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Mike Bloomberg Gears Up for Potential Presidential Run; White House Hits Back at Anonymous Author Who Calls Trump "Cruel, Inept, Danger to Nation"; Trump Says He's Not Concerned about Testimony So Far. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 8, 2019 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I was just surprised. That was late September and he was I'm comfortable where I am and I can do a lot from the private sector to have an impact on policy and the change in the direction in the country. Now he's in a different place. Did he give you more in his thinking?

DENNIS WALCOTT, FORMER NEW YORK CITY CHANCELLOR FOR EDUCATION: I think he's a man who really wants to make a difference in life and a difference in or world and in our country. I think he's been analyzing what's been going on in the primary and the country. He's looking at the president of the United States and he feels he can make a difference.

He is a true leader. I've known the man almost 20 years now. He's donated over $6 billion to his philanthropy to make the world a better place. He's helped over 7,000 low-income students throughout the country, getting them access to college.

He's taken on tobacco. He's taken on the NRA. And he feels and we feel that he is the perfect person to lead the country through some challenging times.

BOLDUAN: Some of the campaigns are already reacting. A surrogate for Bernie Sanders' campaign today just saying on CNN that people don't need another billionaire running for political office. How do you contend with that in the Democratic primary?

WALCOTT: So a couple of things. One, Mike Bloomberg grew up as a working-class/middle-class individual. He worked all of his life. He created his own company. He's done very well with his company. And the thing is that he's given back to make the country and the world a better place.

So you don't measure people by terminology of billionaire or millionaire. You really take a look at what they've done to make life better for people.

And also how they lead, as well. And Mike Bloomberg is a proven leader. He's led the city of New York as mayor for 12 years. He's led in a number of initiatives. And he's taken on tough fights. With those tough fights, he's made the world a better place.

BOLDUAN: How can this -- these moves, how can this be seen as anything other than a vote of no confidence in Joe Biden from Mike Bloomberg? He has known Joe Biden for years. And he and Biden clearly occupy the lane that Mike Bloomberg is looking at here.

WALCOTT: So I think to that, Mike Bloomberg sees an opportunity to lend his voice to the debate taking place across the country as far as the future of the Democratic Party.

BOLDUAN: Would you disagree folks would say, I see this and I see as a no confidence vote from Mike Bloomberg --


WALCOTT: I wouldn't see it as no confidence. It's another opportunity for people come out and hear another viewpoint on how to make the country a better place.

It's not directly about Biden. It's about the country itself. And I think Mike Bloomberg feels that he can provide solutions to the issues that we're facing right now.

BOLDUAN: But I heard from folks in -- that are familiar with Bloomberg's thinking that there was a concern about the strength of the top candidates right now, that could be nominees, and how they could stand up to Donald Trump. So that inherently is seeing weakness in Joe Biden.

WALCOTT: But it's part of the Democratic process, as well, as far as having different voices out there as far as what you can do to make the country a better place. And I think that's what Mike Bloomberg is looking at.

And I think he has a proven track record of doing that, here in New York through his philanthropy, his business as well. As a result of that, I think we're doing a lot better in other areas where he's been focused on.

But I think we have the opportunity now for him to be a part of the Democratic primary to see how he can make sure that the Democratic Party is leading the country and taking an opportunity to make the country a truly better place.

BOLDUAN: Part of every primary and any politician's calculation is polling. And the most recent polling with Bloomberg in it that we have is back in March and he was polling at 2 percent among Democratic primary voters. Do you think he is going to be polling any differently now? When you see he was at 2 percent in March, how is it going to be different now?

WALCOTT: I think so. A lot has happened since March. And with the president being the president, what's happening with the dynamic, with the impeachment inquiry that's going on now, I think the country is at a different point in time right now. Also, I think you have people who are dissatisfied with the people

running for a variety of reasons. And Mike Bloomberg has an opportunity to really make that difference that --


BOLDUAN: By and large, with the polling I've seen, overwhelmingly Democratic primary voters have said they're satisfied with the Democratic field.

WALCOTT: I've seen that, as well, but I think there's another alternative that will be offered to them and that is Mike Bloomberg. And we'll see how that really deals with polling moving forward.

To me, again, it's looking at the track record of an individual, the consistency of an individual, the leadership of an individual, how that individual has benefited society, and Mike Bloomberg to me checks off those boxes. And to me, that's an important part of leadership and leading a country like the United States.

