing debate within the 2020 field about whether or not the campaign should track a little bit more to the middle, these two are going to say today that it is the left wing of the party that will ultimately be the strongest ones to take on Donald Trump.
So, Fred -- massive crowd expected here today and Bernie Sanders getting back on the campaign trail in a big way -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles -- we'll check back with you as things get started in about, you know, a little over an hour away from what's believed to be start time.
All right. For more now on Sanders and the rest of the 2020 field I'm joined now by David Swerdlick, assistant editor at the "Washington Post".
All right, David -- so in regards to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement, is this a big asset for Sanders?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, good morning-- Fred. I think it is.
Ryan just reported there that the Sanders campaign wants to send a message. And I think that's exactly right. It was just four years ago when he ran against Secretary Clinton that Senator Sanders was the energy, the upstart, the insurgent campaign. And in four years time he's become more like the elder statesman of the left wing of the Democratic Party.
And even though Senator Warren is not as far to the left as him, she's got the hot hand and she's got a little bit of the energy right now. So this is a smart timing for a reset. It's branding for him, getting, as you said, one of the best-known new names in the Democratic Party, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, on his side.
And for Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, it's branding too. Even though she's become sort of entrenched now in Congress, she's reminding people that she's a Democratic socialist and that she wants to be seen as someone leading the charge, not just working behind the scenes.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. This is how Bill Scher, a contributing editor at Politico magazine saw it.
WHITFIELD: Writing this -- the timing of Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement sends a sharp message to the party establishment and progressive movement. We socialists are not here for Elizabeth Warren's reformed capitalism. We socialists want socialism and we're not keeping quiet until we get it. That right from Scher. So is that about summing it up in your view?
SWERDLICK: I do think he gets to the heart of it. Even though Senator Sanders and Senator Warren are often lumped together because they're both in the left half of the Democratic Party, they are not the same.
He is a declared socialist. She, as he said in that piece there, is what you might call a reformed capitalist, someone who believes in a lot of progressive positions and clearly by Representative Ocasio- Cortez going with Sanders.
SWERDLICK: Just as he said, it's sending a message that, look, we don't want to compromise on someone like Senator Warren, who I suspect down the road, they might go along with. But for now they want to still have the energy with someone who's an avowed socialist, Senator Sanders, and this is good timing, again, because he is trying to reboot his campaign.
WHITFIELD: So now the 2020 front runner, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has set her sights on Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. And at a town hall in Norfolk, Virginia she called out Zuckerberg over the idea of a wealth tax.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time for a wealth tax. And Mark Zuckerberg, I'm still looking at you.
I'm not pushing the wealth tax because I'm cranky, OR punitive, or mean -- Poor billionaires. if you built a great fortune here in America, I guarantee you built it, at least in part, using workers all of us help pay to educate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wow. So what is she trying to accomplish here? I mean she is taking jabs at Zuckerberg, you know, over anti-trust laws, Facebook's defense of allowing more free speech on its platform. And now this.
SWERDLICK: Yes, Fred, there was a lot packed into that clip you just played. She sort of revived the "you didn't build that" from the 2012 campaign. That she and President Obama sometimes explained well and sometimes didn't.
She also was taking a jab not just at Mark Zuckerberg on the wealth issue, but also she's been going at it with Facebook about how they presents news.
I think that "oh, poor billionaires" line is going to resonate a lot with some people in the Democratic primary electorate. And it's going to turn a lot of other people off and say wait, a second, this is why we might need to give Vice President Biden a second look. We're trying to have a big tent, not just move all the way to the left.
So I understand what she doing there, but it's not clear to me how it's going to playout as we head toward the Iowa caucuses in just a few months.
WHITFIELD: All right. David Swerdlick -- thank you so much.
SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Right now the country continues to mourn the loss of a true American patriot. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings passed away this week at the age of 68. The body of the chairman of the House Oversight Committee will lie in state in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol next week. A formal memorial service is scheduled Thursday morning followed by a public viewing.
All that knew or interacted with the Congressman have described him as compassionate, generous, selfless, and an endless fighter of justice. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi penned a touching tribute to Cummings in the "Washington Post". And she said in part, "In the House, Elijah was our north star.
He was a leader of towering character and integrity who pushed the Congress and country always to rise to a higher purpose, reminding us why we are here. As he said whenever he saw that we were not living up our Founders' vision for America and meeting the needs of our children for the future: 'We are better than this'."
In lieu of flowers, Cummings' family is asking for donations to the Elijah Cummings Youth Program.