BOLDUAN: Dennis, you said you've known him for 20 years. Do you think he is really going to get in? Do you think this is -- that after filing in Alabama and making these moves, that he could still pullback, or do you think he's all in and it hasn't been --


BOLDUAN: -- the mechanics haven't been put in place yet?

WALCOTT: I think the mechanics are there to be put in place. I'm not one to say what will happen in the future for Mike Bloomberg. That will be a question for Mike Bloomberg.

But I would --

BOLDUAN: Oh, I would love to ask Mike Bloomberg --



WALCOTT: I would not be sitting here, though, talking to you if he hadn't taken the next step that serious as far as moving forward with the presidency.

BOLDUAN: Further than he has before.


BOLDUAN: Dennis, thank you for coming in.

WALCOTT: Thank you for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

As a reminder on this topic of presidential politics, tune in as former Vice President Joe Biden will be taking questions from voters in Iowa during the CNN presidential town hall. Watch that right here on Monday night at 9:00 Eastern.

Still ahead for us, "cruel, inept and a danger to the nation." That is how the anonymous author of the new book that is yet to be released is describing President Trump. Now the White House is hitting back. Details, next.



BOLDUAN: An alarming warning coming out in new excerpts from the yet- to-be-released book by anonymous. According to the author, senior Trump administration officials considered resigning in mass last year in a, quote, unquote, "midnight self-massacre" to raise alarm about Trump's conduct. They ended up not moving forward with that.

Another excerpt obtained by the "Washington Post," describes the president as this, "A 12-year-old in an air traffic control tower pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport."

Joining me now, CNN political commentator, former communications director for the RNC, Doug Heye, and CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip.

I'm very interested in your take on this.

Doug, let me read one more excerpt that has come out. "It's like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard cursing loudly about the cafeteria food as attendants try to catch him. You're stunned and embarrassed at the same time. Only your uncle probably wouldn't do it every single day. His words aren't broadcast to the public and he doesn't have to lead the U.S. government once he puts his pants on."

Colorful, yes, but what does this actually do?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Ultimately, I don't think it does a lot, except stir the pot that has been so stirred that it's hard to recognize what the original ingredients were.

And that ultimately is the problem here. It has become so hard for us as we followed the constantly bouncing ball to focus on what's really important.

Donald Trump is also very good at that. Every time he gives a press conference or anything, essentially, what he does is he says these are not the droids you're looking for, tweet something outrageous, and we all move on. So it makes a lot of news, it makes a lot of headlines, but it's not

clear to me that it accomplishes much.

BOLDUAN: The White House, Abby, calls this a work of fiction.

Here is the explanation this author gives for the decision to publish. "I have decided to publish this anonymously because this debate is not about me. It is about us. It is about how we want the presidency to reflect our country and that is where the discussion should center. Some will call this cowardice. My feelings are not hurt by the accusation, nor am I unprepared to attach my name to criticism of President Trump. I may do so in due course."

How concerning is this person's account to the White House?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the White House is sort of dismissing this. I remember when the op-ed came out in the first place. There was some talk inside the White House about whether or not they were going to try to find out who this person was.

The president said he wanted to know who this person was, that they should be outed. The aides talked about the idea that maybe there might be some search going on.

Ultimately, there was never a search that happened. They never did it. They never tried to find out who this person was. I think, ultimately, what they've realized is it could be anyone.

It could be any one of number of dozens and dozens of officials who either work in the West Wing or work in the administration who have some knowledge about the president's demeanor and temperament behind closed doors that could have written some of the types of things that were in the original op-ed, and based on what we're seeing from the op-ed, the kinds of things -- from the book, the kinds of things that are in this book.

I think the book seems to be a case for journalism. It kind of validates the work that a lot of our colleagues have been doing that is actually in a lot of ways a lot more specific and details than some of the descriptions in this book.

This is a sense of -- the person is describing a sense of chaos around the president, which is fine.

But I think what we've learned, particularly in the last several weeks with all of this Ukraine saga unfolding, is there are nitty-gritty details, actual meetings, actual events, actual phone calls, that are shedding more of a light on what the president is actually doing behind closed doors beyond just his temperament, which I think people just kind of know at this point.

BOLDUAN: More to come, that's for sure.

Good to see you, Doug.

Thank you, Abby. Really appreciate it.

HEYE: Thank you.


Coming up for us, after a week of blockbuster transcript releases from key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, President Trump says he is not concerned with what is coming occupy. Could next week change that, though, as Democrats gear up for the first public hearings? And the president has said he doesn't think they should have public hearings.

Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Back to the impeachment inquiry. President Trump said a short time ago that he's not concerned about the testimony so far.


The latest transcript released publicly may offer the most damning account yet from current deputy assistant secretary of state, George Kent. He describes, in very lengthy testimony, he describes the shadow of foreign policy effort led by President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, this way. Quote, "Carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies to discredit the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine."

Also this morning, President Trump railed against the whistleblower yet again, calling the person a disgrace and demanding that their name be made public.

That is despite the cease-and-desist letter the whistleblower's attorney sent to the White House just yesterday warning President Trump that his rhetoric and activity, as they put it, is putting the whistleblower and his family in danger.

But all in all, this has been a wild and packed week of new information coming out about the impeachment inquiry, who knew what and when and who is pointing fingers at whom now.

Let's dive through it. Joining me now is Asha Rangappa, CNN national security analyst, former FBI agent, and Susan Glasser, CNN political analyst and staff writer for the "New Yorker."

Susan, I'm going to jump on my soapbox for a second. I'm missing the forest for the trees here. I just to want remind folks some of what happened this week without going into all the detail.

Monday, transcripts were released from the former ambassador to Ukraine and the top State Department adviser, who resigned over all this.

Tuesday, we learned about Gordon Sondland's revised transcript to acknowledge the quid pro quo. Kurt Volker's transcript also came out where he said he did not know about a quid pro quo.

Wednesday, a top State Department official testified and Bill Taylor's transcript was released.

Thursday, a top adviser to Mike Pence testified and George Kent's testimony was released.

Today, who knows. It's only 11:51.

I say this, and I know that is confusing, but my point is un-confuse people. What did folks learn this week?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, first of all, what we learned when we read these transcripts is that the evidence so far continues to be fairly overwhelming in one direction, which is to say lots and lots of additional confirmation and new details that help us understand the unfolding of President Trump's essentially scheme to privatize American foreign policy on his own behalf or his own domestic political benefit.

That is where the overwhelming rate of the testimony -- again, this is testimony from inside his administration that has been becoming public.

It's taken place over a period of months as the campaign unfolded from the spring when President Trump ordered the firing of his own ambassador to Ukraine on the basis of untrue allegations, no hearing, no defense of her. This is a woman who served her country for decades.

So that starts the story this spring and takes it really up to the present day.

But I think a key thing I would spotlight for people is the emergence of this testimony from Gordon Sondland, the current still-serving ambassador to the European Union. He revised his testimony and conveniently remembered something he had forgotten, apparently, in his first testimony, a September 1st conversation in which not only does he now acknowledge there was a quid pro quo, but he himself was the one who delivered it.

BOLDUAN: And also let me -- and another piece of testimony that's come out. Let me read George Kent to you, Asha, where he said this. "POTUS" -- President Trump -- "wanted nothing else but for President Zelensky to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton."

President Trump today says he's not worried about these testimonies. Should he be?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Kate, this is all about the Deep State and I'm referring to the deep state of denial. He has continued to suggest that nothing coming out is incriminating.

And as Susan just mentioned, it all corroborates one another, it corroborates the whistleblower, it continues to emphasize that he was using his power for personal gain, which is an impeachable offense.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Asha, just one more for you because the president is stuck on revealing the whistleblower. This isn't about the whistleblower anymore, right?

RANGAPPA: Yes, Kate. I think that really what is happening with the president and his supporters is an attempt to chill and intimidate potential future whistleblowers from coming forward.

They are under an avalanche of information. They can't afford to have other people come forward from behind the scenes.

BOLDUAN: Shenanigans. That's definitely what we have on the show every day.

Good to see you, guys. Thank you so much.


We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: So menstruation might be a topic some find uncomfortable to discuss, and it should be because it's a central part of life. The subject is so taboo it is setting girls behind. One woman, after growing up in Ethiopia, is out to change that. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: In Ethiopia, most women and girls do not have access to sanitary pads. Many girls stay home during their period. They are scared and ashamed. Half the population is dealing with this issue but no one is willing to talk about it.

I knew that I have to make a product that helps these women and girls to get on with their lives.


All I want is all girls to have dignity, period.


BOLDUAN: You can go to right now to vote for your pick for "CNN Hero" of the year.

We'll be right back.